Julian Assange's father wants New Zealand to offer his son asylum

John Shipton, Julian Assange's father.
John Shipton, Julian Assange's father. Photo credit: Getty Images

The father of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, wants his son to be sent to New Zealand to live while his ongoing legal battles continue.

A British judge yesterday denied a request to extradite Assange to the United States, where the 49-year-old faces espionage charges over a massive leak of classified documents.

The judge denied the US extradition request on the grounds that Assange's mental health problems meant he would be at risk of suicide, but US prosecutors are set to appeal the ruling.

The US authorities accuse the 49-year-old of 18 offences relating to the release by WikiLeaks of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which they say put lives in danger.

Assange's father, John Shipton, has co-signed a letter pushing for his son, who is Australian, to be sent to New Zealand until the legal issues are resolved.

One of Julian Assange's lawyers, Tauranga-based Craig Tuck, said that would be an ideal option.

"There'd be safety, there'd be a whole set of conditions that would be available to him to progress matters, as opposed to being locked in a high security jail."

Tuck said New Zealand had a fantastic human rights record and would provide the security his client needs.

He said Assange's legal challenges could take years to complete and he was not allowed to return to Australia until that happened.

Assange has already spent much of the last decade either in prison for self-imposed confinement.

Tuck said a move to New Zealand would be an ideal option to help his client's wellbeing.

"There's all sorts of health concerns and we're involved in various meetings and communication around this particular topic and will be this week," he said.

RNZ / Reuters