House Democrats call for DOJ to drop Assange charges

Australia WikiLeaks Founder
FILE – Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, on May 19, 2017. Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, he recently told U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to bring WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange’s prosecution to a close.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File) Frank Augstein/AP

House Democrats call for DOJ to drop Assange charges

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A group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday asking him to drop the 18 charges against Australian Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The Democratic House members argued that the charges against Assange “pose a grave and unprecedented threat” to press freedom and the First Amendment.

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“Press freedom, civil liberty, and human rights groups have been emphatic that the charges against Mr. Assange pose a grave and unprecedented threat to everyday, constitutionally protected journalistic activity, and that a conviction would represent a landmark setback for the First Amendment,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Assange, who was arrested in London in 2019 on a warrant issued by the United States, faces 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. Assange’s charges are related to his publication of classified and sensitive U.S. documents, which were leaked by former Army soldier Chelsea Manning.

“The prosecution of Mr. Assange marks the first time in U.S. history that a publisher of truthful information has been indicted under the Espionage Act,” the lawmakers said. “The prosecution of Mr. Assange, if successful, not only sets a legal precedent whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted, but a political one as well.”

The Democrats urging Garland to drop the charges include Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Cori Bush (MO), Greg Casar (TX), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Ayanna Pressley (MA).

The lawmakers claimed that prosecuting Assange for carrying out “journalistic activities … greatly diminishes America’s credibility as a defender of these values, and undermines the United States’ moral standing on the world stage.”

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Global and national news organizations have also urged the Department of Justice to drop the charges, among them the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel. Other freedom groups, including Amnesty International and the International Federation of Journalists, have also called for an end to the charges.

Assange is currently being held by the British government in a London prison. He has been there since 2019. He hid at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London from 2012 to 2019 before his arrest.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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