Thousands rally: ‘Free Assange!’

Washington, D.C., Oct. 8. SLL photo

Hundreds rallied outside the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8 to protest the incarceration and extradition of Julian Assange. Assange is currently in the middle of his third year of confinement in London’s Belmarsh prison, serving most of that time in solitary isolation.

Protests supporting freedom for Assange were held around the world. In London, 7,000 protesters linked hands to surround the Parliament building, demanding that Britain not extradite Assange to the United States. Protests also occurred in several other U.S. cities.

Supporters of Assange in Washington marched around the DOJ complex. They symbolically encircled the complex with a large yellow ribbon with “Free Assange” written on it. Chants of “Free Assange,” “No extradition,” and “Jail John Bolton” could be heard for two city blocks as the marchers slowly made their way around the DOJ, escorted by D.C. police and accompanied by multiple musicians playing drums and guitars.

Many members of the independent media attended to cover the march and the subsequent rally that featured independent political activists from across the political spectrum.

People’s Power Assembly founding member Rev. Annie Chambers was a featured speaker at the rally. Chambers brought up the many other political prisoners of the United States, including her Black Panther brothers and sisters, and how this sort of isolation is used as a form of torture. 

At first, the British Magistrate blocked Assange’s extradition from Britain in January 2021. However, the British High Court later overturned that decision when the U.S. government appealed.

Assange will face espionage charges if he is extradited to the U.S. Assange is being sought by the U.S. for publishing documents that revealed U.S. war crimes and human rights atrocities.

According to Assange’s defense, “The politically motivated charges represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know – seeking to criminalize basic journalistic activity.”

If convicted, Julian Assange faces a sentence of 175 years, likely to be spent in extreme isolation.

Recently Assange has tested positive for COVID-19. While in Belmarsh prison, Assange’s mental and physical health has greatly deteriorated. With this new diagnosis of COVID-19 and Assange’s chronic lung disease, supporters and his family are again urging the courts to release him immediately.

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