Julian Assange: UK lawmakers ask Biden to drop charges against WikiLeaks founder

There is increasing pressure from the UK on the US not to try to extradite Assange.

The US still wants the extradition of Julian Assange.

A cross-party group of 24 British lawmakers wrote to President Joe Biden on Friday asking him to drop all charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The removal of the charges “will be an act that will be a clarion call for independence that will resonate around the world,” he said.

Together, lawmakers pointed out that while Biden was vice president, he was instrumental in choosing not to prosecute Assange over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the conditions at Guantanamo Bay. Despite this, he said, Biden – who is currently attending the G7 summit in the UK – has chosen not to drop the charges leveled against Assange during Donald Trump’s presidency.

“The case against Mr. Assange also undermines public confidence in our legal system,” the lawmakers wrote in an open letter. “Our countries are also facing the paradox of advocating for press freedom abroad while Mr. Assange was held for years in Britain’s most notorious prison at the request of the US government.”

White House representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Justice Department representative declined to comment.

Assange is wanted in the US on espionage charges and faces an 18-count indictment accusing him of conspiring to hack military databases to publish classified information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison, although the US government has said he could face four to six years in prison.

Back in January, a judge in the UK US attempt to extradite Assange halted on the basis of his mental health. The judges were concerned that Assange would try to kill himself if the US prison system was subjected to it.

As a result, Assange, who Abandoned Ecuadorian Embassy in London Belmarsh now faces a third year in a row in high-security prison after spending seven years there in April 2019. For 50 weeks into it he was serving a sentence to drop bail, but since he awaits news whether the US will drop charges against him. Assange’s lawyers are currently fighting to get him released.

One of the signatories, John McDonnell MP, said during Thursday’s parliamentary debate, “It is a constant stain on this country’s reputation that Julian Assange is in Belmarsh prison.” “There is no justifiable ground for imprisoning a journalist who dares to expose war crimes and human rights abuses.”

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