A Tauranga barrister is part of the legal team defending Julian Assange, who faces extradition to the US and Sweden.
Craig Tuck, founder and director of LawAid International Chambers based in Tauranga, this week confirmed his involvement, saying he was with the WikiLeaks founder in London for meetings prior to Christmas 2018.
In April, Assange was arrested by British police under UK and US warrants after being evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy, ending a seven-year-long asylum. He currently faces extradition to the US and Sweden. New charges, which supersede the previous indictment against Assange, include alleged violations of the US’s Espionage Act of 1917 and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
Tuck said that the new charges carry a maximum penalty of death.
“This is a dramatic escalation against someone who is unchallenged on the truth and validity of his revelations about mass murder, torture and spying by government agencies,” Tuck said.
“Julian Assange is being prosecuted for publishing truthful information,” he said. “Who’s next?”
Tuck said that the charges against Assange are dangerous for any journalist, including those in New Zealand who uncover secrets of other nations. Everyone who values transparency and democracy should be concerned, he said. He also said that the action against Assange will eventually hurt everyone.
“Julian Assange is the first journalist charged under the Espionage Act and is accused of participating in one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets. He is also facing moves to extradite him to Sweden on rape charges – which he has vehemently denied,” Tuck said.