The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
2 February 2021
Dear Home Secretary,
I write further to the high court ruling on 4th January preventing the extradition of Julian Assange to the US, on the grounds that “extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm”. As you will know, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the US was incapable of preventing the Wikileaks founder from attempting to take his own life.
I share the widespread view that Mr Assange’s prosecution under the US Espionage Act set a dangerous precedent for press freedom and criminalised investigative journalism - in common with other journalists he should be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to freedom of speech. It is therefore deeply worrying that the Judge did not find the legal basis for extradition to the US was flawed and the UK has been complicit in putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial.
There is a clear and compelling requirement for you to review the decision to order Julian Assange’s extradition to the US and ensure that he is released with immediate effect. I also wish to express my deep concern that he has been refused bail. Given Judge Baraitser’s clear warnings about Julian Assange’s mental health and the risk of suicide, it is particularly unacceptable for him to remain incarcerated any longer under the harsh conditions of high security detention at Belmarsh Prison. I further note the views of Amnesty International that Julian Assange should not have been jailed pending extradition in the first place; the charges against him were politically-motivated; and the UK government should never have so willingly assisted the US in its unrelenting pursuit of Assange.
If there is evidence that Julian Assange has committed any offences under UK law, he should be tried here and not detained arbitrarily on an ongoing basis without due process.
I look forward to your response.