John Shipton, A father's fight to free Julian Assange

With drawn features and a white beard, John Shipton continues to travel with a goal to free his son, Julian Assange. The founder of WikiLeaks was arrested by British police in April 2019 in a very discreet manner during seven years of sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​forcing this former architect to break his silence. “Julian can no longer speak to defend himself. It is his family and friends who speak for him. I became one of his messengers wherever I went to seek his liberation.”John Shipton explains.

From the first minutes of his son's incarceration, the United States sent an extradition request targeting the 52-year-old Australian for violating the Espionage Act, for which he is serving a hundred and seventy-five years in prison. Washington has relentlessly pursued him for the release of 750,000 classified documents beginning in 2010 that revealed war crimes committed by US and British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A daily struggle

From Australia, where he lives, John Shipton reluctantly takes the first flight to London to find his son in the high-security Belmarsh prison. This visit made a deep impression on him. There he found the journalist in very poor physical condition and worrying mental health. “He had lost more than 10 kg due to constant psychological stress. I immediately promised to return regularly until he was released.He says.

At Belmarsh, Julian Assange stays in a small cell, 22 hours a day, and receives only two visits a week and one ten-minute phone call. Hence John Shipton's anger, which actually calls out the British authorities “A journalist in prison, without trial, in a maximum security system, like a terrorist or a murderer! What did he do other than publishing information of public interest? It is the cornerstone of media freedom, civil liberties and the fundamental human rights of our democracy.”. The United Nations recognized and warned of a form of “torture” in his detention.

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Even at the age of 78, he did not give up this struggle. For five years, this anti-war and progressive activist made no effort to get to where he was called. “With his wife Stella or his half-brother Gabriel, we traveled to more than fifty countries to deliver conferences in the United States, Great Britain, Europe, Latin America. We also visited many parliaments such as the United Nations High Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the National Assembly in Paris.. In this constant struggle, she regrets having to leave her daughter behind in Melbourne.

An epilogue on February 21

This support dates back nearly twenty years, when a student, Julian Assange, visited Newtown with his father. Later, they had lengthy discussions about the creation of WikiLeaks; The company's address was carried out under the name of Shipton.

Despite everything, this constant struggle for money forced John to sell his house in Newtown and rely on donations from individuals and the sale of books due to lack of cash flow. “Above all, this practice represents an international stand on freedom of the press between a man and an empire.”He sums it up.

The epilogue of the Assange case could take place on February 20 and 21. Over the next two days, the British High Court will consider a case against the journalist's final appeal in the United Kingdom to prevent his extradition to the United States. “At the end of this two-day hearing, the two judges either grant the WikiLeaks founder the authority to formally file this appeal or decline to do so. In this scenario, the Australian journalist could be immediately deported by Washington. We have the opportunity to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), but this will not be suspended. The United Kingdom should consider this decision as there is nothing compelling it to do so.Caution, concern, John Shipton.

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