UK grants Assange another hearing, avoids press freedom catastrophe — for now

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Promoting press freedom in the 21st century

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Today, the High Court in London granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange another hearing in his extradition to the United States. The court ruled that on three of the nine grounds Assange’s legal team asked to appeal on, the United States must provide “assurances” to the court, and if the court does not find them satisfactory, Assange can bring his full appeal. 

The United States has three weeks to provide the “assurances,” and then a further hearing will be held on May 20. Assange’s case has profound implications for press freedom in the United States. 

The following statement can be attributed to Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF): 

We are glad Julian Assange is not getting extradited today. But this legal battle is far from over, and the threat to journalists and the news media from the Espionage Act charges against Assange remains. Assange’s conviction in American courts would create a dangerous precedent that the U.S. government can and will use against reporters of all stripes who expose its wrongdoing or embarrass it. The Biden administration should take the opportunity to drop this dangerous case once and for all.

Assange has been indicted in the United States on 18 felony counts, including 17 under the Espionage Act. Under the legal theory used in the indictment, any journalist could be convicted of violating the Espionage Act for obtaining or receiving national defense information from a source, communicating with a source to encourage them to provide national defense information, or publishing national defense information — acts journalists engage in every day. Virtually all major civil liberties organizations and major news outlets have denounced the prosecution as a threat to core press freedom rights. 

Please contact us if you would like further comment on the dangers this case poses to press freedom in the United States. FPF will continue to follow this case closely. 

For more resources on the Assange case and the threat it poses to press freedom, visit https://freedom.press/assange/

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