17:42 GMT20 January 2021
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    The last few weeks have witnessed a surge of activism urging President Trump to use his remaining time in office to pardon Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder jailed in a UK prison awaiting possible extradition to the US. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison for his role in publishing cables detailing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The US Department of Justice’s charges against Julian Assange are a political farce that has nothing to do with the law, and Trump can and must pardon him to save the First Amendment, Stella Morris, Assange’s girlfriend and mother of their two sons, believes.

    “This is an unconstitutional, political case that has bent the law to suit its political objective. It turns necessary journalistic practice – communicating with a source and having and publishing true information – into crimes,” Morris, a South African-born human rights lawyer, told Revolver News, a Trump-endorsed conservative website.

    “Saying that it is a crime for Julian to have published this material is as absurd as saying that US journalists are legally bound not to violate China’s, Turkey’s or France’s secrecy or censorship laws, even though they are publishing in the US,” Morris added.

    The attorney, who served as a member of Assange’s legal team during his period in the Ecuadorian Embassy, pointed out that unlike American whistleblowers, who have US citizenship and worked for the US government, Assange is just a publisher who was not residing in the United States, wasn’t an employee or contractor for the government, and never signed any confidentiality agreements.

    “The only promise he made was to the public, to publish the truth about governments and corporations. Everyone has their role in a free society and Julian’s role is to publish,” Morris insisted.

    Trump Can Save the First Amendment

    Calling the US Constitution’s First Amendment a “truly exceptional” piece of legislation that bars lawmakers and the executive branch from interference in speech and publishing, Morris suggested that there is no way to “get around that” and still “abide by the Constitution.”

    “What is happening is that those who are driving the case against Julian – the most sinister elements of the US government –are abusing the broad wording of an existing piece of legislation, the 1917 Espionage Act, to repurpose it so that it will do what the First Amendment forbids: interfere with freedom of speech and the press,” she said.

    Accusing the Obama Justice Department of normalizing repurposing the Espionage Act for use against whistleblowers, Morris warned Republicans that Assange’s prosecution would set a precedent which could be “abused by the most anti-democratic elements of future administrations.”

    According to the attorney, a pardon for her fiancé would change America’s trajectory. “If Julian is not pardoned, it will be the end of the First Amendment. The case means catastrophically shifting the nature of American society from one of free and open debate about the nature of government, to one like China where the state controls who can publish what and what can be published,” she said.

    “If I could speak to the President, I would tell him that Julian’s liberty and the liberty of the United States hang together. The President can save Julian, he can save our family, and he can save the First Amendment with a single stroke of his pen. It is in his power to do so. He is the only one who can do it, and he can do it today…Please – let him come home to his little boys. Save Julian’s life, save our freedoms and save the future of America,” Morris urged.

    At the same time, she warned that if Julian were to die or end up in a US prison serving a life sentence, Trump would be “blamed forever,” and it could take “decades” for Americans to “claw back the freedoms we have enjoyed for so long.”

    Republicans for Assange

    Traditionally supported by the left wing of the Democratic party, as well as Bernie Sanders and independent liberals, Assange recently gained a wellspring of support among high profile Republican politicians and media figures, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

    Previously, NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, actress and model Pamela Anderson, Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, multiple Nobel Prize laureates and others have appealed to Trump to pardon Assange.

    The WikiLeaks founder remains imprisoned at Belmarsh, a top-security British penitentiary, while awaiting the verdict on his extradition case to the US. The Justice Departments wants Assange on 17 espionage-related charges and one count of computer misuse, with the alleged crimes carrying a maximum sentence of 175 years behind bars.

    Related:

    Audio Recordings Confirm Assange Spoke to US State Dept to Stop Publication of Unredacted Cables
    Assange Supporters Denounce 'Lies', 'Smears' and 'Fabrications' Outside The Guardian Headquarters
    Fox's Tucker Carlson Throws Weight Behind Campaign Urging Trump to Pardon Julian Assange
    'I Support Him': Sarah Palin Changes Heart on Julian Assange, Says He 'Deserves a Pardon'
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