Following a UK High Court ruling rejecting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s latest appeal against an extradition order issued by the United States, Assange’s defence is announcing a new request. But it will be the last legal action that can be pursued in the UK courts. The next step for Assange’s lawyers could be the European Court of Human Rights. Journalist organizations and unions worldwide express outrage at this decision and support Assange. We are sending support from Zagreb by highlighting the #freeAssange message at many well-known city locations.
Our umbrella organizations, the International and European Federation of Journalists, have reiterated their call to the US government to close the case against Assange because he poses a serious threat to media freedom and the rights of all journalists worldwide. Britain has approved Assange’s extradition to the US to face charges, primarily under the country’s Espionage Act, over the release of US government documents that revealed the US military committed war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, including killing two Reuters journalists. If found guilty, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.
The International Federation of Journalists launched a global campaign calling for the US government to close the case. They asked all media unions and press freedom organizations to urge their governments to demand and secure Assange’s release. IFJ and EFJ signed an open letter with EU representatives, Assange’s wife Stella and organizations that defend media freedom and human rights, calling on US President Joe Biden to pardon Assange.
Let’s recall that last year the media that published WikiLeaks material – The Guardian, New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País – gathered and publicly opposed Assange’s persecution and called on the US government to drop all charges against him. They published an open letter entitled ‘Publishing is not a crime’ in which they called the lawsuit a direct attack on media freedom.
The Croatian Journalists’ Union sends its support with a “postcard” from Zagreb and a message that Assange is not and will not be forgotten. The accusations against Assange threaten all journalists who investigate, uncover and publish stories about corruption, irregularities, and illegal work of political and other authorities. Defending Assange is defending journalism.
As a sign of support, the Italian journalist union FNSI included Julian Assange in its membership and handed Stella Moris Assange an FNSI membership card. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) transferred the initiative to its European branches: 19 decided to follow the Italian example and recognize Julian Assange as a member (or honorary member) of their organizations.
Along with the membership form, the European trade unions say: “We, the undersigned European trade unions and associations of journalists, join the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in calling on the US government to drop all charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to his wife and children. We are seriously concerned about the impact of Assange’s continued detention on media freedom and the rights of all journalists worldwide. We call on European governments to work actively to free Julian Assange. To show solidarity, we declare Julian Assange a full, honorary, or free member of our organizations.”