The British justice system has denied in the first instance the extradition to the United States of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, whom Washington accuses of several crimes against the security of the State that could carry him sentences of up to 175 years in prison. Assange has been in his bizarre adventures with justice for a decade now, first the Swedish for an alleged crime of rape, then the British for bypassing the restrictions of his provisional release and finally the American for violation of espionage legislation. The British magistrate has rejected the extradition alleging the risk of suicide of the prisoner if he were transferred to high security prisons in the United States, but has discarded the defense arguments according to which the case is political and the trial in the United States would have been unfair. He has also considered that the actions he is accused of, if proven in the terms described by the prosecution, would be criminal under the parameters of British law. This is the heart of the matter that would have to be judged in the United States; a case that moves on the border between the protection of national security and the freedom of expression recognized by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Assange is not exactly a journalist, despite the fact that he has partnered on different occasions with professional media – including Ex PassS – to spread his leaks. In fact, he is an adventurer with little sense of responsibility, especially with reckless publishing practices that have endangered sources who spoke with US diplomacy in countries with fierce authoritarian regimes. His association with Putin, his interventions in the Catalan conflict or his assistance in the offensive against Hillary Clinton in the electoral battle with Donald Trump have given him justified antipathies. But none of these activities has to do with the serious accusations for which Washington requests his extradition, precisely with Trump as president.
Despite his controversial conduct in various circumstances, the will of Trump’s Prosecutor’s Office to frame his leaks under accusations of espionage and attacks on state security is extremely disturbing. On the contrary, the denunciation of bad military practices in Iraq served to improve the US Army and its dissemination constitutes a good example of the role of control of the media over governments. The resolution known yesterday can be appealed. The US authorities have announced that they will. Regardless of the second instance decision of the British courts, it would be appropriate for the new Biden Administration to change the accusatory course and move it away from a path that casts a thick shadow on the freedom to practice journalism in the United States.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.