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AFP
April 16, 2019

European politicians protest outside Assange’s London jail

World

AFP
April 16, 2019

LONDON: German and Spanish lawmakers protested against Julian Assange’s detention on Monday, gathering outside a London prison to urge Britain and the EU to prevent his extradition to the United States.

Two far-left German MPs, Heike Hansel and Sevim Dagdelen of Die Linke, and a Spanish Green member of the European Parliament, Ana Miranda, had been due to meet their "friend" Assange in London’s Ecuadoran embassy later on Monday.

Instead, following his expulsion and arrest last week, they protested outside the top-security Belmarsh prison in southeast London where he is being held, carrying placards demanding his release.

"We are faced with a humanitarian imperative now that Assange is in UK custody and a US extradition request is out for him, after high ranking officials of the US -- including President Donald Trump -- have threatened the publisher with death," said Miranda.

The WikiLeaks founder is in custody awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was arrested at the embassy on Thursday after Ecuador revoked his asylum, and is now also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.

The US indictment charges Assange with "conspiracy" for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010.

Extradition to the United States would set "a dangerous precedent" for journalists worldwide, said Miranda, adding: "this threatens to criminalise journalism globally." Dagdelen urged Britain and the EU to block any extradition request. "We call on the British government not to extradite Julian Assange to the USA.

"The European Union must take action to protect a politically-persecuted publisher and journalist," said the German politician, calling on Spain and her home country to grant Assange asylum.

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