Council of Europe Human Rights Chief Urges London Not to Extradite Julian Assange to US
08:26 GMT 18.05.2022 (Updated: 11:06 GMT 18.05.2022)
A UK court last month issued a formal order to extradite Julian Assange to face trial in the US. On 17 May, around 200 Assange supporters rallied in London, as the WikiLeaks founder's wife said his lawyers submitted arguments to Britain's home secretary urging her to block the extradition.
The UK has been urged not to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
to the US. The request is contained in a letter dated 10 May addressed to Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel from Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic.
Ahead of the impending decision on Julian Assange’s extradition, the commissioner noted
that the “wider human rights implications of doing so had not yet been adequately considered in the extradition proceedings”.
"The broad and vague nature of the allegations against Mr Assange, and of the offences listed in the indictment, are troubling as many of them concern activities at the core of investigative journalism in Europe and beyond. Consequently, allowing Mr Assange’s extradition on this basis would have a chilling effect on media freedom, and could ultimately hamper the press in performing its task as purveyor of information and public watchdog in democratic societies", the letter read.
The commissioner noted that taking into account both the “wider implications” and concerns raised by independent experts about Assange’s treatment upon extradition, the UK government should not allow his extradition to the United States.
“I therefore call upon you to decide against the extradition of Mr Assange”, the commissioner for human rights concluded.
Earlier on Tuesday, Assange's defence filed a representation with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to block his extradition to the US.
Supporters of the WikiLeaks founder, carrying posters and banners, gathered outside the Home Office demanding his release on 17 May, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
Assange's wife Stella, who went to the Home Office building with their two children, appealed from the rostrum to the home secretary, the department, and the British government as a whole with a call to release her husband.
The WikiLeaks founder has been on remand at the Belmarsh maximum-security prison in southeast London since October 2020, after serving an 11-month sentence for breaking bail conditions. Prior to this, the journalist had spent around seven years at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He was pulled from the embassy in late 2019 after having his political asylum status revoked.
On 20 April, the Westminster Magistrates' Court formally approved the extradition
of Assange, who is in poor health and suffered a stroke while in UK custody, to the US. In the US, the WikiLeaks founder faces a possible maximum sentence of up to 175 years in prison.
Julian Assange is indicted by the US on 18 federal charges over alleged espionage and hacking which resulted in the publication of classified war logs and State Department cables by WikiLeaks that shed light on the conduct of US troops and alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.