Assange, an Australian citizen, is currently in Belmarsh prison in the UK, after a judge who decided in January against granting the American request for extradition, said he would be a flight risk and needed to be kept in the UK for the appeal against the ruling.
By going forward with an Espionage Act prosecution of Assange, the Biden administration is announcing a willingness to put anyone who obtains ot publishes "national defense information" - even in the public interest, even a war crime - in prison for at least ten years. https://t.co/UDjMqjmdIz— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) February 9, 2021
The statement comes just two days before the deadline for the Americans to submit the grounds for appeal to the court.
She said while the charges had been brought against the 49-year-old Australian in good faith, the state of his mental health meant that the extradition request had to be denied.
The Fed Govt keeps claiming it does everything possible to help Aussies in strife overseas. But the truth is it's hung Julian Assange out to dry, the Aus relationship with the US being more important than this brave Australian. #politas #auspol #FreeJulianAssange— Andrew Wilkie MP (@WilkieMP) February 9, 2021
Baraister said Assange was likely to be imprisoned at a supermax facility in the US if extradited and would find a way to take his own life.
“Extradition would be oppressive by reason of Assange’s mental health,” she said.
There were expectations in some quarters that Assange would benefit from a decision made while Barack Obama was president, when his administration considered whether it could bring criminal charges against Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing classified information.
As American journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote: "...the Obama DoJ concluded such a prosecution would pose a severe threat to press freedom because there would be no way to prosecute Assange for publishing classified documents without also prosecuting The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and others for doing exactly the same thing."
Gosztola wrote that just a day ago, a coalition of civil liberties, press freedom, and human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Centre for Constitutional Rights, Committee to Protect Journalists, Fight for the Future, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Human Rights Watch, PEN America, Project on Government Oversight, and Reporters Without Borders, signed a letter demanding the DoJ drop the charges against Assange.
"The indictment of Mr Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely—and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do," the letter to acting attorney general Monty Wilkinson said.
"Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices."