Home » Julian Assange, Erling Borgen | Erling Borgen on the Assange case: – An international shame

Julian Assange, Erling Borgen | Erling Borgen on the Assange case: – An international shame

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Julian Assange, Erling Borgen |  Erling Borgen on the Assange case: – An international shame

The long-standing NRK journalist Erling Borgen is currently in the UK, where the London High Court is dealing with the question of whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to the US authorities, where he is accused of espionage on 18 counts.

Julian Assange put informants at risk when he published large amounts of secret US documents, US lawyers said in court in London on Wednesday.

Read your own case: US lawyers: – Assange put informants at risk

Assange and his supporters believe he has done nothing wrong, and that an extradition would be a serious attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. So does Borgen, who sits on the Assange committee of the freedom of expression organization Norsk PEN.

– It is a shame. An international disgrace, and the Norwegian authorities have not lifted a finger to get Assange out of prison, says Borgen to Nettavisen on the phone from London.

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– Will equate journalistic revelations with espionage

Borgen says Assange risks 175 years in prison. That the American authorities, according to the BBC, believe that a sentence of between four and six years in prison is more likely, the seasoned journalist believes little.

– In this case, I trust Assange’s lawyers much more than what the Americans say in a propaganda context, he says.

Borgen does not believe the court will allow Assange to appeal, and says Assange’s lawyers have then said they will appeal the case further to the European Court of Human Rights. The question then is whether Assange will be sent to the United States, or whether he will be allowed to stay in England until the case is finalized.

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Compared to Navalny

When Nettavisen spoke to Borgen on Wednesday morning, there was about an hour until protesters were to gather in the English capital to mark their support for Assange.

Erling Borgen describes being present in London as “very strong”, and says that he has both spoken to Assange’s lawyers and Assange’s wife Stella.

– He is in incredibly poor health, and therefore he is neither present in court, nor wants to watch the trial on video.

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Assange too ill to appear in court

Borgen also compares the treatment of Assange to the treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was recently found dead after serving time in a Russian prison.

– Like all thinking and fair people, I strongly distance myself from what happened to Navalny. I think what is happening with Julian Assange is the same story, he says.

Borgen once again repeats his criticism of the Norwegian authorities’ handling of the case, and also says:

– I fear what will happen if Assange is not released from prison quite immediately.

– Do you not trust that Assange will receive a fair trial if he is extradited to the United States?

– A spy trial is basically secret, and you don’t get an insight into what is going on. I think the reason why people are driving so hard against Assange, who is a journalist and publicist, is that he has ensured that newspapers all over the world have been able to reveal how the US and the UK have committed gross war crimes in Iran and Afghanistan.

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– They do it to scare journalists from making similar disclosures in the future, says Borgen.

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Nominated for the Peace Prize

Lawyer: Too ill to ask

Julian Assange does not appear in court himself when it deals with the question of his extradition to the United States.

The 52-year-old is too ill to meet, his lawyer has previously said.

Assange has been in a high-security prison in London since he was forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019. His wife Stella warned last week that “his mental and physical health was in decline”.

Chairman Ann Margit Austenå of Norsk PEN said this week about the matter:

– If Julian Assange is extradited to the US, it means equating journalistic revelations with espionage, which is a serious attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press worldwide. It will also set a dangerous precedent for others who expose war crimes and abuses of power. Julian Assange’s case concerns us all.

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