Rights groups urge Biden administration to drop Assange case

ads

Human rights groups have urged the new US administration to drop its case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ahead of a Friday deadline for Washington to appeal against a court ruling that barred his extradition from Britain.

Twenty-four organisations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA and Reporters Without Borders wrote an open letter demanding a change of course by President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice.

“Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret,” the letter said.

READ  Farmers frustrated as cows invade Ekiti farms, destroy ready-for-harvest maize

READ ALSO: Senate receives Buhari’s request to confirm service chiefs

“In our view, such a precedent, in this case, could effectively criminalise these common journalistic practices.”

Under former president Donald Trump, the DoJ filed 18 charges against Assange relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The US claims he helped intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal the 2010 documents before exposing confidential sources around the world, behaving in a reckless way well beyond normal journalistic practice.

READ  US Supreme Court Allows Release Of Trump Tax Records To Prosecutors

He faces a possible 175-year sentence if convicted but Assange and his lawyers have long argued the case against him is politically motivated.

READ ALSO: #DefendLagos, #OccupyLekkiTollGate campaigners clash over planned protest

However, revelations that Assange had sought to coordinate with Trump’s campaign team in 2016 have not endeared him to Biden’s Democrats in Washington, after WikiLeaks also leaked internal party emails that helped tip that year’s election to the Republican.

In 2010, when he was vice president, Biden called Assange a “high tech terrorist” who had put lives at risk.

READ  COVID-19: WHO team visits Wuhan lab

Last month, a London judge refused to grant a US request for Assange’s extradition but then refused him bail, pending any DoJ appeal against her verdict.

READ ALSO: Osinbajo rules out break-up, says Nigeria must remain one

The 49-year-old Australian has been held at a high-security prison since he was convicted in 2019 for skipping bail, following his forcible removal from Ecuador’s embassy in London where he had sheltered for seven years.

AFP

ads

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply