08:22 GMT14 April 2021
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    Numerous activists and speakers attended a rally outside a major court case in London against a WikiLeaks whistleblower potentially facing up to 175 years in prison after publishing classified material on war crimes committed by the United States military in the Middle East, among other revelations.

    Iconic fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood and an affiliate of solidarity network WISE Up Action offered comments on the proceedings against WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange outside the Old Bailey on Monday.

    Ms Westwood said that Assange was "shining a light on all of the corruption of the world" and that 7 billion people did not know that the world was at the "tipping point" of climate change and financial crash.

    "It's because we've got to protect human rights, because the establishment is corrupt, they will not listen to Julian, they will not listen to me, but they will listen to the press. They're the only people, because the people in Europe, our leaders [like] Trump and Boris, they don't have core values at all", she added.

    According to her, Trump's values were "guns, gasoline, and God", while Trump's narrative was that of "God is a warmaker, God stands for war, God stands for gasoline, so let's wreck the planet".

    When asked whether she thought that Assange would be released, she said that she did not believe so, but it would be "amazing and a triumph of democracy".

    "He's the only one telling the truth. He's the only one shining a light on the corruption of the world. He's the only truth-teller and the only true democrat", she concluded.

    David from WISE Up Action said that his organisation had been campaigning for Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning for the last decade.

    When asked what the hearings represented, he said: "It's basically the people against the powerful, and our right to know. It's the litmus test and a landmark case that will set the precedent for journalism worldwide".

    The United States was "reaching out to claim any journalist or publisher that is inconvenient to the American empire [and] to take them to the United States and send them to prison for the rest of their life", he said.

    Assange's "groundbreaking work" had exposed "all sorts of truths and and things that didn't want to be known" by the US and UK as well as countries at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

    He's paying a heavy price for that", he said, adding that there had been a "decade-long campaign against him".

    "There's been a smokescreen [of] relegations against him in Sweden, but that smokescreen is cleared now and we can all see what's going on. It's vital to journalism and freedom of the press that Julian Assange doesn't go to the United States", he concluded.

    The comments come over a year after the whistleblower was forcefully arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London, where he had been given political asylum amid fears of being extradited to the United States.

    Mr Assange remains jailed at Belmarsh Prison despite serving a 52-week sentence for breaching bail conditions while on asylum at the embassy. The WikiLeaks founder and award-winning journalist could face up to 175 years in prison on 18 charges linked to the 1917 Espionage Act if extradited to the US.

    Hearings are set to last roughly four weeks at the Old Bailey, where Judge Vanessa Baraitser will preside over the ruling.


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    whistleblowing, whistleblower, war crimes, extradition proceedings, extradition request, Wikileaks, hearings, Old Bailey, Julian Assange arrest, Assange
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