Former political prisoner pleads for Scott Morrison to not let Assange ‘die in jail’


“If Julian Assange does die in prison, will you, with a clear Christian conscience, be able to inform the Australian public, in all honesty, that you did all within your power (and more) to protect Assange’s legal and human rights.”

Mr Ricketson was arrested and charged with espionage in June 2017 for flying a drone over an anti-government rally in Phnom Penh. He was held in the notoriously overcrowded Prey Sar prison for 15 months until he was pardoned by Cambodian authorities.

Pardoned: Australian filmmaker James Ricketson.Credit:AP

The filmmaker said it was former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who intervened to secure his release, despite the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s insistence that it could not interfere with another country’s legal proceedings.

“This is how diplomacy works,” he writes. “You can pick up the phone, Mr Morrison, and speak with whoever the United Kingdom’s next prime minister is; requesting that Julian Assange not be extradited to the United States to face the very real possibility, if not the certainty, that he will die in prison.”

A newly formed federal cross-party parliamentary group, comprising 11 MPs dedicated to advocating for the return of Mr Assange, will meet formally for the first time on Monday in Canberra.

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Mr Assange’s supporters hold “grave concerns” about his wellbeing after he was moved to the medical ward in jail, having dramatically lost weight following a deterioration in his health.

Swedish prosecutors last week dropped their investigation into an allegation that Mr Assange raped a woman in Stockholm in August 2010, saying the decade of delay meant the evidence was now too weak to support a prosecution.

He will return to court briefly next month before a full hearing of a US extradition request in which he faces a 175-year jail sentence if found guilty on 18 charges relating to computer fraud and obtaining and disclosing national defence information.

Mr Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne have repeatedly ruled out any intervention in the case, with the PM saying last month he believed Mr Assange should “face the music” in court.

The former Australian high commissioner to Britain earlier this month mocked the idea of Mr Morrison acting on calls from Mr Assange’s supporters to do all he could to bring him home from Belmarsh Prison, where he has been held since his April 11 arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy, which gave him asylum for almost seven years.

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