Sprache ändern: English

Pirates end EU silence on Julian Assange’s looming extradition to the USA

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Following an initiative of the Pirate Party, the European Parliament will discuss the looming extradition and prosecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and its implications on freedom of the press on Wednesday. In a narrow vote on Monday, the majority of MEPs decided to request EU Commission and Council statements on the case followed by a political debate.

Patrick Breyer, MEP for the German Pirate Party, is delighted:

“We have put an end to the EU’s silence and looking the other way on Assange. Double standards just because the United States are an ally undermine Europe’s credibility when it comes to upholding human rights.

The US wants to make an example of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to make sure no one will dare to leak internal information that exposes war crimes, unlawful detention, human rights violations and torture by the world power ever again. To us Pirates, such transparency is both a mission and an obligation, because transparency is the only way to hold the powerful accountable for state crimes and stop abuses of power. That is why we are calling for the release of Julian Assange.

When I raised the Assange case during a trip to the USA by the Home Affairs Committee, government representatives told me that every journalist would be prosecuted according to the same standards. In other words, freedom of the press and investigative journalism, our right to truth and justice are at stake here.

The world is now looking at the UK and its respect for human rights and the Convention on Human Rights. Britain’s relationship with the EU is at stake if it fails to respect its obligations.”

Previously, a group of 46 MEPs from different political groups had already sent a final appeal to the British Home Secretary to protect Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and prevent his possible extradition to the United States. In a letter to the British Home Secretary last week, the signatories emphasised their concerns about the Assange case and the impact on press freedom as well as the serious risks to Assange’s health in the event of extradition to the US. According to the letter, the US government is attempting to use the Espionage Act of 1917 against a journalist and publisher for the first time. If the US succeeds and Assange is extradited, this would mean a redefinition of investigative journalism. It would extend the application of US criminal laws to the whole world and also to non-US citizens, without extending the application of the US constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.