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26 Feb, 2020 18:23

Press freedom will be ‘thing of the past’ if British help Americans get their way with Assange – Irish MEP

Press freedom will be ‘thing of the past’ if British help Americans get their way with Assange – Irish MEP

Irish MEP Mick Wallace slammed US prosecutors for “undermining” international law” during Julian Assange extradition hearings and warned that, if the whistleblower is extradited, freedom of the press will be a “thing of the past.”

Speaking outside Woolwich Crown Court on the third day of the preliminary hearings, Wallace said James Lewis QC, acting for the US government, was putting international law and freedom of the press “under serious threat.”

If the Americans get their way with the complicity of the British, freedom of the press will be a thing of the past.

Lewis argued on Wednesday that British courts can’t apply rights from international treaties which have not been established in English domestic law. He was making the case that a US-UK extradition treaty which prohibits extradition for “political offenses” is superseded by the UK’s Extradition Act of 2003, which does not contain the same provision. 

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Wallace said that Assange’s case was clearly an international one and that international law cannot be ignored or undermined. He said the case would likely go to multiple appeals and questioned whether the WikiLeaks founder, who has suffered ill health and alleged inhumane treatment in the top-security Belmarsh Prison, would survive more years locked up.

“His only crime is exposing the truth about US war crimes. You cannot shout it loudly enough,” he said.

Assange’s father John Shipton also spoke outside the court after the third day of hearings wrapped up, asking journalists to “advance the case that Julian get bail immediately.”

A spokesperson for Reporters Without Borders said the press freedom organization was concerned that the prosecution was arguing the international law does not apply in Assange’s case. She said it “does apply” and Assange faces “politically motivated” charges in the US.

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