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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Thursday, December 09, 2010

GetUp's statement on Assange

From here:

Dear President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder:

We, as Australians, condemn calls for violence, including assassination, against Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or for him to be labeled a terrorist, enemy combatant or be treated outside the ordinary course of justice in any way.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "information is the currency of democracy." Publishing leaked information in collaboration with major news outlets, as Wikileaks and Mr. Assange have done, is not a terrorist act.

Australia and the United States are the strongest of allies. Our soldiers serve side by side and we’ve experienced, and condemned, the consequences of terrorism together. To label Wikileaks a terrorist organisation is an insult to those Australians and Americans who have lost their lives to acts of terrorism and to terrorist forces.

If Wikileaks or their staff have broken international or national laws, let that case be heard in a just and fair court of law. At the moment, no such charges have been brought.

We are writing as Australians to say what our Government should have: all Australian citizens deserve to be free from persecution, threats of violence and detention without charge, especially from our friend and ally, the United States.

We call upon you to stand up for our shared democratic principles of the presumption of innocence and freedom of information.


Russell Blackford said...

People can always quibble about these statements, but I think this one is pretty good. The main point is that the rule of law should apply.

I'd go a bit further than the statement does. Unless Assange is found guilty of an action that was a crime in the juridiction where he was at the time he carried it out, he should go free. International law should have no application to a case like this (he's not accused of atrocities such as torture or genocide) and there should be no use of extra-territorial jurisdiction such as the American authorities are so fond of. Nor should he be caught by retrospective criminal laws.

Unless he did something that was already a crime at the time when he did it in the place where he was at the time ... he should go free. All his other legal rights should apply, and he should get all the assistance that any Australian in trouble overseas has a right to expect from the Australian government.

This actually has nothing to do with whether or not Assange is a nice person or a nasty person, or whether or not Wikileaks is a good thing or a bad thing, all considered. It's about preserving the rule of law.

Matt Penfold said...

I would go a bit further and ask that the US Government investigate those in the US who have been calling for Assange's assassination.

Incitement to a criminal act, especially a violent one, is surely a criminal offence in many parts of the US.

Anonymous said...

I think what is interesting is that i have probably read as much of the contents of the leaked cables on the BBC and Guardian websites as i have on WikiLeaks itself. It's interesting that no one has tried to shut down those web sites.

Eamon Knight said...

In Canada, they're looking into whether one of our blood-thirsty morons can be charged: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/12/06/wikileaks-flanagan-vancouver-investigation.html

OK, the authorities have been asked to. Whether it goes anywhere....

Spencer Troxell said...

I like this statement, Russell. I've been forced to reconsider my position on the whole wikileaks ordeal since our brief exchange over at Why Evolution Is True the other day. Unless you're a follower of Saul Alinsky, it's hard to justify the lives that Assange has put at risk with his disclosures. It would probably be better if we moved closer to the open society ideal, but I don't think it's something that can be forced from the outside. Human factors have to be considered.

Dimitri said...

That is the American peoples fault. The government does need to stand up for their self and us American's need to think rationally and not just "blow them up" or "kill 'em". And there should most certainly be many suits brought up against him, for his organization is prying into information that isn't anybody's business and frankly is a sorry excuse for a job, not to mention petty. Just my thoughts..