The US ambassador to Australia has hinted that her government could agree to an out-of-court settlement allowing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to return to Australia. “It’s not really a diplomatic matter, but I think there can absolutely be a solution,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ambassador Caroline Kennedy as saying. The allegations against the Australian are serious, “but there is a way to solve it”. The decision on a deal rests with the US Department of Justice. Assange’s family took the comments as an indication that the US government wants to get rid of the matter. But there are still major obstacles.
Indication of an imminent agreement?
According to the Australian newspaper, there have been indications for months that an agreement is being worked on behind the scenes. In May, the US ambassador met with a group of Australian MPs who describe themselves as “friends of Julian Assange”. At the same time, international law expert Don Rothwell sees the signs and comments to the newspaper as an indication that the Biden government does not want to drop the allegations. He therefore believes it is realistic for the USA to weaken the allegations if Assange pleads guilty in return. He could then serve the rest of his sentence in Australia, a corresponding agreement exists between the two countries.
For that, however, Assange would have to travel to the United States, explains Rothwell, and that should be unacceptable to Assange. Closing a possible deal outside of the United States is impossible “except for the most extraordinary circumstances”. Assange’s brother agreed that Assange could not travel to the United States under any circumstances. However, the Wikileaks founder does not have much time left for an agreement, in Great Britain he has exhausted almost all legal means. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, as early as October he could run out of options to prevent extradition. This coincides with a planned visit by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Washington DC.
Julian Assange has been in custody in the UK for more than four years and is using all legal means to prevent extradition to the USA. There he is to be tried on charges of espionage based on the controversial Espionage Act. With Wikileaks, he helped bring US war crimes information obtained by whistleblower Chelsea Manning to a global audience. At the beginning of June, Julian Assange’s appeal against the approval of extradition to the USA was rejected, which is why his supporters consider it “dangerously close”.
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