Publication is not a crime': media group urges US to drop Julian Assange charges

The first outlets to publish WikiLeaks material, including the Guardian, have banded together to oppose the prosecution

The US government should stop prosecuting WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange because it undermines press freedom, according to the media organization that first helped him publish the leaked diplomatic cables.

Twelve years ago today, the Guardian, New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El País collaborated to release excerpts from 250,000 documents obtained by Assange in the "Cablegate" leak. The material, which was leaked to WikiLeaks by then American soldier Chelsea Manning, sheds light on the workings of US diplomacy around the world.

The editors and publishers of the media organization that first published the disclosures have banded together to publicly oppose plans to prosecute Assange under a law designed to prosecute spies for the first world war.

“Publishing is not a crime,” they said, saying prosecution was a direct attack on media freedom.

Assange has been held at Belmarsh prison in south London since his arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019. He had spent the previous seven years living inside a diplomatic building to avoid arrest after failing to turn himself in to a British court on matters relating to a separate case.

The UK Home Secretary at the time, Priti Patel, approved Assange's extradition to the US in June but his lawyers are appealing against this decision.

Under Barack Obama, the US government indicated it would not sue Assange over the 2010 leaks because a precedent would be set. The media is now calling on President Joe Biden's administration – then vice president – ​​to drop the charges.

The complete letter was sent by the media organization

Publishing is not a crime: The US government should end its lawsuit against Julian Assange for publishing secrets.

Twelve years ago, on November 28, 2010, five of our international media outlets – the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El País and Der Spiegel – published a series of disclosures in collaboration with WikiLeaks that made headlines around the world.

“Cablegate”, a collection of 251,000 secret telegrams from the US state department, exposes corruption, diplomatic scandals, and espionage affairs on an international scale.

In the words of the New York Times, the documents tell "the ineffable story of how the government made its biggest decision, the decision that cost the country the most in terms of life and money." Even now in 2022, journalists and historians continue to publish new revelations, using a unique set of documents.

For Julian Assange, publisher of WikLeaks, the publication of "Cablegate" and several other related leaks had the most dire consequences. On April 12, 2019, Assange was arrested in London on a US arrest warrant, and has now been held for three and a half years in a high-security British prison normally used for terrorists and members of organized crime groups. He faces extradition to the US and a sentence of up to 175 years in an American maximum security prison.

This group of editors and publishers, all of whom have worked with Assange, felt the need to publicly criticize his behavior in 2011 when the unedited cable copy was released, and some of us are concerned about the accusations in the indictment that he is trying to commit. assistance in computer intrusion of secret databases. But we come together now to express our deep concern about the continued prosecution of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing classified material.

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