“If Assange can be threatened with prosecution as a spy, what might that mean for other journalists?” pointed out a member of the National Union of Journalists of Britain and Ireland.
During a meeting held in Geneva on Wednesday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demanded from the U.K. authorities the immediate and unconditional release of Australian journalist Julian Assange.
Participants at the event hosted by the Swiss Press Club "slammed the British decision as a flagrant violation of human rights and a showing of total contempt for freedom of the press," the New Delhi Times reported.
"Julian Assange is a journalist, a political prisoner who is facing a death sentence," said Dominique Pradalie, the president of the IFJ, which represents some 600,000 press workers from 140 countries.
"We are demanding that Julian Assange be freed, he returned to his family, and finally permitted to live a normal life," she stressed.
The IJF Vice President Zuliana Lainez said that Assange's extradition "does irreversible damage to the profession. Journalism is criminalized. Exposing problems of public interest is not a crime."
Similarly, Mika Beuster, co-chair of the Association of German Journalists, noted that Assange's case "sets a very dangerous precedent for press freedom" globally.
“Democracy is being taken hostage. This attempt at criminalizing journalism is a serious threat,” warned Pierre Ruetschi, the head of the Swiss Press Club.
“If Assange can be threatened with prosecution as a spy, what might that mean for other journalists?” pointed out Tim Dawson, a member of the National Union of Journalists of Britain and Ireland.
Currently, the Australian journalist remains detained in a British prison awaiting extradition to the U.S., where he will stand trial on charges related to the dissemination of national security information.