Thousands Demand Release of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks SupportersJulian Assange organized a massive transatlantic protest Saturday to demand the release of the journalist incarcerated.

In London, thousands of people formed a giant human chain around Britain’s parliament and called for Assange’s immediate release from the nearby maximum-security Belmarsh prison, where he has suffered for years under conditions that experts have condemned It is also known as torture.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., people gathered outside the Department of Justice (DOJ) and implored Attorney General Merrick Garland to end the United States government’s attempt to extradite Assange, who faces up to 175 years behind bars on espionage charges stemming from his publication of information that exposed war crimes U.S. forces committed the following crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere

“We did it!” tweeted Stella Assange, wife of the jailed Australian publisher. “Julian will be so energized and thankful for the support that you have shown for him,” she said in a recording thanking those who surrounded the Palace of Westminster — home to the United Kingdom’s House of Commons and House of Lords — on both sides River Thames.

Among those who joined London’s human chain to oppose the extradition of Assange was Jeremy Corbyn, a member of the U.K.’s opposition Labour Party. Characterizing the protest as an attempt to “stand up for press freedom everywhere,” Corbyn warned: “If they can silence Assange, they can silence anyone.”

“Julian is a journalist,” Corbyn said Interview. “Journalism is not a crime. If he is extradited to the U.S.A., any other investigative journalist is at risk.”

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor in chief, echoed this message. Describing Assange as “an intellectual, a journalist who committed no crime but the crime of telling the truth,” Hrafnsson warned: “Today it’s Julian, tomorrow it’s you.”

Corbyn sent a message to Assange said: “Julian, you’ve made your life’s work that of exposing truths. You’ve taken enormous risks and made enormous sacrifices to do that. And you’ve faced horrible personal abuse and attacks upon your life and your character as a result… But there are millions of people that support you all around the world.”

“We’re just some of those, and we’ve completely surrounded parliament to show our support for you,” Corbyn added. “Our demand [for] the British government: Do not deport you; instead, free you so you can return to your passion, your skill, your genius of being a journalist.”

In a last-ditch effort to avoid extradition to the U.S., Assange’s legal team has filed an appeal at the U.K.’s High Court to block the transfer, which was formally approved Priti Patel, U.K.’s Home Secretary, in June. In the coming weeks, the High Court will announce whether it will hear the appeal.

Stella Assange told Reuters Saturday should be a day for British government officials to try to persuade their counterparts in the U.S. not to extradite them launched in 2019 by then-President Donald Trump’s administration and pursued relentlessly by President Joe Biden’s administration.

“It’s already gone on for three-and-a-half years,” she said. “It is a stain on the United Kingdom and is a stain on the Biden administration.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, was among those who demonstrated outside the DOJ. “It’s time to end the war on journalism and free Assange,” the activist tweeted.

“There’s no democracy without freedom of the press,” Cohen said At the rally. “Because it’s only a press that can hold government accountable. And there’s no free press without a free Assange.”

Given that he is being held for the common journalistic practice Press freedom and human rights advocates oppose the publication of classified information in order to expose wrongdoing for the public good. denounced Assange’s indictment is a significant attack on and threat against First Amendment protections.

“Julian Assange exposed the crimes of the most powerful governments and corporations in the world today,” Misty Winston, a leading organizer of the D.C. rally, said this week in a statement. “He should be praised, not prosecuted.”

When Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last July that the U.S. “will always support the indispensable work of independent journalists around the world,” critics were quick to point out that Washington’s purported commitment to press freedom has never applied to Assange.

Two years before Assange’s 2019 arrestFor example, the CIA under Mike Pompeo, then-Director reportedly plotted to kidnap — and discussed plans to assassinate — the WikiLeaks founder.

Corbyn sends a message of support to Biden said Saturday: “You won a presidential election against an extremely intolerant right-wing president. You won that with the support of millions of Americans who want to live in a free, open, democratic society.”

“Are you really wanting your administration to be the one that imprisons a journalist for telling the truth about wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and the environmental destruction by big business and arms companies in so many parts of the world?” he asked. “Think of your place in history. Are you going to be remembered in history as the president who sentenced a journalist to a three-year term? Or, will you get your place in history as the man who stood up for free speech?”

Nathan Fuller, director of the Assange Defense Committee, said this week in a statement that “the Biden DOJ could end this travesty at once.”

“Administration officials have given speech after speech touting the principles of a free press abroad and the importance of journalism to a healthy democracy,” said Fuller. “It’s time they practice what they preach and drop these charges immediately.”

Solidarity events were held Saturday, April 17, in cities across the U.S.

There was also a march in Melbourne, where Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, urged Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to “call Joe Biden and say, ‘Hasn’t Julian suffered enough? Drop the charges, and extradite.’”

“Julian would walk free,” he said.