ef. On 4 June 2021, numerous well-known personalities, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer and the Mayor of Geneva, Frédérique Perler launched the “Geneva Call to Free Assange”. They did so “in the name of the humanitarian values rooted in Geneva, the City of Peace and Human Rights”.
The day after, the “AnythingToSay” statue from the Italian artist Davide Dormino was inaugurated on Pâquis-Pier in front of Geneva’s Jet d’eau. It is dedicated to the whistle-blowers Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.
At the inauguration, Nils Melzer said: “I am standing here, next to Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The truth is: all of them are being persecuted, mistreated and demonised for one thing and one thing only; for having told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the misconduct of Western democracies.
They are the skeletons in the closet of the West. Their persecution and mistreatment is what destroys the credibility of the West. When Western governments today protest against the persecution of Alexei Navalny and of Roman Protasevich, those other governments only laugh and ask, ‘Well, what about Edward Snowden who is being protected in Russia? What about Julian Assange, who is in solitary confinement without having committed a crime except telling the truth? What about Chelsea Manning, who has been persecuted to the point of almost dying in an attempted suicide? […] It is now in the hands of the public to react.”
To date, the Geneva appeal has 4,515 supporters (17 June 2021). Another aim is to draw US President Joe Biden’s attention to the demands made so far, when he will arrive in Geneva on 16 June for his meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. So many citizens and organisations around the world have been campaigning for the release of Julian Assange for so many years – when will their voices finally be heard? Last not least: On 9 June 2021, Julian Assange was awarded the Sacco and Vanzetti Prize in Boston (USA) in absentia. He was represented by his father John Shipton and his brother Gabriel Shipton.
We, the citizens of Geneva and beyond, launch the “Geneva Call” to request the immediate release of Julian Assange. In severe isolation at the Belmarsh high security prison in London, the founder of WikiLeaks is threatened with extradition to the United States where he faces a prison sentence of 175 years. His only crime is to have told the truth!
In the name of respect for inalienable human rights and the values promoted by Geneva-based human rights organizations, we request:
On January 4, the British judiciary refused to extradite Julian Assange on the grounds that his life would be at risk in the U.S. prison system. Arguments about transparency and Julian Assange’s right to publish, however, were dismissed. An appeal by the U.S. Department of Justice is pending and the risk of extradition remains, as does the threat of unprecedented restrictions on press freedom.
Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained for more than ten years in conditions that, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, fall under “psychological torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.
Julian Assange is being prosecuted in the United States on 17 charges (+ 1 other) under the Espionage Act, a law dating back more than 100 years, which can earn him 175 years in prison. His fault? To have published some 700,000 classified documents, in particular on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, often in collaboration with major media such as the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde or the ABC channel. In particular, he revealed a video of the American army showing the massacre of a dozen civilians including two journalists from a helicopter. The documents published by WikiLeaks revealed acts and methods of operation in violation of the Geneva Conventions and human rights. None of these violations and war crimes have been prosecuted, while the person who revealed them has been subjected to persecution for more than ten years. This is the ultimate paradox, a flagrant denial of justice, an insult to human dignity and a culpable disregard for the rule of law.
Julian Assange must be released immediately as there is no justification for holding him in near total isolation for so long. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has been denouncing the illegal imprisonment of Julian Assange for more than five years. Today, his physical and mental health is seriously deteriorating according to witnesses who have been able to visit him. In the name of respect for human rights and the traditions, norms and values promoted by Geneva-based humanitarian organizations, Julian Assange must be released without delay.
Julian Assange must be released immediately because his revelations serve a basic and essential public interest. Citizens not only have a right to know, they must know. The very notion of espionage induced by the reference to the Espionage Act is absurd. By making public proven information of obvious public interest, the founder of WikiLeaks is performing a salutary act of transparency in the exact opposite of an act of espionage. Julian Assange exercised his freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as in every democracy. The editor of WikiLeaks revealed information of fundamental public interest that the state itself should have made public because of its obligation to inform the citizenry. Julian Assange has made a unique and remarkable contribution to public interest journalism, transparency and government accountability. His courageous and tenacious contribution has been widely recognized by the media and freedom of expression community, which has honored Julian Assange with some of the most prestigious journalism awards.
Julian Assange must be released immediately because the case against him constitutes an intolerable threat and pressure on investigative journalists. The smear campaign against the Wikileaks founder and the heavy charges against him are a warning to any whistleblower or journalist about to publish classified material. It seriously hinders the search for the facts and the truth. A conviction of Julian Assange would be the ultimate validation of a long line of absolutely unprecedented abuses of power with devastating consequences for free speech and journalism. Any dissemination of secret documents by any journalist or whistleblower, in any country, would then be criminalised. The U.S. Espionage Act is so broad that, for example, it could be a violation of the law to even read a news article that the U.S. believes is harmful to the country’s interests.
We, the citizens of Geneva and elsewhere, launch this Appeal to free Julian Assange on this day, June 4, 2021, in Geneva, a city of peace and negotiations, the cradle of humanitarian law and human rights, and the seat of countless international and non-governmental organizations that work for the respect of our fundamental freedoms. •
With the participation and support of:
Nils Melzer, UN special rapporteur on torture, Stella Morris, fiancée of Julian Assange, Frédérique Perler, Mayor of Geneva, Yves Daccord, former General Director of ICRC, Christophe Deloire, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) secrétaire général de Reporters Sans Frontières, Carlo Sommaruga, Swiss Parliamentarian, Jean Rossiaud, Former Parliamentarian and Initiator of Humanitarian Visa for Assange, Blaise Lempen, président Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), Pierre Ruetschi, Executive Director of the Geneva Press Club/Club suisse de la presse, Antoine Vey, Julian Assange’s Attorney, Davide Dormino, sculptor (anythingtosay), Joseph Farrell, Amabassador for WikiLeaks UK, Sarah Ducret, Association des Usagers des Bains des Pâquis
More information: www.pressclub.ch
Source: www.pressclub.ch of 4 June 2021
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