WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be freed as US ‘considering’ dropping prosecution

United States President Joe Biden has suggested he is “considering” stopping the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he fights against extradition.

Assange faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, after the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

He has now spent five years incarcerated in Belmarsh prison in London, while fighting a lengthy legal battle to avoid being extradited.

Biden told reporters at the White House on Wednesday: “We’re considering it,” when asked about a request from the Australian government to drop the prosecution.

 

Assange was taken to Belmarsh prison in London five years ago, after being dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he stayed while fighting being taken to the US.

Events will be held on Thursday to mark the anniversay as his friends and family continue to campaign for his release.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, stated: “The campaign to free Julian Assange is supported by the Australian government, the world’s leading human rights and journalists’ organisations, global world leaders and the Pope.

“It is not too late for President Biden to stop Julian’s extradition to the US, which was a politically motivated act by his predecessor.”

 

“By dropping the charges against Julian he will be protecting freedom of expression and the rights of journalists and publishers globally.”

“We urge him to end this legal process, to free Julian and to recognise that journalism is not a crime.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been pressing for Assange’s release for the past few months.

In February, Mr Albanese voted in favour of a motion in the Australian House of Representatives that called on the US and the UK to bring the “matter to a close so that Mr Assange can return home to his family in Australia”, the Associated Press reported.

Assange is waiting to hear if he can launch a final appeal against extradition. Mr Biden’s comment was described as “encouraging” by Assange’s lawyer.

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