Today, on International Human Rights Day – and as the Biden Administration hosts a “Summit for Democracy” – the United Kingdom High Court has reversed an earlier judge’s decision from January 2021 and granted the United States’ extradition request for Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange. Defending Rights & Dissent condemns this decision in the strongest possible terms.
Assange is a journalist and publisher of WikiLeaks. The US has brought 18 charges against Assange, including 17 charges under the Espionage Act. All of the Espionage Act charges stem from WikiLeaks publishing of US diplomatic and military cables, as well as Guantanamo Detainee Assessment Briefs.These publications were in the public interest. “It is an assault on the First Amendment and global press freedom to charge Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information about US war crimes and abuses of power. While the UK District Judge did not base her decision on these grave press freedom concerns, any decision that moves Assange closer into the hands of a government that plotted to assassinate him is dangerous. Not only are the charges against him an affront to global press freedom, we know Assange will face grave additional human rights abuses in US custody,” said Chip Gibbons, Policy Director of Defending Rights & Dissent.
Defending Rights & Dissent is guided by the Bill of Rights, which was adopted to limit the power of the state over individuals and to preserve basic human and individual rights for every person under U.S. jurisdiction or control, even in times of war or other national crises, and regardless of who holds elected power.
In 2015, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Defending Dissent Foundation agreed to merge to place both organizations and their respective supporters in an even stronger position to help restore constitutional rights eroded by executive agencies.