Is Assange's extradition inevitable?
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been in court in London since Monday, trying to fend off extradition to the US, where he faces up to 175 years imprisonment for publishing military secrets. Journalist NGOs see this as a dangerous precedent for the safety of whistleblowers and press freedom in general. Commentators hope the tide will turn.
Critical journalism must not be criminalised
For Markus Beckedahl, founder of the Internet portal Netzpolitik.org, the trial is clearly an attack on press freedom:
“Wikileaks was clearly integrated into a journalistic ecosystem when it published the documents. And the constructed accusations could also be used against us: we, too, give our potential sources (and others) tips and tricks for digital self-defence and recommend tools and methods for minimising or hiding their data tracks as well as for using encryption tools. ... We are keeping our fingers crossed that he will be able to prove his innocence in a fair trial. But we don't have much hope that he will be given such a trial. Critical and investigative journalism must not become a crime.”
France as his last hope
French Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti could be Assange's last chance, says Marianne:
“If a country grants him asylum, the extradition procedure would come to an end. ... In 2015, Julian Assange made an official request in a letter to then president François Hollande. Making a show of his legendary courage, Hollande refrained from complying with the request. Will his successor now dare to comply? Before joining the government, Éric Dupond-Moretti was one of Julian Assange's lawyers. At a press conference in February, he said: 'The 175 years imprisonment he faces in the United States is an unworthy, unbearable punishment that violates human dignity.' The justice minister has requested an interview with Emmanuel Macron to ask him to grant asylum to the prisoner on the other side of the English Channel. Will the minister be more successful than the lawyer?”