Today was a dark day for global press freedom. The UK Home secretary Priti Patel has signed the extradition to send Australian journalist Julian Assange to the US, the same country who reportedly plotted to assassinate him, and has charged him for publishing leaked evidence of their war crimes. The Guardian’s Editorial says the decision ‘ought to worry anyone who cares about journalism and democracy.’
Every major Human Rights group has called for Assange’s release. The International Federation of Journalists, representing over 600,000 journalists tweeted ‘The UK decision to allow the extradition of Assange is vindictive and a real blow to media freedom. He has simply exposed issues that were in the public interest and Patel’s failure to acknowledge this is shameful and sets a terrible precedent.’
The New Zealand Government can no longer remain silent on this case. A4A’s Matt Ó Branáin asked, ‘what will our government’s position be when it’s a New Zealand investigative journalist being imprisoned or extradited? What will this total lack of accountability mean the next time the US asks us to send our troops to die in another war?’. The Guardian warns this ‘potentially opens the door for journalists anywhere in the world to be extradited to the US for exposing information deemed classified by Washington.’ We cannot allow a legal precedent to be set that the US can throw anyone, anywhere in jail for revealing state crimes.
Aotearoa 4 Assange’s Matt Ó Branáin said: ‘We reiterate our call for PM Jacinda Ardern to stand with Australian PM Albanese’s calls for our allies the UK and US to bring an end to this, and bring Assange home.’