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Biden Weighs Australia Request to Drop Julian Assange Prosecution

Biden Weighs Australia Request to Drop Julian Assange Prosecution
Rcent rally in London. (AP)

Wednesday, 10 April 2024 03:16 PM EDT

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he was considering Australia's request to drop the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had released troves of confidential U.S. classified documents and is battling extradition to the United States.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has long expressed opposition to the Wikileaks founder's detention, in February backed a parliamentary motion calling for the return of Assange, an Australian citizen, to Australia.

"We are considering it," Biden told a reporter who asked if he had a response to Australia's request to end Assange's prosecution.

Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, called Biden's comments encouraging. Three weeks earlier, Pollack had said Assange's legal team saw no indication of resolution to U.S. charges against him.

"It is encouraging that President Biden has confirmed that the United States is considering dropping its case against Julian Assange," Pollack said in an email.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Biden's remarks on Wednesday.

Assange's extradition was put on hold in March after London's High Court said the United States must provide assurances he would not face the death penalty.

Assange, 52, is battling extradition from Britain to the U.S., where he is wanted on criminal charges over the release of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables in 2010. Washington says the release of the documents had put lives in danger.

Assange's supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimized because he exposed U.S. wrongdoing, including in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If extradited, Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in a maximum security prison. Multiple rights groups, leading media organizations and the leaders of countries like Mexico and Brazil have also urged that charges against Assange be dropped.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he was considering Australia's request to drop the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had released troves of confidential U.S. classified documents and is battling extradition to the United States.Australian Prime...
assange
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2024-16-10
Wednesday, 10 April 2024 03:16 PM
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