- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Australian parliamentarians intend to visit jailed WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in London before a U.K. court weighs extraditing the Aussie to the U.S.

Andrew Wilkie, an independent member of the Australian Parliament and Army veteran, said he hopes to meet Mr. Assange in London early next year, The Sydney Morning Herald first reported Tuesday.

Mr. Wilkie said that he plans to make the trip with George Christensen, a colleague with whom he co-chairs the Parliamentary Friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home Group, according to the newspaper.

“Apart from the parliamentary group, there are a number of parliamentarians, including myself, lobbying the government privately,” Mr. Wilkie said, The Herald reported. “Interest in Assange is growing in the Parliament, and it would be fair to say that a surprising number of parliamentarians are at least privately concerned with the injustice being experienced by him.”

Mr. Assange, 48, has been jailed in London since April in connection with criminal charges unsealed in the U.S. that relate to his role soliciting and publishing classified military and diplomatic material released by his WikiLeaks website dating back nearly a decade. Extradition proceedings are currently scheduled to start in February 2020, and he faces the possibility of decades in federal prison if put on trial and convicted.

Attorneys for and advocates of Mr. Assange have previously pressed the Australian government to prevent the WikiLeaks publisher from being extradited to the U.S. Last week, they started circulating an open letter signed by 60 doctors raising concerns about his deteriorating health and warning he “could die in prison.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly been unwilling to involve Australia, however. Pamela Anderson, an actress and activist close to Mr. Assange, said last week that Mr. Morrison told her that he was unable to intervene.

Representative for Mr. Wilkie and Mr. Christensen told The Washington Times afterward that The Herald’s reporting is accurate and that the parliamentarians plan to visit Mr. Assange.

A spokesperson for the British government told The Times last month that it strongly disagrees that Mr. Assange has experienced improper treatment in the U.K.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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