1 June, 2012 – By Samantha Turnbull and Joanne Shoebridge
The mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the Federal Government has been of no help to her son.
Christine Assange is the voice of frustration.
For almost 20 months she has travelled back and forth from Australia to the UK in between burying her head in legal documents, coming up for breath just long enough to talk to the growing line of journalists dialling her phone number or knocking on her door.
Her current life is a world away from the one she enjoyed in the northern New South Wales city of Lismore a few decades ago when her son was a student at the tiny Goolmangar Public School.
That boy, Julian Assange, went on to become the founder of WikiLeaks and in the process made himself and his mother familiar fixtures in the international media.
This week the interest in the pair peaked when Mr Assange lost his bid against extradition from the UK to Sweden to face questions about sexual assault allegations.
He now waits in a state of legal limbo as his lawyers spend the next fortnight mounting a further challenge after it was argued a majority of the judges had based their decision on an interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which was a point of law not argued during the appeal hearing.
Ms Assange said the loss was no surprise.
“We’re used to the shenanigans, the up and down, the rollercoaster of the ride,” she said.
“We’re not expecting a lot of co-operation from government.
“It’s just business as usual.”
The US has denied it is preparing legal action against Mr Assange for his role in publishing secret diplomatic cables. However, Ms Assange has no doubt that if her son is sent to Sweden he will soon be on a plane to the US.
“A prosecutor in Sweden has taken out a European arrest warrant which is an extreme measure to interview someone,” she said.
“The whole 16 months he’s been under house arrest with ankle monitors and strict curfews, she’s refused to question him at Scotland Yard or the Swedish embassy.
“If she really wanted this case cleared up she would have questioned him.
“It would appear very obvious to anyone looking closely at the case, or not so closely at the case, that the Swedish prosecutor is not interested in clearing up the sex allegations, all they’re interested in doing is holding Julian in once place.”
Ms Assange said she feared for her son’s life if he was sent to the US.
“If he does go to the US he can be detained indefinitely without trial in a military prison and be subjected to the same conditions as Private Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower of corruption involving the US Government,” she said.
“He (Bradley Manning) has been held in military detention for two years without trial and has been subject to what the UN states is enhanced interrogation techniques which is a soft word for torture.
“Julian will be subjected to way worse than that because he’s not an American citizen.”
Federal Government ‘useless’
Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says no one has received more consular support in a comparable period than Mr Assange, which is a statement Ms Assange strongly rejects.
She said the Federal Government had declined written requests to ask for bail for Mr Assange if he was taken into custody in Sweden, to grant him safe passage home to Australia from the UK, or to serve any prison sentences in Australia.
“They’re absolutely useless, all they do is book themselves seats to watch what’s going on,” said Ms Assange.
“They have been quite good at getting me out of the country but I daresay, perhaps with how wide I’ve been opening my mouth about the case, it’s been to their advantage to get me out of Australia.
“US politicians are still calling for Julian to be killed and they wouldn’t even ask the American Government to tone it down.
“Even Schapelle Corby they asked if she could serve her time at home, they wouldn’t do that for Julian.”