Australian MPs Meet US Envoy Caroline Kennedy on Assange

The breakfast was held in the Australian capital Canberra just two weeks before President Joe Biden visits Australia and after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ended his “quiet diplomacy” on Julian Assange. 

Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Australia. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

A cross party delegation of Australian legislators met on Tuesday morning in Canberra with Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador, to discuss the continued U.S. prosecution of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.  

U.S. President Joe Biden is due in Australia in two weeks as the pressure continues to mount on him from presidents, parliaments, the public and human rights and press freedom groups to free Assange. 

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Senator Andrew Wilkie, who took part in the meeting with Kennedy, as saying:

“This is an intensely important time with the US President about to visit. It would be very unhelpful if he comes to Australia and this issue is still unresolved, it will hang over us all in an uncomfortable way.” 

“The US and Australia have a very important and close relationship, and it’s time to demonstrate that,” Wilkie said.  

Senator David Shoebridge, who also met with Kennedy, was quoted as saying: “The fact that the ambassador allocated precious time to this issue ahead of President Biden’s visit is a useful indication of the visibility of the campaign to free Assange.”

Shoebridge said: “The end of Australia’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ on Assange last week is an important step forward and brings us closer to a just conclusion of the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange.”  

Until last week Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had practiced what he called “quiet diplomacy” refusing to even confirm if he had raised Assange with any U.S. official. In London last week Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he had had direct contact with the U.S. Justice Department.

“It needs to be worked through,” Albanese told the ABC. “We’re working through diplomatic channels, we’re making very clear what our position is on Mr Assange’s case.”  

But so far the Justice Department has not yielded in its pursuit of Assange on espionage charges that could land him in a U.S. prison for up to 175 years if he is extradited from Britain and convicted in the U.S. 

“I know it’s frustrating. I share the frustration. I can’t do more than make very clear what my position is,” Albanese said. “And the U.S. administration is certainly very aware of what the Australian government’s position is.”  

Asked whether he would raise Assange directly with Biden when the U.S. president visits Australia, Albanese said: “The way that diplomacy works is probably not to forecast the discussions that you will have or have had with leaders of other nations.” 

Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton told the Herald: “It’s significant that the US government is aware of the considerable support for Julian inside the parliament as well as among the public.”

Australian Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has also changed his position and is supporting the end of Assange’s ordeal.  

MP Julian Hill, who has been a guest several times on CN Live! to discuss Assange, led the push for the breakfast meeting with Kennedy at the U.S. embassy, where she was presented with a petition of 26,000 signatures calling for Assange’s freedom.

Hill told the Herald“It’s significant that the US government is aware of the considerable support for Julian inside the parliament as well as among the public. I thanked the ambassador for her willingness to engage, so she can communicate the strength of views across the political spectrum on this issue back to Washington, D.C.”

“We communicated that the US needs to lead a political resolution on this issue and bring the matter to a close,” Hill said.

MP Bridget Archer, who was at the meeting, was quoting as saying: “I feel quite positive following the meeting this morning that we had a very good hearing with the ambassador and we will continue to work together to keep the momentum going with this issue, to keep the pressure up in relation to Mr Assange and hopefully to see him returned to Australia soon.”

U.S. ambassador Caroline Kennedy (third from left) meets a delegation of MPs championing the Assange cause, including Bridget Archer, Josh Wilson, Andrew Wilkie, Julian Hill and David Shoebridge. (U.S. Embassy)

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe   


26 comments for “Australian MPs Meet US Envoy Caroline Kennedy on Assange

  1. Templar
    May 10, 2023 at 23:00

    The Australian Government’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ is code for remaining silent and subservient in order not to offend its masters in Washington.

    • Wrinkle
      May 11, 2023 at 04:23

      Yes, you’re right there. I think the Oz Govt. should say – ‘no military cooperation with the US until Assange is freed’. Some hope, eh?

  2. LeoSun
    May 10, 2023 at 12:59

    Imo, reading through the papers; the take away is, “There are three (3) things worth having in this world, “Courage. Common Sense. Caution,”

    i.e., “U.S. Ambassador meets w/the Parliamentary Friends of Julian Assange, leaving them CAUTIOUSLY optimistic for a “breakthrough,” i.e., “The USG ENDS the Persecution. STOPS the Extradition. FREES, JULIAN ASSANGE.” In sum, Julian Assange “Lives Free,” just as soon as she gets back to D.C.; AND, before Albanese hosts Biden, Modi, et al.

    Fingers crossed, POTUS has a “Senior” moment of lucidity, followed by action, i.e., POTUS becomes a signatory to an Executive Order, in harmony, w/26,000 Petitioners imploring POTUS to do the right thing, “FREE, Julian Assange.”

    After all, considering the beyond f/shameful legacy of all of the U.S. vs. The World, wars, packed w/deception, destruction and death, you would think the U.S. Embassy would say more than, “Meeting” confirmed; AND, Ambassador Kennedy thanks the MP for “presenting a petition of 26,000 signatures calling for Assange to be freed.” An Ambassador w/extremely, few words. Consequently, prepare for the worst; and, “Never Say Die!”

    There really are Angels on Earth, i.e., Protesters, Truth Tellers, Whistleblowers, Labor MPs Hill & Wilson, Liberal MP Archer, Independent MP Wilkie, Greens’ Senator David Shoebridge, John Shipton, Gabriel Shipton, Consortium News in harmony w/Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil to “Make It Rain,” It’s straight-up unconditional Support for Julian Assange!!! They know, “the best favour is to rescue the one in most need,” Julian Assange. Spot On!

    The bloody truth is, the opposition, the resistance, POTUS & CONGRESS (500 PLUS), rock’n hate & war as the currency, just don’t f/get it, “He who ties the bell around the tiger; needs to untie it.” Yesterphknday!!! Onward & Upwards. Keep it Lit.

  3. Rex Williams
    May 9, 2023 at 18:27

    The effort by the writers in Consortium News, like Joe Lauria, deserve full marks for their almost continuous effort to see justice in this matter. They have been consistent from Day 1 unlike the trouble caused by The Guardian and their willingness to use Juian’s material but their turn around and NOT support him. A positive disgrace.
    To the manipulators however, Biden is an important part of the RESET program being weak, feeble and easily controllable. Can’t see that changing.
    Don’t forget the slippery pommies in all this criminality. Their court was the one that danced to the US demands and those same puppets have treated him so badly on instructions from the master criminals in America, the leader of which will be out here soon to show us how he connected this country of 25 million people to the crime of the century for us, AUKUS.

    Thanks Joe and all his associates including Caitlin J.

  4. Billy Field
    May 9, 2023 at 17:41

    Seems true many of the Kennedys have had an ongoing fight with the CIA for decades. Bought Politicians, fake corporate Media, endless wars against the poorest people on Earth for private profits? The “Status Quo” in “Anglo World” (& CIA et al) might be described as a rouge mafia operating for the benefit of a very small group of “Wars of choice” profiteers, The Military industrial complex, The “Globalists central banking WEF cabal” and some other vested interests (including Israel’s 5th column). It’s bad for America. The corruption from all this has near wrecked America. The corrupt few have turned the American dream into an American nightmare and a nightmare for the Lions share of the rest of planet. Instead of making the whole world love it and want to get rich with it due to “sensible foreign policies” (as bound to do by its Constitution) all this has made most the entire world hate it. How foolish? How corrupt? Assange has done USA a favour exposing this and giving it a second chance to get on a better track. I do hope Caroline will honer her fathers call for “sensible foreign policy”. He died for it. It might be the most important thing she ever does. I also think if the system wasn’t so corrupt her cousin Robert F Kennedy would win the next Presidential contest with a landslide victory. I sure hope he does.

    • Billy Field
      May 9, 2023 at 23:17

      Correction- Robert F Kennedy is Carolines Uncle (Son of JFK’s brother & US AG- Robert F Kennedy (Also assassinated)).

  5. doris
    May 9, 2023 at 16:17

    The Kennedys are coming out of the woodwork to do what’s right. RFK jr. is running for president on ending corporate control over the US government and ending the endless wars. I hope Caroline speaks out in favor of freeing Assange. The term “pardon” connotes that Assange actually committed a crime to be pardoned from, when in fact he’s only reported on the hideous war crimes the US Government itself committed. Journalism is not a crime!

  6. C.Parker
    May 9, 2023 at 12:03

    This visit from Caroline Kennedy on behalf of Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Australia gives one hope that Julian Assange will- at last-be free. The timing of this is intriguing. Last week her cousin, Robert Kennedy Jr. announced he was running for president, as a Democrat. Robert Kennedy promised to free Julian Assange. Suddenly, all those Americans who wrote RFK off for being anti-vaccination sat up and took notice. The good news, this is not a partisan issue. This is a Constitutional issue. Julian Assange must be freed. It is quick and easy correction to one of the many wrongs committed by the US.

    • Valerie
      May 9, 2023 at 17:50

      “Suddenly, all those Americans who wrote RFK off for being anti-vaccination sat up and took notice”

      Shame they didn’t do that beforehand, C.Parker

  7. John Dukes
    May 9, 2023 at 11:10

    If Australian MP Albanese truly wanted Assange released, then he would refuse to allow US nuclear subs in Australian waters until Assange is released, but he chooses not to use that leverage to free Assange.

    • Tim N
      May 9, 2023 at 15:45

      Good point. But Albanese would NEVER do that. He’s a toady. Whatever Biden and company tell him, he’ll do.

  8. vinnieoh
    May 9, 2023 at 09:41

    Considering the other current projects of the US under the Biden administration – spec., war with Russia and China, continued Quixotic pursuit of global hegemony – it is difficult to see that the Aussies will make much progress with the Yanks. I could see a hypocritical “arrangement” that allows Assange to return to Australia, only to be detained there indefinitely by the govt. per the wishes of the US.

    This assessment (and I hope I’m wrong) is based on the great weight of military might that the US seems intent to shoulder Australia with as the US continues to provoke a conflict with China (just as it did with Russia in Ukraine.)

    US belligerence both before and during the Biden administration has pushed the US into a corner of its own making; the more it blusters and struts, the harder it is to admit any error or miscalculation. There are no diplomats or statesmen any longer in the US, only ideologues and pimps for capitalism.

    I must apologize for my obdurate skepticism and cynicism. I just do not believe that Joe Biden can unmake himself or control the hideous operatives that infest his administration.

    • Litchfield
      May 9, 2023 at 13:46

      No need at all to apologize!

      I agree with you. I just hope that you are wrong, even though there is probably as much chance of that as a snowflake’s in hell.

      Julian Assange is basically a snowflake in hell, as a matter of fact.

      But if Caroline Kennedy decides to do the right thing, she swings a lot of weight.

      • Litchfield
        May 9, 2023 at 15:39

        good one here

      • Tim N
        May 9, 2023 at 15:49

        Does she? I’m sure she’s capable of being a team player when needed.

        • Valerie
          May 9, 2023 at 17:55

          You’re as cynical as me Tim. LO(REALLY)L. (Or ROFL)

      • Billy Field
        May 9, 2023 at 23:21

        Quite right Litchfield she could very possibly swing it!

    • doris
      May 9, 2023 at 16:26

      That’s the reason they want Biden to be reelected. With his mental state and immoral history, he can easily be led to do their atrocious bidding. I’m sure they’ll attack RFK jr. with everything they have to prevent a moral, thinking person from reaching the White House.

    • Valerie
      May 9, 2023 at 17:14

      .” I just do not believe that Joe Biden can unmake himself or control the hideous operatives that infest his administration.”

      And really, why would he want to? Break the mold?

  9. Mikael Andersson
    May 9, 2023 at 05:58

    Albanese claimed “We’re working through diplomatic channels, we’re making very clear what our position is on Mr Assange’s case.” But serfs don’t make their position clear to the overlord. They do what they’re told. The overlord does what it wants. Hill is right. Of course “the US needs to lead a political resolution on this issue.” It will do only and exactly what it wants. Albanese knows his place. Australia is US lickspittle with no power. The US government may be aware of the considerable support for Julian inside the parliament as well as among the (Australian) public – and they can do as they’re told. Be careful of getting your hopes up Julian. Thinking of you in your torture chamber. Free Assange!

    • Bob Martin
      May 9, 2023 at 23:07

      Agree completely. Thank you for saying it so well.

    • billy field
      May 9, 2023 at 23:28

      80% of the people are aware of this issue and watching. For once some thanks to Media. If Albanese fails on Assange his credit will be shot and he’ll be sacked like Morrison was after his credit was shot Re Covid & Assange. Its is such an important issue they can’t spin themselves out of this ever! He will be next Ambassador to Iceland!.

    • Eric
      May 10, 2023 at 04:11

      Agreed, somewhat reluctantly.
      “Albanese told the ABC ‘We’re working through diplomatic channels,
      we’re making very clear what our position is on Mr Assange’s case.’”

      Lovely. But Albanese doesn’t say what his position is.
      I hope Australians continue to put pressure on him.

  10. May 9, 2023 at 05:53

    A more accurate headline would be – ‘Australian MP’s lick arse of US Envoy Caroline Kennedy on Assange’. An utterly pathetic subservient display that will do nothing more than reify in the general public’s mind, the belief that *militantly begging* the so called *authorities* for change, is the only possible way forward. Whilst this kind of subservient behaviour may well offer the best chance for Assange’s release, it will do nothing to change the sick delusional human psychologies that have existed for millennia, between the governors and the governed, a self-reinforcing and destructive feedback loop that we are yet to evolve beyond…..

      May 9, 2023 at 09:14

      Since you have such excellent insider knowledge of what was discussed in this meeting please inform our readers.

  11. Valerie
    May 9, 2023 at 03:15

    Thankyou Mr. Lauria and CN and all others for your continual support and exposé of the illegal incarceration of Julian Assange. I eagerly await the day the US drops all charges against an INNOCENT man.


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