Hundreds of protesters in London march for Assange to be released and for his extradition to be stopped
Hundreds of Julian Assange supporters rallied in London on Saturday. They were calling for his release and for his extradition to the United States to be stopped.
Assange has found support from lots of different people, including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and singer Chrissie Hynde. They were also at the protests.
Assange, the Wikileaks founder, has been charged by US prosecutors with espionage after hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents were published. If found guilty he could face up to 175 years in prison.
Assange maintains that the documents exposed wrongdoing and protected people. He also says that he acted as a journalist and should be entitled to first amendment protection. His legal team have argued that the case against him is politically motivated.
His lawyers say they can present evidence that shows Assange was offered a pardon if he agreed to say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.
The White House has responded to this by saying it is "a complete fabrication and a total lie".
Assange is currently in prison in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison. Before this, he spent 7 years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK where he avoided being sent to Sweden to face questions over rape and sexual assault allegations.
That case has now been dropped. He was eventually evicted from the embassy in April 2019 and arrested by British police for jumping bail.
Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders are worried that the charges against Assange set a chilling precedent for freedom of the press.