Posted: August 2, 2022, 12:24 PM.
Last updated: August 2, 2022, 12:24 PM.
Distressed casino mogul James Packer has given AU$250,000 (US$174,000) to the campaign to free Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and “bring him home to Australia,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Crown Resorts founder James Packer (left) donates to the campaign to save Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in an apparent effort to improve his public image. (Image: Today News Post/PA MediaCasino.org)
Assange has been languishing in a London prison since April 2019, battling extradition to the US on charges of espionage. Before that, he camped in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years in an attempt to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden to be charged with rape.
“Of course I support Julian Assange. What happened to him is outrageous,” Packer told Nine Newspapers. “Many fine people I know are working around the clock for his freedom. I will continue to support him. At all costs.”
Federal prosecutors accuse Australian native Assange of conspiring to access a secret US government computer with former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
In July 2010, Wikileaks began publishing tens of thousands of classified files related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were passed on to the activist site by Manning.
The footage included footage and audio of two Apache helicopters firing and killing a group of civilians, whom the crews mistakenly believed were armed Iraqi insurgents.
The attack killed two Reuters journalists and injured two children. The crews hear laughter at some of the victims.
Assange is a polarizing figure. To many, across the political spectrum, he is a champion of civil liberties and press freedom and a crusader for corporate and government transparency. According to his critics, he is a cybercriminal who has endangered the lives of hundreds of dissidents in Afghanistan and Iraq by publishing unedited files.
Packer works on reputation
Packer’s decision to associate with Assange is curious. The billionaire was a scion of Australia’s most powerful media empire until he switched to casinos. And he’s more used to hanging out on superyachts with right-wing Israeli prime ministers than throwing his weight on anti-establishment political targets.
But Packer came out badly last year during a regulatory inquiry in New South Wales that ultimately stripped Crown Resorts of its playing license in Sydney. And he told Nine Newspapers this week that he was on a 10-year mission to “restore his reputation,” so maybe he wants to be seen as less “establishment.”
Packer, who resigned from the Crown Resorts board entirely in 2018 due to mental health issues, still acted like a “de facto director” and exerted a “dysfunctional influence” on the company that had been “disastrous,” according to research chair Patricia. Bergin .
Meanwhile, the company he founded was guilty of “poor corporate governance, flawed risk management structures and processes, and a poor corporate culture,” Bergin said.
The investigation found that Crown had “facilitated money laundering, exposed personnel to the risk of detention in a foreign jurisdiction and pursued commercial relationships with individuals” linked to organized crime.
Whatever his reasons, $250,000 is a big change for Packer, who expects to earn about AU$3.2 billion (US$2.2 billion) from the sale of Crown Resorts to US private equity giant Blackstone.
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