As the Julian Assange hearing resumed, the WikiLeaks founder formally declined to be extradited to face a superseding indictment issued by the US in June. Protesters and lawyers say the prosecution will stifle press freedom.
Assange’s lawyers described the prosecution as a politically motivated abuse of power that will stifle press freedom and put journalists around the world at risk. The journalist is now expected to appear each day of the hearing, which is likely to last four weeks.
On the first day, he officially stated that he does not consent to be extradited.
Several dozen supporters, including his father and partner, as well as fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, gathered outside the courthouse.
The demonstrators chanted, banged drums, and called the prosecution a threat to press freedom. “Assange is the trigger, he is shining the light on all the corruption in the world,” Westwood said. Speaking outside the Old Bailey, the WikiLeaks founder’s father, John Shipton, said the extradition hearing was an “abuse trial.”
As the hearing resumed, ‘FreeAssange actions’ were scheduled to be held in London, Adelaide, Berlin, Brussels, New York, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Washington DC, and other cities.
New Zealand kicked off global protests to mark the commencement of the extradition case against Assange on Monday. Free Assange NZ has written an open letter to New Zealand’s MPs and government saying that ‘a call for Assange’s freedom’ would be a major achievement as New Zealand is a partner within the Anglo-American alliance.