U.S. Efforts to Extradite Assange
Why is Julian being detained?
Is Julian’s detention related to allegations in Sweden? Why was he arrested in 2019?
No. There is no active investigation into Julian in Sweden, and Swedish authorities are no longer seeking to extradite Julian. The Swedish investigation into Julian was closed in 2019.
However, allegations made against Julian played an indirect role in Julian’s current situation. In 2010, Swedish authorities began an investigation concerning allegations from two women who had engaged in consensual sexual activity with Julian but claimed that their encounters went beyond the scope of their consent. Julian cooperated with the investigation in Sweden and received permission to travel to leave the country. Swedish authorities later sought to extradite Julian to question him in the matter.
Julian continued to dispute the allegations in both the Swedish and U.K. justice systems, but was unwilling to be extradited to Sweden due to fears he would then be extradited to the U.S. Those fears turned out to be justified — in 2018, a U.S. prosecutor accidentally revealed a secret indictment against Julian.
After his preliminary efforts to work within the U.K. justice system failed, Julian sought asylum from the Ecuadorian government. In doing so, he violated bail conditions in the U.K. He was ultimately arrested for those bail violations in 2019 and sentenced to 50 weeks imprisonment. He remains detained by U.K. authorities due to the U.S. extradition request.
Why is the U.S. trying to extradite Julian?
U.S. authorities allege that Julian’s actions in publishing the material leaked by Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning violated U.S. law.
The most serious of these charges relate to the Espionage Act of 1917. These charges carry a maximum penalty of 170 years in prison.
The Espionage Act makes it a crime to access or transmit certain classified information without authorization, but it has previously only been applied to government employees. Because the First Amendment protects the freedom of the press, journalists who seek to share information with the public have not been targeted under the Espionage Act. As Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Charlie Savage wrote in covering the indictment, Julian is being prosecuted for the same behavior that Times reporters and other journalists engage in every day. In fact, the Times accessed “precisely the same archives of documents” Julian is being charged with accessing — and even published many of them. For this reason, journalists, media scholars, legal experts, and transparency advocates have expressed outrage at Julian’s indictment.
How can I follow Julian’s extradition hearing?
We will be posting a link to our coverage of the hearing on our main page!