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Sydney protest to free Australian citizen Julian Assange

Supporters in the campaign to save Julian Assange gathered peacefully at Hyde Park's Archibald Fountain in Sydney today. They called on the Prime Minister to negotiate with the US President for Assange's release from prison in Britain, allowing his return to Australia.

Julian Assange is wanted by US authorities on 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks' release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables in 2010. He was given asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London until 2019 when he was forcibly taken by police to prison, where he has remained to date. The British Government has agreed for him to be extradited to the United States where he is wanted on criminal charges, but Assange's legal team has submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Today's gathering of supporters heard from several speakers who are familiar with the case, including the ignominious role played by two newspapers which agreed to publish the confidential government records simultaneously with Wikileaks, but then failed to do so until after the initial publication so that only Assange, as head of Wikileaks, was prosecuted.

In November last year, The New York Times and four leading European news organisations - The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País - called on the US Justice Department to drop criminal charges against WikiLeaks.

Assange's wife, Stella, told the crowd that she knew that the authorities were wrong and 'we know that they are torturing Julian'.

She said there'd been a seachange in the former public silence about Assange's plight and many more people were now prepared to speak up.

'We need to shout for Julian ... We can do this together.'

Stella Assange said she had to explain to her two small sons why their father was locked up so, as simply as possible, she told them, 'Bad people were doing bad things and then they put him in gaol.'

Lawyer, Stephen Kenny, told today's protestors, 'Julian Assange has not committed any crime at all!'

Kenny has practiced as a barrister and solicitor for over 25 years and acted as the original lawyer for David Hicks, a Guantánamo Bay detainee, who was later released.

Julian Assange's brother, Gabriel Shipton, and his father, John Shipton, both spoke to the crowd.

Among the supporters were the philanthropist, Dick Smith, who

quietly blended into the crowd.

Copyright: text & photos cv williams.

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