Four days after the dramatic arrest of WikiLeaks founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange from Ecuadorian Embassy in London, a group of six eminent public intellectuals in India have criticised the arrest, and demanded that “Assange be set free immediately.”
Decrying Assange’s arrest by the London police, Indian intellectuals termed it as “an attack on freedom of the press and its right to publish.”
The statement issued by Indian intellectuals was signed by the former editor-in-chief of The Hindu Group of Publications, N Ram, writer Arundhati Roy, former Additional Solicitor General of India Indira Jaising, former West Bengal Governor and writer Gopalkrishna Gandhi, journalist and People’s Archive of Rural India founder P Sainath, and historian Romila Thapar.
“WikiLeaks and its Editor-in-Chief stand for is a journalism of outrage – outrage against the injustices and atrocities that take place round the world –but always with an eye to factuality, substantiation, and precision...We demand that Assange be set free immediately. We demand that the authorities concerned take the necessary steps to preserve the sanctity of journalistic practice. We call upon journalists and readers everywhere to raise our voices against the persecution of free, independent, and fearless journalism,” reads the statement.
Assange was arrested on Thursday in London, after president of the Latin American country, Lenin Moreno, withdrew the asylum provided to him.
Assange had been living in the embassy since June 2012 after he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden in connection with sexual assault allegations against him.
As per media reports, Assange has been arrested for violating bail conditions in the United Kingdom. The US wants Assange to be extradited for conspiring with whistle-blower Chelsea Manning in a case of hacking and leaking secret documents.
Indian intellectuals have stated: “If the US had charged Assange and Wikileaks for publishing classified material, the legal case would have been no different from charging The New York Times with publishing the Pentagon Papers.”