A group of Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday urging him to drop the charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over his publishing of classified materials.
Assange faces 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
The Democrats pressing Garland on the issue are led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich. and also include Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Greg Casar (Texas), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.).
They wrote that Assange’s charges “pose a grave and unprecedented threat” to journalism practices and the First Amendment.
“Press freedom, civil liberty, and human rights groups have been emphatic that the charges against Mr. Assange pose a grave and unprecedented threat to everyday, constitutionally protected journalistic activity, and that a conviction would represent a landmark setback for the First Amendment,” they wrote in the letter.
The group pointed to a joint statement issued by major news organizations from around the world, including The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel, that called on the United States to drop the charges against Assange.
At the time, the media outlets said Assange’s leaks exposed “corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.”
“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” the outlets said.