Tweed protesters rally for freedom of Julian Assange
PROTESTERS in the Tweed have labelled the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a "conspiracy" as they rallied outside Federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot's office this morning.
The small group shouted "bring him home", "free Julian" and "truth tellers beware" as they called for the Australian whistle-blower to be set free while they held up signs of Assange with a US flag covering his mouth.
Assange was dramatically arrested in London last month after he was forced from the Ecuadorian embassy following seven years of asylum.
He was charged by London police for skipping bail over the alleged rape of a Swedish woman in 2010.
The rape case was dropped in 2017 but has since been reopened with Sweden now seeking extradition.
US authorities are also seeking extradition and have charged Assange with leaking classified data and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion after he worked with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak thousands of classified cables, which included a 2007 US helicopter attack video that showed the killing of a dozen civilians including two journalists.
At the time of the leak, several US politicians called for Assange to receive the death penalty.
Organiser of the Free Julian Assange campaign Dean Jeffrey's told the Tweed Daily News they believed Labor's position on Assange was "dismal and pathetic".
He referred to the case of Victorian soccer player and Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi who was freed from detention in Thailand after the Australian Government stepped in and pushed for his release, following allegations of vandalism in his home country which has the death penalty.
"We've seen recently the big effort the politicians and the media did to bring an Australian soccer player back to stop extradition, yet a true freedom fighter in Julian Assange is being locked up in a maximum security prison in the UK facing extradition to America where he could face the death penalty," Mr Jeffrey's said.
"He's not a criminal, the rape allegations in Sweden are just a joke, it was just two women who wanted him to take an HIV test after consensual sex and they admitted that police made up those charges of rape.
"The whole thing is a conspiracy to stop the truth and for the US to get their hands on Julian Assange because he has exposed some dirty war secrets."
Mr Jeffrey's criticised Labor for their lack of action over the years and former Prime minister Julia Gillard who once called for Assange's passport to be "torn up".
He said the arrest was an attack on both the freedom of the press and "a true Aussie hero".
"The world should be outraged about this abuse of power by the governments in this world, he's a journalist who was just doing his work and unfortunately the government doesn't like what he was saying," he said.
"Our policy is to not extradite citizens to countries that have the death penalty.
"The Labor party has blood on its hands."
Richmond MP Justine Elliot said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on Assange's situation given his arrest.
"Mr Assange's arrest and any legal proceedings are now a matter of current consideration in accordance with the British justice system and it would be inappropriate to comment while that process is underway," she said.
"As Mr Assange is an Australian citizen, he like any Australian citizenship facing legal difficulties overseas, is entitled to consular assistance provided through Australia's overseas missions.
"I understand this assistance is being provided to Mr Assange through the Australian High Commission in London, and this will continue to be the case."