US ‘considering’ dropping Assange prosecution as people mark prison anniversary

President Joe Biden has said the US is “considering” dropping the prosecution of Julian Assange, as supporters of the WikiLeaks founder mark the fifth anniversary of him being held in prison in London.

Assange faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, after the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

He is embroiled in a lengthy legal battle to avoid being extradited.

Mr Biden told reporters at the White House on Wednesday: “We’re considering it,” when asked about a request from the Australian government to drop the prosecution.

Julian Assange
Julian Assange has been fighting extradition to the US (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Events will be held around the world on Thursday as Assange’s family and supporters continue to campaign for his release.

The editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, said it was not too late to halt Assange’s extradition to the US.

Mr Hrafnsson said: “The campaign to free Julian Assange is supported by the Australian government, the world’s leading human rights and journalists’ organisations, global world leaders and the Pope.

“It is not too late for President Biden to stop Julian’s extradition to the US, which was a politically motivated act by his predecessor.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden has said the US is considering dropping the prosecution of Assange (Niall Carson/PA)

“We urge him to end this legal process, to free Julian and to recognise that journalism is not a crime.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been pressing for Assange’s release for the past few months.

In February, Mr Albanese voted in favour of a motion in the Australian House of Representatives that called on the US and the UK to bring the “matter to a close so that Mr Assange can return home to his family in Australia”, the Associated Press reported.

Assange is waiting to hear if he can launch a final appeal against extradition.

Mr Biden’s comment was described as “encouraging” by Assange’s lawyer.

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