Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Supporters of Julian Assange rally outside of a court hearing in London

Supporters of Julian Assange protest outside of a court hearing on April 20, 2022 in London. (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

'Journalism Is Not a Crime': Outrage as Judge Approves Assange Extradition to US

"Extraditing Julian Assange to face allegations of espionage for publishing classified information would set a dangerous precedent and leave journalists everywhere looking over their shoulders."

Jake Johnson

A British judge on Wednesday officially approved the U.S. government's request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces espionage charges for publishing classified material that exposed war crimes by American forces.

"The charges against Assange should never have been brought in the first place."

The judge's new and widely expected procedural order, the culmination of a drawn-out legal battle, places the final decision on Assange's extradition in the hands of U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel, leaving the WikiLeaks publisher with dwindling options to fight his removal to the U.S.—where he could be hit with a 175-year prison sentence.

Patel is expected to make a final decision by May 18, after which Assange can attempt to appeal via judicial review, Reuters reported Wednesday. As Patel weighs the extradition order, Assange will remain jailed in a high-security London prison, where he has languished for years under conditions that experts have condemned as torture.

Human rights organizations wasted no time urging Patel to reject the extradition order. Allowing it to proceed, they warned, would endanger press freedoms around the world, given that the charges against Assange seek to punish a common journalistic practice.

"Publishing information that is in the public interest is a cornerstone of media freedom," said Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International. "Extraditing Julian Assange to face allegations of espionage for publishing classified information would set a dangerous precedent and leave journalists everywhere looking over their shoulders."

"The charges against Assange should never have been brought in the first place. It is not too late for the U.S. authorities to set things right and drop the charges," said Callamard. "In the meantime, given the politically motivated nature of the case and its grave implications for freedom of expression, the U.K. should refrain from representing the USA in any further appeals."

The Espionage Act charges against Assange were originally brought by the Trump administration. Despite pleas from press freedom groups and progressive leaders across the globe, the Biden administration has opted to continue pushing for Assange's extradition and prosecution.

"The home secretary must act now to protect journalism."

Rebecca Vincent, director of operations and campaigns at Reporters Without Borders, stressed in a statement Wednesday that "the next four weeks will prove crucial in the fight to block extradition and secure the release of Julian Assange."

"We are seeking to unite those who care about journalism and press freedom to hold the U.K. government to account," Vincent added. "The home secretary must act now to protect journalism and adhere to the U.K.'s commitment to media freedom by rejecting the extradition order and releasing Assange."

In January 2021, a British judge rejected the Trump administration's request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to face espionage charges, citing the country's horrific prison conditions.

But the Biden administration successfully appealed the ruling, and last month the U.K. Supreme Court rejected Assange's request to file an appeal of his own.

"The U.K. has an obligation not to send any person to a place where their life or safety is at risk, and the government must not abdicate that responsibility," Callamard said Wednesday. "The U.S. authorities have flatly stated that they will change the terms of Assange's imprisonment in a federal facility whenever they see fit."

"This admission," she warned, "places Julian Assange at great risk of prison conditions that could result in irreversible harm to his physical and psychological well-being."

This story has been updated with comments from Agnes Callamard of Amnesty International.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo