Monday, February 19th, 2024 #MEAAMedia #pressfreedom #pressfreedom News
MEAA Online

On the eve of a crucial court hearing in London, journalist unions around the world have joined forces to call for the United States to drop espionage charges against Julian Assange.

The joint statement comes as Assange makes a final attempt in the United Kingdom High Court to appeal against an extradition order decision issued in 2021.

The two-day hearing beginning on February 20 is Assange’s final avenue in the UK justice system to fight his extradition to the US where he faces 18 charges that could result in a maximum 175 years in prison.

In a joint statement, the International Federation of Journalists, European Federation of Journalists, the UK National Union of Journalists and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Assange’s union in his home country of Australia, say it is within the US government’s power to drop charges.

“Julian Assange faces prosecution for actions that are the daily work of journalists – cultivating sources, and exposing criminal behaviour,” they say.

“His conviction would jeopardise journalism the world over.

“To safeguard free speech we demand that Assange is freed at once, and that all charges against him are dropped.”

Assange has been incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison near London since he was taken into custody in April 2019.

He has been indicted on 18 charges, including under the Espionage Act.

His physical and mental health is precarious, and he has been deprived of access to his two young sons and wife.