WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s father on Sunday called on Australia to bring his son home, saying he was shocked to see his son’s condition after his arrest in London last week.
John Shipton, who was secretary of the Wikileaks Party when his son tried to run for a senate seat in 2013 national elections, reportedly visited Assange every Christmas at the Ecuador embassy in London after he sought refuge there in 2012.
“DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the prime minister should in a nuanced way do something,” Shipton told Melbourne’s Sunday Herald Sun.
“It can be resolved simply to the satisfaction of all. There has been some talk in a meeting between a senator and a senior DFAT official to extradite Julian to Australia.”
Shipton said he was shocked to see the state of his son when he was arrested at the embassy on Thursday on allegations of skipping bail, and on a US extradition warrant related to a huge leak of official documents.
“I saw him, the way they dragged him down the steps, the coppers (police), he didn’t look good. I’m 74 and I look better than him and he’s 47. It’s such a shock,” he said.
“For months and months he has been living like a high-security prisoner, he can’t even go to the toilet. There have been cameras watching his every move.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that Assange would receive “no special treatment” from Canberra.
The 47-year-old Australian had sought refuge in the embassy while on bail awaiting extradition to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault and rape, which he always denied.
US prosecutors say Assange faces five years in prison if convicted of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion,” though further charges are expected to be brought against him.
UK lawmakers on Saturday urged their government to prioritise any extradition bid Sweden might make for him over the allegations.
Swedish prosecutors dropped a preliminary investigation into the rape allegation in 2017. But on Friday, prosecutors said they were re-examining the rape case at the request of the alleged victim’s lawyer.
‘Serious human rights violations’
Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s deputy director for research in Europe told Al Jazeera that if extradited, Assange would face the “risk of serious human rights violations, namely detention conditions, which could violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment due to the possibility of solitary confinement.”
“We also consider him at risk of being subject to an unfair trial and even the death penalty can’t be excluded a priori. As a result of these risks, the UK at this point is under the obligation not to extradite him or otherwise send him to the US”, he added.
Assange’s collaborator Chelsea Manning spent seven years in prison in the US for providing 750,000 documents, videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks in 2010 – including a year in solitary confinement, which the United Nations deemed cruel and inhumane.
Manning was once again jailed in March for refusing to give evidence before an investigation into WikiLeaks. She remains under arrest.