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Australian MPs to urge US to end Assange extradition attempt

Canberra, Sep 5 (IANS) A delegation of Australian MPs will travel to the US in a bid to stop attempts to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the lawmakers announced on Tuesday.

The multi-party group, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and government MP Tony Zappia, said in a statement that they will travel to Washington D.C. on September 20, where they will urge politicians and officials to abandon extradition efforts for Assange, reports Xinhua news agency.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is wanted in the US on 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of thousands of classified documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic cables.

He has been in prison in Britain since 2019, and is currently appealing a decision by the UK High Court in June 2022 to allow an extradition.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton said Australians overwhelmingly supported allowing him to return home.

“The vast majority of Australians can’t understand why the U.S. continues to act in a way that keeps Julian locked up in one of the worst prisons in the UK,” he said.

“Even Australians who didn’t support Julian’s actions believe he has suffered enough and should be set free immediately.”

A coalition of nine former federal, state and territory attorneys-general in August wrote an open letter to the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese describing Assange’s treatment as “troubling” and calling for greater efforts to secure his freedom.

Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in May that he was frustrated at the lack of a diplomatic solution to the issue.

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