published : 2023-08-21
Supporters of Julian Assange Urge for Withdrawal of Charges, Hold Vigil Outside Attorney General's Residence
Attorney General Merrick Garland leaves his home amidst supporters’ rally for the controversial WikiLeaks founder.
On a Sunday that started like any other, the tranquil suburbia outside Attorney General Merrick Garland's Maryland residence transformed into a hub of activity.
The cause? A vigil staged by supporters of controversial WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, urging for the revocation of the charges stacked against him.
Prior to this, Assange made global headlines for publishing classified U.S. military documents leaked by a whistleblower.
As Garland departed in his motorcade before 4 p.m, he was greeted with placards and posters demanding an end to Assange's prosecution.
The spectators did not just voice their dissent but further articulated its significance for the freedom of the press.
Martha Allen, director of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press, emphasized, 'The Julian Assange case is crucial for independent media.'
Assange, the Australian journalist, shook the world over a decade ago when WikiLeaks published classified documents revealing U.S. government's war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay.
These documents, originally leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, also unearthed instances of CIA committing severe human rights violations.
Reflecting on the charges, Dominique Filanowski from OpEd News remarked at the vigil, 'Freedom worldwide depends on Julian Assange; so free Julian and let's fight against his extradition.'
Assange is currently housed in London’s Belmarsh Prison since April 2019 after breaching bail conditions during his refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
His indictment was later initiated under the Espionage Act by the Trump administration, a pursuit that the current Biden administration still maintains.
Highlighting concerns for Assange's persecution, event organizer Paula Iasella expressed, 'We care about our First Amendment and press freedom.'
She also made clear that she had communicated this plea through letters handed over to the Secret Service to pass on to the attorney general's counselors.
In what appears to be a losing battle should Assange be extradited, Filanowski expressed doubts about the fairness of any trial process Assange faces in the U.S.
Eminent editors and publishers penned an open letter in 2021, advocating the end of his prosecution after Assange's Cablegate leak exposed more than 250,000 confidential documents.
Earlier this year, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., wrote to the Justice Department, urging the drop of charges against Assange.
Julian Assange, thus, continues to be a figure of controversy and concern, challenging perceptions of press freedom, state secrecy, and global diplomacy.