PEN America issued the following statement today:
PEN America today welcomed the news of the British High Court’s decision to permit Julian Assange to appeal a lower court ruling allowing his extradition to the U.S. to move forward, while reiterating its long-held position that charges against Assange risk unacceptable limitations on press freedoms.
“Today’s decision in the ongoing Assange case is a reprieve, but the specter remains of prosecution in the U.S. based on an indictment that encompasses conduct regularly and rightfully undertaken by the media in holding government to account,” PEN America’s CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. “The Justice Department’s relentless determination to prosecute Assange sounds a warning bell to journalists around the world, legitimizing foreign governments’ efforts to stretch the bounds of the law in order to menace their critics. At a time of encroaching authoritarianism and mounting threats to a free press, the Biden Administration has rightly signaled its intent to stand up for independent journalism and directly support news outlets and reporters who come under fire for doing their jobs. But the pursuit of Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange undermines this leadership role. It is long past time for the administration to acknowledge the danger these charges pose to First Amendment freedoms and to drop them.”