Five of the world’s leading news outlets have sent an open letter to US President Joe Biden asking him to drop the charges against Australian Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
The letter states the charges against him set a ‘dangerous precedent’, relating to receiving and publishing classified material that revealed war crimes, torture, and environmental crimes. Assange is currently in a maximum security prison in London, and hundreds of doctors warn he could ‘die in jail in the coming months’.
The New York Times used a photo of the Human Chain around British Parliament on October 8th, that New Zealander Matt Ó Branáin inspired. Ó Branáin welcomed the statement from the top Media brass saying ‘Joe Biden cannot run from this any longer. It would be a huge mistake to allow this disastrous prosecution to fall under his legacy. Free Speech is integral to the US identity and international respect.’
Ó Branáin renewed calls for Jacinda Ardern to intervene diplomatically with Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak, saying ‘the case imperils not only Global Press Freedom, but New Zealand journalists working or travelling abroad, the integrity and safety of our troops, and the broader New Zealand public’s right to know. Staying silent on this is complicity, and will not age well, especially if he dies in prison. The public awareness of the significance of this case is growing every day.’
The letter signed by five major media outlets states:
‘This indictment sets a dangerous precedent . . . Holding governments accountable is part of the core mission of a free press in a democracy. Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker. . . It is time for the U.S. government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.’
The letter was signed by the editors and publishers of:
The New York Times
More info: Aotearoa 4 Assange