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In the name of press freedom, media and journalists call for the release of Assange

Le 22 June, 2022
11 am

In the name of press freedom, media and journalists call for the release of Assange

For all citizens

For journalists only

At the invitation of the Geneva Press Club/Club suisse de la presse, Swiss and international organizations of journalists and editors call with one voice for the release of Julian Assange in the name of press freedom on June 22 at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva at 11:00 am CEST. A broad-based coalition of journalists and media outlets has been formed after the British government authorized the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder to the United States on June 17, where he faces 175 years in prison. This Geneva-based coalition, which has been joined by journalistic organizations from many other countries, is calling directly on the British and American authorities. It also asks the Swiss authorities, in the name of freedom of the press and human rights, to intervene to ensure Julian Assange a refuge in Switzerland or elsewhere.

The coalition supports Julian Assange, who will use all remaining avenues of appeal to oppose his extradition and regain his freedom. His only crime is to have published classified documents revealing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bearers of the Appeal will recall that an extradition of Julian Assange would have serious repercussions for investigative journalism, since any use of so-called “classified” or secret documents could be prosecuted and lead to a prison sentence for investigators. This threat will increase the pressure for self-censorship and will encourage the renunciation of revealing information of public interest from “protected” official sources.

Since May 18, the decision to extradite Julian Assange at the request of the United States has been in the hands of the British Minister of Justice, Priti Patel. On Friday 17 June, she decided to sign the extradition order, considering that there was no reason to prohibit it. This is in flagrant violation of human rights and in total disregard of the freedom of the press.

As a reminder, Julian Assange, after living in seclusion in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years, has now been locked up for more than three years in Belmarsh penitentiary, the high-security prison in London, where he is, according to Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, undergoing treatment that amounts to torture. His health has seriously deteriorated and if extradited, he faces a sentence of 175 years in prison.

Beyond the human aspects and the violation of human rights dear to Geneva, the case of Julian Assange is a major issue for the future of press freedom, which is increasingly under attack in all parts of the world, including Switzerland. It should be noted that Switzerland, even if the situation is described as “rather good”, has lost four places in the Reporters Without Borders 2022 ranking, falling to 14th place. Recent provisions concerning freedom of the press explain this result.

With the participation of 

  • Edgar Bloch, Co-President, impressum, Swiss journalists
  • Daniel Hammer, General Secretary, Swiss Media
  • Denis Masmejan, Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders Switzerland
  • Dominique Pradalié, President of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Syndicat national des journalistes (SNJ) France
  • Marc Meschenmoser, Co-president of Investigativ.ch
  • Jean-Philippe Ceppi, Producer of Temps présent (RTS) and member investigativ.ch
  • Nicole Lamon, Deputy editor-in-chief, Matin Dimanche
  • Frédéric Julliard, Editor-in-chief, Tribune de Genève
  • Philippe Bach, Editor-in-Chief, Le Courrier
  • Serge Michel, Editor-in-Chief, heidi.news
  • Tim Dawson, National Union of Journalists, Great Britain (zoom)
  • Karen Percy, Media President of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Australia
  • Mika Beuster, National deputy director, Deutscher Journalisten Verband (Germany)
  • Jean Musy, President, Association of foreign press in Switzerland (APES)
  • Agustin Yanel, Secretary general, Federation of the unions of spanish journalists, Spain
  • Pierre Ruetschi, Executive Director, Geneva Press Club and President of the Dumur Award

Ten other Swiss editors-in-chief support the Appeal and other international Journalists organization are joining

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