The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, welcomed today’s decision by a British judge blocking the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.
The U.S. government had sought Assange’s extradition in connection with his role in publishing a vast trove of American military and diplomatic documents in 2010. The U.S. Justice Department on May 23, 2019 unveiled a new indictment against Assange under the Espionage Act, which represented a significant escalation of those efforts. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted.
“The decision to deny the U.S. government’s extradition request is a welcome one”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “As IPI has previously stated, regardless of one’s opinion of Julian Assange, his prosecution in the U.S. under the Espionage Act would set a dangerous precedent that would cast a chilling effect on the work of journalists in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
Prasad added: “We urge the U.S. government to drop its charges against Assange under the Espionage Act and end its extradition attempt.”
U.S. authorities have two weeks to appeal the judge’s decision.