April 22, 2022 — On Wednesday, a UK magistrates judge ordered the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, where he will face an unpredented prosecution threatening 175 years in prison for publishing truthful information in the public interest.
The decision now moves to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, to sign off on the extradition order. The defense have until May 18 to file an application to appeal the extradition order on the substantive issues —like a politicized prosecution and the threats to press freedom— back at the UK’s High Court.
Rights groups around the world condemned the latest legal development and are calling on Patel to halt the extradition.
PEN International and 18 other press freedom groups signed a new letter to the Home Secretary, calling for Assange’s freedom
“We, the undersigned press freedom, free expression and journalists’ organisations are writing to express our serious concern regarding the possibility of extradition of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to the United States and to ask you to reject the US government’s extradition request. We also request a meeting with you to discuss these points further.”
National Union of Journalists: Assange’s fate in Priti Patel’s hands
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also spoke to protestors outside the court. He told them:
“There is still a chance for this Government to do the right thing, bring this case to a close, and free Julian Assange. I call on them to do that at once”.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“This Government seems confused about press freedom. It promises legislation to make SLAPPs more difficult, but is allowing this extradition to continue, when it is clear that the US is trying to prosecute Julian Assange for actions that are commonplace for journalists the world over”.
Reporters without Borders launches new #FreeAssange petition as Home Secretary considers extradition order
“Following a district court order referring the extradition of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange back to the Home Office, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has launched a new petition calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel to reject Assange’s extradition to the United States. RSF urges supporters to join the call on the Home Secretary to #FreeAssange by signing and sharing the petition before 18 May!
The next four weeks will prove crucial in the fight to block extradition and secure the release of Julian Assange. Through this petition, we are seeking to unite those who care about journalism and press freedom to hold the UK government to account. The Home Secretary must act now to protect journalism and adhere to the UK’s commitment to media freedom by rejecting the extradition order and releasing Assange,” said RSF’s Director of Operations and Campaigns Rebecca Vincent, who monitored proceedings on RSF’s behalf.”
Amnesty International’s secretary general Agnés Callamard speaks to the New York Times
“The extradition of Julian Assange would also be devastating for press freedom and for the public, who have a right to know what their governments are doing in their name.”