Amy Goodman of Democracy Now hosted “First They Came For Assange…”, on Wednesday at Thoughtworks NYC, one of the many events around the globe signifying the 4 years Julian Assange has been in political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the ongoing violations of his basic human rights.Speakers will include, Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist Chris Hedges; Julian Assange’s US defense lawyer Carey Shenkman; acclaimed civil rights attorney Margaret Ratner; founding editor of The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill; and live from London via videoconference, Julian Assange himself.
It was a Global event that included special productions in 8 European cities (Berlin, Brussels, Belgrade, Naples, Madrid, Paris + Milano Fashion Show / Vivienne Westwood / and Sarajevo / live-stream) as part of “Assange week” that also took place in New York, Quito (Ecuador), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Montevideo (Uruguay).
The event also focused on the threats whistleblowers face around the world, and the significance of real investigative journalism and transparency in today’s world of mass surveillance, hidden agendas and covert wars. The ongoing struggle to protect journalists, whistleblowers and others, who courageously expose the truths essential to ensuring strong and durable democratic societies, has become a forefront of the international human rights movement and the global fight for peace and justice.
Amy Goodman commenced the event at Thoughtworks NYC of a room of a couple of hundred with standing room in the back said of Julian Assange that he fears that if he steps foot outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London he will be extradited to the U.S. “where he could face years, perhaps life in prison”.
Amy referred to a video clip that was played of media and politicians calling for harsh treatment of Julian Assange some even calling for the death penalty.
Amy spoke about a time when she met with Assange at the Embassy after Hillary Clinton had just done an interview with the Guardian telling Edward Snowden and Julian Assange to “Man Up”. With the focus being on Snowden saying he could come back and go through the proper channels and launch a public, legal defense. Amy also spoke about Chelsea Manning who is currently serving a 35 year sentence for exposing human rights violations of the Military in Iraq. Serving time in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Manning has been able to receive hormone treatments while facing other restrictions around gender expression.
From the Chelsea Manning bio, In 2009, Manning was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq, an isolated site near the Iranian border. Her duties as an intelligence analyst there gave her access to a great deal of classified information. Some of this information—including videos that showed unarmed civilians being shot at and killed—horrified Manning.
Manning reportedly made her first contact with Julian Assange‘s WikiLeaks in November 2009 after having made attempts to contact The New York Times and The Washington Post.