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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has joined a coalition of two dozen press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights organizations in urging the Biden Department of Justice to stop pursuing an appeal against the extradition decision and drop the charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
The full text of the letter is below.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
February 8, 2021
Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson:
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.