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Assange Begins Fight Against U.S. Extradition Today


Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

LONDON – After years of state posturing, legal maneuvering and open collusion between the U.S., Great Britain, Sweden and Ecuador, and detention of an award-winning  journalist in Britain’s maximum security facility at HM Belmarsh Prison, the main event is finally here.

Monday morning begins the extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with 18 federal indictments, carrying a total sentence of 175 years.

It is hard not to overstate the gravity and potential impact of this case on the future of free speech and freedom of the press in the 21st century.

When Julian Assange was taken by force from London’s Ecuadorian embassy by British authorities and arrested last April, a crowd of less than a hundred people gathered outside Belmarsh demanding the release of Assange. I was there. It was a somber occasion to say the least, and some people there expressed abject horror that such an injustice could be taking place in broad daylight, and with so relatively few people paying attention or caring. Most notably absent during that period of upheaval were the mainstream press: the bitter irony of it all, considering what Julian was being taken down for, and by whom.

But things have moved on quite a bit since then. On Saturday, a large crowd gathered outside of Australia House on The Stand in central London, marching to Parliament Square, joining a crowd which numbered roughly two thousand. This is now officially a global movement.

Supporters were holding signs and chanting slogans of  like, “Don’t extradite Assange, journalism is not a crime.” 


(Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)

Leading the march on Saturday were Assange’s father John Shipton, WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsonn, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, former Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.


Yanis Varoufakis, Joseph Farrell, Kristinn Hrafnsonn and John Shipton leading the march in central London (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)

As supporters continued to arrive at Parliament Square, where speakers like John Shipton addressed the crowd in an emotional appeal calling for an end to the unlawful incarceration of his son. “I bring to you his affection, his nobility of purpose and also his strength of character after nine years. I don’t really understand why Julian is in jail here, said Shipton.


(Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)

Event speakers remarked on the extrajudicial and extra-territorial jurisdiction which U.S. authorities are attempting to exert here. This has to potential to create a global chilling effect on journalism.

For the first time in months, I saw a number a mainstream journalists in attendance, as the reality of this situation begins to set in for many working members of the media. For whatever reason they have been deterred from getting behind this issue, afraid to throw their support behind the WikiLeaks founder, one of their own.

With the main event now imminent, many who were on that corporate fence are finally beginning to realize that Julian’s fate is theirs too.

This is arguably the most important civil liberties and human rights cases on this young century.

How it’s decided with affect everyone.


Brian Zeno, Roger Waters and Yanis Variufakis (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


Kristinn Hrafnsonn, John Shipton and Vivienne Westwood (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


Former British Ambassador Craig Murray (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


Musician and rap artist Lowkey (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


Roger Waters (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


Yanis Varoufakis (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


Kristinn Hrafnsonn (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


Brian Eno (Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


(Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)


(Photo Credit: Patrick Henningsen © 2020)

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Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq. See his archive here.

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