The family of Julian Assange is speaking out about his detention at Belmarsh, a high-security prison in the UK, the push to extradite him to the U.S. over the publication of classified materials and a new documentary about his case, stressing that his prosecution could have a chilling effect on press freedom.
The WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen faces a sentence of up to 175 years in an American maximum security prison if he is extradited and will face several charges, including espionage.
Assange is accused of publishing classified information detailing crimes committed by the U.S. government in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, Iraq and Afghanistan, and reveals instances in which the CIA engaged in torture and rendition.
John and Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s father and brother, said he isn’t any closer to being released from prison but is receiving more support from the international community.
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“We have a rising tide worldwide of support,” John Shipton said Thursday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Shipton added the Australian government has become more vocal in advocating for his son’s release.
“We characterized the previous election of the government in Australia as an Assange government because each of the successful candidates and the independents and the Greens stood on a platform of bringing Assange home to Australia,” he said.
Host Tucker Carlson asked Gabriel Shipton who was preventing Assange from being released from prison.
“Well, the national security DOJ are the ones who are behind this prosecution of Julian,” he responded. “I think if they would relook at this case and realize that they are prosecuting someone for doing what journalists do every day – publish. Or what they should be doing – publishing without fear or favor – then they would realize that this prosecution needs to come to an end and that they should listen to outlets like yours, as well as the New York Times, as well as many other groups, human rights groups, free press groups and First Amendment advocates who are all calling for this prosecution to be dropped because of the threat that it poses to the First Amendment in the USA.”
Numerous news outlets, including the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde and Der Spiegel, wrote an open letter last year calling for the U.S. to end its prosecution of Assange over concerns about press freedom.
Amnesty International, one of the largest human rights organizations, strongly condemned Assange’s possible extradition to the U.S.
“Julian Assange’s publication of disclosed documents as part of his work with Wikileaks should not be punishable as this activity mirrors conduct that investigative journalists undertake regularly in their professional capacity,” a press release from the organization read in part. “Prosecuting Julian Assange on these charges could have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression, leading journalists to self-censor from fear of prosecution.”
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John Shipton added that he couldn’t understand why the U.S. government would advocate for free speech under the First Amendment but then go after someone who was working as a journalist.
“Why they want to truncate their own magnificent gift to humankind has got us beat. But we keep on, and we keep on getting more and more support,” he told Carlson.
John and Gabriel shared that their documentary about Assange’s work and detention, “Ithaka,” is being screened at 52 locations across the U.S.
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“So, people [can] come along, they can get the full story and ask a question of anything they doubt or want to know further,” John Shipton said.
Fox News’ Landon Mion contributed to this report