Veteran fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood posed in a giant bird cage in London to show her support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and call for his extradition to the United States to be stopped.
- Westwood said freeing Assange would mean that “journalists can continue to tell the truth”
- Assange was arrested last year after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
- His lawyers argued the US charges of espionage were politically motivated
Dressed in a canary yellow outfit, the 79-year-old designer led protesters who chanted “Free Julian Assange” outside London’s Central Criminal Court.
Assange is due to appear for an extradition hearing on September 7. If extradited to the US, he will face charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
Assange recorded by secret microphones in embassy
Julian Assange’s conversations, including legally privileged meetings with Australian lawyers Geoffrey Robertson, Jennifer Robinson and Melinda Taylor, were secretly recorded inside his London embassy home.
Prosecutors allege he damaged national security by publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including diplomatic cables and military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that harmed the US and its allies and aided its adversaries.
Westwood told the Associated Press after her protest that freeing Assange would mean that “journalists can continue to tell the truth, rather than repeating the spin that’s dealt to them by the government”.
“I am Julian Assange,” she said.
“I am the canary in the cage. If I die down the coal mine from poisonous gas, that’s the signal.”
The designer has turned to activism in recent years, leading campaigns in support of Mr Assange and drawing attention to climate change at her fashion shows.
The 49-year-old is currently being held in a high-security prison in London.
He maintains he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.
His lawyers have argued the US charges of espionage and computer misuse were politically motivated and an abuse of power.