The following resolution was passed by the IADL Bureau meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 6 April 2019:
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers expresses its serious concern about reports that Julian Assange may soon be expelled from the Embassy of Ecuador in London.
As the Special Rapporteur on Torture also recently warned, Mr. Assange, if expelled, would likely to be arrested by the British government and expedited to the United States, where he faces a serious risk of human rights violations, including denial of his rights to freedom of expression and a fair trial, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The IADL urges the Government of Ecuador not to suspend Mr. Assange’s claim for political asylum or expel him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, especially as his human rights face a severe and legitimate risk if he is expelled. We urge Ecuador to continue to protect Mr. Assange and to ensure his rights while he remains in the embassy, including visitation, access to the internet and medical care and treatment.
Further, if Mr. Assange is expelled from the Embassy of Ecuador, the IADL urges the British government not to expel, extradite or return Mr. Assange to the United States or any other jurisdiction until a fair and impartial proceeding has been heard on his right to asylum with appropriate fair trial and due process guarantees, including the right to appeal. In December 2015, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Mr. Assange was arbitrarily deprived of his freedom by his confinement inside the Ecuadorian embassy. We demand that the United Kingdom abide by its obligations under international law and allow Mr. Assange to walk free without fear of arrest or extradition.
IADL also notes that extradition without proper safeguards, such as adequate protection measures, is a violation of international law. This is especially true in cases such as those of Mr. Assange, where the destination country, the United States, practices the death penalty and has so far failed to disclose what criminal charges it intends to pursue against him. U.S. media have confirmed that Mr. Assange has been indicted, but the indictment remains undisclosed and under seal.
As noted by the Special Rapporteur, the international principle of non-refoulement is an absolute obligation on all parties, regardless of their political or alleged national security considerations.
The U.S.-led persecution of Mr. Assange has come in response to his journalistic activities with WikiLeaks, including the publication of documents regarding corporate toxic waste dumping; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners held at the U.S. Guantanamo military base; wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; alleged Saudi involvement in the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi; Internet censorship in China and elsewhere and other matters of concern. Documents published by WikiLeaks have been widely circulated in the press and in human rights cases before various international courts.
The IADL reiterates its concern that the U.S. states that it can prosecute in its domestic courts publishers and journalists in Europe and elsewhere in the world for their publications carried out entirely outside the territory of the United States. This could be used to attack critical and dissenting writers and investigative journalists as an ongoing precedent, a threat that stretches far beyond Mr. Assange.
In this context, we also reiterate our concern about the re-imprisonment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, which has come amid her refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. This grand jury has been continually ongoing since 2010. She already testified about WikiLeaks in her 2012 criminal trial. We note that the imprisonment of Ms. Manning underlines the serious threat to freedom of expression posed by the ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks.
We urge the United States to immediately release Ms. Manning from prison and cease its attempts to criminally prosecute WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange, noting that the ongoing grand jury and criminal investigation pose a substantive threat to press freedom worldwide.
6 April 2019