In a few days, Home Secretary Priti Patel will announce whether or not Wikileaks Founder, journalist and publisher Julian Assange should be extradited to the US after the UK Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal based on the grounds of his health. A few weeks earlier, on the 14th March, the court stated that his appeal had ‘no arguable legal grounds.’
In his blog, former British Ambassador Craig Murray surmises that despite a few libertarian members in the Tory Party, Priti Patel “has not a libertarian thought in her head and appears to revel in deportation” and so does not have much hope for a decision in Julian’s favour. However, the legal to and fro will not end if Patel agrees to his extradition.
I recommend Craig Murray’s excellent blog which details the legal avenues still open to Julian Assange. The long and short of it however is that Julian Assange could finally take to the High Court appeals based on the breach of UNHCR Article 10 – Right of Freedom of Speech, misuse of the extradition treaty and of the US Espionage Act etc. If this were to happen, the question of whether a journalist publishing evidence of war crimes should be extradited by the State which committed those crimes would be front and centre.
Julian Assange’s legal persecution has been Kafkaesque to say the least. The decade long ordeal has taken an enormous toll on Julian’s health and well being, but determined to stand strong and united with his family, he recently married his long term partner and mother to his two young sons, Stella Morris at Belmarsh Prison.
The importance of his case cannot be overstated. In my opinion, mainstream journalists failed to see or at any rate report on how it could impact on journalism and publishing until quite recently. I suspect that due to the lack of a strong and united resistance encompassing the UK press and broadcasting journalists, the government has been emboldened to raise the possibility of altering the Official Secrets Act, further eroding press freedom and freedom of speech, potentially equating unauthorised disclosures with espionage for whistleblowers as well as journalists.
Journalists, their sources and publishers’ freedom to publish information in the public interest should be protected at all costs, whether they are independent, alternative or in the traditional media. The authoritarian power grab by the British government and other governments around the world, clearly demonstrated over the past two years, should be a warning that a rogue administration or regime can have a devastating effect on the freedom and well being of it’s public. Without freedom of press and freedom of speech, abuses of power, all manner of crimes and malfeasance would not be exposed to the light of day and a totalitarian system would be guaranteed.
(Featured Image: “Julian Assange Wikileaks named Man of the Year by Le Monde” by Abode of Chaos is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)