Assange decision should be wake-up call for US

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Wikileaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson speaks outside the U.K. High Court in 2022. "Wikileaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson talks about Assange's extradition hearing" by alisdare1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The U.K. High Court decision granting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leave to appeal his extradition shows just how far America has fallen when it comes to press freedom.

After the High Court ruled that the United States’ assurances were insufficient to appease the justices’ concerns over whether Assange could rely on the First Amendment in U.S. courts, Caitlin Vogus and Seth Stern of Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) wrote in The Guardian that it's "painfully ironic" that a U.K. court is defending the First Amendment against U.S. overreach:

“Not so long ago, the roles were reversed. In 2010, the US passed a law to protect American publishers from UK courts. The Speech Act, enacted in response to a wave of libel lawsuits in the UK targeting Americans, prohibits American courts from enforcing foreign defamation judgments that don’t comply with the first amendment.

But much has changed since 2010. Since then, the US has repeatedly dropped in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, falling to 55th out of 180 countries in 2024. The UK is still no haven for free expression, but the same judiciary that the US Congress checked in 2010 now isn’t comfortable extraditing a publisher to be tried there.”

Vogus and Stern conclude that: “The High Court’s decision should be a wake-up call for Biden: It’s not possible to prosecute Assange while claiming to be a friend of press freedom. Rather than wait for UK courts to defend the rights that America supposedly stands for, the US should drop the case now.”

You can read the full op-ed here.

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