French Yellow Vests about to board their coaches back to France after spending the whole of Saturday outside Belmarsh Prison in south east London demanding that Julian Assange be released and that he is not extradited to the US

TWO coachloads of French ‘Gilet Jaunes’ (Yellow Vests) joined the Committee to Defend Julian Assange ‘Bastille Day’ protest outside Belmarsh prison in south east London in support of the jailed WikiLeaks founder on Saturday.

Corinne Henry, one of the organisers of the Yellow Vests said: ‘We are here because in one month’s time the extradition hearing to extradite Julian Assange will begin.

‘Demonstrations are being held in other countries today in Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and in San Francisco and Denver in the USA, to show their support for Assange and to celebrate our demonstration today.

‘In France our government is lying about everything. On Friday in Paris nearly a million people were on the streets. It was like war. Many were hurt by the police, but we have to continue, we can’t do anything else.’

Souffron Camille, a student from Paris, said: ‘There will be a huge strike in France on February 1st.

‘Macron is proposing to increase salaries by 100 euros a month, but we will not be bought off, our struggle is not about money, but about the structure of society.’

Yellow Vest, Patricia from Paris said: ‘I lost my job as an accountant because of “Macron’s Law” which gives employers the right to sack workers without reason.

‘As I have worked for the company for more than ten years they had to pay me long service, they had to pay me extra money and increase my pension, so I was just sacked.

‘The National Assembly in Paris have even resorted to passing legislation at night when many are absent.’

Muriel, from Bristol, now living in Bordeaux, said: ‘I am so grateful to the Gilet Jaunes for bringing the spirit that we need.’

Elke Visser travelled from Dusseldorf in Germany to attend the demonstration and said: ‘We have travelled twelve hours on the bus because it is important to fight injustice and defend free speech which I fear will die if Julian Assange is extradited to the US.’

Raiko Speechley said: ‘It is very, very encouraging to see so many people coming so far to raise the alarm. The state is locking up a journalist for the “crime” of journalism.

‘The USA is now claiming foreign journalists do not have First Amendment rights but at the same time they claim universal jurisdiction regarding the espionage act.’

Ariya Rabbani from London said: ‘It’s great the Yellow Vests have come today bringing their passion and dedication to the protest.

‘I think the police here were scared today that there were so many of us because they wouldn’t let us approach the jail as we did before.’

From Italy, Sara Perri said: ‘I know it seems strange but I have supported WikiLeaks since I was 12 years old. I see Julian’s freedom as our freedom. We are all imprisoned under this system.’

Yellow Vest, Frank Pairaud told News Line: ‘Every sector of workers is striking in France, from lawyers to teachers, transport and hospital workers. No-one is happy with the new pension system. The only section which is happy is the police. They can negotiate what they want. They have special treatment.

‘The strikes involve the whole public sector. There are no unions in the private sector. A big sector is the underground and buses.

‘A big issue is the rising prices at the toll gates on the major auto-routes. For example, on the main road from the north to the south of France. These tolls were privatised some years ago, and the prices have become higher and higher.

‘There is also a big company called Lobbis which has set up penalty flash machines for speeding which extracts lots of fines.

‘Another big issue is the closure of hospitals in the towns. The main medical services are being moved to larger hospitals in the cities, more difficult to access.

‘Macron is the worst head of France. The policemen are armed and do big harm to the man in the street. The Yellow Vests movement is getting bigger. All professions can see big problems.

‘You in Britain went out of the EU system. We want to do the same in France. There was a referendum in the 1992. 54% voted for out, but it was ignored.’

• More photos in picture gallery