Veterans for Peace UK (VFP UK) Southeast will be arranging a "public outreach event" in support of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher and journalist Julian Assange in late February.
"The event is intended to show support for Julian Assange and his attempts to promote transparency in government, a necessary component in any free society", according to the veterans group which has members who have fought in Britain's wars dating back to WWII.
VFP UK says the event will be part of a series of actions being scheduled by different groups in solidarity with Assange, starting on 24 February, to demand the release of Assange. The military veterans will meet at Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square at 4:30pm and then will move straight to Downing Street. They add that “members of the public” are welcome to join them.
Mike Lyons, a VFP UK member, has expressed his 'eternal gratitude' to Assange and US Army whistleblower Chelsea (then Bradly) Manning for their work. He said that he “never questioned the official line” until WikiLeaks’s Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Diaries "revealed the true human cost of our wars in the Middle East". The former submariner medic was imprisoned for seven months after applying for conscientious objector status following the WikiLeaks revelations.
Assange faces up to 175 years in prison on espionage charges relating to his role in publishing classified US documents which revealed war crimes committed by US-led occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning, who was convicted in a court martial for passing on those documents to WikiLeaks, had her 35 year prison sentence commuted by former president Barack Obama. However, because of her refusal to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, she has been re-imprisoned and is being fined $1,000 a day in order to compel her to talk.