Press release 

GICJ Celebrates Julian Assange's Freedom as a Triumph for Human Rights

Geneva, 27th of June 2024

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) expresses profound relief and joy at the news of Julian Assange’s release from custody, marking the end of his fourteen-year struggle against extradition to the United States. Assange's freedom is not only a personal victory but also a significant milestone in the global fight for human rights, particularly the freedom of expression and the right to information.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has long been a controversial figure, celebrated by many for his dedication to transparency and condemned by others for his methods. On 24 June 2024, Assange was released from Belmarsh maximum-security prison in the UK and travelled to the Northern Mariana Islands, where he entered a guilty plea to a single espionage charge and was sentenced to time already served. He then continued his journey to Australia, arriving as a free man on Wednesday night.

From the moment WikiLeaks released a video in April 2010 showing a US military helicopter gunning down 11 civilians during the Iraq War, GICJ has steadfastly supported Julian Assange and his quest for the truth to come. In 2010, GICJ invited Assange to the 15th regular session of the Human Rights Council, where he was welcomed to speak at a side event jointly organised by GICJ and a number of other organisations. At that time, GICJ provided a platform for him to share his message and maintain contact with his wife and lawyer. Today, GICJ continues its unwavering support as Assange is finally released after 14 long years.

Assange’s case, which involved publishing nearly half a million classified US military documents, has been a focal point in the debate over press freedom and governmental transparency. His release underscores the fundamental human right to free expression and access to information, principles that GICJ steadfastly upholds.

Key points regarding Assange's journey to freedom:

  • Release from Belmarsh Prison: Assange left the UK’s high-security prison on 24 June after spending 1,901 days in detention.
  • Plea Deal and Sentencing: He pled guilty to a single espionage charge in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, and was sentenced to time already served.
  • Return to Australia: Assange travelled onward to his home nation, Australia, where he was warmly welcomed by supporters and family.

For over a decade, Assange faced extradition battles that took him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to the confines of Belmarsh prison. The conditions of his detention, described as inhumane by several human rights organisations, highlighted the dire need for international vigilance and advocacy in protecting journalists and whistleblowers.

Julian Assange's release is a victory for all who believe in the power of truth and the necessity of safeguarding the channels through which it flows. As we celebrate this momentous occasion, we renew our pledge to defend the freedoms that form the bedrock of a just and equitable society.

GICJ emphasises that Assange’s ordeal is a stark reminder of the perils faced by those who dare to challenge powerful entities and expose the truth. His release should invigorate global efforts to defend press freedom and ensure journalists can operate without fear of retribution. GICJ encourages all human rights defenders to continue their vital work, taking inspiration from Assange’s resilience and dedication to the cause of transparency and justice.

GICJ further calls upon all nations to strengthen their commitments to human rights, ensuring that the freedom of expression and the right to information are protected universally.

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