Former German federal ministers, politicians and public figures called on the British authorities to release the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who is awaiting trial in the UK.
The authors of the petition and a number of its signatories held a press conference in Berlin on Thursday.
“More than 130 public figures support the release of Assange. Among them are ten former federal ministers, including three former justice ministers. The representatives of the SPDG, the Free Democrats, the Green and Left are unfortunately just one of the Christian Democrats”, – said journalist Gunter Wallraff, one of the initiators of the public campaign.
He noted that Assange has disclosed to the public information about war crimes of the U.S. Army, according to him, that is why he is persecuted by the American authorities. “He is prevented from pursuing his own legal defense through psychological torture, the UN representative on torture Niels Melzer visited him several times and reported clear signs that he was being psychologically tortured. Therefore, we demand several days before PACE the immediate release of Assange for human rights and humanitarian reasons”, – Wallraff added.
He explained that the aim of the campaign is to educate people that it is not only about protecting Assange, but also about protecting freedom of speech and democracy itself. “We want to support Assange and avoid the bankruptcy of the western right-wing state”, – Wallraff said.
In turn, one of the signatories, former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that “it is obvious that in this case, the (judicial) process does not ensure the principles of the rule of law. The former minister added that he believes that “political motives play a role in the prosecution of Assange.
“I am not interfering with the question whether Assange has broken the law, I am not interfering with the question whether extradition of Assange from the UK is possible and necessary. The point is that in the current circumstances, he can not enjoy the basic rights of any accused – physically, psychologically prepare for the defense”, – Gabriel explained.
Former Interior Minister Gerhart Baum, who also signed the petition, said he fights for freedom of speech, for human rights. “One can count on a long process, at least a year. And I wonder how the principles of the rule of law coexist with media freedom in such cases”, – Baum said.
Signatures are collected through a specially created website assange-helfen.de. At the time of issue of the note, the counter on the website reported over 220 signatures.
Assange, who was accused of sexual harassment and rape in Sweden in 2010, has been in hiding since June 2012 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for fear of extradition to a Scandinavian country. In the morning of 11 April 2019, he was detained at the request of the United States. A court in London found him guilty of violating bail conditions and sentenced him to 11 months in prison. The extradition hearing began on 2 May.
U.S. authorities reported at the end of May that new charges were brought against Assange in 17 episodes of violating the law on espionage and disclosure of classified information. Earlier, he was charged with one count of conspiracy to break into a computer. If extradited to the U.S., Assanzhu faces years in prison.Migrants in Serbia attacked a 13-year-old girl