Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei has staged a silent protest against the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange because “all the words we want to say are already there”.
Assange’s case has attracted the support of high-profile figures including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, actor Pamela Anderson, and rapper MIA, who have spoken out in various forms for the Free Assange campaign.
The former journalist is fighting being sent to the US on charges relating to leaks of classified documents exposing war crimes and abuse.
Outside the Old Bailey in London, where his ongoing trial is taking place, Weiwei told the PA news agency Assange represents “a core value of why we are free”.
Weiwei, who knows Assange personally and has visited him at the Ecuadorian embassy and HMP Belmarsh high security prison in London, said: “It’s getting more and more difficult for him.
“He is prepared to fight, but this is not fair to him.”
“Free him, let him be a free man,” he added.
“He truly represents a core value of why we are free – because we have freedom of the press.
“We have to have that, to protect that value, otherwise who knows what’s going to happen.”
When asked why he chose to protest silently, Weiwei said: “I think all the words we want to say are already there. To add anything, it’s just repeating.
“We need a lot of protesting, and it can take any form. I’m an artist, if I cannot use my art, it’s very limited, then I’d rather just be silent.”
Assange’s father, John Shipton, who was also protesting outside court, said Weiwei’s support for his son gives his cause “international meaning”.
“Ai Weiwei is an artist of gigantic international standing, he stands alongside Julian to give the fight international meaning,” he said.
“Really, he’s a tremendous man, I’ve known him for a few years now, we met at Belmarsh together, and he’s got a wonderfully steady nerve, you’d like him alongside you in any situation.”
Do your bit for independent journalism
Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.
We need you to help out, if you can.
When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.
You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.
In return you get:
- Advert free reading experience
- Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
- 20% discount from our shop