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Leading media outlets urge U.S. to end prosecution of Julian Assange

The United States should end its prosecution of Julian Assange, leading media outlets from the United States and Europe that had collaborated with the WikiLeaks founder said on Monday, citing press freedom concerns.

November 29, 2022
By Kanishka Singh
29 November 2022

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) – The United States should
end its prosecution of Julian Assange, leading media outlets
from the United States and Europe that had collaborated with the
WikiLeaks founder said on Monday, citing press freedom concerns.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens
to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the
press,” editors and publishers of the Guardian, the New York
Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El País said in an open
letter.

Assange is wanted by U.S. authorities on 18 counts,
including a spying charge, related to WikiLeaks’ release of
confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables. His
supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been
victimized because he exposed U.S. wrongdoing, including in
conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Monday marked twelve years since those media outlets
collaborated to release excerpts from over 250,000 documents
obtained by Assange in the so-called “Cablegate” leak.

The material was leaked to WikiLeaks by the then American
soldier Chelsea Manning and revealed the inner workings of U.S.
diplomacy around the globe. The documents exposed “corruption,
diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale,”
the letter said.

In August, a group of journalists and lawyers sued the CIA
and its former director Mike Pompeo over allegations the
intelligence agency spied on them when they visited Assange
during his stay in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Assange spent seven years in the embassy before being
dragged out and jailed in 2019 for breaching bail conditions. He
has remained in prison in London while his extradition case is
decided. If extradited to the United States, he faces a sentence
of up to 175 years in an American maximum security prison.

His legal team has appealed to the High Court in London to
block his extradition in a legal battle that has dragged on for
more than a decade.

“Publishing is not a crime,” the media outlets said in their
letter on Monday.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington, Editing by Rosalba
O’Brien)

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