Assange is an international symbol of the struggle for political transparency, 37 MEPs say

A letter has been sent by a cross-group of parlamentarians to the European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans to urge him uphold Assange’s human rights under international and EU laws

Signs of life arrived from the European institutions, regarding Assange’s case. A letter signed by thirty-seven Members of the European Parliament has been sent the Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, in order to express serious concern for the Wikileaks publisher after the British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has validated the extradition request presented by the US.

“We deplore this decision”, the MEPs wrote, defining Julian Assange as “an international symbol of the struggle for political transparency” and pointing out that his detention is “only an attack to the right of information, which is a fundamental pillar of democracy.”

It is actually a key moment for the members of the House to highlight this, since just last April a new directive on whistleblowers was approved by the EU. As explained at the time by the spokesperson from the European Commission Christian Wigand, the new law is a broad agreement setting minimum standards in order to “ensure whistleblowers are better protected and protect them from retaliation.”

European Parliament

Actually, the 37 signatories mentioned the fact that the US extradition of Julian Assange would contravene both the European and the International Law. They not only reminded the Vice President that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations have requested to respect the Wikileaks founder’s right to mantain asylum status, but also pointed out that Ecuador, by allowing British autorities to arrest him, has exposed Assange to a real risk of human rights violations.

Embracing the qualified point of view of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, MEPS showed grave preoccupation that the extradition would put Assange at risk of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, they stated that “extradition is particularly problematic when the State of destination applies death penalty”. This is one of the cases where the right of non-refoulement is absolute. In other words, when in the extraditing Country capital punishment applies, the right not to be returned to conditions in which human rights are not being maintained to an acceptably minimal level must be always ensured, regardless of considerations of national security, political expediency and similars.

The parlimentarians who signed the letter also highlighted that Assange’s case falls unquestionably within those ones that are protected by the new European law on whistleblowers and recalled the fact that Wikileaks publisher in the past has been awarded by the European Parliament with the award for Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders of the Right of Information.

They closed the letters asking the Vice President to take action, and in particular to ensure that Assange gets the protection foreseen by the European Directive on whistleblowers itself, since the disclosure of State secrets operated by him was indeed carried out for the public interest.

About Sara Chessa

Reporter and Human Rights Activist, member of the National Union of Journalists from 2015.
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