25 September 2023

DFAT defends support for Assange

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The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has rejected international claims that Australia’s consular support for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange (pictured) has been lacking.

In a formal statement DFAT responded to the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture who made certain allegations in relation to Mr Assange’s case.

“We reject any suggestion by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture that the Australian Government is complicit in psychological torture or has shown a lack of consular support for Mr Assange,” DFAT said.

“The Special Rapporteur has not been in contact with the Australian Government to raise these concerns directly.”

The Department said the Government was a staunch defender of human rights and a strong advocate for humane treatment in the course of judicial processes.

“We are confident that Mr Assange is being treated appropriately in Belmarsh Prison [in the United Kingdom],” DFAT said.

“Mr Assange has advised us that he is being treated the same as other prisoners in Belmarsh.

“The Australian Government continues to provide active and high level consular assistance to Mr Julian Assange. Consular officers from the Australian High Commission in London have already visited Mr Assange twice at Belmarsh Prison.”

It said the Australian High Commission in London had previously raised any health concerns Mr Assange had identified with it to Belmarsh Prison authorities and these had been addressed.

Following media reports of Mr Assange’s ill health, the Department had made further inquiries with Belmarsh Prison authorities.

“Due to the privacy considerations that we extend to all consular clients, we will not disclose further details relating to Mr Assange’s physical or mental health,” DFAT said.

“As with any consular client, we will continue to visit Mr Assange in prison, monitor and advocate for his health, welfare and equitable treatment, and closely follow his legal proceedings,” the Department said.

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