Senator the Hon Marise Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
PO Box 5317
27 May 2020
We the undersigned journalists, publishers and writers are seeking your urgent intervention to have Julian Assange immediately released on bail.
Mr Assange is facing life in prison for publications in partnership with the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and other major media partners in 2010 and 2011.
You will be aware that Australia’s Walkley Foundation recognised WikiLeaks with its 2011 “Most outstanding contribution to journalism” award, for breaking the stories for which Mr Assange is now facing 175 years in prison. For anyone who cares about freedom of the press as a cornerstone of democracy, this is completely unacceptable.
There is no doubt these extradition proceedings are intended to send a message to other publishing organisations large and small, independent and institutional, that reporting of unapproved national security stories will not be tolerated.
We hear this message, and we reject it. The use of espionage charges against people publishing materials provided by whistleblowers is deeply alarming, and runs directly against the foundational principles of free and fearless reporting.
Now, in the midst of a pandemic, court proceedings have been thrown into chaos. The UK prison system is no place for a publisher at the best of times, and these are not the best of times.
Before the court reconvenes on 1 June we request of you the following:
1. To make representation on Mr Assange’s behalf that he be released on bail immediately
2. To relay to us the outcome of this representation
We represent a wide cross-section of Australian journalists and publishers, having worked in public and private broadcasting, print, radio and online media. We are determined to raise our voices to free one of our own, and we ask that you raise your voice with us.
Dr Alison Broinowski
Phillip Adams AO
Richard Broinowski AO
Timothy Erik Ström
Simon Cooper, Aren