US/UK: Drop charges and halt extradition of Julian Assange
- Amnesty International launches new campaign ahead of extradition hearing
- Espionage charges are chilling blow to publishers and journalists
Authorities in the US must drop all espionage and other related charges that Julian Assange is facing as part of the US extradition request to allow for his prompt release, said Amnesty International ahead of his 24 February extradition hearing.
If these charges are not dropped, the UK authorities must ensure that Julian Assange is not extradited to the USA where he would face a real risk of serious human rights violations.
"The US government’s unrelenting pursuit of Julian Assange for having published disclosed documents that included possible war crimes committed by the US military is nothing short of a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression,” said Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.
“The potential chilling effect on journalists and others who expose official wrongdoing by publishing information disclosed to them by credible sources could have a profound impact on the public's right to know what their government is up to. All charges against Assange for such activities must be dropped."
According to an analysis by the organisation, the charges against Julian Assange stem directly from the publication of disclosed documents as part of his work with Wikileaks. This activity, in and of itself, should not be punishable and mirrors conduct that investigative journalists undertake regularly in their professional capacity.
“All charges underpinning the US extradition request should be dropped to allow for Julian Assange’s prompt release. If the charges against him are not dropped, the UK authorities are under a clear and unequivocal obligation not to send him to the USA where he could suffer serious human rights violations,” said Massimo Moratti.
“Julian Assange could face detention conditions in the USA that amount to torture and other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement. The risk of an unfair trial is very real given the targeted public campaign against him undertaken by US officials at the highest levels, which has severely undermined his right to be presumed innocent."
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Amnesty International has launched a global petition calling on the US authorities to drop the charges against Julian Assange that stem solely from his publishing activities with Wikileaks.
In addition, international human rights law and standards forbid the transfer of an individual to another country where there is a real risk they would face serious human rights violations. Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to transfer in any other manner to the USA, the UK would be in breach of these obligations.