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‘Media freedom continues to be imperiled’: Albanese asked to intervene as UK High Court allows Assange appeal

The United Kingdom High Court has allowed Julian Assange to appeal against his extradition to the United States, moving the WikiLeaks founder one step closer to freedom.

On Tuesday, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) called the news “a welcome step forward,” but cautioned there is no certainty an appeal will be successful, which would ultimately mean Assange could still be tried for espionage in the US.

The union has called on the Australian government “to keep up the pressure on the US to drop the charges so Julian Assange can be reunited with his family,” also calling directly upon President Joe Biden to intervene “to avoid dragging the case out even longer”.

“Tonight’s decision by the High Court is a small win for Julian Assange and for the cause of media freedom worldwide,” said MEAA Media Federal President Karen Percy.

“It means that Assange still might avoid being tried in the US for practicing journalism through the important work of Wikileaks in exposing war crimes in Iraq and other wrongdoing.

“MEAA welcomes the decision of the High Court, but we remain concerned that there is no guarantee of success. The appeal may not be heard until late this year or even next year. In the meantime, his mental and physical wellbeing is deteriorating. The only clear path to freedom is for the US to drop the charges, end its prosecution and allow him to be released from jail.

“President Biden has the power to do this by the stroke of a pen. Last month, he said his administration was ‘considering’ Assange’s case. It is now time to resolve it.

“Media freedom continues to be imperiled the longer this case drags on.”

Percy notes that Assange’s ongoing prosecution is “curtailing free speech, criminalising journalism and sending a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished.”

“If the US government can extradite a citizen of another country, from anywhere in the world for publishing factual information it sets a dangerous precedent that will have a profoundly chilling effect on investigative journalism.

“It will discourage journalists and whistleblowers from exposing vital information in the public interest.”

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