Germany in Contact With UK on Assange Case, Foreign Ministry Says

A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a placard calling for his freedom outside Woolwich Crown Court and HMP Belmarsh prison in southeast London on February 24, 2020, ahead of the opening of the trial to hear a US request for Assange’s extraditionBERLIN (Sputnik) – German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock remains in contact with her UK counterpart Liz Truss on the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Andrea Sasse, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, said on Monday.On June 17, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the extradition of Assange to the US, where he is facing a possible sentence of up to 175 years in prison, despite objections from his defense lawyers citing health risks. WikiLeaks called Patel’s decision “a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy” and promised to challenge the order.”Legal means are still possible against UK Home Secretary [Priti] Patel’s decision, there are certain deadlines that colleagues already mentioned on Friday, and there is still a very limited set of legal means that can be used. This means that there is no final decision… I can add that German Foreign Minister Baerbock is still closely following this case and remains in contact with her UK counterpart on this matter,” Sasse told a briefing.She added that Anna Luhrmann, the minister of state for Europe and climate at the German Foreign Ministry, will hold a meeting with Assange’s relatives in Berlin later in the day.Australian Prime Minister Refrains From Publicly Calling for Assange’s Release11:19 GMTWikiLeaks was founded by Assange on October 4, 2006, but rose to prominence in 2010 when it began to publish large-scale leaks of classified government information, especially from the US. Assange was put on the US wanted list on espionage charges after his organization released thousands of classified documents that shed light on war crimes committed by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.Since June 2012, the WikiLeaks founder had been hiding at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fearing extradition, however, in April 2019, he was arrested by the UK authorities at Washington’s request. Extradition hearings began in May 2019. The US government soon filed new charges against Assange on 17 counts of violations of the espionage law and disclosing classified information. Assange is now staying at a UK prison pending extradition.


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