MPs hand letter to Belmarsh prison governor demanding meeting with Assange
The group of socialist MP’s handed the letter to the governor of HMP Belmarsh today, demanding permission for a meeting with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
The two socialist MPs joined Mr Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris outside the prison to deliver the letter on behalf of a parliamentary working group.
Mr Assange remains locked up at the Covid-hit south London prison pending an appeal after he beat an extradition case brought by the US.
But the journalist continues to face up to 175 years in jail if convicted of espionage in a US court, after revealing the country’s war crimes.
He has already spent two years in jail since he was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019 and has had bail requests denied three times.
Visits to Belmarsh have been limited due to Covid-19 restrictions.
On June 20, Ms Moris was able to visit Mr Assange, along with their two young sons, for the first time in eight months.
Mr Burgon, who co-ordinated the cross-party letter, said: “Julian Assange’s case has huge implications for press freedom in the UK and for the US-UK extradition treaty.
“It’s in the public interest that British parliamentarians are able to discuss these issues with Julian Assange.
“That the authorities have repeatedly stopped an online meeting going ahead speaks volumes.
“The Justice Secretary [Robert Buckland] and prison governor [Rob Davis] must now put a stop to their intransigence and allow it to go ahead without further delay.”
The letter is signed by 20 parliamentarians including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy, John McDonnell, Zarah Sultana, Caroline Lucas, Claudia Webbe and members of the House of Lords.
This morning Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgeon joined Stella Moris and Max – the partner and son of Julian Assange who has been held in Belmarsh prison for two years. They delivered a letter from 20 MPs demanding to exercise their rights as Parliamentarians to visit Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison.
Denied video access
Earlier this year a cross-party group of MPs who requested a video meeting with Julian Assange received a dismissive response from Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC.
Richard Burgon wrote to Buckland on behalf of 16 MPs who wanted to meet the detainee. His letter, sent on December 16, explained that the group hoped to arrange the meeting before a court hearing on January 4.
Buckland did not reply until January 25. He opened his letter by apologising for the delay, without offering an explanation. He said he could not comment on individual prisoners, and decisions on visits had to be made by prison governors.
After receiving the rebuff from the Secretary of State, the MPs wrote to the governor of Belmarsh making the same request – and, after three weeks, were still waiting for a reply.
Assange, who will be 50 years old next week, came to prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks published leaked information about US military and diplomatic operations.
At the January 4 hearing, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the extradition request, citing concerns about Assange’s mental health and suicide risk. The US government is appealing the decision.
If extradited Julian Assange could face up to 175 years. Many people see this not as justice but vengeance, the US military not only allowed sensitive information to be leaked but that information showed what the US would condemn any other country as committing an atrocity.
Assange argues he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection and says the leaked documents exposed U.S. military wrongdoing. Among the files published by WikiLeaks was video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.
This embarrassment, this ugly face of war is why America will have its revenge.
The footage of the July 2007 attack was made public in a move that angered the Pentagon, it had drawn up a report identifying the whistleblower website as a threat to national security. The US defence department was embarrassed when that confidential report appeared on the Wikileaks site alongside a slew of other military documents.
The release of the video from Baghdad also comes shortly after the US military admitted that its special forces attempted to cover up the killings of three Afghan women in a raid in February 2010 by digging the bullets out of their bodies.
The video of the Baghdad attacks was recorded on one of two Apache helicopters hunting for insurgents on 12 July 2007. Among the dead were a 22-year-old Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.
What was Starmer’s involvement with the Julian Assange case?
Ken Loach spoke out after a screening of a new film highlighting Julian Assange’s political incarceration titled ‘The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange.‘ After denouncing the mainstream media for sucking every story out of Julian Assange and the Wikileaks organisation then leaving him to dry in the clutches of the vengeful establishment. Ken went on to call out the self-serving media. Ken Loach always one for expressing the truth asked the questions of the mainstream media most journalist and political commentators now shy away from. He went on to say:
“Everyone knows the real story everybody can see it, we can’t believe anybody is hoodwinked. it’s not espionage this is journalism! When you get a right-wing politician like David Davis saying Julian Assange is a political prisoner, everyone knows it, the Guardian knows it who took his stories then disowned him, the BBC knows it, Channel 4 news, every serious editor current affairs programme, of a national newspaper ‘knows this is the truth’ and yet they are silent the journalist are silent, the lawyers are silent.”
Ken Loach: Starmer should be challenged, what does he know?
Stating this should be a test for him! Starmer speaks of openness in his dealings, well let him be open about this, and let’s hear what he says about the torture and the illegal oppression of Julian Assange. Read more…