EFF has joined a coalition of press freedom, civil liberties, and human rights groups that sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice to drop its efforts to extradite and prosecute Julian Assange.
The renewed request comes after a Yahoo News report that the CIA discussed kidnapping or killing Assange in 2017, before charges against Assange were filed. The agency also reportedly planned extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates.
Assange has been charged under the Espionage Act. The charges have been widely condemned by journalists and press freedom organizations, including by outlets that have been critical of Assange. Leaks of information that the government would prefer to keep secret, and the publication of those leaks by journalists, are vital to our democracy. Regardless of what one thinks about other criminal charges against Assange, his indictment on charges that mostly reflect basic journalistic practices will have a chilling effect on critical national security journalism.
In January, a British judge denied the Trump Administration’s extradition request, on the basis that the conditions of confinement in the U.S. would be overly harsh. The U.S. chose to appeal that decision. A hearing on the case is scheduled to be heard next week. Human rights and press freedom groups, including EFF, first asked in February for the Biden Administration to drop the extradition effort.
In addition to EFF, the letter to DOJ has been signed by the ACLU, Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, Fight for the Future, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Human Rights Watch, PEN America, Reporters Without Borders, and many other groups.