British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s permission to extradite Australian Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States has met with criticism around the world.
In Germany, too, not only journalists and human rights associations but also politicians are sounding the alarm:
In order to prevent Assange’s extradition to the USA, the cross-party parliamentary group “Freedom for Julian Assange” has joined forces in the German Bundestag, which includes members of the traffic light parties and the left.
“We are calling on the UK not to extradite Julian Assange to the US, where he faces 175 years in prison for exposing war crimes. We are calling on US President Joe Biden to drop the lawsuit against Julian Assange,” the consortium said in a joint statement.
“In view of the numerous appeals to the federal government to offer Julian Assange political asylum in Germany, this should be examined by the federal government.”
In the case of the imminent extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from Great Britain to the USA, the spokesman for Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) does not assume that he will be admitted to Germany. “I don’t think the conditions are there for that,” Steffen Hebestreit told journalists in Berlin on Monday. Assange can only be accepted if he is in Germany.
Hebestreit said he could not say anything about possible contacts with the governments concerned. It is “a legal process” in another country. He did not know how the federal government could intervene at the political level.
Assange is accused of having, together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, stolen and published secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby endangering the lives of US informants.
His supporters, on the other hand, see him as an investigative journalist who brought war crimes to light. Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid American prosecution, where he lived for seven years as a political refugee and was granted Ecuadorian citizenship.
In April 2019, the new Ecuadorian president stripped him of asylum and citizenship, Julian Assange was arrested and taken to a maximum security prison. Because of his state of health, an expert certified that he was depressed and had depression, a judge rejected his extradition last year: the USA challenged the decision and a court finally overturned it. Assange has fourteen days to appeal the extradition granted. He can challenge them in the High Court. Should he fail to do so, he would still have to go to the highest British court, the Supreme Court.
Assange’s father and brother, John and Gabriel Shipton, appealed to German politicians in Berlin on Monday to stand up for Assange, saying that remaining silent would cost the German government a lot of credibility.
“Germany has influence, Germany is a shining example of Western democracy, if the German government supports Julian, then US President Biden will not be indifferent,” said Assange’s brother.
His health is in a very critical condition. “He now has to come back home to his family.” There is not much time left, an expert expects Assange’s extradition in six months.
It’s not just about his brother, Gabriel Shipton said. “The fact that Julian is to be extradited is a severe blow to press freedom worldwide, it is a scandal. Every journalist, every publicist who speaks uncomfortable truths and brings them to the public must now expect something like this.” The left-wing politician Sevim Dagdelen was also alarmed.
“Now is no longer the time for excuses.” She criticized the fact that several of her colleagues who had campaigned for Julian Assange’s release before the election now distanced themselves from it.
“Anyone who remains silent now forfeits any right to work for freedom of the press or for the investigation of war crimes.” Colleagues speak of a balance between freedom of the press and security. “Julian Assange faces espionage charges.
What right to security can a country have if it wants to cover up war crimes?”
Dagdalen announced that an international delegation would soon be making its way to Washington to speak with lawmakers there. “The persecution started in the USA, it will also have to be ended there.” Little is known in Washington about the solidarity of parliamentarians with Assange worldwide.
“Knowing about this will help to break the ice of fear.” John and Gabriel Shipton will be in Berlin until Wednesday and in the Bundestag on Tuesday in a cross-party technical discussion.