Biden fortsätter söka utvisning av Assange

10 februari, 2021

Under Obama-administrationen valde amerikanska regeringen att inte åtala Julian Assange för brott mot Espionage Act, eftersom man insåg farorna det skulle innebära för pressfriheten i landet att åtala någon för att ha publicerat hemligt material.

”The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists.”

Matthew Miller, talesperson för Obamas justitiedepartement och supporter av Joe Biden

Under Trump-administrationen kastades denna försiktighet ut och Assange åtalades, vilket ledde till att han blev utkastad från Ecuadors ambassad. Efter det har USA ansökt om att han ska utvisas från Storbritannien till USA för rättegång. Fallet pågår fortfarande, men första instans avgjorde till Assanges fördel.

Nu har Biden-administrationen gått ut med att man tänker fortsätta åtalet mot Assange och överklaga domen från första instans, trots farorna detta innebär för pressfriheten. Inte bara i USA, utan indirekt i hela världen – Assange är inte amerikansk medborgare och har inte varit i USA när han publicerat amerikanska hemligheter.

Piratpartiet är det enda svenska parti som otvetydigt menar att visselblåsare och journalistiken de möjliggör är fundamentala för demokratin, samt att åtalet mot Julian Assange är ett hot mot pressfriheten.

Öppet brev från människorättsorganisationer

En tung lista av organisationer verksamma inom området medborgerliga rättigheter, yttrandefrihet och pressfrihet har undertecknat ett brev till Biden om situationen. Såhär skriver bland annat ACLU, Amnesty, EFF, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Human RIghts Watch och Reportrar utan gränser:

We, the undersigned press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights advocacy organizations, write today to share our profound concern about the ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings relating to Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

While our organizations have different perspectives on Mr. Assange and his organization, we share the view that the government’s indictment of him poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad. We urge you to drop the appeal of the decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court to reject the Trump administration’s extradition request. We also urge you to dismiss the underlying indictment.

The indictment of Mr. Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in — in order to do the work the public needs them to do. Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices.

In addition, some of the charges included in the indictment turn entirely on Mr. Assange’s decision to publish classified information. News organizations frequently and necessarily publish classified information in order to inform the public of matters of profound public significance. We appreciate that the government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national security interests, but the proceedings against Mr. Assange jeopardize journalism that is crucial to democracy.

The Trump administration positioned itself as an antagonist to the institution of a free and unfettered press in numerous ways. Its abuse of its prosecutorial powers was among the most disturbing. We are deeply concerned about the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged — perhaps by a future administration — against publishers and journalists of all stripes. Major news organizations share this concern, which is why the announcement of charges against Assange in May 2019 was met with vociferous and nearly universal condemnation from virtually every major American news outlet, even though many of those news outlets have criticized Mr. Assange in the past.

It is our understanding that senior officials in the Obama administration shared this concern as well. Former Department of Justice spokesperson Matthew Miller told the Washington Post in 2013, “The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists.” It was reportedly the press freedom implications of any prosecution of Mr. Assange that led Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to decide against indicting him after considering doing so.

It is unfortunately the case that press freedom is under threat globally. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we protect a robust and adversarial press — what Judge Murray Gurfein in the Pentagon Papers case memorably called a “cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press” — in the United States and abroad. With this end in mind, we respectfully urge you to forgo the appeal of Judge Baraitser’s ruling, and to dismiss the indictment of Mr. Assange.