The WikiLeaks founder should not be prosecuted for exposing government corruption, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has said Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Libertarian National Convention, Washington, DC, May 24, 2024. © AFP / Kevin Dietsch/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP

The US authorities should stop prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and instead erect a monument in Washington DC to celebrate his “heroic” deeds, independent US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has said. He insisted that the case against Assange runs counter to the freedom of the press.

The US indicted the WikiLeaks founder under the Espionage Act for helping whistleblower Chelsea Manning in her 2010 disclosure of hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which WikiLeaks later made public. Assange is now battling US attempts to extradite him from Britain.

Speaking at the 2024 Libertarian Party Convention in Washington, DC on Friday, Kennedy criticized ex-President Donald Trump’s track record during his first term in office. He claimed that the Republican, who is also running, “assaulted” the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and the press.

Trump “continued President [Barack] Obama’s persecution and prosecution of Julian Assange,” Kennedy argued, eliciting an ovation from the audience.

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According to the independent presidential candidate, “Assange should be celebrated as a hero for doing exactly what journalists are supposed to do, which is to expose government corruption.”

“We shouldn’t be putting him in prison, we should have a monument to him here in Washington DC,” he added.

Kennedy went on to say that the “same is true for Edward Snowden, who exposed illegal spying by the NSA,” calling the US whistleblower a “hero, not a criminal.”

The former computer expert and contractor for the National Security Agency revealed in 2013 that the agency was systematically engaged in mass illegal spying on American citizens. Fearing for his safety, he fled the US and ended up in Russia, where he was granted asylum and later citizenship. At home, he faces charges under the Espionage Act.

“On my first day in office, I’m going to pardon Edward Snowden and I’m going to drop the charges, all of the charges against Julian Assange,” Kennedy said.