A British court determined on Friday that Julian Assange, the creator and publisher of WikiLeaks, could be extradited to the United States to stand trial on the charges of breaching the Espionage Act, a verdict that rights organizations warn puts international press freedoms at grave risk. In reaction to the verdict, Rebecca Vincent, head of international campaigns at Reporters Without Borders, stated: “This is an utterly disgusting development that has worrying repercussions not just for Assange’s mental health, but also for journalism and press freedom throughout the globe.”
According to declassified files, the British authorities spied on the socialist Morning Star newspaper in the 1970s with the aim of undermining its funding. The documents, obtained by The Canary, reveal that the Information Research Department (IRD), a covert British propaganda arm, gathered intelligence on famous left-wing media organizations in order to take “counter-measures” against them. Though part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the IRD also maintained a “home desk” with a domestic mandate.