[Free Press Forum] "British courts shoud release Julian Assange immediately!"
[Free Press Forum] "British courts shoud release Julian Assange immediately!"
  • Yoo Jin, Reporter
  • 승인 2024.02.27 08:01
  • 수정 2024.02.27 08:01
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European human rights experts have joined the campaign urging the UK government not to extradite controversial Wikileaks chief Julian Assange to face trial in the United States, warning that it could have a ‘chilling effect’ on media freedom. [EPA=Yonhap]
Free assange campaign [EPA=Yonhap]

"Whether to make a choice bound by political interests between countries or to make a ruling defending democratic values and freedom of speech?"

The British courts, which can be said to be the root of global democracy, have been evaluated as 'protecting the spirit of democracy' with many decisive rulings.

The court is now put to the test as another important case. It is the Julian Assange case.

A two-day hearing by the British High Court recently concluded over an objection to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's decision to repatriate him to the United States, who is imprisoned at the Belmarsh Prison in London.

Judges have said they will reserve a final decision and it is unclear at this time when they will make a decision.

The high court heard arguments from Assange's lawyers opposing the repatriation of the U.S. and the lawyers representing the U.S. government for two days, but could not reach a conclusion. Assange said that if convicted of the U.S. law, Assange would be imprisoned for up to 175 years for "political reasons," but the U.S. authorities countered that the actual sentence was much shorter.

The U.S. government indicted Assange several times from 2018 to 2020 on charges of releasing hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents about the U.S.-led war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange was arrested by British police in 2019 after seven years on the run at Ecuador's London embassy.

A lower court in Britain ruled in January 2021 that Assange's mental health and suicide risk in a U.S. prison prevented him from repatriating to the U.S. over his extradition to the U.S.

However, when the U.S. government promised not to imprison Assange in ADX Florence, the most notorious prison, the high court allowed him to be extradited to the U.S. in December of the same year. The U.K. Supreme Court ruled in March 2022 that Assange could not appeal, saying he failed to "raise what the controversial legal issue" was.

A few months later, Priti Patel, then Britain's interior minister, signed an order formally authorizing his extradition.

The hearing was held after Assange requested permission to challenge the extradition order signed by the interior minister.

If the objection is not finally accepted, in fact, Assange's legal methods in the UK have been exhausted and could face extradition within weeks.

The US government argues that Assange tried to extract confidential US documents and indiscriminately disclosed them without correction, so it could not be considered a media activity. Additionally, Assange was attempting to recruit individuals with access to confidential information from the start of WikiLeaks.

Assange's lawyers, on the other hand, refute that the U.S. indictment is political and that he was accused of engaging in typical media activities to obtain and disclose confidential information.

It also criticizes the U.S. for acting with false beliefs and violating repatriation treaties with Britain, and stresses that the sentence close to life in prison for Assange is unjust.

According to Assange's wife, Stella Assange, his health is extremely serious and could lead to death if he is repatriated to the United States.

Global jurists and journalists say that the issue of repatriation of Julian Assange is a matter of democracy and freedom of speech of mankind.

Many intellectuals are hoping for a 'wise decision' by the British courts.

There are growing calls for British courts to no longer hesitate and release Julian Assange immediately.

/Park Jung-kyoo, Chairman of the Free Press Forum


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