PEN Sydney condemns the decision by the UK Home Secretary to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the USA to face trial.
We join his partner Stella Morris in calling on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to act now to stop the extradition and we ask him to urge President Biden to drop the charges against Assange.
We also stand with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie who labelled the decision as an “outrageous betrayal of rule of law, media freedom and human rights”.
PEN International and PEN Centres around the world also strongly condemn the decision. Here is their statement.
We, the undersigned PEN Centres, strongly condemn the decision of the UK Home Secretary to approve the extradition of Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange to the US, where he faces up to 175 years in prison for his role in obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.
Our organisations have repeatedly stressed that Julian Assange’s prosecution raises profound concerns about freedom of the press. Invoking the Espionage Act for practices that include receiving and publishing classified information sends a dangerous signal to journalists and publishers worldwide. The state’s desire to keep matters secret does not automatically override the public’s right to know, particularly where there is strong evidence of human rights violations or corruption.
The UK Home Secretary’s decision to approve the extradition of Julian Assange contradicts the UK’s stated commitment to protect media freedom globally. So does the fact that he has been held in remand for over three years at London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, despite the great risks posed to his mental health and physical well-being. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture has repeatedly raised concerns about Assange’s health during his detention in Belmarsh prison. Furthermore, he has made clear that he considers that both the detention conditions in the US and the sentence likely to be imposed on Assange present a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Julian Assange has 14 days to appeal. As his legal team continues to fight against his extradition, we urge the UK authorities to release him from Belmarsh prison immediately, so he can be reunited with his family at long last.
We once again call on the US authorities to drop all charges against Julian Assange. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest.
PEN International, English PEN, Croatian PEN, French PEN, German PEN, PEN Melbourne, PEN Norway, PEN Slovenia, PEN Suisse Romand, PEN Sydney, PEN Trieste, Scottish PEN, Swedish PEN, Swiss-German PEN Center, Uyghur PEN