Dhaka,  Monday
24 June 2024

Committee To Protect Journalists urges to drop charges against Assange

Messenger Online

Published: 20:15, 18 May 2024

Committee To Protect Journalists urges to drop charges against Assange

Photo: Collected

The Committee to Protect Journalists is urging the US Justice Department to drop charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently at risk of being extradited to the United States, the Committee said in a public statement.

"The prosecution of Assange in the United States would create legal pathways under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that would allow for the prosecution of journalists who are simply doing their jobs and covering matters of public interest," said the Committee in a letter to the Justice Department.

Assange, who is currently being held in the United Kingdom awaiting an appeals process in the British court, is at risk of being extradited to the United States after his upcoming appearance on Monday (20 May), the letter continued.

The Committee argued in the letter that promises from the Justice Department assuring that Assange would be allowed to "rely upon" First Amendment rights if he were to be extradited to the US don't account for freedom of expression under international human rights law or address the fact that the charges themselves "directly challenge his First Amendment rights."

"However, this entire legal process could and should be swiftly ended if the Justice Department were to drop the charges, which we firmly believe undermine the freedom of the press both domestically and internationally," the letter continued.

Assange, an Australian citizen, was transferred to London's high-security Belmarsh prison in April 2019 on bail breach charges. In the US, he faces prosecution under the Espionage Act for obtaining and disclosing classified information that shed light on war crimes and human rights violations committed by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If convicted, the WikiLeaks founder could face up to 175 years in prison. One of the last means of preventing his transfer to the US may be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange lost his previous appeal at the UK High Court last June.