Imprisoned journalist Julian Assange is currently appealing the UK government’s decision to extradite him to the US to stand trial for his reporting. So, to ensure that the pressure is kept up on politicians and lawmakers to stop his removal, a campaign group is going surround the UK parliament with a human chain.
Assange: forming a human chain
As the Canary previously reported:
On 17 June, [former] home secretary Priti Patel gave her approval to a court ruling to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US. He will face 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
In response, Assange filed his appeal. As campaign group Don’t Extradite Assange (DEA) wrote, the grounds include the fact that Assange “is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions” and “for protected speech”. The appeal also says the extradition request “violates the US-UK Extradition Treaty and international law because it is for political offences”. It is unclear when the High Court will hear that appeal.
DEA has organised a protest outside parliament on Saturday 8 October. Supporters of Assange will form a “human chain” surrounding the UK’s centre of so-called democracy. DEA wrote that:
the chain of support… will go from the front of parliament over Westminster bridge, along the south bank of the Thames and back over Lambeth bridge.
Prominent supporters of DEA include groups like Amnesty and Reporters Without Borders; individuals and academics including Noam Chomsky, Edward Snowden and Oliver Stone, and politicians like US senator Bernie Sanders, UK MP Jeremy Corbyn and potential Brazilian president Lula da Silva. Rapper, academic and activist Lowkey tweeted that he would be at 8 October’s demo:
On the 8th of October, I will be joining the human chain around Parliament in support of Julian Assange.
I hope to see YOU there! pic.twitter.com/dRdxJ2POEc
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) October 3, 2022
Assange’s wife, Stella, explained the action in a video:
DEA is also crowdfunding to keep its activities going. You can donate here – it certainly needs all the support it can get because the situation for Assange is looking desperate.
The Assange case enables repression
As DEA wrote:
Assange is being sought by the current US administration for publishing US government documents which exposed war crimes and human rights abuses. The politically motivated charges represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know – seeking to criminalise basic journalistic activity.
If convicted… Assange faces a sentence of 175 years, likely to be spent in isolation which would drive him to commit suicide.
UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America and refused to extradite him, yet the case eventually moved to the UK Supreme Court where it overruled the decision and Assange’s extradition request moved forward to the UK Home Secretary.
Meanwhile, the UK National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has published a supportive article on its website. Tim Dawson wrote:
Assange’s conviction would place journalists the world over in similar jeopardy. Who in future would report on a classified US document when it might result in a lifetime of medieval-style incarceration?
He concluded that:
Criminalising investigative journalism enables every other kind of repression.
Criminalising journalism: the thin end of the wedge
Governments criminalising any kind of honest and truthful journalism is both a political decision and a gross abuse of human rights. As Stella summed up:
Julian is fighting for his life – his life depends on not being extradited to the United States. This is a political case, it can be stopped here and it must be stopped here. So on the 8th of October, come to London to show your solidarity, come help free Julian Assange.
Thank you for your support.
The Canary will be covering DEA’s human chain on 8 October. We hope to see 5,000-plus people with us.
Featured image via Don’t Extradite Assange
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