UK: Assange’s release is a massive boost for free speech

Source: IJAS

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes Julian Assange’s release on 24 June as a significant victory for media freedom. The dropping of 17 of the 18 charges that he faced avoids the criminalisation of the normal journalistic practices of encouraging sources to confidentially share evidence of wrongdoing and criminality.


It should also allow the object of one of the most overblown prosecutions in history to enjoy a normal life for the first time in 14 years, including 1901 days in jail. 


The IFJ has campaigned for the release of Assange since the publication of US charges against him in 2019. An IFJ observer has attended every day of his extradition hearings, providing reporting and commentary on proceedings. And on 18 June the IFJ’s executive mounted a protest outside HMP Belmarsh in the UK where Assange was held – probably the last ever prison-gate protest for the Wikileaks founder.


IFJ President Dominique Pradalié said: “Julian Assange is free. Victory for the right to inform and to be informed. Victory for journalists around the world.”


IFJ General secretary Anthony Bellanger added: “The attempted prosecution of Julian Assange cast a dark shadow over journalists, particularly those who cover national security issues. Had Assange gone to prison for the rest of his life, any reporter handed a classified document would fear facing a similar fate.”


Assange’s plea deal substantially lifts that threat – “although more than 500 journalists remain in prison around the world,” says IFJ.


Source: IFJ 




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