Britain: Thousands create human chain to free Assange

October 11, 2022
Anthony Albanese, Free Julian Assange
Free Assange artwork by Ratbag Media, featuring Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

“It has been incredible ... Everyone has come together. We held hands. We surrounded Parliament on both sides of the Thames and across the bridges,” said Stella Moris, at the end of an impressive solidarity action in London for her husband, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The turnout for the October 8 action exceeded organisers’ expectations. “I think there were more than 5000 people ... and I’m assured that all sides were covered,” said Moris.

“I am so grateful to everyone for having come out, [and] shown your solidarity with Julian. It is so meaningful to all of us, and to Julian, who will be so energised and thankful for the support that you have shown to him. Please keep it up. Let’s keep building this.”

Assange, who is languishing in the high-security Belmarsh prison, awaiting the outcome of a legal challenge against his extradition to the United States, tested positive for COVID-19 on October 8. He was given paracetamol and is now locked in his cell 24 hours a day, Moris told the Independent.

Two days prior to the protest, Moris appeared alongside former US national security advisor John Bolton on Piers Morgan Uncensored. Morgan started the interview by accusing Assange and Wikileaks of not “practicing journalism” when they published leaks about US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. He wheeled out the lie that Wikileaks had put lives at risk by not redacting information published on its website. Moris demolished this claim.

Morgan then turned to Bolton, to ask why the US is so intent on extraditing Assange to face charges in the US that may lead to him spending the rest of his life in prison, Bolton responded by saying that it was “a small amount of the sentence he actually deserves”.

“He’s no more a journalist than the chair I’m sitting on ... I hope he gets at least 176 years in jail for what he did.”

Moris responded, labelling Bolton Assange’s “ideological nemesis”.

“During his time for the [George W] Bush administration, and later the [Donald] Trump administration, [Bolton] sought to undermine the international legal system and ensure the US is not under the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction,” said Moris.

“And if it was, Mr Bolton might, in fact, be prosecuted under the ICC. He was one of the chief cheerleaders of the Iraq war, which then Julian exposed through these leaks, so he has a conflict of interest here.”

Bolton argued that Assange would get “due process” in the US and challenged Moris to say that Assange would not. She replied that the WikiLeaks founder could not possibly get a fair trial in the US, because there is no public interest defence under the nefarious Espionage Act.

“It is the first time that a publisher has ever been prosecuted under this act, something that constitutional lawyers in the United States have been warning could happen for the past 50 years and the New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post (WP) say this prosecution strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.”

Bolton responded with a menacing angle, saying the WP and NYT were wrong and his message to the “esteemed editors of the Washington Post and the New York Times” was that “when you try and equate yourselves with Julian Assange, you’re making a very dangerous gesture, because while you’re saying the First Amendment should apply to him, a different kind of legal system could move in the opposite direction and put you under prosecution as well.”

Despite Bolton’s intervention, support for Assange appears to be growing, given the turnout on October 8. Assange has also been nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.


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