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The editors and publishers of the five media organisations who partnered with WikiLeaks – The Guardian, Le Monde, El País, Der Spiegel and New York Times – have called for end to the prosecution of Julian Assange. The New York Times reports that together with four European news organisations they have called on the United States government to drop its charges against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, for obtaining and publishing classified diplomatic and military secrets. The material was leaked to WikiLeaks by the then U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning

In a joint open letter, The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País said the prosecution of Mr. Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act “sets a dangerous precedent” that threatened to undermine the [US] First Amendment and the freedom of the press.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.

“Holding governments accountable is part of the core mission of a free press in a democracy.

“Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists.  If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.

“Twelve years after the publication of “Cablegate”, [the name given to the release of the US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks] it is time for the U.S. government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.”

Each of the five news organisations worked with Mr. Assange in 2010 and 2011, during the events at the heart of the criminal case. WikiLeaks obtained leaked archives of classified American diplomatic cables and military files, which enabled news outlets to publish articles containing notable revelations.

Julian Assange continues to held in Belmarsh maximum security prison in south east London where he has spent the last three years since his arrest on being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy.

In August, Mr. Assange’s legal team launched an appeal against his extradition which had been approved by the then home secretary, Priti Patel, in June, The High Court must agree to hear Assange’s appeal before it can proceed.  If this is rejected, his legal team intends to pursue the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The action by the media organisations has been welcomed by the Assange Defence Team calling it: “… a big deal, {that} and has generated loads of mainstream press coverage…. Since then, just about every other major outlet has covered the story!”