Julian Burnside, well known and respected human rights lawyer, has condemned calls by United States politicians and media commentators for the assassination of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He spoke at a forum hosted by the Law Institute Victoria in Melbourne on Thursday 9 December.
He also attacked the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Attorney General Robert Mcclelland, for their responses to Cablegate:
It is extraordinary that our government can so lightly abandon one of our citizens.According to Julian Burnside, WikiLeaks has:
...It is the primary obligation of any country to protect its citizens.
...cast a light into some dark corners of what governments get up to when they think no one is watching.Julian Assange's Australian lawyer Robert Stary chaired the crowded meeting. Jon Faine of ABC 774 radio's Mornings (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), solicitor Peter Gordon, and Liberty Victoria President Spencer Zifcak also spoke in defence of WikiLeaks.
...if they want to avoid being embarrassed by that maybe they need to learn to stop doing embarrassing things.
They focused on freedom of speech, freedom of the media, and the rights of Australian citizens.
Last night Mr Stary convened a meeting of lawyers, human rights activists and criminal law advocates in Melbourne to discuss the legal issues surrounding Mr Assange and his arrest - and particularly relating to the presumption of innocence.This newspaper report by Nick McKenzie and Paul Millar has the usual inaccuracies, naming Peter Gordon as President of Liberty Victoria. It also refers to a "small group of protesters outside". In fact a couple of people were handing out leaflets about a WikiLeaks rally in Melbourne and selling a political paper. The rally is at State Library Lawns on Friday December 10 - 4:30pm - 7:30pm.
Lawyers demand protection for Assange (The Age 10 Dec 2010)
Peter Gordon has been a legal colleague of both Gillard and McClelland and a political supporter of the PM. He expressed astonishment that power can change "good, decent people" so much.
Julian Burnside's complete speech is contained in the video above. (A link if you're not sure of the references to Philip Ruddock) Liberty Victoria has issued a media release condemning the Australian PM and Attorney General:
The civil liberties organization, Liberty Victoria, today criticized the Prime Minster and the Attorney-General regarding statements that each have made about the legal situation of the Director of Wikileaks, Julian Assange.
...The President of Liberty, Professor Spencer Zifcak, said today that it was wrong for the Prime Minister in effect to declare Mr Assange's guilt before any law he may have broken had even been identified.
Liberty Victoria Criticizes PM and AG over Julian Assange comments