By Neenah Payne
Julian Assange is the Australian founder of WikiLeaks who lives in London. Although Assange has committed no crimes and is not charged with any, he has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since 2019 under conditions which a UN investigator described as “torture.”
What is Assange being punished for? For publishing the truth about US war crimes in the Middle East during the endless “War on Terror.” Julian’s life depends on his winning his fight against extradition to the US where he faces 175 years in jail although he is not a US citizen. Julian’s wife Stella says if Julian is placed in the isolation the US government threatens him with, he will be driven to commit suicide.
Julian Assange: Time Is Running Out Now reported that Julian’s team said earlier this month:
Julian Assange is facing his last chance to stop extradition in a UK court. The Royal Courts of Justice have not released a date yet, but we have to be ready to protest. Positive actions that draw attention to Julian’s cause are needed now more than ever.
Not everyone can paint a great mural in a high-profile area, but all actions can help to bring Julian’s cause further publicity – and the more people that are aware of his outrageous treatment, the more voices there will be calling for his release.
Finally, as we await the latest court decision, please make sure to reach out to friends and family and ask them to join this historic fight for justice – Let’s Free Assange!”
Julian Assange has been imprisoned for 1597 days
Assange Campaign’s First Virtual Political Rally
The Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign is launching the first ever virtual political rally with Wistaverse aimed at preventing the WikiLeaks founder from being sent to the US prison.
The virtual rally will take place on Saturday, August 26 at 5pm BST (11 AM ET), participants can stay online over the weekend. The event will be staged in a virtual auditorium looking like the Royal Courts of Justice in London where Assange is set to face his final appeal in the UK court system. The rally aims to build for a real life protest at the same venue when the court date is announced.
Each individual attendee will be represented by an avatar which can interact with other attendees, hear speeches, and watch other material inside the virtual rally. Speech will include a prerecorded talk by Julian Assange himself, his wife Stella Assange, Kristinn Hrafnsson, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks, and other guests.
Click here to find out how to join the virtual rally!
Join the event here: https://shorturl.at/vHUY4.
Please note, phones are not supported. You will be able to access the event only from a computer. If you have never used @TheSandboxGame, you need to sign up and create an account. You can do this via a VPN and with a new email address for privacy. A pop up will then open where you will be instructed to download and install the software “The Sandbox Game”. Once you’ve installed the software, you’re ready to go! You can then enter the event by clicking the “play” button. Also, feel free to create your own avatar so that you can join the metaverse as your own digital self!
Join us on August 26th, 5pm BST, as we stand together for the #FreeAssange Rally in the Wistaverse.
For the event, we have recreated the London Royal courts of Justice, in @TheSandboxGame ,where the verdict on Julian Assange’s extradition will be announced in the coming weeks or… pic.twitter.com/4zxJj0xhRq
— Wistaverse (@wistaverse) August 20, 2023
September 6: Don’t Extradite Assange!
DEA at Stop the Arms Trade, ExCel
War criminals are coming to London to showcase their weapons at ExCel and only a few miles away an innocent man is in jail whose only ‘crime’ was to publish evidence of war crimes committed by those weapons.
DEA (Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign) is collaborating with dED (Demilitarise Education) on 6 September to highlight the opposition of the unjust treatment and prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, currently residing in HMP Belmarsh prison.
East entrance to the ExCel centre/docklands (Royal Albert Way, near the Premier Inn) Royal Albert Way London E16 1FR United Kingdom
Date and time
Wed, 6 Sep 2023 13:00 – 16:00 BST
Find out more and reserve your spot here!
September 23: Protest Bike Ride For Assange!
Cyclists are mass bike riding the streets of London in support of Julian Assange. The protest bike ride highlights the unjust imprisonment of Julian Assange. The ride will take place on 23 September assembling from 1pm with a start at 2pm from HMP Belmarsh prison and ends at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Date and time: Saturday, 23 September 2023 13:00 – 16:00 BST
START: HMP Belmarsh, Western Way, London SE28 0EB, United Kingdom
FINISH: Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, United Kingdom
Come and join this Big Bike Ride for Assange.
Waiting For Court Hearing Date
The email from Julian’s team says:
“As we pass through summer 2023, this is the fifth such summer in which Julian Assange has been held at the UK’s most severe prison, HMP Belmarsh. For Julian’s family, including his wife Stella and their two young children Gabriel and Max, the wait to be re-united continues. With your support however we will continue to highlight the injustice of Mr. Assange’s imprisonment and help to keep the pressure building for his eventual release.
Public support is vital in securing Julian’s release – Julian has support from all sides of the political spectrum as well as the backing of all major free speech, human rights and press freedom organizations, but only when the political elites feel pressure from the public at large will they be forced to do the right thing in what has been a deeply political case from the very beginning.
As we continue to await the latest court hearing date, it is more vital than ever to reach out to your friends, family and others to show their support, be that with actions, or writing to your MP or the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, asking her not to allow the extradition of a publisher to the US simply for the act of publishing truthful information.
Julian Assange’s prosecution poses an “immediate jeopardy for journalists”, which would “render utterly hollow any protests raised by Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak about the treatment of journalists elsewhere in the world” according to the National Union of Journalists and IFJ’s Tim Dawson.
The support for Julian breaks through all party political boundaries. See here Peter Hitchens calling for the public to write, respectfully to the Home Secretary:
“It’s very dangerous indeed to supress freedom of speech.”
— TalkTV (@TalkTV) August 7, 2023
-The Rt Hon Suella Braverman MP, The Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Julian Assange: “Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love”
Despite serious restrictions and denial of visitations to Mr Assange, recently including representatives from Reporters Without Borders (in April), Mr. Assange was able this month to meet with the president of the International Federation of Journalists, Dominique Pradalié, who was able to visit as a ‘friend’ of Julian’s wife Stella. “Assange reports that he has a caged window in his cell, and a radio that allows him to keep up with the world outside. He does, however, request, that he be granted a typewriter, so that he may efficiently record his thoughts. He has lodged a request with the prison authorities that he be allowed one, but to date one has not been forthcoming”
You can read more here: UK: Assange says his case threatens press freedom – IFJ
Plea Deal For Assange?
“US Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy indicated in comments to the Sydney Morning Herald that Washington might be open to a plea deal for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that could keep him from being extradited and imprisoned in the United States for exposing US war crimes.
When asked if the US and Australia could reach a diplomatic solution on Assange, Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, told the paper that it was an “ongoing case” being handled by the US Justice Department. “So it’s not really a diplomatic issue, but I think that there absolutely could be a resolution,” she said.
The comments come as the Australian government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pressed the Biden administration on Assange. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected Australia’s concerns when he recently visited the country, claiming that Assange “was charged with very serious criminal conduct in the United States in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of our country.
Kennedy pointed to Blinken’s comments but again hinted that a deal could be made. “But there is a way to resolve it,” she said. “You can read the [newspapers] just like I can.” When asked if the US could reach a deal to reduce charges against Assange, she said, “That’s up to the Justice Department.”
Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, said Kennedy’s comments were a sign that the US was thinking about resolving the issue. “Caroline Kennedy wouldn’t be saying these things if they didn’t want a way out. The Americans want this off their plate,” he said.
Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if extradited to the US and convicted under the Espionage Act for publishing documents he received using standard journalistic practices. The Herald suggested a “David Hicks-style” plea bargain could be on the table, referring to an Australian who was held in the notorious US torture camp at Guantanamo Bay in the early 2000s.
Hicks was accused by the US of providing “material assistance to terrorists.” According to Consortium News, due to pressure from the Australian government, Hicks was released after agreeing to an Alford Plea, a type of plea in which the defendant pleads guilty but maintains that they’re innocent. Under such an arrangement with Assange, the US could downgrade the charges and take into account the four years he’s been locked up in London’s Belmarsh Prison, and Assange would serve his remaining sentence in Australia.
Don Rothwell, an international law expert with the Australian National University, told the Herald that Assange would likely have to travel to the US for such a plea. But Assange’s family and legal team believe he must avoid the US at all costs due to the harsh condition of American prisons and fears that he might take his own life. “Julian cannot go to the US under any circumstances,” Shipton said.
Bruce Afran, a US constitutional attorney, told Consortium News that there’s nothing technically prohibiting a plea being taken without Assange being in the country. “In a given instance, a plea could be taken internationally. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s not barred by any laws. If all parties consent to it, then the court has jurisdiction,” Afran said in May on CN Live!, Consortium News’ webcast.
Afran said a potential plea deal could involve Assange pleading guilty to “mishandling official information or even, in the worst-case scenario, conspiracy to mishandle official information, a far lesser charge.” Such an arrangement could still set a dangerous precedent for press freedom as it would criminalize the relationship between a journalist and a source.
The video below says that a deal could be stuck in October during a state visit at the White House by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Day X: Get Ready To Protest!
Get ready to Protest in real life!
Julian Assange is facing his last chance to stop extradition in a UK court. The Royal Courts of Justice have not released a date yet but we have to be ready to protest.
Place: Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
Time: 9am BST
Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post
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