PEN America, the U.S. chapter of PEN International, an association of writers around the world founded in 1921, has released its annual ‘Freedom to Write’ index, a catalogue of bloggers and journalists and other writers who have been killed, prosecuted, or otherwise threatened for carrying out their work.
In its section on the United Kingdom, PEN highlights the detention and indictment of Julian Assange, noting:
“Assange, publisher of WikiLeaks, was imprisoned in the U.K. in 2019 for violating bail terms. Since September 2019 he is jailed facing possible extradition to the U.S., including on 17 counts under the Espionage Act, charges with worrying implications for press freedom.”
In the full report, PEN expounds on Assange’s journalism and the charges against him, noting
PEN International calls on the United States to drop charges against Assange. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest. PEN International further calls on the United Kingdom to reject extraditing Julian Assange to the United States. PEN Action: statement April 2019, resolution September 2019.
Last year, PEN America joined two dozen other press freedom and human rights organizations in signing an open letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling on the Department of Justice to drop the case against Assange.
Earlier this week, PEN’s Australian branch visited the British Consulate to present an Open Letter calling for the immediate release of Julian Assange and a halt to the extradition. They wrote,
“PEN Australia centres, in conjunction with PEN International, call for the British Government as an independent democracy to immediately release Julian Assange and to halt the US case for extradition.
The prosecution of Assange has been described as a political case from the outset. Extradition for political offences has been prohibited by democracies that respect human rights. Britain prides itself for standing for democracy and freedom of expression. We call on Britain to take a stand for the wellbeing and democratic freedom of expression of Wikileaks founder, Australian citizen Julian Assange.”