By Luciana Borsatti – The founder of WikiLeaks appeared in Court last week in London. He could face 175 years in prison if found guilty on all charges
The extradition case against Julian Assange, who appeared in Woolwich Crown Court last week in London, concerns many international organizations fighting for media freedom. The founder of WikiLeaks has been indicted on 17 counts of violating the US Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents and he could face up to 175 years in prison if found guilty on all charges. The trial is expected to end in May with an appealable sentence, while the final one is expected in late 2020.
Reporters Without Borders launched a petition against Assange’s extradition, signed by about 53.000 people so far. Read here
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human rights, Dunja Mijatović, said that Julian Assange should not be extradited due to potential impact on press freedom and concerns about ill-treatment. . “The indictment raises important questions about the protection of those that publish classified information in the public interest, including those that expose human rights violations. The broad and vague nature of the allegations against him, and of the offences listed in the indictment, are troubling as many of them concern activities at the core of investigative journalism in Europe and beyond”, she added. Read here
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, called on UK authorities not to extradite Assange. “The public interest of several of the publications by WikiLeaks in 2010 should be taken into account, as they contributed to important investigative repCouncilorts and news reporting. It is essential to consider the impact on freedom of expression and media freedom if he is extradited and convicted. This could have a chilling effect on journalism and press freedom.” Read here
The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, urged the UK not to extradite him. The IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad stated that “The UK, which has cast itself as a leader in the fight for media freedom, should deny this extradition request in light of the serious threat to the press posed by the prosecution of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act in the United States”. said Read here