Will charges against Julian Assange be dropped? UK hears US' 'grounds' to appeal extradition

The US government appealed against the UK court's decision to block Julian Assange's extradition


                            Will charges against Julian Assange be dropped? UK hears US' 'grounds' to appeal extradition
IFJ asserted on their repeated calls for the 'politically motivated' charges to be dropped against Julian Assange (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Australian journalist, Julian Assange has been detained in the United Kingdom since April 2019. The founder of WikiLeaks and an IFJ press cardholder was charged under the Espionage Act in the United States for disclosing classified documents (primarily documents on the US crimes during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan). Assange faces charges that could place him in prison for more than 100 years. Assange was earlier expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had been granted asylum for years.

In January this year, a district court in the UK blocked Assange’s extradition to the United States on the grounds that the 'harsh conditions of US imprisonment' might put him at risk of suicide. The US government appealed against the decision at the High Court in London and the preliminary hearing started Wednesday, August 11. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) asserted on their repeated calls for the 'politically motivated' charges to be dropped against Assange.

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Advocating  Assange's release, IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said, "President Joe Biden must end the years of politically motivated prosecution of Julian Assange by finally dropping the charges against him. The criminalization of whistleblowers and investigative journalists has no place in a democracy. Condemning Assange would not only endanger his life but also fundamental principles of press freedom." Assange's supporters swarmed the streets of London holding 'FreeAssange' placards on August 11, as the hearing started. 

The High Court has granted the US government’s request to expand the scope of its appeal of the extradition ruling. Assange’s appeal hearing is now scheduled for October 27-28, 2021. The US filed an application at the London High Court, appealing the District Court's decision of blocking Assange's extradition by requesting permission to appeal on five lines of argument. While three out of five grounds of appeal were granted permission earlier, two separate High Court judges heard arguments on whether to allow the remaining two grounds on August 11.

'Journalism is not a crime'

As the updates from Assange's extradition hearing made news, people flocked to Twitter in large numbers demanding his release with the 'FreeAssange' hashtag. One user wrote, "Journalism is not a crime. Free Julian Assange." Another tweeted, "Assange will be free if he survives this horrendous process. I will rejoice on the day that he can be with his partner and two young children. #FreeAssangeNow." One user commented, "US corporate media despise Assange because he's broken more huge stories than they have or ever could. That's why corrupt US officials wants to imprison him for life while feeding them cookies: because he does real journalism. His existence is a testament to the frauds they are."

Another said, "The real criminals are not Assange but those whom he exposed, and it is exactly those criminals who are now attempting to ensure that he stays in prison until he breaks completely and permanently -- all as punishment for one thing: reporting on their crimes and lies."



 



 



 



 

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