Mr Julian Assange
(Question No. 1483)
Senator Ludlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 5 December 2011:
In regard to the Minister's responsibility for the protection of consular and legal rights of all Australian citizens overseas and the answer to question on notice no. 1282 regarding Mr Julian Assange:
(1) On what dates have consular officers ‘been in regular touch with his lawyers'.
(2) When consular officials ‘attended all eleven of Mr Assange's court appearances' did any interaction or exchange occur with Mr Assange or his legal team.
(3) As a result of attending all eleven of Mr. Assange's court appearances, what reporting did consular officials provide and to whom.
(4) On the three occasions when the Australian Government sought assurances from Sweden that Mr Assange's case would be handled in accordance with due process (7 December 2010, 5 January and 10 February 2011): (a) did the Government seek specific assurances that Mr Assange would not be subject to the temporary surrender mechanism that could specifically result in his extradition to the United States of America (US); if so did the government seek such assurances in the form of writing or through verbal communications; and (b) what was the Government told by the Swedish authorities and in what form.
(5) Given the answer to question 1282 indicated that the Government ‘has no formal advice of any Grand Jury investigation' when the question asked as to whether the Government sought advice, has the Government actually sought clarification, formally or informally, from the US Government about the existence of a Grand Jury investigation and as to what crimes for which Mr. Assange is being investigated.
(6) What legal or other advice has the department sought and from whom regarding Mr Assange's current extradition process.
(7) To whom has the department provided legal and other advice regarding Mr. Assange's current extradition process.
Senator Conroy - the following answer has been provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Honourable Senator's question:
(1) Consular officers have communicated (via letter, email, telephone or face to face) with Mr Assange's lawyers - Birnberg, Peirce & Partners - on the following dates in 2011:
(a) 15 December
(b) 9 December
(c) 5 December
(d) 29 November
(e) 28 November
(f) 15 November
(g) 9 November
(h) 7 November
(i) 2 November
(j) 28 October
(k) 25 October
(l) 19 September
(m) 8 August
(n) 14 July
(o) 13 July
(p) 12 July
(q) 6 July
(r) 30 June
Prior to this, consular officials were in contact with Mr Assange's previous legal team.
(2) Consular officials were able to speak with Mr Assange prior to his 7 February hearing but not at his other court appearances. Consular officers spoke with Mr Assange's lawyers at the courts following his appearances on 24 February, 12 July and 13 July 2011. Consular officers were in contact with Mr Assange's lawyers following the court hearings on 2 November and 5 December 2011.
(3) Consular officials reported to DFAT and other relevant Government agencies through the diplomatic cable network.
(4) (a) No. This is because there is no distinction, in terms of the legal protection afforded a person whose extradition is being sought, between "temporary surrender" and extradition. "Temporary surrender" is not an alternative to extradition. It is how extradition is described in a situation where the person whose extradition is sought is either already on trial or imprisoned in the country which has received the extradition request. It describes the option the requested State has in this situation to interrupt its own proceedings in the country seeking the extradition. All protections available to the person whose extradition is sought apply equally to an extradition that is a "temporary surrender". Provision for "temporary surrender" is an increasingly common feature in modern extradition relationships and is not unique to the relationship between the US and Sweden. It is included in Australian extradition treaties and in the Extradition Act 1988. It is also included in all extradition relationships between the US and member states of the European Union, including the United Kingdom.
(b) Australian officials were advised orally by Swedish officials that Mr Assange's case would be afforded due process.
(6) The Department has sought advice from the Attorney-General's Department on Australia's extradition process. The Department has also sought information on extradition law, processes and practice from authorities in the United Kingdom and Sweden.
(7) The Department has provided information to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his office on Mr Assange's current extradition process. The Department has shared information with other relevant agencies in Australia on Mr Assange's current extradition process, including the Attorney-General's Department. The Department has shared information on this matter with Mr Assange's lawyers and with Senator Ludlam.