Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, and Joseph Farrell, ambassador of the organization, met with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico. During their Latin American tour, representatives of Wikileaks have so far been received by Presidents of Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia.
López Obrador reiterated his solidarity with Julian Assange, imprisoned in the Belmarsh maximum security prison in London, and promised to speak about the case with US President Joe Biden, in the private meeting of both leaders.
Hrafnsson noted that the meeting “was a good conclusion to our tour of Latin America. Now we have the commitment of all the main countries south of the US border, to put pressure on the Biden administration, call on it to do the right thing and practice what he preaches on the issue of free speech, and to drop the charges against Julian.”
Hrafnsson emphasized that it is clear that Assange’s case is political and not judicial. “They are even avoiding the fact that the extradition request violates the extradition treaty between the United States and Great Britain. This treaty prohibits extradition for political reasons, and Julian is charged with the political offense in its purest form: espionage.” So “we cannot depend on the judicial process, we have to treat this for what it is: a political persecution that requires the intervention and interest of political leaders”, he said.
Continuing their Latin American tour, Wikileaks representatives Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-Chief and Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador were received by Bolivia President, Luis Arce and the Minister of the Presidency, Maria Nela Prada to discuss the case of WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange. The meeting took place on Saturday, December 17th, in the capital La Paz at the Casa Grande del Pueblo.
President Arce spoke frankly of the threat to press freedom and the necessity to uphold human rights and the right to information. The president was firm in his support of Julian Assange and the desire to see him a free man.
Today, The Commission on Human Rights and Participative Legislation (CDH) of the Federal Senate of Brazil has held an interactive public hearing to shed light at the numerous cases of attacks and threats to the work of journalists in Brazil and around the world, including the Julian Assange case. The hearing was held at the initiative of Senator Humberto Costa (PT-PE), who presided over the Panel. It was convened as a part of Wikileaks Latin American tour. Wikileaks representatives Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell previously met with Presidents of Colombia, Brazil and Argentina, as well as with numerous legislators, policy makers and representatives of media freedom organizations.
“It is ironic that the accusers are precisely the ones who were unmasked,” said Carol Proner, a professor of international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Assange’s case itself brings to light the “crimes committed” by US security forces, said the lawyer during the hearing.
The editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson highlighted that the possible extradition of Assange “will send a signal that any journalist who ventures to expose the secrets of the powerful will be punished”.
The Commission has deliberated that it will produce a note to be sent to the US, UK and Australian Embassies and form a delegation to go to Washington. It also mentioned that the Brazilian President-elect Lula da Silva has endorsed WikiLeaks and stated that defending the freedom of Julian Assange will be part of government policy.
December 8, 2022 — A coalition of 21 freedom of press and human rights organisations – including Committee to Protect Journalists, ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Index On Censorship, RSF, Freedom Of The Press Foundation – have written a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to abandon the persecution of Julian Assange.
The letter reads:
“We, the undersigned coalition of press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights organizations, write to express grave concern about the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings relating to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, under the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
“It is more than a year since our coalition sent a joint letter calling for the charges against Assange to be dropped. In June, then U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition to the United States, a decision that Assange’s legal team is in the process of appealing. Today, we repeat those concerns, and urge you to heed our request. We believe that the prosecution of Assange in the U.S. would set a harmful legal precedent and deliver a damaging blow to press freedom by opening the way for journalists to be tried under the Espionage Act if they receive classified material from whistleblowers.
“It is time for the Biden administration to break from the Trump administration’s decision to indict Assange – a move that was hostile to the media and democracy itself. Correcting the course is essential to protect journalists’ ability to report freely on the United States without fear of retribution.
“We again urge you to protect democratic values and human rights norms, including freedom of the press, by abandoning this relentless pursuit of Assange.”
The groups wrote to the Biden DOJ back in February and October 2021 to warn of the dangers of the Assange prosecution, and here they reiterate how it threatens media freedom and the First Amendment and undermines the country’s ability to defend journalists against repression by authoritarian and other rights-abusing regimes abroad.
They discussed Julian Assange’s plight and the ongoing extradition battle. After the meeting Hrafnsson stated that “the President told us that he would support our mission”, adding that “it is extremely positive to receive such a clear signal of support from the country’s highest authority”.
Hrafnsson stressed that “it is not just about a man or a life, it is about a much greater interest: it is the freedom of the press in the world that is at stake” and concluded by saying: “That is the position of the main human rights organizations in the world that have taken an interest in the case and for this reason the leaders have joined so strongly”.
Continuing their Latin American tour, Wikileaks representatives Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell met with President-elect of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to discuss the freedom of Julian Assange.
President-elect of Brazil Lula da Silva expressed his ongoing support for Julian Assange and the demand to end his persecution, understanding it can damage press freedom worldwide.
Kristinn Hrafnnson, Editor-in-Chief of Wikileaks, and Joseph Farrell, Wikileaks Ambassador “briefed me on the health situation and the fight for the freedom of Julian Assange,” Lula tweeted, “I asked them to send my solidarity. May Assange be released from his unjust imprisonment,” he added.
In Brasilia, Hrafnnson and Farrell were received by Humberto Costa, President of the Brazilian Senat’s Commission for Human Rights and Maria do Rosario, Member of Federal Parliament and former Minister for Human Rights.
At the same time, Brazilian lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution urging the US authorities to drop the charges against Julian Assange. The resolution will be filed at the American Embassy and addressed to US President Biden and the US Congress.
The five media organizations that first helped WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange publish leaked diplomatic cables have penned an open letter telling the U.S. government it must drop his prosecution because it is undermining press freedom.
The letter reads:
“Cablegate”, a set of 251,000 confidential cables from the US state department, disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.
For Julian Assange, publisher of WikLeaks, the publication of “Cablegate” and several other related leaks had the most severe consequences. On April 12th 2019, Assange was arrested in London on a US arrest warrant, and has now been held for three and a half years in a high-security British prison usually used for terrorists and members of organised crime groups. He faces extradition to the US and a sentence of up to 175 years in an American maximum-security prison.
This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s first amendment and the freedom of the press.
Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.
Twelve years after the publication of “Cablegate”, it is time for the US government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.
“…at this critical juncture there should be no lack of clarity regarding the extradition charges against Assange. That’s why it is important that the message of the IFJ’s “Journalism is Not a Crime” campaign be amplified—not just by media outlets and journalists but also by civil rights and civil liberties groups. Last year, the ACLU, Amnesty International USA, and Human Rights Watch warned the Justice Department that “a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be used against publishers and journalists alike, chilling their work and undermining freedom of the press.”
“The conduct for which Assange is accused of breaking the law is exactly what the new DOJ regulation defines as protected “news gathering”; namely “the process by which a member of the news media collects, pursues or obtains information or records for purposes of producing content intended for public dissemination,” including “classified information” from confidential sources. The Justice Department is also said to have removed “espionage” from a list of criminal activities excluded from protected news gathering.
If the Biden administration means what it says, it should immediately reverse one of the worst legal excesses of Donald Trump’s term. The indictment of Assange is the first time in the 230-year history of the First Amendment that a media organization is being prosecuted for publishing or disseminating classified information disclosed by a whistleblower. Since founding Wikileaks, Assange has been in the business of gathering and publishing newsworthy information and documents, activities clearly protected by the First Amendment.”
WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador are touring Latin America, meeting with seven heads of state to discuss Julian Assange’s extradition battle and raise support for his release.
On November 21st Hrafnsson and Farrell met with the President of Colombia Gustavo Petro and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Álvaro Leyva Duran in Bogota. President Petro promised to help “put pressure on the Biden government” to drop the charges against Julian Assange, expressed his commitment to fight for his freedom, and encouraged political leaders around the world to do the same.
“They’ve shown a clear commitment to support the fight for Julian Assange’s freedom, and strongly recognized the implications for press freedom worldwide that his extradition would set”, Hrafnsson said in a statement after the meeting.
After their meeting with President Petro, Hrafnsson and Farrell attended an event with Colombian NGO’s where they discussed Julian Assange, human rights and how to defend freedom of the press.
On November 22nd, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson took part in the event “Assange, Wikileaks and journalism: freedom of expression imprisoned” at the National University of Colombia together with representatives of academia and freedom of expression organisations.