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As an Australian, it's been incredibly frustrating to see how incredibly distorted the commentary has been on reddit and occasionaly here on news.ycombinator.

Assange's passport was confiscated for 15 minutes while customs officials examined it because of wear and tear. This is a common procedure. It was then returned to him, and he was told that it may be cancelled (because of damage). If that's the case, he simply has to reapply for another passport.


>(At the time of writing, his passport status was apparently back to normal after immigration officials at Melbourne Airport said that his passport was going to be cancelled on the grounds that it was too tatty).

>''It has been in a couple of rivers,'' Assange allows, of the state of his passport. The first time, as he recalls, in December, 2006, when he was crossing a swollen river during heavy rain, in southern Tasmania, and was swept out to sea. He swam back in.


I concur that Aussie cops and immigration officers are the most civil of the 30+ countries I have been to.

I know the government can be pressured by "allies" to act int nefarious ways, but I will always defer to good judgment and kind heart of Aussies to do the right thing.

It's an unassuming, proletariat country, where even the usual government goons are suspicious of bureaucracy. I felt the first whiff of their professionalism when computer ate my online electronic visa application, and the consulate in D.C. gave me a hand-signed "Pass" into Australia few hours before my flight. Second time was when I was renewing my visa, the clerk found out I had 3 days left, of which 2 were weekend days; she escorted me out of the line into an express booth and everything was sorted out. Can't wait to return here in 2 months and for my immigration papers to get approved. I am eager to call it home, what not with an aussie mrs.

FWIW, fellow yanks should google Australian "COPS" type shows, where they show police arresting criminals, etc. It's a laughable joke! I have seen drunks and thieves abuse, spit and attack police officers. In the U.S. that would mean a one way ticket to the operating room, and if you're lucky to make it out alive, a prison cell.

Even though she was engaged to be married to an Aussie, a Melbourne immigration official kicked my sister out of the country for a year because he was having a bad day, so YMMV.

I think Aussies just want to make sure you can take care of yourself. When I was renewing my visa, I made it clear to the officer that if necessary, I could fly to NZ that night and reapply from there.

My suggestion is, until you have your TR/PR visa, be lightweight and be mobile. Always have your bank statements and few grands in cash to show you're not a burden and you're not moonlighting illegally in the country.

However, there is always the possibility of someone having a bad day to mess up your plans.

She was employed by the state of Victoria as well as enrolled part time at unimelb. The immigration official made it clear he didn't like Americans. What I found interesting was that although Australia touts its algorithmic "points based" immigration system, the end decision is arbitrarily made by a human, just like any other country's immigration system.

That's exactly what I guessed (worse, really) based on his track record. I wonder who it could possibly be who kicked up a media storm about this? The guy who took the passport for 15 minutes? Reporters in the room at the time? Hmm, that's a hard one.

It's very disappointing. We badly need something like Wikileaks, but it can't work in the long run unless it's done in a principled and scrupulous way. Exactly the opposite of these ego games.

Edit: something's odd about this, though. Assange's no dummy. But you'd have to be an idiot to think you could spin a triviality like this into an international incident.

There isn't a media storm. All of the articles I've read have accurately stated that the passport was only temporarily confiscated while customs officials examined the passport because of wear and tear. The hysteria only exists on places like reddit where college students with mediocre educations don't bother reading articles, and have created a distorted image within their minds of Australia based on sensationalist headlines.

edit: here's the actual interview



here's the specific part where the passport is discussed.


There isn't a media storm.

Heh. I guess it was a storm in the internet teacup I inhabit.

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