Biden Considering Dropping Charges

( – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been fighting to extradite Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, back to the US for years. Prosecutors have charged him with multiple felonies, and he faces decades in prison for publishing stolen classified information. Australia has asked that the US drop the charges against him. President Joe Biden and his administration are now considering the request.

In February, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese backed a motion by the country’s parliament calling for Assange to be returned to his country of birth. The PM has raised the issue with the United States and has pledged to continue using diplomacy to have him released. Assange is currently being held in London, where he’s been since 2019, when Ecuador withdrew his asylum and invited British authorities into the embassy to arrest him.

On April 10, a reporter asked Biden about the request from Australia during a White House meeting with Japan’s prime minister. Reuters reported the president responded, “We’re considering it.”

Albanese told ABC television that Biden’s remark was “encouraging.” He went on to say that he believes “Assange has already paid a significant price, and enough is enough.” The PM said his “very strong view” is that nothing is being gained by keeping the Wikileaks founder in jail.

The US government has charged Assange with 17 espionage charges for his role in the Chelsea Manning scandal. The former US intelligence analyst gave Wikileaks classified information related to the War on Terror, diplomatic relations, and other information. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence when he left office. She was released after just seven years.

First Amendment advocates have argued Assange is a journalist and had the right to publish the documents. They believe the continued prosecution is a violation of the Constitution and is a threat to freedom of speech.

The United Kingdom has refused to send Assange back to the US until it receives reassurances that the DOJ won’t give him the death penalty.

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