Free Assange Now

Julian Assange’s two-day extradition hearing began in the UK on 20 February 2024. Although the founder of Wikileaks was too ill to appear by video camera from jail, many of his supporters rallied outside the courts to free Assange.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is fighting extradition to the USA. The United States government has charged Assange with hacking government computers and espionage. In 2010 and 2011, he obtained and published classified documents on Wikileaks.

Chelsea Manning, a former USA Army intelligence analyst, leaked around 750,000 files to Assange. One of the files contained a video of a USA military Apache helicopter. It showed the aircraft firing and killing more than a dozen Iraqis, as well as two Reuters journalists.

How did Assange end up in prison?

On the surface, Assange’s legal woes seem to have begun in Sweden, where two separate women went to the police with allegations. One accused him of rape and the other of molestation.

Assange spoke to the police but then left Sweden. His actions then prompted the Swedish police to issue an international arrest warrant.

In 2012, after failing to appeal the extradition to Sweden, Assange broke bail conditions and requested asylum from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He continued to fight the allegations, but his attempt to cancel the warrant in Sweden failed.

Swedish prosecutors then dropped some of the allegations in August 2015 due to the statute of limitations. The rape investigation remained.

Two months later, the Metropolitan Police in London ended an expensive three-year around-the-clock guard outside the Ecuadorian embassy.

USA involvement in Assange’s imprisonment

In November 2018, there was an unconfirmed report of a researcher discovering the existence of a USA court filing that accidentally revealed a sealed criminal case against Assange.

Then, in April 2019, the Ecuadorian President blamed Wikileaks for recent corruption allegations. They withdraw Assange’s asylum status. London police then entered the embassy and arrested Assange for breaching bail in 2012 and on behalf of US authorities.

The UK sentenced Assange to 50 weeks in prison for breaking bail conditions. The US then indicted Assange on 18 charges for Wikileaks’ publication of classified documents.

Six months following his commencement in prison, Sweden dropped the rape investigation. But, by this time, the US was seeking Assange’s extradition.

In May 2020, amid COVID, the UK delayed Assange’s extradition hearing to the USA.

The USA then filed a new indictment against Assange in June 2020. According to the USA, it shows the level of inquiry the Wikileaks founder was willing to go to uncover information.

Since 2010, when Wikileaks dropped the information on the USA, the media has been full of speculation that the USA pressured Sweden to arrest Assange on trumped-up charges.

The Guardian, a British-based newspaper, ran a story in 2018 on how Sweden tried to drop their extradition in 2013.

Assange has been fighting extraditions since 2012, and this week’s hearing in the UK is his last chance for freedom. However, there’s a slim possibility that if it fails, his case could go before the European Court of Human Rights.

The arguments in favour of a free Julian Assange

While Julian could not attend the first day of the legal challenge, his wife, Stella, joined protestors. She spoke to Assange’s supporters about his life being in danger and how he would die in jail if extradited to the USA.

The arguments to free Assange focus on humanitarian grounds, while his lawyers seek an entire appeal hearing to explore all the arguments against his extradition before making a decision.

There is grave concern that the case has significant ramifications for the freedoms of the press, especially those concerning journalists and publishers, as well as the ability to hold countries accountable for war crimes.

Many groups, such as Reporters without Borders and the Australian Government, are asking to end Assange’s legal battle.

On February 14, 2024, the Australian Government passed a resolution supporting the 2010 leak exposed war crimes by the USA. It called for the matter to be brought to a close so that Assange could return home to Australia.

For that to happen, the UK must choose not to extradite, and the USA government must drop its case.

US lawyers deny political witchhunt

Lawyers for the USA claimed, during the second day of the hearing, that Assange’s actions go much further than those of a reporter and that he should face espionage charges.

They say that his alleged actions of encouraging theft, hacking and publication of names, put innocent lives at risk.

While the two-day hearing has finished, Assange remains behind bars in the notorious HM Prison Belmarsh in London.

The High Court have delayed their delayed their decision until after March 4, 2024.

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