Has the PM asked the USA if they intend to try to get Assange from Sweden?
Why does the question matter: and why will the PM not answer it?
The state owes its citizens protection when they get into trouble in another country: that obligation is the counterpart of a citizen's duty of loyalty, which underpins the crime of treason. It is an obligation which arises regardless of whether the citizen is a person you admire or a person you despise.
Assange is undoubtedly famous or notorious for his work at Wikileaks; he is the subject of calls by some US politicians that he be assassinated; he has been called a 'cyber-terrorist' by other US politicans and commentators. Bradley Manning has been treated disgracefully by the US over the past two years, and if the US get their hands on Assange, he will be in real trouble: not because he has broken any law, but because his Iraq video embarrassed the Americans.
It is important to find out what, if anything, the Australian government has done to determine what the Americans will try to do in relation to Assange.
The circumstances in which Sweden sought Assange's extradition were extremely unusual. He had been tod by the Swedish authorities that he was free to leave Sweden. He did so, and went to Britain. After Wikileaks revealed a large number of cables which irritated the USA (and which were re-published by the mainstream press around the world) The Swedish authorities sought to extradite Assange from Britain: not to face charges, because he has not been charged with anything. They wanted to get him to Sweden in order to question him. He offered to speak to them in Britain, but they refused that offer and pressed to extradite him. Immediately, their true motives become a matter of legitimate speculation. The USA have a 'witness borrowing' programme with Sweden. It would be naïve to imagine that they will not try to get their hands on Assange.
Julia Gillard condemned Assange as soon as the big leak of cables happened. She has softened her stance since then, but not much. She has conspicuously refused to say whether she has asked the US whether they will try to get their hands on Assange. She avoided answering the question on Q&A on Monday 11 June, even when Tony Jones pressed her.
The question is worth putting until the PM is prepared to answer it, because then we will know what sort of help Assange will need, and whether he will get the help he is entitled to. He will surely need all our help if the Americans ‘borrow’ him from Sweden.
Is it possible that an Australian government would leave one of its citizens to be mistreated by America? Just ask David Hicks.