Julian Assange is a publisher, editor and activist who is currently being held in isolation (23 ½ hours a day) in Belmarsh Prison, London, even though he hasn’t been convicted of a crime. Belmarsh Prison, known as the UK’s Guantanamo, holds terrorists and murderers. In February 2020, an inmate was murdered. Assange is being held for an extradition hearing to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act. How did this happen?
Julian Assange’s “crime” is publishing evidence of war crimes committed by the United States during the Iraq War. The charges against Assange are a direct threat to the freedom of the press and the rights of people everywhere to know the truth. The extradition hearing has been postponed until September 7, 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Assange, who is non-violent, has been denied release from Belmarsh Prison for health reasons, even though an inmate has died from COVID-19 at the prison, and up to 4,000 prisoners were being considered for release in the UK to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006, an online multi-national media organization that specializes in publishing large datasets of documents that reveal otherwise censored and restricted material on war and corruption. Assange became world renowned for the impact that WikiLeaks has had as the primary place for the publication of news leaks and classified materials provided by anonymous sources. The work of WikiLeaks has had profound effects by supplying people all over the world with information on facts perpetrated by their governments, that had previously been withheld from them. According to The New York Times, “His creation of WikiLeaks helped empower a generation of whistle-blowers and disgruntled insiders who could operate on an industrial scale, providing disclosures by the terabyte and enraging the powerful in many countries.”
In 2011, Julian Assange was the top vote-getter ranked number one in the popular vote for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and was selected as Le Monde’s Person of the Year. He has received numerous nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. In his home country of Australia, Assange has been awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal for Peace and Justice. At one time, Julian Assange was well-respected and admired for the work he did with WikiLeaks. There were always some who disparaged his work.
But then his work was denigrated, his character impugned, and his very right to exist was threatened. How did this happen? It appears to have been a well-coordinated program to attack Assange at every level.
No one has been able to explain how an Australian citizen can be held for crimes of treason against the United States, but Assange has been called a traitor and a “high-tech terrorist” by Democrats and Republicans alike. The British Foreign Office minister, Sir Alan Duncan, called Assange a “miserable little worm” in Parliament. The British media weighed in, calling WikiLeaks a “disrupter” of everything the West held dear, and describing Assange as a “nihilist.”
The United States closed down Internet donations to WikiLeaks.
Assange was forced to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he was granted citizenship by Ecuador. It has finally been revealed that Assange was illegally spied upon when in the Embassy, his lawyer-client rights were regularly violated. After seven years, the citizenship was “suspended,” and Assange was illegally arrested by the British government and placed in prison. It is a travesty that he is still being held without bail in Belmarsh Prison for over two years as he awaits the outcome of his extradition hearing brought by the United States.
Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, said of the treatment of Julian Assange, “In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law. The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”
There is a worldwide movement to free Julian Assange and to deny his extradition to the United States to face 175 years in prison for being an editor and publisher that presents the truth. NYC Free Assange is a part of this movement.