In one of the most widely watched cases for global press freedom, last Friday the UK High Court ruled Julian Assange could be extradited to the US. Press freedom, human rights, and civil liberties organizations have unanimously condemned the US government’s indictment of the WikiLeaks publisher under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information about US war crimes and other abuses of power.
A lower court judge had ruled that US prison conditions and Assange’s mental health would make the extradition oppressive. The High Court also ignored concerns about Assange’s health, and the fact that the CIA had plotted to kidnap and even assassinate him. Assange is now one step closer to being in the hands of a government that has relentlessly persecuted him for daring to expose its secrets.
This all-star expert panel discussed the impact of Assange’s prosecution on press freedom, the ramifications of the High Court’s decision, and what comes next.
Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist for Il Fatto Quotidiano. She has worked with Julian Assange and “WikiLeaks” since 2009, teaming up with large teams of international media to cover and investigate all WikiLeaks’ secret documents: from the secret files on the war in Afghanistan (Afghan War Logs) to the US diplomacy cables (Cablegate), from the files on the Guantanamo detainees (Gitmo Files) on up to the most recent revelations about the European military mission against boats travelling from Libya to Italy smuggling migrants and refugees and the espionage activities against French and the European leaders by the National Security Agency (NSA). She is the author in Italian, of Il potere segreto: Perché vogliono distruggere Julian Assange e WikiLeaks, which is expected to be translated into English next year.
Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, Unauthorized Disclosure and curates The Dissenter newsletter. Kevin attended Assange’s initial hearings (first in person and now with COVID virtually) and reported on them daily. He also extensively covered Chelsea Manning’s court martial.
Jeffrey Sterling is a lawyer and former CIA case officer who sued the CIA for racial discrimination. In 2015, Sterling became another victim in the US government’s war on whistleblowers when he was convicted under the Espionage Act. Only circumstantial evidence was presented during the controversial trial. Jeffery authored the book Unwanted Spy: The Persecution of an American Whistleblower.
Chip Gibbons is the Policy Director of Defending Rights & Dissent where he hosts the Primary Sources Podcast, which focuses on the challenges of national security whistleblowers. He also covered the UK High Court hearings in US v. Julian Assange as a correspondent for Jacobin, where his most recent piece was “Julian Assange’s Extradition to the United States Would Result in Serious Human Rights Violations.” Chip is currently working on a book on the history of the FBI exploring the relationship between domestic political surveillance and the emergence of the US national security state. Titled The Imperial Bureau, it is expected to be published by Verso in 2024.