JEREMY CORBYN led calls today [Wednesday] for the immediate release of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on World Press Freedom Day.
The former Labour leader highlighted how Mr Assange has spent four years in maximum security prison Belmarsh for exposing the truth.
He said: “We cannot stand by and let governments silence those who seek to expose the truth.
“Today, let’s defend free and democratic journalism everywhere.”
In 2010, Mr Assange published US government records on WikiLeaks that revealed its military committed war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the killing of two Reuters journalists.
Earlier today Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF’s) Secretary-General Christophe Deloire and Director of Operations and Campaigns Rebecca Vincent arrived to visit Julian Assange inside Belmarsh prison but were denied access at the last minute.
RSF’s representatives had been granted permission to visit Assange before the four-year anniversary of his imprisonment in Belmarsh, where he has been held since 11 April 2019.
Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary-General, said: “We are deeply disappointed by the arbitrary decision of the Belmarsh Prison Governor to prevent us from visiting Julian Assange, despite following all relevant prison procedures and rules. Julian Assange has the right to receive visitors in prison, and we are legitimate to visit him as a press freedom NGO. We call for an urgent reversal of this decision and to be allowed visitation access without further delay.”
Rebecca Vincent, RSF Director of Operations, said: “This is the latest in a long series of ludicrous obstacles that we have faced over the past three years in campaigning for the release of Julian Assange. At every level, British authorities have defaulted to secrecy and exclusion rather than allowing normal engagement around this case – from refusing to accept RSF petitions, to making it nearly impossible to access court, and now this. What do they have to hide? Regardless, we continue our campaign to #FreeAssange.“
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson commented on the news: “A press freedom NGO barred from visiting a political prisoner and a journalist (after visit had previously been confirmed). This is not Russia, China or North Korea but the United Kingdom. Remember this next time the UK Government tries to lecture you on lack of press freedom elsewhere.”
LABOUR MPs Richard Burgon and Diane Abbott handed a letter to the governor of HMP Belmarsh today, demanding permission for a meeting with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
The two socialist MPs joined Mr Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris outside the prison to deliver the letter on behalf of a parliamentary working group.
Mr Assange remains locked up at the Covid-hit south London prison pending an appeal after he beat an extradition case brought by the US.
The letter is signed by 20 parliamentarians including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy, John McDonnell, Zarah Sultana, Caroline Lucas, Claudia Webbe and members of the House of Lords.
Julian Assange’s case should’ve ended as soon as a UK judge denied his extradition to the US, Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader, told RT as he joined other MPs to demand a meeting with the WikiLeaks founder in a London prison.
Corbyn described Assange as “somebody that has stood up for truth around the world. He’s helped us to understand what happened in Guantanamo Bay and so many places around in the world where the US military has done terrible things. We think that he’s a journalist of distinction.”
The World Socialist Website comments on Western “Free Speech” hypocrisy after the strange events of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
While I support free speech, some reporting has been worse than useless. Does anyone know if there were two or three attackers yet? Were they Kalashnikovs or AK47s? I know what a rocket launcher is, but what’s a rocket grenade launcher? Do you really believe that an attacker left his identity card in the getaway vehicle? How fortunate … and haven’t we heard that one before many times?
Throughout Europe and the United States, the claim is being made that the attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo was an assault on the freedom of the press and the unalienable right of journalists in a democratic society to express themselves without loss of freedom or fear for their lives. The killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors is being proclaimed an assault on the principles of free speech that are, supposedly, held so dear in Europe and the United States. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is, thus, presented as an another outrage by Muslims who cannot tolerate Western “freedoms.” From this the conclusion must be drawn that the “war on terror”—i.e., the imperialist onslaught on the Middle East, Central Asia and North and Central Africa—is an unavoidable necessity.
In the midst of this orgy of democratic hypocrisy, no reference is made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in the Middle East, is responsible for the deaths of at least 15 journalists. In the on-going narrative of “Freedom of Speech Under Attack,” there is no place for any mention of the 2003 air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded.
Nor is anything being written or said about the July 2007 murder of two Reuters journalists working in Baghdad, staff photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh. Both men were deliberately targeted by US Apache gunships while on assignment in East Baghdad.
The American and international public was first able to view a video of the cold-blooded murder of the two journalists as well as a group of Iraqis—taken from one of the gunships—as the result of WikiLeaks’ release of classified material that it had obtained from an American soldier, Corporal Bradley Chelsea Manning.
And how has the United States and Europe acted to protect WikiLeaks’ exercise of free speech? Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, has been subjected to relentless persecution. Leading political and media figures in the United States and Canada have denounced him as a “terrorist” and demanded his arrest, with some even calling publicly for his murder. Assange is being pursued on fraudulent “rape” charges concocted by American and Swedish intelligence services. He has been compelled to seek sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which is under constant guard by British police who will seize Assange if he steps out of the embassy. As for Chelsea Manning, she is presently in prison, serving out a 35-year sentence for treason.
That is how the great capitalist “democracies” of North America and Europe have demonstrated their commitment to free speech and the safety of journalists!
David Cameron and UK’s ConDem coalition government return to the issue of web censorship with an announcement that the UK government is to order ISPs to censor ‘extremist’ websites.
The crime and security minister, James Brokenshire, said on Wednesday that measures for censoring extremist content would be announced shortly. The initiative is likely to be controversial, with broadband companies already warning that freedom of speech could be compromised.
Ministers are understood to want to follow the model used to crack down on online child abuse. The Internet Watch Foundation, which is partly industry-funded, investigates reports of illegal child abuse images online; it can then ask service providers to block or take down websites.
David Cameron has previously announced the censorship of internet search engines. This latest announcement represents a second tier of censorship at the point of internet access.
It is expected that David Cameron’s UK ConDem coalition government will censor such extremist sites as the Guardian newspaper that has published seditious material sourced by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the wikileaks site.