Top media outlets urge the United States to stop prosecuting Julian Assange

The US charges against the WikiLeaks founder threaten press freedom and set a “dangerous precedent”, US and European media say.

The United States must end the prosecution of Julian Assange, the world’s leading media organizations have urged, saying the US indictment against the WikiLeaks founder threatens free speech and press freedom.

In an open letter on Monday, five major news outlets denounced the US prosecution of Assange, wanted on 18 counts, including one count of espionage.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and freedom of the press,” wrote the editors and editors of The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País.

“Holding governments to account is part of the core mission of a free press in a democracy.”

The letter comes exactly 12 years after the media published revelations drawn from WikiLeaks’ release of more than 250,000 confidential US military records and diplomatic cables, known as “Cablegate.”

The material was leaked to WikiLeaks by then-US soldier Chelsea Manning and revealed the inner workings of Washington’s diplomacy around the world.

The documents exposed “corruption, diplomatic scandals and espionage affairs on an international scale,” the letter on Monday said.

“Twelve years after the publication of ‘Cablegate’, it is time for the US government to end the prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets. Publishing is not a crime,” the media said.

The 2019 US Department of Justice indictment accused Assange of causing “serious damage” to US national security with the leak, as well as putting US government sources in danger of physical harm or arrest.

But Assange’s supporters say he is being prosecuted for exposing US wrongdoing, including during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He remains in custody in Britain pending a US extradition request to stand trial and could face up to 175 years in US prison if convicted. Assange is appealing against the British government’s approval of his extradition.

Monday’s letter noted that when Barack Obama was president and Joe Biden his vice president, the US administration refrained from indicting Assange, as the journalists involved could also have faced prosecution.

That changed under President Donald Trump, when the US justice department indicted Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917, which the media says has “never been used to prosecute a publisher or broadcaster.” ”.

The letter is the latest example of pressure on President Biden’s administration to end the prosecution of Assange.

Last year, leading human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union, called washington to drop the charges.

“Mr Assange’s indictment threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists routinely engage in, and must engage in to do the job the public needs them to do.” do,” they wrote.

In July, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also said he delivered a letter to Biden defending Assange, while also renewing a previous offer of asylum to the WikiLeaks founder.

“I left a letter to the president about Assange, explaining that he did not commit any serious crimes, that he did not cause the death of anyone, that he did not violate any human rights and that he exercised his freedom, and that arresting him would mean a permanent affront. to freedom of expression,” López Obrador said.

Colombia’s leftist president Gustavo Petro said last week that he met with WikiLeaks spokesmen and planned to ask Biden not to indict a journalist “just for telling the truth.”

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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