The founder of Latin America’s only Assange solidarity organization told Sputnik News about their part in the ongoing campaign to keep the jailed Wikileaks publisher from facing up to 175 years in a US supermax prison on espionage charges.
In the early 2010s, Julian Assange quickly became a household name in much of Europe and North America. However, audiences elsewhere tended to be less familiar with the jailed Wikileaks publisher, the war crimes he revealed to the public, and the ongoing campaign by Western governments to lock him up for doing so.
But in recent years, that’s begun to change. Since 2020, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has emerged as one of Assange’s most outspoken public advocates. He recently called on US President Joe Biden to allow Assange to be given political asylum in Mexico, and has suggested the US should “tear down the Statue of Liberty” if they convict the publisher.
And he’s not alone.
With Assange’s expected extradition rapidly approaching, activists in Mexico City have been echoing Lopez Obrador’s demand, calling on US and UK authorities to release him. To find out more, Sputnik News spoke with Edith Cabrera, the founder of Mexico’s Julian Assange solidarity group – and the only such organization in Latin America – #24F Coalición Vida y Libertad Julian Assange.
Sputnik: Can you tell me a little bit about the #24F Coalición Vida y Libertad Julian Assange? How long have you been doing this, and what have you been up to most recently?
Cabrera: Well, our group was mainly formed on the same day that Julian was kidnapped. For us it was a kidnapping on the 19th – April 19th, 2019. On that day, some people gathered with me too, in front of the Ecuadorian embassy to protest. After a month, nobody came back but myself.
So I continued to protest, sometimes with some friends, sometimes with my neighbors, or sometimes by myself, kept on protesting month after month. I had the support of the press, of the journal La Jornada, in Mexico. And it helped me a lot. Even though I was alone, I was not alone because I could reach more people to get information.
I was just giving fliers, talking to the people and just doing that, letting people know what was going on with Julian. After a while, people start[ed] joining, and the group that I have now, we’ve been together for more than a year.
We usually do at least one action a month, a monthly action, and we usually go to both embassies, UK embassy and from there we work to the US embassy. And it’s been pretty good. We also do some other kind of activity, just go outside and place banners and give fliers to the people.
With the pandemic, everything slowed down, because I used to go to the universities and to all kinds of communication schools, like radio schools and all that. Everything went a little bit down, but now it’s starting again to retake that. So we’re going to keep on doing that again. And, well, slowly, slowly, the press here in Mexico get to know us.
And it’s been very supportive, especially the Jornada and some other radio stations, very good radio stations from the university, the national university from Mexico also. And I give interviews every now and then, and that helps to spread the word. So that’s what we’ve been doing lately.
On the 13th of August, we had our last protest again [at] the UK embassy and then from there, we stayed there like I don’t know, like around an hour, from there we walked, we get to the US embassy and we stayed there for another time too. That’s what we did.
Sputnik: I believe I saw some images from that latest protest. Can you describe to me the message that organizers had on the 13th, generally have for authorities in the United Kingdom and in the United States. What are you trying to communicate to them when you go out and protest?
Cabrera: We protest because we feel our freedom of speech, our freedom of expression is disappearing.
Of course, we protest about Julian’s situation and where he’s been. How do you say… he’s been not legally detained, he’s not legally detained, he shouldn’t be in jail. He shouldn’t be in a max security prison.
And we express our concern about his health situation, which is very, very important for us, his health, which is really deteriorating – has been deteriorating for a long, long time – even before they took him to that prison.
And we demanded his release, his immediate release, we demand his name to be vindicated because he’s been demonized. They’ve been telling not true things about him. And he needs his name to be vindicated.
And, of course, by doing this to Julian, they are doing it to all of us, because, like we said, Julian’s freedom is our freedom, and Julian’s fight is our fight. And we don’t mean just to fight the legal fight that he’s going through now, but his fight on his work that was in favor of human rights. He was against war. And we are against all that, too.
Sputnik: So you’re speaking to me from Mexico, which is one of the few countries in the world that has a leader who’s been very outspoken about the need to seek the freedom of Julian Assange, the need for Julian Assange to be liberated. And he’s actually taken a number of steps to that end.
Can you describe to me how successful do you view AMLO’s attempts to negotiate some kind of settlement to all of this that doesn’t end in Julian Assange facing 75 years in a supermax prison? How effective do you think these efforts might be and how do they play in Mexico? How popular are AMLO’s efforts to get justice and freedom for Julian?
Cabrera: Well, AMLO has been very [much] applauded for that. Of course, there is an opposition. They criticize him for everything. But in general, people do like what he said. His pronouncement was so good because a lot of people did not even know who Julian is.
And with him talking to the press, it went all national because everybody watches his morning press conference and everybody gets to know what’s going on. And the international press, of course, he’s the president and they were there. They spread the word.
So he, several times since 2020, the year 2020, he has been talking in favor of Julian. And that, I personally think that helps because Julian has been hidden. The case has not really been exposed.
And it’s important that somebody, a president especially, is taking a side for justice, taking the right side for him. And I don’t know how far this could be like in the process to really help Julian, like direct. But at least he’s trying, you know, he’s trying.
And with the letter he said he delivered (and I believe he did) to [US President] Joe Biden lately, even though he wrote to Donald Trump before Trump was leaving the presidency, and he didn’t have any answer, he keeps on trying.
And that’s very honorable for me and is very humanitarian. And I hope more presidents will take a step and continue to do this, to have more public pressure and encourage people to go out and demand… and our rights.
I think it will be good… We’re so close to the States and it could be like a small echo, but at least an echo, so the US citizens start waking up to the truth. Because what they hear I think is more propaganda, and they will hear who really is Julian Assange, and what he really did was not a crime. So he’s an innocent journalist and he should be released immediately.
Sputnik: Absolutely. Well, I appreciate very much you taking the time to discuss all that with us. I think, you know, if you have any parting thoughts, we’d like to hear them or, you know, places that people could go to learn more about your group, your latest efforts.
Cabrera: Yeah, we have you on our Facebook group page and… It’s “#24F Coalición Vida y Libertad – Julian Assange.” That means Coalition for Life and Freedom of Julian Assange. But it’s in Spanish and we have a Twitter account which is @Assange_Libre. That means free.
I really appreciate this interview because it’s been a big effort to keep on doing this all these years. But when we have people like you that are interested in spreading the word; it’s our goal to help a little bit to spread the word.
And that’s really our… It’s beautiful. Not because I believe we all together can make it. If we get together, we will make Julian free, a free man. He can make it. I hope, I hope, I really, deeply hope.