Maga Republican and fierce Trump supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene and leftwing Democratic firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have found common ground in freeing Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The pair are among 16 members of the US Congress who have written directly to president Joe Biden urging the United States to drop its extradition attempts against Assange and halt any prosecutorial proceedings immediately.
“It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of the government,” the letter to Biden, first reported by Nine newspapers, states.
“The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalising common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press. We urge you to ensure that this case be brought to a close in as timely a manner as possible.”
The group warns continuing the pursuit of Assange risks America’s bilateral relationship with Australia.
Assange remains in Belmarsh prison in London as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges – including under the Espionage Act. The charges are in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables, in 2010 and 2011.
In September, a cross-party delegation of Australian MPs, which included former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, teal independent Monique Ryan, Greens senators David Shoebridge and Peter Whish-Wilson, conservative Alex Antic and Labor’s Tony Zappia, travelled to America to meet with US representatives over Assange’s case.
The group hoped to gain support from American lawmakers in their bid to have the pursuit of Assange dropped ahead of Anthony Albanese’s official visit to Washington.
Since coming to power, the Albanese government has been more forward than its predecessors in pushing for Assange’s freedom, but so far the Biden government has rebuffed the calls.
Albanese confirmed he raised Assange’s case again during his meeting with Biden at the White House last month, but Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, urged the Australian government to increase the pressure.
Shipton told Guardian Australia: “If this government can get back Cheng Lei from China, why is he so impotent when it comes to Julian and the USA?”