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Assange case reflects hypocrisy of UK, US on press freedom, says Chinese FM

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Jan. 24, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

The Chinese government has blasted UK and US handling of Julian Assange case, saying that the WikiLeaks founder’s case reflects the hypocrisy of London and Washington, which are justifying their actions under the disguise of press freedom.

Speaking during a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin depicted the case as a “mirror” which “reflects the hypocrisy of the US and the UK on press freedom.”

“People are free to expose other countries but subject to severe punishment if they expose the US,” said Wang.

He was responding to a question on Assange, whose extradition order to the US was signed last Friday by British Home Secretary Priti Patel, following a series of failed legal battles in the UK courts.

Wang hit out at the Western standards on press freedom, saying “People are treated either as heroes if they expose other countries or as criminals if they expose the US.”

Assange, 50, has been praised as an anti-establishment hero who has exposed US wrongdoings. He faces trial in the US over the publication of secret files that exposed the US military’s war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In other countries, holding the media accountable amounts to ‘political persecution’ while in the US, clamping down on media is to ‘act in accordance with the law’,” said Wang.

“Some Western countries led by the US have long exported war and turmoil, interfered in other countries’ internal affairs, and created humanitarian disasters. It is them that generated the issue of refugees in the first place,” he said. 

“All eyes are on the Assange case. Hope and believe that fairness and justice will prevail, and that hegemony and abuse of might will not last forever,” he added.

 Assange has 14 days to appeal the UK government’s decision, after which he will be extradited within 28 days if an appeal is refused. His lawyers had previously said that he could face a possible penalty of up to 175 years in prison if convicted in the US.

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