Assange case reflects US and UK hypocrisy on press freedom: China
Speaking heavily to Western countries over press freedom, China said on Monday that the case of jailed investigative journalist Julian Assange reflected “hypocrisy” in the United States and the United Kingdom.
“The case of Julian Assange is a mirror. It reflects the hypocrisy of the United States and the United Kingdom on freedom of the press,” Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a press conference in Beijing.
“People are free to expose other countries but subject to severe penalties if they expose the United States,” Wang said, responding to a question about WikiLeaks founder Assange, whose extradition order was issued. was signed last Friday by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Assange’s extradition order was forwarded to the secretary by the UK courts last month.
His wife, Stella Moris, has vowed to fight the move, saying the UK Home Office’s decision to extradite Julian Assange to the US is “not the end of the road”.
“We’re not at the end of the road here,” Morris said on Friday. “We will use all avenues of appeal and we will fight.”
After creating WikiLeaks in 2006, Assange released around 1 million documents obtained from American activist and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The documents included US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and alleged war crimes during those wars.
The release of another 250,000 classified documents relating to US efforts to isolate Iran has raised eyebrows in Washington.
People are criminalized if they expose the United States
Assange will face 18 counts of hacking into US government computers and violating the Espionage Act and a potential prison sentence of several years if extradited to the United States.
Assange has 14 days to appeal since signing the extradition order.
Launching a campaign on Western standards for press freedom, Wang said: “People are either treated as heroes if they denounce other countries or as criminals if they denounce the United States.” .
“In other countries, holding the media accountable is tantamount to ‘political persecution’, while in the United States, suppressing the media is tantamount to ‘acting according to law,'” Wang said.
“All eyes are on the Assange case. I hope and believe that fairness and justice will prevail, and that hegemony and abuse of power will not last forever,” he added .
Assange was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy building in London last year, where he took refuge for more than seven years.
British police say he was arrested for jumping bail in 2012 and on behalf of the United States due to an extradition warrant.
He was later found guilty of breaching his bail conditions in 2012 after failing to report to security by Westminster Magistrates’ Court and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison .
The United States created 49 million refugees
Commenting on today’s World Refugee Day, Wang said wars “led by the United States after 9/11 have created between 49 and 60 million refugees.”
“The war in Afghanistan alone has displaced 11 million people,” Wang said.
The US-led war on Afghanistan ended last August after the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, which led to the meltdown of the Washington-backed administration in Kabul. Later, the Taliban returned to power after 20 years of war.
“Some Western countries led by the United States have long exported war and unrest, interfered in other countries’ internal affairs, and created humanitarian disasters. They are the ones who generated the refugee problem in the first place,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry official said.
“We urge these countries to reflect on the seriousness of the impact of their behavior, to eliminate the root cause of the refugee problem and to assume their responsibilities,” Wang added.
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