Television interview, Sunrise

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

Media contact

02 6277 7800

Release content

26 June 2024

SUBJECTS: Julian Assange

NATALIE BARR, HOST: I'm joined by Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. Good morning to you. The Government, as we know have long campaigned for Assange's release. How significant is today?

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is a very significant day, there's no doubt about that. There's a limit to what I can say right now, but we are expecting, as you're reporting, that Mr Assange will appear in a US court this morning in Saipan. But we've been advocating on behalf of Mr Assange now, since we've come to government, because whatever one's views of what Mr Assange originally did, he's been incarcerated for a protracted period of time. His case needed legal resolution and as with any other Australian in a circumstance overseas where their legal rights need to be advocated for, we've been doing that on behalf of Mr Assange and we are very pleased that this issue is now moving today.

BARR: Yes. So, how did the plea actually come about, the plea deal? Did you have to, you had to lobby the UK and the US? Hard, I guess.

MARLES: Well, again, I can't go into the detail of any of that publicly, other than to say that we've been advocating on behalf of Mr Assange with both the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States and we are really pleased that this issue has got to the point that it has today, because what this represents is bringing to a resolution a situation which did not have resolution and was resulting in a protracted period of incarceration for Mr Assange.

BARR: As you say, he has had his detractors about the release of these documents, it's been well publicised. Is there any evidence anyone was harmed or in fact killed because of the release of these documents all those years ago?

MARLES: Look, I don't think it serves Nat to go over the circumstances of this as they occurred years ago. It was the subject of a whole lot of commentary by many people, including me at the time. The point really is that irrespective of all of that back then, Mr Assange has now been incarcerated for many, many years and he was being incarcerated in circumstances where there did not seem to be any conclusion to his situation. That is not fair and that is why we were advocating on his behalf and that we are now seeing a resolution to his circumstances is a very positive thing, and we look forward to this being heard in the US court this morning. You know, from there, it really is a matter for the court process to run its course and I don't want to comment on that and then we will see what happens after that.

BARR: Yes, but you're right, it was one of the biggest breaches of state secrets in US history, and they were the facts of the case. Just, we know it has been a long, hard road and an enormous job job in getting him back. So, has the Federal Government paid for that private jet? We've seen reports this morning that his side is launching an appeal to what, pay back our Federal Government, is that right?

MARLES: Look, so to be clear on it, the Federal Government is not paying for his transport. The costs of that are being covered by the Assange team. We've obviously facilitated a number of movements here, but the costs of this are not being borne by The Commonwealth, and it's important to understand that we are facilitating his travel and we are doing all the kind of consular assistance that we would provide to any Australian in a circumstance such as this.

BARR: Yeah. Ok, look, thanks very much for keeping us up to date, Richard Marles.

MARLES: Thanks, Nat.


Other related releases