‘Dark day for press freedom’ as UK Home Secretary signs order to extradite Julian Assange

Press freedom groups have pointed to the “dangerous implications” of the UK Home Secretary’s decision on Friday to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.

Assange is wanted in the United States for publishing classified US military files that have been released by mainstream media around the world. The Iraq leaks alone totaled nearly 4,000,000 US Department of Defense documents and revealed war crimes.

In the United States, Assange faces 18 criminal charges, including espionage charges. If convicted, he faces up to 175 years in prison.

Announcing the UK Home Secretary’s decision, Wikileaks said it was “a dark day for press freedom“.

“This is a dark day for the freedom of the press and for British democracy…foreign laws now determine the limits of press freedom in this country and the journalism that has won Britain’s most prestigious award. he industry was deemed an extraditable offense worthy of a life sentence.

Julian has released evidence that the country trying to extradite him has committed war crimes and covered them up…their revenge is to try and hide him in the darkest recesses of their prison system for the rest of his life to deter others from holding governments accountable. We will not let this happen,” Wikileaks said.

Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders also condemned Patel’s decision, saying it “will have dangerous implications for journalism around the world”.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Home Secretary’s disgraceful decision to order the extradition of Julian Assange, which marks yet another failure by the UK Government to protect press freedom and will have dangerous implications for journalism in this country and in the world”, declared the director of RSF. of operations and campaigns, Rebecca Vincent, said in a statement.

Elaborating on this point during an interview with the BBC, Vincent said that if Assange’s case goes to trial in the United States, he will be the first publisher to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, which does not has no public interest defence, so he will be “unable to adequately defend himself”, which will set a “dangerous precedent”.

On May 17 and 18, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) representatives in seven countries delivered a petition signed by nearly 64,000 supporters around the world urging UK Home Secretary Priti Patel not to sign the extradition order and to protect journalism and freedom of the press by releasing Assange. without further delay.

Twelve press freedom organizations had also written to Patel expressing “serious concern” about his extradition.

Assange’s extradition order was issued by the London court on April 20, but Patel had to finalize the extradition by signing it.

Press freedom NGO Article19 also warned that the decision “undermine media freedom“. Patel’s decision, the organization said, “sets a dangerous precedent for journalists and editors and undermines press freedom in a country once seen as a leading force in protecting freedom of speech.” expression”.

Assange and his team have been legally fighting this decision for three years.

Assange’s lawyers now have two weeks to appeal the decision, which his wife Stella Assange and WikiLeaks said would be prosecuted.

At a press conference after the decision, Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said the decision would be appealed and the case would even go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. if necessary.

“We will use every appeal mechanism at our disposal to prevent this extradition,” she said.

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