Hundreds packed the St Pancras New Church in Euston Thursday night for a meeting demanding freedom for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.
The largest meeting held in London to date reflects growing opposition to plans by the US government to extradite and imprison Assange for exposing war crimes, illegal mass surveillance and state corruption.
Headlined “Free the Truth,” speakers included UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, former UK ambassador Craig Murray and veteran investigative journalist John Pilger.
An accompanying art exhibition featured paintings, drawings and sculpture, while the meeting opened with a piano recital of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”—a favourite of Assange. The meeting was organised by academics Deepa Driver and Iain Munro, with the support of the Julian Assange Defence Committee.
Rap artist Lowkey began by quoting the words of jailed Chartist leader Ernest Jones:
“Because I tried to extend your liberties, mine were curtailed. Because I tried to rear the temple of freedom for you all, I was thrown into the cell of a felon’s jail… Because I tried to give voice to truth, I was condemned to silence.”
These words, Lowkey explained, were taken from an article by Karl Marx written in 1852 for the New York Herald Tribune. Marx was then a political refugee in London.
“Julian Assange is not being punished for anything he has done wrong. He is being punished for everything he has done right,” Lowkey said to applause. The brutal treatment of Assange was a “slow motion crucifixion… what they are trying to crucify is the truth.”
Condemning the mainstream media’s vilification of Assange, Lowkey said its journalists were just “stenographers.”
“Those who have joined in this demonization of Julian Assange are like turkeys voting for Christmas. How much profit did you generate off of Julian’s three million cables that WikiLeaks revealed?… Today Julian Assange, tomorrow you.”
Fidel Narvaez (image on the right), former Ecuadorian counsel at the Ecuadorian Embassy, said that Assange was “along with Chelsea Manning, the most important political prisoner in the world today.”
The allegations against Assange in Sweden had never been credible and the investigation had been “opened and shut more times than a fridge door.” Assange was being “denied the chance to adequately prepare his defence against the fiercest persecution of a journalist so far this century,