Biden Faces Pressure To Pardon Or Drop Charges Of Julian Assange

( How the Biden administration deals with the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be the biggest test of the administration’s so-called commitment to a free and independent press.

In October, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department had revised its news media policy to expand protections for journalists that includes prohibiting the use of subpoenas, search warrants, court orders, and other investigatory practices against “newsgathering” individuals who either possess or publish classified information.

But Assange is charged under the Espionage Act for publishing classified information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Currently, the Biden administration is facing pushback both in the US and abroad to drop the charges against Assange.

Last month, five major media organizations including the New York Times, Der Spiegel, and Le Monde, released an open letter arguing that Assange’s indictment “sets a dangerous precedent” and is a threat to the First Amendment.

Officials in Australia met with US counterparts to appeal for the Australian-born Assange’s release.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the Australian parliament last month that he made it clear to the Biden administration “that it is time that this matter be brought to a close.”

President-elect Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil also demanded that Assange’s “unjust imprisonment” be ended when he met with WikiLeaks editors lobbying for his freedom.

Meanwhile, DOJ officials are keeping quiet about their next move as Assange continues to challenge his extradition to the US in a British appeals court.

One Justice Department official who spoke anonymously to the UK Guardian said Attorney General Garland has been clear that “he will follow the law wherever it leads.”

Assange’s attorney Barry Pollack told the UK Guardian that the Justice Department’s new policy on press freedom calls for “someone at the highest levels” of the DOJ “to take a fresh look” at the Assange prosecution to determine if it is “consistent with the new policy.”