BY THE JULIAN ASSANGE DEFENCE COMMITTEE
The week of Julian Assange birthday events kicked off in London on Saturday with protests at the Australian Embassy, online events and a picnic in Parliament Square.
Punk fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and Assange supporters spread the message that Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the UK acting on the behest of US interests for the best part of 12 years, with a picnic on the Parliament Square green.
For seven of those years he was trapped in the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had asylum and the past two years and four months he has been in solitary confinement in HMP Belmarsh.
The WikiLeaks founder was 39 years old when this process began and had been able to work in the Embassy up until the new Ecuador President Lenin Moreno took power and the Trump administration filed its indictment.
During #AssangeWeek: On Tuesday, Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon held a rally at Belmarsh to present a letter to the prison demanding the cross-parliamentary group of 24 MPs supporting freedom for Assange be granted access to meet with him in person or by video link.
The prison refused to take the hand-delivered letter.
On Thursday the boat, Pride of London, with Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris, son Gabriel, and former UK Ambassador Craig Murray and Assange supporters on board, sailed down the Thames to deliver their message to the Houses of Parliament and the US Embassy from the water.
A key witness for the US Department of Justice case against Assange recently admitted to fabricating evidence for the indictment against the WikiLeaks founder, as reporter by Icelandic newspaper Studin, placing the Department of Justice (DOJ) case for appeal against a UK magistrates order that Assange not be extradited in further question.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden claimed the revelations meant the ‘end of the case’ for the DOJ.
The UK High Court has not yet announced whether it will allow the US leave to appeal against this decision which was made in January.
Assange supports were elated with the decision not to extradite him but astounded when the same magistrate denied him bail a few days later.
In the meantime, his partner Moris declared Assange Week would expand into a second week of actions bringing attention to her fiance’s plight, with his father John Shipton accompanied by son Gabriel Shipton, due to return to the UK following a nationwide tour of more than 16 cities in United States which started in Miami and ended in the capital Washington DC on July 1st.
This followed two tours of Australia by Shipton, where support for his embattled son is growing in momentum.
A new resolution was passed by the opposition party, the Australian Labour Party, that calls for the US charges against Assange to be dropped, and the cross-party Assange support group of MPs is growing in number.
One of the largest petitions in Australia’s history, with over 600,000 signatures, has been tabled in the Australian Parliament, calling on the US to free Assange.
- At the picnic for Julian’s 50th birthday at Parliament Square the lawn was laid with dozens of blankets printed with the WikiLeaks founder’s face.
His children Gabriel and Max played around them and inspected the cake that fashion icon Vivienne Westwood was to later cut.
His partner Stella Moris said the Square outside Westminster Parliament was the appropriate place to mark his birthday as Julian stood for democracy.
In her speech to the protesters at the picnic Stella Moris emphasised: ‘The case of the US is built on lies. I ask everyone to help me to free Julian.’
Also Australian journalist John Pilger made a speech.
He said: ‘Anyone who knows Julian well … his was was a moral vision … that he believed transfer of information and the power that resides behind it should be the property of the people.
‘His vision was to rescue democracy … To give people the information that was their right and kept on doing it as long as he could.
‘When Stella said Julian was a democrat she was absolutely right. Those who are doing this to him I don’t know what they are, but they are not democrats.
‘Julian has already won the case … he has won it morally and politically. The fact that he is still in Belmarsh is beyond disgusting. Let’s hope that he can enjoy being 50 in a couple of months time.’
Vivienne Westwood said: ‘This world is not normal and people should wake up. Julian should not be in Belmarsh.’
• Photos in gallery