Washington, Aug 17 (EFE).- Musician and activist Roger Waters was the featured speaker here Wednesday at a rally to demand that the United States abandon its attempt to put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on trial for publishing classified information.
The former Pink Floyd front-man’s “This Is Not a Drill” tour brought him to Washington for a concert Tuesday night at the Capital One Arena.
Waters is a long-time supporter of Assange, an Australian citizen who has spent more than three years behind bars in the United Kingdom battling Washington’s effort to extradite him on charges of violating the Espionage Act.
“I’m flabbergasted that this extraordinary travesty is taking place under our noses, but Julian is still in Belmarsh Prison and he’s still en route to being extradited to the United States so that the government of the United States can kill him in private,” the 78-year-old music icon said outside the Department of Justice.
He appealed to the US attorney general by name to drop the charges against the publisher.
“Merrick Garland, do the right thing. Free Julian Assange at lunchtime today, please,” Waters said, praising the people who turned out for the demonstration.
The musician raised concerns about the health of Assange, 51, who suffered a mini-stroke last October.
“All you can do is keep doing what you’re doing. Never ever shut up, never be quiet. Raise your voices, join the choir: Free Assange, Free Assange,” Waters said.
After a magistrate and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition to the US, lawyers for the published filed an appeal last month with the High Court of Justice in London.
If found guilty on each of the 18 counts in the US indictment, Assange could be sentenced to as much as 180 years in prison.
The charges arose from WikiLeaks’ publication of secret materials provided in 2009-2010 by then-US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Besides a video and military reports pertaining to US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Manning supplied WikiLeaks with a trove of State Department cables offering a window into Washington’s relations with many countries.
Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2012 after losing a long battle in the British courts to avoid extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual misconduct that were ultimately dropped.
Quito eventually granted Assange Ecuadorian citizenship, but a change of government in the South American nation resulted on April 11, 2019, in his expulsion from the mission, from which he was dragged by British police. EFE