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Julian Assange of WikiLeaks holds up a copy of The Guardian newspaper as he speaks to reporters on July 26, 2010 in London, England. (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Progressives to Put US War Crimes on Trial and Demand Freedom for Julian Assange

The second annual Belmarsh Tribunal is "convening parliamentarians, journalists, lawyers, and investigators to fight for truth and justice against Assange's extradition to the United States."

Brett Wilkins

A group of prominent global progressives on Wednesday announced a return of the Belmarsh Tribunal, where participants will put the United States government on informal trial for war crimes and demand freedom for jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

"At the Belmarsh Tribunal, we will turn the world the right way up, placing crimes of war, torture, kidnapping, and a litany of other gross human rights abuses on trial."

On October 22, Progressive International's Belmarsh Tribunal, named after the notorious London prison where Assange is imprisoned as he faces possible extradition to the United States, "will try the U.S. government for its crimes of the 21st century—from atrocities in Iraq to torture at Guantánamo Bay to a surveillance program."

"We are convening parliamentarians, journalists, lawyers, and investigators to fight for truth and justice against Assange's extradition to the United States," said Progressive International, which held a similar tribunal last year. "In doing so, the Belmarsh Tribunal turns the tables in the extradition hearing against Julian Assange... a case that will shape the future of journalism for decades to come."

Britain's High Court has been considering the Biden administration's appeal in the extradition case against Assange, with a full appellate hearing scheduled for October 27 and 28.

"WikiLeaks exposed the reality of the War on Terror," said Progressive International. "It revealed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 300 incidents of torture, and secret killings by the United States armed forces. For exposing the criminality of the War on Terror, the U.S. and its allies have persecuted, imprisoned, and plotted to assassinate Julian Assange."

Last month, Common Dreams reported that in 2017 the Central Intelligence Agency, under then-Director Mike Pompeo, plotted to kidnap—and possibly murder—Assange to avenge WikiLeaks' publication of the "Vault 7" documents exposing CIA cyber warfare and surveillance activities.

The Belmarsh Tribunal is inspired by the Russell Tribunal, a 1966 event organized by philosophers Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre to hold the U.S. accountable for its escalating war crimes in Vietnam.

British historian and activist Tariq Ali, one of the original Belmarsh Tribunal members, will participate in this year's event.

Some of the members of the 2021 Belmarsh Tribunal include German Left Party lawmaker Heike Hänsel; Solidarity Party of Afghanistan spokesperson Selay Ghaffar; Greek lawmaker Yanis Varoufakis; former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa; Italian investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi; ACLU attorney Ben Wizner; and British Labour parliamentarians Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Jeremy Corbyn, and John McDonnell.

"At the Belmarsh Tribunal, we will turn the world the right way up," Corbyn tweeted Wednesday, "placing crimes of war, torture, kidnapping, and a litany of other gross human rights abuses on trial."


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