By Dave DeCamp
Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and James McGovern (D-MA) are circulating letters in the House urging their colleagues to join them in demanding that President Biden drop the charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Fox News Digital reported on Monday.
In the letter to fellow House members, Massia and McGovern ask them to join them to “strongly encourage the Biden administration to withdraw the US extradition request currently pending against Australian publisher Julian Assange and halt all prosecutorial proceedings against him as soon as possible.”
Assange, who has been held in London’s Belmarsh prison since April 2019, faces up to 175 years if extradited to the US and convicted for exposing US war crimes. He’s been charged under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents he received from a source, a standard journalistic practice, meaning his conviction would have grave implications for press freedom in the US and around the world.
Bank in April, seven House Democrats led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for the Justice Department to drop its pursuit of Assange. Massie and McGovern mention Tlaib’s effort in their letter that will be sent to President Biden once signatures are collected.
“Last April, several Members of Congress argued to Attorney General Merrick Garland that ‘every day that the prosecution of Julian Assange continues is another day that our own government needlessly undermines our own moral authority abroad and rolls back the freedom of the press under the First Amendment at home.’” the Massie-McGovern letter reads.
The bipartisan effort comes as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is in Washington and is expected to push for an end to the persecution of Assange, who is an Australian citizen. The Australian government has stepped up its lobbying efforts to secure Assange’s freedom in recent months. In September, a cross-party delegation of Australian members of parliament visited Washington to press the issue.
The Massie-McGovern letter warns of the danger to press freedoms that comes with the pursuit of Assange. “It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of government,” the letter reads. “The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalizing common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press. We urge you to ensure that this case be brought to a close in as timely a manner as possible.”
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave. View all posts by Dave DeCamp
Image: Common Dreams
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Originally Posted at www.activistpost.com