Okay, hi everyone, I’m Lauri Love.
I’m here today to support my friend Julian Assange who, as you know, has been arbitrarily detained for over 7 years, 6 years inside this embassy.
But I’m also here, as Ciaron alluded to, because I haven’t been kidnapped and taken to a country I’ve never visited a thousand miles overseas, to be locked up for 99 years potentially - i.e. the rest of my life - because I was accused of being involved in some online activism.
After the death of a very wonderful young man called Aaron Swartz, who was an internet wunderkind who successfully opposed some terrible legislation in the USA in 2001 that would infringe upon internet freedoms, and who had associations with Wikileaks. And a year later, because he committed the “crime” in inverted commas of downloading too much journal articles from MIT, a case was made against him, the secret service took it over and he was persecuted, I believe, to make an example of him as a activist for information transparency and as a person standing up for oppressions on the internet and fighting for democracy.
Unfortunately, because of the injustices of the US criminal justice system, Aaron Swartz was facing 30 years in prison and millions of dollars of fines, again, for merely downloading scientific articles that he had permission to view, because of the problems with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Sadly, Aaron Swartz, being faced with a choice that he couldn’t accept either alternative of, because of the plea bargaining system that coerces and bullies defendants in 97% of cases to pleading guilty and not having their fair chance in trial, Aaron committed suicide, because of the injustice and the oppression against him. In response to Aaron’s death, there was an activist campaign targeting, via the internet, US government systems to send a message to reform this criminal justice system.
Some time though afterwards I was arrested by our national crime agency who dressed up as UPS delivery men to break into our house under false pretences, and a year later I was requested extradition from 3 separate states of the US and where I would have faced 99 years in prison. And I would not be here today, were it not for the fact that I successfully fought an appeal against that extradition, which I wouldn’t have been able to do had it not been for the help of the Courage Foundation, an organization to defend whistleblowers and hacktivists to provide advocacy and action for them. And that organisation came out of Wikileaks and Julian Assange and their support for Edward Snowden, after his heroic act of whistleblowing massive unlawful surveillance of the public.
And, so because I’m only here because of the solidarity that I have received, and because I’m here despite an extradition treaty between the UK and the United States that does not require a shred of evidence to be shown that any crime has been committed, let alone prove to any standard of reasonable doubt. And as I said earlier, if somebody enters the US criminal justice system at the federal level, their chances of even having a trial, having the chance to have their day in court and acquit themselves is only 3 percent. So, out all of the people here, less than five of you, less than three of you would get a trial. Unfortunately, there is a very real prospect, despite the fact that it’s continuously, not denied, but refused to even be answered by the metropolitan police and the UK government, there is a realistic prospect that Julian Assange would be subject to a similar extradition process.
He would not have the opportunity to… to fight the allegations because the allegations would not be substantiated with any evidence and he would not have any prospect of a fair trial in the United States.
So, I’m here today, in the hopes that the small victory that I won can inspire other people to fight for Julian and against the United States government which for too long has attempted to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction, to be the world’s police, and to… to bully the world into believing that their laws can apply world wide. And Julian Assange could not have committed a crime in the United States just as I could not have committed a crime in the United States, because he has not been there.
And all Wikileaks has done, is provide the public with the very thing that it most needs to have accountability and to have justice and democracy, and that is truth. And without truth, there is no power, there is no ability for the public to speak truth to power. And unless truth can be spoken to power, there are always abuses and accesses and injustices. And we see throughout the period in which Julian has been detained, that the world has become a far less stable place because of the unchecked exercise of power. And the only way to improve that situation is to continue to fight for truth tellers. And there is no better example in my opinion of a truth teller in our current era than Julian Assange.
So, because Julian has fought for the public’s right to know what is done in their name, with their money, with power that is taken from them, often to create terrible suffering and misery in the world through wars and other abuses, because of Julian’s courage that he has taken on such risk and suffered such persecution in order to give us power, we should feel a responsibility to be just as courageous and to stand up and exercise a will to power ourselves to see that justice is done for Julian, that he continues to receive the right that is currently being denied under international obligations, under the Vienna convention, that his asylum is respected and that he is eventually allowed safe passage and to avoid the certain injustice of an extradition to the United States.
And so I hope the people will take some courage, that they will see perhaps that I’ve been fortunate through the help of vast amounts of solidarity and support that I’ve received from the Courage Foundation, from people like yourselves, from organised campaigning, from the sustained effort and believe from people that justice can be done, that we can apply that hope, that victory is possible and we can support Julian and ensure justice will be done, because we will say to the powers that be, to the legal establishment of the UK, to the media, to the public, that we will not allow injustice to occur and that we will continue to fight for the right of truth tellers to continue to empower the public with truth.
So, thank you.
Full vigil: https://youtu.be/dLCJU8tUwP8?t=2051