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Biden considering Australia request to drop Julian Assange prosecution

Biden considering Australia request to drop Julian Assange prosecution
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks to reporters on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, 19 May 2017 (reissued 17 June 2022). Wikileaks founder Julian Assange?s extradition to the US has been approved by British Home Secretary Priti Patel 17 June 2022. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he was considering Australia's request to drop the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had released troves of confidential U.S. classified documents and is battling extradition to the United States.

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Kanishka Singh

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has long expressed opposition to the Wikileaks founder’s detention, in February backed a parliamentary motion calling for the return of Assange, an Australian citizen, to Australia.

“We are considering it,” Biden told a reporter who asked if he had a response to Australia’s request to end Assange’s prosecution.

Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, called Biden’s comments encouraging. Three weeks earlier, Pollack had said Assange’s legal team saw no indication of resolution to U.S. charges against him.

“It is encouraging that President Biden has confirmed that the United States is considering dropping its case against Julian Assange,” Pollack said in an email.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Biden’s remarks on Wednesday.

Assange’s extradition was put on hold in March after London’s High Court said the United States must provide assurances he would not face the death penalty.

Assange, 52, is battling extradition from Britain to the U.S., where he is wanted on criminal charges over the release of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables in 2010. Washington says the release of the documents had put lives in danger.

Assange’s supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimized because he exposed U.S. wrongdoing, including in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If extradited, Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in a maximum security prison. Multiple rights groups, leading media organizations and the leaders of countries like Mexico and Brazil have also urged that charges against Assange be dropped.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Kanishka Singh, Doina Chiacu and Paul Grant; Editing by David Ljunggren and Bill Berkrot)

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    How long does it takes to consider a simple request?

    Just drop the charges and cease the persecution.

  • Michel Jordaan says:

    Bidens brain leaks constantly

  • Fuad XXX says:

    Is anybody still confused about the world “policeman’s” (USA’s) integrity?

  • lechabilechamber says:

    For the goodness of freedom of speech America the leader for democracy should drop charges again Assange.

  • David Forbes says:

    The USA has yet to provide a single concrete instance of “lives in danger” due to Wikileaks. The fact remains that Assange was not the first person to publish the information, a British newspaper was, and Assange is just the fall guy because the USA wanted to close Wikileaks down. One has to wonder if Australia (the American lapdog) will just hand him over to the US if he is released to “come home”. The USA, UK governments and Priti Patel in particular, should be ashamed of themselves, and especially the “impartial” British courts that continue to incarcerate him. This is what whistleblowers face: imprisonment and persecution for exposing war crimes committed by US military personnel.

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