As we await the verdict of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, the struggle for his liberation continues.
Too often we hear that protests do not succeed. That resistance does not achieve results. With press freedom on trial, the stakes are too high to subscribe to such pessimism.
Julian Assange’s extradition hearings in central London have now come to a close after a full week trial, with the verdict set to be decided in January 2021. During Assange’s hearings, the Progressive International hosted the Belmarsh Tribunal in order to put the United States on trial for its imperialist crimes against humanity.
The Belmarsh Tribunal
The Belmarsh Tribunal was inspired from the Russell-Sartre Tribunal of 1966, “when representatives of 18 countries gathered to hold the United States accountable for their war crimes in Vietnam, in the absence of an international authority that dared to do so.” Tariq Ali present at the Belmarsh Tribunal is known for his testimony at the Russell Tribunal addressing US involvement in Vietnam.
At the tribunal, we gathered to defend Julian from 175 years in an American prison. To defend the right to publish government policy made behind closed doors. And the right of whistleblowers to expose corruption. It included voices of politicians, journalists, philosophers, human rights lawyers, and many courageous supporters lining the street outside the courthouse of Old Bailey:
“Let’s be clear: Julian Assange should have never been charged with a crime, unless it’s a crime to expose war crimes.”
— Roger Waters, Activist, Pink Floyd co-founder
“We must turn the tables on those who seek to persecute Julian and make them defendants who must answer for their crimes.”
— Yanis Varoufakis, DiEM25 co-founder
“The trial in Old Bailey is a farce: a parody to give the appearance of justice over the criminalization of a man who removed the veil over war crimes, surveillance, and corruption.”
— Alicia Castro, Argentine diplomat, ambassador to the UK 2012-2016
“We found out that, in exchange for financial support, my successor Lenin Moreno agreed to hand over Julian Assange to the United States.”
— Rafael Correa, former President of Ecuador
“The insistence by the Western world, mainly the United States and its British satellite, is to impose one narrative and to prevent other news that might challenge the narrative. That is the war against Julian Assange.”
— Tariq Ali, activist, historian, journalist, filmmaker
“The media that made so much of Wikileaks disclosures is now absent when it comes time to defend the journalist who was their source.”
— Jeremy Corbyn, former UK Labour party leader
“Julian showed us that there is a dark side of the Moon, and that the worst unfreedom is the unfreedom which we experience as freedom.”
— Slavoj Žižek, philosopher and DiEM25 Advisory Panel member
“I’ve cited Wikileaks cables in the International Court of Justice, so it’s striking to me that the person who helped us lead these accountability efforts is in jail.”
— Jennifer Robinson, human rights lawyer
Belmarsh is the prison where Julian is currently held. 11 October marked 18 months in the jail designed to hold terrorists. While Belmarsh has reportedly improved since being deemed “Britain’s Guantanamo”, Julian Assange’s detention is excessive and clearly meant to further torture the Wikileaks founder.
The case against Julian Assange.
Make no mistake: Assange is persecuted because Wikileaks publishes material governments do not want you to see. The US government has made no illusion about their case, charging him under the Espionage Act. Espionage Act charges against a publisher would criminalise journalists, the Obama administration decided after mulling over charges against Assange.
We must not forget the ongoing unjust proceedings occurring along with the case itself. Technical issues prevented Assange representatives from being heard and the press was frequently barred from video streaming access. We expand on these and other problems in our trial coverage.
As mentioned, a verdict on Assange extradition is set for January 4, 2021 — though this is seen as just the beginning of the legal saga, as appeals are likely to ensue. While prosecution and defense lawyers prepare closing arguments, which will be written and not delivered orally in November, Assange remains in Belmarsh with growing concerns over self-harm, including suicide.
Resistance without end!
As long as Julian remains in Belmarsh, the Belmarsh Tribunal will resist extradition. If Julian is extradited, we will resist the case seeking to shut him away. If he is found guilty in the US, we will resist imprisonment.
This is not just about Julian Assange, but about the free press and the right for whistleblowers to expose corruption.
We must not, cannot, give up this fight.
Sign the petition against Julian Assange’s extradition here.
Photo Source: Screenshot from ‘Collateral Murder‘ by Wikileaks.