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‘All eyes on Assange case,’ China warns, accusing US and Britain of hypocrisy on press freedom

“ALL eyes are on the Assange case,” China warned today as it said that “hope, fairness and justice will prevail” despite the efforts of Britain and the United States to jail the journalist.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the case against the Wikileaks founder as a “mirror” which “reflects the hypocrisy of the US and the UK on press freedom.”

“People are free to expose other countries but subject to severe punishment if they expose the US,” he said at a Beijing press conference. 

Mr Wang said: “People are treated either as heroes if they expose other countries or as criminals if they expose the US.”

“In other countries, holding the media accountable amounts to ‘political persecution’ while in the US, clamping down on media is to ‘act in accordance with the law’,” he said. 

British Home Secretary Priti Patel agreed to Washington’s request for the extradition of Mr Assange last Friday and he faces 175 years behind bars under the draconian Espionage Act. 

She said there was no evidence of a risk to his safety and wellbeing or his right to a fair trial there. 

But campaigners and press freedom groups have pointed to an alleged plot by the CIA to assassinate Mr Assange on the streets of London drawn up in the White House. 

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been summoned to appear in a Spanish court later this month to explain his alleged role. 

Earlier this month, the British government admitted liability for spying on one of Mr Assange’s lawyers, Jennifer Robinson. 

In a settlement it admitted to violating Ms Robinson’s Article 8 and Article 10 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, relating to privacy and freedom of expression respectively.

UN special rapporteur Nils Melzer has described the conditions Mr Assange is held in as a form of torture while more than 300 doctors expressed concerns that it would be medically negligent to extradite the journalist.

“All eyes are on the Assange case. Hope and believe that fairness and justice will prevail, and that hegemony and abuse of might will not last forever,” Mr Wang urged.


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