Announcing: Protest Under Fire!November 7, 2023
Protest, encryption loom large in Cop City RICO jury selectionDecember 12, 2023
On November 8, 2023, 16 members of Congress went on record for Assange: they sent a letter to President Joe Biden to withdraw the extradition request against Australian publisher Julian Assange and end the prosecutorial proceedings against him. Members of both parties and both chambers of Congress signed onto the letter which was initiated by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky .
Defending Rights & Dissent worked closely with McGovern’s office, and led a coalition of press freedom groups in urging members of Congress to sign onto the letter. In addition to mobilizing grassroots support for the letter, our staff engaged in intensive outreach and education to priority offices, and alerted every office on the Hill about the importance of the letter, urging them to sign it, on behalf of ourselves, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Reporters without Borders, and The Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts.
In addition to McGovern and Massie, the letter was signed by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Rep. Greg Casar, D-Texas, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, D-Ill., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
The letter read in part:
We believe the Department of Justice acted correctly in 2013, during your vice- presidency, when it declined to pursue charges against Mr. Assange for publishing the classified documents because it recognized that the prosecution would set a dangerous precedent. We note that the 1917 Espionage Act was ostensibly intended to punish and imprison government employees and contractors for providing or selling state secrets to enemy governments, not to punish journalists and whistleblowers for attempting to inform the public about serious issues that some U.S. government officials might prefer to keep secret. We are aware that the Assange case has been cited by officials of the People’s Republic of China to claim that the U.S. is “hypocritical” when it comes to its purported support for media freedom. We are also well aware that should the U.S. extradition and prosecution go forward, there is a significant risk that our bilateral relationship with Australia will be badly damaged.
It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of government. The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalizing common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press. We urge you to ensure that this case be brought to a close in as timely a manner as possible.
You can read the letter in its entirety here.