RSF Renews Calls For Release Of Wikileaks Publisher Assange As His US Extradition Hearing Resumes
With Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange’s US extradition hearing set to resume on September 7, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) renews calls for his immediate release. RSF representatives will attempt to monitor the hearing in person, and will deliver a petition at 10 Downing Street with over 80,000 signatures calling for the UK authorities not to extradite Assange to the United States.
Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange’s US extradition hearing will resume at London’s Central Criminal Court on 7 September, when three to four weeks of evidence are expected to be heard. This follows an initial week of sittings in February at Woolwich Crown Court, when legal arguments were presented. The US government has since presented a new superseding indictment against Assange in June, followed by a new extradition request in August. Assange faces a total of 18 charges in the US, including 17 counts under the Espionage Act.
“As his extradition hearing resumes, we call yet again for Julian Assange to be immediately released, the charges against him dropped, and for him to not be extradited to the United States. We fully believe the case against him is connected to his contributions to public interest reporting, and his prosecution has extremely worrying implications for press freedom and the protection of journalistic sources internationally. The US and UK governments must drop this politically motivated case before their press freedom records are further tarnished,” said RSF’s Director of International Campaigns Rebecca Vincent.
In light of Covid-19 distancing measures, very few spaces are being made available to the media and the public in court during the September hearing, and RSF has been informed that NGO observers will not be guaranteed in-person access. RSF has experienced significant difficulty attempting to monitor previous hearings in Assange’s case, both in-person and remotely.
Ahead of the start of the hearing on September 7, RSF representatives, along with Assange’s partner Stella Moris, will deliver a petition at 10 Downing Street with over 80,000 signatures calling for the UK authorities not to extradite Assange to the US.
The UK and the US are respectively ranked 35th and 45th out of 180 countries on RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.