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May 15, 2022


topic: Freedom of Expression
type: Petition
by: Quinta Thomson

The decade-long case against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange is imminently in danger of changing freedom of speech precedents  the world over.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel is currently in control of Assange’s future, and after the 18 May, would have the power to extradite Assange to America, where he could face up to 175 years in prison on 18 different charges.

Assange was instrumental in exposing war crimes of the American military in Iraq in a video titled ‘Collateral Murder’. His work was vital in informing American citizens about their government’s military actions abroad and unjustified killings. 

The question at hand is that of human rights and justice over political appeasement and UK-US relations. This isn't merely a case revolving around one man’s vulnerability being targeted, but one that pertains to freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the public's right to know across the globe.

The extradition of Assange would set a precedent that effectively removes protections from whistleblowers leaking classified documents, which is often essential for scrutinising and regulating governmental actions that violate human and civil rights.

As Amnesty International has declared, "Demanding that states like the UK extradite people for publishing classified information that is in the public interest sets a dangerous precedent and must be rejected."

Since 20 April, Assange’s legal team has only had four weeks to make representations that will be presented on the 18 May. There are only a few days left for you to mobilise. You can do this by singing RSF’s petition calling on Priti Patel to refuse the extradition request.

If extradited, Assange would be the first publisher prosecuted under the Espionage Act, opening the way for anyone publishing anything concerned with leaked classified information to also be prosecuted. This is a crucial crossroads in the fight for freedom of speech and of the press - one which we should all have a voice in. 

Image by Alisdare Hickson