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Drop Charges Against Julian Assange, Say Two Massachusetts Congressmen and Several Conservative Colleagues

November 23, 2023

Two Massachusetts members of Congress who are among the most left-leaning on Capitol Hill have joined several conservative Republicans in calling on the Biden administration to drop charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange, 52, a native of Australia, has been in prison in England since 2019 while fighting extradition to the United States on espionage charges for publishing classified military and diplomatic information that embarrassed the administration of then-president George W. Bush during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

“We note that the 1917 Espionage Act was ostensibly intended to punish and imprison government employees and contractors for providing or selling state secrets to enemy governments, not to punish journalists and whistleblowers for attempting to inform the public about serious issues that some U.S. government officials might prefer to keep secret,” states a letter to President Joe Biden dated November 8 and signed by 16 members of Congress.

On the right, signers include U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and U.S. representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), Matthew Rosendale (R-Montana), and Paul Gosar (R-Arizona).

On the left, signers include two Massachusetts members of the U.S. House of Representatives:  James McGovern (D-Worcester) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Hyde Park). Also signing were Rashida Talib (D-Wisconsin) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).

The letter argues that Assange was doing what reporters do.

“It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of government. The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalizing common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press,” the letter states.

 

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