Assange's Prosecution: Biden Signals Potential Shift in US Stance

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.11 - 2024 7:57 AM CET

Photo: E Ozcan /
Photo: E Ozcan /
Biden is considering waiving further prosecution of Assange.

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US President Joe Biden has announced that the United States is considering an Australian request to discontinue the prosecution of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who has spent years eluding US charges of espionage and secret betrayal.

"We’re thinking about it," Biden stated when asked at the White House, signaling a potential shift in the US stance towards Assange.

The Charges Against Assange

Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, has been at the center of a global debate over the limits of freedom of speech and the rights of journalists.

For years, the US government has sought the extradition of Assange, accusing him of espionage and endangering lives through the publication of secret materials related to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. These materials were allegedly obtained in collaboration with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Despite these accusations, his supporters hail him as a crusader for transparency, exposing misconduct by the US military.

Assange's extradition was recently blocked by the London High Court.

A Controversial Figure Seeking Refuge

Assange’s legal battle began when he took asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, aiming to avoid extradition to the US through Sweden, where he was accused of rape — allegations that were subsequently dropped.

Tagesschau, a German news outlet, reports that Assange’s primary concern has been US extradition and the potential for facing the death penalty.

After seven years in the embassy, changes in Ecuador’s government resulted in his arrest by British authorities in 2019. Since then, he has been fighting extradition to the US.

Australia has persistently called for an end to US legal proceedings against Assange, pushing for a humanitarian solution to his protracted legal struggle. Concerns about Assange's health and the risks of extradition have heightened these calls.

The London High Court has ruled against extradition without US assurances against the death penalty.

A Journalist or a Threat?

Supporters argue that Assange is an investigative journalist who exposed controversial US military actions, deserving protection under freedom of speech and press rights.

Stella Assange, his wife, has defended his actions as those of a whistleblower revealing the true costs of war, voicing concerns over his health decline in prison.

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have amplified calls for Assange’s release, highlighting the potential for mistreatment and the precedent it could set for media freedom worldwide.

Amnesty’s Agnès Callamard has called the prolonged legal battle unjust, urging the US to dismiss all charges against Assange.

"Julian Assange dared to bring to light revelations about alleged US war crimes. It is unacceptable that years of his life were stolen from him," said Amnesty International's Secretary General Agnès Callamard.

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