Erik Edman: Assange decision a threat to press freedom worldwide

DiEM25’s Political Director spoke to the Greek daily newspaper Ethnos about the Assange extradition decision and its wider ramifications

The shocking decision from the UK government to extradite Julian Assange to the United States is a threat to freedom of press as a whole, according to DiEM25 political director Erik Edman.

In an interview with Greek daily newspaper Ethnos, Erik summed up his feelings about the recent ruling which he described as “the last chapter in a long-standing plot”.

Yet UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s inhumane decision will not be accepted without a fight, as Erik reiterated that there will be a series of civil society actions pushing for the ultimate objective of freeing Assange.

The latest chapter in a decade-long plot

“This is essentially the latest chapter of a story that did not begin with the imprisonment of Julian Assange in Britain but started long before that, when he took refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London,” Erik told Ethnos.

“So it goes back more than a decade. At its heart lays a major plot and a character assassination attempt – if one also takes into account the accusation of the alleged rape of women in Sweden, which was dropped after his imprisonment – with the aim sending him to a Guantanamo-type prison in the US.”

Referring to the recent ruling, he notes that “it does not come as a surprise, but it is a tragedy because it is not Assange who is really being persecuted, but freedom of the press, especially at a time when the Russian crimes we see in Ukraine are condemned every day and indeed by the US and its NATO allies, while at the same time the man who exposed similar crimes by the US and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan is being persecuted. So there is a frightening hypocrisy here, indeed at a very dangerous time”.

Hope is not lost yet

Erik, however, believes not all hope is lost yet despite the disappointing decision, with civil society still able to play a telling role in restoring justice.

“There will be an effort by the legal team of Assange to overturn the Home Secretary’s decision, although the initial indications we have are not positive,” he said.

“But at the end of the day they never were, as this course of action was predetermined.

“What has been proven to have an impact are movements and campaigns from civil society across Europe and the world, and that is why we are also currently organising a mass mailing of letters from citizens to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“That is, we are giving people worldwide the opportunity to demand that Julian Assange is not extradited to the US and in doing so we are calling on the UK to stand up for Freedom of Speech, not just for the British but for everyone, because this case and the way it has been handled has a huge impact worldwide, both for journalists and for all democratic citizens.”

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