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News > United Kingdom

A Crowd Defends Assange Before the Court Deciding His Future

  • Rally outside the High Court in London, U.K, Feb. 20, 2024.

    Rally outside the High Court in London, U.K, Feb. 20, 2024. | Photo: X/ @JorgeGestoso

Published 20 February 2024

"If he is extradited, the chilling effect will be enormous," RSF journalist Rebecca Vincent said.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people from different nationalities demanded the freedom of Julian Assange outside the doors of the High Court in London, where two judges must decide whether he can appeal his case in the United Kingdom or be extradited to the United States.


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From early in the day, participants in the demonstration began to gather at the courthouse doors, where the first of the two scheduled hearings for the case began today. 

“This trial is an attack on truth and the citizens' right to know. Julian is a political prisoner, and his life is in danger,” Assange's wife, Stella, said in a speech alongside Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the British Labour Party.

Miguel Urban, a member of Anticapitalistas in the European Parliament, said that the atmosphere in the courtroom is "tense," during a break taken by the MEP during the session. 

"There can be no other outcome than the acquittal of Julian Assange because this will be the acquittal of freedom of information and the press," he said.

"Reporters Without Borders is engaged because of Julian Assange's contribution to journalism... he exposed war crimes and human rights violations...If he is extradited, the chilling effect will be enormous," said journalist Rebecca Vincent.

Among the 'Free Julian Assange' posters stood out the Guy Fawkes masks and the orange color of the prisoner jumpsuits worn by some of the attendees.

"They are using Assange as an example to silence the press," said Richard, a retired finance worker who attended the doors of the London court on Tuesday.

Assange has been in pretrial detention at the high-security Belmarsh prison in London since he was arrested at the request of the United States following his expulsion on April 11, 2019, from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The text reads, "There are many people outside London's Royal Court of Justice who must rule on the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. Lock up the war criminals, not the whistleblowers. Free Assange."

The relevance of the trial, crucial in deciding whether Assange will be extradited to the United States, brought people from various nationalities. For instance, Christiane Fantauzzo traveled from Marseille a day earlier to be present at the protest.

"It's the last chance to free him and to ensure freedom of the press and democracy," the French computer engineer said.

On Tuesday, Julian Assange began presenting his last legal recourse in the United Kingdom against his extradition to the U.S., where authorities want to prosecute him for espionage due to the revelations published in 2010 and 2011 through WikiLeaks, which exposed classified information revealing U.S. human rights violations in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If the court does not authorize him to appeal the extradition order issued on June 6, 2023, by Magistrate Jonathan Swift, the mechanism for Assange's extradition to the U.S. would be activated, in which case his lawyers have already announced that they will request urgent precautionary measures from the European Court of Human Rights to prevent it.

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