A letter calling for the Australian journalist’s release drew a harsh backlash from many in Washington.

by Connor Echols, Responsible Statecraft

A group of seven progressive House members called on Attorney General Merrick Garland Tuesday to drop all charges against Australian journalist Julian Assange, who is currently facing extradition from Britain to the United States over alleged violations of a World War I-era anti-spying law.

“​​The prosecution of Mr. Assange marks the first time in U.S. history that a publisher of truthful information has been indicted under the Espionage Act,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), wrote in an open letter. “The prosecution of Mr. Assange, if successful, not only sets a legal precedent whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted, but a political one as well.”

Congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib speaks in protest against the supreme court's ruling on the muslim ban.

The U.S. case against Assange stems from his work at WikiLeaks, where his team published a wide range of classified documents that revealed details about human rights abuses committed during America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other notable leaks include documents related to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as the U.S. Army’s manual for its policies at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Assange has fought extradition since being arrested in London in April 2019. He faces numerous espionage charges for alleged improprieties in how WikiLeaks got a hold of classified documents as well as three further charges for publishing information that could put U.S. government sources in danger.

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