April 18. 2024. 9:09

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Wikileaks founder Assange should not be extradited to the US, Germany’s Scholz says


British judges should protect Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from extradition to the US, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday (4 March) in an unusual intervention, adding that the proportionality of Assange’s punishment in the US was questionable.

Assange is facing extradition from the UK to the US based on a 2022 British ruling that the step would be permissible.

His lawyers have asked the UK’s High Court to allow a final appeal, with a hearing on the matter taking place two weeks ago and the verdict still pending.

In light of recent developments, the German chancellor (SPD/S&D) spoke out in support of Assange at a Q&A session at a school in Baden-Württemberg.

“I believe it would be good if the British courts would grant him the necessary protection, because he is facing prosecution in the United States, as he has leaked American state secrets,” Scholz said in Sindelfingen.

The chances that British courts would intervene to protect Assange have increased, he argued.

US representatives “were unable to assure British judges during the last negotiations that the possible punishment would be within a justifiable range from the UK point of view”, he argued.

Assange could be facing up to 175 years in prison in the United States. He has been imprisoned in the UK for five years, following seven years of exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange had stayed there to avoid extradition to Sweden in a separate case, as he feared it would entail his extradition to the US.

The US government wants to try Assange on espionage charges for publishing a vast number of confidential documents on his platform Wikileaks.

The US claims the information, leaked by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, has compromised security personnel.

Scholz’s intervention came as an unusual step as other heads of government have preferred to keep a low profile on the sensitive issue.

His Green vice-chancellor, Robert Habeck, who had previously stated his support for “a fair trial” for Assange, refused to answer a similar question at a press conference two weeks ago.

He would not comment on a court case in a different country, Habeck said.

Read more with Euractiv

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