On Thursday 20 Feb 2020, VFP UK organised a rally outside Downing Street to demand the release of Julian Assange. It was well attended – not just by VFP members but also by Assange and VFP UK supporters. The VFP UK demo Thursday was held in solidarity with another event organised by the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign on Saturday 22 February. VFP UK members were again in attendance, meeting at Australia House to join the march to Parliament Square and speak out.
Members of VFP UK and supporters are invited to attend a rally being organised outside of Belmarsh this Monday, 24 February, at 9:00am to continue to show support and pressure the UK government to release Assange. If Assange is extradited to the USA, he faces a grim fate, continued torture, an unfair trial, and a possible 175 year jail term if found guilty of exposing the truth.
Make no mistake, Julian Assange has been under attack for the past ten years and more as a direct result of his efforts to ensure the public has access to documents that our governments’ have been withholding from us, and that shed light on the true motivations and impacts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – among many other wrongdoings. The “Collateral Murder” video gave incontrovertible proof that civilians have been targeted by the US Military. Julian Assange and Wikileaks have been an attempt to ensure that the people have the information that they need to hold their government’s accountable. The free press is an important cornerstone of any free democracy. Unfortunately, many news agencies in the UK and USA are now under the control of a very small number of very rich entities. Wikileaks and Julian Assange and a free internet help to restore the balance and put vital information back into the hands of the people.
We need to now, more than ever, stand up for truth.
We need to now, more than ever, stand up for freedom.
We need to now, more than ever, stand up for Julian Assange.
We see ourselves living in a free society. We see ourselves living in an era of free speech. We read articles by journalists who we believe are free to write whatever they (or their editors) see fit. We live in a world where we believe we are being told the truth. If Julian Assange is extradited to the USA, all of this will come to and end. It will be clear that we live in a dictatorship. It will be clear that we live in a world where journalists are unable to speak the truth. We will live in a world where journalists will need to be scared for their lives. If Julian Assange is extradited, our world of freedom is extinct.
If you want to stand up for Julian Assange there are a number of ways you can do so:
- Join VFP UK outside Belmarsh Prison from 9am Monday 24 February 2020
- Donate money to the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign (https://dontextraditeassange.com/)
- Share this article and similar articles as far and wide as you possibly can.
Make no mistake, the threat to Julian is real:
Julian has faced psychological torture during his time in Belmarsh prison. It was so bad that other prisoners being held in Belmarsh rallied behind him and petitioned the prison governor to release him from solitary confinement. 117 doctors have also written to the UK and Australian governments requesting that Assange be transferred from Belmarsh prison to a university teaching hospital for medical assessment and treatment. Faced with evidence of untreated and ongoing torture, they also raised the question as to Assange’s fitness to participate in US extradition proceedings. On May 31, 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, reported on his May 9, 2019, visit to Assange in Belmarsh, accompanied by two medical experts: “Mr Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma. Follow this link to The Lancet to read more about this: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30383-4/fulltext
If Assange is extradited to the USA, he will face the following charges: Conspiracy to commit computer intrusion (i.e. hacking into a government computer), a relatively minor crime that carries a maximum 5-year sentence if found guilty. The charges stem from the allegation that Assange attempted and failed to crack a password hash so that Chelsea Manning could use a different username to download classified documents and avoid detection. On 23 May 2019, Assange was indicted on 17 new charges relating to the Espionage Act of 1917 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The Espionage Act charges carry a maximum sentence of 170 years in prison.
The new charges relate to obtaining and publishing the secret documents. Most of these charges relate to obtaining the secret documents. The three charges related to publication concern documents which revealed the names of sources in dangerous places putting them “at a grave and imminent risk” of harm or detention. The New York Times commented that it and other news organisations obtained the same documents as Wikileaks also without government authorisation. It also said it is not clear how Wikileaks’s publications are legally different from other publications of classified information.
Peace and Social Justice in 2020