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THOUSANDS of supporters of Julian Assange held a night carnival in central London at the weekend to demand his release from prison.
Organisers said the colourful event was aimed at “drawing light to a dark place” and ensuring the WikiLeaks founder’s plight remains “in the public eye.”
The procession, attended by around 2,000 people, set off on Saturday from Lincoln’s Inn Fields near Holborn before marching past Parliament Square.
Supporters donning bright carnival outfits and holding lanterns were led by a giant gold-painted effigy of Lady Justice as they chanted “Free, free Julian Assange.” Others dressed as prisoners and judges.
Mr Assange has been incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison in London since he was dragged out from the Ecuadorian embassy and arrested in 2019.
Former home secretary Priti Patel approved an order in June last year to extradite Mr Assange to the US, where he faces a 175-year sentence for the publication of classified documents exposing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Speaking from a rally held at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster after the march had ended, Mr Assange’s wife Stella called on supporters to continue building the movement.
“We need to keep building until the movement is so big that those in power and the courts realise that there is nowhere else to go than to free Julian,” she said.
Other speakers included former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Ben Westwood, the son of the late fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, who was a staunch supporter of Mr Assange.
The rally also heard from Richard Ratcliffe who campaigned for years for the release of his wife Nazanin from jail in Iran. He told supporters that he was there “as a point of hope.”
Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign national co-ordinator John Rees said: “We as campaigners have a responsibility to make sure that this case doesn’t fade from the public eye.
“The newspapers that collaborated with Assange have written a joint letter supporting his release, and he has the support of most major human rights organisations in the world.
“This is unprecedented and in most cases this would be enough to have him freed. I hope that our action tonight will help put pressure on the British and American administrations to free Julian Assange.”
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