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EU parliamentarians call for protection of Julian Assange from possible extradition to the USA

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

46 Members of the European Parliament today made a final appeal to the UK Home Secretary to protect Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and prevent his possible extradition to the United States. The day before the final court hearing on Julian Assange’s extradition, the signatories emphasise their concerns about the Assange case and its impact on press freedom, as well as the serious risks to Assange’s health if he is extradited to the US.

According to the letter, the US government is attempting to use the Espionage Act, which was passed in 1917, against a journalist and publisher for the very first time. If the US succeeds and Assange is extradited, this would redefine investigative journalism. It would extend the application of US criminal laws internationally and apply it to a non-US citizen without a corresponding extension of First Amendment rights.

Patrick Breyer, Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party Germany and co-initiator of the letter, comments:

“Europe is watching the UK and its respect for human rights and the Human Rights Convention closely. Britain’s relationship with the EU is at stake.

The imprisonment and prosecution of Assange sets an extremely dangerous precedent for all journalists and press freedom. Any journalist could be prosecuted in the future for publishing ‘state secrets’. Representatives of the US government have confirmed to me that the standards applied to Assange would also be applied to any other journalist. We cannot accept this to happen.

The public has a right to know about state crimes committed by those in power so that they can stop them and bring the perpetrators to justice. With Wikileaks, Julian Assange has started an era where injustice can no longer be swept under the carpet – now it is up to us to defend transparency, accountability and our right to the truth.”