OSCE media freedom rep calls on UK not to extradite Assange due to ‘excessive’ US prison sentence

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir expressed concern over Assange’s upcoming extradition hearing at London’s Woolwich Crown Court on Monday. He called on UK authorities to refuse to hand over Assange to Washington, citing the “disproportionate prison sentence, up to a total of 175 years, that he could potentially face if extradited and convicted.”

Desir argued that WikiLeaks has provided “important investigative reports and news reporting” and Assange’s extradition would have a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression and media freedom. Assange has been charged under the Espionage Act over the publication of leaked documents that revealed possible war crimes by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Activists and watchdog groups have expressed concern about Assange’s treatment at the hands of UK authorities as he awaits his fate. His detention at HM Prison Belmarsh – which at one point involved solitary confinement and other excessive measures – has been repeatedly criticized as inhumane and bordering on torture.

On Saturday, thousands of people protested near the British Parliament against Assange’s looming extradition. The rally was attended by Assange’s father Richard, as well as WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and rock musician and co-founder of Pink Floyd Roger Waters.

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