A formal request of extradition for Julian Assange has been filed to officials in the UK by the US Justice Department.
According to the United States’ treaty with Britain on this matter, the application has to be submitted within 60 days from the date of the arrest. US officials, who after Assange’s arrest immediately stated they were going to submit the necessary documents for his extradition, waited until the last available day, probably to ensure enough time to elaborate possible further charges to the Wikileaks founder, since all the charges must be indicated in the formal request and it is not possible to add further ones after it is filed.
Julian Assange’s supporters are now waiting for the 14 June extradition hearing, where he will probably appear via videolink. The worst disappointment for the activists is the fact that big media have been almost silent in the last two months.
Unlike what happened in the case of Ivan Golunov, the journalist recently imprisoned in Russia and later freed thanks to the massive outcry of other reporters, in the UK just a few journalists spoke up in defence of Julian Assange and free press. The hope is for the press to finally realise that solidarity should be expressed for all the cases of investigative journalists threatened just for carrying out their job.
This is indeed valid in the case of the Wikileaks founder, object of a “demonisation campaign” pursued against him “by four democratic states” (US, UK, Ecuador and Sweaden), as recently highlighted by the United Nations Rapporteur on torture.
Assange was charged last month with violating the Espionage Act and conspiring in order to hack a US Government computer. It is the first time that a law passed to prosecute spies just before WW1 is being brought against a journalist.
However, the difference between a spy and Mr Assange should be clear to everyone provided with intellectual honesty. A spy sells information to another State. A journalist who reveals war crimes like those ones that Assange discovered is making available facts that help the public understand the foundations of reality. Often at a very high price, like the Wikileaks publisher story shows.