Press Release

March 28, 2024: ICHRRF urges the U.S. to honor Press freedom and drop charges against Julian Assange

The ICHRRF today urged U.S. Government to reconsider the charges against imprisoned Wikileaks journalist Julian Assange. The Board considers the ongoing persecution and impending extradition of Assange a gross violation of fundamental democratic freedom of the Press. 

Julian Assange shot to international fame after his series of exposes during his work with Wikileaks. His work exposed past and ongoing actions by the United States and other governments that amount to war crimes and serious breaches of international law. Such investigative work and publishing exposes are a standard part of investigative journalism in all democratic societies.

Nevertheless, the U.S. has unfairly charged him with publishing the leaked but confidential US documents invoking the highly controversial concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction. He has since been held in a high security prison in Belmarsh, in the United Kingdom, pending extradition to the United States. He is coming upon nearly 6 years of imprisonment without conviction.

If Assange is extradited to the U.S., the violations of his basic Human Rights will only get worse by all estimates. He is likely to be subjected to solitary confinement, and detention conditions that could amount to torture. The unjust treatment meted to Julian Assange by both US and UK governments puts them in league with the likes of totalitarian governments of China, North Korea and Iran.

The ICHRRF Board Members said that such actions by the U.S. Government and its democratic allies are certain to send out a chilling message to the journalist community worldwide and spell doom for the freedom of the press. A free Press is a pillar of democratic government, and this ongoing saga is severely undermining that freedom and courage. It is more than likely that independent investigative journalists will self-censor out of fear of repercussions and fear of prosecution making democracy a joke.

ICHRRF acknowledges the need to strike a balance between the geopolitical reality and the humane demands of democratic societies. However, this precedent of Julian Assange and his treatment by multiple democratic governments comes at a time when mainstream Western media already stands heavily discredited, both internationally and domestically. Therefore, there is a strong need for Western governments to step back and honor Julian’s contributions and his democratic intentions and take its consequences in stride while strengthening their societies internally through a spirit of freedom and trusteeship.