Julian Assange: Press freedom and rights groups condemn UK order to extradite journalist to US
Press freedom and rights groups have condemned a decision by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to approve the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, arguing he will likely face extended jail time and solitary confinement.
Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Freedom of the Press Foundation all released statements on Friday slamming the extradition order and warning it will have damaging consequences for press freedom across the world.
Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison in London as his legal team attempted to fight an extradition order, which they pledged to keep doing after Friday’s announcement through an appeals process.
BREAKING: UK Home Secretary approves extradition of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to the US where he would face a 175 year sentence - A dark day for Press freedom and for British democracy— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 17, 2022
The decision will be appealedhttps://t.co/m1bX8STSr8 pic.twitter.com/5nWlxnWqO7
Amnesty said they were “extremely concerned that Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill-treatment.
“Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history.”
RSF said they were “deeply disappointed” by this “shameful decision”.
“We hope that the UK courts will take a stand for press freedom where the government has failed,” the organisation which monitors and fights for press freedoms across the world said.
In May, RSF delivered a petition of nearly 64,000 signatures to the UK Home Office and six British embassies around the world calling on Patel to reject the extradition order.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation called the order a “dangerous and misguided criminal prosecution that has the potential to criminalise national security journalism in the United States."
“By continuing to extradite Assange, the [Biden administration] is ignoring the dire warnings of virtually every major civil liberties and human rights organisation in the country,” they added.
WikiLeaks released a statement on Friday saying Assange “did nothing wrong” and that “he has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher, and he is being punished for doing his job.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.”