Gilets Jaunes travel to London in force for Julian Assange extradition hearing

"Those who reveal war crimes should not be in jail"
Support us and go ad-free

On 23 February, 143 French activists travelled from Paris to Woolwich Crown Court to support Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and press freedom. The Canary joined them.

Not deterred

It was a cold and miserable night in Paris, and the coaches were running late. But the group of French activists – many of whom are also Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) – were not deterred.

As the rain picked up, they stayed outside with their guitars and megaphones, giving interviews to the international journalists present.

One activist railed about the upcoming hearing: “They’re going to try and get him on a plane to the US as soon as possible – they’re thinking about the trade deal”.

Another activist, dressed as Jesus with a full-size crucifix, led the chants.

Emergency

Corinne, one of the three activists who organised the event, spoke about the importance of action:

We decided to found this group [Assange, L’Ultime Combat], in the middle of September, and we now have more than 4,000 people on Facebook. It’s a group for information and action – especially action, because it’s ok to be informed, but we need to act now. I think it’s an emergency. The risk is high.

Julian Assange did his job. He shouldn’t be in jail, he shouldn’t be persecuted, and he must not be extradited to the US.

Maxime Nicolle, a French activist and one of the principal figures in the Gilets Jaunes movement, told The Canary:

The only crime he’s committed is to have informed the public. As citizens, if we don’t defend people like that, we’ll all find ourselves in prison. So it’s absolutely essential that Assange is freed…

If it becomes illegal to inform the public, we’ve found ourselves in a dictatorship. If we fight today, it’s not only for the man who lost his liberty ten years ago. It’s also for individual liberties, and our fundamental rights.

Julian Assange’s father John Shipton greeted the French activists as they arrived at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday morning.

The weather was little better in London than in Paris, and nobody on the coach got much sleep. “This is a bloody miserable place”, remarked an activist as the iron fence around the court came into view. It was the second time he’d come to support Assange here – a place he described as “cold” and “really sinister”.

The police stopped letting anyone without a press pass into the main area outside the court early, so many of the French activists remained at the gate.

As the hearing proceeded, the French activists – now joined by activists from all over the world – could be heard inside the courtroom.

When the hearing paused for a lunch recess, a French activist and friend of Assange said:

A lot of shameful slandering has been done on Julian’s name. But when we respond to that, we are somehow wasting special time and special brain space. It’s not about him any more, and it has not been about him so much as him being the lightning rod of WikiLeaks and the ideas WikiLeaks stands for.

So I think it is more than time to put these ideas back at the centre of the stage. Ten years ago, WikiLeaks released collateral murder. For 16 minutes, we had the unique occasion to stand in the cockpit of an Apache helicopter, and feel within the skin of these kids how it feels to play this video game where you massacre people, and journalists of Reuters, while being left completely unaccountable.

This was unprecedented.

He concluded:

This is a kangaroo court. This is a parody.

National law, of many jurisdictions, and international law, have been routinely violated at each and every step of everything that happened to Assange.

So this is just to give the appearance of the law; the appearance of legitimacy. But this is all a fraud.

Assange’s hearing will continue through the week and re-convenes in May later this year.

Featured image via author

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to read about the extradition court proceedings as the result has been blatantly predetermined and sitting on my arse 14,000 kilometers away makes reading about this travesty feel increasingly voyeuristic.

      Face it we all know the only way to rescue Mr Assange is through direct intervention – direct action.

      The only ‘fix’ would be if sufficient humans in and around england created sufficient fuss to wake the englander ptb up with the realisation that “This cannot stand”.

      Of course the chances of that happening anywhere outside some badly acted feelgood movie are negligible.

      Everyome will whine & whinge but ultimately because this railroad isn’t happening to Us none of Us will do anything about it, apart from wail and post pithy remarks.
      USuk know this, just as they know in a few years (years that will seem an eternity to Mr Assange) people will say “Julian who?” “Oh, you mean the rapist!”

      None of Us will do anything for the same reason none of us set up a world-changing web site without the means to pay the rent, let alone reach billions, because none of Us had the smarts or the balls.

      And no that should not be read as permission to do nothing about this travesty. It is a plea for all of those close to Belmarsh or in possession of the means to get close to Belmarsh prison, to surround that testament to man’s inhumanity and block off all the roads for sufficient time, to prevent Mr Assange from being railroaded into the heart of the empire.

      What happened to the Greenham Common mindset, eh?

      It would be great if sufficient englanders elected to put justice ahead of their own personal comfort, but I won’t be holding my breath.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.