3 Feb 2022 1:57 pm
A motion supported by around 60 members of all parties in the French parliament calls for asylum to be granted to the journalist Julian Assange, who has been imprisoned in Great Britain. The National Assembly will vote on the motion on Friday.
On Friday, France’s National Assembly will debate and vote on a motion to grant asylum to journalist Julian Assange, who is being held in Britain. Launched at the end of October 2021, the motion is supported by around 60 French MEPs from all political parties. The proposal is supported by Cédric Villani (Groupe Écologie démocratie solidarité), Jean Lassalle (Groupe Libertés et territoires), François Ruffin (La France insoumise) and Jennifer de Temmerman from Macron’s La République en Marche party.
Commenting on the Assange case, Cédric Villani, who has worked hard to defend the journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, said:
“He is nothing more and nothing less than a political prisoner.”
And he added:
“How credible will we be as a great democratic nation […]if we fail to recognize, in this emblematic case, that there is a situation that urgently needs to be overcome.”
Jennifer de Temmerman was optimistic that the motion would be approved when the parliament voted. According to de Temmman, the motion is in line with a bill which was adopted on February 1st of this year and to increase the protection of whistleblowers. De Temmerman said of the upcoming Assange vote:
“So I don’t see why they should refuse on February 4 to set the example with Assange of what they are doing today [am 1. Februar, Anm. d. Red.] have approved.”
For his part, François Ruffin specifically expressed “patriotic” reasons for granting asylum to Julian Assange. WikiLeaks revealed how “the French state, right down to its leader, was spied on by its American ally”. So Assange made it possible to reveal that “Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande were spied on by the Americans, that’s no small thing. We have to take Julian Assange on board just out of pride,” Ruffin said. And he added:
“I believe that France is great when it can say no in the world order.”
Under François Hollande, France had rejected the asylum application for Julian Assange himself in 2015 on the grounds that he was being investigated in Sweden for allegations of rape. The allegations in Sweden have since been dropped due to a lack of evidence. In February 2020, when he was still his lawyer, jurist Éric Dupond-Moretti asked President Emmanuel Macron for asylum for the jailed journalist – but the initiative went unheeded since Dupond-Moretti was appointed Minister of Justice in July of the same year.
The WikiLeaks founder has been held in Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison in London since April 11, 2019. Following a US appeal, the High Court in London on December 10 overturned a lower court’s 11-month earlier refusal to extradite Julian Assange. Assange will now appeal to the UK Supreme Court to challenge the extradition.
He is being prosecuted by the US for releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, on US military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, beginning in 2010. If he is extradited to the United States, the award-winning journalist faces a maximum of 175 years in prison.
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