Earlier this morning, as expected, a UK magistrate ordered Julian Assange’s extradition to the US. This is the result of the UK Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the WikiLeaks publisher’s appeal. The extradition order will now go to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. UK prosecutors representing the US government and Assange’s defense team will have four weeks to make the case as to why Assange should or should not be extradited to the US. For over a decade, Defending Rights & Dissent has steadfastly opposed any move by the US government to retaliate against, prosecute, and persecute Assange for publishing truthful information. Our policy director Chip Gibbons had the following statement
Under no circumstances should Julian Assange be extradited to the United States. Since WikiLeaks helped publish Chelsea Manning’s historic disclosures about the realities of US foreign policy, nearly every branch of the US government, including the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Defense have worked to silence Assange. The CIA engaged in a shocking plot against Assange. Assange, who is already a victim of torture and arbitrary detention, will face further human rights abuses in the US.
Assange’s prosecution is an assault on press freedom. Never before has a publisher of truthful information been indicted under the Espionage Act. The US government’s unprecedented Espionage Act indictment revolves around 2010 to 2011 disclosures about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and the backroom dealings of the State Department. All of these revelations were in the public interest, hence why major newspapers, such as the New York Times, worked with WikiLeaks to publish them and human rights advocates have relied on them.
The Home Secretary can and should reject this request. We understand that Assange’s legal team has other potential options in the UK and with the European Court of Human Rights. But the fate of the First Amendment should not be in the hands of British officials. The Biden Administration can and should end this with the stroke of a pen today.
In spite of its terrible record on press freedom, the Obama administration resisted pressure from the FBI and the CIA to charge Julian Assange and WikiLeaks given the grave threat to press freedom. President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland should break with the course set by Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo and his Attorney General Jeff Session and end this prosecution.
Additional information about the Assange case and its impact on the First Amendment is available here:
From the Primary Sources Podcast:
The Persecution of Julian Assange featuring Nils Melzer
The War on WikiLeaks featuring Kevin Gosztola
Wikileaks & The Guantanamo Files feat. Andy Worthington & Clive Stafford Smith
Assange Extradition Threatens Global Press Freedom, February 26, 2020
Julian Assange’s Extradition to the United States Would Result in Serious Human Rights Violations, Jacobin
Defending Rights & Dissent Joins Press Freedom Groups in Calling on Biden Admin to Drop Assange Charges, February 9, 2021
Statement on the Potential Prosecution of Julian Assange, November 16, 2018
Defending Rights & Dissent’s Statement on the Indictment of Julian Assange, April 11, 2019
Defending Rights & Dissent Condemns Unprecedented Attack On Press Freedom, Espionage Act Indictments of Julian Assange, May 23,2019
Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, James Goodale on the Assange Extradition Trial
The Extradition of Julian Assange and the Future of Global Press Freedom