Joe Biden says he’s ‘considering’ request to drop Julian Assange charges

Signals from US President Joe Biden that the prosecution of Julian Assange could be dropped have been described as “encouraging” by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Asked if he had a response to Australian requests to end the US government’s pursuit of the Wikileaks founder over the release of classified documents, Biden said: “We are considering it”.

US prosecutors want to try Assange on 18 counts, mainly under the Espionage Act, over WikiLeaks’ release in 2010 of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.
Albanese said the president’s response was a positive sign in the campaign to get the charges against the Australian dropped.
“This is an encouraging statement from President Biden,” he told ABC TV on Thursday.
“We have raised, on behalf of Mr Assange, Australia’s national interest that enough is enough and this needs to be brought to a conclusion.

“We’ll continue to engage diplomatically in that in order to achieve an outcome that I believe Australians want to see.”

Assange is fighting extradition in the UK High Court to avoid facing espionage charges in the US.
The court in March said the US had to provide assurances that Assange would not face the death penalty.
Albanese in February backed a motion moved by independent MP Andrew Wilkie in the lower house of the federal parliament calling for the return of Assange to Australia.
In a statement to SBS News, Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, said: “It is not too late for President Biden to stop Julian’s extradition to the US, which was a politically motivated act by his predecessor.”

“By dropping the charges against Julian he will be protecting freedom of expression and the rights of journalists and publishers globally.”

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