Washington, D.C., August 12, 2021 — In response to Britain’s High Court decision yesterday to allow the United States government to expand its appeal to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“The ongoing drive by the United States to extradite Julian Assange and prosecute him under the Espionage Act undermines press freedom globally,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “A successful prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder, which hinges on an allegation of conspiracy between a publisher and sources, would hamper reporters’ ability to work with sources and whistleblowers and unearth information that the public should know. The Biden administration should stop trying to extradite Assange and drop all charges against him.”
Yesterday, the High Court ruled that the U.S. government could appeal a judge’s handling of a report on Assange’s mental health, as well as other more technical aspects of a January 4 decision barring his extradition, according to news reports. The appeal hearing is scheduled for October 27 and 28, according to the advocacy website Don’t Extradite Assange.
If extradited and convicted in the United States, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison: 10 years for each of the 17 charges filed under the Espionage Act, and five years for a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violation, according to CPJ research.