Media Organizations Urge US to Drop Prosecution of Julian Assange

Major media organizations across the globe have called on the U.S. government to drop its prosecution of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange for releasing information, claiming that “publishing is not a crime.”

The Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El Pas, which collaborated with Assange to publish sections of the Cablegate leak, have sent an open letter to President Joe Biden’s administration requesting that the accusations against Assange be dropped. They were opposed to charging Assange using legislation intended to try First World War spies, as per the reports of newsclick

In the letter, the editors and publishers of the five journals said that they had publicly criticized his behavior in 2011 when unredacted versions of the cables were disclosed. They have now united to voice “grave concerns about Julian Assange’s prolonged prosecution for acquiring and releasing classified secrets.”

Julian Assange conference Tonsberg Nor March 2010

Did Republicans spend millions on ad?

Since his detention at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2019, Assange has been resisting extradition. In the United States, Assange is sought on 18 criminal counts, including espionage, for disclosing sensitive papers detailing war crimes. If he is extradited, he may face up to 175 years in jail.

Assange got over 250,000 papers in the “Cablegate” leak, which were secret cables from the US State Department. The information was disclosed to Wikileaks by then-American soldier Chelsea Manning, and it revealed the inner workings of US diplomacy throughout the globe.

According to the open letter, the attitude on Assange’s indictment changed under previous U.S. President Donald Trump, when the DoJ relied on archaic legislation, the Espionage Act of 1917, which had never been invoked against a publisher or broadcaster before.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent and threatens to undermine America’s first amendment and the freedom of the press,” the letter said.

Republicans did exactly that, spending millions on advertising that highlighted instances of violent crime and blamed Democrats, such as John Fetterman, who is running for US Senate in Pennsylvania. According to the Washington Post, Republicans spent roughly $50 million on crime-related advertisements between September 5 and October 25, greatly outspending Democrats on the topic.

The network’s concentration on a single subject in the run-up to an election is nothing new, according to Gertz. He said that the Ebola epidemic became a recurring topic on Fox News in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections, with the network blaming Barack Obama for the virus’s spread.

Trump involved in all of this?

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In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s emails became a major subject, while Fox News capitalized on a so-called “migrant caravan” in 2018, using it to buttress Donald Trump’s midterm election pitch that the nation needed more Republicans to pass harsher immigration regulations, as reported by newslaundry.

The publishers further said their concerns over press freedom, “Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information, when necessary, in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”