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Julian Assange

Julian Assange, Photo: David G Silvers / Flickr / cropped from original / licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

The US is about to try and overturn the block on Assange’s extradition. Lucy Nichols explains why we must all be part of the fight to stop them.

The case of Julian Assange is a deeply political one. Assange has remained in Belmarsh for the last two years, and continues to be treated as the state treats dangerous, violent people convicted of the worst crimes.

The truth is that Assange is dangerous, not to ordinary, working people, but to the establishment and to Western imperialism. Assange’s only offence is his crucial work uncovering the war crimes of the West in Afghanistan and Iraq, attempting to hold the US government to account in the process.

He has endured almost a decade of incarceration, having first sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 and since spent two years in Belmarsh, the majority in solitary confinement.

Since the pandemic, Assange has faced even more restrictions and has been largely unable to speak to anyone aside from his lawyer, including his family and young children. As it stands, Assange is in limbo, waiting for the US to appeal District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision to block his extradition to the US. This appeal will begin at the end of October and will entail yet another legal battle in which Assange’s character is questioned and criticised by two of the most powerful establishments in the world.

His lawyers and supporters have been arguing for the best part of a decade, any extradition to the US would be severely detrimental to Assange’s mental and physical health. He would face up to 175 years in prison if found guilty in the US – a life sentence.

The last two years in solitary confinement in Belmarsh have been nothing short of torture to Assange, and it is beyond cruel that anyone should have to live a life in a tiny concrete box. It is beyond the pale that Assange has had to do this without ever being found guilty.

The reality is that the establishment does not want us to feel any sympathy for Julian Assange, as the repeated attacks on everything from his personality to personal hygiene over the last decade have proven. It would be very easy to believe Assange as nothing but a slightly eccentric but unlucky whistle blower, but we must view the attacks on his work as attacks on journalism. Truth is difficult to find in a world of cover-ups, war crimes and government lies, but the truth is paramount and all of us owe something to Julian Assange for uncovering it. This is why it is important to fight for justice and freedom for Assange, and to join the March for Assange outside BBC Portland Place on the 23 October

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