Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, has gained support from Republican colleagues in calling for the U.S. government to abandon its criminal cases against Julian Assange and Edward J. Snowden.
Along with Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, she introduced a resolution Friday urging the U.S. to drop all charges and efforts to extradite Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, joined the Democrat days earlier by co-sponsoring a similar resolution asking the U.S. to drop its case against Mr. Snowden, who is also wanted for leaking.
Mr. Assange, who launched the WikiLeaks website in 2006, and Mr. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, each face criminal charges in separate cases related to leaking classified information.
Both men have been charged in federal court in Alexandria, Va., with violating the U.S. Espionage Act, and they face the possibility of hefty prison sentences if put on trial and convicted.
Ms. Gabbard, who unsuccessfully sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, argued that Mr. Assange and Mr. Snowden each played a part in exposing government wrongdoing and should be spared.
WikiLeaks “published information that exposed lies and abuses of power at the highest levels,” said Ms. Gabbard; Mr. Snowden “bravely expos[ed] massive illegal government surveillance,” she said.
Mr. Massie and Mr. Gaetz agreed with the Democrat about dropping the cases against Mr. Assange and Mr. Snowden, respectively, giving each of the congresswoman’s resolutions bipartisan support.
“The ongoing attempts to prosecute Julian Assange threaten our First Amendment rights, and should be opposed by all who wish to safeguard our constitutional rights now and in the years to come,” said Mr. Massie. “I join my colleague, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, in calling for an immediate end to all charges against Mr. Assange.”
“Edward Snowden has been unfairly villainized and persecuted for disclosing the true scope of illegal government surveillance. This is unjust,” Mr. Gaetz said in a statement. “Charges against Snowden should be dropped.”
Mr. Assange, a 49-year-old Australian, faces charges related to soliciting, receiving and publishing classified U.S. military and diplomatic material through WikiLeaks dating back to 2010. He was arrested last year in the U.K., where a British court is expected to decide early next year whether he should be extradited to the U.S. He is jailed in London pending that decision.
Mr. Snowden, 37, admittedly leaked classified material about the U.S. National Security Agency in 2013 that he obtained while employed as a government contractor. He has lived in Russia ever since.