Stella Moris, the fiancée of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has urged US President Joe Biden to break with Donald Trump’s legacy and drop the extradition case against him.
“If Biden is serious about breaking with Trump’s legacy, then he has to drop the case,” Moris told Reuters in an interview.
Assange, who is currently being held in the British high security prison HMP Belmarsh, was initially convicted by the Obama administration for plotting to hack into US military databases in order to obtain information on the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, which were subsequently published in WikiLeaks in 2010.
The Obama administration in which Biden was vice president decided not to seek his extradition by invoking the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The Trump administration, however, laid several charges against Assange, and in 2019 the charges against him were expanded to include espionage, which carries a total of 175 years in prison. In February, the US Department of Justice continued to request his extradition from the UK.
Moris, who is a lawyer by profession, said Biden must stop prosecuting Assange if the United States is to be known for defending press freedom around the world.
“They cannot continue this lawsuit against Julian while saying they are defending global press freedom.” Moris told Reuters
Read also: After John McAfee’s death, Edward Snowden has a warning for Julian Assange
Moris also urged the UK government to pressure the Biden administration to drop its extradition call, saying Assange would not survive his imprisonment in the United States. “I think there is no doubt that Julian would not survive extradition”,
Moris and Assange met during his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum for nearly seven years. They share two children together. After Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno withdrew his country’s support, Assange was arrested by London Metropolitan Police in 2019 and has since been detained in Belmarsh.
Concerns over Assange’s welfare if he were to be extradited have grown since antivirus mogul John McAfee died by apparent suicide in a Barcelona prison. McAfee is said to have taken an extreme step after the announcement of his extradition to the United States for tax evasion.
President Biden called Assange a “high-tech terrorist” in 2010, during his tenure as vice president of the Obama administration. He also accused WikiLeaks of damaging foreign relations with the United States.