[News] Australia should avoid megaphone diplomacy, says Joe Hockey


The British government has ordered Assange be extradited to the US to face charges relating to the theft and publication of secret diplomatic cables a decade ago.

If convicted, Assange could face decades in jail.

Dutton said on Tuesday the government should provide regular consular assistance to Assange but not otherwise seek to intervene in his case.

“I think people should conduct themselves according to the law and I think they should be answerable to their conduct according to the law,” he told 2GB.

“We’re not talking about a country where they don’t have a developed legal system.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the US legal process should play itself out without interference from Australia.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the US legal process should play itself out without interference from Australia.Credit:AAP

Dutton said that in a similar situation, Australia would expect to let its own legal system operate “without international interference”.

“I think Mr Assange has protracted this particular issue for years and years and years through his own conduct,” he said.

Joyce said he believed Assange was a “total ratbag” but he should not be extradited to the US because he was not in the country when he was accused of breaching the Espionage Act.

“I am talking about this on the premise of principle,” he said. “That is, if we believe that it is right to stand back and let an Australian citizen be extradited to a third country of which they are neither citizen nor were they there when an offence was committed, where are we going to draw the line?”

Joyce, who first spoke out against extraditing Assange last year, urged the government to be more transparent about what it wanted from the Biden administration.

“You’ve told us you’re talking behind the scenes. So you might as well tell us what you’re talking about,” he said.

Walkleys Foundation chair Adele Ferguson, an investigative journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, said Assange had been languishing for years and it was time for him to be brought home.

“Press freedom and human rights are vital to our society and what is happening sets a very dangerous precedent at a time when press freedom in this country is being chipped away,” she said. “This is the time for the government to stand up for press freedom.”

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