Germany: Assange supporters ask for Merkel’s help

On the 12th July 2021, Zeit Online reports (Google Translation)

Berlin (dpa) – Around 120 politicians, artists and journalists have appealed to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to campaign for the release of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during her visit by US President Joe Biden this week .

“We sincerely ask you to help build bridges in the Julian Assange case,” said a joint letter to Merkel at the German Press Agency in Berlin . The Chancellor wants to meet Biden this Thursday on her last visit to the USA before leaving office after the general election in Washington.

The signatories of the letter to Merkel initiated by the investigative journalist and writer Günter Wallraff include cross-party MPs from CDU , SPD, FDP, Left and Greens, several ex-ministers such as Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), Gerhart Baum (FDP), Oskar Lafontaine (Left ), the writer Elfriede Jelinek and the editor of the women’s magazine “Emma”, Alice Schwarzer. Assange recently celebrated his 50th birthday in the HMP Belmarsh maximum security prison in London.

The US judiciary accuses Assange, together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, of stealing secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a huge number of diplomatic cables and publishing them on the Internet platform Wikileaks. [They claim] This put the lives of American informants in danger in many countries. The US investigators [claim] Assange is a spy and are demanding his extradition. His supporters, however, see him as an investigative journalist.

Merkel should defend freedom of the press

In the letter, the signatories ask Merkel to make it clear in her conversations with Biden , “how important it is in the interests of defending freedom of the press to drop the lawsuit against the Wikileaks founder so that he can recover healthily in the company of his family. The Chancellor is also asked to find “a humanitarian solution for Assange and a face-saving solution for the US President”, it said. “It would be a strong, lasting humanitarian gesture at the end of your term of office and for President Joe Biden, finally, an opportunity to leave the Donald Trump era completely behind, also in the interests of protecting freedom of the press and freedom of expression.”

Dealing with Assange is “incompatible with the rule of law, the dire prison conditions are a humanitarian scandal,” said the letter to the Chancellor. In view of the threatening health condition of Assange, there is an urgent need for action. It is in the hands of Biden to end the legal proceedings initiated by his predecessor against Assange and to drop the lawsuit.

Extradition request currently rejected [by UK judicary]

Assange fled to Ecuador’s embassy in London in 2012 before being extradited . There he got asylum – until the wind turned in the South American country. In 2019, the whole world could watch Assange being dragged out of the embassy despite fierce resistance.

A court in London rejected the US extradition request in January because of Assange’s poor mental health and the expected prison conditions in the United States. Assange was still not released because the US appealed. Now he has to wait for the outcome of these proceedings. According to his fiancée Stella Morris, the Australian is still threatened with extradition to the US and sentenced to 175 years in prison. Morris is betting that the new US administration under Biden will drop the charges against her partner.

Read Original Article in Zeit Online (in German)