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    Prosecution of Assange 'Attack on Rights of Publishers Everywhere' - Commentator

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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised during a court hearing in London on Thursday to battle against his extradition to the US over charges of conspiring to hack into a DoD computer to steal data, stressing he didn't want to "surrender for extradition for doing journalism that has won many awards and protected many people."

    In an interview with Sputnik, political commentator Peter Tatchell weighed in on the prospect of the Assange's extradition to the US after a UK court's decision to sentence the WikiLeaks founder to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions. 

    Sputnik: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks behind bars for breaching bail in 2012. How significant is this and was it to be expected? 

    Peter Tatchell: It is very important to remember that what Julian Assange received was a maximum sentence of 50 weeks. According to both the law and sentencing guidelines, a near maximum sentence should only be applied in instances where the person poses a risk to the public, or they have a history of previous serious conviction. Julian Assange had neither to that sentence of 50 week was excessive and unwarranted. No one would expect a sentence somewhere like 20 to 26 weeks. At the most, this sentence is more than double. That is pretty extraordinary and it just fuels the fears of many people, that this is a politically motivated prosecution.

    Sputnik: Yesterday we heard that Julian Assange formally told the court that he does not consent to a request to be extradited to the United States. Will his wishes be granted? 

    Peter Tatchell: I'm outside Westminster’s Magistrates’ Court right now and the hearing on his extradition for us has just been concluded. It is very clear that Julian Assange published the truth about wrongdoing by the US government military including; war, crime, corruption, human rights abuses and cover up in publishing information performed a great public service. I do not understand how it could ever be justified for any government or judicial system to prosecute someone but telling the truth or giving information about wrongdoing by governments that is a fundamental human right. This prosecution is an attack upon the rights of publishers everywhere. There should be no prosecution of any journalist or publisher, including Julian Assange of Wikileaks. They are telling the truth.

    READ MORE: Assange's Sentence Signals Start of Campaign to Curb Press Freedom — Activists

    Sputnik: What does the arrest of Julian Assange mean for Britain’s judicial system? 

    Peter Tatchell: It's very clear that the British government is actually in cahoots with the Donald Trump administration. The US has requested Julian Assange's extradition, and the British government has made it clear that they are complying with that. Indeed, when he was taken out of the Ecuadorian embassy, the first arrest charged related to him skipping bail and the second charge related to the extradition request by the United States. I don't believe that an independent nation, a democracy like Britain, should be colluding with an American government which is seeking to close down and silence the freedom to publish. This is an attack upon all journalists and all publishers everywhere because if Julian Assange goes out, it will learn the silence him and briefly, at least for the moment, but it will have a chilling effect on journalists and publishers throughout the world.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    sentence, Julian Assange, United States, United Kingdom
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