By Reporters Without Borders, April 20, 2022.
On 20 April, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court signed an order confirming the alarming next step in the more than decade-long case against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange. Following more than two years of extradition proceedings in UK courts, Assange’s fate has once again become a political decision for the Home Secretary – the very office that made the political decision to green-light the US extradition request in 2019.
Assange’s legal defence team now has four weeks to make representations, meaning that after 18 May, Home Secretary Priti Patel could approve or reject the extradition order at any time. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges #FreeAssange supporters around the world to mobilise during this crucial four-week period* by signing this petition calling on the Home Secretary to refuse the extradition request.
If extradited to the United States, Assange could face up to 175 years in prison on 18 charges related to Wikileaks’ publication in 2010 of hundreds of thousands of leaked classified military and diplomatic documents, exposing war crimes and human rights violations and informing extensive public interest reporting around the world. RSF fully believes that Assange has been targeted for this important contribution to journalism.
Assange’s extradition and prosecution would set a dangerous precedent for journalism and press freedom around the world. He would be the first publisher prosecuted under the Espionage Act, which lacks a public interest defence. The same precedent could be applied to any journalist, any publisher, or any source working with leaked classified information, which would create a distinct chilling effect internationally.
Although the case against Assange has been brought by the US government, the UK government has also failed to protect journalism and press freedom in its treatment of Assange, keeping him detained on remand for more than three years at London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, in sharp contrast to the UK’s stated commitment to promote and protect media freedom globally.
Meanwhile Assange’s mental and physical health remain at high risk in prolonged detention, in particular following a mini stroke that he suffered in Belmarsh prison during the High Court’s consideration of his case in October 2021. The serious risks to his mental health would be severely exacerbated in conditions of extradition to the United States, even if the US government honoured its diplomatic assurances regarding his treatment. Put simply, Assange’s life is at risk if he is extradited to the United States.
It is time now, more than a decade after the case against Assange was opened, for the UK government to protect journalism and press freedom by refusing to extradite him to the United States and acting to #FreeAssange without further delay.
Over 90,000 #FreeAssange supporters signed our previous petition from 2020 urging the UK not to comply with the US request to extradite Assange. Can you help us beat that number now, with just four weeks left before the Home Secretary must act?
As a matter of urgency, please sign this petition before 18 May* calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel to refuse the extradition request and #FreeAssange!
* True Challenge Update: June 10, 2022.
It’s not too late. Sign the Petition here.
Sign Other Free Julian Assange Petitions and Actions
One stop shop to stop Priti Patel from extraditing Julian Assange. Take action now. Here are various actions you can take to help Free Julian. We also encourage you to get involved with grassroots support groups in your area or start your own grassroots initiative.
This petition is the largest petition in history to have been presented to the International Criminal Court (The Hague). This is also the largest petition in history to have been successfully Tabled (accepted into Parliament) in both houses of the Australian Parliament.
UK Home Secretary must release Julian Assange from London prison. The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the UK-US extradition treaty must be enforced, which prohibits extradition for political offences.
“The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death now solely rests with with you. Do not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.”
We can defend the free press and Julian Assange, but we need our representatives to stand up and do the right thing. Sign our petition and let your representative know how crucial it is that the United States drop its charges against Julian!
Donald Trump’s indictment of Julian Assange was an attack on our democratic ideals. Now that the UK High Court has refused to release Assange, it falls on Biden and Attorney General Garland to do the right thing.
It is time to uphold our democratic ideals and demand that our government respect the rights of free speech, free publication, and transparency.
Authorities in the USA must drop the espionage and all other charges against Julian Assange that relate to his publishing activities as part of his work with Wikileaks. 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.
If Wikileaks cannot be protected from prosecution for releasing a video that everyone agrees shows a war crime (the gunning-down of Afghan civilians and a Reuters journalist from a US military helicopter) and that was republished in countless newspapers around the world, what kind of reporting will be protected?
Julian Assange’s only “crime” is that of exposing crimes the U.S. government hoped to keep the world from knowing. Sign our petition calling for Assange’s freedom! We also urge you to email the Attorney General: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov and call the Justice Department comment line at 202-353-1555.