US/UK: “Drop the charges, stop the extradition and free Julian Assange,” says Amnesty head

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Amnesty International Secretary General asked the US authorities to drop the charges against him and the UK authorities not to extradite him but to release him immediately, ahead of an appeal hearing a UK court decision not to extradite Julian Assange to the US .

Agnès Callamard’s call follows an investigation by Yahoo News that reveals that US security services were considering kidnapping or killing Julian Assange while he was staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. These reports weaken the already unreliable US diplomatic assurances that Assange will not be brought under conditions that could amount to ill-treatment if extradited.

“Assurances by the US government not to put Julian Assange in a maximum security prison or subject him to abusive special administrative measures have been discredited by their admission that they reserve the right to revoke these guarantees. Now reports that the CIA is considering kidnapping or killing Assange have further challenged the reliability of the US promises and further exposed the political motivation behind the case, “said Amnesty Secretary-General Agnès Callamard.

“It is a crushing charge that almost 20 years later virtually no one responsible for alleged US war crimes in the course of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq has been held accountable, let alone prosecuted, and yet there is a publisher who has exposed such crimes, potentially “facing life imprisonment.”

The appeal hearing, scheduled for October 27-28, is set to examine five U.S. appeals, including the reliability of U.S. assurances after a British lower court ruled against Assange’s extradition in January 2021. Amnesty International has concluded that the assurances are unreliable.

The US indictment alleges that Assange conspired with a whistleblower – intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning – to illegally obtain classified information. They want him to be tried under the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the United States, where he could face a prison sentence of up to 175 years.

The US government indictment poses a grave threat to the freedom of the press in the US and abroad. The behavior described therein encompasses day-to-day professional activities of investigative journalists and publishers. Permitting the extradition of Julian Assange would criminalize current journalistic practices and allow the US and possibly other countries to attack publishers and journalists outside their jurisdiction to expose wrongdoing.

“The relentless pursuit of Julian Assange by the US government makes it clear that these charges are punitive, but the case raises concerns that go well beyond the fate of a man and endanger freedom of the media and expression,” said Agnès Callamard .

“Journalists and publishers are vital in challenging governments, exposing their wrongdoings, and holding perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable. This insincere appeal should be denied, the charges dropped, and Julian Assange released. “

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact the court: [email protected] [email protected] +44 2030365599

BACKGROUND
The US extradition request is based on charges directly related to the disclosure of classified information leaked as part of Julian Assange’s work with Wikileaks. The publication of information that is in the public interest is a cornerstone of media freedom and the public’s right to be informed about government misconduct. The publication of information in the public interest is protected by international human rights law and should not be criminalized.

If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange could face charges under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He would also be at real risk of serious human rights violations from detention conditions that could amount to torture or other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement. Julian Assange is the first publisher to be charged under the Espionage Act.

For more information, see
https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur45/4450/2021/en/
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/07/the-us-diplomatic-assurances-are-inherently-unreliable-julian-assange-must-be-released/