Australian MPs Blast Blinken Over Assange

The MPs called the U.S. secretary of state’s remarks that Julian Assange threatened U.S. national security “nonsense” and said the U.S. is only bent on revenge, reports Joe Lauria. 

MP Andrew Wilkie. (Cathy Vogan/CN Live!)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Three Australian members of Parliament have dismissed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s strong statement in support of prosecuting imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange as “nonsense.”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie told The Guardian‘s Australian edition that Assange was “not the villain … and if the US wasn’t obsessed with revenge it would drop the extradition charge as soon as possible.”

“Antony Blinken’s allegation that Julian Assange risked very serious harm to US national security is patent nonsense,” Wilkie said.

“Mr Blinken would be well aware of the inquiries in both the US and Australia which found that the relevant WikiLeaks disclosures did not result in harm to anyone,” said Wilkie. “The only deadly behaviour was by US forces … exposed by WikiLeaks, like the Apache crew who gunned down Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists” in the infamous Collateral Murder video. 

Speaking at a press conference with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Brisbane on Saturday, Blinken said he understood Australians’ concerns about their imprisoned citizen, but took a hard line against any move to end his persecution.  Blinken said:

“I really do understand and can certainly confirm what Penny said about the fact that this matter was raised with us, as it has been in the past. And I understand the sensitivities. I understand the concerns and views of Australians. I think it’s very important that our friends here understand our concerns about this matter.

What our Department of Justice has already said repeatedly, publicly, is this: Mr Assange was charged with very serious criminal conduct in the United States in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of our country.

The actions that he is alleged to have committed risked very serious harm to our national security, to the benefit of our adversaries, and put named human sources at grave risk of physical harm, grave risk of detention.

So I say that only because just as we understand sensitivities here, it’s important that our friends understand sensitivities in the United States.”

As was shown conclusively by defense witnesses in his  September 2020 extradition hearing in London, Assange worked assiduously to redact names of U.S. informants before WikiLeaks publications on Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010. U.S. Gen. Robert Carr testified at the court martial of WikiLeaks‘ source, Chelsea Manning, that no one was harmed by the material’s publication.

Instead, Assange faces 175 years in a U.S. dungeon on charges of violating the Espionage Act, not for stealing U.S. classified material, but for the First Amendment-protected publication of it.

The Meaning of ‘National Security’

WikiLeaks has indeed threatened “national security” if the “nation” is defined as merely its rulers.  If “national security” however is meant to be the security of the entire nation, then Blinken’s obsession with continuing the war in Ukraine with the risk of nuclear conflict is truly a threat to the nation’s security.

MP Julian Hill. (Cathy Vogan/CN Live!)

Liberal MP Bridget Archer, another co-chair of the pro-Assange parliamentary group, said: “He continues to suffer mentally and physically, as does his family, and the government should redouble their efforts to secure his release and return to Australia.” 

Labor MP Julian Hill, also part of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, told The Guardian he had “a fundamentally different view of the substance of the matter than secretary Blinken expressed. But I appreciate that at least his remarks are candid and direct.” 

“In the same vein, I would say back to the United States: at the very least, take Julian Assange’s health issues seriously and go into court in the United Kingdom and get him the hell out of a maximum security prison where he’s at risk of dying without medical care if he has another stroke.”

Hill last week called on Assange to take a plea deal, which should not reflect badly on him. In the meantime, Hill said improving prison conditions “should not be difficult to do even while argument continues about resolution of this matter.”

A recent opinion poll shows that 79 percent of Australians want Assange released and bought home. 

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 is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe   

49 comments for “Australian MPs Blast Blinken Over Assange

  1. Gordon Hastie
    August 4, 2023 at 06:05

    A tad ironic that these principled Australian MPs should voice their concerns to the disgusting liberal rag the Guardian, which has had so much to do with Assange’s plight.

  2. Atul
    August 3, 2023 at 19:32

    Too bad Julian didn’t release unredacted files of the Kennedy assassination, MLK assassination, and Cuban Missile Crisis files.
    Since our government has him by the throat, he should at least have given a good shot. The collateral murder videos were awful but somehow left no mark here.

      August 6, 2023 at 11:26

      He couldn’t release what he didn’t have.

  3. Wrinkle
    August 3, 2023 at 08:20

    The US sensitivity is not to allow anyone to show US war crimes. The US security is to cover up war crimes. Assange could have harmed people but the US never does!

  4. SLK
    August 3, 2023 at 04:16

    If they would back off from the recent missile deal, also pause all military cooperation until the Assange case is sorted, so all US military personel and equipment have to leave Australian land and waters, no intelligence shared, etc. likely, Assange would be home by the next morning…

  5. wildthange
    August 2, 2023 at 20:30

    We seem to think the entire world is a threat to our national security when actually our arrogance for full spectrum dominance is a threat to all of human civilization in this century. We also seem to think that the dissolution of the USSR is our permission to lead NATO on another round of world culture war for western superiority for fear we may have to share the world. Instead we owe the world reparations we could easily be afforded by cutting extreme military funding. We may have to in order for civilization is to survive,

    • Wrinkle
      August 3, 2023 at 08:21

      Well said.

    • John Liddle
      August 3, 2023 at 20:18

      The current government is as big a bunch of gutless wonders and US sychophants as all the previous governments, for all their pre election weasel words.
      Unfortunately, barring a complete about turn in the morality of the ruling junta, expect Julian to die in gaol.

  6. CaseyG
    August 2, 2023 at 15:08

    Blinken is a wimpy little man who so often says he can’t do anything. So sad , he says that about the 3 American ladies who were killed while in Israel. ( Actually I think murdered is a better word. )

    There was nothing he could do, he said REALLY???? He is useless and afraid to do anything that would upset Israel. Perhaps he is worth a dollar, but as for representing America or for having the least bit of humanity— he is sadly an empty vessel and seems more concerned about Israel than America. Truly an awful little man lacking any humanity. : (

  7. William Powers
    August 2, 2023 at 13:28

    Theater. Nothing but theater. If you want to free Julian, stop wasting time watching the theater. Nobody in politics in the west is going to save Julian. Nobody. They are all corrupt fools in pay of the oligarchs.

    This BS has been going on in the King’s Loyal Down-Under Land for quite some time. This fantasy that a meaningless, bought-off politician making a ‘statement’ is going to save Julian. It was never going to happen. Paying any attention to the theater was, and will continue to be a complete waste of time. If anything is going to save Julian, it is going to be large numbers of people out in the streets saying “No!”

    • Valerie
      August 2, 2023 at 22:32

      So right William. And not just for Julian Assange. Where is the motivation in the younger generation? It’s up to them. But they are too busy with social media, chasing pipe dreams and celebrities/film stars/entertainment. There isn’t even any real protest about “war/nuclear disarmament/climate breakdown”. At least, not in the quantity one would expect, given the state of things. But then, see what happens to peaceful protesters? We are living with collective inertia.

    • Eddy Schmid
      August 3, 2023 at 00:19

      Those large numbers of Australian people, simply need to say NO to their political representatives in regards to U.S. bases on Australian soil, and the purchase of second hand nuclear subs. SIMPLE as that. Everything goes on HOLD, until Assange is once again on Australian soil. Have Australians and their politicians got the ticker,that’s the question needing an answer.

    • Wrinkle
      August 3, 2023 at 08:24

      I think you are right. I hope that if Julian is taken out of Belmarsh to the airport then thousands of people will be there to stop it.

  8. Paula
    August 2, 2023 at 12:09

    My most favorite sense making sentence of all: “WikiLeaks has indeed threatened “national security” if the “nation” is defined as merely its rulers. If “national security” however is meant to be the security of the entire nation, then Blinken’s obsession with continuing the war in Ukraine with the risk of nuclear conflict is truly a threat to the nation’s security.”

  9. robert e williamson jr
    August 2, 2023 at 11:35

    Now we see the perfect example of government officials assuming the same deny, delay, deny, delay tactics as used by the CIA to perpetuate a “cover” plan or cover the actions of a seriously grievous nature, based on nothing more than the lust for revenge. Revenge to be gained by the state’s usage of their assumed “total authoritarian” powers.

    We have heard for years now about the crucifixion of Julian and it is far past the time for this to stop.

    I ask Americans, have you no decency, no conscious or the adequate intelligence to drive you to demand that this man be released?

    This country is in one helluva fix, for the nation to rise up against the use of the DOJ’s torture of those who simply fail to agree with the states misguided use of the power of law to torture would be a clear message from Americans for our leadership to do the obvious good thing, the right thing and stop this torture.

    We don’t see punishment for wrong doing in this case, what we see is punishment of the individual for speaking out in protest.

    The use of this method by the state, a perversion of justice and political manipulation of the courts present a very clear and very dangerous threat to all peace and justice loving Americans.

    Enough! Enough! Where are our benevolent churches? Who among them fail to grasp the affects of this method of stifling dissent. Especially in view of the ghastly wanton killings exposed by this man of Peace.

    Set this man free Joe and maybe you will be seen as human again.

    Thanks CN

  10. JohnS
    August 2, 2023 at 10:26

    This is the same Justice Department that for years has engaged in petty political prosecutions of the Uhuru movement, the Newburgh Four and many others. In short, the FBI and Justice either don’t have enough to do or simply choose to divert their attention away from massive corporate and political crime and corruption. It is not concerned with democracy, only political revenge and suppression of minority opinions.

    • DebsWasRight
      August 2, 2023 at 16:15

      Leonard Peltier, repeatedly shown to be innocent, has currently spent 46 years in prison as revenge by the US government. “Because someone has to pay.”

  11. August 2, 2023 at 10:10

    National security is not synonymous with obfuscation of Democratic Party electoral improprieties even if the purported victim, Bernie Sanders, decided he had no problem with them, his candidacy having apparently only been for show in order to derail real left wing populist aspirations.

    • SH
      August 2, 2023 at 21:07

      Agree on both counts – the DP wants revenge on Assange for publishing those DNC e-mails and Sanders indeed was there to keep folks from going 3rd Party ….

    • August 3, 2023 at 12:13

      Guillermo, Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report has a great article on that topic, Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016, hXXps://

  12. susan
    August 2, 2023 at 09:21

    It’s about time that someone in government from Australia stood up for Julian Assange. I love that Andrew Wilkie called out the US with the truth about who is really the criminal in this case:

    “The only deadly behaviour was by US forces … exposed by WikiLeaks, like the Apache crew who gunned down Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists” in the infamous Collateral Murder video.”

    • Nylene13
      August 2, 2023 at 11:41

      True. Free Julian Assange Now.
      “Without a Free Press, there can be No Democracy”
      Thomas Jefferson

  13. Beat me, Daddy, 8 to the bar
    August 2, 2023 at 07:31

    Both major Australian polictical parties (aka Tweedledum and Tweedledee) have, for well over a decade, informal bipartisan agreement that Julian Assange can be hung out to dry. He has committed the cardinal, unforgivable sin of causing offence to Australia’s “Great and Powerful Friend & Ally.” To its shame, the legacy media has, for years, gone along.

    It’s disingenous (a euphemism) in the extreme for the current Foreign Minister to be grandstanding. The matter could be solved immediately in one of two ways:

    1) give Julian a diplomatic passport and claim immunity, or
    2) tell the Americans & British no nuclear subs until he’s home safe.

    #2 is, of course, unlikely as no human being is worth $360B.

    No doubt the politicians wish he would just die in prison, wouldn’t that be an easy out?

    • Valerie
      August 2, 2023 at 15:37

      “#2 is, of course, unlikely as no human being is worth $360B.”

      To we, the people standing up for the truth, Julian Assange is priceless.
      To those, promoting war and mayhem, their values are worthless.
      (But i know what you meant.)

  14. LonnieLad
    August 2, 2023 at 03:47

    Liberal MP Bridget Archer is my local member and I’m very proud of her.

    • Nylene13
      August 2, 2023 at 11:44

      You should be Proud. Too few Politicians here in the U.S. to be proud of.

  15. Valerie
    August 2, 2023 at 03:06

    Excerpt from Reuter’s article:

    “WASHINGTON, Jan 18, 2011 (Reuters) – Internal U.S. government reviews have determined that a mass leak of diplomatic cables caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad, despite the Obama administration’s public statements to the contrary.

    A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.”

    To read the whole article go here:

  16. Graeme
    August 2, 2023 at 00:07

    For non-Australian readers, Senator Andrew Wilkie shares much in common with Julian.
    They both have called out the insanity and illegality of the war against Iraq.

    Wilkie, on his website, reminds readers that:
    “My concern with governance has its origins in my decision to resign from the Office of National Assessments (ONA)* on 11 March 2003 in protest over the Iraq war. I was the only serving intelligence official in Australia, the UK and US to resign publicly before the invasion.”

    The first para citing Blinken is fair indication that he has no idea of what he’s talking about and is really just interested in putting both Australians and Australian Ministers in their places: subservient to the whims of the White House, or I suppose more accurately, the US military-industrial-government sector.

    Blanken stated:
    “I understand the sensitivities.”
    Blinken has set the stage that no matter what comes out of his mouth contradicts the US position; i.e. the US doesn’t give a damn about Australian sensitivities.

    “I understand the concerns and views of Australians.’
    Commences, by reiterating a false proclamation and seeks to identify with a significant number of Australians, many of whom are pissed off with the secrecy and total absence of public consultation re AUKUS.
    Blinken again seeks to endorse that the US is the senior and superior partner in the relationship.
    Blinken’s mediocre attempt to belittle the Australian public and their government says more about him and US policy than he’d be prepared to admit.

    “I think it’s very important that our friends here understand our concerns about this matter.”
    Blinken’s transparent and shallow concerns are clearly to downplay the significance of a “war crime” (Melzer’s words, not mine) by the US and the subsequent failures of US military authorities, all the way to the Commander-in-Chief, in their continued neglect of the matter, indeed Trump pardoned the culprits who committed the obscenity.
    Blinken’s appealing to Australians to be rational and understand the US administration’s point-of-view; what he fails to comprehend is that we do, but not according to the official White House doctrine.

    The Biden administration’s only concerns in this matter are, as they have usually been, to shift attention away from the atrocities – in the name of ‘democracy’ – that successive US administrations have been the authors of for over a century now.
    Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange exposed the duplicity of US government policy and actions in Iraq and elsewhere.
    And 79 percent of Australians have seen through the sham.

    While Julian is currently the one in focus, he’s not the only innocent locked away by the Biden administration.
    Despite its extensively documented record of torture and other horrific human rights abuses, the US prison at Guantánamo Bay remains open.

  17. GBC
    August 1, 2023 at 21:35

    Blinken’s stance on Assange is a further demonstration of just how unhinged from reality he is. Sharing that unhinged stance are 3 more, making up a quartet of criminals running US foreign policy–Blinken, Nuland, Sullivan, and Biden. They belong in the dock at the Hague, along side Bush2, Obama, and Trump, for all that they’ve done in the bloody 21st century.

    • dfenslblty
      August 2, 2023 at 10:30

      Agreed & Bravo …

    • Norah
      August 2, 2023 at 11:55

      Why include Trump, he did not start any new wars ? The Globalist ( Imperialist ) Establishment are desperate NOT to have Trump elected, that fact alone simply means everybody should vote for Trump.

      • lester
        August 2, 2023 at 16:59

        Trump tried to start wars with Iran and Venezuela, but failed.

      • Robyn
        August 2, 2023 at 19:37

        I believe it was Trump’s administration which instigated these proceedings against Julian. So, no, do not vote for Trump.

        • Sanford Kelson
          August 3, 2023 at 06:20

          Maybe not storm the prison but to surrounded it with thousands of citizens.

    • Litchfield
      August 2, 2023 at 17:02

      At last, clarity.

      These four, and their henchmen and -women, belong at The Hague.

      I think the USA knows this—why it is not a signatory to the Hague document.

  18. Snoot Whiskerton
    August 1, 2023 at 18:57

    Good for them, but sadly at this point a Paramilitary Group is more necessary than a Parliamentary Group.

    Speaking of, have any activists tried to uh, storm Belmarsh? Not that I’m advocating that.

  19. Jeff Harrison
    August 1, 2023 at 18:24

    This is going to hurt the US very badly. It is baldly obvious to the rest of the world that the US only wants to hide its war crimes and crimes against humanity.

  20. IJ Scambling
    August 1, 2023 at 17:48

    On the “sensitivities” remarks:

    “Labor MP Julian Hill, also part of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, told The Guardian he had “a fundamentally different view of the substance of the matter than secretary Blinken expressed. But I appreciate that at least his remarks are candid and direct.”

    I don’t see Blinken’s remarks as “candid and direct” unless they mean: “Yes, we’re very embarrassed here over our behavior, which resembles that of the schoolyard bully, but we can’t change now after most of our population has demonized the man (unlike yours). So, yes, we understand how you could be upset, but as for us–well, dammit we’re stuck now in this mess we’ve made and too gutless to admit we’ve been wrong. I mean, can you imagine Joe or Hillary doing that? Anyway, thanks, and have a fantastic rest of your day.”

    • Piotr Berman
      August 1, 2023 at 19:38

      In diplomatic lingo, “candid and direct” means blatantly hostile.

  21. Maxim Gorki
    August 1, 2023 at 16:43

    Blinken’s more insane than Biden.

    • Piotr Berman
      August 1, 2023 at 19:34

      They are worthy words of a poet:
      One is a genius
      The other’s insane.
      They’re laboratory mice
      Their genes have been spliced
      They’re dinky
      They’re Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
      Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain

      Before each night is done
      Their plan will be unfurled
      By the dawning of the sun
      They’ll take over the world.

    • firstpersoninfinite
      August 1, 2023 at 23:30

      Only in the sense that Biden’s insanity is global and Blinken’s insanity is “think-tank” local. Blinken is just one more cog in the watch that is measuring our own demise. Also, I enjoyed your play, “The Lower Depths.” Of course you spelled your name differently then, at least in English translation. Watching Tolstoy watch his first moving picture show must have been a blast.

    • JonT
      August 2, 2023 at 03:54

      This is all utter utter madness. I want to go up to Blinken and shake him by his lapels and shout “What are you doing, you stupid stupid madman. Wake up out of your crazy rightwing dream state and face the reality of this situation. Julian Assange is a political prisoner. Your political prisoner. Get him out of Belmarsh, and get him out now, you nonentity, you political pygmy.”

      That’s my dream, anyway.

      • Gypsy33
        August 2, 2023 at 13:13

        May I employ the term “drawn and quartered”?
        Just in passing, of course ?

  22. Linda Edwards
    August 1, 2023 at 16:23

    Thank you Joe Lauria for consistently reporting on the status of the Julian Assange case.

    • Valerie
      August 2, 2023 at 03:00

      Hear, hear.

    • JonT
      August 2, 2023 at 03:55

      Hear, hear.

      • Norah
        August 2, 2023 at 11:59

        Or even, ‘ Here, here ‘. Blinken, Biden, the whole lot of them are in a heirarchy which controls from the top as always, they cannot go against the wishes of their Empire masters.

    • Nylene13
      August 2, 2023 at 11:49

      Yes. Political Comedian Lee Camp also defends Julian Assange here in the U.S. And has suffered payback for doing so.

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