Letter From Prominent Americans, Delivered to Ecuadorean Embassy London, Urges Asylum for Assange

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2012

Media Contacts:
(London) Robert Naiman, 217-979-2957, naiman@justforeignpolicy.org
(US) Megan Iorio, 908-400-9480, iorio@justforeignpolicy.org

Letter From Prominent Americans, Delivered to Ecuadorean Embassy London, Urges Asylum for Assange

Letter signed by Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Wolf, Daniel Ellsberg, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, Bill Maher, Patch Adams, MD, Mark Weisbrot and other prominent Americans; British writer Jemima Khan among signers; petition signed by 4000 Americans

LONDON, June 25 - Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy, delivered a letter to the Ecuadorean Embassy today, signed by prominent Americans urging President Correa of Ecuador to grant Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's petition for political asylum. Assange faces the threat of prosecution by the United States Government under the US Espionage Act of 1917 for his role in publishing leaked US diplomatic cables.

Naiman also presented a petition signed by more than four thousand Americans urging President Correa to approve the request for asylum.

The letter and the petition were received by Consul Fidel Narvaez.

The letter, which is online, notes that Assange is not wanted on criminal charges in Sweden, but merely for questioning. He has repeatedly made clear that he is willing to answer questions relating to accusations against him, but in the UK. As Swedish legal expert and former Chief District Prosecutor for Stockholm Sven-Erik Alhem has testified, Sweden's insistence that Assange be brought to Sweden for questioning is “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate.”

“If Swedish police want to question him, there is an SAS flight that leaves Stockholm at 7:55 tomorrow morning (flight #525) to London. I'm sure the British authorities would have no problem with the Swedish police questioning Mr. Assange. Then Sweden can decide if it wants to charge him with a crime,” Michael Moore, one of the signers of the letter, said on Facebook. “But it appears that Sweden has little interest in these charges—what they really want is the ability to extradite Assange to America. And that, simply, must not happen.”

As the letter emphasizes, Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, since there is a strong likelihood that once he is there, the US will seek to extradite him to face charges under the Espionage Act for his role in publishing leaked US diplomatic cables. The maximum penalty under the Espionage Act is death.

The letter highlights the fact that Assange has helped reveal evidence to the public of crimes against humanity committed by the United States. His persecution by the US government is a clear attack on press freedom and the public's right to know the truth about US foreign policy.

"If the US government succeeds in prosecuting Assange under the Espionage Act for helping to disclose the Wikileaks cables, it will likely intimidate future potential whistleblowers, making it harder to reveal important secrets about US foreign policy in the future, and therefore making it harder to reform US foreign policy in the future," Naiman wrote in a piece at Huffington Post.

Resources:

Letter from prominent Americans urging President Correa to grant asylum to Assange:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1257

Petition from over 4,000 individuals, mostly Americans, calling upon President Correa to grant Assange Asylum:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/assange-asylum

Naiman's article in the Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/president-correa-please-p_b_1612478.html

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Just Foreign Policy is a nonprofit nonpartisan advocacy organization that works to reform U.S. foreign policy so that it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. For further information see, go to http://www.justforeignpolicy.org.