Assange extradition move condemned

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Sinn Féin has condemned the decision by the British Home Secretary Priti Patel to proceed with the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the US.

The Australian is wanted in the US over his organisation’s reports on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which they have alleged have breached their secrecy laws.

Mr Assange is being held at Belmarsh prison in London after mounting a battle to avoid being extradited for the past twelve years. He could face a jail sentence of up to 175 years.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has called for Assange’s release. He said the extradition decision “is a purely politically motivated act, designed to further suppress journalism.”

“Julian Assange is a journalist who spoke out about illegal activities engaged in by the US in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For this, he is being hounded by authorities,” he said.

“Failure to protect his right to speak out as a journalist would represent a serious undermining of the principle of free speech.”

Amnesty International have said enabling the extradition to take place “would put him at great risk and sends a chilling message to journalists”.

His fiancee Stella Moris this week called the ruling “dangerous and misguided”.

In an emotional statement outside court in London after a judge ruled the extradition could go ahead, she said: “For the past... two years and a half, Julian has remained in Belmarsh prison, and in fact he has been detained since 7 December 2010 in one form or another, 11 years. For how long can this go on?”

Meanwhile, there have been fresh calls in Ireland for an end to the extradition of Irish republicans as another, Corkman Sean Walsh, faces being handed over to British jurisdiction.

If Mr Walsh is extradited he will be incarcerated in Maghaberry jail where he will face criminalisation, controlled movement, strip searches, and isolation.

Concern has mounted for Mr Walsh after Louth man Liam Campbell, after a 12 year battle, was suddenly extradited to Lithuania despite never having previously visiting the country.

Amid heavy Garda harassment, a well-attended picket took place this week outside the Department of Justice in St Stephen’s Green over the plan to extradite Mr Walsh. Saoradh and the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association in Dublin expressed their thanks to those who took part.

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