[Free Press Forum] ‘Four Years in Prison’...Release Julian Assange Immediately !
[Free Press Forum] ‘Four Years in Prison’...Release Julian Assange Immediately !
  • Statement- Free Press Forum
  • 승인 2023.06.01 07:45
  • 수정 2023.06.01 05:43
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Park Jung-kyoo, Chairman of the Free Press Forum(FPF) / CEO of WikiLeaks Korea

Julian Assange, the US 'double standard', and global freedom of the press

Julian Assange [AP]
Julian Assange [AP]

Throughout human history, countries where freedom of the press has been lost have been stuck in the Dark Ages, without political or economic development. On the other hand, countries with the free press have made remarkable progress politically, economically, and scientifically. History has proven this.

Imprisonment of Assange symbolizes the shackling of the press by the world.

Julian Assange who has been held in Belmarsh Prison in the UK for over four years must be released immediately.

What the world particularly pays attention to is that the US government, which has charged Assange with 17 counts and is calling for his extradition from the UK, views Saudi Arabia's treatment of dissident journalist Kashoggi as "press crackdown”.

The United States invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003. It claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was collaborating with terrorists. The US invaded Iraq even though more than 6 million people in cities around the world staged the largest anti-war protests in history against the invasion.

However, no evidence was found of weapons of mass destruction, nor of any links between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda. At least 1 million civilians were killed due to the invasion, and as a result, Iraqis still live in a catastrophic environment of civil unrest and the rise of emerging terrorist organizations armed and trained with US-made weapons.

In 2010, seven years after the US invasion of Iraq, WikiLeaks published documents handed over by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, then a US military intelligence analyst. They exposed the truth about the Iraq War and US war crimes.

Among the documents that exposed war crimes committed by the US military in Iraq were videos of Apache helicopters deliberately killing civilians, including Reuters journalists.

Assange received and exposed these documents, but instead of prosecuting those responsible for war crimes, the US chose to prosecute Assange for bringing them to light.

Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2012. However, after seven years, on April 11, 2019, he was swiftly arrested by the London police following the Ecuadorian government's decision to withdraw his asylum. Since then, he has been imprisoned at HM Prison Belmarsh for over four years.

The US has accused Assange of 17 charges under the Espionage Act, along with one count of attempting to hack into government computers.

Legal experts suggest that if he is extradited to the United States as requested by US prosecutors, he is expected to be charged with espionage, which is a serious criminal offense. Considering the precedent set by Bradley Manning Cooper, who was sentenced 35 years in prison for hacking military computers and leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, it is anticipated that Assange could receive a similar or even a longer sentence. Speculations suggest that his potential sentence could range up to 175 years.

Assange is currently serving a sentence at Belmarsh Prison in London, UK where he is legally fighting against his extradition to the US. He has been attacked by U.S. politicians and neo-conservatives while the truth about him has been buried and fake news circulated.

The biggest problem is that the prosecution led by US prosecutors contradicts the principles outlined in the US Constitution.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution states, ‘The Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press’.

The charges brought by the US are considered ‘political offenses’ and fall outside the scope of extradition. Reporting on secrets, truth, or information is not a criminal act.

It is widely agreed among international law scholars that Assange, who faces charges of political crimes under the Espionage Act, should be exempted from the extradition treaties between the UK and the US.

The US Department of Justice claims that Assange, as a foreign national, does not have the right to exercise his freedom of speech under the First Amendment. This reasoning enables the US to impose penalties on foreigners while denying them legal protection, demonstrating an arbitrary approach.

The prosecution of Assange undermines the 'journalism' that is essential to the development of democracy around the world and poses a serious threat to freedom of the press.

Collecting confidential information is a common practice for journalists, and the disclosure of information by WikiLeaks should be protected by the constitution in a society that values freedom.

Julian Assange must be released immediately. 

No one in the free world can speak of 'freedom of the press' until Assange 'regains his freedom'.

 

<Profile of FPF Chairman Park Jung-Kyoo>
- Reporter, Economy Team Leader of Hankookilbo
- Editor in Chief of Asia Economy Daily, CEO of New Daily Economy 
- Chairman of the Free Press Forum, CEO of WikiLeaks Korea  [present]

 

 

 

wiki@wikileaks-kr.org

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