The WikiLeaks founder can appeal his extradition. This is a small success, but the procedure itself is a great disgrace.

Assange raises his fist

Assange is taken from the courtroom, file image from London in 2019 Photo: Matt Dunham/dpa

This procedure is simply embarrassing. Of course, first of all it is good that Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to the United States in Great Britain. But London's decision on Tuesday is definitely no cause for celebration. Assange remains detained, after five years in a high-security prison in London, his release is not in sight and the court has linked extradition to certain conditions, but in principle it is not ruled out.

Therefore, it is worth remembering again: Assange is threatened with severe punishment because he published information that others wanted to keep secret. That's what journalists should do, especially when this information is used to document massive human rights violations.

Without the violation of the rules by Chelsea Manning, who transferred the mountain of digital documents to Wikileaks – and spent several years in prison for it – and the subsequent publication of the data by Wikileaks, no one would have known about the American crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. .

Unworthy of a democracy

If Assange is truly convicted of this, investigative journalism and the protection of sources as a whole will be at risk. And this is exactly what a deterrent is intended to be. But that is incompatible with press freedom, which is part of the rules-based world order that the West claims to defend.

Yes, it is possible that Assange had distorted political views and his own ambitions, even when he published data from Hillary Clinton's election campaign hacked by Russia in 2016 and therefore at least contributed to Donald Trump's election victory. One can also find Assange's previous behavior arrogant, self-righteous and sexist. But that does not change the fact that this tortuous extradition process should have no place in democratic societies.

Biden takes the reins

US President Joe Biden could stop Assange's prosecution at a stroke, just as Barack Obama once pardoned Chelsea Manning. It would be a humanitarian gesture on the one hand and a sign of political wisdom on the other. Because every day that Assange, seriously ill, remains in prison, he costs the West credibility.

The comparison between Assange and Alexei Navalny, who has just died in Russian custody, may be misleading, but both men are actually victims of governments that want to turn them into deterrent examples. If the West really wants to improve, Assange must be released immediately.