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Assange granted permission to appeal his extradition & letter from Julian’s brother Gabriel

May 21, 2024 IN WIP
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20 May 2024: Julian Assange has been granted permission to appeal his extradition to the US, where he faces up to up 175 years in prison and would be at risk of serious human rights violations. Representatives of PEN International, English PEN, and PEN Norway observed the hearing. Responding to the news, PEN International and the undersigned PEN Centres said:

“Today’s decision by the UK High Court is a crucial step in our years-long campaign to free Julian Assange. It is a stepping stone in ensuring that Assange is freed, a small victory for press freedom, and a beacon of hope for whistleblowers worldwide.

No one should be punished for exposing wrongdoing and holding the powerful to account. By providing Assange with further opportunity to defend himself, the court has acknowledged that the assurances provided by the U.S. government are not sufficient for the extradition to be approved.

As the implications of this decision reverberate globally, reminding us of the critical importance of defending free speech, we remain acutely aware that Assange’s fight for freedom continues.

The US authorities’ judicial harassment of Assange must stop at once. We urge them to drop all charges against Assange and to withdraw their extradition request. The UK authorities must release him from prison immediately and refrain from extraditing him.

We continue to stand with Assange and all the writers, journalists, and publishers around the world who courageously speak truth to power.”

Signatories

PEN International

English PEN

PEN Norway

PEN Melbourne

Background information

In a decision handed down by the UK High Court on 20 May 2024, a panel of two judges granted Assange “legal appeal on grounds 4 (violation of free speech rights) and 5 (prejudiced at trial due to nationality) on all counts on the second superseding indictment”. While Assange was given permission to attend the hearing in person, he was not in court due to health reasons.

On 26 March 2024, following a two-day public hearing held in February and attended by representatives of PEN International, English PEN and PEN Norway, the UK High Court adjourned Assange’s permission to appeal his extradition order, on the grounds that his extradition would breach his right to freedom of expression, that he might be prejudiced on account on his nationality, and that he might potentially face the death penalty. The US was subsequently granted more time to make diplomatic assurances.

Assange is the first publisher to be charged under the US Espionage Act. He is an honorary member of several PEN Centres.

For more information about PEN International’s years-long campaign for Julian Assange, please see please see War, Censorship and Persecution, PEN International’s Case List 2023/2024, which documents 122 cases of persecuted writers worldwide, including Assange.

Note to Editors:

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo, Head of Europe and Central Asia Region at PEN International: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org

To schedule an interview or for comments, please contact Sabrina Tucci, PEN International Communications and Campaigns Manager: Sabrina.Tucci@pen-international.org


Below is an open letter addressed to Assange Campaign supporters from Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s brother.


Hi ,

Today in London, my family and I attended what we thought would be Julian’s final hearing on UK soil at the Royal Court of Justice. But what played out was far from what we’d expected – and became a huge win for the campaign. Julian has won the right to appeal the case to extradite him.

 

This might feel like Groundhog Day because, in some ways, it is—we just finished an appeal process and now have to start again. All because UK judges didn’t believe the US would protect Julian under the same free speech rules that apply to every US citizen.

 

To go this far and fail over something so symbolic is deeply embarrassing for the United States.

 

It reveals a political opportunity—pressure is building on the US President and Congress, and we can maintain it by urging the Australian government to question why Julian isn’t protected by the same laws as US citizens.

 

Right now, the team and I are heading to the airport to visit these decision-makers in the United States. Over the last few months, we’ve started to make real progress there. Recently, when pressed on it by journalists in the US, President Biden admitted that the US is actively considering Australia’s request to drop the charges against Julian.

 

We’re gearing up for a major new campaign in the US to intensify pressure on key decision-makers. We’ve started a new US Campaign Fund to take the campaign right to their front door—will you be one of the first to chip $50 in today? Your contribution in the next 48 hours will allow us to show just how strong, and how ready, our movement is.

 

I will write to update you as soon as I return from the US, telling you how it went and what is next for the US campaign. In the meantime, thank you for everything you are doing.

 

Gabriel Shipton,

Julian’s Brother

 

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International