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Biden Says the Government is 'Considering' Abandoning Julian Assange's Prosecution

The Wikileaks publisher could face 175 years in prison if extradited to the United States

Biden Says the Government is 'Considering' Abandoning Julian Assange's Prosecution

President Joe Biden indicated that his administration may drop efforts to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

While walking with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida outside of the White House, Biden was asked by a reporter if he intends to honor Australia’s request that America end its prosecution of Assange.

“We’re considering it,” said the president.

A court in the United Kingdom ruled on March 26 that Assange cannot be extradited to the United States unless the federal government ensures that he will not face the death penalty and that he is given First Amendment protections. Assange has been charged with espionage for his release of classified documents revealing the operations of the United States government in Iraq and Afghanistan. The High Court gave the Biden administration three weeks to submit new assurances.

Assange's wife, Stella, publicly questioned the reliability of an assurance from the American government.

"U.S. assurances are not worth the paper that they are written on,” she said during a press conference after the ruling. “The United States, of course, is a country that has plotted to assassinate and kidnap Julian, a publisher, in order to silence him.”

Assange is an Australian citizen and has been in a British prison for roughly five years as his case and appeals have been considered. He also lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012 to 2019 while appealing for asylum. If extradited to the U.S., he could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. 

In February, members of the Australian parliament called for Assange’s release. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who took office in 2022, directly asked Biden about a resolution to Assange’s case while visiting Washington, D.C. in October.

I have put the view very clearly, privately, as I have publicly, that enough is enough. It’s time Julian Assange was brought home,” said the prime minister in February. “I’ve engaged with his legal team on a regular basis as well, on a strategy to try to get through this and come out the other side in Mr Assange’s interest.”

“We’re engaging diplomatically to try to achieve an outcome rather than try to achieve a headline,” Albanese added, per Defence Connect. “It’s important that Australian citizens be looked after.”

There has also been a bipartisan call for the termination of Assange’s prosecution by American politicians. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate co-signed a letter to Biden in November urging him to “halt all prosecutorial proceedings” against Assange “as soon as possible.”

“Deep concerns about this case have been repeatedly expressed by international media outlets, human rights and press freedom advocates, and Members of Congress, among others,” they wrote. “It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of government. The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalizing common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press.”

Co-signers include Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

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