Sign the petition: Protect press freedom!
Petition to President Biden:
We urge you to drop the indictment of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing US military files deemed secret by the government in 2010. Prosecuting Assange under the Espionage Act would undermine the First Amendment domestically and threaten press freedoms worldwide!
A court in the UK ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the US to face criminal charges under the Espionage Act. The charges are based on Assange’s publication of true information that the US government had deemed secret. If successful, this prosecution would effectively criminalize investigative journalism. We’ve joined the ACLU and 22 other groups in calling on President Biden to drop the indictment immediately.1
As the New York Times Editorial Board wrote in 2019, the indictment is “aimed straight at the heart of the First Amendment.”2 The Times acknowledged that “Mr. Assange may not be the figure one would choose as the tribune of free speech.” Nevertheless, “this is the case the government has brought” — so it’s time to take a stand.
The charges in question date back to Assange’s 2010 publication of US military files leaked by former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning on the file sharing platform WikiLeaks. Manning served the longest prison sentence in US history for disclosing information in the public interest. Demand Progress members raised more than $50,000 for her legal fees and Welcome Home Fund.3 Now, the Biden administration is prepared to bring another unprecedented attack against Julian Assange for publishing information deemed secret by the government.
Sign the petition: President Biden must drop the indictment of Julian Assange to protect press freedom!
It would be the first time in the 150-year history of the law that someone has been prosecuted with felony charges for publishing truthful information — and it would be a First Amendment disaster.4
As the New York Times Editorial Board wrote last week, “equating the publication of classified materials received from government sources with espionage strikes at the very foundations of a free press and should be rejected by Mr. Biden.”5
Not only would the prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act criminalize US journalists’ right to expose government malfeasance, it would have dire consequences for global journalism as well. That’s because the indictment implies that the US government’s secrecy laws apply to foreign publishers. That standard could open the door to a dystopian situation in which despotic regimes attempt to prosecute journalists that write truthfully but unfavorably about their activities in other countries.6
Sign the petition: don’t prosecute Julian Assange!