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Call for judicial impartiality after Julian Assange's arrest

(RSF/IFEX) - 7 December 2010 - RSF addresses a letter to Kenneth Clarke, the British Secretary of State for Justice, calling for impartiality in Julian Assange's case:

The Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke MP
Secretary of State for Justice
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
London
SW1H 9AJ
United Kingdom

Paris, 7 December 2010

Dear Secretary of State,

Following WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's arrest by the British police today, Reporters Without Borders urges you to guarantee respect for his defence rights despite the extreme tension surrounding this case. The proceedings should concern solely the accusations of a private nature that have been made against Mr. Assange in Sweden and must not turn into a proxy trial for the publication of leaked documents by WiliLeaks.

Mr. Assange is now waiting to appear before a judge who will decide whether he is to be extradited to Sweden, and whether he is to remain in detention or be released. If the latter option is chosen, he will probably have to deposit bail of at least 100,000 pounds (120,000 euros) and provide six guarantors to avoid remaining in custody.

Mr. Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, told Reporters Without Borders on 4 December that it would take 10 days from the international warrant's issue to its reception by the police "unless Mr. Assange is treated differently." Mr. Assange's gesture of good faith in presenting himself to the police should be taken into account by those responsible for considering the case.

Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly condemned the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure being directed at WikiLeaks. This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency.

We therefore call for the British judicial system to be allowed to examine Mr. Assange's case with all the required impartiality and without it being subjected to any external governmental pressure. The authorities of certain countries seem to want to obtain Mr. Assange's conviction or at least to prevent him from continuing his activities in order to put a stop to WikiLeaks' revelations, without regard to freedom of information. We would like to point out that WikiLeaks has played a useful role by publicising serious human rights violations that were committed in the name of the "war against terror" during the past decade.

We thank you in advance for the attention you give to our request.

Yours sincerely,

Jean-François Julliard
Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General

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