New York Times, European news outlets call on US to drop charges against Assange
A number of the world’s leading news organization, including The New York Times, are urging the U.S. government to drop charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, citing First Amendment concerns.
In an open letter from the Times, the United Kingdom’s The Guardian, France’s Le Monde, Spain’s El País and Germany’s Der Spiegel, the media companies argued charges against Assange should be dropped.
Assange was arrested in London in April 2019 on a U.S. warrant and charged under the Espionage Act following the publication of a series of classified materiel that revealed “corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale,” the outlets noted.
“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” the outlets said. “Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”
Prosecutors have alleged that Assange helped Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, steal classified diplomatic cables and other material that was later released by WikiLeaks.
The WikiLeaks founder has fought for years in British court to avoid being sent to the U.S. to face the charges, and in July appealed against extradition to the U.S.