On Monday, contemporary Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei staged a silent protest outside a London court demanding the release of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, facing extradition to the United States.
Julian Paul Assange from Australia is an editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. Assange became a household name in surveillance whistleblowing in 2010 after releasing 500,000 secret files detailing military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, which compounded him a misfortune of 18 charges as per US’s federal law. US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning facilitated the provision.
Ai Weiwei, who has been in exile in Berlin, Germany, left China in 2015 to flee from Beijing’s wrath. In solidarity with Assange, Ai says that the US’s prosecution of Assange is “unbelievable.”
Ai demands Assange’s freedom. Outside Old Bailey court in the British capital, Ai wears a pink T-shirt featuring himself and Assange, both showing the middle finger, crying, “Let him be a free man.”
In support of Assange, Ai remarks, “He truly represents the very core value of why we are fighting, the freedom of the press.”
Julian Assange’s long-running battle against extradition with evidence in the trial stage has entered its fourth week Monday to wrap up in a few days.
The judge ruling this case has informed that it will take at least another six weeks before she can finally deliver the verdict due to the US presidential election scheduled for November 3, 2020. This verdict happens to be one of the legal battles faced by Assange since his infamous leakage of US military data.
In 2010, Julian Assange alleged sexual assault and rape in Sweden, which he denied. During that trial, he was in Britain to be extradited to Sweden because of the allegation, but he claimed political asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London.
In November 2019, the Swedish prosecutors finally dismissed pursuing rape allegations on Assange after failing for years to interrogate Assange in the cloister of Ecuador’s embassy. For seven years, Assange lived in a small apartment until 2019, when the British police took over his custody after a change of government in Quito.
Ai, now 62, has informed that he has met Assange several times, and he believes that the international community’s treatment of Assange is unfair. “Each step is more and more difficult for him. It’s unbelievable. He is prepared to fight, but alas, it’s not fair conditions; this is not fair to him. Ai goes on to remark, “They tried to smash him and his name.”
Ai, a long-time critic of Chinese governance as a contemporary and experimental artist, has chosen silence over his art to protest the extradition of Julian Assange. Ai says, “As an artist if I cannot use my art—which is very limited—then I rather just be silent.”
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