U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday said his administration is weighing the Australian government’s requests to drop charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been deprived of his freedom since 2010 and is currently jailed in London’s notorious Belmarsh Prison while fighting extradition to the United States.

Asked by reporters at the White House about requests from Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and members of the country’s Parliament for the U.S. and United Kingdom to drop the extradition effort and charges against Assange—an Australian citizen—Biden said that “we’re considering it.”

Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, responded to Biden’s remarks on social media. “Do the right thing,” she wrote. “Drop the charges. #FreeAssangeNOW.”

Srećko Horvat, a Croatian philosopher and co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 pan-European progressive political party, said that “this would be the best decision Biden ever made.”

British journalist Afshin Rattansi asked, “Why has Julian Assange been put through this ordeal in the first place?”

Assange—who is 52 years old and suffers from various health problems—faces multiple U.S. charges under the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for his role in publishing classified government documents, some of them revealing war crimes and other misdeeds. Among the files published by WikiLeaks are the “Collateral Murder” video—which shows a U.S. Army helicopter crew killing a group of Iraqi civilians—the Afghan and Iraq war logs.

“The U.S. must stop its politically motivated prosecution of Assange, which puts Assange and media freedom at risk worldwide.”

Three U.S. administrations have pursued charges against Assange. During the administration of former President Donald Trump—who is the presumptive 2024 Republican nominee—officials including then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allegedly plotted to assassinate Assange to avenge WikiLeaks’ publication of the “Vault 7” documents exposing CIA electronic warfare and surveillance activities. In 2010, Trump called for Assange’s execution.

The U.K. High Court ruled last month that Assange could not be immediately extradited to the U.S., where he faces up to 175 years behind bars if convicted on all counts. The tribunal gave the Biden administration until April 16 to guarantee that Assange won’t face the death penalty. Absent such assurance, Assange will be allowed to continue appealing his extradition.

Last month, Assange’s legal team denied reports that a plea deal with the U.S. government may have been in the works.

Assange has been imprisoned in Belmarsh since 2019. Before that, he spent nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been granted political asylum under the government of leftist former President Rafael Correa.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in 2016 that Assange had been arbitrarily deprived of his freedom since his first arrest on December 7, 2010. In 2019, Nils Melzer, then the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, said Assange had been subjected to “psychological torture.”

Following the High Court’s decision last month, Amnesty International legal adviser Simon Crowther said that “the U.S. must stop its politically motivated prosecution of Assange, which puts Assange and media freedom at risk worldwide.”

Your support matters…

Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media.

You can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearths what's really happening- without compromise.

Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.