Biden Accused of Hypocrisy for Seeking Assange’s Extradition

January 21, 2023

photo: Nathan Posner, Anadolu Agency

The ‘Belmarsh Tribunal’, made up of a group of legal experts and supporters of Julian Assange, whose meeting was held Friday in Washington D.C., lashed out at U.S. President Joe Biden, reproaching his hypocrisy as the White House continues to seek to extradite the WikiLeaks co-founder from the United Kingdom.

“President Biden usually advocates freedom of the press, but at the same time continues the persecution of Julian Assange,” said Srecko Horvat, a member of the court that included the name of the British maximum security prison, where the cyberactivist has been held since April 2019.

Horvat recalled that the president urged the release of imprisoned journalists around the world during his 2020 presidential campaign. “Our freedom depends on freedom of the press and this cannot be limited without being lost,” said  Biden quoting a phrase of former US President Thomas Jefferson, considered one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Horvat went on to say that Washington’s determination to extradite Assange is “an attack” against freedom of the press at a global level, because “the US is advancing” in its “extraordinary pretension that it can impose its criminal secrecy laws on a foreign publisher who was publishing outside” US territory.

He also pointed out that all countries have their laws regulating the handling of secret information, and in some nations the legislation in that area is draconian. “If any country tried to extradite New York Times reporters and editors to other states for publishing their secrets, we would be up in arms, and rightly so. Does this administration want to be the first to set a world precedent that countries can demand the extradition of foreign reporters and editors for violating their own laws?”

Amy Goodman, co-chair of the court and host of the media company Democracy Now!” argued that Assange’s case is the first in history in which a publisher has been charged under the act of espionage. “It was recently revealed that the CIA had been illegally spying on Julian, his lawyers and some members of this very court. The CIA even plotted his assassination at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London during the Trump administration she charged.

The meeting of the ‘Belmarsh Tribunal’ was held in the same room where Assange exposed in 2010 the “collateral murder” video showing US military personnel shooting civilians in Iraq from a helicopter, the first of thousands of leaked secret documents on US activities in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that could constitute war crimes, The Guardian reported.

For the charges against him on U.S. soil, Assange, who suffers from physical and mental health problems directly linked to his incarceration, could face up to 175 years in prison.

On June 17 last year, his transfer to U.S. custody was validated by the British government.

A large part of the classified U.S. documents were leaked to WikiLeaks by former soldier Chelsea Manning. The whistleblower was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but in 2017 then-President Barack Obama commuted the ruling, so Manning was able to get out of prison in May of that year and not in 2045.

Source: Cuba en Resumen