Slovenian PEN centre supports Assange
Ljubljana, 10 January - The board of the Slovenian PEN centre has unanimously elected Julian Assange an honorary member of the organisation. The centre said on Monday that this step has been taken in the hope that its backing, alongside international support, will help Assange on his judicial journey.
Assange was elected an honorary member of Slovenian PEN on 3 January. The centre considers him to be "the most courageous journalist and publicist of the last two decades, for which he is paying an extremely high personal and professional price".
The US wants to sue Assange for publishing top-secret military documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been in detention since 2019, before which he spent seven years at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. If found guilty on all 18 counts in the US, he faces up to 175 years in prison.
"To imprison someone simply for publishing the truth is contrary to all democratic arrangements, based on freedom of speech and journalism as the fourth branch of government," the Slovenian centre wrote in a public letter.
According to the centre, Assange's main fault was that his WikiLeaks posts have exposed the hypocrisy of the world's democracies, especially when they are waging wars in foreign countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.
"When we condemn the prosecution of Julian Assange, we condemn the prosecution of every journalist across the world, including Slovenia, when they come under pressure from people in power who want to hide the truth," the centre stressed.
Slovenian PEN president Tanja Tuma told the STA that the US and British PEN centres had also been very supportive of Assange, and their joint statement is published on the International PEN website.
The European Commission, headed by President Ursula von der Leyen and Vice-President Vera Jourova, has also made media freedom and independence one of the most important objectives of a democratic Europe in its Action Plan for European Democracy.
Freedom of the press should be specifically regulated by a new law on media freedom, which will be discussed in the autumn, the Commission wrote, expressing the hope that it will protect journalists and whistleblowers.