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September 17, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:35am

Poll: Six in ten want UK Government to intervene in Assange extradition case

By Charlotte Tobitt

Almost six in ten Press Gazette readers who responded to a recent poll think the UK Government should intervene in the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange.

Some 58% of 655 respondents said yes in response to the question, asked between 8-16 September: “Should the UK government intervene to halt extradition proceedings against Julian Assange?”

Assange’s extradition trial at the Old Bailey is currently in its second week of four.

The US wants Assange to face 18 charges including plotting to hack computers and breaching the country’s Espionage Act. He could face up to 175 years in prison if extradited and found guilty.

Press Gazette readers, mostly made up of journalism and media professionals, may be following the case with interest as it could set a precedent on prosecution for journalists breaking secrecy laws to publish in the public interest.

Assange’s partner Stella Moris attempted to deliver a petition against his extradition, signed by 80,000 people, to Downing Street on the first day of the trial but was not able to hand it over.

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The petition, published by Reporters Without Borders, asked for the UK Government to refuse to comply with the US request to hand over Assange.

It said the Government should “prioritise the principles of freedom of expression and the defence of journalism in its treatment of Assange” and “act in accordance with UK law and the country’s international human rights obligations”.

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who worked with Wikileaks on the 2010 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and the Snowden Files, told Press Gazette last month that if the UK sets a precedent of allowing someone to be extradited for prosecution under another country’s official secrets laws it could ultimately be used by regimes to target British journalists who report on sensitive information about foreign powers.

Peter Oborne has also written that future generations of journalists will not forgive us if we do not fight Assange’s extradition.

Picture: PA Wire/Aaron Chown

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