The federal government will continue to offer consular assistance to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Britain’s decision to allow his extradition to the United States.
“We will continue to convey our expectations that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to proper medical care and access to his legal team,” said a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus late on Friday.
“The Australian government has been clear in our view that Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close.
“We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and United States.”
Earlier on Friday, British interior minister Priti Patel approved the extradition, bringing Mr Assange’s long-running legal saga closer to conclusion.
He is wanted by the US on 18 criminal matters including a spying charge relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential military records and diplomatic cables which Washington alleges endangered lives.
Mr Assange’s wife Stella says she will appeal the decision.
“We’re going to fight this. We’re going to use every appeal avenue,” she told reporters in London on Friday, calling the decision a “travesty”.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, has called the UK decision an outrageous betrayal of the rule of law, media freedom and human rights.
“This matter is so deeply wrong on so many levels … time’s up for the new federal government hinting at caring and then doing nothing,” he said.
“The new Australian government is now to be condemned for abandoning an Australian hero journalist facing the very real prospect of spending the rest of his life rotting in a US prison.”
Amnesty International is urging the UK to refrain from extradition and the US to drop all charges.
Secretary general of the human rights organisation, Agnes Callamard, says allowing the Australian to be sent to the US for trial would put him at great risk.
“(Mr) Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill treatment,” Dr Callamard said.
“Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history.”
Adviser to the Australian campaign to free Mr Assange, Greg Barns SC, says the UK decision is unsurprising given past approaches.
“The UK does not regard the extradition as being political when it clearly is,” he told ABC News on Saturday.
He says further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder.
“There’s absolute validity to these matters … the real issue is do we let this matter go back into the court system for another couple of years or do we say there are important principles here.”
There had been a change in rhetoric on the matter from the new government and statements from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Ms Wong had heartened the campaign, Mr Barns said.
“We’re certainly urging and hoping that now is the time for Australia to get involved with its key allies in London and Washington and bring this matter to an end.”