On Saturday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the possible extradition of whistleblower Julian Assange raises concerns for the rights of future whistleblowers and investigative journalists. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency supporters have continued to donate to Assange and his legal battle as Wikileaks has amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in crypto assets since Assange has been held captive in London since 2019.
UN rights chief says US attempt to extradite Assange ‘raises concerns about media freedom’
The United States would like to see Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, extradited to the United States for leaking classified information provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. When Wikileaks released the “Collateral Murder” video, the Afghanistan War Logs, the Iraq War Logs, and Cablegate, the US government launched a full-scale criminal investigation against Assange. When federal authorities unsealed an indictment against Assange, the complaints stemmed from leaks provided by Manning. Assange is accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.
Assange joins a host of others charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, including Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. While Assange was granted asylum in Ecuador in 2012, seven years later, on April 11, 2019, he was dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and has been fighting extradition from the United States ever since. This week, Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s human rights chief, expressed her concerns about Assange’s extradition to the United States.
During his meeting with Assange’s wife and lawyers, Bachelet said:
The extradition and potential prosecution of Mr. Assange raises concerns about media freedom and a possible chilling effect on investigative journalism and on the activities of whistleblowers.
One of Assange’s lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, told reporters the case would be referred to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange’s lawyers dispute that the Wikileaks founder is “prosecuted and punished for his political opinions”. Following Bachelet’s initial comments, the UN human rights chief said her office would monitor the whistleblower’s case.
“In these circumstances, I would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring respect [for] Mr. Assange’s human rights, in particular the right to a fair trial and due process guarantees in this case,” Bachelet told reporters. “My office will continue to follow Assange’s case closely.”
Wikileaks raises hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash
Wikileaks has been supporting cryptocurrencies and accepting bitcoin for donations since 2010. After Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, cryptocurrency donations started pouring in and they have continued to this day . In the past four months alone, Wikileaks has collected 3,480 BTC worth $133,179 using today’s Bitcoin exchange rates. The Wikileaks BTC has changed frequently over the past few years.
The data further shows that for about 24 months, Wikileaks collected 228.16 BCH worth almost $100,000. Over the past four years, Wikileaks has collected 147.48 ETH worth $145,647 using current Ether exchange rates. Of course, much of the BTC, BCH, and ETH donations were cashed out at much higher USD values than they are worth today. Additionally, Wikileaks also accepts donations in litecoin (LTC), zcash (ZEC), and monero (XMR).
What do you think of the fact that the UN human rights chief has said that the US extradition of Assange could deal a chilling blow to media freedom, whistleblowers and investigative journalism? Let us know what you think about this topic in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, editorial photo credit: London, Britain, October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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