UEL welcomes release of publisher Julian Assange

The Unified European Left at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is pleased that Australian journalist and publisher Julian Assange is finally able to return home after over 14 years of deprivation of liberty. Assange has been persecuted for publishing accurate information about serious and systematic war crimes, and gross violations of human rights and democracy.

Andrej Hunko, co-chair notes that “Over these years, the UEL has stood firm demanding Mr Assange’s rights and freedom, and opposing the abuse of State power against him. To this end, the UEL had appointed a legal observer Dr Deepa Driver who has monitored almost all procedural and substantive hearings in the UK since his arrest.”

Mr Assange’s release today marks a new chapter for him and his family. But Dr Driver points out that his release “has revealed fundamental threats to freedom of the press, free speech and human rights”. She adds that “PACE should also remain deeply concerned regarding the misuse of extradition processes and administrative detention by member states so as to silence dissent and whistleblowing and to repress the media” .

The UEL remains committed to democracy, law, media freedom and human rights. The UEL will continue to work towards defending human rights & justice, freedom of expression, media freedom and the protection of journalists and whistleblowers. On Thursday, the Assembly upon request by the UEL group, will hold a debate on “Can the Council of Europe step up its efforts to counter threats to the freedom of expression?” and later this year PACE will also receive a report on the topic “The detention of Julian Assange and its chilling effects on human rights”. Both the debate and the report remain areas of deep engagement for UEL. The group thanks those involved in this deliberation.

The UEL also expresses its gratitude to the group’s legal observer in the case of Julian Assange, Dr Deepa Driver, for tirelessly following the legal developments in the case over the past five years despite restrictions to access, and for briefing the group and other parliamentarians.