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The decision to extradite Assange: a victory for press freedom?

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States — such a verdict was passed by a London court on Monday. The judge based her decision on the fear that if extradited to the American authorities and subsequently convicted on charges of espionage, the 49-year-old whistleblower could commit suicide. Can Assange's actions be justified by reference to the principle of freedom of the press? The discussion on this topic continues on the pages of the European press.

Invalid justification

To Vima does not consider the court's decision a step towards the benefit of freedom of journalism:

“Even the British judge, who ruled to ban the extradition of Assange, in substantiating her verdict, actually acknowledged the US argumentation. ... An argument that is largely based on the fact that journalists' search for information and the disclosure of the truth should be regarded as a crime. The judge simply decided that Assange should not be extradited to the United States for humanitarian reasons, as well as due to the deterioration of his mental state. As the Greek poet Andreas Kalvos said, “freedom requires a benefactor and courage.” The same applies to journalism.”

Reveals save lives

Reveals such as those published by Wikileaks are critical to protecting civilians, writes Guardian columnist Owen Jones:

“The US military machinery is capable of functioning only if it manages to retouch the cruel human reality. If, however, innocent people can be killed on the quiet, without fear of any consequences, then there is no guarantee that such a fate will not befall even more people. The US military machine should not have the right to act with impunity — that is what is being discussed during this trial. Assange may remain at large, although there is no certainty about this. Nevertheless, it is extremely important that the whole truth about the wars waged on behalf of the American people becomes known.”

The USA won this battle

The Aargauer Zeitung criticizes the judge's support for the espionage charge:

“This accusation is a direct blow to the heart of press freedom. It is proposed to keep Assange behind bars until the end of his days for publishing truthful information of interest to the public. ... Democratic governments are increasingly moving away from an increasingly impartial controversy — hiding unpopular facts behind a wall of secrecy. Assange broke through this wall. ... In the early 2010s, it still seemed that Wikileaks and NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden would become a role model for many people, who would eventually also begin to expose the dirty secrets of this world. But Snowden lives in exile in Russia, and Assange will spend many years behind bars — it turns out that the US authorities ... won the victory, even if they lost the battle over Assange's extradition.”

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