UN voices concern over Assange extradition case
The extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US could have a “chilling effect” on investigative journalism, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said.
Assange’s legal team filed an appeal on Friday to stop his extradition from Britain to the US, where he faces up to 175 years in jail if found guilty on espionage charges.
A London court ruled in April that Assange, who remains in Belmarsh Prison, can be handed over to the US.
“The potential extradition and prosecution of Mr. Assange raises concerns relating to media freedom and a possible chilling effect on investigative journalism and on the activities of whistleblowers,” Bachelet said in a statement on Sunday after meeting with Assange’s wife and lawyers.
“In these circumstances, I would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring respect [for] Mr. Assange’s human rights, in particular the right to a fair trial and due process guarantees in this case,” she added.
“My office will continue to closely follow Assange’s case.”
Assange’s legal team argues that he is being “prosecuted and punished for his political opinions.” Lawyer Jennifer Robinson said the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary. “There is still a long way to go in terms of our appeals,” Robinson told Australia’s Channel 10 on Sunday.
Throughout its history, WikiLeaks released numerous classified government records, including footage of alleged war crimes committed by US troops in Iraq.
British authorities arrested Assange in 2019 after he had spent nearly seven years hiding inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.