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Calls for US Government to “Drop the Charges” Ahead of Final Julian Assange Hearing.

Calls for US Government to “Drop the Charges” Ahead of Final Julian Assange Hearing.

Tomorrow the 20th and again on the 21st February WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will face his final hearing before the United Kingdom’s High Court regarding his extradition to the United States. Assange’s hearing will determine whether the Australian journalist—who has been imprisoned in London’s Belmarsh Prison since April 2019—has exhausted all of his U.K. appeals and will be extradited to the United States, where he has been charged with violating the 1917 Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for publishing classified U.S. military documents and files on WikiLeaks over a decade ago.

Two high court judges will hear arguments on whether Assange can appeal the ruling to extradite him to the United States, where he would most certainly spend the rest of his life in prison, likely in a harsh ‘supermax’ federal facility.

On the 12th of February WikiLeaks posted information as to what the court hearing means.

If He is Extradited He Will Die – Stella Assange

Julian’s wife, Stella Assange, has warned that if the judges rule against Assange, he could be on a plane to US soil in a matter of days. He would be removed from the high security Belmarsh prison for a trial in the US on espionage-related charges and publishing state secrets, where a 175 year jail sentence would await him.

In a press briefing on Thursday Stella Assange said: “It is the final hearing if it does not go Julian’s way, there is no possibility to appeal to the supreme court or anywhere else in this jurisdiction.”

She said further that situation is “extremely grave” given his health continues to be “in decline”. She warned: “If he is extradited, he will die.”

Psychological Torture

Brett Wilkins of Common Dreams reported: “Among the materials published by WikiLeaks are the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, which revealed U.S. and coalition war crimes, many of them leaked by American whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Perhaps the most infamous of the leaks is the so-called “Collateral Murder” video, which shows U.S. Army attack helicopter crews laughing as they gunned down a group of Iraqi civilians that included journalists and children.

While the soldiers and commanders implicated in the materials published by WikiLeaks have largely enjoyed impunity, Manning served seven years in prison before her sentence was commuted by outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama in 2017. Meanwhile, Assange faces up to 175 years behind bars if found guilty of all charges against him.

According to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Assange has been arbitrarily deprived of his freedom since he was arrested in December 2010. Since then he has been held under house arrest, confined for seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London while he was protected by the administration of former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, and jailed in Belmarsh.

In 2019, Nils Melzer, then the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said Assange was showing “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture.”

In a development related to Assange’s case, a federal judge earlier this month sentenced Joshua Schulte of New York to 40 years in prison in part for giving WikiLeaks “Vault 7,” a series of documents detailing the CIA’s surveillance and cyberwarfare activities and capabilities.

On Monday, the CIA—which during the Trump administration mulled assassinating Assange—invoked its state secrets privilege in a bid to block a lawsuit by the publisher’s attorneys. The suit alleges that CIA operatives “blatantly violated” the rights of lawyers and journalists visiting Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London by conducting unconstitutional searches and seizures of their electronic devices.” Source

No Journalist Safe.

‘Prosecuting Julian Assange threatens journalists and press freedom’ said @FreedomOfPress who calls for an end to the unjust prosecution of publisher Julian Assange.

Zerohedge report that The Guardian has meanwhile commented on US authorities’ attempts to bully journalists who worked with Assange to turn against him: At least four well-known journalists have been approached by the Metropolitan police on behalf of the FBI: James Ball, his ex-WikiLeaks colleague, who is now with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism; David Leigh, the former Guardian and Observer journalist; Heather Brooke, a freedom of information campaigner; and Andrew O’Hagan, who had been commissioned to ghost Assange’s autobiography.

All of them have declined to cooperate with the FBI. In an article for Rolling Stone last year, Ball said that he had first been approached in 2021 and subjected to pressure, including the threat of being prosecuted himself.

O’Hagan said that although he had his differences with Assange, he would happily go to jail rather than assist the FBI. “I would only add that the attempt to punish Assange for exposing the truth is an attack on journalism itself. I notice that none of those mainstream collaborators who published his material – the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel – are being pursued, which demonstrates that a generational bias against internet-based journalism is at the heart of the case … If Julian goes to the US, Britain will have failed to protect one of the first principles of democracy.” Zerohedge

Editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks Kristinn Hrafnsson has commented on what Assange’s prosecution and possible extradition means for the future of press freedoms. “It cannot be underestimated, the effect that it will have,” he said. “If an Australian citizen publishing in Europe can face prison time in the United States, that means no journalists anywhere are safe in the future.”

As for Assange’s native Australia, its parliament has just voted to issue formal request that charges against Julian Assange be dropped. The motion adopted by parliament emphasized “the importance of the UK and USA bringing the matter to a close so that Mr. Assange can return home to his family in Australia. ”Source.

Assange Has Not Broken The Law

John Mearsheimer, public relations expert, makes some very important points and is also asking for Julian Assange to be set free as he is a journalist and has not broken the law. see X video.

He Is One Of Us

Acclaimed U.S. film director Oliver Stone released a video over the weekend to draw attention to protests on “Day X”—what Assange supporters are calling his upcoming hearing—and Assange’s continued “illegal detention.”

“The world needs to be reminded, and so does Julian,” said Stone. “He’s one of us. He’s more than that, he is the collective us. If he goes down a part of each one of us goes down.” Source

Renewed Calls From Amnesty

Amnesty International renewed its call for the U.S. government to drop charges against Julian Assange, and also spoke of the risk to publishers and investigative journalists around the world, which they say hangs in the balance.”

Should Julian Assange be sent to the U.S. and prosecuted there, global media freedoms will be on trial, too,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counterterrorism and criminal justice in Europe.

“Assange will suffer personally from these politically motivated charges and the worldwide media community will be on notice that they too are not safe,” Hall added. “The public’s right to information about what their governments are doing in their name will be profoundly undermined. The U.S. must drop the charges under the Espionage Act against Assange and bring an end to his arbitrary detention in the U.K.”

Messages in Support of Assange.

In New York City, activist and political satirist Randy Credico, host of “Julian Assange: Countdown to Freedom”on WBAI radio and the Progressive Radio Network, will be co-piloting billboard trucks with “Free Assange” messages until the London hearing, according to CounterPunch.

Meanwhile in France, Russian artist Andrei Molodkin is attracting global attention for threatening to destroy a collection of works by artists including Picasso, Rembrandt, and Andy Warhol that he has amassed if Assange—who suffers from a host of health issues—dies in prison.

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian’s editor during the long WikiLeaks saga, wrote this month in Prospect, which he now edits: “I know they won’t stop with Assange. The world of near-total surveillance, merely sketched by [George] Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, is now rather frighteningly real.”

Peter Hitchens, no fan of Assange, wrote on the MailOnline website: “Even a self-respecting poodle would object to the way we are currently behaving towards the US. We are on the brink of allowing the American government to reach into this country and seize a man who has broken no British law.”

According to the Guardian, Only 35 parliamentarians wrote to the US attorney general last year to demand Washington drop the case. Leeds East MP Richard Burgon, who organised the letter, said: “Any extradition would, in effect, be putting press freedom on trial.” He was joined by 13 fellow Labour MPs, two Scottish National party MPs, Conservative MP David Davis, Caroline Lucas of the Greens and members of the House of Lords.

All of those, not to mention the many people who will gather outside the court on Tuesday, must now wait for the high court’s ruling and what it may mean for Assange – and journalism.

We live in a ‘Mediaocracy’. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks expanded the horizon of acceptable debate and political possibility. That’s why he is imprisoned.

Not only should all charges against Julian Assange, who has suffered immensely for doing his job well. Julian Assange should be free to live his life in peace.

Free Assange!

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