Julian Assange’s extradition ruling is a blow to press freedom

In a judgment on Friday that too Julian Assange A London appeals court opened the door for the WikiLeaks founder to be extradited amid charges in the United States. In 2019, Assange was charged by the Department of Justice in 17 cases of 2010 espionage violation for assisting in the disclosure of US military secrets related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since then, Assange has been on the run and spent years inside the walls of the Ecuadorian embassy in London trying to avoid prosecution in the United States

Protesters gathered outside the courthouse holding up signs saying “Journalism is not a crime” shouted “Free Julian Assange” and “No extradition”. Critics of US efforts against Assange claim the DOJ’s indictment could severely cripple freedom of the press around the world, as the charges came after the WikiLeaks founder exposed suspected war crimes during the Iraq invasion. One of the most infamous videos posted by WikiLeaks in its 2010 document dump depicts US Apache attack helicopters firing indiscriminately at a crowd in Baghdad, killing several civilians, including two Reuters news workers.

Although Assange is not a traditional publisher, like, say, The New York Times, Accusing him of disclosing government secrets under the Espionage Act could be a slippery descent on which more mainstream outlets are similarly tracked. “The US government itself is jeopardizing the media’s ability to unearth inconvenient truths and to expose official crimes and cover-ups,” read an editorial on Friday in The guard, one of the first publications to release revelations from the WikiLeaks cache. “The decision is not just a blow to his family and friends who fear he will not survive imprisonment in the US,” he added Guardian Editor. “It is also a blow to anyone who wants to protect freedom of the press.”

“It doesn’t matter if Assange is a journalist – this case will have far-reaching implications for freedom of the press.” tweeted Jameel Jaffer, Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “The Trump admin should never have filed the indictment, and the Biden admin should withdraw it.” Jaffer’s organization was part of a coalition of civil rights and human rights groups – including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Human Rights Watch – that wants the Biden administration earlier this year Do not extradite and prosecute Assange. On Friday, Ben Wizner, The director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project said “these charges criminalize investigative journalism”.

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While a UK lower court previously refused to give the go-ahead to the DOJ’s extradition request, the judge warned that Assange had “a recurrent depressive disorder” that could cause him to harm himself or to die of suicide if he one of US prison terms, judge Timothy Holroyde the country’s high court has just overturned that ruling. Holroyde noted that the US had assured him that Assange would not be held in a maximum security prison. Assange, 50, who is currently incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison in London, will appeal the High Court’s decision and try it before the UK Supreme Court.

Barry Pollack, A lawyer representing Assange released a statement confirming his plans to appeal the verdict. “It is very worrying that a UK court overturned a decision not to extradite Julian Assange and accepted vague assurances from the US government. Mr. Assange will seek a review of this decision by the United Kingdom Supreme Court. ” Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancée expressed her indignation at the High Court in comments to reporters. “How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible to extradite Julian to the very country that planned to kill him?” Said Moris, referring to an alleged CIA plot to kidnap or murder Assange during Donald Trump‘s tenure as Commander in Chief. “We will appeal this decision as soon as possible.”

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