The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has tarnished Britain’s reputation as a defender of press freedom, site director Christine Hrfson said on Friday.
Assange, 49, is being held in a prison near London, and British justice is awaiting a US appeal against his refusal to extradite him to that country.
“It’s true that Julian’s prison is undermining Britain’s ability to declare that it represents freedom of the press around the world,” Hroffson told a group of international journalists ahead of World Press Freedom Day, which is being celebrated around the world. Years.
In April 2019, British police arrested an Australian man who had spent seven years in prison at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He took refuge there while on bail. He was wanted by Sweden on a rape charge and has already been withdrawn, although he said he would be extradited to the United States for intelligence.
Assange, who has the backing of numerous organizations defending press freedom, has been serving 175 years in prison in the United States since 2010 for releasing more than 700,000 classified documents, mainly about military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Washington has accused the US of endangering the lives of intellectuals, an accusation he denies.
Hroffson said the allegations against Assange, brought under former President Donald Trump, set a dangerous precedent for the international press.
He reassured Russia and Azerbaijan that the United States and the United Kingdom were relying on Assange’s treatment of freedom of expression and the press, which could be exploited by other countries in the future.
For his part, Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for Assange’s legal team, expressed concern about his health.
Belmarsh said his conditions in the maximum security prison were “very difficult” and he was “very isolated”.
Robinson and Hrafson called on the US government to drop the allegations against Assange, and the Australian government should do more to defend its cause.
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