Julian Assange case & Freedom of the press during lockdown
Campaigners and supporters of Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange have been the ones at the forefront of multiple significant militant actions. Over a month ago, a powerful light was shone on the Houses of Parliament and the Belmarsh prison with the message “Don’t extradite Assange!”.
The message was followed by an invitation to the march in support of Assange, on the 22nd of February leading to the Parliament Square in London.
Thousands of people have gathered in protest of his extradition. Former Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, editor in chief of WikiLeaks Kristinn Hrafnsonn and Pink Floyd star Roger Waters were among the high-profile names at the protest.
To recap briefly, Julian Assange has been involved in some of the most controversial matters of our time. In 2010, Wikileaks published in concert with other news media organisations video footage of a US military attack on Iraqi civilians in Baghdad and diplomatic cables revealing crimes involving the US government.
The rally in London was only the beggining of a massive wave of protests. All over the world, people gathered to support Julian Assange and demand his imminent liberation.
“He has committed no crime, he published something, he’s a journalist, he did what journalists are supposed to do. There was no threat to national security,” Waters said.
At the beginning of the week of Assange’s extradition hearing, campaigners again have gathered from very early in the morning.
People came from as far as Paris, Brazil and Germany to protest at the Belmarsh Prison. Inspite of the awful weather, the “Gilets jaunes” came in prepared and motivated the rest of the protesters all day long.
With the multiple restrictions that are being imposed upon Londoners nowadays, the question arises of not only the freedom of the press, but people’s right of movement, expression and ultimately the right to protest as a human right.
Many questions arise as this unprecedented situation unfolds in front of our eyes. Now, that the first part of the London hearing to decide whether WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the US is over, the second half is delayed until May.
Are journalists allowed to cover news stories on the ground? Under what circumstances? What about the citizens that are supposed to stay at home but refuse to do so.. What if they choose to go out and protest?