White House Deliberates Fate Of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

By Victor Smiroff | Friday, 12 April 2024 10:30 AM
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In a recent development, U.S. President Joe Biden has indicated that his administration is contemplating the Australian government's appeal to terminate the ongoing prosecution of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.

Assange, an Australian national, is currently battling extradition from the UK, where he has been detained for several years.

The Australian parliament's lower house had last month passed a resolution urging the U.S. to abandon the case against Assange. The US authorities have characterized Assange's organization, Wikileaks, as a "hostile non-state intelligence" entity. They allege that it aided Russia in meddling with the 2016 election to favor then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The question about the Australian request was posed to President Biden during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the White House. Responding to the query, Biden stated, "We're considering it."

The charges against Assange, a computer hacker by profession, originate from his collaboration with US soldier Chelsea Manning. In 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Assange on 18 counts of violating U.S. laws, including the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

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The prosecution asserts that Assange conspired with and aided Manning's attempts "to crack a password hash to a classified U.S. Department of Defense computer" during Manning's tenure as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.

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While some advocates of press freedom argue that Assange should be regarded as a journalist and thus be entitled to the protections typically accorded to journalists involved in news gathering and dissemination, critics have pointed out that Assange and Wikileaks have consistently worked with and accepted information from individuals and entities hostile to the U.S., including foreign governments aiming to harm American interests.

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Assange has been in British custody since 2019, when he was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He had sought refuge there for seven years to evade arrest on charges of bail jumping.

Although U.S. officials are currently seeking his extradition, a British court has suspended the case until the U.S. guarantees that Assange will not face the death penalty if convicted in an American court.

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