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Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights calls on Patel to stop Assange extradition

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic has written to British Home Secretary Priti Patel urging her not to extradite journalist Julian Assange to the United States. 

Her letter was published today as a decision on Mr Assange’s case is believed to be imminent. 

Final legal submissions were submitted to Ms Patel on Tuesday, Mr Assange’s wife Stella Moris said, while protesters gathered in London for an emergency demonstration. 

Similar actions were held across the world in support of the WikiLeaks founder, who faces 175 years behind bars under the draconian Espionage Act if Ms Patel agrees to the extradition request. 

She will make the final decision on Mr Assange’s future after Westminster magistrates’ court authorised the case to be sent to the Home Secretary last month.

Ms Mijatovic said that she had been following the developments in Mr Assange’s case with great attention. 

“In the judicial proceedings so far, the focus has mainly been on Mr Assange’s personal circumstances upon his possible extradition to the United States. 

“While a very important matter, this also means, in my opinion, that the wider human rights implications of Mr Assange’s possible extradition, which reach far beyond his individual case, have not been adequately considered so far,” she wrote to Ms Patel. 

“In particular, it is my view that the indictment by the United States against Mr Assange raises important questions about the protection of those that publish classified information in the public interest, including information that exposes human rights violations,” she said, adding that the vague charges were “troubling.”

“Allowing Mr Assange’s extradition on this basis would have a chilling effect on media freedom, and could ultimately hamper the press in performing its task as purveyor of information and public watchdog in democratic societies,” the human rights lawyer said. 

Concerns have been raised over the risk to Mr Assange if he is extradited, especially following allegations at his hearing last year that the US plotted to assassinate him in collusion with British spooks. 

“I therefore call upon you to decide against the extradition of Mr Assange,” Ms Mijatovic concluded. 

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