U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Department of State
August 2, 2023
Secretary of State Blinken,
In your meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and the press conference with her on July 30, 2023, you accused Wikileaks founder Australian citizen Julian Assange of “very serious criminal conduct” in publishing classified documents more than a decade ago, including the “Collateral Murder” video that showed U.S. military helicopter pilots killing Reuters reporters, a video that the U.S. military claimed did not exist.
Foreign Minister Wong told you that Assange’s prosecution had “dragged for too long” and that Australia wanted the charges “brought to a conclusion.” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has urged the U.S. to drop its case against Assange.
Australian federal politicians from across the political spectrum have asked the United States to abandon attempts to extradite Julian Assange from the UK. The 48 MPs and senators – including 13 from the governing Labor party – warned that the pursuit of Assange would “set a dangerous precedent” for press freedom and would damage the reputation of the US.
In the courts-martial of U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning, the U.S. military acknowledged that the materials that Manning provided to Wikileaks were purged before publication of data that could have endangered U.S. military lives.
Australian lawmaker Andrew Wilkie, who is co-chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, rejected your claims that Assange has “committed serious criminal conduct,” calling them “patent nonsense” and saying that if the US wasn’t obsessed with revenge it would drop the extradition charge as soon as possible. He added that Secretary Blinken is certainly well aware of that both U.S. and Australian inquiries found that the relevant disclosures did not result in harm to anyone.
The U.S. government obviously has a vendetta against Mr. Assange for publishing the government’s own documents about policies and programs that now embarrass the officials who wrote them. We think it is very telling of the duplicitous nature of this vendetta that you and the U.S. Justice Department have not accused reporters of the New York Times, Washington Post and other media that published the same material of “very serious criminal conduct.”
We demand that the U.S. government immediately end its dangerous and inhumane persecution of Julian Assange.
Ann Wright, Retired US Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat, Veterans for Peace
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK Women for Peace
Sue Udry and Chip Gibbons, Defending Rights and Dissent
Martha Leslie Allen, Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press
Ann Wilcox, DC Action For Assange