In response to reports that Ecuador may be turning Julian Assange over to British authorities, prominent friends and supporters of the WikiLeaks founder are holding an emergency public meeting on Saturday evening outlining the plan for non-violent direct actions should he be arrested.
The meeting will take place online and will be open for public participation.
Confirmed speakers include Assange’s lawyer Greg Barnes, veteran CIA officer Ray McGovern, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, journalist Elizabeth Vos, President of the New Zealand Internet Party Suzie Dawson, American filmmaker and composer Vivian Kubrick, and many more — including yours truly.
“The vigil will be held in a roundtable format with many guests from previous vigils, and a few new faces as well, who will discuss the current state of Assange’s asylum and the future of the #Unity4J movement. Taking place at 23:00 UTC on Saturday ( Los Angeles: Sat 16:00 , New York: Sat 19:00, London: Sun 00:00, Berlin: Sun 1:00, Sydney: Sun 9:00, Auckland: 11:00 ) the vigil will continue for approximately 3 hours,” the press release states.
Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on June 19, 2012, where he applied and was granted political asylum. Since that time, the building has been encircled by police waiting on standby to arrest him.
In March, under pressure from the United States, Ecuador ramped up their efforts to make life unbearable for the publisher. He is no longer allowed to use the internet, phone or have visitors. Without access to the outdoors, Ecuador has effectively left him in worse conditions than our prisoners who are in solitary confinement.
British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed on Friday that the British police are seeking to arrest Assange, though they have consistently refused to state whether or not there is an extradition order in place to send him to the United States — where he would never face a fair trial.
“On Julian Assange I will just say this: he is free to walk out the doors of Ecuadorean embassy any time he wishes. In this country that respects the rule of law, you are innocent until proven guilty. Serious charges have been laid against him and we want him to face justice for those charges but we are a country of due process. At any time he is free to walk on to the streets of Knightsbridge, and the British police will have a warm welcome for him,” Hunt said.
In February, the high court ruled in favor of hacker Lauri Love not being extradited to the US to face charges of hacking our government agencies. The lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, was intensely critical of the conditions Love would have endured in US jails. The same is true for Assange, but yet the UK government appears to be ignoring their own precedent in this case.
In 2016, after 16 months of investigation, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) concluded that Assange is the victim of arbitrary detention. Not only did the group of lawyers and human rights professionals release an opinion that Assange should be released, they reported that he should be compensated by the governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom for “deprivation of liberty.”
President Donald Trump’s own attorneys have even made a solid case for preemptively pardoning Assange in a motion to dismiss a WikiLeaks-related lawsuit against the Trump campaign.
The motion, filed on December 29, was in response to a lawsuit by two Democratic Party donors who allege that the Trump campaign and former advisor Roger Stone conspired with Russians to publish the leaked Democratic National Committee emails.
In defense of Trump, the 32-page filing by Michael A. Carvin argues that a defendant may not be held liable for a disclosure of stolen information if the disclosure deals with “a matter of public concern” and provided that the speaker was not “involved” in the theft. The filing went on to assert that there can be “no serious doubt” that the disclosures from WikiLeaks satisfied the “newsworthy” and “public concern” portion of the Bartnicki First Amendment test.
The motion additionally argues that “punishing truthful publication in the name of privacy’ is always an ‘extraordinary measure’ –’ doubly so when the publisher did nothing illegal in obtaining the information.”
Likewise, during a press conference in January regarding Iran, State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert claimed that the US supports a freedom of the press.
“When a nation clamps down on social media, or websites, or Google… or news sites… we ask the question, what are you afraid of?” Nauert said.