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Julian Assange’s supporters hold vigil outside Merrick Garland’s home, want charges dropped

 August 22, 2023

Supporters of Julian Assange held a vigil outside Attorney General Merrick Garland's home Sunday, demanding an end to the charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

In a recent gathering, supporters of Assange convened outside the Maryland residence of the Biden administration official. Their primary demand was the dismissal of charges against Assange for publishing classified U.S. military documents, as reported by Fox News.

Garland's departure amidst the vigil

Garland was seen departing his home in a motorcade around 4 p.m. that day. As he passed by, he encountered Assange's supporters who had set up posters calling for an end to the ongoing prosecution.

Some attendees took the opportunity to deliver speeches, emphasizing the significance of press freedom in relation to the charges against Assange.

Martha Allen, director of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press, commented on the matter:

I think the Julian Assange case is extremely important. We need media, democracy, freedom of the press for the individual, not just the five corporations that pretty much run everything. This case is crucial for independent media, for freedom of the press, for all of us, not just the rich and the powerful. This is an injustice and it needs to end. Free Julian Assange.

Background on Assange's charges

Assange is notably accused of publishing cables over a decade ago that shed light on alleged U.S. government war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Guantánamo Bay detention camp.

These documents, leaked to WikiLeaks by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning also unveiled instances of the CIA's involvement in torture and rendition.

Furthermore, WikiLeaks released the "Collateral Murder" video 13 years ago. This footage depicted the U.S. military targeting civilians in Iraq, which included two Reuters journalists.

Assange's legal battles

Currently, Assange is resisting extradition to the U.S. If extradited, he would face 17 charges under the Espionage Act related to receiving, possessing, and disclosing classified information.

Additionally, there's a charge alleging a conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. If found guilty, Assange could potentially serve up to 175 years in a maximum-security prison in the U.S.

Dominique Filanowski of OpEd News voiced his concerns at the vigil:

Freedom worldwide depends on Julian Assange. So free Julian and let's get it where he doesn't get extradited. Let's still fight that until the very end. If the inevitable does happen where he is extradited, then we keep fighting it here.

Assange's detention and past allegations

Since April 11, 2019, Assange has been detained at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison. He was taken into custody after breaching bail conditions.

Prior to this, he had sought asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to evade extradition to Sweden.

This was in relation to allegations of sexual assault, which were eventually dropped. The Obama administration had previously chosen not to indict Assange after the 2010 publication of the cables.

This decision was based on the potential need to also indict journalists from major news outlets who had shared the same materials.

Continued pursuit of Assange's prosecution

Despite the previous administration's decision, the Trump Justice Department indicted Assange under the Espionage Act. The Biden administration has since maintained the pursuit of his prosecution.

Paula Iasella, the event organizer, shared her perspective with Fox News Digital:

My message to Merrick Garland has been the message from day one. I pleaded with him. I said, 'You are taking Trump's prosecution and making it your legacy. You're going to destroy your legacy over this press freedom case of the century. You should drop the charges to save your legacy. You shouldn't be strapped to such a negative thing of prosecuting a journalist under the Espionage Act.'

International support for Assange

Last year, editors and publishers from renowned news outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times, and others penned an open letter.

They urged the U.S. to cease its prosecution of Assange. These media entities had collaborated with Assange to publish excerpts from the extensive documents he acquired in the Cablegate leak.

Furthermore, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) spearheaded the dispatch of a letter to the Justice Department, advocating for the charges against Assange to be dropped.

Conclusion

  • Supporters of Julian Assange rallied outside Attorney General Merrick Garland's home, demanding the dismissal of charges against him.
  • Assange is accused of publishing classified U.S. military documents, revealing war crimes.
  • He faces potential extradition to the U.S. and could serve up to 175 years in prison if convicted.
  • Assange has received international support, with many advocating for press freedom and the cessation of his prosecution.