Daniel Ellsberg participated in an Italian press conference demanding freedom for Julian Assange.
I want to address a larger answer to your question. We were always focusing on the free speech aspects of this, but we’re talking about free speech about a war. A war should not be going on. Actually, I want to put this in the context of recent, fairly recent history. Fifty years ago, when I was 40, I was facing the same charges that Julian [Assange] is now and for the same reason, essentially.
I had in 1971 revealed truth that went back to 1945, almost a quarter-century earlier, about a war we should never have been fighting, and that was made clear by the 7,000 pages of top-secret documents that I put out. Nevertheless, that war had four years to go. Up till that time when I did it; when I put out this information, we had already dropped several times the explosive tonnage of World War II on Indochina, and we had another World War II to go. So I was exercising free speech in order to stop us from a wrongful war and did not succeed at first.
My trial was stopped because of crimes committed against me that came out in the course of my trial. And amazingly, I have lived long enough to see Julian Assange facing the same charges for the same reason, essentially, and subject to the same crimes by my government in this case. Illegal surveillance, surveillance of Julian, as you’ve heard already in his Ecuadoran Embassy, where I visited him a couple of times, and efforts, even discussions of killing him. And I myself came out, had been subject to a scheme to incapacitate me, totally kill me or incapacitate me totally on the steps of the Capitol in 1972.
As I say, at that point, the war had still three years to go. But we were involved, in other words, not only in speaking freely but in doing so in order to reveal an aggressive war, a wrongful war that should have been stopped long before. And simply telling the truth, in either case, was not enough to stop that war, but in my case, it did prove a necessary element.
We are now, think of where we are at this point. Ten years ago, in 2010, I accompanied Julian Assange at revealing the Iraq War logs to a press conference in London. And in handling those and refusing to put over this material, secret material, refusing to give it to an authorized person, whoever that might be, I am a subject to trial and conviction in the eyes of our Department of Justice, as Julian is by that wrongful and unconstitutional reading of the Espionage Act. And I would be glad to join him in that. But obviously, the point here is he should not have been on trial at all. He was doing what he should have done, just as I did. I was doing what I should have done. I was facing 115 years in prison for doing that. Julian is facing 175, a kind of inflation here. But the effect on our lives would be pretty much the same if we got convicted.
So I’m saying that in the case of this war, let us recall, this is 2020. Julian was revealing that information about Afghanistan, crimes in Afghanistan, and a wrongful war in Afghanistan and Iraq in about the first decade, nine or ten years after that war had started. And revealing as I stood by him in England, revealing obviously that we were not only committing crimes daily, of turning people over for torture, and occupying a country whose people did not want to be ruled by foreign occupiers or by proxies whom they announced.
That was ten years ago. Ten years after the revelations that Julian made thanks to Chelsea Manning. That should have stopped the war then ten years late. It has gone on for another ten years. It’s just stopped just now in revelation of the fact that we were not able to conquer a people who did not want to be occupied, would not cooperate with occupiers, and never had, whether it was Alexander or the British or the Russians or anybody else. And we finally recognized that ten years, at least after we should have recognized that by Julian and Chelsea Mannings revelations.
So we’re saying here now that we should be backing up, I hope that when the high court meets in London tomorrow or the next day, they will make a decision. So this will be the last time that I have to point out that Julian Assange is wrongly held right now, should not have been held at all. Should not be held another day and should be free to tell the world more truth, which is his business in life. Thank you.
October 26th Rome press conference on the defense of Assange at the Italian Parliament Montecitorio in Rome:
http://www.peaceandjustice.it/ US Citizens for Peace and Justice – Rome
https://diem25.org/it/ DiEM25 Italy
https://www.facebook.com/groups/italianiperassange/ Italians for Assange