He may be in a London cell but on Saturday Julian Assange appeared to be alongside anti-government protesters in France as the Yellow Vests in Toulouse turned a Joan of Arc statue into a monument to the WikiLeaks founder.
A photo of Assange with grey hair and a beard was attached to the head of the statue, turning the publisher and journalist into a horse-mounted medieval knight with a menacing spear in his hands. The weapon itself was decorated with a high-visibility jacket, which has become the symbol of the ongoing protests in France.
The choice of the French heroine seems to be quite symbolic too, as she also suffered at the hands of the English, having been burnt alive at the age of 19 for her role in the Hundred Years’ War.
Assange, who had been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, was arrested by British police on April 11 after the Latin American country abruptly ended his asylum. He’s charged with skipping bail in the UK, but there are fears London may agree to extradite the founder of the whistleblowing organisation to the US.
The Americans have based their urge to prosecute the publisher on an alleged conspiracy with former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning to crack a password at the time she was passing classified US military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.
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Despite the Notre Dame fire and calls for unity from French politicians, the Yellow Vests returned to the streets on Saturday. The disaster only ignited the movement’s anger as money to rebuild the landmark was found in a wink, while the protesters’ needs remain neglected.
Around 9,600 people protested across France, with 6,700 of them protesting where clashes erupted and almost 200 were arrested.
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