The Australian government has confirmed that the WikiLeaks founder has a new Australian passport after years without one, and could now return to his home country.
An official at Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade confirmed yesterday that “Mr Assange does have an Australian passport”. The timing is good: last year he said that he feared Ecuador was seeking to end his asylum. He has been holed up in the embassy in Knightsbridge since the day he walked in, breaking his UK bail conditions, in 2012.
The Londoner called the embassy this morning and asked for a response to the news of the new passport. A member of staff initially said “no comment” but then added: “He has the right to do whatever he wants, but he doesn’t move on. He could stay here for ever.”
Now, in another boost, Assange has the support of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, who described him as a “hero of mine” and called on Australians to rally for him.
“We live in strange and dark times and we need journalists and others, activists of all kinds, to shine light into the dark places,” Waters told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Waters is not his only high-profile backer. Assange has also entertained figures such as Pamela Anderson. Nigel Farage was seen there in March of 2017 but said he could not remember the reason for his visit.
Assange’s passport had been held up by wrangling over whether it could be issued to him given that a warrant is still out for his arrest in the UK.
His UK lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, reportedly applied for a fresh passport halfway through last year.
Greg Barns, Assange’s Australian lawyer, gave credit to former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop for her role in securing the new document.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Barns thought she had “gone to great lengths to ensure Mr Assange’s rights as an Australian citizen were upheld by being granted a passport”.
And a brief reminder of why he is famous, and may be the most consequential Australian alive today. This is only a small part of what you may find at the link.
Assange wrote on WikiLeaks in February 2016: “I have had years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgment and will push the United States into endless, stupid wars which spread terrorism. … she certainly should not become president of the United States.” On 25 July, following the Republican National Convention (RNC), during an interview by Amy Goodman, Assange said that choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is like choosing between cholera or gonorrhea. “Personally, I would prefer neither.” WikiLeaks editor, Sarah Harrison, has stated that the site is not choosing which damaging publications to release, rather releasing information that is available to them. In an Election Day statement, Assange criticized both Clinton and Trump, saying that “The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility towards whistleblowers.”