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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/15/21

WATCH: Home Run for Assange

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Julian Assange, the still imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher, had his extradition request from the United States denied by British judge Vanessa Baraitser because of Assange of fear of suicide if he were sent to a U.S. prison. But the Trump administration is appealing to the High Court in London, an appeal that the Biden administration is continuing.

On the road with the father of Julian Assange, John Shipton, are friends from Melbourne to Sydney and Canberra via regional centres along the way. They're travelling as a small convoy of vans and support vehicles in a series of street SpeakOuts, meetings with local supporters, photo ops and campfire conversations.

The Canberra event was live-streamed on Sunday here on CN Live! Speaking in Canberra: John Shipton, Caroline Le Couture, Bernard Colleary & David McBride.

On Friday the tour stopped at Martin Place in the Central Business District of Sydney: The speakers were Shirley Lomaz, Jacob Grech, Lissa Johnson, John Shipton, Alison Broinowski and CN Editor Joe Lauria. You can watch the event here:

Joe Lauria's remarks:

It would be sufficient reason to come out here in numbers today to defend a man who has been cruelly treated by two Western states and abandoned by another. It would have been enough to be here to defend a son and a father.

But we know this case is much bigger than one man's life. It goes to the very core of whether Western democratic institutions, in particular the justice system and the press, survive.

Having had remote access to the Old Bailey, we at CN heard Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser pronounce the word "discharge" as in: "I order the discharge of Julian Paul Assange." Those who want to see the man free, for personal reasons or on principle, were right, for that fleeting moment, to rejoice.

It was only later that I questioned whether the word "discharge" had a different legal meaning than it does in plain English. For, as we know, Baraitser inexplicably sent Assange back to the hellhole of Belmarsh, after barring his extradition because of the state of his mental health.

And then we contemplated what Baraitser's judgement meant for journalism, even if Assange should defeat the American appeal. She upheld the criminalization of journalism contained in Assange's indictment.

This is an immensely historic case because it is an historic first. It is the first time a publisher and a journalist has been indicted for espionage in the United States for the act of publishing defense information.

The espionage laws in the U.S. and Britain were written not only to outlaw classic foreign espionage, but so broadly as to make it possible to indict a journalist.

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