Supporters of Julian Assange have staged quite a show outside Woolwich Court in London, throwing their artistic weight behind the embattled co-founder of WikiLeaks.
Overlooked by a few policemen, protesters began amassing near the courthouse earlier on Monday, just as the judges began the closely-watched extradition hearing for imprisoned Assange.
Gilets jaunes, or the Yellow Vests, also arrived in post-Brexit Britain in order to support Assange’s cause. Their identical fatigues – and the French flags – were clearly visible in the crowd.
There was no shortage of conventional placards calling for Assange’s release, but some activists showed unorthodox creativity. One protester, dressed as a biblical character, stole the show by carrying a yellowish cross, with the words “The truth will win” imprinted on it.
Showing the victory sign, he posed for pictures, with a Palestinian flag unexpectedly waving in the distance.
Members of Anonymous also made an appearance at the demonstration, stealing some of the limelight. They unfurled British and American flags, chained themselves up to the banners, sending a message easy to decipher.
Monday’s action has drawn the attention of celebrities, including fashion designer and longtime friend of Assange, Vivienne Westwood, who passionately supported the publisher since he was brought to the high-security Belmarsh Prison.
After a week of opening arguments, the extradition hearing will be adjourned until May 18, when the two sides – Assange’s defense and lawyers for the US authorities – will present their evidence.
If extradited to the USA, Assange will face a host of espionage charges carrying a maximum jail sentence of 175 years in total.
If Julian Assange’s transfer to the USA isn’t stopped, other journalists and publishers face the imminent risk of being persecuted, detained or even tortured, his father exclaimed as his extradition trial got under way in London.
His father John Shipton, himself an anti-war activist in his youth, lashed out at “the oppression of journalism [and] the ceaseless malice” directed against his son.
He drew attention again to the “ten-year-long arbitrary detention of Julian,” as well as his inhuman and degrading treatment at HM Prison Belmarsh, which amounted to torture, according to UN Rapporteur Nils Melzer.
Assange has been kept in London’s top security Belmarsh Prison since he was dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy by British police in April last year. Stripped of Ecuadorian citizenship by pro-Western president Lenin Moreno, he was immediately slapped with 18 charges under the US Espionage Act.
His fate now hangs in the balance, with Judge Vanessa Baraitser hearing arguments for and against his extradition. The hearing is expected to last until Friday, before being postponed until May 18.
Assange’s lawyers have long maintained that he is unlikely to receive a fair trial if handed over to the USA, arguing that the espionage case against him is politically motivated.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2020.