Press and internet freedom advocates join crypto users in support of Wikileaks’ Assange

Digital and journalistic rights are at stake in the trial for Julian Assange’s extradition, say 24 major advocacy groups.

A coalition of 24 press freedom, civil rights and internet defense groups have signed a letter asking Biden to leave Wikileaks founder Julian Assange alone.

A Monday letter signed by the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Freedom of the Press Foundation, among others, asked the Biden administration to forego the extradition proceedings currently happening in the United Kingdom. 

The authors implore Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson to abandon the Trump-era pursuit of Assange. “The Trump administration positioned itself as an antagonist to the institution of a free and unfettered press in numerous ways,” the letter reads. 

Assange has been in exile for the better part of the last decade. Wikileaks is a facilitator of leaked documents, especially from the government, a status that has proved controversial. Many payments platforms have cut Wikileaks, a donation-dependent entity, off from payments over the years. Indeed, when it onboarded Bitcoin in 2011, it was the first introduction much of the public had to the budding cryptocurrency. 

Wikileaks’ tentative use of Bitcoin was, in fact, the subject of Satoshi Nakamoto’s last confirmed communication: An email in which they wrote: “It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.”

Satoshi’s disapproval notwithstanding, crypto users have continued to support Wikileaks, even donating $400,000 to Assange’s defense last month. 

The journalistic community has also by-and-large defended Wikileaks, as exposing classified information has been critical to the public good in many cases. Yesterday’s letter argued:

“Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices.”

Although the letter advertised itself primarily as coming from human rights groups, among those it counted several organizations known for their advocacy of internet access as a human right. Among them are Access Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Human Rights Foundation, whose chief strategy officer Alex Gladstein is a major advocate for Bitcoin

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