RSF delivers global petition urging UK Home Secretary to reject extradition of Julian Assange
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has delivered a petition of nearly 64,000 signatures from around the world, gathered in only four weeks, calling on UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to reject the extradition of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange to the United States.
On 17 and 18 May, RSF representatives in seven countries delivered a petition signed by nearly 64,000 #FreeAssange supporters around the world (between the international and German versions), urging Patel not to sign the extradition order and instead act to protect journalism and press freedom by releasing Assange without further delay.
In London, RSF gathered with other NGOs who had signed a separate joint letter to Patel, to attempt to deliver the petition directly to the Home Office, which refused to accept it. RSF instead submitted it via email and in the post. Representatives of RSF also delivered the petition to the British embassies in Washington, D.C., Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rio and Algiers.
“We are grateful to supporters from around the world for signing this petition and adding their voices to the global call on the UK government not to extradite Julian Assange. The message is clear: a move to extradite Assange would be a move against journalism and press freedom. We call on Priti Patel to reject the extradition order and secure Assange’s immediate release, and will continue our global campaign until he is free,” said RSF Director of Operations and Campaigns Rebecca Vincent.
Following a four-week period for submissions given to Assange’s defence after the 20 April order of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, from 18 May onwards, Patel could sign or reject the extradition order at any point.
If extradited to the United States, Assange would be prosecuted on 18 charges related to Wikileaks’ publication in 2010 of hundreds of thousands of leaked classified documents, informing extensive public interest reporting around the world. He could face up to 175 years in prison, and would be the first publisher prosecuted under the Espionage Act, which lacks a public interest defence.