“We respectfully ask you to pardon Julian Assange.” These words open the letter sent on December 5, 2022 to the President of the United States, Joe Biden, by Stella Assange, a lawyer and human rights activist, as well as a companion of the Australian journalist, and a number of members of the European Parliament and signed it jointly. Many other citizens and human rights organizations, incl statewatch. The founder of WikiLeaks was arrested on April 11, 2019 by the British authorities at the request of the US Department of Justice and is currently being held in Belmarsh maximum security prison in the UK. On June 17, the former British home secretary, Priti Patel, authorized his extradition to the US where he awaits a trial in which he faces up to 175 years in prison. The charge hanging over Assange’s head is a violation of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
However, associations that have been campaigning for Assange’s freedom for years maintain that “dissemination of such information is the cornerstone of freedom of the press and the right of public opinion to access information of public interest. All of this must be protected, not criminalised,” he wrote, for example. Amnesty International. Moreover, the founder of WikiLeaks is the first publisher to be charged under the Espionage Act. If extradited, Assange risks facing an unfair trial and, if convicted, could be subjected to prison conditions (such as prolonged solitary confinement) that could amount to ill-treatment or torture.
The full text of the letter is reproduced below.
We respectfully ask you to pardon Julian Assange
For more than a decade, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been at the forefront of investigative journalism, publishing information that exposed massive abuses of power and corruption at the highest levels of powerful institutions. Assange was integral to establishing a free press, essential to any democracy.
Assange has access to authentic documents and sources like any serious independent investigative journalist. The WikiLeaks leaks revealed some of the US government’s most controversial and important actions, including the conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo.
The allegations against him raise serious concerns about the extent to which a Democratic government can criminalize the release of factual information. If these allegations are allowed to stand, they will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the ability of future journalists to report on issues of public interest, undermining the basic principles of a free and open society.
The tough measures put in place to punish Julian Assange for spreading the truth have inadvertently turned him into an even more powerful symbol of free speech for millions of people around the world.
Perhaps there is nothing more American than speaking the truth without fear of power. Your nation’s rich history is for the brave whistleblowerJournalists and publishers attest to this tradition. If this essential function is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies will be irreparably damaged.
Such as Leader The United States, the image and position of your country in the world is in your hands.
Assange’s pardon will prove that the United States values basic rights, truth, accountability, and the protection of those who speak out against injustice
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