120 German Politicians, Writers, and Artists Ask Angela Merkel to Confront Joe Biden on US Stance Toward Julian Assange

Several dozen German politicians, journalists, artists, and writers have jointly signed a letter imploring Angela Merkel to confront Joe Biden on the United States’ stance toward imprisoned WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.

The “Letter of 120 for the Freedom of Julian Assange,” available here in German, was written and signed by investigative journalist Günter Wallraff and 119 others, many of whom work in politics, journalism, show business, and the arts.

“Dear Madam Chancellor, we are greatly concerned for the health and life of journalist Julian Assange, and we appeal to you in anticipation of your planned visit with US President Joe Biden in Washington this month,” the letter begins. “Like many reputable human rights organizations and journalist associations, we view the persecution of Julian Assange as an attack on the freedom of the press and freedom of expression that must be rejected with complete resolve. Those who are committed to human rights and democracy cannot avoid campaigning for Julian Assange’s freedom.”

The letter mentions Assange’s continued imprisonment in the maximum-security Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London, as well as his possible extradition to the US. Assange’s health is “being systematically destroyed by persistent isolation,” a view stemming from reports by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, who has claimed that Assange exhibits symptoms of “psychological torture.” Assange also suffers from “deep depression and despair,” according to his fiancée Stella Morris.

Despite Assange’s imprisonment in the UK, the letter blames the United States for the continued deprivation of his freedom, saying that the US government has only appealed its denied extradition request “for purely political reasons.” The letter concludes by calling on Chancellor Merkel to “find a humanitarian solution” for Assange—one that would also “save face” for Biden and the United States.

If extradited and found guilty in the US, Assange could face up to 175 years in federal prison. The US maintains that he violated the Espionage Act by publishing classified documents purporting to show US military abuses and alleged war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.