US activists rally for releasing WikiLeaks founder
A group of activists in San Francisco's Bay Area rallied outside the British Consulate General to demand WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's release from a prison in the UK.
Chanting slogans of "Free Julian Assange!" and "Free journalist whistle blowers!", the protesters on Monday said they did not want to remain silent on the issue, accusing the US government of "attacking" the freedom of speech, reports Xinhua news agency.
Marilyn Langlois, a community activist in San Francisco who used to work for the local government, said she believed Assange had committed no crime and was being held unjustly and tortured in Britain.
"He has simply published the information that was given to him, information that had evidence of US war crimes 10 years ago, and the American public needs to know about those war crimes that should be prosecuted," she told Xinhua.
Reportedly, the US government had formally requested Assange's extradition last June to face charges in the US, as the Department of Justice accused him of helping former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into computers of the Defense Department.
Having been in exile for years to escape the US government's prosecution, Assange was arrested last April after being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been living since 2012.
The protesters in San Francisco also demanded a serious investigation of allegations and evidence of war crimes committed by the US government.
The event's organizers said Monday's rally is part of a global protest in solidarity with supporters in other countries who have risen to speak for the WikiLeaks founder.
The rally comes after the Woolwich Crown Court in London opened Assange's extradition hearing earlier this week.
Assange's lawyers have said that he could face up to 175 years in prison in the US if found guilty of one of the world's biggest data breaches -IANS