Corbyn: Elected US Leaders Must Defend Assange

Watch former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s address to the Belmarsh Tribunal and read the transcript here.


Srecko Horvat

If he was prime minister of the United Kingdom today, perhaps Julian Assange would have been free already. But it’s never too late. So it’s my great pleasure to present Jeremy Corbyn today in Washington, DC.

Jeremy Corbyn

Thank you, Srecko. And thank you, Amy, for presiding over today’s event in this amazing setting of the National Press Club, where Julian Assange revealed uncomfortable truths to the world about the murder, the murder of innocent civilians in Iraq by specific military orders to do so, knowing full well they were breaking the law.

What’s Julian charged with? Telling the truth. Telling the truth all over the world about what governments do and what governments want to hide from. I’m an elected politician. I’m very well aware that elected politicians don’t like being questioned on the decisions that they make. But it’s fundamental to a democratic society that they are constantly under surveillance and under question.

They’re very keen on putting everybody else under surveillance. Their decisions should be under surveillance at the same time.

Jeremy Corbyn at the National Press Club on Friday. (Joe Lauria)

And so Julian published through WikiLeaks huge volumes of information. He went to extraordinary lengths to anonymise the sources and protect the sources. At the same time, he was extremely responsible in his journalistic approach to this, and the way his character has been denigrated all over the world is a shame and a disgrace. He’s threatened with the Espionage Act, the Espionage Act for somebody who revealed truths.

And if he arrives in this country and is put on trial here, which I hope he never is and I hope he never does, he would then face a 175 year sentence. It is, in effect, a death sentence, and he would be left for the rest of his life in a maximum security prison in the most appalling conditions. But he’s already in the most appalling conditions.

He’s being held in His Majesty’s prison, Belmarsh in south East London. I visited that prison on previous occasions, to visit prisoners there. It is an awful place. It is a brutal place. It is a place devoid of humanity. And he is stuck there. Not a convicted criminal, but a remand prisoner who is potentially awaiting trial.

He’s the only one in that category in that particular prison. Now, he is accused and WikiLeaks are accused of damaging the interests of the US government, of the British government, of the French government. And actually, if you plow through the tens of thousands of documents there, you’ll find they’re pretty embarrassing to pretty much every government in the world, including, as a matter of fact, the government of Russia as well, because Julian wanted the truth out about what powerful nations do to people without power who are victims of their exercise of that power.

So he also exposed the way that desperate, poor migrant people faced dangers in the Mediterranean, the English Channel and so many other places. And so our plea is here today about support for Julian. But I say this to journalists who may be watching this around the world. You might say, well, okay, that’s Assange. That’s different. That’s the way.

Journalist Stefania Maurizi, Corbyn, lawyer Steven Donziger. (Joe Lauria)

Sorry, it’s not. It’s YOU as a journalist because if Julian Assange ends up in a maximum security prison in the United States for the rest of his life, every other journalist around the world will think: “Oh, should I really report this information I’ve been given? Should I really speak out about this denial of human rights, a miscarriage of justice in any country around the world? Because the long arm of the United States espionage might reach me and an extradition treaty might put me in that same prison.”

And around the world, there are sadly, hundreds of very brave and brilliant journalists who’ve lost their lives trying to expose the truth. So today here in the National Press Club, we’re speaking up for journalists, real journalists all over the world who want to expose the truth, so that we are better informed.

And democracy functions better as a result. Now, as I said, I’m an elected politician. And what worries me is the silence of so many fellow elected politicians around the world. So my plea here today is this: You have been elected by an electoral democratic process. The people who elected you place their faith and their trust in you to speak up for them and their democracy.

Your silence makes it worse for Julian. Your silence makes it worse for democracy as a whole. And so when we surrounded the UK Parliament, the British Parliament, the Houses of Parliament with a chain of people, thousands of people in support of Julian, we were demonstrating our wish that our Parliament speaks up in the same way. Some politicians in a number of countries have spoken up.

Corbyn. (Joe Lauria)

But I appeal to elected politicians in the United States, speak up to defend democracy, speak up against the powers of the Espionage Act, and speak up for Julian Assange, because our human rights are under threat all over the world. The rollback of the advances of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Declaration of Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights and many others are under threat at the present time.

Our actions around the world in support of Julian, in support of the right to know, can and I believe will change the course of what’s going on. So let’s get a message out here today from this National Press Club in Washington.

We are bearing witness to a travesty of justice, to an abuse of human rights, to a denial of freedom of somebody who bravely put himself on the line that we all might know that the innocent died in Abu Ghraib, the innocent died in Afghanistan, the innocent are dying in the Mediterranean, and innocents die all over the world where unwatched unaccountable powers decide it’s expedient and convenient to kill people who get in the way of whatever grand scheme they’ve got.

We say no. That’s why we are demanding justice for Julian Assange. Hear the call. Let’s free Julian Assange and we will all be safer as a result of that. Thank you very much.


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4 comments for “Corbyn: Elected US Leaders Must Defend Assange

  1. Sherrie Helm
    January 23, 2023 at 18:35

    The politicians in the USA need to do something to prevent this …. says the British Member of Parliament and former Opposition Leader of Parliament who accomplished squat, nada, nothing, in preventing this with that power given to him by a large body of supporters.

  2. Sharrie Helm
    January 23, 2023 at 18:20

    Talk about useless. Put the picture of Jeremy next to the dictionary definition of ‘useless’.

    The man could not even defend nor support his own fellow party members when the far-right Blairites were purging them from the party. Instead, he now supports, with his submissive compliance, the same far-right. Now acting in the Bernie role of grabbing some of the more gullible on the Left to come join their party of Right-wing bankers behind Jeremy’s fake banner.

    A large bit of lefty momentum in Britain was wasted supporting Jeremy the Useless. And, this is why. Jeremy is all talk. Just like Bernie and the rest of the fake-left. If you have these people on your side, you are in trouble, because the one thing for certain is that they will not fight. They won’t fight for their supporters. They won’t fight for you.

    I guess if you are short on talk and hot air, hold a symposium with Jeremy and Bernie. Maybe we can use them to accomplish something useful … like warm a homeless shelter on a freezing night when nobody can afford to run the heater? Talk Jeremy Talk! The thermometer is still dropping. Jeremy could be useful for that. But for freeing the oppressed from the Emperor’s prisons …. nah.

  3. IJ Scambling
    January 22, 2023 at 13:42

    “We are bearing witness to a travesty of justice, to an abuse of human rights, to a denial of freedom of somebody who bravely put himself on the line that we all might know that the innocent died in Abu Ghraib, the innocent died in Afghanistan, the innocent are dying in the Mediterranean, and innocents die all over the world where unwatched unaccountable powers decide it’s expedient and convenient to kill people who get in the way of whatever grand scheme they’ve got.”

    Corbyn here is trenchant and a blade into the essence of the duplicity and decline of the “unwatched unaccountable powers.” Assange as messenger for truth and decency must be silenced in a centuries-long tradition of brute force by the authoritarians. But not so much unwatched. The problem for them is that Assange is catalyst for literally millions who KNOW damn well what’s going on and are developing increasing cynicism, increasing disrespect, increasing rebellious tendencies against the overlords, again in a classical tendency for the people to rise up. This they fear above all and are being driven hysterically into simplistic and brutal measures such as we are seeing–and as are being exposed for example here at CN, as with Corbyn, Musk and Taibbi, and increasingly numerous rebellious voices. The fascist template falls across their shoulders and they flail in desperation, even to flirtation with nuclear war. Their end-of-time is coming.

  4. Jack Stephen Hepburn Flanigan
    January 22, 2023 at 09:01

    No greater silence than from Australian politicians and gutless media. Australians are the most stupid and gutless, less than mediocre bunch of self serving people . I know because I am one. Our PM is the biggest disappointment for a long time. He even entertained Bill Gates. There are no Australian citizens we only have a statutory license that can be taken away or changed at the diescretion of government.


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