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Commentary Press Release

A global movement freed Assange

By Nathan Fuller, Assange Defense director

Stephen Rohde has written an excellent article on Julian Assange’s release, and the threat remaining to press freedom, “Until Julian Assange Is Pardoned, Press Freedom Remains at Risk.” Rohde asked me to comment on how we got here, and while he quoted from it briefly, I wanted to share my full response:

The movement to free Julian Assange has been a truly global effort. Activists on nearly every continent, in dozens of countries and hundreds of cities have each played a meaningful part in securing Julian’s release. I’m so happy for Julian, finally getting the freedom he’s deserved for so long, and I am so proud and honored to have been a part of that effort, and to have met so many amazing people along the way. 

While a plea deal was signed at the culmination of this saga, what happened outside of the courtroom has been just as important as inside. Knowing that process can be punishment, that justice delayed is denied, and that this case has always been political as well as legal, we have always tried to influence both our fellow citizens and our elected officials just as much as any judge. 

We carried out just about every action we could think of as we tried to spread the word and communicate the importance of this case. We rallied in the streets, hosted panel discussions, called our representatives, wrote op-eds, shared blog posts, produced videos, created artworks — if there’s a method to communicate, you can bet an Assange activist used it to shout loud and clear, ‘Free Assange!’

This effort required incredible teamwork and voices in every corner of civil society speaking up. Groups of lawyers, professors, artists, politicians, doctors, journalists, and free press and human rights organizations have all coauthored letters to the United States and United Kingdom governments, calling for Julian’s freedom. 

The Courage Foundation had already been underway for half a decade when Assange was arrested in April 2019, having worked to defend and support Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Lauri Love, and others, and we’d already been covering the abuses and persecution Julian faced while in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London before that. I started meeting regularly with likeminded activists in the United States, and I want to shout out specifically the people I met with on a regular basis for those first couple years: our group included Vinnie DeStefano, who became our national organizer, Margaret Kunstler, Marty Goodman, Jim Lafferty, Stephen Rohde, Ann Batiza, Paula Iasella, Susan McLucas, Deborah Hrbek, Patricia Dahl, Dick and Sharon Kyle, Michael Smith, Chuck Zlatkin, Bernadette Evangelist, Jeff Mackler, Mike Madden, Frank Lawrence, Eric Harvey, Suzanne Murphy, Kendra Christian, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Joe Lombardo, and over the years several more came in and out, and we decided a new committee was needed here in the U.S. (Courage had been an international organization). 

Soon Ben Cohen stepped in to help us build up a real campaign team. I’ve always been proud of our reach, particularly with limited funds and so many volunteers, and the fact that we quickly created branches in cities all across the country, starting with NYC, LA, Denver, Milwaukee, Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago. By tabling for Assange at Roger Waters’ U.S. tour, as well as at screenings of Ithaka with Julian’s brother and father, we were able to expand even further, building out our network with supporters in just about every major city in the United States. 

We’ve organized and carried out dozens of campaigns within the larger goal of freeing Assange. We’ve cohosted a webinar series with Stella Assange, we’ve lobbied congress with letters and emails and phone calls and postcards, we’ve created pamphlets and flyers and posters and collages and montages. Activist groups in New York City and London were in the streets every week for years, sounding the alarm, never giving up.

Assange Defense has been a part of or uplifted many of these efforts, but we are far from the only ones — there are so many groups and activists who have been dedicated to this fight, including Free Assange in the UK (formerly Don’t Extradite Assange), the Australian Assange Campaign, support groups across Europe and Latin America, individuals across the United States undertaking solo efforts to get the word out. It’s amazing how wide-reaching this movement is and how many people have gotten involved. 

Exactly how many supporters we have around the world feels impossible to measure, but we’ve seen petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures, livestreams with a quarter million total views, and have been able to sell out movie theaters and fill lecture halls at various events. At Courage, even before his arrest we launched a photo campaign in support of Julian called We Are Millions, and it really does feel like it took the global village to free him. I’m really proud to have been one leader among many others within that movement, and to see our indefatigable, passionate work finally pay off.

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Press Release

Julian’s freedom: reactions around the world

June 27, 2024 — Julian Assange has reached a plea deal for time served and has been released from Belmarsh Prison on June 24, 2024, after 1901 days unjustly detained (and a dozen years persecuted) for his journalism. He flew to Bangkok and then to Saipan Island, a U.S. overseas territory, where a hearing to formalize the plea deal took place, finally landing in Canberra, in the evening of June 26.

Julian’s freedom was welcomed and celebrated around the world.

Free press groups that fought for Julian’s freedom over the years, welcomed the good news, while also noting that the fight for press freedom is far from over, as US prosecution has already set a dangerous precedent.

Politicians, journalists, activists, public figures, long time supporters, celebrated Julian’s freedom, while emphasizing the work of millions of unknown activists who dedicated their lives to freeing him—and us all.

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Press Release

Julian’s release

From London to Bangkok to Saipan to Canberra, Julian Assange arrives home a free man.

June 26, 2024 — Upon his release from Belmarsh prison on June 24th, following a plea deal agreement with the US government, Julian Assange boarded a plane to Bangkok and then to Saipan Island, a US overseas territory, where a hearing to formalize the plea deal took place.

“It appears this case ends with me here in Saipan”, said judge Manglona before who Julian’s plea deal was presented. “With this pronouncement it appears you will be able to walk out of this courtroom a free man. I hope there will be some peace restored.”

At a press conference after the hearing concluded, Julian Assange’s US attorney Barry Pollack further explained the terms of the plea deal.

Mr Assange was not going to agree to any dispositions in the case that required him to accept allegations that are simply not true. Mr Assange did not plead guilty to, and would not plead guilty to 17 counts of the Espionage Act, computer hacking… there was a very narrow agreed upon set of facts here, and Mr Assange acknowledged that, of course, he accepted documents from Chealsea Manning, and published many of those documents because it was in the world’s interests that those documents be published. Unfortunately, that violates the terms of the Espionage Act. That’s what we acknowledged today.

Barry Pollack

Pollack stressed that the chilling precedent is set by the US prosecution itself:

“What sets a chilling precedent is the prosecution, the fact that the US elected to charge Mr Assange with violating the Espionage Act. The court today determined that no harm was caused by Mr Assange’s publications, we know they were newsworthy, we know that they were quoted by every major media outlet on the planet, and we know that they revealed important information. That is called journalism. US prosecuted that. They exposed Mr Assange 175 years in prison. That is what has chilling effect.”Barry Pollack

Barry Pollack

Julian touched down safely in Canberra, Australia, around 8pm local time, and was welcomed by his family, his wife Stella, and father John Shipton, and scores of supporters.

At a press conference upon the arrival Julian and his lawyers, his Australian solicitor Jennifer Robinson, conveyed how important was the support Julian had from Australian PM and the government.

In a moving speech upon Julian’s arrival, Stella Assange thanked Australian PM Albanese, government officials, opposition politicians and the Australian people, as well as millions of people around the world who tirelessly worked to secure his freedom. She asked for understanding, space and privacy as Julian recuperates. She also recognized that the breakthrough in negotiations came at a time when there had been a breakthrough in the legal case, that is when the UK High Court had allowed permission to appeal in which Julian would be able to raise the First Amendment argument.

“It is in this context that things finally started to move. I think it revealed how uncomfortable the United States government is, in fact, of having these arguments aired… the fact that this case is an attack on journalism, it’s an attack on the public’s right to know and it should never have been brought.

Stella Assange

Julian Assange’s UK lawyer Gareth Pierce, in a rare statement for the press, said that the Assange case “has exposed major fault lines —not just within the US/UK extradition treaty itself, but in respect of human rights protections in both countries previously thought to be absolute. The responsibility for addressing their manifestation in one extraordinary experience demands a continued commitment even though the legal case, happily, has now ended.”

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Press Release

Julian Assange is free!

June 25, 2024 — Julian Assange has been released from Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of 24 June, after having spent 1901 days there. He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.

In their statement, Wikileaks expressed gratitude to all the supporters who tirelessly campaigned for Julian’s release, putting the pressure on political leaders to finally secure his freedom.

This is the result of a global campaign that spanned grass-roots organisers, press freedom campaigners, legislators and leaders from across the political spectrum, all the way to the United Nations. This created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice, leading to a deal that has not yet been formally finalised. We will provide more information as soon as possible.

(…)

As he returns to Australia, we thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom.

Wikileaks

Wikileaks pioneered scientific journalism, published groundbreaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, and held the powerful to account. As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know.

Statement from Stella Assange and Kristinn Hrafnsson

In her statement, Stella stressed the immense importance of supporters who stood up for Julian but also for truth and justice.

“Throughout the years of Julian’s imprisonment and persecution, an incredible movement has been formed. People from all walks of life from around the world who support not just Julian… but what Julian stands for: truth and justice.”

Stella Assange

After almost 15 years in detention, of which last 5 were spent in 2×3 metre cell, isolated 23 hours a day, Julian will soon reunite with his wife Stella Assange, and their two children.

Julian’s freedom is our freedom.

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Hearing Coverage Press Release

Julian Assange’s appeal hearing scheduled for July 9-10

On the 9th and 10th of July, Julian Assange will face a two day appeal hearing in the UK Courts.

Last month, the High Court in London granted him permission for an appeal on the grounds that the United States has failed to properly assure the British courts that Assange would get adequate freedom of expression protections if he were extradited.

Free press groups welcomed the High Court’s decision to allow Julian Assange to appeal his extradition, stressing once more the indictment’s disastrous implications for press freedom and calling on the U.S. government to finally end this dangerous prosecution.

Stay tuned for more information and how you can get involved in the fight to free Assange.

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Press Release

IBAHRI urges Biden to drop all charges against Julian Assange

June 7, 2024 — The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) urges United States President Joe Biden, to drop all charges against Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in relation to the Wikileaks publication, in 2010, of more than 250,000 leaked classified documents – exposing alleged human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by the US army during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Given the inherent risks posed in extraditing Mr Assange to the US, where a prison sentence of up to 175 years could be imposed under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the IBAHRI has closely followed the case.

IBAHRI Co-Chair and past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, stated:

The IBAHRI reiterates the concerns of United Nations Experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Dr Alice Jill Edwards, and the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, who have emphasised that if Mr Assange were to be extradited, his case would set a dangerous precedent that could have a chilling effect on investigative journalism in the US and beyond. (…) President Biden is urged by the IBAHRI to drop all charges against Mr Assange.’

IBAHRI Director Baroness Helena Kennedy LT KC commented:

The IBAHRI reiterates that the potential extradition of Mr Assange from the UK to the US, where he may face a prejudicial and potentially politically motivated trial, would be in contravention with the Extradition Treaty between the two countries, not least a violation of international laws and standards concerning the extradition of accused individuals. Further, it would make Mr Assange the first publisher extradited under the Espionage Act, setting a dangerous precedent for media freedom globally.

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Press Release

Free press organizations welcome the High Court ruling

May 20, 2024 — Free press, civil liberties and human rights organizations around the world welcomed the High Court’s decision to allow Julian Assange to appeal his extradition, stressing once more the indictment’s disastrous implications for press freedom and calling on the U.S. government to finally end this dangerous prosecution.

Reporters Without Borders

“This decision marks an important milestone in Julian Assange’s legal case, opening up a vital new path to prevent extradition. The two grounds for appeal that have been granted mean that, for the first time in three years, the UK courts will consider the issues at the very heart of this case, related to freedom of expression and the First Amendment. We urge the UK to act in the interest of journalism and press freedom and refuse to further enable this dangerous prosecution.”

Rebecca Vincent, RSF Director of Campaigns

Amnesty International

“The USA’s ongoing attempt to prosecute Assange puts media freedom at risk worldwide. It ridicules the USA’s obligations under international law, and their stated commitment to freedom of expression. In trying to imprison him, the US is sending the unambiguous message that they have no respect for freedom of expression, and that they wish to send a warning to journalists and publishers everywhere: that they too could be targeted, for receiving and publishing classified material — even if doing so is in the public interest.”

Simon Crowther, Amnesty International Legal Advisor

Article 19

The decision by the United Kingdom High Court to allow Julian Assange to appeal against his extradition to the United States is a welcome step forward but US President Joe Biden should take action to free Assange now, underlines the statement from Australia’s Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

“MEAA welcomes the decision of the High Court, but we remain concerned that there is no guarantee of success. The appeal may not be heard until late this year or even next year. In the meantime, his mental and physical wellbeing is deteriorating. The only clear path to freedom is for the US to drop the charges, end its prosecution and allow him to be released from jail. President Biden has the power to do this by the stroke of a pen. Last month, he said his administration was ‘considering’ Assange’s case. It is now time to resolve it.”

Karen Percy, MEAA Media Federal President

UK’s National Union of Journalists

“At this crucial juncture, this judgment serves as a positive step forward for Assange and for every journalist seeking to reveal truths through their reporting. With each passing day, the US government’s relentless pursuit contributes to Assange’s worsening health whilst displaying a disregard for practices adopted by journalists globally, during their investigative journalism. We welcome today’s judgment and hope it is the first step in victory for Assange. The Department of Justice can still seize the opportunity to end this legal battle and the chilling impact his extradition would have.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary

Committee to Protect Journalists

PEN International, English PEN, PEN Norway

“As the implications of this decision reverberate globally, reminding us of the critical importance of defending free speech, we remain acutely aware that Assange’s fight for freedom continues. The US authorities’ judicial harassment of Assange must stop at once. We urge them to drop all charges against Assange and to withdraw their extradition request. The UK authorities must release him from prison immediately and refrain from extraditing him.”

Freedom of the Press Foundation

“On appeal, we urge the court to refuse to extradite Assange. But better yet, the Biden administration can and should end this case now. If Biden continues to pursue the Assange prosecution, he risks creating a precedent that could be used against any reporter who exposes government secrets, even if they reveal official crimes. If the Biden administration cares about press freedom, it must drop the Assange case immediately.”

Caitlin Vogus, FPF Deputy Director

International Federation of Journalists

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Hearing Coverage Press Release

Julian Assange granted permission to appeal

May 20, 2024 – The UK High Court has granted Julian Assange permission to appeal his extradition order, specifically on the grounds that the United States has failed to properly assure the British courts that Assange would get adequate freedom of expression protections if he were extradited.

The appeal permission is narrow but provides the first real chance for the substantive issue of whether the First Amendment would protect Assange can be aired in court. The parties have been given until May 24 to submit a proposed outline for how such an appeal hearing would be argued.


Beginning early this morning, hundreds of supporters gathered outside the Royal Court of Justice, along with free press groups, journalist unions, and other public figures in attendance.

Live stream from outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Edward Fitzgerald KC opened the proceedings for the defense by announcing that the defense accepts the U.S. assurance regarding the death penalty, because it is unequivocal and would be binding on U.S. courts — the U.S. simply stated clearly that Assange would not be charged with a death penalty offense.

As to the assurance regarding Julian Assange’s right to assert protections guaranteed under the First Amendment, Fitzgerald maintained it offers no guarantee whatsoever. The assurance given “does not promise that the applicant can rely on the First Amendment. Merely that he can raise and seek to rely on it.”

Furthermore, Fitzgerald argued,

“The court has made a finding on the basis of Mr Kromberg’s statement that ‘concerning any First Amendment challenge, the United States could argue that foreign nationals are not entitled to protection under the First Amendment, at least as it concerns national defense information’”

“The court’s express finding was that ‘If such an argument were to succeed, it would (at least arguably) cause the applicant prejudice on the grounds of his non-US citizenship (and hence, on the grounds of his nationality)’”

There is a wide range of cases in which U.S. prosecutors have given clear, express, and unequivocal assurances when they want to. “We have nothing of that sort here,” Fitzgerald said. “All we have is ‘he may raise and seek to rely on’.” He went on to cite specific promises common to assurances.

“The U.S. states that the so-called assurance is adequate because the judges will take ‘solemn notice’ of it. But the U.S. accepts that the assurance ‘cannot bind the court’ ‘Taking solemn notice’ of an assurance that was expressly stated not to bind the courts cannot operate as a guarantee that the court will apply U.S. law in a way that permits the Applicant to rely on the First Amendment, despite his foreign citizenship.”

Mark Summers KC continued for the defense, warning the court that the U.S. will try to raise that nationality and citizenship are different, a new argument that they should have raised beforehand, and in court, which they did not.

As anticipated by Summers, James Lewis KC for the prosecution argued that the assurance regarding Julian Assange’s First Amendment rights is that Julian will not be discriminated against based on his nationality, but instead on his citizenship. He argued, for the first time, that this is an important distinction.

He claimed that “the applicability of the Applicant’s First Amendment argument requires inter alia the components of (1) conduct on foreign (outside the United States of America) soil; (2) non-US citizenship; and (3) national defense information.”

“Its restriction in scope [of the assurance] is not by reason of his [Julian’s] nationality, but by virtue of the fact that he is a foreigner, carrying out actions on foreign soil,” Lewis argued.

As to the ‘scope’ of the protection, Lewis maintained that “this court has already observed that the counts are of a different nature”, which implies that the First Amendment protections can be selectively applied, depending on the count in question.

He tried to substantiate this argument by saying that Chelsea Manning had no First Amendment protection, so therefore anyone complicit with her would not have First Amendment protection either.

After Lewis concluded, the lawyer for the UK Home Secretary, Ben Watson, addressed the court briefly, only to convey that Home Secretary, who has the final say on extraditions, accepts the diplomatic assurances provided by the United States and says the court should do the same.

Summers returned to address Lewis’s arguments regarding nationality vs citizenship. “Nationality is wider,” he said. “You can be a national without being a citizen, you cannot be a citizen without nationality.”

“In addition to being a non-US citizen Mr Assange is a non-US national as well. Whatever the distinction may be, and we don’t accept that there is any… it has no bearing whatsoever”

“The exclusionary rule has a number of limbs to it… Mr Lewis said in terms he will be excluded because he is a foreigner, carrying out acts on foreign soil concerning national security… Well, he is being excluded in part because he is a foreigner [as opposed to if he were a US citizen]”

Concerning the question of scope, Summers concluded that it’s not arguable that it is allowed to violate people’s rights under certain conditions. The protection is an absolute. If Assange would be discriminated against at trial, the extradition must be barred.

The proceedings were completed with the address from Fitzgerald, who stressed once more the wording of the assurance: “He will be permitted to raise and seek to rely on it.” This is not the same as granting Mr Assange the right to raise First Amendment arguments, Fitzgerald concluded.

The proceedings adjourned for 20 minutes, after which the judges returned with a ruling.

The High Court ruled that it is unsatisfied with U.S. assurances and granted Julian Assange leave to appeal on grounds 4 (violation of free speech rights) and 5 (prejudiced at trial due to nationality). The other ground (related to the death penalty) has been rejected.

Stella Assange’s statement after the Court’s ruling

The lawyers will have until 2pm on May 24 to file an agreed case outline.

Rebecca Vincent of RSF addresses the crowd upon hearings conclusion

Free press organizations around the world welcomed the High Court’s decision, stressing once more the prosecution’s disastrous implications for press freedom and calling on the U.S. government to finally end it.

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Press Release

31 MEPs write an open letter to UK Home Secretary

May 17, 2024 — Ahead of the upcoming High Court hearing on May 20th, 31 members of the EU Parliament from several political groups, have sent an open letter to UK Home Secretary James Cleverly, urging him to stop the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.

The letter calls on the British government to assume its responsibilities with regard to human rights and press freedom. The letter was initiated by MEP Patrick Breyer, who said:

“The British government is spreading the myth that it is exclusively for the courts to decide on Assange’s extradition. Section 70 (2) of the UK Extradition Act however gives the Home Secretary the power to refuse extradition if it would violate the right to life or the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, as stipulated in the European Convention on Human Rights. Julian Assange’s mental health, the potential conditions of detention in the US and the real risk of suicide upon extradition mean that extradition would constitute such inhumane or degrading treatment.”

Patrick Breyer, MEP

In their letter, the MEPs emphasize that the persecution of Julian Assange is politically motivated. The provisions of the British-American extradition treaty rightly prohibit extradition for political crimes. The clearly political nature of this case is made clear by numerous and highly biased statements from leading US political figures who have called for the extrajudicial punishment or assassination of Mr. Assange since at least 2011.

MEPs also stress the total lack of any guarantee on behalf of the US government that Assange would receive the same rights in court as a US citizen.

“Proceedings against a publisher in a country that may not recognize or apply fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is unacceptable.”

Patrick Breyer, MEP
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Press Release

What to expect at Julian Assange’s appeal hearing on May 20th

May 17, 2024 — On Monday, May 20th, the UK High Court will decide whether Julian Assange will be allowed to appeal the decision allowing his extradition before the UK Courts. The High Court will first hear arguments from the defense and the prosecution regarding the “assurances” provided by the U.S.

Julian Assange’s final appeal hearing was held on February 20th​ and 21st​ this year, upon which the judges made a ruling on March 26th​, provisionally allowing Julian Assange to appeal the decision to extradite him to the U.S., but only if the U.S. doesn’t provide sufficient assurances that he will not be sentenced to death and that he will be allowed to rely on the First Amendment that is, his right to free speech.

On April 16th, the U.S. issued “assurances” as to how Assange would be treated both in court and in prison. Julian’s wife, Stella Assange explained,

“The United States has issued a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment, and a standard assurance in relation to the death penalty. It makes no undertaking to withdraw the prosecution’s previous assertion that Julian has no First Amendment rights because he is not a U.S citizen. Instead, the US has limited itself to blatant weasel words claiming that Julian can “seek to raise” the First Amendment if extradited. The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future — his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism. The Biden Administration must drop this dangerous prosecution before it is too late.”

Now, the High Court will convene again to hear defense and prosecution arguments to decide whether the U.S. assurances are sufficient to allow Julian Assange’s immediate extradition.

If the High Court rules that the assurances are sufficient and rejects the appeal, that will be the end of the road for Julian Assange in the UK courts. The defense will then attempt to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, though that is not guaranteed. If the High Court allows the appeal to go ahead, this will mean another British appeal process with the right to First Amendment protections at the heart of it.

Ahead of the hearing Amnesty International legal advisor Simon Crowther, who will attend on 20 May to monitor the proceedings, stated:

“As the court reconvenes to determine Julian Assange’s fate, we repeat the enormous repercussions at stake if he is extradited to the USA: the risk that he would be subjected to human rights violations and the long-lasting damage that would be done to global media freedom.”

We will report on the proceedings here.

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Press Release

PACE rapporteur visits Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison, expresses deep concern for his well-being

May 14, 2024 — The rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on “The detention of Julian Assange and its chilling effects on human rights”, Sunna Ævarsdóttir (Iceland, SOC), has concluded a two-day fact-finding visit to the United Kingdom, during which she met Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison and spoke to him in confidence.

Ms Ævarsdóttir has said:

“As noted in the motion underlying my mandate, Julian Assange’s harsh treatment risks deterring others who wish to report truthful information pertaining to armed conflicts. Whether or not he is extradited, his prosecution and lengthy detention already risk deterring other whistle-blowers and journalists from reporting on various transgressions of governments or powerful private parties.”

She has also conveyed a message from Mr Assange who welcomed Ms Ævarsdóttir’s work regarding his detention and its chilling effects on human rights in Europe, and praised Council of Europe as the most important guardian of human rights in Europe.

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Action Press Release

May 13-17: Call on your reps to free Assange!

This week’s installment of Call Congress for Julian Assange 

You can take action to free Julian Assange from the comfort of your own home. Call the 5 Congressmembers listed below and your own Congressperson, and urge them to save journalists’ right to publish and our right to know.

We have just one week left until what could be Assange’s final appearance in a UK courtroom on May 20, as the High Court will decide whether the U.S.’s so-called “assurances” are good enough to sign off on trampling the First Amendment.

Week of May 13

Please call these U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 934 to drop the charges and extradition of Julian Assange.  Remind them that once Julian is extradited, and this could be as soon as May 20, the ability of journalists to expose government crimes will be forever compromised.  As Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said last week on the Washington Post’sWorld Press Freedom Day panel,

… I would use this opportunity to encourage the U.S. to drop its charges against Julian Assange. If he is brought here and he is convicted, that will send–that will create a terrible precedent for press freedom everywhere. It’s really important that the U.S. upholds its commitments to press freedom, and that includes dropping the charges against Assange. Governments have to realize that press is not there to make lives more difficult for governments. It’s there so that we can make sure that we are all–we all have access to the information that we need to live freely, safely, and it’s essential that it is protected.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

U.S. RepresentativeWashington Office Phone 
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)(202) 225-3106
Jim Jordan (R-OH)(202) 225-2676
Mark Pocan (D-WI)(202) 225-2906
Andy Biggs (R-AZ)(202) 225-2635
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)(202) 225-3965
YOUR REPRESENTATIVE                  (202) 224-3121

This week’s script

Here is a sample of the kind of messaging we encourage. Please make it your own but always be respectful:

“My name is ____ and I would like Congressperson ____ to sign on to House Resolution 934 to free Julian Assange.  

I am hoping that _______will add (his or her) name to the bipartisan House Resolution 934 to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.  

All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition.  They know that our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalists, reminded us of this last week on World Press Freedom Day. She said that extraditing and convicting Julian Assange “will create a terrible precedent for press freedom everywhere. It’s really important that the U.S. upholds its commitments to press freedom, and that includes dropping the charges against Assange.”

Protect press freedom! Please sign on to H. Res. 934. Thank you for all your efforts to free Julian Assange!

Once you’ve made your calls this week, encourage friends to do the same, and post about your calls on social media.

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Press Release

WPFD: Australian lawmakers send letter to Biden as press freedom groups call for the release of Julian Assange

May 3, 2024 — On World Press Freedom Day, a group of Australian lawmakers wrote to President Biden urging him to drop the charges against Julian Assange while press freedom groups have reiterated their call for his immediate release.

The co-chairs of the “Bring Julian Assange Home” Parliamentary Friendship Group – MPs Andrew Wilkie, Josh Wilson, Bridget Archer and Sen. David Shoebridge – called on Biden to end the prosecution of Assange, who is in a U.K. prison fighting extradition to the U.S.

“We write in the hope that Mr. Assange, who has endured maximum security imprisonment in the United Kingdom’s Belmarsh Prison for more than five years without conviction on any substantial charge, can go free, can go home, can be reunited with his wife, children, and family.”

Press freedom groups, politicians and activists have used World Press Freedom Day to shine light on Julian Assange’s case, and again call for his immediate release.

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Hearing Coverage Press Release

U.S. continues its pursuit of Julian Assange

April 16, 2024Invited by the U.K.’s High Court to give assurances that would address those grounds of appeal which have been found to have “real prospect of success”, the U.S. has today issued a diplomatic note in which it gives a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment, and a standard assurance in relation to the death penalty.

On the matter of Julian Assange’s First Amendment rights, which the prosecutor asserted he does not enjoy because he is not a U.S. citizen, the U.S. has said that could “seek to raise” them, i.e. argue that the rights should not be disallowed.

Julian’s wife, Stella Assange said:

“The United States has issued a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment, and a standard assurance in relation to the death penalty. It makes no undertaking to withdraw the prosecution’s previous assertion that Julian has no First Amendment rights because he is not a U.S citizen. Instead, the US has limited itself to blatant weasel words claiming that Julian can “seek to raise” the First Amendment if extradited. The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future — his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism. The Biden Administration must drop this dangerous prosecution before it is too late.”

Media organizations and their representatives have criticized the U.S. decision to continue its pursuit of Julian Assange and called on President Biden to end the prosecution.

As previously announced a hearing will be held on May 20, 2024 to decide whether these U.S. “assurances” are sufficient and to give a final ruling on permission to appeal.

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Press Release

Julian Assange’s half a decade in prison

April 11, 2024 — As of today, the award-winning journalist and publisher Julian Assange has been incarcerated in UK’s maximum security Belmarsh prison for five years, on no conviction and for publishing truthful information in the public interest.

Marking the occasion, Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange has called on US President Joe Biden, who suggested the US is “considering” dropping the case, to “do the right thing” and “drop the charges”. At the same time, Australian PM Anthony Albanese has noted the Biden comment, calling it an “encouraging statement”.

The anniversary was marked by supporters and free press organizations, which reiterated their calls for Julian Assange to be freed immediately.

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Press Release

US ‘considering’ dropping prosecution of Julian Assange, Joe Biden says

April 10, 2024 — Ahead of the fifth anniversary of Julian Assange’s incarceration in London’s Belmarsh prison, US President Joe Biden said the US is “considering” dropping the case.

When asked by reporters at the White House whether he had a response to Australia’s request – which in February this year passed a resolution, backed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, calling for Mr Assange’s release, Mr Biden replied: “We’re considering it.”

The statement comes two weeks after UK High Court decided it could grant Julian Assange limited permission to appeal his extradition, but only if the US government fails to offer adequate “assurances”.

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Past Events Press Release

VIDEO: Expert panel reacts to Assange appeal decision

March 26, 2024 — This morning in London, the UK’s High Court ruled on Julian Assange’s request to appeal his extradition to the United States. The ruling delayed Assange’s extradition, but only to allow the U.S. government to give assurances as to how Julian would be treated (in court and in prison) if he were extradited.

Assange Defense convened a panel of experts to discuss the ruling, what it means, and what comes next.

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Hearing Coverage Press Release

Julian Assange appeal partially allowed, pending U.S. ‘assurances’

Supporters outside the courtroom awaiting Assange’s appeal decision (Source)

March 26, 2024 — The UK High Court has issued a judgment that could grant Julian Assange limited permission to appeal his extradition to the United States but first gives the U.S. government an opportunity to give “assurances” to potentially avoid an appeal.

The court found that Assange has a “real prospect of success” on 3 of the 9 grounds of appeal:

  • Ground iv) that Extradition is incompatible with article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression); “If (as might be the case) Mr Assange is not permitted to rely on the First Amendment then it is arguable that his extradition would be incompatible with article 10 of the Convention.”
  • Ground v) If extradited, Mr Assange might be prejudiced at his trial by reason of his nationality, as “foreign nationals are not entitled to protections under the First Amendment”.
  • Ground ix) Extradition is barred by inadequate specialty/death penalty protection: “The Secretary of State agrees that, if he is extradited, Mr Assange could be charged with offences that carry the death penalty and that there is nothing then to prevent the death penalty from being imposed.”

The ruling gives the U.S. three weeks to provide assurances that would address these grounds. If the U.S. declines to do so, the court will grant Assange right to appeal on those grounds. If, as is expected, assurances are given, there will be a hearing on May 20, 2024, to decide if the assurances are sufficient and to give a final ruling on permission to appeal.

Julian’s wife Stella Assange spoke outside the court following the announcement:

The court’s decision to avoid extradition for now was welcomed by press freedom organizations and journalistic unions, which reiterated their calls for the U.S. to drop the charges.

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said:

‘The UK High Court’s ruling presents the U.S. government with another opportunity to do what it should have done long ago—drop the Espionage Act charges. Prosecuting Assange for the publication of classified information would have profound implications for press freedom, because publishing classified information is what journalists and news organizations often need to do in order to expose wrongdoing by government. It’s long past time for the U.S. Justice Department to abandon the Espionage Act charges and resolve this case.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:

“A temporary reprieve is clearly preferable to an extradition that would have taken place in the coming days. However, the conditionality around the grounds of appeal, which are contingent on the examination of US government assurances that he will not face the death penalty and has the right to free speech, mean the risks to Assange and press freedom remain stark.

“Assange’s prosecution by the US is for activities that are daily work for investigative journalists – finding sources with evidence of criminality and helping them to get their stories out into the world. If Assange is prosecuted, free expression the world over will be damaged.”

Whistleblower and source protection group WHISPeR urged the British court not to trust U.S. assurances:

We regret that the Court declined to properly consider the political nature of this prosecution under what is a textbook case of a political crime, and continues to take a blinkered approach on the remaining questions it has left open for the May 20th hearing. We again strongly urge the High Court to apply the greatest possible skepticism of U.S. assurances. The U.S. government has certainly not earned a presumption of credibility on these issues.

As attorneys who have represented several defendants under Espionage charges in media leak cases, we can speak to these issues from direct experience. Our clients have been denied both the right to present a First Amendment defense and the supposedly humane prison conditions promised by the Department of Justice.

The U.S. government simply cannot make any meaningful assurance that any defendant can rely on First Amendment protections under an Espionage Act prosecution, much less a foreign citizen. The legal question is at best unresolved by U.S. courts, and the precedent is ominous. The Pentagon Papers case, the fullest test of the Espionage Act against the First Amendment to date, resulted in a Supreme Court opinion that pointedly left open the possibility that the U.S. government could punish the publication of government documents.  Any assurance that Assange would be allowed to mount a meaningful First Amendment defense would be diametrically opposed to the U.S. Justice Department’s own position in previous media leak cases: that the Espionage Act does not allow a jury to even consider a First Amendment defense. In Thomas Drake’s case, the government sought to ban the use of words like “whistleblowing” in front of a jury. In prosecuting Daniel Hale, the government argued that his appeals to the First Amendment were merely “academic musings,” and “interesting thought exercises, but irrelevant to the case at hand”.

Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), said:

“We are glad Julian Assange is not getting extradited today. But this legal battle is far from over, and the threat to journalists and the news media from the Espionage Act charges against Assange remains. Assange’s conviction in American courts would create a dangerous precedent that the U.S. government can and will use against reporters of all stripes who expose its wrongdoing or embarrass it. The Biden administration should take the opportunity to drop this dangerous case once and for all.”

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said,

“We are glad that the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States will be delayed. His prosecution in the U.S. under the Espionage Act would have disastrous implications for press freedom. It is time that the U.S. Justice Department put an end to all these court proceedings and dropped its dogged pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder.”

PEN International and English PEN cosigned a statement,

Journalists and publishers sometimes risk their lives to uncover truths that powerful entities seek to conceal. By recognising that the UK and the US have not provided sufficient assurances, the High Court has proven that the concerns and fears expressed by Assange, his family and his legal team are well-founded.

Yet the court rejected some of Assange’s arguments, including that his extradition was political. We remain deeply concerned by the fact that the US was granted more time to make diplomatic assurances – despite Assange facing the risk of serious human rights violations if extradited to the US – and of the dangerous prospect of Assange’s extradition going ahead.

Once again, we urge the US authorities to drop all charges against Assange and withdraw their extradition request. We further call on the UK authorities to refrain from extraditing Assange, to release him from Belmarsh prison immediately, and to ensure he is reunited with his family.

We stand unwaveringly alongside Assange and fellow publishers and journalists around the world who courageously defend truth and justice in the face of adversity.

Simon Crowther, Legal Adviser at Amnesty International, said:

“The High Court’s decision today leaves in limbo Julian Assange and all defenders of press freedom — but the fight continues. The US lawyers now have a second opportunity to make diplomatic assurances which the court will consider in May. Instead of allowing this protracted legal process to continue, the US should drop all charges against Assange.

“The UK remains intent on extraditing Assange despite the grave risk that he will be subjected to torture or ill-treatment in the US. While the US has allegedly assured the UK that it will not violate Assange’s rights, we know from past cases that such ‘guarantees’ are deeply flawed — and the diplomatic assurances so far in the Assange case are riddled with loopholes.

“Unfortunately the court rejected some of Assange’s arguments, notably that the extradition was political. The court paused proceedings on the other grounds so that the US can make diplomatic assurances which it will then reconsider.

“The US must stop its politically motivated prosecution of Assange, which puts Assange and media freedom at risk worldwide. In trying to imprison him, the US is sending an unambiguous warning to publishers and journalists everywhere that they too could be targeted and that it is not safe for them to receive and publish classified material — even if doing so is in the public interest.”

Chip Gibbons, Defending Rights & Dissent Policy Director, said:

We are glad Assange will have another opportunity, however narrow, to appeal his extradition. We share the UK Court’s concern over comments from US prosecutors that Assange may be denied First Amendment protections on the basis of his nationality. This is the press freedom case of the 21st century and a verdict against Assange will have an impact on press freedom broadly. The idea of putting him on trial for newsgathering and then saying he can’t rely on the First Amendment is an unacceptable prospect.

We are nonetheless disturbed that the UK courts have failed to recognize this is a case about press freedom and political expression, as well as granting the US government yet another chance to amend its flawed, defective extradition request.

Assange’s persecution for his journalistic activities is not only an affront to our First Amendment, it is a clear violation of international human rights law. It constitutes an attempt to extradite an individual for a purely political offense, something that should be impermissible. The extradition should be rejected on these bases, yet Assange has been refused an appeal on these grounds.

The ball is, yet again, in the Biden Administration’s court. They should uphold the First Amendment by dropping the charges. As the party driving the extradition hearings, they can at the very least walk away from the lengthy legal processes in the UK, ending this once and for all.

We are at a critical stage in the Assange case and we will be escalating our calls for the Biden Administration to uphold the First Amendment and defend global press freedom by dropping this Trump-era prosecution of a journalist for journalistic activities.

Karen Percy, media federal president of the leading Australian journalism union Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, said,

Julian Assange’s bid to overturn the extradition order is still alive but his legal limbo continues.

We remain concerned that there is still no certainty an appeal against his extradition will proceed, and even if it goes ahead that only a small number of grounds of appeal are possible.

Julian Assange needs more than assurances from the US about how he will be treated. The only clear path to freedom is for the US to drop the charges, end its prosecution and allow him to be released from jail.

Next month will mark five years of detention in Belmarsh Prison, where his health and mental wellbeing has worsened recently.

Media freedom continues to be imperilled the longer this case drags on.

The stories published by WikiLeaks and other outlets more than a decade ago were clearly in the public interest. The ongoing prosecution is politically motivated with the intent of curtailing free speech, criminalising journalism and sending a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished if they step out of line.

If the US government can extradite a citizen of another country, from anywhere in the world for publishing factual information it sets a dangerous precedent that will have a profoundly chilling effect on investigative journalism, discouraging journalists and whistleblowers from exposing vital information in the public interest.

We call on the Australian government to keep up the pressure on the US to drop the charges so Julian Assange can resume life as a free man.”


Expert panel reacts to High Court announcement

Assange Appeal Decision Reaction

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Press Release

Remembering Marty Goodman (1949-2024)

Marty Goodman at a rally for Julian Assange in NYC (Photo by Pamela Drew)

March 18, 2024 — We are very sad to announce the passing of Marty Goodman, a devoted member of Assange Defense since its inception in our New York City branch. Marty was a tireless activist for Julian Assange as he was for political prisoners everywhere. He was 74.

Marty was a retired station agent in the New York City subway system and a former executive board member in the Transport Workers Union. The TWU 100 published an obituary:

“Marty cut a wide swath as a progressive activist not only in the labor movement but also in the fight against imperialism in Haiti and in favor of the rights of Palestinians.…He embraced rank and file activism, and could always be found on the front lines where working people needed a voice. Stations VP Robert Kelley expressed his sorrow over Marty’s passing and said he would organize a memorial for him.”

Marty’s Memorial

Remembering Marty

Everyone who worked with Marty could attest to his relentless commitment. 

Jeff Mackler, another originating activist with Assange Defense, knew Marty well through their work with Socialist Action,

“Marty was a rare kind of revolutionary socialist, a comrade who devoted his every moment to party-building, to attending endless movement events, to selling our press and setting up Socialist Action literature tables to being an activist participant in countless movements… Haiti, Assange Defense, UNAC, Mumia, union-organizing, strike solidarity, Cuba, climate, etc.”

Specifically on Marty’s work with AD, Jeff said,

“Marty’s active participation in Julian’s free speech, free press and dedication to truth telling was fully consistent with his lifelong commitment to every cause that advances humanity’s striving for a world of freedom equality.”

Marty Goodman at a rally for Julian Assange in NYC (Photo by Pamela Drew)

Patricia Dahl cofounded Stand with Assange NY with Marty, a local branch of the Assange Defense network. She remembered Marty: “Political protest was a way of life for Marty. No oppressed group was outside of his vision. He identified the apparatuses that linked them all. His legacy is immeasurable.”

Bernadette Evangelist, a founding member of NYC Free Assange and fellow activist with Assange Defense, said, “Marty Goodman was tireless. Always present. Always working for justice.”

Chuck Zlatkin, also with Assange Defense in NYC, remembered Marty’s indefatigable effort, 

“I knew Marty first from the labor movement. When the postal union was fighting to keep post offices open in NYC, Marty went up to the Bronx GPO and tabled for hours every Saturday for months in that struggle. Marty was a transit worker. That typifies Marty, he was there for every struggle, not with just words, but by putting his body on the line. He was totally committed to freeing Julian Assange. It was an honor to work with him.”

Activist Zool Zulkowitz, who worked alongside Marty at antiwar demonstrations and other actions for years in New York City, said, 

“There are a few activists I’ve worked with over decades in NYC or DC or Cuba or Palestine, who connected all the dots from Assange to Mumia, and linked the issues of supremacy, inequity, militarism and sustainability across generations and identities. Our sweet and cantankerous Marty was one of those. One of the great ones. Marty lives on!”

Assange Defense director Nathan Fuller said,

“Marty was one of a kind, lovably irascible, cantankerous for the cause, and we will really miss him. He was in the streets every single week, for Haiti or Palestine or Assange — if there was an injustice, Marty was rallying against it. Rain or sleet or snow, even if he’d be the only one there, Marty didn’t care. His principles told him to get out in the street and so he did. I’m grateful for his work with us and his example as an activist.”

Information about a memorial for Marty will be forthcoming. 

Photo by Pamela Drew
Photo by Pamela Drew

Correction: a previous version of this post listed Marty’s age as 68. His union updated their post correcting that error. Marty was 74.

Categories
Press Release

Rep. Thomas Massie brings Julian Assange’s brother to State of the Union

March 7, 2024 — Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie is bringing Julian Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, as his guest to the State of the Union address in Washington D.C. tonight. Shipton is in town this week meeting with Congressmembers to talk about Assange’s prosecution.

In a press release announcing his plus-one, Massie said,

“The U.S. government’s ongoing effort to prosecute Julian Assange threatens the First Amendment rights of Americans and should be opposed. During his term in office, I asked President Trump to pardon Mr. Assange, and I was disappointed by his failure to do so. President Biden should drop the criminal charges currently being pursued by the Department of Justice. I am pleased Mr. Shipton has accepted my invitation to join me at the State of the Union.”

Shipton, who said he was honored to be Massie’s guest, added:

“The prosecution of Julian Assange is a direct attack on the 1st amendment and the freedom of the press to publish information in the public interest. Rep. Massie is a fierce defender of these rights having introduced legislation that would protect my brother Julian and put an end to the espionage act being weaponised against publishers. I hope President Biden, can take a new look at the indictment and see it for the threat to democracy that it is.”

Shipton also met with Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, who is a co-leader on House Resolution 934, which calls for dropping all charges against Assange.


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Press Release

German chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks out against the extradition of Julian Assange

March 4, 2024 — Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, has called on British judges to rule against the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.

“I’m of the opinion that it would be good if the British courts granted him the necessary protection, since he must indeed face persecution in the US given the fact that he gave away American state secrets.”

The statement has come two weeks after 75 German MPs published an open letter urging the US to abandon the “show trial” and suggesting that he be tried before the European Court of Human Rights instead.

The Chancellor’s comments were since welcomed by The German Association of Journalists (DJV). “The fate of Julian Assange has finally arrived at the top of the government’s agenda,” said DJV federal chairman Mika Beuster.

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Press Release

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression: Time to end prosecution of Julian Assange

March 1, 2024 — UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, issued a statement expressing concern that the possible extradition and imminent prosecution in the United States of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could have serious implications for freedom of expression.

“Gathering, reporting and disseminating information, including national security information when it is in the public interest, is a legitimate exercise of journalism and should not be treated as a crime.”

She noted that if extradited, Julian Assange would be the first publisher to be prosecuted in the US under the Espionage Act.

“It would set a dangerous precedent that could have a chilling effect on investigative journalism in the United States and possibly elsewhere in the world.”

The expert urged the UK authorities not to extradite Assange and the US Government to drop the charges.

“I call on the United States and the United Kingdom, which profess to uphold the right to freedom of expression, to uphold these international standards in the case of Julian Assange.”

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Press Release

Amnesty, CPJ brief Congress on dangers of Assange case

February 28, 2024 — Days after Julian Assange returned to court in London for what could be his final hearing in the UK legal system, where he attempts to appeal his imminent extradition, leaders of Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists joined Assange’s lawyer in a briefing on Congress hosted by Defending Rights & Dissent.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnes Callamard and CEO of CPJ Jodie Ginsberg spoke alongside Assange lawyer Jen Robinson in the conversation moderated by DRAD policy director Chip Gibbons.

As Defending Rights & Dissent said,

“Callamard told the capacity crowd, mostly made up of Congressional staff, that Amnesty International vehemently opposes the Assange prosecution because it violates the right to freedom of expression, the right of the public to know, freedom of information, and is politically motivated.”

Watch the full briefing here:

See a transcript of the entire conversation at DRAD’s website.

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Press Release

Supporters around the world demand a free Assange

February 22, 2024 — Demonstrations were held, speeches were made, and banners were dropped in major cities across the United States and around the world as Julian Assange returned to court in London for what could be his final hearing in the United Kingdom, requesting permission to appeal his extradition to the United States.

Support videos from around the world

Part 1

Part 2

Washington DC

New York City 

Susan Sarandon, Margaret Kimberley, Margaret Kunstler, and many more

Denver

Boston

Raleigh/Durham

Milwaukee

London 

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Press Release

Milwaukee Democratic Party calls for Assange’s freedom

Assange supporters hang an Assange Defense banner in Milwaukee

February 19, 2024 — At a special session of the Milwaukee Democratic Party to vote on a set of submitted resolutions, the Milwaukee Democratic Party, on Sunday, February 18 voted to affirm,

“THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPMC endorses House Resolution 934 which calls for all charges against Mr. Assange to be dropped and the extradition request to be rescinded.”

The vote was 33-Yes to 9-No.

The entire resolution is indented below:

Endorse U.S. H. Res. 934

WHEREAS, the Biden administration continues to hold Julian Assange at the high security Belmarsh Prison in the U.K., solely on remand for extradition to the U.S.

WHEREAS, he is being held for the crime of journalism by the government whose war crimes he exposed.

WHEREAS, Joe Biden on World Press Freedom Day, 2023 stated, “No journalist – American or not – should have to risk their lives and livelihoods in pursuit of that truth.”

THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPMC endorses House Resolution 934 which calls for all charges against Mr. Assange to be dropped and the extradition request to be rescinded.

By Ann Batiza, 200 S. Water Street #205, Milwaukee 53204, 414-238-3903

In addition, a “Banner Drop for Assange,” supported by Peace Action of Wisconsin, will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. at the Brady Street footbridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive in Milwaukee.

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Past Events Press Release

Day X protests to Free Assange

Day X is here: February 20-21, imprisoned publisher Julian Assange returns to court in London for his final bid to appeal his extradition to the United States where he would face life in prison for publishing truthful information in the public interest.

Human rights leaders and civil liberties groups around the world are again warning that the prosecution of Assange threatens journalism everywhere. In this month alone, a UN Special Rapporteur, leading press freedom groups, over 35 U.S. law professors, and the Australian Parliament have called for an end to the prosecution of Julian Assange. 

February 19 livestream

The day before the hearing, Stella Assange and Assange Defense will co-host a 24-hour video countdown. Tune in below:

Protests February 20-21

Supporters around the world are planning demonstrations in solidarity with Assange. See Candles4Assange’s thread for global demonstrations. U.S. demonstrations can be found here:

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Press Release

Australia passes motion demanding Assange’s freedom

February 14, 2024 — The Australian Parliament, with the support of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion calling for an end to Assange’s prosecution and for him to return home to Australia. The motion was introduced by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie, who warned in his opening remarks that “we’ve just about run out of time to save Julian Assange.”

The motion affirms that “both the Australian Government and Opposition have publicly stated that this matter has gone on for too long” and it “underlines the importance of the UK and USA bringing the matter to a close so that Mr Assange can return home to his family in Australia.”

PM Albanese’s vote in support is his strongest public message to date. The Sydney Morning Herald said that the “vote signalled a new federal government stance by going beyond past statements from Albanese about the need to bring the matter ‘to a conclusion’ in some way.” As The Guardian put it,

Anthony Albanese’s government has repeatedly said that “enough is enough” and that it is time for the Assange matter to be “brought to a conclusion”.

But the motion on Wednesday removed the ambiguity about what that conclusion should entail: allowing him back to Australia.

Wilkie underscored that a conviction would set a precedent that puts every other journalist at risk. Assange is an Australian publisher who was working in Europe at the time of the disclosures; the United States is claiming global jurisdiction. Wilkie said,

“The injustice of all this is absolutely breathtaking—absolutely breathtaking—as much as the attack on journalism is terrifying because if this matter runs to its shameful conclusion, then it will have set a precedent that applies to all Australian journalists. If ever any Australian journalist annoys a foreign government in any way, and if that government is a government that the Australian government is hoping to curry favour with, then who’s to say that the Australian government won’t be complicit in the extradition or the transport of that Australian journalist to that country?”

The resolution passed with a tally of 86 votes to 42, with MPs across the political spectrum signing on in support. Read the resolution and accompanying discussion in full here.

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Press Release

U.S. law professors call on DOJ to drop Assange prosecution

February 14, 2024 — More than 35 American law professors have co-signed a letter imploring U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to “uphold the First Amendment” and drop the DOJ’s efforts to extradite Julian Assange. The letter comes less than a week before Julian Assange returns to court in London as the UK High Court considers his final attempt to appeal his extradition from the United Kingdom. Press freedom organizations and human rights groups have been sounding the alarms over the prosecution as a landmark threat to the First Amendment right to publish.

“We are united in our concern about the constitutional implications of prosecuting Assange,” the law professors write. “We believe the Espionage Act charges against him pose an existential threat to the First Amendment.”

Signatories include both active and retired law professors from across the United States, including Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur, and James Goodale, former lead counsel at the New York Times.

Goodale told the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which helped organize the letter:

“Based on my experience, which includes serving as The New York Times’ general counsel when the Nixon administration tried to indict a journalist under the Espionage Act for publishing the Pentagon Papers, I am confident that a successful prosecution of Julian Assange would lead to similar charges against journalists from newspapers like the Times when they uncover secrets that embarrass officials. This would be absolutely disastrous for press freedom in the United States.”

Seth Stern, director of advocacy for Freedom of the Press Foundation, said,

“Scholars, lawyers, media publishers and activists all agree that the prosecution of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act is sure to lead to prosecutions of journalists for doing their jobs. It seems the only people who disagree are the DOJ. It’s time for them to finally drop this dangerous prosecution. Whether you love or hate Julian Assange, if he comes first, a journalist you do like may come next.”

Read the full letter here.

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Press Release

Press freedom and human rights groups call for Assange’s freedom ahead of final UK appeal hearing

February 14, 2024 — With less than a week to go until Julian Assange’s final bid to appeal his extradition from the United Kingdom in a London courtroom, press freedom and human rights organizations are once again sounding the alarm over Assange’s prosecution and the threat it poses not only to Assange’s due process and First Amendment rights but to investigative journalists around the world.

On February 14, the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists issued a joint statement, in which they warned that ”the ongoing prosecution of Julian Assange jeopardizes media freedom everywhere in the world.”

Dominique Pradalié, IFJ president says: “I have twice met with Julian Assange in Belmarsh and it is clear to me that he has suffered grievously for far too long. In April he will have spent five years in a British prison despite having been convicted of nothing. The actions for which the US is seeking prosecution are clearly journalistic. The conviction of Julian Assange would threaten us all”.

Maja Sever, EFJ president said: “Journalists and their unions have recognised since the outset that Julian Assange is being targeted for carrying out tasks that are the daily work of many journalists – seeking out a whistleblower and exposing criminality. We stand with journalists of every political persuasion and nationality and say that Assange should be freed at once”.

The same day, Reporters without Borders dispelled some of the most common misconceptions about Assange and his persecution. 

Misconception: If I don’t believe Julian Assange is a journalist, I can’t defend him.

Correction: Many different views are held about Assange’s status as a journalist, a publisher, or a journalistic source, but what matters most is why Assange has been targeted and the implications of his extradition and prosecution. RSF defends Assange because of his contributions to journalism, as WikiLeaks’ publication of the leaked classified documents informed extensive public interest reporting around the world. His prosecution would have alarming implications for the future of journalism and would represent an unprecedented blow to press freedom.

Misconception: If Julian Assange is convicted, it won’t have a wider impact.

Correction: Assange’s conviction would impact the future of journalism around the world and all of our right to know. He would be the first publisher tried under the US Espionage Act, which lacks a public interest defence and is in dire need of reform. His conviction would pave the way for similar prosecutions of others who publish stories based on leaked classified information, setting a dangerous precedent for journalism. This would put many media organisations and journalists at risk, and create a distinct chilling effect on public interest reporting. The ultimate impact would be on the public’s right to know.

On February 13, Amnesty International issued a renewed warning: ‘Global media freedom at risk as Julian Assange back in UK court facing possible extradition to USA’

“The risk to publishers and investigative journalists around the world hangs in the balance. Should Julian Assange be sent to the US and prosecuted there, global media freedoms will be on trial, too,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and criminal justice in Europe.

“Assange will suffer personally from these politically-motivated charges and the worldwide media community will be on notice that they too are not safe. The public’s right to information about what their governments are doing in their name will be profoundly undermined. The US must drop the charges under the espionage act against Assange and bring an end to his arbitrary detention in the UK.”  

On February 12, PEN International wrote, ‘Stop the Extradition and Release Julian Assange’

‘Using espionage laws to target journalists and publishers who disclose information in the public interest infringes fundamental rights of press freedom and freedom of expression, both safeguarded within the legal framework of the UK. Assange’s case is politically motivated and challenges the core of investigative journalism and democratic principles, necessitating the protection of these rights for the broader preservation of a free and responsible press. PEN International and PEN Centres around the world have repeatedly called on the US authorities to drop the charges against Assange and to withdraw their extradition request. With the prospect of his extradition alarmingly close, we call on the UK authorities to urgently refrain from extraditing him and to release him from prison immediately’, said Burhan Sonmez, PEN International President.

On February 6, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture urged the UK government to halt imminent extradition of Julian Assange

“The risk of being placed in prolonged solitary confinement, despite his precarious mental health status, and to receive a potentially disproportionate sentence raises questions as to whether Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States would be compatible with the United Kingdom’s international human rights obligations, particularly under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as respective articles 3 of the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

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Press Release

Amnesty International: “The US must drop the charges” against Julian Assange

February 13, 2024 — One week ahead of Julian Assange’s final bid at the High Court in London to appeal his extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, Amnesty International has reaffirmed its warning that press freedom is at risk around the world if Assange is extradited.

Julia Hall, Amnesty’s expert on counter-terrorism and criminal justice in Europe, said,

“The risk to publishers and investigative journalists around the world hangs in the balance. Should Julian Assange be sent to the US and prosecuted there, global media freedoms will be on trial, too.

Assange will suffer personally from these politically-motivated charges and the worldwide media community will be on notice that they too are not safe. The public’s right to information about what their governments are doing in their name will be profoundly undermined. The US must drop the charges under the espionage act against Assange and bring an end to his arbitrary detention in the UK.”  

Julia Hall, Amnesty International

Hall went further to explicitly address so-called ‘assurances’ the U.S. has given the UK about the type of treatment Assange would endure if extradited and prosecuted.

“The US assurances cannot be trusted,” she said. “Dubious assurances that he will be treated well in a US prison ring hollow considering that Assange potentially faces dozens of years of incarceration in a system well known for its abuses, including prolonged solitary confinement and poor health services for inmates. The US simply cannot guarantee his safety and well-being as it has also failed to do for the hundreds of thousands of people currently imprisoned in the US.”

The prosecution is not only a danger to Assange — Amnesty warns that a conviction would set a precedent that would criminalize basic journalistic practices that reporters around the wor;d undertake every day.

“Julian Assange’s publication of documents disclosed to him by sources as part of his work with Wikileaks mirrors the work of investigative journalists. They routinely perform the activities outlined in the indictment: speaking with confidential sources, seeking clarification or additional documentation, and receiving and disseminating official and sometimes classified information.”

This aggressive nature of this unprecedented prosecution may already be having a chilling effect on journalists and their sources alike, as the U.S. government claims global jurisdiction as to what can and cannot be published about it. Hall said,

“The US’ efforts to intimidate and silence investigative journalists for uncovering governmental misconduct, such as revealing war crimes or other breaches of international law, must be stopped in its tracks.

“Sources such as legitimate whistle blowers who expose governmental wrongdoing to journalists and publishers must also be free to share information in the public interest. They will be far more reluctant to do so if Julian Assange is prosecuted for engaging in legitimate publishing work.

“This is a test for the US and UK authorities on their commitment to the fundamental tenets of media freedom that underpin the rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right to information. It’s not just Julian Assange in the dock. Silence Assange and others will be gagged.”

Read Amnesty’s full press release here.

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Press Release

Join us for the 24-hour Countdown to Day X

Join us on Monday, February 19, 2024 at 8:30am GMT | 7:30pm AEDT | 3:30am EST streaming only on Stella Assange’s and Assange Defense’s YouTube channels.

Julian Assange is arguably the most significant journalist and publisher of our time. He is currently in his fifth year in the high security prison of Belmarsh, South East London for exposing accurate and damning accounts of US war crimes.

Day X is the new public hearing date for Julian Assange. This could be the last chance to stop his extradition to the United States where he faces a 175 year sentence. An effective death sentence.

In this countdown, we will be providing you with a complete overview of what Julian Assange is facing at the two-day public hearing which starts on the February 20 at 8:30 am GMT. We will then be going live from outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Join us in person or send pics and video of your local actions to our dedicated Telegram channel. For participating locations go to https://www.StellaAssange.com and AssangeDefense.com/events.

It’s Now or Never. Free Assange Now.

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Press Release

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture urges UK government to halt imminent extradition of Julian Assange

February 6, 2024 — The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Alice Jill Edwards, today urged the Government of the United Kingdom to halt the possible extradition of Julian Assange to the United States of America.

She called on British authorities to consider Julian Assange’s appeal based on substantial fears that, if extradited, he would be at risk of treatment amounting to torture or other forms of ill-treatment or punishment.

“The risk of being placed in prolonged solitary confinement, despite his precarious mental health status, and to receive a potentially disproportionate sentence raises questions as to whether Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States would be compatible with the United Kingdom’s international human rights obligations, particularly under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as respective articles 3 of the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

She stressed that diplomatic assurance provided by the US, on the basis of which Britain’s High Court ruled to approve the United States’ appeal and sent the case back down to the Magistrate’s level for the extradition to be ordered, are not a sufficient guarantee to protect Mr. Assange against such risks.

“I call on the Government of the United Kingdom to carefully review Mr. Assange’s extradition order with a view to ensuring full compliance with the absolute and non-derogable prohibition of refoulement to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to take all the necessary measures to safeguard Mr. Assange’s physical and mental health.”

Read the whole letter here.

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Press Release

Australian parliamentarians send letter to UK Home Secretary James Cleverly

In the light of the approaching pivotal UK court hearings for Julian Assange on February 20 and 21, conveners of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group have written to UK Home Secretary James Cleverly asking him to “undertake an urgent, thorough and independent assessment of the risks to Mr Assange’s health and welfare in the event he is extradited to the United States.”

The signatories to the letter remind the Secretary of the UK Supreme Court decision which finds “that courts in the United Kingdom cannot just rely on third party assurances by foreign governments but rather are required to make independent assessments of the risk of persecution to individuals before any order is made removing them from the UK.”

This reasoning clearly has direct relevance to the extradition proceedings involving Julian Assange and the joint decision of Lord Justices Burnett and Holroyde in USA v Assange [2021] EWHC 3313 (Admin). In that case their Lordships expressly relied on the “assurances” of the United States as to Mr Assange’s safety and welfare should he be extradited to the United States for imprisonment and trial. These assurances were not tested, nor was there any evidence of independent assessment as to the basis on which they could be given and relied upon.

They stress that “both the Australian Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have stated publicly that Mr Assange’s case has gone on for too long. This is a position with which we wholeheartedly concur.”

The letter is signed by MPs Andrew Wilkie, Bridget Archer, Josh Wilson and David Shoebridge.

Read the letter here.

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Press Release

Call Congress: Support H. Res. 934!

House Resolution 934 calls for an end to the prosecution of Julian Assange and affirms the First Amendment rights for journalists. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Gosar in December, needs cosponsors to be introduced to the House floor for a vote — so we need to urge our representatives to support H.Res. 934 right away!

“First Amendment freedom of the press promotes public transparency and is crucial for the American Republic”

House Resolution.934 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that regular journalistic activities are protected under the First Amendment, and that the United States ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange.

“Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that— 
(1) regular journalistic activities, including the obtainment and publication of information are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States;

(2) First Amendment freedom of the press promotes public transparency and is crucial for the American Republic;

(3) the Federal Government ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange; and

(4) the Federal Government allow Julian Assange to return home to his native Australia if he so desires.”

Call your congressmembers!

Here is a sample script:

“My name is [NAME] and I live in [CITY/STATE].

I am contacting you to ask Rep [NAME] to cosponsor H.Res 934, which urges the Department of Justice to drop all charges against Julian Assange.

Press freedom groups, mainstream publishers, and human rights organizations around the world oppose the U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange.

Prosecuting Assange threatens the First Amendment. If Assange is convicted, future administrations could use the precedent to prosecute journalists for doing their job by publishing truthful information.

I believe that journalism is not a crime. I am asking Rep. [NAME] to stand up for press freedom by signing on as a cosponsor of H. Res. 934. Let Julian Assange go free!”

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Press Release

Lawsuit Against Alleged CIA Spying On Assange Visitors Allowed To Proceed

December 19, 2023 — Judge John Koeltl of the Southern District of New York ruled that four American attorneys and journalists, who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he was in the Ecuador Embassy in London, may sue the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for its role in the alleged copying of the contents of their electronic devices.

Rejecting the arguments of Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean-David Barnea, who neither confirmed nor denied that the CIA had targeted Americans without obtaining a warrant at the first hearing in November, the federal judge has now ruled that the plaintiffs are allowed to proceed with the lawsuit.

Kevin Gosztola reports that a prior decision in Amnesty v. Clapper, which challenged the “legality of the bulk telephone metadata collection program” operated by the National Security Agency (NSA), helped Koeltl determine that the allegedly targeted Americans had standing to sue the CIA.

The U.S. government will likely appeal the decision.

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Hearing Coverage Press Release

Julian Assange’s Final Appeal to be held in UK High Court 20-21 February 2024

December 19, 2023 — The UK High Court has confirmed that a public hearing will take place on 20-21 February 2024. The two-day hearing may be the final chance for Julian Assange to prevent his extradition to the United States. If extradited, Assange faces a sentence of 175 years for exposing war crimes committed by the United States in the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Immediately after the court date was announced, protestors responded by calling for a mass protest at the court on the days of the hearing at 8:30am. They welcome all those who support press freedom to join them in London and around the world.

The upcoming public hearing will be held before a panel of two judges who will review an earlier High Court decision taken by a single judge on 6 June 2023 which refused Mr Assange permission to appeal.

This decisive stage in Mr Assange’s appeals will determine one of two outcomes: whether Mr. Assange will have further opportunities to argue his case before the domestic (UK) courts, or whether he will have exhausted all appeals without a possibility for further appeal in the UK and thus enter the process of extradition. An application before the European Court of Human Rights remains a possibility.

With the myriad of evidence that has come to light since the original hearing in 2019, such as the violation of legal privilege and reports that senior US officials were involved in formulating assassination plots against my husband, there is no denying that a fair trial, let alone Julian’s safety on US soil, is an impossibility were he to be extradited. The persecution of this innocent journalist and publisher must end.

Stella Assange

Assange’s campaign for freedom is supported by Amnesty International, the National Union of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and virtually every civil rights, press freedom, and journalists’ union in the world. More than 60 Australian federal politicians have called on the US to drop the prosecution. In the United States, the Congressional representatives calling for the case to be dropped grows steadily, currently H. Res 934 sponsored by Paul Gosar is gathering signatures from all sides of politics.

For more information about the court hearing and subsequent protest, scheduled to commence at 8.30am, and how to participate, please visit freeassange.org

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Past Events Press Release

The Belmarsh Tribunal returns to Washington D.C.

December 9, 2023 — As the extradition case against Julian Assange is entering its final phase, the Belmarsh Tribunal returns to Washington D.C. Courage Foundation is proud to partner with Progressive International and other media and media freedom organizations to bear witness to the Biden administration’s crackdown on free speech and the First Amendment and demand freedom for Julian Assange. The fourth edition of The Belmarsh Tribunal will take place on December 9 at the National Press Club with the participation of the world’s leading journalists, lawyers, and human rights defenders.

This Tribunal will hear testimonies from Marjorie Cohn, professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, Michael Sontheimer, journalist and historian (formerly Der Spiegel), Mark Feldstein, investigative correspondent and Chair of Journalism at the University of Maryland, Trevor Timm, co-founder of Freedom of the Press Foundation, John Kiriakou, former CIA intelligence officer, Rebecca Vincent, Reporters Without Borders, Ewen MacAskill, journalist and intelligence correspondent (formerly Guardian), Ben Wizner, lawyer and civil liberties advocate with the ACLU, Maja Sever, president of European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Ece Temelkuran, author and journalist, Lina Attalah, Co-founder and Chief Editor of Mada Masr, 2020 Knight International Journalism Award recipient, Sevim Dagdelen, Member of the German Bundestag, Abby Martin, journalist.

The proceedings will be chaired by journalists Amy Goodman and Ryan Grim.

From Presidents and Prime Ministers to Nobel Peace Prize winners, the international community is crying out against the injustice of Assange’s prosecution — and its implication for press freedom worldwide. Join them: Register here to attend the Tribunal in person or follow the proceedings online.

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Press Release

First Hearing in the Lawsuit Against Alleged CIA Spying On Assange Visitors

November 16, 2023 — A U.S. court considered a lawsuit against the CIA and former CIA director Mike Pompeo for their alleged role in spying on American attorneys and journalists who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

In August 2022, four Americans — lawyers Margaret Ratner Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, journalist John Goetz and Charles Glass sued the CIA and Pompeo. The lawsuit they brought alleges that as visitors Glass, Goetz, Hrbek, and Kunstler were required to “surrender” their electronic devices to employees of a Spanish company called UC Global, which was contracted to provide security for the Ecuador embassy. Furthermore, UC Global “copied the information stored on the devices” and shared the information with the CIA. The agency even had access to live video and audio feeds from cameras in the embassy.

Now, Judge John Koeltl of the Southern District of New York refused to accept Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean-David Barnea position who neither confirmed nor denied that the CIA had targeted Americans without obtaining a warrant. He also invited attorneys for the Americans to update the lawsuit so that claims of privacy violations explicitly dealt with the government’s lack of a warrant.

In his report about the hearing, journalist Kevin Gosztola notes that “the government effectively asserted in a U.S. courtroom that Americans cease to have constitutional privacy protections from U.S. government intrusion when they travel abroad.”

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Press Release

PEN Norway awards Julian Assange the Ossietzky Prize for 2023

November 15, 2023 — Julian Assange is awarded PEN Norway’s Ossietzky Prize for 2023 in recognition of his critical journalism and his commitment to exposing the abuse of power and war crimes.

Julian Assange’s wife and lawyer Stella Assange received the award on his behalf in a ceremony in Oslo, where she spoke alongside Jørgen Watne Frydnes, PEN Norway General Secretary, Dag Larsen, head of Norwegian PEN’s committee for imprisoned writers, Ann-Magrit Austenå, Norsk PEN’s chairman, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, writer and former Guantanamo prisoner, and Mads Andenæs, member of Norsk PEN’s Assange committee.

The jury’s justification reads:

“Julian Assange has, both as a publisher and editor, been instrumental in revealing severe war crimes committed by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the unlawful imprisonment and abuse of detainees at Guantanamo.

(…)

“Julian Assange’s efforts for the right to information have come at a high personal cost. For the last five years he has been imprisoned in the British high-security prison Belmarsh, with limited contact with his family and inadequate communication with his lawyers. His health has deteriorated significantly during his time in detention.

“The treatment that Julian Assange has been and is being subjected to can amount to violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibit any form of torture and inhuman treatment.

(…)

“Citizens’ right to information is a prerequisite for democracy. Without a democracy based on informed citizens, abuse of power and violations of the law cannot be corrected and changed. Julian Assange has defended the core of democracy. Like several predecessors, Julian Assange has made public essential documents in this sensitive area, a role that is often criticized but will be recognized as highly significant when history is to be written.”

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Press Release

16 Congressmembers urge AG Garland to drop the charges against Julian Assange

November 8, 2023 — 16 members of the US Congress have written to president Joe Biden urging him to drop its extradition attempts against Julian Assange and halt any prosecutorial proceedings immediately.

The signatories emphasized their commitment to the principles of free speech and freedom of the press and underlined that the prosecution of Julian Assange significantly undermines them.

“It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of the government”

“The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalising common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press. We urge you to ensure that this case be brought to a close in as timely a manner as possible.”

The group also warned that continuing the pursuit of Assange risks America’s bilateral relationship with Australia.

Read the full letter here:

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Press Release

Assange Defense Launches Projection Campaign, Shedding Light on Free Assange Movement

Washington, D.C. — Assange Defense launched a projection campaign last night across the Metro D.C. area, shedding light on the critical push to free Julian Assange. This projection campaign coincides with the state visit of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. 

The projection campaign hit major locations, including the Washington Post and 555 Penn Ave. The images highlight how “there is no free press without a free Assange.” The projections will continue throughout the scheduled state dinner tonight. Supporters of Julian Assange also plan to hold banners and demonstrate outside the State Dinner, as guests arrive at 17th and Penn Ave NW. They will be there from 5 to 7 p.m.

“Prime Minister Albanese has been clear that ‘enough is enough,’ that Assange’s persecution has gone on far too long, and we want to support that message,” said Nathan Fuller, director of Assange Defense. “The First Amendment is on the line – the Biden Administration must drop these dangerous charges.”

Freeing Assange, who is an Australian citizen, is a priority for the Prime Minister, who has stated there is “nothing to be gained,” as the dangers posed by the charges outweigh the arguments in their favor. Securing Assange’s release is a top concern for Australians, with nine out of ten in support of the action. Albanese is expected to advocate for his release directly with President Biden.

Australia is an important ally to the United States, and critical in America’s plan for peace in the Pacific. The charges against Assange have generated pressure between the two allies. Concerns are mounting that should the Biden administration continue to double down on its prosecution of Assange, the relationship could fracture.

The Obama administration declined to indict Assange because it would risk criminalizing basic journalistic activities that every mainstream media outlet engages in on a regular basis. The Trump administration reversed course, and the Biden administration fell in step, continuing to insist that Assange had “damaged national security.”

There are growing fears amongst both the international community and the American public of rollbacks on freedom of speech. Press freedoms are under attack across the world, and Assange’s imprisonment for publishing documents obtained by a source could trigger a global rollback of protections for these basic journalistic practices. 

A new bipartisan push by American members of Congress to free Assange has also launched to coincide with this state visit, showing that both the American public and their elected officials are paying attention, and will not stand for the rollback of our First Amendment rights.

Photos of the projection campaign can be found here.

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Press Release

Where the 2024 U.S. presidential candidates stand on press freedom and Assange

September 17, 2023 — The New York Times has published the results of its 2024 Executive Power Survey in which Presidential Candidates explain their position on press freedom and specifically on the case of Julian Assange.

The candidates were asked if they think the Espionage Act charges against Mr. Assange are constitutional as a legal policy matter and would their administration keep that part of the case against him. In addition, they were asked if they support and would their administration keep the new rules against compulsory production of reporters’ information in leak investigations.

Democratic candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson spoke strongly in favor of press freedom. Kennedy Jr. confirmed that he will drop all charges against Julian Assange, while Williamson said she would drop the Espionage Act counts against him.

Williamson explained that the Espionage Act “violates freedom of speech and press by criminalizing publications without proof that the disclosures were intended to and did cause material harm to the national security of the United States.”

President Joe Biden avoided directly responding regarding the prosecution of Julian Assange, saying “it isn’t appropriate for me to offer an opinion on an ongoing criminal prosecution that is now pending in court.” Instead he stressed his role in codifying new legislation preventing compulsory seizure of journalists’ records “except in limited circumstances” and thus his commitment to press freedom.

Republican candidates Asa Hutchinson and Francis Suarez said they do not plan to interfere with pending prosecutions, nor that it is appropriate to opine on the issue.

Former Vice-President Mike Pence pointed out the need for balance between national security and the freedom of the press. Alluding to the Assange case he said that the First Amendment “does not protect so-called journalists from breaking the laws necessary to maintain our national security and keep Americans safe”.

Other Republican candidates, including former President Donald Trump, did not offer an answer to these questions.

There is bipartisan support for protecting the First Amendment right to publish, joining all relevant media freedom organizations and newsrooms around the world.

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Press Release

More than 60 Australian politicians sign a letter in support of Assange; A group of them is coming to U.S.

September 15, 2023 — More than 60 Australian politicians have called on the United States government to drop the prosecution of Julian Assange, warning of “a sharp and sustained outcry in Australia” if the WikiLeaks founder is extradited. The letter comes ahead of announcements that a contingent of parliamentarians are coming to Washington D.C. this week in hopes of securing Assange’s freedom.

In the letter, the 63 MPs and senators said they were “resolutely of the view that the prosecution and incarceration of the Australian citizen Julian Assange must end”.

Together with a large and growing number of Australians we believe it is wrong in principle for Mr Assange to be pursued under the Espionage Act (1917), and that it was a political decision to bring the prosecution in the first place. In any case, this matter has dragged on for over a decade and it is wrong for Mr Assange to be further persecuted and denied his liberty when one considers the duration and circumstances of the detention he has already suffered. It serves no purpose, it is unjust, and we say clearly – as friends should always be honest with friends – that the prolonged pursuit of Mr Assange wears away at the substantial foundation of regard and respect
that Australians have for the justice system of the United States of America.

The letter will be taken to Washington D.C. where it will be presented to US Congresspeople and others as part of the cross-party delegation made up of Senators Alex Antic, David Shoebridge and Peter Whish-Wilson, Barnaby Joyce MP, Monique Ryan MP and Tony Zappia MP.

Their trip, scheduled for September 20-21, is intended to raise the profile of Assange’s plight in the weeks leading up to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s first prime ministerial trip to Washington at the end of October.

“There is some urgency to this mission because of the imminent possibility of Mr Assange’s extradition to the US, and his deteriorating physical and mental health”, wrote Monique Ryan MP, one of the members of the Australian parliamentary delegation.

This situation is one of politics, not of law. If the extradition request is approved, Australians will witness the deportation of one of our citizens from one AUKUS partner to another – our closest strategic ally – with Assange facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

Read the whole letter here:

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Press Release

Bring him home: Australians reject Blinken’s comments

A host of Australian politicians have rejected the comments made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that WikiLeaks’ revelations ‘risked very serious harm’ to national security.

Responding to Blinken, MPs Julian Hill, Andrew Wilkie and Bridget Archer have reiterated that the US needs to get Assange out of prison.

Wilkie stressed that “Antony Blinken’s allegation that Julian Assange risked very serious harm to US national security is patent nonsense.”

Mr Blinken would be well aware of the inquiries in both the US and Australia which found that the relevant WikiLeaks disclosures did not result in harm to anyone.

The only deadly behaviour was by US forces … exposed by WikiLeaks, like the Apache crew who gunned down Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists.

Senators David Shoebridge, Nick McKim, Peter Whish-Wilson, Gerard Rennick and Malcolm Roberts addressed the Australian Senate on the motion to bring Julian Assange home.

Prime Minister Antony Albanese told reporters that Blinken’s public comments echoed points made by President Joe Biden’s administration during private discussions with Australian government officials. However, he added that Australia will not give up on the issue.

We remain very firm in our view and our representations to the American government and we will continue to do so.

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Press Release

NUJ: The UK must play no part in supporting Assange’s extradition

July 10, 2023 — Reacting to reports that UK police made “voluntary interview” approaches to British-based journalist, UK’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) issued a statement condemning the move and urging the UK government not to allow Assange’s extradition to the US, or assist with information gathering.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

The UK must play no part in supporting Assange’s extradition and journalists should not have to fear being contacted to aid a case that poses considerable threat to media freedom and to journalists worldwide. Nor should they have to worry about potential consequences of refusing to take part in such interviews, in relation to future travel or work in the US.

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Press Release

Julian Assange awarded Konrad Wolf prize

Julian Assange is named winner of the 2023 Konrad Wolf prize, awarded by Germany’s Academy of Arts, for his journalistic work which brought to light “illegal state actions, injustice, murder and war crimes”.

The jury said:

Julian Assange’s Wikileaks publicizes information about this – our – reality, so that we as citizens can recognize this reality and take action. ‘We open governments’ so that we know. It is a democratic act. Assange is a worthy laureate, who with his Wikileaks project has exposed government activity, wartime lies, war crimes and cover-ups. His work embodies journalistic awareness-building at its best, and aims to change the world by democratic means – something that is direly needed.

The Akademie der Künste has in recent years repeatedly called for the German government and political leaders in Europe to secure Julian Assange’s release. Julian Assange is being made an example of in order to intimidate and weaken the fourth estate. Journalists, publicists and whistleblowers must be protected, as they perform an essential service to society.

The award ceremony for the Konrad Wolf Prize will take place at the Akademie der Künste on Friday, 20 October 2023.

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Press Release

Ben & Jerry’s Co-founder Arrested for Blocking DOJ Entrance While Protesting US Government’s Prosecution of Wikileaks Publisher Julian Assange

Washington, D.C. – Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, and Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK, have been arrested for blocking the entrance to the Department of Justice. Cohen and Evans arrived in Washington, D.C. to protest the US government’s prosecution of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, who has been indicted on 18 charges for the publication of the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs, which uncovered war crimes, torture, and civilian deaths perpetrated by the US government. 

“It’s outrageous. Julian Assange is nonviolent. He is presumed innocent. And yet somehow or other, he has been imprisoned in solitary confinement for four years. That is torture….He revealed the truth, and for that he is suffering, and that’s we we need to do whatever we can to help him, and to help preserve democracy, which is based on freedom of the press,” Ben Cohen said during the demonstration. “It seems to me that, right now, unless things change, and unless we change them, freedom of the press is going up in smoke.”  

“Why do we have freedom of press? Because there needs to be someone reporting the truth about the violence of power….When you don’t have freedom of the press and no one’s telling the truth, it weaponizes your capacity to feel, to have compassion and empathy. Because if you don’t have the full story and if your heart is being manipulated with lies, then we’re all lost. How can we have peace in the world if we’re just drowning in lies?” Jodie Evans said

Cohen and Evans asked to enter the Department of Justice to discuss their attack on the freedom of press. Security guards denied them access. They proceeded to sit peacefully in the entrance until DC Metropolitan Police arrested them. 

Members of Congress, world leaders, as well as major publishers, have urged the Department of Justice to drop the charges against Julian Assange due to the threat it poses to the First Amendment and press freedom. 

The Obama administration declined to indict Assange because it would risk criminalizing basic journalistic activities that every mainstream media outlet engages in on a regular basis. 

This month, UK High Court Judge Jonathan Swift rejected Assange’s most recent appeal, pushing him ‘dangerously close’ to extradition. The Australian government, where Assange is a citizen, is currently working through diplomatic channels to end Assange’s incarceration, while his legal team continues the appeal process. 

Julian Assange is currently confined in Belmarsh’s maximum-security prison in London and has been since April 2019. If extradited, he will face up to 175 years in prison. 

###

View photographs of the action arrest here, here, here, here, and here. An original tweet from Ben is here.

Video footage of the action is available here and the full stream of the event is here. The footage is free to use and courtesy of Robin Bell/Assange Defense.

NOTE for producers: 

00:00 – 05:47 Ben’s opening remarks, burning the 1A, approaching the DOJ guard

05:48 – 16:59 Ben Cohen Q&A with press

17:00 – 19:27 Ben Cohen arrest footage For more information about AssangeDefense.org.

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Press Release

Happy birthday Julian!

July 3rd was Julian Assange’s 52nd birthday, his 5th in Belmarsh prison, and 12th without freedom.

Amnesty International Australia released a statement calling on the Australian government to take all necessary measures to ensure Assange’s safe release. This needs to be “Julian Assange’s last birthday without freedom”, they stressed.

Amnesty International Australia calls on the Australian government to demand that the United States drop the charges against Julian Assange and end extradition efforts.

Dominique Pradalié, President of the International Federation of Journalists, congratulated Julian’s 52nd birthday with a blog post recounting his “crimes” and achievements.

Indeed, if an Australian journalist, having published in Europe, were to be brought before an American court, and held subject to US law, who, in this world, would then dare to publicly displease the US administration?

Julian, you must be released, rehabilitated, fulfilled with your rights and returned to your wife and two young children.

To mark the occasion, solidarity rallies and support actions were held across the world.

In the US, Free Assange banners were set up across the country.

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Press Release

Pope Francis holds meeting with Stella Assange

On Friday, June 30th, Pope Francis has met with Julian Assange’s family, his wife Stella and their two children.

After the audience, Stella Assange said the Pope’s gesture in receiving them was evidence of his concern over the suffering of her husband, Julian.

He has provided great solace and comfort and we are extremely appreciative for his reaching out to our family in this way.

She added that the Pope had sent a letter to her husband in March 2021, during a particularly difficult period, and that the visit reflects his “ongoing show of support for our family’s plight”.

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Press Release

Daniel Ellsberg, 1931-2023

Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg at the Frontline Club in 2010 (Photo by Robert Wallis/Corbis/Getty Images)

June 16, 2023 — Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower and an icon of movements for peace and the freedom of the press, has died today at the age of 92. Daniel was a co-chair of the Assange Defense Committee, and he testified in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in 2020.

In 1969, inspired by antiwar draft resisters, Daniel leaked the Pentagon Papers — a damning 7,000-page Top Secret report of the U.S. war in Vietnam exposing the deceit of public rhetoric over the conflict — to the New York Times and Washington Post and was nearly sent to prison for life under the Espionage Act of 1917. Daniel’s case was dismissed in 1973 when the judge learned that prosecutors had broken into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s records in an attempt to discredit his mental state in court.

Daniel has spent the last half century continuing to fight for peace and justice, speaking out against war and attempts to justify it, supporting whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and warning of the dangers of U.S. nuclear war policy.

Assange Defense director Nathan Fuller said,

Ellsberg and Fuller at a rally for WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2012

“We knew it was coming and still I am crushed by the loss of Daniel Ellsberg. The way Daniel chose to live his life, down to his last days, he has left behind a blueprint for the rest of us whose conscience finds us at odds with the world around us. He never gave up in his struggles for peace, for press freedom, and for nuclear disarmament.

His specific contributions to the defense of Julian Assange alone are incredible. Nearing age 90, Daniel became the co-chair of Assange Defense — not just a figurehead, he participated in webinars, authored op-eds, and was a soundboard for ideas and actions. He testified in Julian’s extradition hearing, expertly deconstructing the prosecution’s attempt to disparage Assange and standing up for the right to publish in the public interest.

I am so lucky to have counted Daniel as a friend, let alone to have worked alongside him in the fight for truth and justice. Thank you, Daniel, we will miss you dearly.”

Ellsberg testified in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London in September 2020. In cross-examination, prosecutors attempted to draw a distinction between Ellsberg — who is now widely lauded as a heroic whistleblower — and Assange. Daniel explicitly rejected this false dichotomy and explained how Assange and WikiLeaks’ publications were similarly in the public interest.

“My own actions in relation to the Pentagon Papers and the consequences of their publication have been acknowledged to have performed such a radical change of understanding. I view the WikiLeaks publications of 2010 and 2011 to be of comparable importance.”

Ellsberg explained that this tactic is an effort to turn public opinion against those charged with Espionage for engaging in acts of whistleblowing:

Ellsberg said at the time of his releases, he was harshly criticized, the way Snowden and Manning and Assange are now. Then for a long time he was ignored. And now that these new releases have come out, WikiLeaks’ in 2010 and Snowden’s NSA revelations in 2013, all of a sudden commentators were contrasting them with him, referring to Ellsberg positively “to draw some contrast between us.”

“I totally disagree with the ‘good Ellsberg / bad Assange’ theory,” he said. “Except for the computer aspects which didn’t exist back then, I see no difference between the charges against me and the charges against Assange.”

Ellsberg in support of Julian Assange

Daniel Ellsberg: Espionage Charges Against Assange Are Most Significant Attack on Press in Decades

Indict Us Too: Daniel Ellsberg & Cryptome’s John Young Demand US Drop Charges Against Julian Assange

Daniel Ellsberg on Julian Assange’s Espionage Charges


More remembrances for Daniel Ellsberg

Kevin Gosztola, The Dissenter | The Loving Truth-Teller That Was Daniel Ellsberg

Seeing Dan’s life announcement, and the warm responses to it, made it easier for me to accept that one of the best human beings I have ever known had come to the end of his life.

Dan was not at peace with the world around him. Wars and the threat of nuclear armageddon motivated him to do several more interviews while he could still speak with reporters. But he did feel joy and gratitude having lived his life unapologetically as a peace activist and truth-teller—someone who embodied the idea of the moral imperative.

For the rest of my life, I will cherish the fact that I was one of the first journalists who Dan spoke with on his farewell media tour and that I had the privilege of interacting and sharing his wisdom with the world for over a decade.

Chip Gibbons, Jacobin | Daniel Ellsberg, American Hero

“In his email announcing his terminal cancer, the threat of nuclear war was clearly weighing heavily on Ellsberg’s mind. Stating that the world risked nuclear war over Ukraine or Taiwan, Ellsberg wrote, “It is long past time — but not too late! — for the world’s publics at last to challenge and resist the willed moral blindness of their past and current leaders. I will continue, as long as I’m able, to help these efforts.”

While he viewed the world as close to catastrophe as ever, he noted, “I’m happy to know that millions of people — including all those friends and comrades to whom I address this message! — have the wisdom, the dedication and the moral courage to carry on with these causes, and to work unceasingly for the survival of our planet and its creatures.”

When I interviewed him for the fiftieth anniversary of the Pentagon Papers’ release, it was clear that he was far less interested in reminiscing about the past than carrying forward his urgent work to avert nuclear war and reform the Espionage Act. Honoring Ellsberg requires not just recalling him as a historic figure, but carrying on his work and legacy to dismantle the machinery of war that has claimed far too many lives and end its accompanying regime of secrecy that crushes truth-tellers while granting impunity to war criminals.”

Categories
Hearing Coverage Press Release

UK Judge Rejects Julian Assange’s Appeal Request

June 8, 2023 — Julian Assange’s legal battle in the UK hit a roadblock this week as High Court Judge Jonathan Swift unilaterally rejected an appeal of Julian’s extradition order on all grounds. This leaves just one avenue at the High Court level remaining for Assange: he now has five business days to submit another request to appeal to a panel of two judges, who will convene a public hearing as to whether they will grant Assange leave of appeal. 

Press freedom groups condemn UK decision

Judge Swift ruled against Julian on all grounds, drawing a harsh rebuke from the globally renowned watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Chip Gibbons, Policy Director of Defending Rights & Dissent, said,

The US government seeks to prosecute Assange for his legitimate journalistic activity that exposed war crimes, corruption, and abuses of power. The prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act is inherently illegitimate. On top of that, the legal case against Assange is irrevocably tainted by the extralegal war multiple intelligence agencies have waged on the Australian publisher. 

The Biden Administration must heed the calls of nearly every human rights and press freedom organization, major newspapers, and members of Congress and drop these charges once and for all.

“The idea of Assange or anyone being tried in a U.S. court for obtaining and publishing confidential documents the same way investigative reporters do every day should be terrifying to all Americans,” said Freedom of the Press Foundation Director of Advocacy Seth Stern.

Final High Court appeal

While this ruling is obviously a major setback, it isn’t the end of the road. RSF explained,

“This leaves only one final step in the UK courts, as the defence has five working days to submit an appeal of only 20 pages to a panel of two judges, who will convene a public hearing. Further appeals will not be possible at the domestic level, but Assange could bring a case to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Julian’s wife, Stella Assange, said on Twitter that Assange will submit a renewed appeal request early next week. This request will argue on the same grounds as the previous appeal, which include that the prosecution of Assange is a highly politicized indictment which violates the US-UK Extradition Treaty, which specifically exempts political accusations.

The Solution

The Biden administration can end this case any time it so chooses, and the chorus of voices around the world calling on Biden to #DropTheCharges keeps growing. Australia, a key U.S. ally, has recently reiterated that it wants this nightmare to end; Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese personally raised the issue with President Biden, and Albanese has publicly stated that “enough is enough” when it comes to Washington’s crusade against Julian.

Categories
Press Release

Reports that the FBI has ‘re-opened’ its Assange investigation are incorrect

On Thursday, Sydney Morning Herald incorrectly reported that the FBI investigation into Julian Assange had been ‘re-opened’.

The Herald revealed that the FBI sought to interview a London-based writer about his time working on Assange biography project in 2011. The request was denied by the writer who said he opposes any attempt to punish Assange for publishing classified material.

The FBI’s failed attempt to solicit a new witness, however, does not constitute the investigation’s re-opening, but its continuation. The process, initiated under the Trump Administration in 2017, has since been ongoing.

In their statement Wikileaks emphasized that the move indicates that the persecution has no case.

“The case against Julian Assange has no foundation and is politically motivated. The FBI’s latest move simply highlights the political desperation of his persecutors. The FBI’s efforts to create a case out of thin air include making a convicted fraudster their star witness (who has since recanted his testimony).”

Read the full Wikileaks statement bellow:

On Thursday, the Sydney Morning Herald incorrectly reported in a front-page story that the FBI investigation into Julian Assange had been ‘re-opened’. Since the current process was initiated in 2017 under the Trump Administration after pressure from CIA head Michael Pompeo, the investigation has never been closed. It is therefore nonsensical to suggest it has been re-opened.

The Herald’s story stemmed from an FBI request to a London-based writer to “discuss your experiences with Assange/Wikileaks”. This writer had worked on a project of a biography about Mr. Assange in 2011. The writer told the Herald he would rather go to prison than cooperate with the FBI’s efforts to silence a journalist.The FBI request was sent on the same day that President Biden was scheduled to address the Australian Parliament, before he cancelled his official visit.

That same day, May 23rd, Stella Assange briefed a packed room of Australian members of parliament from all political parties and held a press conference in the Parliamentary building. Her visit came after months of building momentum culminating in a week of unprecedented political unity and supporter engagement in Australia. Recent polls show 89% of Australians want Assange free. An extraordinary and undeniable level of support.

Stella Assange said:

“I wanted my first ever visit to Australia to be with Julian and our children,  but after four years he remains imprisoned in London whilst facing a life sentence in the United States. The solid support of the Australian people who overwhelmingly want to see Julian brought home to Australia has cemented my belief that Julian is closer than he has ever been to returning to his family. The US and Australian governments now have a duty to sit down and draw up a solution given the swell of political and public support in Julian’s home country. The Australian people will be funding the USD 245bn nuclear submarine AUKUS deal over the next thirty years and their opinion on releasing Julian therefore cannot be ignored.”

The case against Julian Assange has no foundation and is politically motivated. The FBI’s latest move simply highlights the political desperation of his persecutors. The FBI’s efforts to create a case out of thin air include making a convicted fraudster their star witness (who has since recanted his testimony).

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks said:

“The FBI has reached an alarming new low by asking a journalist (Mr. O’Hagan) to reveal his interactions with his source (Mr. Assange). There can be no doubt that the decisions taken in the case of Julian Assange are having a chilling effect on journalists globally. From spying on Julian’s lawyers, to planning his assassination, the behaviour of his persecutors is opening a Pandora’s box of abuses of power. The message that needs to be sent to the Biden administration and the Attorney General Merrick Garland is, for the sake of press freedom all over the world: Drop The Charges. End this now.”

Categories
Press Release

Stella Assange visits Australia

May 24, 2023 — Stella Assange is in Australia raising support for the release of her husband, imprisoned publisher Julian Assange.

“Although it is my first time coming to Australia, I do not feel like a stranger on these shores,” she said speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, May 22nd. “I have mixed emotions about being here, because I had always imagined my first visit to be with my husband and children.”

She declared that the prosecution of Julian Assange was being used to “bully journalists into submission” and urged the Albanese government to offer a “political solution” and bring her husband home.

“Julian’s life is in the hands of the Australian government”, she stressed.

Mrs Assange added that she believes they are closer than ever to a resolution in Assange’s long-running case, but that securing his release from prison is a matter of life and death.

On Tuesday, accompanied by Assange’s Australian lawyer Jennifer Robinson, and his brother and father Gabriel and John Shipton, she attended a briefing at the Parliament House.

Speaking after the briefing, MP Andrew Wilkie said it was vital for the Australian Government to ramp up its support for Julian. “There has been growing support for Julian in Australia, with politicians from all parties agreeing that the persecution of Julian has gone on too long and must be brought to an end.”

“Proud to stand beside Stella Assange to call for the Australian Government to ramp up its support for Julian Assange”, Wilkie wrote in a Twitter post.

On Wednesday, hundreds of protestors have joined the wife of Julian Assange in Hyde Park, calling on the Federal Government to help secure his release. Next to Mrs Assange, a number of long-time Julian’s supporters, including Scott Ludlum, David McBride, and Stephen Kenny, spoke at the rally. Mr Kenny, a lawyer for former Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks, told the crowd that Assange had committed no crime.

“This is a political matter and it requires a political solution,” he said.

Watch Stella Assange’s speech at the Sydney rally.

Categories
Press Release

Julian Assange pens letter to King Charles III

This letter was first published by Declassified UK

May 5, 2023

To His Majesty King Charles III,

On the coronation of my liege, I thought it only fitting to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to commemorate this momentous occasion by visiting your very own kingdom within a kingdom: His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh.

You will no doubt recall the wise words of a renowned playwright: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

Ah, but what would that bard know of mercy faced with the reckoning at the dawn of your historic reign? After all, one can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners, and your kingdom has surely excelled in that regard.

Your Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is located at the prestigious address of One Western Way, London, just a short foxhunt from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. How delightful it must be to have such an esteemed establishment bear your name.

It is here that 687 of your loyal subjects are held, supporting the United Kingdom’s record as the nation with the largest prison population in Western Europe. As your noble government has recently declared, your kingdom is currently undergoing “the biggest expansion of prison places in over a century”, with its ambitious projections showing an increase of the prison population from 82,000 to 106,000 within the next four years. Quite the legacy, indeed.

As a political prisoner, held at Your Majesty’s pleasure on behalf of an embarrassed foreign sovereign, I am honoured to reside within the walls of this world class institution. Truly, your kingdom knows no bounds.

During your visit, you will have the opportunity to feast upon the culinary delights prepared for your loyal subjects on a generous budget of two pounds per day. Savour the blended tuna heads and the ubiquitous reconstituted forms that are purportedly made from chicken. And worry not, for unlike lesser institutions such as Alcatraz or San Quentin, there is no communal dining in a mess hall. At Belmarsh, prisoners dine alone in their cells, ensuring the utmost intimacy with their meal.

Beyond the gustatory pleasures, I can assure you that Belmarsh provides ample educational opportunities for your subjects. As Proverbs 22:6 has it: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Observe the shuffling queues at the medicine hatch, where inmates gather their prescriptions, not for daily use, but for the horizon-expanding experience of a “big day out”—all at once.

You will also have the opportunity to pay your respects to my late friend Manoel Santos, a gay man facing deportation to Bolsonaro’s Brazil, who took his own life just eight yards from my cell using a crude rope fashioned from his bedsheets. His exquisite tenor voice now silenced forever.

Venture further into the depths of Belmarsh and you will find the most isolated place within its walls: Healthcare, or “Hellcare” as its inhabitants lovingly call it. Here, you will marvel at sensible rules designed for everyone’s safety, such as the prohibition of chess, whilst permitting the far less dangerous game of checkers.

Deep within Hellcare lies the most gloriously uplifting place in all of Belmarsh, nay, the whole of the United Kingdom: the sublimely named Belmarsh End of Life Suite. Listen closely, and you may hear the prisoners’ cries of “Brother, I’m going to die in here”, a testament to the quality of both life and death within your prison.

But fear not, for there is beauty to be found within these walls. Feast your eyes upon the picturesque crows nesting in the razor wire and the hundreds of hungry rats that call Belmarsh home. And if you come in the spring, you may even catch a glimpse of the ducklings laid by wayward mallards within the prison grounds. But don’t delay, for the ravenous rats ensure their lives are fleeting.

I implore you, King Charles, to visit His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, for it is an honour befitting a king. As you embark upon your reign, may you always remember the words of the King James Bible: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). And may mercy be the guiding light of your kingdom, both within and without the walls of Belmarsh.

Your most devoted subject,

Julian Assange

A9379AY

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Julian Assange, World Press Freedom Day, and U.S. Hypocrisy 

May 4, 2023 — Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, a day in which the United States’ hypocrisy over its stated support of freedom of the press was on full display. U.S. officials held events and press conferences to claim they support protections for journalists around the world, even condemning adversarial countries for their treatment of their reporters, but activists reminded them that these words ring hollow as long as the U.S. continues to persecute and prosecute imprisoned journalist Julian Assange.

Activists take to the streets for Julian Assange and the First Amendment

Chicago: Press Freedom Webinar
DC: Funeral March for the Death of Press Freedom
NYC: Press Freedom Rally
Los Angeles: Hollywood die-in

U.S. officials confronted over hypocrisy on press freedom

CodePink protests Sec. State Blinken
Press Sec. Jean-Pierre refuses to engage

“Advocates on Twitter today have been talking a great deal about how the United States has engaged in hypocrisy by talking about how Evan Gershkovich is held in Russia on espionage charges but the United States has Espionage Act charges pending against Julian Assange.  Can you respond to that criticism?” asked Portnoy.

“What is the criticism?” asked Jean-Pierre. 

“Well, the criticism is that — the argument is that Julian Assange is a journalist who engaged in the publication of government documents,” Portnoy replied. “The United States is accusing him of a crime under the Espionage Act, and that, therefore, the United States is losing the moral high ground when it comes to the question of whether a reporter engages in espionage as a function of his work. So can you respond to that?”

“Look, I’m not going to speak to Julian Assange and that case from here,” said Jean-Pierre.

State Dept. dodges Associated Press on Assange

Associate Press reporter Matt Lee

“So then can I ask you, as was raised perhaps a bit abruptly at the very beginning of his comments this morning, whether or not the State Department regards Julian Assange as a journalist who would be covered by the ideas embodied in World Press Freedom Day?” asked Lee.

“The State Department thinks that Mr. Assange has been charged with serious criminal conduct in the United States, in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in our nation’s history,” Patel replied. “His actions risked serious harm to US national security to the benefit of our adversaries. It put named human sources to grave and imminent risk and risk of serious physical harm and arbitrary detention. So, it does not matter how we categorize any person, but this is – we view this as a – as something he’s been charged with serious criminal conduct.”

“Well, but it does matter actually, and that’s my question. Do you believe that he is a journalist or not?” asked Lee.

“Our view on Mr. Assange is that he’s been charged with serious criminal conduct in the United States,” said Patel.

“Yeah, but anyone can be charged with anything,” Lee replied. “Evan Gershkovich has been charged with a serious criminal offense in Russia, and you say that he is a journalist, and he is obviously. And I just want to know whether or not you, the State Department – regardless of any charges that he faces – believe that he is a journalist, or he is something else.”

“The United States doesn’t go around arbitrarily detaining people, and the judicial oversight and checks and balances that we have in our system versus the Russian system are a little bit different,” said Patel, before again repeating his line that Assange has been charged with a very serious crime.

“Okay. So, basically, the bottom line is that you don’t have an answer. You won’t say whether you think he is a journalist or not,” Lee replied.

Sam Husseini follows up with State Department

Independent journalist Sam Husseini

“You refer to WikiLeaks allegedly damaging US national security,” said Husseini. “People might remember that WikiLeaks came to prominence because they released the Collateral Murder video. And what that showed was US military mowing down Reuters reporters – workers in Iraq. Reuters repeatedly asked the US Government to disclose such information about those killings, and the US government repeatedly refused to do so. Only then did we know what happened, that the US helicopter gunship mowed down these Reuters workers, through the Collateral Murder video? Are you saying that disclosure of such criminality by the US government impinges US national security?”

“I’m not going to parse or get into specifics,” Patel said, before again repeating his line that Assange stands accused of serious crimes in a way that harmed US national security.

Further coverage

Trevor Timm in The Guardian | If you care about press freedom, make some noise about Julian Assange

If Assange is extradited, his case will go from being ignored in the United States to an absolute circus. The justice department will dig its heels in even further to avoid the embarrassment of dropping the charges during a media firestorm. By then it may be too late anyway. A new president may be in office, who would not only ignore pleas from journalists but may revel in them.

Ask yourself: do you trust Donald Trump not to turn around and use this precedent on the reporters he considers the “enemies of the people” and has previously wanted thrown in jail? If not, then now is the time to make your voice heard about the dangerous case against Julian Assange.

John Nichols, The Nation | If Biden Really Believes in Press Freedom, He’ll Stop Targeting Julian Assange https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/biden-julian-assange-press-freedom/ 

“Tonight, our message is this: Journalism is not a crime!” declared Biden, as he put aside the evening’s punch lines for a serious show of solidarity with jailed and persecuted journalists around the world, including Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been falsely accused of espionage by the Russians, and Austin Tice, a kidnapped American journalist who is believed to be held by the Syrian government.

“The free press is a pillar—maybe the pillar—of a free society, not the enemy,” Biden told the assembled reporters, editors, TV anchors, and radio hosts. “You make it possible for ordinary citizens to question authority—and, yes, even to laugh at authority—without fear or intimidation. That’s what makes this nation strong. So, tonight, let us show ourselves and the world our strength, not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”

The statement was a welcome departure from the attacks on journalism that characterized the administration of Donald Trump, who claimed in 2019 that “the press…is the enemy of the people.”And it anticipated the participation of high-profile Biden administration members, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in events scheduled for Wednesday that will honor World Press Freedom Day.

Counter Points | Assange Advocate SHREDS Biden Hypocrisy On Free Press

“Ryan and Emily are joined by Ann Wilcox who shreds Biden for claiming to support a free press while continuing to push forward with the prosecution of Julian Assange.”

Categories
Press Release

Free Assange events planned across U.S. for World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day, created 30 years ago by the UN, is meant to act as both a reminder and a reflection on the freedoms of the press and of speech that we all hold dear. But these freedoms are under attack daily. With the continued prosecution of Assange, and now the imprisonment of WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, we have to stand up to protect free speech. 

Events are being added daily, so make sure to keep an eye on our events page! On May 3, 2023, join us for the below events to mark World Press Freedom Day, or create your own by contacting Organizer Vinne De Stefano.

Los Angeles – Join a broad coalition of activists at Hollywood and Highland to raise our voices in support of journalism and journalists and the very principle of freedom of the press. Details can be found here!  

Washington, D.C. – Join us for a rally on May 3. The rally will have several stops, ending outside the the Washington Post headquarters, calling on the mainstream media to protect press freedom and support journalists as well as whistleblowers who have risked their careers to inform the public. Details can be found here!

New York – Join Assange Countdown to Freedom, NYC Free Assange and Assange Defense for a rally at MSNBC to call for the Extradition of Julian Assange. Details can be found here!

Chicago – Join us for a panel discussion with journalists Kevin Gosztola, the author of the recently released “Guilty of Journalism – The Political Case Against Julian Assange”; Jamie Kalven, founder of the Invisible Institute; and lawyer Leonard Goodman, founder of the Leonard Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting. Details can be found here!

San Francisco – Join us for a Day of Action to free journalists! This event will discuss both Julian Assange and Mumia Abu-jamal’s imprisonments and call for their freedom. Details can be found here!

Boston – Boston Area Assange Defense will be holding a call-in to the White House, Attorney General’s offices, and local representatives to call for an end to Julian’s extradition. Details can be found here!

Categories
Press Release

Lawmakers around the world call on AG Merrick Garland to drop charges against Julian Assange

U.S. letter | UK letter | Australian letter | Mexican letter

April 11, 2023  — Seven U.S. policymakers, led by Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, have cosigned a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling for the Department of Justice to drop the unprecedented charges against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Tlaib is joined by New York Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Texas Rep. Greg Casar, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Missouri Rep. Cori Bush. The letter comes on the fourth anniversary of Assange’s arrest and imprisonment in London.

In support of the U.S. effort, parliamentarians across the political spectrum in the UK, Australia, Mexico, and Brazil have cosigned similar letters to AG Garland, emphasizing the global implications in this case. 

The U.S. letter-writers note that “The prosecution of Mr. Assange marks the first time in U.S. history that a publisher of truthful information has been indicted under the Espionage Act,” and go on to warn how a conviction on these charges would change the media and political landscape of the country:

“The prosecution of Mr. Assange, if successful, not only sets a legal precedent whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted, but a political one as well. In the future the New York Times or Washington Post could be prosecuted when they publish important stories based on classified information. Or, just as dangerous for democracy, they may refrain from publishing such stories for fear of prosecution.”

Richard Burgon MP said: 

“British Parliamentarians are increasingly alarmed by the potential extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. Any extradition would, in effect, be putting press freedom on trial. It would set a dangerous precedent for journalists and publishers around the world.

Four years on since Julian Assange was first detained in Belmarsh High-Security prison, now is the right moment to draw a line under this outrageous prosecution initiated by the Trump Administration, drop the charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to Australia.”

Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Clark in the Australian Federal Parliament said:

“The widespread political concern for Julian Assange is a powerful reminder that this terrible saga has gone on for much too long and must be brought to an end.

The 48 Australian federal parliamentarians who put their name to the formal letter of concern, in concert with similar letters from parliamentarians from around the world, represents millions of constituents. This is no small matter and must not be dismissed.

Nor should it be ignored that the outpouring of political concern spans the political spectrum and is based on a diverse range of reasons. This reflects how the injustice being endured by Julian Assange is so wrong on so many levels. It must be brought to an end.

The parliamentarian effort was welcomed by leaders of civil society organizations who have warned of the grave implications this case has for press freedom around the world.”

Reporters without Borders’ Rebecca Vincent said,

“As Julian Assange marks four years in Belmarsh prison and faces possible imminent extradition to the United States, it’s more crucial for Members of Congress to speak up now than ever before. No one should face prosecution or the possibility of the rest of their lives in prison for publishing information in the public interest. As long as the case against Assange continues, it will be a thorn in the side of the US government, and undermines US efforts to defend media freedom globally. We welcome Representative Tlaib’s leadership on this issue and encourage widespread support for her call on the Justice Department to drop the charges against Assange. It’s time for the US to lead by example by bringing this 12 year-old case to a close and allowing for his release without further delay.”

Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Seth Stern said,

“We commend Rep. Tlaib’s efforts to finally put an end to the unconstitutional prosecution of Julian Assange. Whatever one might think about Assange personally, there is no principled distinction between the conduct he is charged with and the kind of investigative journalism that has helped shape U.S. history. As long as the government claims the power to prosecute newsgathering, all journalists can do is hope prosecutors exercise restraint and don’t come after them for doing their jobs. Journalists will surely tread more cautiously as a result. No one who values the First Amendment should be comfortable with that which is why every major press rights and civil liberties organization opposes Assange’s prosecution.”

Julian Assange has been detained in maximum-security Belmarsh prison in London since his arrest on April 11, 2019. He is fighting extradition to the United States where he has been indicted on unprecedented charges for publishing truthful information in the public interest, for the 2010-11 publication of documents exposing war crimes and other abuses in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If convicted, he faces 175 years in prison.

Chip Gibbons, Policy Director of DC-based civil liberties organization Defending Rights and Dissent, said: 

Defending Rights & Dissent applauds Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s courageous defense of the First Amendment. Defending the Bill Of Rights is the responsibility of every branch of government and we are proud to stand with those members of Congress who are joining with nearly every press freedom group and newspapers such as The New York Times, in calling on the Department of Justice to end its prosecution of Julian Assange.  When the Trump Administration brought unprecedented Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange for doing what journalists do everyday, they put the First Amendment in peril. To turn the page, the Biden Administration must heed the call of nearly every major human rights and press freedom group, and halt this press freedom endangering prosecution.

Nathan Fuller, Executive Director of Assange Defense, said:

We are so grateful that Rep. Rashida Tlaib has stepped up in defense of the freedom of the press and in defense of Julian Assange. The indictment against Assange is a blatant attack on the First Amendment right to publish, and it puts every investigative journalist around the world at risk.

It is heartening to see members of Congress—as well as members of parliaments across the globe—refuse to sit back and let this attack go on without a fight. Merrick Garland should leap at this opportunity to reassess the indictment, recognize the dangers it poses to democratic principles, and drop the charges at once.

U.S. letter | UK letter | Australian letter | Mexican letter


U.S. letter

Dear Attorney General Merrick Garland,

We write you today to call on you to uphold the First Amendment’s protections for the freedom of the press by dropping the criminal charges against Australian publisher Julian Assange and withdrawing the American extradition request currently pending with the British government.

Press freedom, civil liberty, and human rights groups have been emphatic that the charges against Mr. Assange pose a grave and unprecedented threat to everyday, constitutionally protected journalistic activity, and that a conviction would represent a landmark setback for the First Amendment. Major media outlets are in agreement: The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel have taken the extraordinary step of publishing a joint statement in opposition to the indictment, warning that it “sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

The ACLU, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Defending Rights and Dissent, and Human Rights Watch, among others, have written to you three times to express these concerns. In one such letter they wrote:

“The indictment of Mr. Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely—and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do. Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices.”

The prosecution of Julian Assange for carrying out journalistic activities greatly diminishes America’s credibility as a defender of these values, undermining the United States’ moral standing on the world stage, and effectively granting cover to authoritarian governments who can (and do) point to Assange’s prosecution to reject evidence-based criticisms of their human rights records and as a precedent that justifies the criminalization of reporting on their activities. Leaders of democracies, major international bodies, and parliamentarians around the globe stand opposed to the prosecution of Assange. Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic have both opposed the extradition. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called on the U.S. government to end its pursuit of Assange. Leaders of nearly every major Latin American nation, including Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Argentinian President Alberto Fernández have called for the charges to be dropped. Parliamentarians from around the world, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, have all called for Assange not to be extradited to the U.S.

This global outcry against the U.S. government’s prosecution of Mr. Assange has highlighted conflicts between America’s stated values of press freedom and its pursuit of Mr. Assange. The Guardian wrote “The US has this week proclaimed itself the beacon of democracy in an increasingly authoritarian world. If Mr. Biden is serious about protecting the ability of the media to hold governments accountable, he should begin by dropping the charges brought against Mr. Assange.” Similarly, the Sydney Morning Herald editorial board stated, “At a time when US President Joe Biden has just held a summit for democracy, it seems contradictory to go to such lengths to win a case that, if it succeeds, will limit freedom of speech.”

As Attorney General, you have rightly championed freedom of the press and the rule of law in the United States and around the world. Just this past October the Justice Department under your leadership made changes to news media policy guidelines that generally prevent federal prosecutors from using subpoenas or other investigative tools against journalists who possess and publish classified information used in news gathering. We are grateful for these pro-press freedom revisions, and feel strongly that dropping the Justice Department’s indictment against Mr. Assange and halting all efforts to extradite him to the U.S. is in line with these new policies.

Julian Assange faces 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one charge for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.  The Espionage Act charges stem from Mr. Assange’s role in publishing information about the U.S. State Department, Guantanamo Bay, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of this information was published by mainstream newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, who often worked with Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks directly in doing so. Based on the legal logic of this indictment, any of those newspapers could be prosecuted for engaging in these reporting activities. In fact, because what Mr. Assange is accused of doing is legally indistinguishable from what papers like the New York Times do, the Obama administration rightfully declined to bring these charges. The Trump Administration, which brought these charges against Assange, was notably less concerned with press freedom.

The prosecution of Mr. Assange marks the first time in U.S. history that a publisher of truthful information has been indicted under the Espionage Act. The prosecution of Mr. Assange, if successful, not only sets a legal precedent whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted, but a political one as well. In the future the New York Times or Washington Post could be prosecuted when they publish important stories based on classified information. Or, just as dangerous for democracy, they may refrain from publishing such stories for fear of prosecution.

Mr. Assange has been detained on remand in London for more than three years, as he awaits the outcome of extradition proceedings against him. In 2021, a U.K. District Judge ruled against extraditing Mr. Assange to the United States on the grounds that doing so would put him at undue risk of suicide. The U.K.’s High Court overturned that decision after accepting U.S. assurances regarding the prospective treatment Mr. Assange would receive in prison. Neither ruling adequately addresses the threat the charges against Mr. Assange pose to press freedom. The U.S. Department of Justice can halt these harmful proceedings at any moment by simply dropping the charges against Mr. Assange.

We appreciate your attention to this urgent issue. Every day that the prosecution of Julian Assange continues is another day that our own government needlessly undermines our own moral authority abroad and rolls back the freedom of the press under the First Amendment at home. We urge you to immediately drop these Trump-era charges against Mr. Assange and halt this dangerous prosecution.

Sincerely,
Members of Congress

CC: British Embassy; Australian Embassy

UK letter

Dear Attorney General,

We write to you as members of the UK Houses of Parliament to request that you end the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange.

This April 11th marks the fourth anniversary of Mr Assange, an award-winning journalist and publisher, being detained in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London, where he awaits a decision on extradition to the United States of America.

As you will be aware, this threat of extradition follows a decision by the Trump Administration to bring charges against Mr Assange relating to his role as a journalist and publisher in publishing evidence of war crimes, corruption and human rights abuses.

If Mr Assange were to be extradited to the United States, he faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years for his publishing work which was carried out in the United Kingdom and in partnership with globally leading news outlets.

This would clearly have a chilling impact on journalism and would set a dangerous precedent for other journalists and media organisations. It would also undermine the US’ reputation on freedom of expression and the rule of law.

Given this, there is a growing clamour for the release of Julian Assange. Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, has urged the United States to end the prosecution of Julian Assange, who is an Australian citizen.
Likewise, extradition is opposed by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović.

Globally leading human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have also warned against the impact of extradition and called on the United States to drop the charges.

As we approach the fourth anniversary of the detention of Julian Assange in the HMP Belmarsh we request that you take a stance to uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and drop the extradition proceedings to allow Mr Assange to return home to Australia.

Yours sincerely
,

MPs

Richard Burgon MP (Labour)

David Davis MP (Conservative Party)

Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party)

John McDonnell MP (Labour Party)

Angus MacNeil MP (Scottish National Party)

Liz Saville-Roberts MP (Plaid Cymru)

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Kenny MacAskill MP (Alba Party)

Diane Abbott MP (Labour Party)

Apsana Begum MP (Labour Party)

Ian Byrne MP (Labour Party)

Dan Carden MP (Labour Party)

Ben Lake MP (Plaid Cymru)

Clive Lewis MP (Labour Party)

Rachael Maskell MP (Labour Party)

Andy McDonald MP (Labour Party)

Grahame Morris MP (Labour Party)

Kate Osborne MP (Labour Party)

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP (Labour Party)

Tommy Sheppard MP (Scottish National Party)

Zarah Sultana MP (Labour Party)

Claudia Webbe MP (Independent)

Mick Whitley MP (Labour)

LORDS

Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter (Liberal Democrat Party)

Baroness Caroline Cox (Cross-bench)

Lord Bryn Davies (Labour Party)

Lord Hugh Dykes (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord John Hendy KC (Labour Party)

Baroness Molly Meacher (Cross-bench)

Lord Jonny Oates (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord Diljit Rana (Conservative Party)

Lord Prem Sikka (Labour Party)

Lord Paul Strasburger (Liberal Democrat)

Lord Andrew Stunell (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord Tony Woodley (Labour Party)

Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord Paul Strasburger (Liberal Democrat)

Australian letter

The Honourable Merrick B. Garland
Attorney General of the United States of America
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
WASHINGTON DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General

We write to you as Australian parliamentarians from the Government, Opposition and crossbench to call on you to end the extradition proceedings against Australian citizen, Mr Julian Assange. Mr Assange is the Australian journalist and publisher, currently detained in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London awaiting a decision on extradition to the United States of America.

As you would be aware, the previous US Administration brought charges against Mr Assange for seventeen counts relating to allegedly obtaining and disclosing information under the Espionage Act of 1917, and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1968. The charges pertain to Mr Assange’s actions, as a journalist and publisher for WikiLeaks, in publishing information with evidence of war crimes, corruption and human rights abuses.

If the extradition request is approved, Australians will witness the deportation of one of our citizens from one AUKUS partner to another – our closest strategic ally – with Mr Assange facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison. This would set a dangerous precedent for all global citizens, journalists, publishers, media organizations and the freedom of the press. It would also be needlessly damaging for the US as a world leader on freedom of expression and the rule of law.

International experts oppose the continued persecution of Mr Assange, including the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, as well as human rights organisations, various heads of state and parliamentarians from around the world.

Attorney General, Australian public opinion on this matter is clear. Indeed polling shows that 88 per cent of Australians either support, or are unopposed, to calls for Mr Assange to be brought back to Australia. Mr Assange has been effectively incarcerated for well over a decade in one form or another, yet the person who leaked classified information had their sentence commuted and has been able to participate in American society since 2017. A clear majority of Australians consider that this matter has gone on for far too long and must be brought to a close. We implore you to drop the extradition proceedings and allow Mr Assange to return home.

Yours sincerely

Australian Parliamentarians
Signatories overleaf

2 / 3
Senator Penny Allman-Payne
Senator for Queensland

Michelle Ananda-Rajah MP
Member for Higgins

Bridget Archer MP
Member for Bass

Senator Ralph Babet
Senator for Victoria

Adam Bandt MP
Member for Melbourne

Stephen Bates MP
Member for Brisbane

Senator The Hon Matthew Canavan
Senator for Queensland

Max Chandler-Mather MP
Member for Griffith

Kate Chaney MP
Member for Curtin

Senator Dorinda Cox
Senator for Western Australia

Zoe Daniel MP
Member for Goldstein

The Hon Warren Entsch MP
Member for Leichhardt

Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi
Senator for New South Wales

Dr Mike Freelander MP
Member for Macarthur

Dr Helen Haines MP
Member for Indi

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Senator for South Australia

Julian Hill MP
Member for Bruce

The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP
Member for New England

Peter Khalil MP
Member for Wills

Tania Lawrence MP
Member for Hasluck

Zaneta Mascarenhas MP
Member for Swan

Senator Nick McKim
Senator for Tasmania

Brian Mitchell MP
Member for Lyons

Llew O’Brien MP
Member for Wide Bay

Alicia Payne MP
Member for Canberra

Graham Perrett MP
Member for Moreton

Senator Barbara Pocock
Senator for South Australia

Senator David Pocock
Senator for Australian Capital Territory

Senator Gerard Rennick
Senator for Queensland

Senator Janet Rice
Senator for Victoria

Senator Malcolm Roberts
Senator for Queensland

Dr Monique Ryan MP
Member for Kooyong

Dr Sophie Scamps MP
Member for Mackellar

Rebekha Sharkie MP
3 / 3
Member for Mayo

Senator David Shoebridge
Senator for New South Wales

Allegra Spender MP
Member for Wentworth

Senator Jordon Steele-John
Senator for Western Australia

Zali Steggall OAM MP
Member for Warringah

Susan Templeman MP
Member for Macquarie

Senator Lidia Thorpe
Senator for Victoria

Kylea Tink MP
Member for North Sydney

Maria Vamvakinou MP
Member for Calwell

Senator Larissa Waters
Senator for Queensland

Elizabeth Watson-Brown MP
Member for Ryan

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson
Senator for Tasmania

Andrew Wilkie MP
Member for Clark

Josh Wilson MP
Member for Fremantle

Tony Zappia MP
Member for Makin

Mexican letter

(En español)

President Joseph Biden
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr President of the United States of America,
Dear Speaker of the House,

We write to you as Members of the Mexican parliament to express our collective concerns about the US request to extradite the journalist and publisher, Julian Paul Assange, from the UK to the US, and the chilling precedent that extradition would set for other journalists and publishers around the world.

The political nature of the offense prohibits extradition

The US superseding indictment issued against Mr Assange on 24 June 2020 charges him with 18 counts all related solely to the 2010 publications of US government documents. Charges 1-17 are brought under the Espionage Act 1917, even though espionage is widely recognized as a political offense under international law. The UK-US Extradition Treaty that forms the basis of the extradition request specifically prohibits extradition for political offenses. So, too, does the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Model Treaty on Extradition, the Interpol Constitution, and other bilateral treaties ratified by the US. This principle is also enshrined in the Inter-American Human Rights System, which also upholds the right to political asylum.

Mr Assange undertook standard investigative journalistic practices, which include receiving classified information from a source inside the government and then publishing that information in the public interest. The charges under the Espionage Act would criminalize these routine practices, which are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It was in recognition of the irreconcilable conflict between these charges and the First Amendment that the Obama Administration rightly refused to charge Mr Assange with espionage because it would criminalize the standard journalistic practice.

Risk of being subjected to an unfair trial in the US

Mr Assange’s legal privilege, a right enshrined in Art. 8 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and long recognized under English common law, was grossly violated through constant and criminal video and audio surveillance at the Ecuadorian embassy carried out by the Spanish security firm, UC Global. This surveillance was, according to witness testimony, ordered by the CIA and has triggered an investigation into the owner of UC Global, David Morales, by Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional. The surveillance resulted in all of Mr Assange’s meetings and conversations being recorded, including those with his lawyers. The Council of Bar and Law Societies of Europe, which represents more than a million European lawyers, has expressed its concerns that these illegal recordings may be used – openly or secretly – in proceedings against Mr Assange in the event of successful extradition to the US. The Council states that if the information merely became known to the prosecutors, this would present an irremediable breach of Mr Assange’s fundamental rights to a fair trial under Art. 6 of the ECHR and due process under the US Constitution. The UN Model Treaty on Extradition prohibits extradition if the person has not received, or would not receive, the minimum guarantees in criminal proceedings, as enshrined in Art. 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Judicial Conflicts of Interest

Senior District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) Emma Arbuthnot, who as Chief Magistrate oversees Mr Assange’s extradition proceedings, has been shown to have financial links to institutions and individuals whose wrongdoings have been exposed by WikiLeaks, the organization which Mr Assange founded. This seemingly clear conflict of interest was, however, not disclosed by the District Judge. District Judge Arbuthnot did not recuse herself and was permitted to make rulings to Mr Assange’s detriment, despite the perceived lack of judicial impartiality and independence.

Mr Assange was arrested on 11 April 2019 and is now one of the longest-serving prisoners on remand in the United Kingdom.

We respectfully call on your Administration and American Congress to renew trust in the rule of international law, and the rule of law in the United States, by dropping the charges against Mr Assange and bringing an end to the ongoing extradition proceedings.

We add ours to an ever-growing public voice across civil society, human rights organizations, press groups, and the political and judicial class proclaiming that Mr Assange’s persecution must be halted. We fully agree with the Council of Europe, which considers Mr Assange’s treatment to be among “the most severe threats to media freedom,” and with the EU Parliament and parliamentarians worldwide, who oppose the extradition and express concerns about the violations of Mr Assange’s fundamental human, civil, and political rights.

We join in the call for Mr Assange’s immediate release made by international organizations at the United Nations, Amnesty International, other human rights advocates, and legal, medical and other professional associations. 

We urge the U.S. Justice Department to drop all charges against Mr Assange. 

With all our best regards and wishes for mutual cooperation,

En español

Presidente Joseph Biden

Presidente de la Cámara de Representantes, Kevin McCarthy

La Casa Blanca,

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Estimado presidente de la Cámara,

Les escribimos como miembros del Senado y de la Cámara de Legisladores de México para expresar nuestras preocupaciones colectivas sobre la solicitud de EE. UU. de extraditar al periodista y editor, Julian Paul Assange, del Reino Unido, a EE. UU. y el

escalofriante precedente que establecería la extradición para otros periodistas y editores de todo el mundo.

La naturaleza política del delito prohíbe la extradición

La acusación sustitutiva emitida por Estados Unidos contra el Sr. Assange el 24 de junio de 2020 contempla 18 cargos, todos relacionados únicamente con las publicaciones de documentos del gobierno de EE. UU. hechas en 2010. Los cargos 1 a 17 se presentan en virtud de la Ley de espionaje de 1917, aunque el espionaje está ampliamente reconocido como un delito político según el derecho internacional. El Tratado de Extradición Reino Unido-Estados Unidos que constituye la base de la solicitud de extradición prohíbe específicamente la extradición por delitos políticos. Lo mismo ocurre con el Convenio Europeo de Extradición de 1957, el Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos, el Tratado Modelo de Extradición de la ONU, la Constitución de Interpol y otros tratados bilaterales ratificados por EE.UU. Este principio también está consagrado en el Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos, que también defiende el derecho al asilo político.

Assange llevó a cabo prácticas periodísticas de investigación estándar, que incluyen recibir información clasificada de una fuente dentro del gobierno y luego publicar esa información en interés público. Los cargos bajo la Ley de Espionaje criminalizarían estas prácticas rutinarias que están protegidas por la Primera Enmienda de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. Fue en reconocimiento del conflicto irreconciliable entre estos cargos y la Primera Enmienda que la Administración Obama se negó acertadamente a acusar a Assange de espionaje porque criminalizaría la práctica periodística estándar.

Riesgo de ser sometido a un juicio injusto en EE. UU.

El privilegio legal del señor Assange, un derecho consagrado en el art. 8 Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos (CEDH) y reconocido desde hace mucho tiempo por el derecho consuetudinario inglés, fue violado gravemente a través de la vigilancia constante y criminal de video y audio en la Embajada ecuatoriana, misma que fue llevada a cabo por la empresa de seguridad española, UC Global. Esta vigilancia fue, según el testimonio de un testigo, ordenada por la CIA, desencadenando una investigación sobre el propietario de UC Global, David Morales, por parte del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de España, la Audiencia Nacional. La vigilancia resultó en la grabación de todas las reuniones y conversaciones de Assange, incluidas aquellas con sus abogados. El Consejo de Colegios de Abogados y Abogados de Europa, que representa a más de un millón de abogados europeos, ha expresado su preocupación

de que estas grabaciones ilegales puedan usarse, abierta o secretamente, en procedimientos contra el Sr. Assange en caso de una extradición exitosa a los EE. UU. El Consejo afirma que, si la información simplemente llegara a ser conocida por los

fiscales, esto representaría una violación irremediable de los derechos fundamentales del Sr. Assange a un juicio justo en virtud del art. 6 de la CEDH y el debido proceso bajo la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. El Tratado Modelo de Extradición de la ONU prohíbe la extradición si la persona no ha recibido, o no recibiría, las garantías mínimas en los procesos penales, tal como lo establece el art. 14 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos (PIDCP).

Conflictos de intereses judiciales

Se ha demostrado que la jueza principal de distrito (tribunales de magistrados) Emma Arbuthnot, quien como magistrada principal supervisa los procedimientos de extradición del Sr. Assange, tiene vínculos financieros con instituciones y personas cuyas fechorías han sido expuestas por WikiLeaks, la organización que fundó el Sr. Assange. Sin embargo, este aparentemente claro conflicto de intereses no fue revelado por el juez de

distrito. La jueza de distrito Arbuthnot no se recusó y se le permitió dictar sentencias en detrimento de Assange, a pesar de la aparente falta de imparcialidad e independencia judicial.

Assange fue arrestado el 11 de abril de 2019 y ahora es uno de los presos con más años en prisión preventiva en el Reino Unido.

Hacemos un llamado respetuosamente a su administración y al Congreso estadounidense para que renueven la confianza en el Estado de derecho internacional y el Estado de derecho en los Estados Unidos, retirando los cargos contra el Sr. Assange y poniendo fin a los procedimientos de extradición en curso.

A una voz pública cada vez mayor en la sociedad civil, las organizaciones de derechos humanos, los grupos de prensa y la clase política y judicial que proclaman que se debe detener la persecución del Sr. Assange, agregamos la nuestra. Estamos totalmente de acuerdo con el Consejo de Europa, que considera que el trato al Sr. Assange se encuentra entre “las amenazas más graves a la libertad de prensa”, y con el Parlamento de la Unión Europa y los parlamentarios de todo el mundo, que se oponen a la extradición y expresan su preocupación por las violaciones de los principios fundamentales del Sr. Assange. derechos humanos, civiles y políticos.

Nos unimos al llamado para la liberación inmediata del Sr. Assange hecho por organizaciones internacionales en las Naciones Unidas, Amnistía Internacional, otros defensores de los derechos humanos y asociaciones legales, médicas y otras

asociaciones profesionales. 

Instamos al Departamento de Justicia de EE. UU. a que retire todos los cargos contra Assange.

Con todos nuestros mejores saludos y deseos de cooperación mutua,

Minerva Citlalli Hernández Mora

Senadora por la Ciudad de México

Freyda Marybel Villegas Canché

Senadora por Quintana Roo

Cecilia Margarita

Sánchez García

Senadora por Campeche

Jesús Lucía Trasviña Waldenrath

Senadora por Baja California Sur

Navor Alberto Rojas Mancera

Senador por Hidalgo

Olga María del Carmen Sánchez

Cordero

Senadora

Reyes Flores Hurtado

Senador por Coahuila

Imelda Castro Castro

Senadora por Sinaloa

Sasil de León Villard

Senadora por Chiapas

Oscar Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar

Senador por Chiapas

Sergio Pérez Flores

Senador por Morelos

María Antonieta Cárdenas Mariscal

Senadora por Jalisco

Lilia Margarita Valdez Martínez

Senadora por Durango

Héctor Vasconcelos

Senador

Higinio Martínez Miranda

Senador por el Estado de México

Griselda Valencia de la Mora

Senadora por Colima

Antares Guadalupe Vázquez

Alatorre

Senadora

César Arnulfo Cravioto

Romero

Senador por la Ciudad de México

Katya Elizabeth Ávila Vázquez

Senadora

Mónica Fernández Balboa

Senadora por Tabasco

Verónica Noemí Camino Farjat

Senadora por Yucatán

Marcela Mora

Senadora

Lucía Meza

Senadora por Morelos

Gilberto Herrera Ruiz

Senador por Querétaro

Raúl Paz Alonso

Senador por Yucatán

Gloria Sánchez Hernández

Senadora por Veracruz

Eunice Renata Romo Molina

Senadora

Nestora Salgado García

Senadora por Guerrero

José Narro Céspedes

Senador por Zacatecas

Ricardo Velázquez Meza

Senador por Baja California Sur

Cristóbal Arias Solis

Senador por Michoacán

Martha Lucía Micher Camarena

Senadora por Guanajuato

José Ramón Enríquez Herrera

Senador por Durango

Ovidio Salvador Peralta Suárez

Senador por Tabasco

Ma. Guadalupe Covarrubias

Senadora por Tamaulipas

Ana Lilia Rivera Rivera

Senadora por Tlaxcala

Alejandro Armenta Mier

Senador por Puebla

Casimiro Méndez Ortiz

Senador

Raúl de Jesus Elenes Angulo

Senador por Sinaloa

Maria Soledad Luévano Cantú

Senadora por Zacatecas

Arturo del Carmen Moo Cahuich

Senador por Campeche

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia

Senador

María Merced González González

Senadora por Hidalgo

Daniel Gutiérrez Castorena

Senador por Aguascalientes

Adolfo Gómez Hernández

Senador por Oaxaca

Manuel Vázquez Arellano

Diputado Federal

Jorge Alberto Barrera Toledo

Diputado Federal

Aleida Alavez Ruiz

Diputada Federal

Andrea Chávez Treviño

Diputada Federal

Mario Alberto Torres

Diputado Federal

Leticia Chavez

Diputada Federal

Hamlet García Almaguer

Diputado Federal

Susana Prieto Terrazas

Diputada Federal

Maximiano Barboza Llamas

Diputado Federal

José Luis Flores Pacheco

Diputado Federal

Yeidckol Polevnsky

Diputada Federal

María Guadalupe Chavira de la Rosa

Diputada Federal

Javier Huerta Jurado

Diputado Federal

Alma Delia Navarrete Rivera

Diputada Federal

Karla Estrella Díaz García

Diputada Federal

Olimpia Tamara Girón

Diputada Federal

Juan Guadalupe Torres Navarro

Diputado Federal

Erika Vanessa del Castillo Ibarra

Diputada Federal

José Guadalupe Ambrocio Gachuz

Diputado Federal

Graciela Sánchez Ortiz

Diputado Federal

María Clemente García Moreno

Diputada Federal

Jaime Humberto Pérez Bernabé

Diputado Federal

Ángel Miguel Rodríguez Torres

Diputado Federal

Alejandro Robles

Diputado Federal

Arturo Hernández Tapia

Diputado Federal

Raymundo Atanacio Luna

Diputado Federal

Steve del Razo Montiel

Diputado Federal

Armando Corona Arvizu

Diputado Federal

Ana Elizabeth Ayala Leyva

Diputada Federal

Martín Sandoval Soto

Diputado Federal

Otoniel García Montiel

Diputado Federal

Leticia Estrada Hernández

Diputada Local de la Ciudad de

México

Cirse Camacho

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Martha Soledad Avila Ventura

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Miriam Valeria Cruz Flores

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Ana Francis López Bayghen Patiño

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Héctor Díaz Polanco

Diputado local de la Ciudad de México

Marcela Fuente Castillo

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Nancy Marlene Núñez Reséndiz

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Xóchitl Bravo Espinosa

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

José Martin Padilla Sánchez

Diputado local por la Ciudad de México

Miguel Ángel Macedo Escartín

Diputado local de la Ciudad de México

Yuriri Ayala Zúñiga

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Alejandra Méndez Vicuña

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

José Fernando Mercado Guaida

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

Valentina Valia Batres Guadarrama

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Christian Moctezuma González

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

Nazario Norberto Sánchez

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

María Guadalupe Chávez Contreras

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Esperanza Villalobos Pérez

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Marisela Zúñiga Cerón

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Carlos Hernández Mirón

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

Categories
Press Release

Assange activist sends support kits across the U.S.

All over the world, activists and volunteers have been hard at work to bring awareness to Assange’s prosecution and the continued threat to free press. One of those activists is Halo Benson, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who created these amazing seed kits!

Filled with t-shirts, stickers, flyers, postcards pre-stamped and addressed to the Department of Justice and the White House, and more, these kits are a creative way to keep activists engaged, and keep up the drumbeat as we approach the one-year anniversary of Assange’s extradition. Watch this video to see more of what’s inside! If you’d like your own kit, you can reach out to her on Twitter.

When we think of actions to help Assange, we often jump to protesting, tabling, or other bigger, more public-facing work. However, not everyone has the resources or time to hit the streets. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be helpful in spreading awareness about Assange’s extradition and the encroaching threat to freedom of the press. There are so many creative ways to get the message out, just as Halo has shown here.  

Halo, we’re so grateful for your continued advocacy and support! Inspired by Halo’s work? You can get involved, too! Click here to find all the ways you can take action. Want to support Halo’s effort? Donate to Halo’s Assange Anniversary fundraiser.

Halo, right, with Julian Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton at a screening of Ithaka in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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Press Release

Students, professors, activists assemble for Assange’s release and freedom of the press on Student Press Freedom Day

February 23, 2023 — All over the country, students and universities will be hosting events focused on the threat to freedom of the press for Student Press Freedom Day. Nothing represents this threat better than the unprecedented prosecution against Julian Assange.  In Boston and Chicago, Assange Defense chapters will hold open events to discuss the impacts of Assange’s case on the future of the free press.

In the United States and around the world, freedom of speech and the press are under attack. One of the biggest examples of this is the case against Julian Assange. Assange is fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces unprecedented charges that carry up to 175 years in prison. For the first time in history, the U.S. Justice Department is charging a journalist under the controversial Espionage Act of 1917. The United Nations has declared Julian Assange “arbitrarily detained” since 2010. 

“The case against Julian Assange could spell the end of investigative journalism for the next generation of reporters, editors, and publishers before they even have a chance to graduate,” said Nathan Fuller, director of the Assange Defense Committee. “This prosecution would fundamentally alter the relationship between the people and the government, by eliminating an essential avenue of accountability, and that’s what these students are standing up and speaking out against. It’s really inspiring to see and hear from young people who care about these issues and I hope these rallies and panels are the first of many for those who’ve started participating in events like these today.”

“The prosecution of Julian Assange would criminalize national security journalism and send a chilling message to journalists that they disclose government secrets at their peril,” said attorney Marjorie Cohn, member of the national advisory board of Assange Defense and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. “Assange would be punished for doing what journalists do – protect confidential sources and publish classified secrets to tell us what our government is doing in our name.”

Press freedom and human rights groups have condemned the U.S. extradition efforts. And now, future journalists and lawyers are taking on the mantle, calling on President Biden to honor his word to protect press freedom and to free Julian Assange.

“If the Trump/Biden prosecution against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange under the infamous Espionage Act of 1917 succeeds, the next generation of journalists will face an unprecedented era of intimidation, repression and censorship, denying the American public vital information about government wrongdoing, ” said Stephen Rohde, former chair of ACLU SoCal and author of American Words of Freedom. 

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Past Events Press Release

Listen: Free Julian Assange

by Francisco Herrera and Dennis Bernstein

This is a song to promote the freedom of Julian Assange.

lyrics

FREE JULIAN NOW

1. Military chopper opens fire
Instruments of genocide
Wiki-leaks unmasked the liars
Of the Orders cued by
central command
Gun-sight video
Nails the murder scene down

2.The victims of smart bombs
Went up in flames
Baghdad on fire
Julian gave it a name
Collateral murder
A family shredded and maimed
Journalists died
Who will remember their names

3. It does not help to shield my eyes
The camera is still running
Deep inside the mind
History is watching us
Which side are we on
Julian told the truth
about the war machine
It’s getting late in the hour
Don’t wait another minute
To speak truth to power

One-liners:

Free Julian, Free
He Spoke for you and Me
and we will set him free
Libertad, libertad para Julian
Que se oiga esa voz
Por todo el mundo
Tell your neighbor tell your friend
Write the congress and the president
Truth to power Now’s the Hour

He spoke for you and me

And we must set him free

credits

Francisco Herrera- music
Dennis Bernstein- lyrics
Produced and arranged by Greg Landau

Drums- Darian Gray
Bass- Ernesto Mazar Kindelan
Keyboards- Steve Carter
Guitars- Greg Landau, Camilo Landau
Vocals- Francisco Herrera
Background Vocals- Zule Guerra, Liliana Herrera, and Orlando Torriente

Recorded and Mixed by Greg Landau

© all rights reserved

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Press Release

Newsweek on what it’s like for Julian Assange inside the cell at Belmarsh

Newsweek‘s Shaun Waterman reports: Julian Assange “is locked alone in a 6′ by 12′ cell for 20 or more hours a day — his reading limited and his mail censored.”

Waterman also reported on the CIA lawsuit and the ‘Spartacus moment‘ of Daniel Ellsberg and John Young coming forward to announce themselves as equally eligible for prosecution.

Stella talked about what he’s been reading in prison:

“Assange sleeps poorly, she said, meaning that he is often too tired to concentrate properly. But when he can, he likes to read, and recently enjoyed a new biography of the visionary leader of the Haitian slave revolt, Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture. He also tackled In the Thick of It, the autobiography of controversial Tory Minister Alan Duncan.

He is teaching himself to read and write Chinese, she added.”

On the ongoing punishment by process of a years-long imprisonment and trial:

“His family says that with uncertainty about his extradition hanging over him like the sword of Damocles, he has lost weight and become depressed and anxious.”

The worst part about the confinement is having no idea when or how he would be able to leave, Stella Assange said. “It is the uncertain duration that makes it so hard to bear … It’s a kind of torture.”

The uncertainty has exacerbated Assange’s physical and mental deterioration, his wife said. In October 2021, during a High Court hearing about his extradition, Assange, attending via video link from Belmarsh, suffered a “transient ischaemic attack” — a mini-stroke. He has been diagnosed with nerve damage and memory problems and prescribed blood thinners.

“He might not survive this,” she said.

Waterman on the support Assange receives around the world:

Assange gets thousands of letters and parcels from all over the world, Stella Assange said, but the authorities interdict banned items, such as books about national security, paintings and other forbidden objects.


Even the letters he doesn’t recieve make a difference, Stella Assange said. “The letters he reads help him feel connected to the world, but above all the letters show prison authorities the world cares about him.”

What it’s like for Julian’s two young children, Max and Gabriel:

Gabriel has recently “put two and two together” and figured out that the place he meets his father a couple of times a week is actually a prison, Stella Assange said. “Because he has a concept of what a prison is from TV or whatever, and he asked me the other day ‘Is he in prison?’ And I said, Yes. He’s in prison, but he’s not like any other prisoner. He’s not there because he’s done anything bad. He’s there because he’s done something good.”

Max, for his part, refers to Belmarsh simply as “the Queue” because of the repeated lines the family has had to join to be cleared through to visit. “The checks are very onerous,” she said. “The children have to be searched, as well as me. We have to be checked inside our mouths and in our hair, behind our ears, under our feet, and so on. And sometimes there are dog searches, which are quite intimidating.”

Read the full piece here.

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Press Release

Killing the messenger: Joe Biden’s disturbing hypocrisy on Julian Assange

A protester seen with a placard expressing her opinion at the Royal Courts of Justice. U.S wins appeal to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from the UK. (Thomas Krych/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

January 18, 2023 — It is time for President Biden to live up to his rhetoric on press freedom.

As a candidate in 2020, Biden released a powerful statement on the importance of press freedom, writing:

Reporters Without Borders tells us that at least 360 people worldwide are currently imprisoned for their work in journalism. We all stand in solidarity with these journalists for, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Biden left out the fact that one of those imprisoned people is WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, and that he is languishing in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison in London because the U.S. government wants to make an example of him.

Assange was indicted by the Trump administration in an aggressive, precedent-shattering move that was widely condemned by journalists and human rights groups. President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have had almost two years to do the right thing and drop this dangerous prosecution.

They have failed to deliver.

Instead, the Biden administration continues to lecture the world about press freedom and disinformation. Biden and his allies rightly chastise authoritarian regimes for censoring the press, cracking down on dissent and even criminalizing publishing the truth. Reporters Without Borders condemns violations of press freedom in places like Iran, China and Myanmar. But they also note that press freedom violations are not unique to such regimes. They condemn the persecution of Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa in the Philippines, and they lead a coalition of 16 journalism advocacy groups calling on the British government to free Assange.

These reports underscore the importance of a free and independent press that can expose wrongdoing, inform the public of uncomfortable realities and push back on government propaganda. In other words, a free press protects our access to the truth when the government deceives us.

I am proud to know Julian Assange. When I met with him at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, I was most impressed by his intelligence, compassion, and his belief in truth as an antidote to the poison of lies and war propaganda. As Assange said, “if wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”

For more than three years, Assange has been held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison known as “England’s Guantánamo” — much of that during a COVID outbreak at the jail that posed a threat to his life. As I write this, he is in 24-hour isolation with COVID. Last year, he suffered a mini-stroke. UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer has determined that the conditions of Assange’s confinement constitute torture.

Prior to being held in a maximum-security prison with murderers, Assange spent years confined in the Ecuadorian embassy, without access to adequate medical care. During that time, the U.S. government spied on his lawyers, his visitors (including me), his family and his doctors. They even seized his files and legal notes when he was arrested. Why? Because Assange’s work with WikiLeaks had embarrassed the government on the world stage.

Barack Obama refused to indict Assange because of the “New York Times problem”: If Obama were to indict Assange for publishing truthful information, he’d have to indict the New York Times as well. But Biden has now affirmed Trump’s contention that publishing the truth is a crime. Assange is being charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. That law is controversial enough when prosecutors use it to target whistleblowers, but it has never been used successfully against a publisher. What Biden is really saying by indicting Assange is that the U.S. government can lie to the public, conceal its criminal behavior and then destroy those who would dare seek the truth.

The Justice Department has charged Assange for receiving and publishing truthful, newsworthy information leaked by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, but has never charged any of the military or government officials whose wrongdoing was exposed.

It is the 21st-century version of killing the messenger.

No one was harmed by Assange’s reporting, unless you count the bruised reputations of politicians who were caught breaking the law, lying or concealing misconduct. Experts testified in British court proceedings that Assange went to extreme lengths to help protect both his sources and people who might be harmed by the disclosure of sensitive information. Instead of investigating the wrongdoing that WikiLeaks exposed and punishing those who broke the law or covered it up, the government has focused on attacking whistleblowers and the journalists who work with them.

Why? Because it sends a message to others who might be tempted to inform the public about government misconduct: We can destroy your life.

Thomas Jefferson was right, and as a candidate Joe Biden was right to cite his words. There is no democracy without a free press to hold the government accountable. And Reporters Without Borders is right to be concerned about press freedom in the United States. Its fact sheet begins with the ominous line: “In the United States, once considered a model for press freedom and free speech, press freedom violations are increasing at a troubling rate.”

There is no free press without a free Julian Assange. As long as the government can prosecute Assange for publishing truthful information in the public interest, the Biden administration’s pontifications about human rights, “fake news” and propaganda are the epitome of hypocrisy.

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Press Release

President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador receives Wikileaks delegation

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.

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Press Release

Listen: Stella Assange updates on Julian’s case and condition

January 5, 2023 — Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange spoke with Suchitra Vijayan, executive director of The Polis Project, a research and journalism organization, to provide an update on Julian’s legal case as well as to discuss the latest developments in the campaign to drop the charges against him.

Listen to the conversation, hosted on Twitter Spaces, below:

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Press Release

The Belmarsh Tribunal is coming to Washington D.C.

The Belmarsh Tribunal comes to Capitol Hill on 20 January 2023 to hear expert testimony from journalists, whistleblowers, lawyers, publishers, and parliamentarians on assaults to press freedom and the First Amendment of the US Constitution

From Ankara to Manila to Budapest, state actors are cracking down on journalists, their sources, and their publishers in a globally coordinated campaign to disrupt the public’s access to information and shut off their sources of dissent.

A landmark case in this campaign is that of Julian Assange, the publisher who founded WikiLeaks, exposed crimes by the United States government, and now faces 175 years in prison if extradited from the Belmarsh Prison where he is currently held in the United Kingdom. Assange’s case is the first time in history that a publisher has been indicted under the Espionage Act.

Inspired by the Russell-Sartre Tribunals of the Vietnam War, the Belmarsh Tribunal brings together a range of expert witnesses – from constitutional lawyers, to acclaimed journalists and human rights defenders – to present evidence of this attack on publishers and to seek justice for the crimes they expose. 

Since its first sitting in October 2020, the Belmarsh Tribunal has since traveled to London and New York with members such as President Lula da Silva, whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

The Washington D.C. Tribunal — organized by the Progressive International in partnership with the Wau Holland Foundation — will be held at the National Press Club, where Assange first premiered Collateral Murder, the leaked video documenting war crimes committed by the United States Army in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah, Iraq.

The Tribunal will be co-chaired by Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman and philosopher Srećko Horvat. 

Members of the Tribunal include: Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, human rights attorney Steven Donziger, former CIA official Jeffery Sterling, parliamentarian Jeremy Corbyn, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Stefania Maurizi, publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, professor Noam Chomsky, Stella Assange, and many others.

Partners of the Tribunal include: Democracy Now!, Defending Rights & Dissent, Courage Foundation, DiEM25, The Intercept, The Nation, and PEN International.

Co-chair Srećko Horvat said:

“The First Amendment, Freedom of the press, and the life of Julian Assange are at stake. That’s why the Belmarsh Tribunal is landing literally just two blocks away from the White House next  January. As long as the Biden administration continues to deploy tools like the Espionage Act to imprison those who dare to expose war crimes, no publisher and no journalist will be safe. Our tribunal is gathering courageous voices of dissent to demand justice for those crimes and to demand President Biden to drop the charges against Assange immediately.”

Human rights lawyer and former member of the Assange legal team Renata Ávila said:

“The Espionage Act is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation in the world: an existential threat against international investigative journalism. If applied, it will deprive us from one of our must powerful tools towards de-escalation of conflicts, diplomacy and peace. The Belmarsh Tribunal convenes in Washington to present evidence of this chilling threat, and to unite lawmakers next door to dismantle the legal architecture that undermines the basic right of all peoples to know what their governments do in their name.”

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Press Release

WikiLeaks delegation meets with Bolivian President Luis Arce

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.

This follows previous meetings over the last month with President-elect Lula of Brazil, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández and President Gustavo Petro of Colombia all of whom declared their support for the WikiLeaks publisher and called on authorities to cease their prosecution for the simple act of journalism.

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Press Release

MSNBC’s Ari Melber warns against Assange prosecution

December 15, 2022 — Ari Melber, on his MSNBC show ‘The Beat’ on Thursday, warned that the prosecution of Julian Assange poses a major threat to democratic governance and accountability and that it will lead to more indictments against the press.

“Nobody knows how future administrations will use this power,” Melber said in the 12-minute segment, which was spurred by the recent letter from the New York Times and other major international newspapers to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for the charges against Assange to be dropped.

“You get a precedent jailing a publisher in one case,” Melber said, “it will be easier in the next case. And the one after that. I promise you that.”

Watch the full segment below:

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Press Release

The Brazilian Senate Human Rights Commission receives Wikileaks and holds hearing on Freedom of Press, Opinion and Right to Information

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.

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Press Release

Prominent free press and human rights groups send letter calling for US to drop charges against Julian Assange

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.

Read the full letter here.

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Press Release

Wikileaks representatives meet with the President of Argentina

After the meetings with President of Colombia Gustavo Petro and President-elect of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, and Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador were received by President of Argentina Alberto Fernández.

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”.

Hrafnsson and Farrell also met with the Vice President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. “In these meetings we have seen absolute support,” Hrafnsson said, adding that “this is revenge against an individual, an award-winning journalist, for exposing the dark secrets of the empire.”

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Press Release

Wikileaks delegation meets with President-elect of Brazil

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.

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Press Release

NYT, The Guardian, major media outlets urge U.S. to drop Julian Assange charges

November 28, 2022 — Marking the 12th anniversary since they worked with WikiLeaks to publish the State Department Cables, the Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and The New York Times come together to oppose the U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange.

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.

Publishing is not a crime.

More coverage

Forbes | ‘White House Asked Point Blank About New York Times Urging US To Drop Charges Against Julian Assange

The Nation | ‘A United Front Is Needed to Fight the Threat to Journalism Posed by the Assange Prosecution

“…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.”

Truthdig | ‘Journalists Push Biden to Free Julian Assange

“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.”

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Press Release

Wikileaks delegation touring Latin America to raise support for Julian Assange

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.

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Press Release

Assange doc Ithaka makes North American premiere 

November 14, 2022Ithaka, the new documentary recounting the efforts of John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, to campaign for his son’s freedom around the world, has made its North American premiere at the DOCNYC film festival in New York City on Sunday. 

The film was produced by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton and directed by Ben Lawrence, who participated in a Q&A session following the film screening. 

Ithaka is currently available for limited streaming online until November 27. Filmgoers reacted to the screening outside of SVA Theatre following the premiere:

Vote for Ithaka for the Audience Award!

Here’s how:

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Past Events Press Release

VIDEO: Oct. 8 DOJ rally to Free Assange

Video credit: Joe Friendly // October 8, 2022, at the Department of Justice

Speeches by Jill Stein, Chip Gibbons, Rev. Annie Chambers, Ben Cohen, Chris Hedges, and dozens more followed a march around the DOJ.

Protests around the country to free Assange

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Press Release

Critically acclaimed Assange film ‘Ithaka’ gets North American premiere at DOC NYC

★★★Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
★★★★ Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
★★★★★ Margaret Pomeranz

Ithaka, director Ben Lawrence’s feature documentary about the determined public advocacy by Julian’s father, John Shipton, in the face of legal battles and media glare, will have its North American premiere at DOC NYC on November 13.

The film’s US premiere at this prestigious documentary festival comes as Assange continues to be incarcerated in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Prison as he fights extradition from Britain to the US.

Assange married his partner Stella Moris in Belmarsh earlier this year in a ceremony attended by their two children, Assange’s father John Shipton and his brother Gabriel Shipton, who is producer of Ithaka.

Ithaka film still: John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father

Gabriel Shipton and Ben Lawrence will attend the New York City screening.

Ithaka is Writer/Director Ben Lawrence’s return to documentary after the success of his earlier film Ghosthunter.

Ithaka was previously selected to screen at the Sydney Film Festival, SheffieldDoc/Fest and Doc Edge NZ, has been shortlisted for a Walkley Award, nominated for an AWG Award and nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Documentary.

Producer Gabriel Shipton said: “At a time when the space for documentaries that challenge the political status quo is harder and harder to find, we applaud DOC NYC for programming Ithaka. The story of my brother’s fight for freedom against the might of the US Government and our family’s continued efforts to secure his release is a wake-up call for people of the world to defend their democratic rights and to insist on the freedom of the press.

“It’s also a timely call to documentary filmmakers to agitate for their art form, before it is lost.”

The film begins on April 11th 2019, when images of Julian Assange being arrested from the Ecuadorian embassy in London are beamed across the world.  Since that moment Julian has been silenced and into the void have stepped lawyers, advocates, and supporters. Standing unique among them is Julian’s wife, Stella Moris and 76-year-old father, John Shipton – a self-taught builder from Sydney.  Using Julian’s extradition hearing as a framework, this intimate story of a family’s crisis traces moments from the trial and its aftermath, underscoring how Julian’s story is emblematic of a decade of uncertainty and volatility.

With this period of upheaval as a backdrop, the film frames John and Stella’s campaign and Julian’s motivations as an echo to the disquiet taking place across this increasingly partisan world – and explores this global cry for justice through the story of a family at the centre of the fight.

Music is by Brian Eno.

Ithaka film still
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Press Release

Assange shortlisted for prestigious European parliament Freedom of Thought award

This was originally published by the European Parliament

MEPs have shortlisted WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, the Ukrainian people and their representatives and the Colombian Truth Commission for the 2022 Sakharov Prize.

On Thursday 13 October, MEPs on the Foreign Affairs and Development committees held a joint vote to choose the finalists for the European Parliament’s 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. They selected:

  • Julian Assange, Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher;
  • The brave people of Ukraine, represented by their president, elected leaders, and civil society;
  • Colombia’s Truth Commission.

Read more about all the nominees here.

Next steps

The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (President and political groups’ leaders) will select the winning laureate on Wednesday 19 October. They will receive the prize itself at a ceremony in the European Parliament’s hemicycle in Strasbourg on 14 December.

Background

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50,000 euros.

Last year, Parliament awarded the prize to Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Categories
Commentary Press Release

Alice Walker pens Kansas City Star op-ed: Biden must end Trump’s war on the press. Drop the Julian Assange case

October 10, 2022 — Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple and Assange Defense co-chair Alice Walker has written a new opinion piece on the importance of freeing Julian Assange, published in the Kansas City Star on Sunday, October 9.

Walker takes aim at the contrast between the Biden Administration’s rhetoric of major changes from the Trump Administration and the continuation of Assange’s prosecution.