1. This meeting notes that:
1.1 Journalist and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is in prison awaiting extradition to the USA on Espionage Act charges. These charges carry a prison term of 175 years.
1.2 The conspiracy charges against Assange criminalise core journalistic practices and are a frontal assault on the freedom of the press. The NUJ have called for his release, and over 800 journalists have now signed an open letter condemning the ‘campaign being waged against him for the crime of revealing war crimes’ and demanding his immediate release.
1.3 The UN Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, found that Assange has been subjected to “psychological torture” and unprecedented state persecution in violation of his fundamental human rights. The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention by the UK and Swedish Governments since 7 December 2010, including his time in prison, on conditional bail and in the Ecuadorian embassy. The Working Group said Assange should be allowed to walk free and be given compensation.
1.4 Julian Assange has been kept in solitary isolation at Belmarsh maximum-security prison since April 2019. He is suffering a repressive regime of isolation and is being denied his fundamental legal right of access to his lawyers and legal papers that he needs in order to defend himself. Evidence has now emerged showing that extensive video and audio recording of Julian Assange and his visitors was carried out in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The recordings were passed over to the USA. His consultations with his legal team were taped, breaching one of the most fundamental legal rights for defendants.
1.5 His health has continued to seriously decline in Belmarsh and in November Nils Melzer warned: ‘Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.’
1.6 Over 65 doctors have signed a letter to the British Home Secretary calling for urgent medical assessment and treatment of Julian Assange in hospital. They warned that ‘on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose.’
2. This meeting believes that:
2.1 It is now plainly clear that the continuing legal case against Assange is based solely upon his activities as a journalist i.e. the exposure in the public interest of grave breaches of international law.
2.2 His continued detention and potential extradition represent serious contravention of human rights standards, and of freedom of the press under British law.
3. This meeting resolves to:
3.1 Condemn the British government’s complicity with the persecution of Julian Assange
3.2 Call on the British government to refuse to extradite him to the USA and to free him immediately
3.3. Campaign against his extradition, against the prison regime being imposed on him, and for his immediate release.
3.4 Ask our Executive Committee to raise this matter in the local press and media.
3.5 Call on the Labour leadership to speak out strongly against Assange’s extradiction in support of his freedom and organise protests and a campaign in his support