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31 EU lawmakers call on British government to stop Julian Assange’s extradition

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Media reports

Today, 31 Members of the European Parliament from several political groups sent an open letter to UK Home Secretary James Cleverly urging him to stop the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. The letter was sent ahead of the upcoming court hearing and possibly final court decision on 20 May 2024, which is expected to decide Assange’s fate.

The letter calls on the British government to accept its responsibilities with regard to human rights and freedom of the press. ‘The British government is spreading the myth that it is exclusively for the courts to decide on Assange’s extradition. Section 70 (2) of the UK Extradition Act however gives the Home Secretary the power to refuse extradition if it would violate the right to life or the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment in the European Convention on Human Rights,’ explains Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer who initiated the letter. ‘Julian Assange’s mental health, the potential conditions of detention in the US and the real risk of suicide upon extradition mean that extradition would constitute such inhuman or degrading treatment.’

The MEPs also emphasise in their letter that the persecution of Julian Assange is politically motivated. The provisions of the UK-US extradition treaty rightly prohibit extradition for political offences. The clearly political nature of this case is highlighted by numerous and highly biased statements from leading US political figures who have been calling for Mr Assange’s extrajudicial punishment or assassination since at least 2011.

Another point of criticism is the lack of a guarantee from the US government that Mr Assange would be granted the same rights in court as a US citizen. ‘Prosecuting a publisher in a country that may not even recognise or apply the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is unacceptable,’ said Breyer.

The MEPs call on the British government to protect freedom of the press and freedom of expression and to stop the extradition of Julian Assange. They join major organisations such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders in calling for the immediate release of Julian Assange.