Reporters Without Borders Demands Closing Assange Extradition Case Ahead of New Hearing
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday called on the UK High Court to close the extradition case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and release him, ahead of a new appeal hearing.
From 27-28 October, the UK High Court is scheduled to consider the US government's appeal against a London court decision opposing Assange’s extradition to the US on health grounds.
"We again emphasize our position: that Assange has been targeted for his contributions to journalism, ... and that the case should be closed and he should be immediately released," RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said as quoted in the NGO's press release.
On Tuesday, the majority of NGO observers and journalists were still waiting for permission to attend the hearing in person or via video link. RSF’s observers were also awaiting accreditation from the British court.
"We have faced more difficulties in accessing proceedings in the case of Julian Assange than we have in any other case, in any other country. We are extremely frustrated by the barriers to access we continue to face on the eve of the most important hearing to date in this case," RSF Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent said as quoted by the NGO.
The NGO claims to be the only one to be monitoring the extradition proceedings, despite obstacles and restrictions imposed by the UK court.
In October, RSF joined 24 other press freedom, civil liberty and international human rights organizations, in signing a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the the US Department of Justice to drop its charges against Assange.
Assange was arrested in London on April 11, 2019, and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012, when he took refuge inside the Ecuadorean embassy in the British capital to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was facing sexual assault charges that were later dropped by a Swedish court.
25 October 2021, 16:19 GMT
The whistleblower is wanted by the US on espionage charges after WikiLeaks published thousands of classified documents that shed light on war crimes committed by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces up to 175 years in solitary confinement inside a top security American prison if convicted in the US.
Back in January, a UK district judge ruled against extraditing Assange to the US, citing his health and the risk of suicide in the US prison system. The judge, however, decided that he must wait in prison for the outcome of a US appeal hearing.