Leader of the UK opposition Jeremy Corbyn challenged Boris Johnson as to whether he agrees with a resolution by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange should not be extradited to the US.
Corbyn's query was part of a wider debate over what he called Britain's "lopsided" extradition treaty with the US, during Prime Minister's Questions on 12 February 2020.
“This deep disparity with the US is about to be laid bare when the courts decide whether the WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange will be extradited to the US on charges of espionage for exposing of war crimes, the murder of civilians and large scale corruption". Corbyn said.
Corbyn went on to ask Johnson whether he agreed with a report from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "that the extradition should be opposed and the rights of journalists and whistleblowers upheld for the good of all of us".
Johnson refused to comment on Assange's case, but noted that it is "obvious" that the rights of journalists and whistleblowers should be upheld, adding that the government "will continue to do that”.
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) February 12, 2020
On 28 January 2020 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution saying Assange's "continued detention and prosecution sets a dangerous precedent" for press freedom. The assembly, which is made up of 323 legislatures from 47 states including the UK, endorsed the recommendations by the UN Special Rappourteour on Torture Nils Melzer that Assange's prosecution "must be barred" and that he must be released "promptly".
— M. A. E. (@MElmaazi) January 30, 2020
The UN torture expert has repeatedly criticised the UK government for refusing to engage with him over his findings that Assange has been tortured. Melzer has argued that the “future of our democracies” is under threat as a result of the prosecution of the publisher and journalist. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison in the US on charges relating to his role in publishing classified US documents which revealed alleged war crimes committed by US-led occupation forces in Iraq.