Julian Assange

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England. Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks website that published US Government secrets, has been wanted in Sweden on charges of rape since 2012. He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and today police have said he will still face arrest if he leaves. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
(Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Julian Assange is currently being held at Belmarsh, a high-security prison in the U.K., upon a U.S. extradition request on charges that stem directly from the publication of disclosed documents, including pertaining to possible war crimes committed by the U.S. military, as part of his work with Wikileaks.

Amnesty International strongly opposes any possibility of Julian Assange being extradited or sent in any other manner to the USA. There, he faces a real risk of serious human rights violations including possible detention conditions that would amount to torture and other ill-treatment (such as prolonged solitary confinement). Negative public campaigns by U.S. officials at the highest levels targeting him in the past undermined his right to be presumed innocent and put him at risk of an unfair trial.

Julian Assange’s publication of disclosed documents as part of his work with Wikileaks should not be punishable, as this activity mirrors conduct that investigative journalists undertake regularly in their professional capacity. News and publishing outlets often and rightfully publish classified information to inform on matters of utmost public importance. Publishing information that is in the public interest is a cornerstone of media freedom. It’s also protected under international human rights law and should not be criminalized. Prosecuting Julian Assange on these charges could have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression, leading journalists to self-censor from fear of prosecution. Authorities in the U.S. must drop the espionage and all other charges against Julian Assange.

In December 2023, the High Court in London announced what could be Julian Assange’s final hearing in the U.K. against his extradition to the USA on February 20 – 21, 2024. The hearing will determine whether Julian Assange will have further opportunities to argue his case before the U.K. courts or if he will have exhausted all appeals in the U.K., leading to extradition or an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

If extradited, Assange could face up to 175 years in jail under the Espionage Act and as much as five years for computer fraud.

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