UK: Assange prosecution threatens press freedom

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Source/Author: EFJ

“The ongoing prosecution of Julian Assange jeopardises media freedom everywhere in the world”, says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), in a joint statement ahead of his appeal hearing in London on 20 and 21 February. The IFJ and EFJ, which represent nearly 200 journalists unions’ and associations, have opposed Assange’s extradition since the publication of the US incitements under the US Espionage Act.

The charges relate to Wikileaks publication in 2010 of the Iraq and Afghan War Logs. These provided an extraordinarily detailed account of US military actions between 2004 and 2009. The logs included episodes such as that now known as the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, in which US soldiers in a helicopter gunned unarmed civilians, killing 12. The US accuses Assange of obtaining this footage by means that violate the Espionage Act – and others.

Dominique Pradalié, IFJ president says: “I have twice met with Julian Assange in Belmarsh and it is clear to me that he has suffered grievously for far too long. In April he will have spent five years in a British prison despite having been convicted of nothing. The actions for which the US is seeking prosecution are clearly journalistic. The conviction of Julian Assange would threaten us all”.

Maja Sever, EFJ president said: “Journalists and their unions have recognised since the outset that Julian Assange is being targeted for carrying out tasks that are the daily work of many journalists – seeking out a whistleblower and exposing criminality. We stand with journalists of every political persuasion and nationality and say that Assange should be freed at once”.

The hearing will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 20 and 21 February. It will consider an appeal against the UK Home Secretary’s decision to extradite Assange, and the decision of Judge Baraitser to reject much of the case against extradition, which was handed down in January 2021. If Assange’s application is upheld, then a full appeal will be heard later in the year. A hearing at the European Court of Human Rights is also possible, although such hearings are at the discretion of that Court, and are rarely granted.

Source: EFJ