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DRAD Policy Director, Chip Gibbons, Speaks at London Assange Protest

Protest ribbons for freeing Assange outside the UK High Courts.

Credit: Ann Wilcox

On February 20th and 21st, 2024, thousands of people showed up to protest outside the high court in London where Julian Assange is fighting extradition to the US where he faces espionage charges. He could be weeks away from being extradited to the US. Our Policy Director, Chip Gibbons, joined Jeremy Corbyn, Stella Assange, Chris Hedges and other prominent Assange supporters who gave impassioned speeches emphasizing how dire the situation is.

 

Chip opened his speech with a memory from his early days organizing, where he was present for the court martial of Chelsea Manning, in which they took a symbolic copy of Obama’s Nobel Prize and laid it on the gates of Fort Meade in a symbolic gesture, saying “‘Obama should give his Nobel Prize to Chelsea Manning, who has done more for peace than he had.’ The reason why I am here fourteen years later isn’t just because the US and the UK governments will not stop persecuting WikiLeaks, it is because this is the most important press freedom trial of the 21st century. Not just for my country – where the stake of the First Amendment is on the line – but for the world.” 

He went on to explain what a dangerous precedent will be set if the US can unilaterally prosecute journalists around the globe for exposing the truth. Forcefully stating, “Julian Assange is not an American, WikiLeaks is not an American publication, but the US government says they can come and find you anywhere in the world and put you on trial for exposing their war crimes. If that precedent is set, it will be the death of journalism in the US, it will be the death of journalism in the world over, and will be the death of all of our rights to say ‘no’ to war and militarism.”

Chip also recounted the cowardice displayed by the corporate media when the Collateral Murder video came out by refusing to stand up for Assange despite the grave risks to press freedom, yet cheering on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At a time when mainstream media failed to fulfill its duty to preserve press freedoms, Chip asserts “…WikiLeaks was a breath of fresh air, reminding us what critical journalism that spoke truth to power was.” Unfortunately, that failure is ever present today as we’re seeing an escalation of war throughout the Middle East. Chip laments “Here we are fourteen years later and the media is once again cheering on more wars. A genocide in Gaza, bombing in Yemen, maybe another Iraq war. Who knows.”

Chip ties it all in, positing “From the very beginning, the US government knew that you can destroy journalism by destroying the sources. The imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, the attacks on Edward Snowden and Daniel Hale – have always been part of a backdoor war on journalism. Now they are going to the front door and trying to lock away the journalists themselves and we cannot allow that to happen.”

You can watch the entire rally here.

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