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Assange’s Father Calls on Australia to Put Pressure on US, UK to Release Jailed Journalist

The father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, John Shipton, called on Australia on Thursday to put pressure on its allies, the United Kingdom and the United States, to help bring his son home.A UK court held hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday to consider a US extradition request for Assange. Judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson said they would issue their ruling later.Shipton talked to his son on the phone on Wednesday following a rally outside the High Court in London, during which the investigative journalist’s supporters urged the UK authorities to release Assange and not to extradite him to Washington, Australian broadcaster ABC reported. After that, Assange’s father appealed to the Australian government.

“You have to show the United Kingdom and United States that you’re serious,” he was quoted as saying by ABC.Shipton also suggested that Canberra threaten the UK and the US with restricting access to their consular buildings in Australia to demonstrate the seriousness of its intention to have Assange released.The journalist’s father added that his son sounded “a bit throaty” on the phone as he had a cold and that he had been “under a considerable amount of stress” lately.”He is the son of the Australian soil and acknowledged to be one of the great journalists in Australia, in the world … We require the United Kingdom, as a friendly ally … to take some sincere intentions to return Julian home to Australia,” ABC quoted Shipton as saying.

Assange, an Australian citizen, was transferred to London’s high-security Belmarsh prison in April 2019 on bail breach charges. In the US, he faces prosecution under the Espionage Act for obtaining classified information and disclosing it in the public domain. If convicted, the WikiLeaks founder could face 175 years in prison. One of the last means of preventing his transfer to the US may be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange lost his previous appeal at the UK High Court last June.WikiLeaks was founded by Assange in 2006 but rose to prominence in 2010 when it began publishing large-scale leaks of classified government information, including from the US.

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