The Slovenia Times

Rally in Ljubljana calls for release of Assange

Protesters call for release of Julian Assange outside the British embassy in Ljubljana. Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Human rights activists and journalists were among a group of protesters that staged a rally in support of Julian Assange in front of the UK embassy in Ljubljana on 21 February as the hearing on a possible extradition of the Wikileaks founder to the US continued in London.

The protesters called for the release of the 52-year-old Australian, who has been in custody in London since 2019 for publishing more than 700,000 classified documents on US military and diplomatic activities in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011.

They see his case as a test of commitment to fundamental press freedom principles for the US and UK.

"Assange's extradition would set a dangerous precedent where the US government could demand the extradition of other journalists and publishers from around the world," Metka Naglič from Amnesty International Slovenia said.

"The publication of information in the public interest is a cornerstone of media freedom, is protected by international law and should not be criminalised," she added about the case of Assange, who could face a prison sentence of up to 175 years in the US.

Protesters argued that Assange cannot be prosecuted in the US under the 1917 Espionage Act, a wartime law that "was not intended to prosecute the legitimate work of journalists".

"Julian Assange should not be extradited, not least because he is not a US citizen. With his indictment, US criminal law is expanding globally in an unpredictable way. It is not only his fate that is at stake, but the fate of all journalism around the world, of the freedom of public expression in general," said Uroš Lipušček, a former correspondent for the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

Strong opposition to Assange's extradition and a call for his release were also voiced in a press release by the Left, a junior member of the ruling coalition. "This is about the freedom of speech and of the press, about our right to be informed," the party wrote.


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