Friday, August 17, 2012
Assange protest hits UK consulate
Four people occupied the British consulate in Melbourne's CBD this morning in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The protesters, two men and two women, entered the consulate, on the 17th floor of a building on Collins Street about 11.15am.
A small group of Assange supporters assembled outside the building holding placards, one of which read “Let him go you lying bastards” and another “respect Assange's asylum”.
The group chanted “hands off WikiLeaks, free Julian Assange”.
The group outside the building had grown to about 20 people by 1pm but dispersed shortly after.
The protest was organised by a group called WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance.
Organiser Jacob Grech said that the protest is peaceful.
“Our message is to let the British commissioner know that Julian is a Melbourne person and as such we look after our own,” Mr Grech said.
“It’s part of an international movement to let the British Government know that there are ramifications for their treatment of Julian.”
Australian Federal Police were called to the building and spoke to the protesters inside the consulate. One of the four demonstrators, Sam Castro, said they had approached the general inquiries desk to ask staff about Assange.
"UK consulate officials are refusing to speak to us,’’ Ms Castro said, "We want to speak to them about their attacks on Ecuador’s sovereignty that have massive implications for other embassies." She said police were in the room with them at the time.
‘‘They’ve suggested that we leave or we may be arrested for trespassing," Ms Castro said.
"We’ll stay here until someone from the UK consulate has the courage to actually stand before us and explain the way they are treating a sovereign nation and an Australian citizen who hasn’t been charged with any crime," Ms Castro said.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the demonstrators had been peaceful.
There were no arrests and the four who had occupied the consolate left about 1.30pm.