Vivienne Westwood casually swings inside a giant birdcage outside the Old Bailey to support Julian Assange
In some casual news, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, dressed in a canary yellow suit, climbed inside a giant birdcage and hauled herself 10 feet in the air in a stunt to support Julian Assange.
Westwood, 79, is protesting against the incarceration of the WikiLeaks founder, who is currently facing a heaving list of indictments from the US government.
Authorities indicted Assange on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publicly publishing secret military and diplomatic documents. The 49-year-old could face as many as 175 years in prison.
“This is the most important thing in the world,” the activist blasted from her megaphone outside one of the UK’s highest courts at the Old Bailey, in London, England, Tuesday morning (21 July). She called for Assange’s release – “Free Assange!” – while wearing a yellow suit to evoke the canary in a cage; once used to test for poisonous gases in a coal mine.
Assange is currently detained at HMP Belamrch while battling against extradition to the US.
Vivienne Westwood’s just been winched into the air in a giant cage outside the Old Bailey. She’s protesting against Julien Assange’s extradition hearings, which start up again in Sept.
— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) July 21, 2020
Vivienne Westwood: ‘It’s not a crime to tell the truth.’
Westwood’s potent stunt is the latest high-profile twist in a saga that stretches back to 2010. Assange leaked a volley of confidential security cables pertaining to the Iraq and Afghan wars provided to him by former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning.
She was freed after having her sentence commuted by Barack Obama in 2016 – but jailed once again in March 2019, after being held in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. The trans whistleblower was later released by judges following a year behind bars earlier this year.
Westwood, a long-term supporter for Assange who once featured images of Assange and his cat in her Spring/Summer 2017 show, called the case a “stitch-up”.
She told the throng of onlookers and reporters bustling around her: “It’s not a crime to tell the truth.”
“This is the most important thing in the world because the world is riddled with corruption, and we are all going to die from climate change and political financial corruption.”
Explaining the symbolism of her stunt, she said the cage, which featured a sign reading “I am Julian Assange” pasted on it, “represents the space Julian will inhabit if he is extradited to the US.
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“For the rest of his life, he will become a symbol of what happens to you if you dare to expose the truth.”
Indeed, Assange has long claimed his innocence, with defenders saying his prosecution is politically-motivated. Prosecutors allege that his handiwork of breaking into a classified military network under another user’s identity, undermining US security in the process, is the crux of the case.
The pad-locked materials disclosed by Assange were considered by some to show the wrongdoings of America’s military. This included footage of Apache helicopters carrying out an air-to-ground attack that killed a dozen people in Baghdad in 2007.
Since the case ballooned, Assange has vastly lived as a political refugee in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.