Britain’s home secretary approved an order to extradite the Australian man who angered the Obama-Biden administration by publishing unfavorable news.
Julian Assange is an Australian editor who founded WikiLeaks, which published a number of documents and videos that embarrassed the U.S. government beginning in 2010.
A video was released claiming to show U.S. soldiers killing unarmed civilians after the telephoto lens carried by a Reuters journalist was mistaken for an RPG. The video shows many of the men were carrying AK-47s and one appeared to have an RPG, but the leaked footage from the chopper that fired the rounds set off a political firestorm.
Assange next worked with many established Western publications to release almost a quarter of a million U.S. diplomatic cables. The Obama-Biden administration came under fire as the leaked cables revealed the U.S. was spying on the United Nations and leaders of many allied countries.
Publishing information obtained from the cables angered administration officials, but when the complete cables were released by Assange in 2011, the U.S. government requested his extradition to face legal charges.
The Australian man fled to England but was arrested there and the process to extradite him to America was begun. While out on bail, Assange requested political asylum from the Ecuadorian embassy in June 2012.
Justice Department officials said later that Assange would not likely be prosecuted for leaking the cables, according to a November 2013 Washington Post report.
“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,” former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller reportedly said. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”
The U.S. government charged Assange under the Espionage Act in 2019 for his 2010 role in obtaining and publishing classified government documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on WikiLeaks.
Eventually, relations soured between Ecuadorian embassy officials and Assange to the point where British police were invited into the embassy to arrest him. After the WikiLeaks editor was arrested for violating his bond, the extradition process resumed in earnest.
Stella Moris, Assange’s wife, has pledged to fight the decision, declaring: “I’m going to use every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free.”
Moris argued the U.K. should not engage in prosecution on behalf of a foreign power that is out for revenge.
“Julian has done nothing wrong,” exclaimed Assange’s wife. “He has done anything that any self-respecting journalist should do. When given evidence of a state committing crimes, of corruption, they publish it because their duty is to the public.”
She noted that her husband has already spent three years in a British prison for performing what he viewed as his duty and faces up to another 175 years if convicted in the U.S.
“If he’s extradited to the US, the conditions he will be under will be oppressive,” claimed Moris. “It will drive him to take his own life. That’s not simply a regular discussion about mental health.”
“We are talking about driving a person to take their own life.”
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