A journalist is facing a life sentence in prison for exposing war crimes committed by the U.S. This is an intimidation against the freedom of the press, which should guarantee a constitutional execution of democracy, and when this is threatened the entire democratic system is at risk. For those reasons, two events will take place in London on the 22nd and 24th of February.
Julian Assange, the Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006 is currently serving a 50-week prison sentence for having breached his bail condition to avoid extradition to Sweden, and will appear in court on Monday 24th of February, to argue against his extradition to the United States of America.
But Assange has also been charged in the US, “with 17 counts of spying and one count of computer hacking in relation to WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of classified Pentagon files regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, most of which were allegedly provided by former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning”.
His hearing on the 24th will be split into two parts, which was agreed by both parties, to allow a better preparation of the case by the lawyers representing Assange and his counterpart.
Various human rights organisations have raised concerns regarding the duration of his incarceration and the treatment he has received.
Also, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer condemned the “abuse” inflicted on Assange. Over 60 doctors, from Europe, the UK, Australia and Sri Lanka, agreed that he needs urgent medical and psychological care and that if this is not provided he might even die in prison. The most worrisome thing about Julian Assange is the injustice he has suffered, since all his civil rights, and all his freedoms, have been violated, to the point that he has been denied access to his lawyers by British prison officials.
But the indifference of many journalists and even the attacks against him by some of them are also worrying.
These journalists, these media, ignore the fact that if Assange is extradited it will be signing the death sentence possibly of Julian, but certainly of the freedom of the press, of expression, and the freedom to inform and be informed.
Assange’s mother Christine Assange recently said: “My son founded @Wikileaks to give our whistleblowers a safe anonymous publishing platform to warn fellow citizens of crimes & corruption impacting their lives. In retribution for this democratic act, my journalist son is being brutally persecuted by those who were exposed”.
For all those reasons, two events in support of Julian Assange, will take place in London: “March: Australia House to Parliament Square, featuring. Roger Waters” hosted by Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign and “Global Free Assange-Manning Event” organised by Simpson Media uk, Simpson Twitter & YouTube.
Many people and organisations have already shown their support and solidarity with him, and among journalists there is a petition “Speak up for Assange”, which over a thousand, from more than 90 countries around the world, have signed already.
He has also been awarded the 2020 Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award and been nominated – along with Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden – for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for their incredible contribution to the pursuit of peace and promoting peace for all.
As the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign has stated: “Assange’s full extradition trial begins the following Monday (24th). The Trump administration is seeking to put Assange in jail for 175 years for publishing the Afghan and Iraq War Logs”. This event, which will take place two days before the opening of the case, will be a march for Julian Assange. It will begin in front of Australia House, in Aldwych, proceeding to Parliament Square.
On Monday 24th of February another demonstration (“Global Free Assange Manning Event”) will take place, in favour of Assange, just outside HM Prison Belmarsh where Assange is incarcerated.
As the organiser said: “A United global event bringing together everyone who believes in freedom of the press, freedom of speech and most importantly justice to tell this criminal, murdering, torturing Tory party […] free Assange now”.
Dates and places: “March: Australia House to Parliament Square, featuring. Roger Waters” will be on Saturday, 22nd of February 2020, from 11.30 am. until 3.30 pm. to Australia House, Strand, London WC2B 4 London, United Kingdom. For further information, visit the Facebook event page.
The “Global Free Assange Manning Event” will happen on Monday, 24th of February 2020, at 9.30 am. at the HM Prison Belmarsh, Western Way, Thamesmead, London SE28 0EB, United Kingdom. For further information about the demonstration, visit the Facebook event page.