The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is renewing its support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in his fight to avoid extradition to the U.S. on Espionage Act charges. The CAJ joins numerous other journalism and human rights organizations in calling on Britain to drop its efforts to extradite him, and on the U.S. to abandon the charges.

Assange faces up to 175 years in jail for publishing classified documents from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The documents were picked up by many news organizations around the world to reveal abuses by the U.S. and other governments. Canadian journalists and news organizations made use of these documents to bring to light actions on the part of the Canadian government that had not previously been disclosed. 

These disclosures would not have been possible without the efforts of Wikileaks, and yet the man who facilitated the revelations is facing a lifetime of imprisonment. In effect, the U.S. government is sending a message to future whistleblowers and journalists that any attempt to reveal governments’ covert and criminal behaviour is subject to severe consequences. This chilling effect on journalism would be felt not just in the U.S., but in Canada and around the world. 

Since 2019, Assange has been held in a high-security prison in Britain. In June, the U.K. home secretary approved the U.S. extradition request, and Assange is currently appealing that decision to the courts. In the meantime, he remains incarcerated without having been convicted of any crime.

“Many of the best examples of investigative journalism rely on classified documents and whistleblowers who provide them,” said Brent Jolly, president of the CAJ. “People should be encouraged to come forward and share such information, not threatened with jail time. The prosecution of Julian Assange is a threat to freedom of expression, and will have a chilling effect on journalism that seeks to hold powerful interests to account,” he said.

The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with 1300 members across Canada. The CAJ’s primary roles are public-interest advocacy work and professional development for its members.

For more information contact:
Brent Jolly, CAJ president – 289-387-3179, brent@caj.ca

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