Julian Assange is fighting for his freedom

Julian Assange is fighting for his freedom

He had lost weight, was limping badly, and appeared confused and disoriented. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he responded slowly, as if he was having a hard time remembering it. It was on October 21, 2019, at one of the last performances of Julian Assange before the English courts. His lawyer, Craig Murray, said he appeared to have the symptoms of a torture victim “that can be revealed by blinking.” Months earlier, the journalist John Pilger had visited him in prison. He had also found him physically and mentally aged. Assange had said to him: “I think I’m going crazy.”

Julian Assange has been in London's Belmarsh maximum security prison for almost five years. He spends 23 hours a day alone and only has 45 minutes to exercise on a concrete patio. When he leaves his cell, all hallways and doors are locked so that he has no contact with other inmates. Their only social gathering is the church service in the chapel. The prison priest is his only friend.

The founder of WikiLeaks He has been detained since British police dragged him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April 2019, after that country's government revoked his political asylum seven years earlier. The English judiciary accused him of violating his conditional release in 2012, when an international arrest warrant had been in force since then Sweden for alleged sexual assault. He sentenced him to 50 weeks in prison. Nils Melzer, former special rapporteur U.N. for Torture, which pursued his case for several years, once noted that the British normally only impose fines on bail violators, yet Assange was still given 50 weeks in prison. The reason? Give the United States time to prepare its extradition order.

The man who shocked the world with his revelations about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan has been fighting his extradition legally for years.

On Tuesday, February 20, he and his lawyers used one of the last opportunities to defend themselves: they applied to the United Kingdom Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the extradition decision. The court should respond by the end of March. If he doesn't give them that permission, Assange could still go to court. European Court of Human Rights. But after that there is nothing more.

After that, they send him to the United States, where he faces what observers believe will be a lengthy trial in which prosecutors will use a 1917 anti-espionage law and charge him with 18 criminal charges could be up to 125 years in prison.

A few days ago the media asked Stella Assange What would happen if your husband was sent to the USA? She is sure that he will not tolerate the prison conditions: “If he is extradited, he will die in prison.”

A political persecution

–Julian Assange is a journalist arbitrarily criminalized for political reasons – Erika Guevara, director of research, advocacy and policy at Amnesty International, tells La República, one of several international organizations that have asked for the prosecution against the founder finish from WikiLeaks. –Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have been able to learn on a global level about serious human rights violations committed by the United States in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and that is precisely why they are being punished today.

The nearly five hundred thousand classified documents relating to military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan represented the largest disclosure of state secrets since the Pentagon Papers and exposed society to responsibility for them Washington in the murder of civilians and their complicity in the torture, rape and kidnapping of their allies in the war.

The more than 250,000 diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks also published caused a political earthquake for Washington, which declared Assange the country's number one enemy from that moment on.

“A constitutional democracy would investigate and punish war criminals,” former special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer told Swiss media Republic. “These soldiers should be behind bars. However, no criminal investigations have been initiated against any of them. Instead, the man who informed the public is in custody in London and faces a possible prison sentence of up to 175 years in the United States.”

–If he is extradited, he could face a trial without the rules of due process –says Erika Guevara-. There are no guarantees that he will be offered a fair trial and he could therefore face lengthy imprisonment. The United States has already threatened that this prolonged detention would take place in solitary confinement, in a maximum security prison, which in itself constitutes conditions of torture and ill-treatment.

The current Special Rapporteur on Torture Cases, Alice Jill EdwardsShe said a few days ago that she was worried about what would happen to Assange's health if he ended up in a US prison. “Assange suffers from a depressive disorder. “Any extradition to the United States will most likely aggravate his underlying medical conditions and there is a very real risk of suicide,” he warned.

    Support.  International press and human rights organizations are demanding that the United Kingdom and the United States end the persecution of the Australian journalist and release him.  Photo: Distribution

Support. International press and human rights organizations are demanding that the United Kingdom and the United States end the persecution of the Australian journalist and release him. Photo: Distribution

Dozens of organizations around the world are calling for the prosecution of the Australian journalist and hacker to stop and for the UK to release him immediately. In addition to Amnesty International, there are Human Rights Watch, the Press Freedom Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

These institutions are concerned about the very serious precedent that Assange's trial and conviction would set for them Freedom of the press.

–The prosecution against Assange is in reality an expected prosecution against all whistleblowers, all potential informants, who are in the institutions of the USA Condition and that they could leak confidential documents to the press – Artur Romeu, director of the Latin American office of Reporters Without Borders, tells La República.

–It represents a very big risk for press freedom in the world –says Erika Guevara of Amnesty International–. And it would set a disastrous precedent for policing freedoms, the public's right to know, and the public's right to know.

The USA is sending a message to all journalists

Approach. Artur Romeu, director of Reporters Without Borders for Latin America, is fighting

The Julian Assange case is a case of menace freedom of the press, Not only does this endanger a person's freedom and integrity, but it is also intended to send a message to all journalists around the world that the people who investigate state crimes such as war crimes and corruption cases, and what is made of them if they have secret documents, they can face the same kind of persecution. And that's exactly it for us Reporters Without Bordersit seems more serious to us.

If the United States, the country of the First Amendment that presents itself as a defender of freedoms, allows such persecution of journalists, the consequences for journalistic practice are very serious, especially for those who investigate at the highest levels in the states.

MILESTONES of a chase 2006. Julian Assange founds WikiLeaks.

  • April 2010. WikiLeaks releases secret military video showing a helicopter killing two journalists and several civilians in Iraq in 2007.
  • July 2010. Publishes more than 90,000 secret documents on the war in Afghanistan.
  • August 2010. The Swedish Public Prosecutor's Office Issues arrest warrant against Assange over allegations of sexual assault.
  • October 2010. WikiLeaks uncovers nearly 400,000 secret documents on the Iraq War.
  • November 2010. WikiLeaks begins publishing approximately 250,000 leaked State Department cables.
  • June 2012: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London and requests political asylum. He Ecuadorian government The award ceremony takes place in August.
  • May 2017. Swedish prosecutors end their investigation into rape allegations.
  • December 2017. Assange receives Ecuadorian citizenship.
  • April 2019. Ecuador revokes his asylum and his citizenship. London police immediately arrested him in accordance with the US extradition request.
  • May 2019. He is sent to prison after being found guilty of violating his bail conditions when he entered the Ecuadorian embassy in 2010.
  • January 2021. A British judge rejects a US request to extradite Assange, but the decision is overturned in December of the same year.
  • April 2022. A London court orders Assange's extradition to the United States.
  • February 20, 2023. Assange's legal team goes to the London Supreme Court to request that he be given the opportunity to appeal against the extradition.