The court case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange began in London last week. He could face trial because the U.S. has requested his extradition on 18 criminal charges, including espionage. But that’s precisely the problem. Assange published thousands of secret government documents, which among other things, point to U.S. violations of international law, American attacks on civilians in Iraq, secret negotiations involving American radar in the Czech Republic, and hundreds and hundreds of other pieces of information which were supposed to remain classified.
I believe that the weight of the information which the WikiLeaks server carried provides plenty of reason to deem this a political trial. Today, more than ever, we need to avoid judging by double standards.
The hearing in Assange’s case has been postponed until May, when negotiations over his extradition to the U.S. will continue. In the event that the court rules in favor of extradition, it is likely that, in addition to the allegations which he now faces, which could carry a sentence of up to 175 years in prison, additional penalties, even the death penalty, could be possible. The fact that has not yet happened is only a tactic meant to enable Great Britain to extradite him without fearing for his life.
Surely Assange is not facing the death penalty, after all. The people who have demonstrated against Assange’s extradition to the U.S. in London, Prague, Bratislava and dozens of other places are aware of this danger. If, like me, you stand for freedom of expression and want to support the courage to stand up to authority, you can sign the international call against his extradition to the U.S. at https://defend.wikileaks.org/openletter/, and visit the page devoted directly to his case, where you will find more information: https://dontextraditeassange.com/.
Katerina Konecna, is a European Parliament deputy and deputy chair of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia.