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Assange's Extradition Will Show Whether 'Freedom' Exists in West

© Photo : Mohamed ElmaaziVan with banner on it saying Don't Extradite Assange - Journalism is Not a Crime passes by Old Bailey on 28 September 2020
Van with banner on it saying Don't Extradite Assange - Journalism is Not a Crime passes by Old Bailey on 28 September 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.02.2024
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be extradited to the US to face up to 175 years in prison after a two-day appeal hearing in London’s High Court. Assange's wife Stella fears her husband may die if extradited.
London's High Court's two-day hearing is about to seal the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen who may be extradited to the US to face a possible life prison sentence. International watchdogs argue the WikiLeaks founder could be subjected to serious human rights violations in the US if extradited.
"The whole case seems to hang on the United States wanting revenge," Paul Goncharoff, owner of the consulting company Goncharoff LLC, told Sputnik. "Revenge against a non-US citizen who published information about US government activities and did so from an EU-based website."
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange supporters hold placards as they gather outside Westminster Magistrates court In London, Wednesday, April 20, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.12.2023
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Assange, 52, has been held in a UK high-security prison since 2019. He was arrested immediately after the current Ecuadorian government annulled the asylum granted to him by the nation's previous cabinet in 2012. The WikiLeaks founder had spent almost seven years in two small rooms of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The US' espionage charges against him revolve around Assange publishing thousands of classified documents concerning Washington's alleged military crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were provided by then-US Army private and whistleblower Chelsea (born Bradley) Manning.
"Assange, in leaking US classified documents provided to him by the US whistleblower Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning most certainly embarrassed the US government but at the same time exposed inconvenient truths about Washington," said Goncharoff.
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, hold placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on December 10, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.06.2022
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Goncharoff drew attention to two important facts. First, Assange did not "steal" classified American documents: they were provided to him by Manning. Second, the WikiLeaks founder is an Australian citizen, while his organization's servers were located in Sweden.
"The case brings together Australia, the EU, the UK, and the United States as a bloc that appears quite content to allow for the prosecution by American laws that are now seen to stretch beyond US borders and can capture and punish anyone, of any nationality, anywhere in the Western world," said the businessman.
Commenting on Assange's possible extradition, international human rights organizations have warned that US prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder on espionage charges for acts of journalism could have chilling effects on global media and silence whistleblowers and investigative reporters.
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One should keep in mind that Edward Snowden, an American citizen who faces up to 30 years in prison for exposing Washington's unprecedented global spying program that targeted US civilians and Washington's allies along with the nation's adversaries, found refuge and freedom in Russia, Goncharoff remarked.
Likewise, Tara Reade, a US citizen, writer, and ex-assistant to Joe Biden, opted to go to Russia to protect her life after she reportedly faced death threats over her willingness to testify in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives on Biden's sexual assault.
While the West routinely criticizes Russia, the outcome of Assange's extradition proceedings may show whether Western governments truly observe freedom of speech and human rights, Sputnik's interlocutor said. The WikiLeaks founder's extradition to the US would become a true "embarrassment" for the West: "[Assange's case] will determine how free the West is when compared to Russia," he concluded.
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