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31 MEPs call on British government to stop Julian Assange's extradition

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31 Members of the European Parliament from several political groups have
sent an open letter to UK Home Secretary James Cleverly urging him to
stop the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the
United States. The letter was sent ahead of the upcoming court
hearing and possibly final court decision on 20 May 2024, which is
expected to decide Assange's fate.

The letter calls on the British government to accept its
responsibilities with regard to human rights and freedom of the
press. ‘The British government is spreading the myth that it is
exclusively for the courts to decide on Assange’s extradition.
Section 70 (2) of the UK Extradition Act however gives the Home
Secretary the power to refuse extradition if it would violate the
right to life or the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading
treatment in the European Convention on Human Rights,’ explained
Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer who initiated the letter. ‘Julian
Assange's mental health, the potential conditions of detention in the
US and the real risk of suicide upon extradition mean that
extradition would constitute such inhuman or degrading treatment.’

The MEPs also emphasise in their letter that the persecution of
Julian Assange is politically motivated. The provisions of the UK-US
extradition treaty rightly prohibit extradition for political
offences. The clearly political nature of this case is highlighted by
numerous and highly biased statements from leading US political
figures who have been calling for Mr Assange's extrajudicial
punishment or assassination since at least 2011.

Another point of criticism is the lack of a guarantee from the US
government that Mr Assange would be granted the same rights in court
as a US citizen. ‘Prosecuting a publisher in a country that may not
even recognise or apply the fundamental rights to freedom of
expression and freedom of the press is unacceptable,’ said Breyer.

The MEPs call on the British government to protect freedom of the
press and freedom of expression and to stop the extradition of Julian
Assange. They join major organisations such as Amnesty International
and Reporters Without Borders in calling for the immediate release of
Julian Assange.

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