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.