The US must drop all charges against Julian Assange and the UK authorities must reject the US government’s request for his extradition. These are the demands of Amnesty International ahead of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing which resumes on Monday and is expected to last several weeks.
The hearing will decide on the Trump administration’s request for Julian Assange’s extradition to the US, where he faces a sentence of up to 175 years for publishing materials that document possible war crimes committed by the US military.
“This hearing is the latest worrying salvo in a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression. If Julian Assange is prosecuted it could have a chilling effect on media freedom, leading publishers and journalists to self-censor in fear of retaliation,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.
“If Julian Assange is extradited it will have far-reaching human rights implications, setting a chilling precedent for the protection of those who publish classified information in the public interest.”
The charges against Assange relate to the publication of classified documents as a part of his journalistic work with the platform Wikileaks. Amnesty said that the publication of such information is a “cornerstone of media freedom and the public’s right to access public interest information.”
Assange faces 18 charges, 17 of which fall under the Espionage Act and the others under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He is the first publisher to face charges under the Espionage Act in the US.
During his internment in a British jail, concerns have been raised about his health, mental state, and the conditions under which he is being kept. Furthermore, Amnesty said that if he is extradited, he will be at risk of further human rights violations including detention conditions that could amount to torture, prolonged solitary confinement, and other forms of ill-treatment.
“The UK must abide by its obligations under international human rights law, which forbid the transfer of individuals to another country where they would face serious human rights violations,” said Nils Muižnieks.
The case will start at the Old Bailey in London on 7 September.