There is a groundswell of support for Julian Assange

By Joe Montero

As the hearing of the extradition application began at the Woolwich Crown Court in London, there is was no doubt that support for Julian Assange is rising in Australia and around the world.

A crowd formed outside the the court. Many marched there from Australia House.

Thirty-three European parliamentarians from 12 countries and the European Parliament came to the court. It was the biggest representation of this sort ever seen in the United Kingdom, and they joined the call to free Julian Assange. Many came as delegates representing committees in their own parliaments.

Some well known personalities came to speak out. Julian’s father John Shipton was joined by former Greek finance minister and economist Yanis Varoufakis, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Journalist John Pilger.

France’s Yellow Vests send their representatives and a message of support. A range of international rights organisations did likewise.

Paris-based Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) also called for Assange’s release, and said it has sent monitors to the hearing in London.

Most important have been the ordinary people who have made their own contribution.

Together, all are demanding that Julian Assange be freed, and pledging to continue to act, until this objective has been achieved.

Support is coming in from Australia. Groups have sprung up across the country. Vigils are being held this week in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Alice Springs, Nowra and other places.

Photo by Joe Montero: Melbournians rally to support Julian Assange

A cross party coalition of Australian parliamentarians is doing its part, as are a formidable lists of journalists, lawyers and doctors. Teachers are organising to play their own collective part through their union. The same is beginning within other unions.

Groups and individuals across the range of political persuasions are agreeing.

Australian politicians are calling for the extradition of Julian Assange to be blocked

Over 300,000 Australians have already signed an online petition, and they are still signing. This is shaping up to be the biggest petition ever recorded in Australia.

A growing list of local councils are coming out and publicly voicing their support for Julian Assange.

All are pressing the Australian government to intervene to put an end to the legal farce, and insisting that Julian Assange is freed and and allowed to come home.

Photo by Joe Montero: At the vigil outside the British Deputy High Commissioner’s office in Collins Street Melbourne

It is all having an impact. The realisation that a miscarriage of justice is taking place, and that this poses a serious threat to our own democratic rights is dawning.

Public opinion is shifting decisively. The bigger the movement to support Julian Assange gets, the more impact it has.

Actions are taking place in many other cities around the world. In New Zealand’s Auckland and Wellington. In Seoul (Korea), Athens (Greece) Ljubljana (Slovenia), Nice (France), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Bern (Switzerland), Edinburgh (Scotland), New York, Washington, Denver and San Francisco (USA) Mexico City (Mexico) and Victoria (Canada).

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic has also urged Britain not to allow Assange’s extradition, saying, the case raises important concerns about press freedom and the protection of the rights of whistleblowers.

More than 40 international legal experts have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding the “rule of law be upheld,” claiming he has not had proper access to his legal team.

The United States wants to charge Assange with 17 counts of spying and one of conspiring to commit computer intrusion, for allegedly trying to help former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning conceal her digital identity, as she accessed classified Pentagon files regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He faces the prospect of 175 years imprisonment.

Among other things, the first day of the hearing revealed that other media had leaked the link address to the related files before any release by WikiLinks. The case should have been thrown out of court there and then. but it wasn’t.

Another damning revelation from Assange’s legal team is that Donald Trump sent an emissary to offer a deal, testify that there is no link bewtween Trump and he would be given a pardon. The allegation has is denied by Washington.

Assange offered pardon by Trump, says lawyer

Video from Reuters Postmedia

The ongoing list of violations of normal procedure is convincing, even some of the doubters, that something very wrong is going on here.

A farce is being carried out in the Woolwich Crown Court, dressed to look like proper legal process, when a political decision has already been made.

It is highly unlikely that he would get a fair trial in the united States, when it has been admitted that he will not be allowed a trial by jury, to have full and proper access to lawyers, be allowed to freely submit evidence and have this considered, cross examine witnesses and be free from other restrictions in the ability to defend himself.

Wikileaks editor Kristin Hrafnsson says Assange’s publishing activities were in the public interest and, despite US claims, have not resulted in any persons coming to harm.

It is no secret that the charges are highly political in nature\, and a response to politically awkward revelations, exposing war crimes and fraudulent corporate business practices. Those who have had a spotlight put on their activities, want to stamp it out. And this is something we must stop.


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