By ROD McGUIRK Associated Press, Canberra, Australia November 17, 2011 (AP)
Julian Assange’s mother protested outside Parliament House during President Barack Obama’s visit Thursday, demanding Australia lobby the United States against extraditing her son in a WikiLeaks investigation.
Scores of protesters in Australia’s capital demanded the government show independence from U.S. foreign policy.
Christine Assange accused Australian government leaders of being “star struck” by Obama, who received a standing ovation after addressing Parliament on his first Australian visit as president.
“The looks on the faces of the Australian politicians were no different to teenagers at the airport waiting for Beyonce,” Christine Assange told The Associated Press, referring to the U.S. singer.
U.S. prosecutors are investigating the release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents disclosed by WikiLeaks, and its founder Assange fears the United States could extradite him to face possible charges there.
This week, the 40-year-old Australian citizen filed court papers in Britain in a last-ditch effort to stave off extradition from there to Sweden in a separate sex-crime investigation.
Christine Assange, a 60-year-old professional puppeteer from rural Queensland state, has written to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, asking for the government to intervene on behalf of an Australian citizen to prevent her son’s extradition to the United States.
Rudd’s office told AP in a statement Thursday that extraditions were not the foreign minister’s responsibility. The attorney general’s office has not commented on Christine Assange’s request.
The Australian government has condemned WikiLeaks’ release of the U.S. documents as reckless, but a police investigation has failed to find any evidence that Julian Assange has broken any Australian law.
Christine Assange blamed U.S. “lax security” for the release of secret documents through WikiLeaks.
“The consensus of the Australian people I’ve spoken to … is the credibility loss at the moment globally for the U.S. is coming more from their reaction to WikiLeaks than the leaks themselves,” she said.
“I might stand by my children emotionally if they’ve done the wrong thing, but I don’t stand by them publicly, intellectually and philosophically if they’ve done the wrong thing — I never have,” she said.
“It was only after a year of exploration into WikiLeaks myself, investigating whether or not this is a force for good or not, that I am proudly standing up for my son and WikiLeaks as a force for good in the world,” he added.