News National MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange
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MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange

Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces an 175-year prison sentence on espionage charges in the US. Photo: AAP
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Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has implored the prime minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution of Julian Assange.

The former intelligence analyst said the prosecution of Mr Assange has always been political which meant it could be solved politically by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“The reality is this has always been an intensively political matter and it can be solved politically by Scott Morrison picking up the phone to Joe Biden and Boris Johnson,” Mr Wilkie told the ABC.

It comes after reports the 50-year-old WikiLeaks founder suffered a stroke in prison in October.

“Jail is killing Julian Assange,” Mr Wilkie said.

“There is no way he will survive continued incarceration in the UK.”

Mr Assange has just suffered a legal blow after the UK High Court ruled he could be extradited to face charges in the US.

Mr Assange’s lawyers say they intend to appeal the decision in the UK’s highest court.

Mr Assange faces a 175-year prison sentence on espionage charges in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified information which revealed alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Mr Assange’s lawyers want Jacinda Ardern to intervene in the Australian’s extradition saga, with New Zealand playing peacemaker between the Wikileaks founder, the US and UK.

Senior UK judges this month ruled Mr Assange can be extradited to the USA to face charges over his publication of confidential war documents.

His legal team, including New Zealand-based lawyer Craig Tuck, want Ms Ardern to make representations to US President Joe Biden or UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to end the “politically motivated prosecution”.

“This is something our prime minister could address by picking up the phone to president Biden or prime minister Johnson and saying, ‘Hey, enough’s enough. Let’s bury the hatchet and not in Julian’s head’,” Mr Tuck told Radio NZ.

“Let’s move on. This thing needs closure. There are issues of freedom, of kindness, of democracy (at play).”

The Australian’s plight is not a hot-button issue in Wellington, though parliament is considering a private member’s bill to further protect journalists from revealing their sources from court or police orders.

Mr Tuck said the 50-year-old Assange had recently suffered a stroke, and he feared for his health if extradited to America.

“It is arguably the most important human rights case on the planet,” he said.

“Where is the New Zealand Labour party at? Where is New Zealand parliament at on this?

“(Assange) is a journalist. He’s speaking the truth. He’s speaking truth to power. He’s suffered enough. This is really quite a perverse prosecution.”

Also on Monday, independent Hobart-based MP Andrew Wilkie urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to intervene to support Mr Assange’s case.