Urge NGOs to Act

ACTION: URGE NGOS TO TAKE A PUBLIC, FORMAL STAND ON WIKILEAKS AND ASSANGE

Reasoning for this action: NGOs are caught in a tension. They are faced with pressures of, on the one hand, the public and their memberships’ expectations that they will take a position on a given issue that matters to the public and the membership; and on the other hand, their funding sources.

Most NGOs rely heavily on major US, UK and Swedish foundations or public sources for funding. While it is true that foundation funding conditions their willingness to take a position on WikiLeaks and Assange, equally (one hopes) so does public expectation. NGOs rely on their ability to embody human rights values in order to operate effectively in their sector. They must therefore project credibility, integrity and a practice of consistent positions based on principle. NGOs that risk being seen as irrelevant and/or hypocritical lose their base.

This is why we are making a call to action for you, who are the public and the potential and existing membership of that organisation, to spell out your expectations.

  • One can approach local, national, and international representatives (the highest representative at each of these levels), simultaneously, as well as subject-relevant representatives (Latin America desk, Freedom of Expression Desk, etc).
  • For a list of NGOs, search prominent free press, human rights and civil liberties organisations specific to your country.
  • It is most effective if you are a paying member of one of these organisations
  • Encourage friends and family to also to sign letters and post them separately (this is more effective than having several signatures in one letter. You can also print out several copies and ask others if they are interesting in signing the letter).
  • If you are a member of the organisation already, you may want to consider (and inform the organisation that you are considering) withdrawing your membership, and urging other members to do so as well in light of the organisations hypocrisy on this issue.

Template letter - (this is just a guide)

[Name of the highest representative of the NGO] [NGO Name] [NGO Address]

[Date]

Dear [Name of the highest representative of the NGO],

I am writing to urge [NGO name] to call on the UK to publicly and formally guarantee that it will not extradite Julian Assange to the United States in connection with WikiLeaks.

[NGO name] has been silent on this issue for too long. Julian Assange’s fate is not just the fate of one man. The clear intent of the United States administrations, past and present, is to imprison him for many years for his publishing work. This is of grave concern to all who truly defend the freedom of the press and the right of the public to access information. These are rights and freedoms that [NGO name] has staked out as its own founding principles.

Calling on the UK to prevent Assange’s extradition is not a controversial position. There is already consensus among leading voices of the human rights community that US attempts to prosecute Assange amount to persecution, and that an extradition to the United States would weaken press freedoms at home and abroad.

Amnesty International in 2012 called for the governments concerned to "issue assurances" that Julian Assange "will not be extradited to the USA in connection with Wikileaks".

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero stated "it’s clear that any criminal charges against Mr. Assange in connection with Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional. Indeed, even the prolonged criminal investigation of Wikileaks itself has had a profound chilling effect. The Justice Department should end that investigation". Ben Wizner, also at ACLU, stated that "Any prosecution of WikiLeaks for publishing government secrets would set a dangerous precedent that the Trump administration would surely use to target other news organizations."

James Goodall, formal legal counsel to the New York Times, put it best: “What started off as a putative prosecution of Assange has turned into a persecution.”

The political persecution of Assange, if permitted to continue its course, will irreversibly undermine press freedoms in the West and has already been used to justify crackdowns against publishers and journalists in other countries.

The human rights community must stand united and defend its principles. As during the Apartheid era, this issue is not just a matter of principle, it is a struggle that defines the true nature and scope of our freedoms and those who stand ready to defend them.

[NGO name] must take a clear stand on the key issue of the publisher’s right to publish without threat of imprisonment. A public statement calling for the UK to issue a formal guarantee that it will not extradite Julian Assange to the US in connection with WikiLeaks publications will be a solid first step.

Yours sincerely,

[Name] [Address]

This is an example of organisations that could be approached (but search local NGOs for best results):

  • Amnesty International - contactus@amnesty.org
  • Article 19 - communications@article19.org
  • Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) - cjfe@cjfe.org
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – info@cpj.org
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) - info@eff.org
  • English PEN - enquiries@englishpen.org
  • European Centre for Press & Media Freedom (ECPMF) – info@ecpmf.eu
  • Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) - https://freedom.press/contact/
  • IFEX – media@ifex.org
  • Index on Censorship - https://www.indexoncensorship.org/c...
  • International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) – ifj@ifj.org
  • International Modern Media Institute (IMMI) - birgitta@immi.is
  • International Press Institute (IPI) - info@ipi.media
  • Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas – knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu
  • MEAA Media, Australia (MEAA) - https://www.meaa.org/contact/
  • National Union of Journalists (NUJ) - communications@nuj.org.uk
  • OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (OSCE) - deniz.yazici@osce.org -* PEN America - media@pen.org
  • Reporters without Borders – jbance@rsf.org or secretariat@rsf.org
  • Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression - request@tjcenter.org

2928 days under house arrest.

Our Twitter Feed

Read more on twitter...

Click to share this post on Twitter Share this on Facebook