National Union of Journalists (UK) issues resolution on Assange extradition case

For Immediate release: 13/11/19

National Union of Journalists issues resolution on Assange extradition case

The union’s executive passed a comprehensive motion last Friday demanding that Assange should not be sent to the US where he could face 175 years for revealing information about the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison since he was committed for extradition by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The union is now writing to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Minister encouraging them to take action on the Assange case.

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign said: ‘this is an important development which gives the lie to the US governments argument that Julian Assange is not a journalist. It also provides an important initiative that other trade unionists can rally behind’. 

The full text of the motion is as follows.

This executive notes:
1. That Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is held in Belmarsh prison awaiting United States extradition proceedings, a process that can take many years.
2. If Assange is successfully prosecuted in the US he faces 175 years in prison.
3. That the extraterritorial application of the Espionage Act in the indictment of Assange criminalises journalistic activities, in this case activities carried out on UK soil by a non-US national, in collaboration with numerous UK media (including The Guardian, Channel 4 and The Telegraph).

4. That previous statements by the General Secretary of the NUJ, by the Australian Journalists Union MEAA, and by the International Federation of Journalists’ organisations have supported Assange. 
5. That there is a political dimension to extraditions and that the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US makes the extradition of Assange more likely to go ahead.

This executive believes:
1. That Assange’s indictment comes at a time of heightened threats to the press in Western countries in the form of raids on newspapers and broadcasters, government claims that the press are ‘the enemy of the people’, and actual prosecutions involving life-long sentences for publishing accurately.
2. That Assange’s extradition to the United States would establish a dangerous precedent with regard to the prosecution of journalists in this country under the UK Official Secrets Act given the requirement for the UK courts to accept US arguments as to dual criminality for the extradition to go ahead. 
3. That press freedoms in this country will be weakened if the courts accept that NUJ members’ publishing activities in this country can give rise to criminal liability in foreign states and to their consequent lawful extradition.
4. That the publication of the Afghan and Iraq war logs and other material by Wikileaks that are the subject of the US indictment revealed important information that has benefitted the public.
7. Disclosing information to the public should never be equated with espionage 

This executive resolves: 
1. To campaign to stop the extradition of Julian Assange to the US.
2. To write to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Secretary making the union’s case on this issue. 

For more information contact:  Amna Shaddad

Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign
twitter, facebook: @DEAcampaign