The saga of Julian Assange’s persecution has been defined by leading human rights organizations as one of the most significant threats to press freedom in our time. The WikiLeaks founder published, among other devastating leaks, the “Collateral Damage” video obtained by Chelsea Manning that revealed war crimes being committed in Iraq by U.S. soldiers. As U.S. authorities attempted to extradite Assange for alleged violations of the Espionage Act of 1917, he took refuge for several years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the U.K. until he was imprisoned in a high-security London facility in 2019. The WikiLeaks founder has since been kept in appalling conditions there, and although a British judge denied the U.S. extradition request due to concerns for Assange’s health were he to be sent to an American prison, the Biden administration is still appealing the decision.
It’s fitting that an event in support of Julian Assange took place on the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. The court cases surrounding the publication of the Pentagon Papers once laid bare the lengths the government will go to prevent the public from knowing the full extent of the American national security state and war machine. Now, the fate of press freedom is once again at a crossroads. The Department of Justice’s prosecution of Julian Assange is an attack on the key premise of democracy: that the public has a right to know. On June 13, 2021, Defending Rights and Dissent’s Policy Director Chip Gibbons joined former presidential primary candidate Marianne Williamson, Intercept D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grimm, and members of Julian Assange’s family on a panel in support of Assange. Watch the full event here.
Julian Assange's father and brother, John and Gabriel Shipton, are currently on tour in the United States to help organize a unified US movement in support of freeing Julian Assange and protecting press freedom. Clearing the FOG speaks with Gabriel Shipton about the tour, about Julian and about the reasons why it is critical that the Biden administration reverse the Trump era position of prosecuting Assange. It would be very simple for the Biden Department of Justice to cancel the appeal of the United Kingdom judge's decision not to extradite Assange and he would be free.