Supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gathered in London for an exhibition of artwork presented alongside the physical publication of top-secret government documents.
"States of Violence," which began Friday and lasts until April 8, is an exhibition featuring more than 15 artists and collaborators, including Ai Weiwei, Dread Scott and Vivienne Westwood. The exhibition displays a collaboration between Wikileaks, an arts organization called a/political and the freedom of information organization Wau Holland Foundation.
The artwork is presented alongside the largest-ever physical publication of top-secret government cables, not previously made available in hardcopy in the United Kingdom, according to a press release from a/political. The project comes just ahead of the fourth anniversary of Assange's April 11, 2019, detention.
"The State Department cable set is a unique near history of the world from the perspective of a nation that has overtaken all others," Assange's brother Gabriel Shipton told Fox News Digital. "It should be in every library on the planet for students to study for years to come. On April 11, Julian Assange will have spent 4 years in prison for doing what good journalists and publishers do every day. The fight to free him is now recognized around the world as a battle between democracy and tyranny."
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Assange is facing a legal battle about his potential extradition to the U.S. over the publication of classified materials. He will face several charges, including espionage, if he is extradited and could be sentenced to up to 175 years in an American maximum security prison. The Australian journalist is accused of publishing classified information detailing war crimes committed by the U.S. government in the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp, Iraq and Afghanistan. The materials also expose instances of the CIA engaging in torture and rendition.
The Wikileaks founder has been held at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison since he was removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2019 for breaching jail conditions. He had sought asylum at the embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations he raped two women. Probes into the sexual assault allegations were eventually dropped.
"Assange is being persecuted for telling the truth, whilst the people who started these illegal wars are free," a spokesperson for a/political told Fox News Digital. "We should stand up for a free press and transparency if we are to call ourselves real democracies."
The art exhibition in London was designed to oppose techniques of government oppression, including war, torture and surveillance.
The exhibition features a body of work by the Institute for Dissent & Datalove called SECRET+NOFORN (2022), which consists of the highest classification of government cables, SECRET and NOFORN, from the 2010 WikiLeaks Cablegate publication of U.S. diplomatic materials.
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Anyone who opens one of the 66 books from SECRET+NOFORN (2022) is at risk of being prosecuted under the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917. This means that visitors to the art exhibition will be engaging in the same crime for which Assange is facing extradition.
"Publishing or reading truthful information should never be a crime," WikiLeaks ambassador Joseph Farrell told Fox News Digital. "The prosecution of Julian Assange is the modern-day equivalent of book burning. Imprisoning journalists and critics are the first resort of authoritarian regimes. It is a path the U.S. should never have gone down."
Several of the artists featured in "States of Violence" have also faced censorship, prosecution, imprisonment and house arrests.
Ai Weiwei’s "Study of Perspective" series includes a depiction of him giving the middle finger to Tiananmen Square, which he was detained and questioned for in China, according to a/political's press release. His work has been censored in China on numerous occasions.
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The editors and publishers of U.S. and European news outlets that worked with Assange on the publication of excerpts from more than 250,000 documents he obtained in the Cablegate leak wrote an open letter last year calling for the U.S. to end its prosecution of Assange. The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País cited press freedoms in requesting that his charges be dropped.
The Cablegate documents for which Assange is facing prosecution were leaked to WikiLeaks by then-U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, who was convicted in 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses. The cables exposed the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy around the globe and revealed "corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale," the letter from the media outlets reads.
The Obama administration reportedly did not indict Assange after Wikileaks published the cables in 2010 because it would have also had to indict journalists from major news outlets. However, former President Trump's Justice Department later moved to indict Assange under the Espionage Act.
Additionally, the CIA during the Trump administration reportedly had plans to kill Assange over the publication of sensitive agency hacking tools, known as "Vault 7." The CIA said this publication meant it suffered "the largest data loss in CIA history."
The CIA had discussions "at the highest levels" of the administration during this time regarding plans to assassinate Assange in London, according to a 2021 Yahoo report. Upon orders from then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, the agency had drawn up kill "sketches" and "options."
The agency had advanced plans to kidnap and rendition Assange, according to the report, which highlighted that the CIA made a political decision to charge him.
Wikileaks also published internal communications between the Democratic National Committee and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016. The communications exposed the DNC's attempts to boost Clinton in that year's Democratic primary.