UPDATE – Assange hearing: UK must not be complicit in extradition of Wikileaks publisher

Freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19 has urged the UK courts not to extradite Wikileaks founder and publisher to the US, where he faces charges related to his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

The UK’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed on the BBC’s Today programme that he had signed a request for Assange’s extradition to the US. The decision of whether or not to extradite will now be made by the courts. The hearing will start tomorrow, Friday June 14.

Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, Thomas Hughes said:

“If extradited to the US, Julian Assange would be prosecuted and potentially imprisoned for exposing human rights violations committed by the US Government and military.

“It would be the first time that the Espionage Act has been used in the United States to prosecute a journalist for publishing information that was truthful and in the public interest.

“The UK should not be complicit in this assault on press freedom, which would set a dangerous precedent for investigative journalists and whistleblowers in the UK, US and beyond.”

Originally, the UK authorities stated that they arrested Assange on the basis of having fled bail in the UK in 2012, related to an investigation into allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, and a linked extradition request.

On May 23,  the US justice department filed 17 new charges. These include charges for violation of the Espionage Act by publishing classified information through WikiLeaks. The Espionage Act has been criticised for being vaguely worded and overly broad.

For more information, please contact pamcowburn@article19.org, 07749 785 932.