Letter From Prominent Americans Urges Ecuador to Accept Assange Asylum Request

A group of prominent Americans have signed a letter urging Ecuador to accept an asylum request from Julian Assange, who faces extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault charges, saying that his case represents an "attack on press freedom" and that his health and well-being are at serious risk.

The letter to President Correa signed by notable figures including Michael Moore, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, Coleen Rowley and Sibel Edmonds was hand-delivered to the Embassy of Ecuador in London on Monday by Just Foreign Policy's Policy Director Robert Naiman.

The letter states, "We believe Mr. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, as there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, he would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States."

Further, "Were he charged, and found guilty under the Espionage Act, Assange could face the death penalty."

The letter concludes stating that "this is a clear case of an attack on press freedom and on the public's right to know important truths about U.S. foreign policy."

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June 25, 2012

Dear President Correa,

We are writing to urge you to grant political asylum to Julian Assange.

As you know, British courts recently struck down Mr. Assange's appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he is not wanted on criminal charges, but merely for questioning. Mr. Assange has repeatedly made clear he is willing to answer questions relating to accusations against him, but in the United Kingdom. But the Swedish government insists that he be brought to Sweden for questioning. This by itself, as Swedish legal expert and former Chief District Prosecutor for Stockholm Sven-Erik Alhem testified, is "unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate."

We believe Mr. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, as there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, he would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States.

As U.S. legal expert and commentator Glenn Greenwald recently noted, were Assange to be charged in Sweden, he would be imprisoned under "very oppressive conditions, where he could be held incommunicado," rather than released on bail. Pre-trial hearings for such a case in Sweden are held in secret, and so the media and wider public, Greenwald notes, would not know how the judicial decisions against Mr. Assange would be made and what information would be considered.

The Washington Post has reported that the U.S. Justice Department and Pentagon conducted a criminal investigation into "whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange violated criminal laws in the group's release of government documents, including possible charges under the Espionage Act." Many fear, based on documents released by Wikileaks, that the U.S. government has already prepared an indictment and is waiting for the opportunity to extradite Assange from Sweden.

The U.S. Justice Department has compelled other members of Wikileaks to testify before a grand jury in order to determine what charges might be brought against Mr. Assange. The U.S. government has made clear its open hostility to Wikileaks, with high-level officials even referring to Mr. Assange as a "high-tech terrorist," and seeking access to the Twitter account of Icelandic legislator Birgitta Jonsdottir due to her past ties to Wikileaks.

Were he charged, and found guilty under the Espionage Act, Assange could face the death penalty.

Prior to that, the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of providing U.S. government documents to Wikileaks, provides an illustration of the treatment that Assange might expect while in custody. Manning has been subjected to repeated and prolonged solitary confinement, harassment by guards, and humiliating treatment such as being forced to strip naked and stand at attention outside his cell. These are additional reasons that your government should grant Mr. Assange political asylum.

We also call on you to grant Mr. Assange political asylum because the "crime" that he has committed is that of practicing journalism. He has revealed important crimes against humanity committed by the U.S. government, most notably in releasing video footage from an Apache helicopter of a 2007 incident in which the U.S. military appears to have deliberately killed civilians, including two Reuters employees. Wikileaks' release of thousands of U.S. State Department cables revealed important cases of U.S. officials acting to undermine democracy and human rights around the world.

Because this is a clear case of an attack on press freedom and on the public's right to know important truths about U.S. foreign policy, and because the threat to his health and well-being is serious, we urge you to grant Mr. Assange political asylum.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Michael Moore, Film Director

Danny Glover, Film Director

Oliver Stone, Film Director

Bill Maher, Comedian, Television Host, Political Commentator, Author

Naomi Wolf, Author

Daniel Ellsberg, Vietnam War Whistleblower

Glenn Greenwald, Constitutional lawyer and columnist, Salon.com

Noam Chomsky

Patch Adams, MD

Chris Hedges, Journalist

Jemima Khan, British Writer and Campaigner

Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent & former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel, one of three "whistleblowers" named Time Magazine's "Persons of the Year" in 2002

Ann Wright, US Army Colonel (Retired) and former US diplomat

Ray McGovern, Former U.S. Army officer and longtime senior CIA analyst (ret.)

Thomas Drake, NSA Whistleblower, Bill of Rights Activist

Sibel Edmonds, Founder & Director- National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (www.nswbc.org )

Linda Lewis, Board Member, Whistleblower Support Fund

Kent Spriggs, Guantanamo habeas counsel

Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights Director, Government Accountability Project

Jacob Appelbaum, Developer, The Tor Project

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, Global Exchange

Kathy Kelly, Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action

Mark Johnson, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Annie Bird, co director, Rights Action

Denis J. Halliday, UN Assistant Secretary-General 1994-98. National of Ireland

Leslie Cagan, co-founder, United for Peace and Justice

Bill Fletcher, Jr., Co-author, "Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and A New Path Toward Social Justice"

Kevin Gosztola, writer for Firedoglake, co-author, Truth & Consequences: The US vs. Bradley Manning

Russ Wellen, Foreign Policy in Focus

James Early, Board Member, Institute for Policy Studies

Jim Naureckas, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

Sam Husseini, Director, Washington Office of the Institute for Public Accuracy

Robert Naiman, Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy

Jane Hirschmann, Jews Say No! New York, organizer, U.S. Boat to Gaza

Richard Levy, lawyer, passenger, U.S. Boat to Gaza

Kit Kittredge, Passenger, US Boat to Gaza

Erin Deramus, passenger, U.S. Boat to Gaza

Nic Abramson, passenger, U.S. Boat to Gaza

Helaine Meisler, Orton-Gillingham Learning Specialist, Helaine Meisler Learning Center, Woodstock, New York

Laurie Arbeiter, Artist/Activist, WE WILL NOT BE SILENT

Johnny Barber, Photographer/Activist

Gail Miller, Social Worker/Activist, Women of a Certain Age

Carol Murry, Doctor of Public Health, Hawaii

Libor Von Schonau, OccupyWallStreet Legal, New York

Charlotte Wiktorsson, Doctor, Sweden

David K. Schermerhorn, Deer Harbor, WA, passenger, U.S. Boat to Gaza

Hedy Epstein, St. Louis, passenger, U.S. Boat to Gaza

Paki Wieland, MA, passenger, U.S. Boat to Gaza

Felice Gelman, Wespac, New York

Linda Durham, Founder, The Wonder Institute

Winston Weeks, Policy Analyst, Citizens Education Project, Salt Lake City, UT

Ellen Barfield, Veterans For Peace

Gar W. Lipow, journalist, member of Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, author of Solving the Climate Crisis through Social Change

Stephen Sander, Lawyer, Sydney, Australia

Mayo C. Toruno, Professor and Chair, Economics Department, California State University, San Bernardino

Julio Huato, Associate Professor of Economics, St. Francis College

Michael Brun, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Illinois State University

James G. Devine, Professor of Economics, Loyola Marymount University

Michael A Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus, Economics (Canada)

Marta Harnecker, writer (Chile)

Dana Frank, Professor, Department of History, University of California, Santa Cruz

Adrienne Pine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, American University

Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor, Latin American History, Pomona College

Steve Ellner, Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University/Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela

Marc Becker, Professor of Latin American History, Truman State University

Dr Francisco Dominguez, Head of Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies, Middlesex University, London, UK

Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University London

Doug Hertzler, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Eastern Mennonite University

Arturo Escobar, Dept. of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Carolyn Eisenberg, Professor of US Foreign Policy, Hofstra University

Vijay Prashad, Professor of International Studies, Trinity College, USA

T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa

Ellen Schrecker, Professor of History, Yeshiva University

Antonia Darder, Leavey Endowed Chair of Ethics and Moral Leadership, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

Demetra Evangelou, Professor, Purdue University

Gilbert G. Gonzalez, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Irvine

Renate Bridenthal, Professor (retired), City University of New York

A. Belden Fields, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, University of Illinois

C. G. Estabrook, Visiting Professor (retired), University of Illinois

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