Julian Assange’s father hopeful of son’s release

THE father of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is confident a tide of public opinion is turning in support of the Australian languishing in a UK cell.

As Assange awaits an extradition hearing which could eventually result in him facing criminal charges in the US, his father John Shipton is campaigning for his diplomatic release.

The 75-year-old has visited about eight countries this year raising support for his son's release.

During that time his son has won increasing support from politicians on all sides both at home and overseas.

 

John Shipton, father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
John Shipton, father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

The Australian group concerned about Assange's health and potential extradition includes conservative MPs George Christensen and Barnaby Joyce, independent Andrew Wilkie and Green politicians.

"Basically the malice and spite demonstrated by the United Kingdom and Sweden is of concern to every Australian," Mr Shipton said.

"We are working towards the government involving itself diplomatically to ensure Julian's return home to Australia and the prosecution stopping immediately."

He said filmmaker James Ricketson and journalist Peter Greste were both brought back to Australia from Cambodia and Egypt respectively via diplomatic intervention and Assange's case was no different.

"There's no difference whatsoever," Mr Shipton said.

Assange faces espionage charges in the US over the leaking of classified government documents, including footage of a US helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Iraq in 2007.

Mr Shipton - who will make a public address in Brisbane on Wednesday evening at the invitation of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties - said Assange is seeing a resurgence in support.

"He's one of the world's great journalists and he's an Australian. He's one of us to claim, to protect," he said.

Mr Shipton said the media played a part in a decline in support for Assange while he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in London for almost seven years.

"The mobbing and smearing (of Assange) is only possible with the permission, participation, of the media," he said.

"But it seems to have stopped and is reversing itself as the media realises their position is subsequently very tenuous.

"What will happen if Julian is dragged away in a yellow jumpsuit with chains around him is the prestige of every journalist in the western world will fall to zero." Despite the persistence of the UK and US and what he describes as "procedural malfeasance and abrogations of all Julian's human rights", Mr Shipton remains optimistic about his son's release.

"I think we'll win," he said.

But Mr Shipton says he didn't know if the US would ever stop pursuing his son. "Lets get him home, have a cup of coffee and see what's around the corner from there," he said.



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