Assange case. Is the freedom to inform once again sidelined?

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Public enemy number 1

“We have appealed and we continue to seek his extradition,” announced the spokesman for the Department of Justice of the United States, Marc Raimondi, on February 12. Like its predecessors, the new Biden administration seeks at all costs to extradite and try Julian Assange on American soil, where he faces up to 175 years in prison. Why ? WikiLeaks, which he founded, by disseminating more than 750,000 documents classified confidential in 2010, 2011 and 2012, including diplomatic cables, revealed war crimes committed by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, acts of torture and human rights violations.

A legal success with a bitter taste

The British court’s decision on January 4, 2021 to reject Julian Assange’s extradition request to the United States due to his mental health appeared to be a mixed victory. Judge Vanessa Baraitser had refused the US request for health reasons. “I am convinced that the procedures described by the United States will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to kill himself,” she said in her 132-page judgment. She refuted the arguments on the merits: charges of a purely political nature, freedom of information, whistleblower …

How can we trust a government that plans to “kidnap or assassinate someone without any legal process”?

A call that worries

Julian Assange remains in high-security Belmarsh prison, near the British capital, since 2019, after seven years as a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Today, the United States is back on the offensive to torpedo this decision. The High Court of London having validated, in August, the request of the Biden administration to appeal. “We are clearly worried and pessimistic. Because this new hearing will not focus on the merits. The court will look into Julian Assange’s state of health and whether he can be extradited. Nothing about his revelations, nothing about his status as a journalist and the death threats. We once again call for his immediate release and full protection. It is a vast offensive against the right to freedom of expression, ”reacts Anthony Bellanger, secretary general of the International Federation of Journalists.

A number of NGOs and associations have sent a letter to US federal judge Merrick Garland to drop the charges because “journalists regularly engage in much of the behavior described in the indictment.”

Something that can change the game

The multiple revelations concerning the assassination and kidnapping attempts of the Australian journalist can weigh on October 27 and 28. Barry Pollack, one of Julian Assange’s lawyers, immediately called on “the British courts to take this information into account”. Because, how can one trust a government which plans to “kidnap or assassinate someone without any legal proceedings, simply because it published truthful information?” »He condemns.

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