Who is Julian?
Julian Assange is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by U.S.
Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning who was a former United States Army soldier who was convicted by the court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents.
We have a right to free speech. Assange was a journalist doing moral and appropriate reporting and was prosecuted for doing so. This poses a threat to our freedom of expression of which we should be concerned about.
He was not a spy or a criminal and the documents handed to him revealed how the US military had killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents during the war in Afghanistan and show that 66,000 civilians had been killed in Iraq.
In the eyes of the law it was a criminal offence to be in possession of these documents.
Assange, currently held in Belmarsh Prison, has 17 espionage charges against him in the US, including the Espionage Act of 1917, for having a ‘political opinion’ which carries a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. And because of the espionage act, it is law that the person being charged is held in solitary confinement.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the decision to extradite Assange after the courts found that extradition would not be “incompatible with his human rights”. This is in spite of the fact that the leaked documents show US officials discussed assassinating Assange in 2017. The concerns are if extradited he will be held under more extreme confinement rules that may possibly lead him to take his own life and his mental health is already suffering. Hence why they are appealing this decision. Currently Belmarsh offers him the freedom to have visitors, see his wife and family but if extradited, there will be no such benefits.
He is suffering psychologically already. The New York Times reported: “Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, could not hold a normal conversation at the high-security prison in Britain where he is being held.”
WikiLeaks has since confirmed it would appeal against Priti Patel’s decision saying: “Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle. We will appeal through the legal system. This is a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy,” it said in a statement. “Anyone in this country who cares about freedom of expression should be deeply ashamed that the home secretary has approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, the country that plotted his assassination.”
“Julian did nothing wrong. He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher, and he is being punished for doing his job.”
It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing. Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.
Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, echoed these sentiments in a separate statement. “Julian is a political prisoner. We will use every avenue to appeal this decision. I will dedicate every waking hour to fight for justice until he is free.”