Rhode Island Rights and the Rhode Island Anti-War Committee held a rally outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Providence against the United States government’s “unprecedented project to jail those who keep the public informed through the media.”
Specifically, the ralliers were calling attention to the re-imprisonment of Chelsea Manning here in the United States and the recent detention of Julian Assange in Great Britain.
In a statement, the groups write:
“Last month, they jailed Chelsea Manning, a brave soldier whose conscience was awakened by the Iraq War and who revealed a lot of information that we citizens need to know. This past week, they went after WikiLeaks, the news site that published Manning’s leaks as well as information about government wrongdoing by Putin’s Russia, Saudi Arabia and many other countries. The Trump administration has devoted extraordinary efforts to push for the arrest of WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange, who antagonized them by his longstanding determination to reveal important truths to the public. In their stretched interpretation of our laws and constitution, they are prosecuting Assange because he helped to get Manning’s leaks into the news.
“[Assange] is being charged with disobeying American federal law on information access, even though he was never an American citizen and wasn’t even in America when he worked on this material. Even if he wasn’t a journalist, the right of citizens to a free press is seriously threatened when someone who’s done so much to bring out newsworthy facts is targeted by our government with unparalleled international pressure and strained legal theories. In fact, some of the legal theories used for prosecuting Assange would enable criminalizing other journalists. We know that this is not just about WikiLeaks and Assange, even though WikiLeaks and its founder have both won awards for journalism. And it’s not just about Chelsea Manning, who was rightly pardoned by Obama but is now being jailed again to pressure her to back up Trump’s dubious allegations against Assange and WikiLeaks.
“The Trump administration has said that they want to go after not just Assange and Manning, but also others who have been protected by the right to a free press. We need to protect the principle that governments must not treat news outlets as hostile spies, which is exactly what the Trump administration wants to do. On Monday, we will rally to reject our government’s prosecution of WikiLeaks and its founder, calling for freeing Chelsea Manning and supporting freedom of the press.”
Here’s video of the rally’s organizer, Randall Rose, addressing those in attendance.
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