Above photo: People celebrate after a UK judge ruled that Assange should not be extradited to the US, London, January 4, 2021. Henry Nicholls/Reuters.
The U.S. has filed an appeal with the High Court in London to reverse a decision by a British judge not to extradite the WikiLeaks publisher on health grounds.
The liberal administration of Joe Biden proved itself to be no less an enemy of press freedom than Donald Trump when it filed an appeal at the UK High Court on Friday to get their hands on the journalist Julian Assange.
The appeal seeks to overturn a decision by Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, who on Jan. 4, ruled that the WikiLeaks publisher was at heightened risk of suicide if he were to be extradited to the United States and face life in a U.S. super max prison.
Amnesty International on Thursday had joined an array of press freedom and human rights organizations, including Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch, in urging the Biden administration to drop the case against Assange. But it fell on deaf ears in Washington.
Biden was vice president in the Barack Obama administration, which decided not to prosecute Assange in 2011 essentially on press freedom grounds, reasoning that if it indicted Assange for journalistic activity, then it would have to also prosecute The New York Times and other mainstream media for the exact same activity. Biden has broken with his former administration.
Biden had another opportunity to show that he was the “decent” man his supporters say he is and to dissociate himself from the illiberal, indeed, extremist views of his predecessor. Instead this decision is in line with a politician who was the most important Democratic proponent of the illegal invasion of Iraq, whose war crimes Assange exposed.