Protesters show support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he appeals US extradition orders

Supporters of freedom of the press and whistleblowers gathered in the heart of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to show solidarity with imprisoned Assange as he attempts to overturn extradition to the United States under the Espionage Act.

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Julian Assange is a 52-year-old former Australian computer programmer, editor and activist who is seeking court reprieve from United States extradition orders on February 20 and 21.

Assange founded the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in 2006. In 2010 and 2011 he published classified government and corporate documents related to war, spying and corruption, including video footage suggesting United States military involvement in civilian casualties during the Afghanistan war.

He was arrested inside of the Ecuador embassy in 2019 for the US indictment of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion  which was later expanded to include over a dozen charges under the US Espionage Act  and has been detained in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison ever since.

The US Department of Justice described his leaks as some “of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”

Assange’s extradition was initially blocked due to concerns about self-harm and the torturous conditions in US max-security prisons, including likely indefinite solitary confinement, but two courts have since upheld the 2022 decision to extradite him.

Yet Assange contests these rulings and will have appeals heard over two days  from February 20 to 21.

Many claim that he was merely a hacker and a spy, while his supporters say that his revelations are pivotal for freedom of the press and being able to expose deep-seated corruption without fear of intimidation or violent repercussions. They gathered in San Miguel de Allende, a picturesque Mexican colonial town renowned for its vibrant art scene, well-preserved architecture and rich cultural heritage.

A woman attending the protest said, "We're very concerned with human rights mainly, with social justice, with freedom in general. So that's why we are supporting this rally, because it's very important to be aware of the problems we are facing all over the world."

Speaking about the US, one man at the gathering said, "In the United States right now, it's no longer an extreme statement to say that fascism is on the rise. Literally, by every definition."

Another man at the protest explained, "It's always been that in these cases, if somebody goes to jail and gets in trouble, it is the leaker, the person that actually steals or obtains or comes across information."

"It's never been the actual journalist or publisher. So that's what's at stake. It's going to be extremely chilling and one more step into the 1984 world of journalism."

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