The father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, John Shipton, has called on Australia to bring his son home, saying he was shocked to see his condition following his arrest in London on Thursday last week.
John Shipton, who was secretary of the Wikileaks Party when his son tried to run for a senate seat in the 2013 Australian national elections, reportedly visited Assange every Christmas at the Ecuadorian embassy in London after he sought refuge there in 2012.
“DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the prime minister should in a nuanced way do something,” Shipton told Melbourne’s Sunday Herald Sun.
Shipton said he was shocked to see the state of his son when he was arrested at the embassy on Thursday on allegations of skipping bail, and on a US extradition warrant related to a huge leak of official documents in 2010.
“I saw him, the way they dragged him down the steps, the coppers, he didn’t look good. I’m 74 and I look better than him and he’s 47. It’s such a shock,” he said.
“For months and months he has been living like a high-security prisoner, he can’t even go to the toilet. There have been cameras watching his every move.”
The 47-year-old Australian had taken refuge in the embassy while on bail awaiting extradition to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault and rape, which he always denied.
British lawmakers had urged their government to prioritise any extradition bid Sweden might make for him over the allegations.
Swedish prosecutors dropped a preliminary investigation into the rape allegation in 2017 but since his arrest last week Swedish officials have said they will be re-examining the case.
Greg Barns, Assange’s Australian lawyer, is urging the Australian government to do more to protect him.
“The United States is seeking to extradite a person who has simply expressed themselves, if one can put it that way, in accordance with a core liberal value, which, of course, is freedom of speech, and Australian journalists and Australians generally, I think, should be very, very concerned about the chilling impact of this precedent, and the Australian government therefore and Australian politicians ought to be concerned about it.”
Any request by the United States to extradite Assange must be processed through the U.K. court system.
The Australian is scheduled to face a hearing over his possible extradition to the U.S. in early May.
Those interested in following Julian Assange’s case can visit the website of his legal team at Doughty Street Chambers based in London. Barristers Jennifer Robinson and Liam Walker will now represent him.