Just one day after a coalition of prominent civil rights groups made headlines with a letter urging the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges, the Biden administration has announced its intention to continue those efforts.
“Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday said the U.S. government will continue to challenge a British judge’s ruling last month that Assange should not be extradited to the United States because of the risk he would commit suicide,” Reuters reports.
“We continue to seek his extradition,” Raimondi said.
Assange’s arrest and subsequent charges under the Espionage Act in 2019 for what amount to standard journalistic practices which exposed US war crimes marked both a dramatic escalation in the US empire’s war on critical national security journalism and a sharp divergence from the Obama administration’s decision not to pursue such charges in this case. Biden is not just upholding Trump’s assault on press freedoms (far and away the single most egregious attack on journalism in the 45th president’s entire four years in office), he is rejecting the Obama administration’s decision not to charge Assange due to concerns that it would erode the First Amendment.
As The Washington Post reported during Barack Obama’s second term in 2013:
“The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.”
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