On Tuesday, about 80 Australian and British legislators asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to end the extradition process against WikiLeaks portal founder Julian Assange, whom the United States accuses of 18 espionage and computer intrusion charges for disclosing documents about the U.S. wrongdoing in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 51-year-old activist, who remains at U.K. Belmarsh high-security prison, was initially arrested in 2010 at the behest of Swedish justice, which accused him of raping two nationals but could not provide the necessary evidence to set a sentence against him.
On April 11, 2019, the British Police arrested him at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London after Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno withdrew him from the political asylum status granted seven years ago by his predecessor Rafael Correa.
“On the fourth anniversary of Mr. Assange’s imprisonment, we implore Garland to end the extradition process and allow this activist to return home,” the legislators stated, recalling that Assange has been deprived of liberty for over a decade as he did not leave the Ecuadoran embassy while enjoying political asylum status for the risk of being arrested by U.K. Police.
The legislators stressed that Assange deserves the same treatment granted to former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, whose sentence for leaking classified information to the WikiLeaks portal was commuted by U.S. former President Barack Obama in 2017.
“The extradition request against Assange, who may face up to 175 years in prison in the United States, sets a dangerous precedent for journalists and media organizations,” the parliamentarians pointed out.
“If the U.K. finally extradites Assange to the U.S., Australians will witness the deportation of a compatriot to an allied country,” they stressed, recalling that setting a penalty against Assange would undermine the reputation of the United States concerning freedom of expression and the rule of law.