Over 2,000 New Zealanders from the group “Free Assange NZ," which supports freedom for Wikileaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, have signed a petition urging the New Zealand government to offer permanent political asylum to Assange. The petition, which also calls on the country's government to provide Assange with safe passage to the country from his current location at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, will be hand delivered to Parliament Thursday.
Greg Rzesniowiecki, an activist and “Free Assange NZ” spokesperson, said the petition was launched because "Julian Assange is under effective house arrest in the UK." He said New Zealand's government should adhere to the request because the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded that Assange has been subjected to arbitrary detention since December 7, 2010.
The “Asylum for Assange” petition handover event will be held on Sept. 13 at 3:00 pm on the steps of NZ parliament. The same will be done at the House of Representatives on Sept. 18 and sent to joint select committee.
Assange has been housed at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. Lenin Moreno, Ecuador's President has said he is negotiating an agreement with the United Kingdom's government to end protections for Assange.
Wikileaks lawyer Greg Barns said last week that Assange’s health is deteriorating and unless he is released from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, his life will continue to be at risk.
Alex Hills, the co-spokesperson of “Free Assange NZ” said, “Julian has been illegally detained in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for 6 years without access to medical care and is currently enduring solitary confinement which legally meets the definition of torture (14 days is the legal limit). He has had no access to visitors and has been denied internet and phone connection. Assange's health in serious decline.”
At a demonstration in support of Assange in Wellington held Sunday where Chelsea Manning, former U.S. soldier, and whistleblower was a speaker, Alex Hills stated that the world seems to have forgotten about Assange and his struggle.
“Wikileaks has published accurate information on war crimes and corrupt government behavior for over 11 years without need for a single retraction. They are a non-partisan and publish verified source documents no matter the country or political party of origin. The United Nations Human Rights Council has ruled that Assange is illegally detained and should be immediately freed and compensated,” said Hills.