A rally was held in support of WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange outside the Belmarsh maximum-security prison in southeast London where he is currently lodged. Activists also held an award ceremony to honour Assange before the demonstration. Assange’s father received the whistleblower award on behalf of his son. Assange was awarded the ‘Gavin MacFadyen Award’ for 'Extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice in the service of truth'.
Demonstrators gathered outside the prison and chanted slogans of “free! free! Assange”. The national secretary of the UK Socialist Equality Party Chris Marsden urged for the mobilisation of the working class internationally to free Assange. People held posters and banner outside the prison with messages like ‘UK Don’t extradite Assange’ and ‘Free Julian Assange - Nobel peace prize nominee’. People from all age group were present at the venue where the activists spoke about the injustice on the part of the British government.
A London court has set February 2020 for Assange’s extradition hearing to the United States. The US has demanded his extradition on the charges of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack into classified government documents. In June 2019, Julian Assange, serving 50-weeks imprisonment, appeared before the court through a video link. Earlier, he was charged on a single count of computer intrusion but later 17 counts were added including charges of espionage for encouraging, receiving and publishing national defence information in cahoots with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Earlier this year, Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire had nominated Julian Assange for Nobel peace prize in January this year for his contributions to ensure freedom of speech. “Julian Assange and his colleagues in WikiLeaks have shown on numerous occasions that they are one of the last outlets of true democracy with their work for freedom of speech,” Maguire wrote to the Norwegian Nobel Committee advocating peace prize for Assange. “Their work for true peace by making public our governments’ actions at home and abroad has enlightened us to their atrocities carried out in the name of so-called democracy around the world,” she added. Maguire mentioned the contribution of Assange and WikiLeaks including the footage of carnage perpetrated by NATO/US military and the release of email correspondence revealing conspiracy for regime change in Middle Eastern countries.