So grateful to anyone who would write to their MP and share their reply with us to publish! This reply os of particular importance because Thamesmead is the location of HMP Belmarsh, the prison Julian Assange is incarcerated.
Thank you for contacting me about Julian Assange.
I appreciate this must be a difficult time for Mr Assange’s family, friends and supporters.
Mr Assange was arrested in April 2019 for failing to surrender to the court in relation to previous extradition proceedings to Sweden in 2012, in breach of his UK bail conditions. He was found guilty of this offence and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in May 2019.As you will be aware, the United States subsequently submitted a full extradition request to the UK in respect of Mr Assange. This was considered at the Old Bailey and subsequently rejected on 4 January 2021 on health grounds. However, I understand that the US Government applied to appeal the decision and that leave to appeal has since been granted by the High Court.
Since Members of Parliament cannot interfere with decisions made by the courts, I am unable to comment on an ongoing legal matter, except to say that any process must be fair and proper.
However, I hope it is of interest if I set out my views on the broader concerns you raise about press freedom.
I believe it is very important that we protect freedom of the press, as this is an essential test of a properly functioning democracy. Sadly, press and media freedoms are under threat around the world. I will continue to press the UK Government to do more to protect the rights of journalists and stand up for universal freedom, democracy, and the rule of law everywhere.
I can therefore assure you that I will follow any developments regarding press freedoms closely.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I hope you’re keeping safe and well.
Abena Oppong-Asare MP
Member of Parliament for Erith and Thamesmead
Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury