Image by Marilyn Tyzack for Creating Socialism: USA waiting and hoping to see Julian Assange extradited.

A mass protest for all those who support Julian Assange and press freedom from around the world has been called outside the UK High Court on 20th and 21st February at 8:30am. This two-day public hearing is vital as it may be the last opportunity to prevent the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. It will take place before a panel of two judges who will review an earlier decision that refused Julian Assange permission to appeal. The outcome of this hearing will determine whether Julian Assange will have further opportunities to argue his case before the UK courts or if he will have exhausted all appeals in the UK, leading to the extradition process.

The importance of this hearing for Julian Assange, his family, press freedom, UK sovereignty and the possibility of reining in the USA’s enormous abuses of power therefore cannot be underestimated.

If extradited, Julian Assange faces a sentence of 175 years for exposing war crimes committed by the US in the Afghan and Iraq wars.

As his wife, Stella Assange said,

With the myriad of evidence that has come to light since the original hearing in 2019, such as the violation of legal privilege and reports that senior US officials were involved in formulating assassination plots against my husband, there is no denying that a fair trial, let alone Julian’s safety on US soil, is an impossibility were he to be extradited. The persecution of this innocent journalist and publisher must end.

Julian Assange’s Final Appeal to be held in UK High Court 20-21 February 2024 – Assange Defense

It has been said many times, but Mr. Assange’s treatment is one of the most vindictive and frightening abuses of state power seen in many years. The USA has shown a relentless thirst for revenge for his decision to publicise details of their war crimes in the Middle East.  Following his arrest in 2019 when he was dragged in manacles from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, shouting ‘resist’, he has been subjected to extreme and inhumane treatment. He is currently a prisoner in Category A, Belmarsh prison, intended for those considered the most threatening to the public should they escape.

However, this decision will not only be about justice for one innocent man, but it is also about press freedom and the rights of investigative journalists to hold power to account. As a result, people across the world, including journalists’ unions are following and supporting his case Even the right-wing Daily Mail journalist, Peter Hitchens has expressed his opposition to the extradition of Julian Assange to the US, arguing that it is a violation of British sovereignty and a threat to press freedom. He has also criticised the US justice system for being biased and politicised against Assange. He has written several articles and tweets. He questions whether Britain can be a ‘proper country’ if it allows a foreign power to pluck out anyone it wants to punish. He describes Assange as ‘a man he abhors’ but as ‘a man he defends’.

The toll on Julian Assange, his wife and his two young sons has been huge.

He is reported as saying, ‘I am exhausted and I have lost a lot of weight.  The isolation in Belmarsh is killing me.  Contact with the outside world is rare. All because I have made war crimes public to open society’s eyes and show what governments keep silent about.

I am dying and I am afraid that press freedom and democracy will die with me.’

In the words of another courageous journalist, John Pilger, who died in December 2023,

These words were tweeted in 2019.  Four and a half years later there is a chance that this High Court Hearing could be the end of the road for Julian Assange.  Every journalist, every trade unionist, and anyone who cares about justice should be outside the High Court on that day to express solidarity and show that he has not been forgotten. At the same time this protest will send a powerful message to both the UK and US governments that there are some freedoms that are just too important to be tampered with. Without courageous investigative journalism, out of control, powerful states like the USA, supported by puppet countries like the UK and many others, will continue to ride roughshod over the rest of the world without any accountability. The importance of this hearing on 20th and 21st February cannot be underestimated both for Julian Assange and for democracy as we know it.

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