Thousands in London protest Assange’s US extradition
Thousands of people gathered in front of the British Home Office on Tuesday to protest against the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US, denouncing it as politically motivated and a grave threat to freedom of press.
After Assange waged several rounds of appeal battle spanning months, Britain’s Westminster Magistrate’s Court issued a formal order in April to extradite him to the US to face espionage charges.
The case is now at the hands of British Home Secretary Priti Patel, who will decide whether to approve the extradition. Assange’s legal team can make submissions before Wednesday to Patel explaining why Assange shouldn’t be extradited.
On Tuesday, Assange’s wife Stella Assange said on Twitter that a representation had been filed to Patel to block his extradition to the US.
Assange, 50, is wanted in the US on allegations of disclosing national defense information following WikiLeaks’s publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked military documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars a decade ago, which included an Apache helicopter video footage documenting the US military gunning down Reuters journalists and children in Baghdad’s streets in 2007.
“It’s very clear that the case is politically motivated because the American authorities are using the espionage act to attempt extradition. And the espionage act has been historically used to suppress American dissidents,” Lano Nika, a protester, told Xinhua.
“We know that media freedom has been eroding and in a precarious state. It is not in a good condition in our Western part of the world and that needs to be turned around,” said Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks .