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Cross-party MPs call on President Biden to drop Assange prosecution

A CROSS-PARTY group of British parliamentarians has written to President Joe Biden asking him to drop the US prosecution of whistle-blowing journalist Julian Assange.

Mr Assange, who faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years if convicted of espionage in a US court, remains on remand in London’s Belmarsh Prison, despite winning an initial court battle against extradition.

The letter, co-ordinated by Labour MP Richard Burgon, notes that as president Barack Obama’s vice-president, Mr Biden “played an important role in the decision not to prosecute Julian Assange over publications relating to the Afghan and Iraq wars and conditions in Guantanamo Bay.”

It points out that the prosecution carrying a 175-year sentence was brought under ex-president Donald Trump, and that the case has been condemned by civil liberties groups and senior media figures.

It also notes that, despite Westminster Magistrates’ Court refusing the US application for extradition, “unfortunately the US Department of Justice is still pursuing this case, leaving Julian Assange facing a third year of incarceration in Belmarsh high-security prison.” 

Pointing out “the contradiction of advocating for press freedom abroad while holding Mr Assange for years in the UK’s most notorious prison at the request of the US government,” it concludes that dropping the case “would be a clarion call for freedom that would echo around the globe.”

The letter is signed by members of the Labour, SNP, Conservative, Green and Alba parties.

MPs Diane Abbott, Tahir Ali, Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Ian Byrne, Joanna Cherry, Jeremy Corbyn, David Davis, Neale Hanvey, Ian Lavery, Caroline Lucas, Kenny MacAskill, John McDonnell, Grahame Morris, Kate Osborne, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Tommy Sheppard, Zarah Sultana, Jon Trickett, Claudia Webbe and Mick Whitley signed the letter, as have Baroness Christine Blower, Lord John Hendy and Lord Prem Sikka.

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