The Times — Defend Media Freedom: Julian Assange on #HumanRightsDay

Big Brother Watch Team / December 10, 2020

The UK government has signed the Global pledge on media freedom, proclaiming that a free press is a fundamental right we must protect around the world. It has promised to intervene when other governments abuse press freedom.

Today, on Human Rights Day, that has an unintended irony.

When a journalist or publisher is held in a high-security prison because of their work, our government should intervene. When he faces a 175-year sentence for embarrassing a foreign power, our government should intervene. When a foreign state charges him under espionage laws, criminalising journalistic activities, our government should intervene.

Yet that publisher is in the UK. That man is Julian Assange. He is being prosecuted for exposing US rendition, unlawful killings and the subversion of the judiciary. And the UK government is allowing extradition proceeding to continue.

The prosecution of Julian Assange was a political decision taken by the Trump administration. Applying foreign secrecy laws to a UK-based publisher creates a dangerous legal precedent, allowing any journalist in Britain to be prosecuted and extradited.

Our government must ensure the UK is a safe place for journalists and publishers to work. Whilst Julian Assange remains in prison facing extradition, it is not.