NEW YORK—A British high court today ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to the U.S. to face charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The decision overturns a decision earlier this year rejecting the request. Assange’s case is the first in which the U.S. government has relied on the Espionage Act as the basis for the prosecution of a publisher.
The following response can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, executive director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
“We continue to have profound concerns about the press-freedom implications of this prosecution. This is the first time the government has sought to use the Espionage Act against a publisher. In addition, the indictment focuses in large part on activities that investigative journalists engage in routinely. The message of the indictment is that these activities are not just unprotected by the First Amendment but criminal under the Espionage Act. The Trump administration should never have filed this indictment, and we call on the Biden administration again to withdraw it.”
Jaffer submitted expert testimony to the U.K. court about the press freedom implications of the Assange indictment. Read the testimony here.
Earlier this year, the Knight Institute joined a coalition of press freedom, civil liberties, and human rights groups that formally asked the Justice Department to abandon the government’s appeal of the lower court’s decision and dismiss the underlying indictment. Read the letter here.
For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, communications director, [email protected].