June 22 2016
Assange has been held in the Ecuadorean embassy for over four years, as o June 19
The forum “Julian Assange, 4 Years of Freedom Denied,” held in Quito, Ecuador, began Monday and will end on Friday.
Intellectuals from around the world are gathering in Quito, Ecuador this week to amplify the international call for Julian Assange’s release and for his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, along with whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
“And we’ll see, when Assange win the Nobel Peace Prize, whether the British government prevents him from leaving the Ecuadorean embassy to receive his prize in Norway,” said Ignacio Ramonet, a Spanish columnist for Le Monde Diplomatique helping lead the call, to ANDES. Ramonet also demanded that the United Nations grant the activists special status to protect them for promoting transparency.
The “Julian Assange, 4 Years of Freedom Denied” forum, organized by the International Center for Advanced Studies in Communications in Latin America (CIESPAL), brings together academics to discuss the Wikileaks founder in the context of geopolitics from the South, the Panama Papers and cyberwar, among other topics.
The Australian cyberactivist took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in June 2012. The British government was prepared to extradite him to Sweden, which had received two allegations of sexual assault. Assange has maintained that the claims were a front for his extradition to the United States, where he could receive the death penalty for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military documents and diplomatic cables.
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A cause for solidarity
Sweden asked to question Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy on Monday, marking an apparent shift in the stalemate after repeated requests for him to be interviewed in his asylum to avoid extradition.
Emir Sader, Brazilian sociologist, said that Assange’s future depends on his case becoming a cause for solidarity and the defense of peace in the light of ongoing invasions.
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“Analyzing his case, it’s not only a legal issue, but an issue of why governments are intent on arresting him and convicting him of treason for revealing secrets,” Sader said, adding that it is significant that this refuge was granted by a progressive Latin American country.
There is journalism before and after Wikileaks, said Ramonet, which has been facilitated by the massive amounts of data able to be collected because of the internet.
Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning), the U.S. soldier who handed secret documents to Wikileaks was sentenced to 35 years in prison in the United States.The United Kingdom is estimated to have spent over US$20 million on security to monitor the Ecuadorean embassy.