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.