A group of House Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Biden administration to drop the charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is facing up to 175 years in prison for exposing US war crimes if extradited to the US and convicted.
The letter was led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and also signed by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Greg Casar (D-TX).
Tuesday marked four years since Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and sent to Belmarsh prison, where he is still being held today on no charges. “Four years ago today, Julian Assange was arrested for publishing the truth,” Tlaib wrote on Twitter.
“I’m leading a letter to Attorney General Garland urging him to uphold the freedom of the press by dropping these Trump-era charges and withdrawing the extradition request,” she added.
The letter reads: “We write you today to call on you to uphold the First Amendment’s protections for the freedom of the press by dropping the criminal charges against Australian publisher Julian Assange and withdrawing the American extradition request currently pending with the British government.”
Assange has been indicted for publishing information about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that he obtained using standard journalistic practices. If Assange is convicted, it would set a dangerous precedent and could lead to more charges against media outlets for publishing information the US government doesn’t want to be exposed.
Four years ago today, Julian Assange was arrested for publishing the truth.
I’m leading a letter to Attorney General Garland urging him to uphold the freedom of the press by dropping these Trump-era charges and withdrawing the extradition request. pic.twitter.com/91wLrBXRQk
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) April 11, 2023
The lawmakers point out that much of the information published by WikiLeaks was also published by mainstream outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. “Based on the legal logic of this indictment, any of those newspapers could be prosecuted for engaging in these reporting activities,” they said.
The letter concludes: “Every day that the prosecution of Julian Assange continues is another day that our own government needlessly undermines our own moral authority abroad and rolls back the freedom of the press under the First Amendment at home. We urge you to immediately drop these Trump-era charges against Mr. Assange and halt this dangerous prosecution.”