For years, activists and journalists have demanded the release of Julian Assange, detained without charge since 2019 in the UK, and held in solitary confinement within the nation’s highest security prison.
Now, the tone has changed, from activists and the occasional newspaper to heads-of-state in some of America’s key allies and partners like Brazil, Mexico, and Australia. On Tuesday, May 9th, a cross-party group of Australian members of parliament met with the US ambassador to Australia to demand the release of Assange, himself an Australian citizen.
It comes a week after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, a key partner in America’s anti-China coalition, said he was “frustrated” by the Biden Administration’s repeated attempts to seek Assange’s extradition from the UK, a sentiment held by the leader of Albanese’s opposition party, Peter Dutton.
Two days before that, attending King Charles III’s coronation, Brazilian President Ignacio Lula Da Silva blasted the UK for holding Assange on behalf of the US.
“It is an embarrassment that a journalist who denounced trickery by one state against another is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him. It’s a crazy thing,” Lula told reporters. “We talk about freedom of expression; the guy is in prison because he denounced wrongdoing. And the press doesn’t do anything in defense of this journalist. I can’t understand it”.
On the occasion of the King’s coronation, Julian Assange was able to release a written statement for the first time since being imprisoned in Belmarsh.
“On the coronation of my liege, I thought it only fitting to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to commemorate this momentous occasion by visiting your very own kingdom within a kingdom: his majesty’s prison Belmarsh,” Assange writes, going on to describe his meal of £2 pounds per day worth of food, eaten in a cell the size of a box shower, and such features as the “End of Life Suite” in the “Hellcare ward,” while recounting the story of a man who committed suicide in the cell next to him.
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also recently called for Assange’s release, following up on comments he made last year that if it didn’t occur, “we must start a campaign to tear down the Statue of Liberty”.
Obrador met with Joe Biden on July 12th, 2022, eight days after the provocative statement, and said that he “left a letter to the president about Assange, explaining that he did not commit any serious crime, did not cause anyone’s death, did not violate any human rights and that he exercised his freedom, and that arresting him would mean a permanent affront to freedom of expression”.
This week, following a visit by Assange’s father and brother to the Mexican parliament and Palacio Nacional, the two men received a firm endorsement from the executive and legislative branches that Assange must be let go.
Assange’s father, John Shipton, told Consortium News that “the political movement to free his son ‘encompasses the entirety’ of Latin America: including the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Venezuela, and Mexico”.
Assange is being held by the UK after the US tried to bring charges of espionage for the publication of several batches of classified documents on Wikileaks that he received from whistleblower Pfc. Chelsey Manning. If convicted he would serve 175 years in a US prison.
However, during a trial held in the UK for his extradition, the US prosecutors produced no evidence satisfactory to the court that any damage, human or operational, came as a result of the leaks published by Assange which did however reveal heinous war crimes and domestic crimes as well. WaL
PC: Henry Nicholls, NTB CC 2.0.