(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — On Sunday, ten cities across the world participated in “First they came for Assange.” The global event marked the fourth anniversary since WikiLeaks chief began his self-imposed detention in London’s Ecuadorian embassy. The worldwide event aimed to highlight freedom of speech and featured a number of well-known participants, including Noam Chomsky, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, and musician Patti Smith.
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It has been four years since Ecuador granted Julian Assange political asylum due to fears that if he were extradited to Sweden — where he is wanted for sex crime allegations, which he denies — he would be further extradited to the United States.
In February 2016, the United Nations declared the journalist’s detention illegal and demanded his immediate release and compensation. By March, hundreds of human rights organisations and prominent individuals had signed a letter urging the governments of the U.K. and Sweden to respect the U.N.’s decision and free Assange.
Melinda Taylor, from the whistleblower’s legal team, said it is high time he was freed:
“The United Kingdom and Sweden at some point have to live up to the obligations that they chose to sign up to,” she said. Labeling his detention a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, she added:
“They can’t afford to be rogue nations, which disregard international law. They’ve got to realise that the cost of keeping him in detention far outweighs the need to release him.”
Noam Chomsky went even further. He claimed the whistleblower has performed an enormous service to those in the world who treasure freedom of democracy by encouraging people to demand the right to know what their elected representatives are doing. “For that very reason he is one of the most dangerous criminals on the face of the earth, pursued with savagery by the rulers of the free and democratic societies,” Chomsky added.
An array of prominent voices took part in the June 19 event to demand the persecution of Assange be brought to an end. “First they came for Assange” events continue this week in New York, Quito, and Buenos Aires. The initiative stresses that we live in a critical time — and that everyone opposed to the political and financial powers may soon become a target.
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