Biden Justice Dept. Asks British Court to Approve Extradition of Julian Assange
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has indicated that it is now continuing its retrospective attempt to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as the Justice Department ruled in a British court this week that it would be in the United States May block his extradition. States.
This week, human rights and civil liberties groups asked Acting Attorney General, Monty Wilkinson, to drop the effort to prosecute Mr. Assange, arguing that the Trump administration could set a precedent for the case developed against him. Pose a serious threat to suppress freedom.
The Justice Department was due to file a brief in support of its appeal of a judge’s decision to block Mr Assange’s extradition last month, on the grounds that the state of the US prison is inhumane.
The appeal was filed on January 19 – the Trump administration’s last full day – so the decision to proceed with a brief filing was the first opportunity for the Biden administration to reconsider the disputed prosecution effort. A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Office said on Friday that the US government filed the brief on Thursday.
The brief itself was not immediately available. Unlike the United States, British court filings are not public by default. Justice Department spokesman Mark Raymondi said the US government was not allowed to distribute it, but confirmed its filing.
“We continue to seek extradition,” he said.
The case against Mr. Assange is complex and does not reveal whether he is a journalist, but rather whether Journalism activities of soliciting and publishing classified information can be considered as a crime in the United States. The allegations on the publication of his 2010 diplomatic and military files were leaked by Chelsea Manning by the Center, not after the publication of Democratic Party emails hacked by Russia during the 2016 election.
Prosecutors have separately accused him of participating in a hacking conspiracy, which is not a journalist activity. The immediate issue in the extradition case, however, is neither of those things, but rather the state of the US prison is inhumane.
In January, a British judge, Vanessa Barester of the Westminster Magistrate Court, Denied extradition of Mr. Assange – Citing harsh conditions for security-related inmates in American prisons and Mr. Assange may be motivated to commit suicide. He stated that “Mr. Assange’s mental condition is such that extraditing him to the United States would be oppressive.”
In its new brief, the Department of Justice was expected to consider how the Federal Prison Bureau handles security prisoners and argues that such situations are a valid reason for a close US ally to block an otherwise valid extradition request Was not.
Rebecca Vincent, director of international campaigns for Reporters Without Borders, said the group was “extremely disappointed”, pressed by the Biden Justice Department with an effort to bring Mr. Assange to the United States for prosecution.
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“This is a major missed opportunity for President Biden to distance himself from the Trump administration’s terrible record on press freedom,” Ms. Vincent said.
He warned: “The US government is setting a dangerous precedent, which will have a different impact on national security reporting worldwide. No journalist, publisher or source can be convinced that they will not be criminally pursued for equal public interest reporting. “
Ms. Vincent also described the case against Mr. Assange as “political”. However, in January, Judge Baratasser dismissed Mr Assange’s arguments that the US charges against him were politically motivated, deciding that he was brought in good faith. The Justice Department had said that it was “ruling” that part of its rule.
During the Obama administration, Justice Department officials weighed in to charge Mr. Assange. But he worried that by doing so the novel would raise First Amendment issues and set a precedent that could harm freedom of the press in the United States, as traditional news organizations such as The New York Times also occasionally Publish information that the government considers classified.
The Obama administration never accused Mr. Assange. But the Trump administration went ahead with a prosecution. The first indictment accused Mr. Assange of conspiring to hack, but then filed a superseding indictment, accusing him of espionage in relation to publishing classified documents.
In 2019, as Mr. Biden was seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, The Times asked if he would uphold or judge novel detective act charges against Mr. Assange brought by the Trump administration.
In a written reply, Mr. Biden denounced Taking a position on the case but drew a line between journalistic activities and hacking.
Mr. Biden said, “Journalists have no right to sabotage government offices, or hack into government computers or bribe government employees.” Nothing is more than obtaining and publishing confidential information and otherwise the law has not been broken. “
Charlie Savage reported from Washington, and Alien Peltier from London.