What’s At Stake In The Julian Assange Case
The UK High Court has granted the US government on July 7 the permission to appeal a decision that denies the extradition of WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange. If this means anything, it is that Assange will be exposed to gross violations in the not-too-distant future.
In January, the British Court blocked the extradition of Assange to the US on health grounds. There were fears that he might get exposed to tremendous threats.
Assange (50) is currently held in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison since he was arrested in April 2019.
US officials say that Assange violated the Espionage Act which prohibits the publication of a classified document.
While the Biden administration pledged to protect Assange from human rights violations in US prisons, press freedom advocates denounced the latest decision of the British Court.
Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, urged the Biden Administration to drop the prosecution held under his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“I’m appealing to the Biden administration to do the right thing. This appeal was taken two days before the Trump administration left office, and if the Biden administration is serious about respecting the rule of law, the First Amendment, and defending global press freedom, the only thing it can do is drop this case.”
Independent journalists are under attack, not only in authoritarian states but also in well-established democracies.
It is worth mentioning that Assange exposed US torture programs under Bush, US soldiers killing civilians and journalists in Iraq, and the Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
Hypocrisy: Now more than ever, the US will ramp up it is efforts to silence dissidents amid growing free press movements. President Joe Biden vowed to promote human rights around the world. Hence, the administration should take an action to meet its normative rhetoric.
“Therein lies the problem. These charges are so broad-based that if successful they would go well beyond this individual case – they would impact investigative journalism and open up prosecutions of countless media doing this journalism, they would have a chilling effect on all journalists reporting on national security and foreign affairs matters,” Mr. Khalil, the member for the Victorian seat of Wills said.
The extradition of Assange to the US signals that cracking down on independent voices is becoming a norm. A month ago, one of the witnesses admitted that he made false claims against Assange to avoid prosecution. Truth to be told, Assange constitutes a headache to the power players who fear getting exposed for their dirty work.
Kevin Gosztola, the managing editor of the news website Shadow Proof, said: “It needs to be emphasized how extraordinary it is that someone accused of a non-violent crime is kept in a prison, even though they win their case.
For years, the US has been exploiting human rights for political reasons. From President Bush to President Trump, the US has intervened in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to force its so-called Western democratic principles. The question is: Do we consider the US as a real democracy?