Julian Assange Told Anthony Albanese He ‘Saved His Life’ After Landing in Australia

Julian Assange told Anthony Albanese he had “saved his life” in his first phone conversation after his chartered plane’s wheels touched down at Canberra’s RAAF base soon after 7:30pm on Wednesday.

The prime minister, who has never met Assange, told a news conference at Parliament House immediately afterwards that Assange had described his Australian arrival as “a surreal and happy moment”.

Albanese said the conversation was “very warm” and that Assange was “very generous in his praise of the Australian government”. Assange described Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Kevin Rudd, and the high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Stephen Smith, who worked on his release, as the “diplomatic A-Team”.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures after landing in Canberra, Australia, on Wednesday. (Rick Rycroft / Associated Press)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures after landing in Canberra, Australia, on Wednesday. (Rick Rycroft / Associated Press)

At a later press conference, Assange’s senior lawyer Jennifer Robinson recounted that Assange told Albanese “he had saved his life – and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration,”.

A triumphant Assange emerged from the plane, fist in the air, to an excited crowd and an emotional reunion with his wife Stella and father John Shipton.

Earlier in the day, during a brief stopover in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, a United States territory in the Pacific, US Federal Court Judge Ramona V Manglona accepted Assange’s guilty plea. Smith, who had accompanied him from the UK, and Rudd were both with him on the last leg of his journey to Canberra.

Hailing Assange’s freedom, Albanese said “we have got this done” and that the outcome was “the culmination of careful, patient and determined advocacy”.

Albanese acknowledged there was a range of views about Assange’s actions, but “there was no purpose to be served by this ongoing incarceration.

“Regardless of what you think of his activities, Mr Assange’s case had dragged on for far too long.”

Asked why he had chosen to stake so much and work so hard for the release of someone he admitted divided the population, Albanese said, “I believe in standing up for Australian citizens.

“As prime minister of Australia, you have an opportunity to make a difference,

“I’m not here to occupy the space.

“What we were doing was exactly the right thing to achieve an outcome – I’m an outcomes-based politician.”

He said “there were moments when this required a range of decisions to be made, by the Department of Justice in the United States, which of course, is not subject to political influence.”

Albanese said he always understood that due to the nature of the American system, “it wasn’t as simple as me sitting down with President [Joe] Biden or any other elected representative and achieving this outcome.

“Diplomacy is something that must be patient, something that must be built on trust, something that works through stages. We have done that.”

Assange did not appear at the news conference attended by his team. His wife, Stella, made an emotional appeal for people “to give us space, give us privacy, before he can speak again at a time of his choosing”.

“Julian needs time to recover – to get used to freedom.”

The Assange team’s press conference highlighted the issue of freedom of the press at stake. Robinson said: “It’s important that journalists all around the world understand the dangerous precedent that this prosecution has meant.”

Stella Assange also talked about how vulnerable the press had become since Assange was indicted under the US Espionage Act.

“That precedent now can – and will – be used in the future against the rest of the press. So it is in the interest of all of the press to seek for this current state of affairs to change through reform of the Espionage Act,” she said.

The Conversation

Next Post

Kenyan President William Ruto Withdraws Controversial Tax Bill After Deadly Protests

Thu Jun 27 , 2024
The president of Kenya, William Ruto, has rejected a bill to raise taxes a day after violent protests erupted across […]
President of Kenya William Ruto addresses members of the media during a press conference at the State House in Nairobi, on June 26, 2024. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

You May Like