Nine long years for Julian Assange - Photograph by Cancillería del Ecuador -, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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Eleven years ago, Julian Assange published the first of a series of leaks from American military intelligence, showing a US gunship killing civilians and journalists in Iraq.

Nine years ago he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, believing charges had been trumped up against him in order to have him prosecuted by the US.

Nine long years later, he is in Belmarsh Prison. The charges have been dropped, but he is still unable to live freely. His only ‘crime’ is to have revealed the truth of US and UK war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Watch the World Press Day event, Eleven short pieces on justice and fairness. 

Truth needs to be defended

Our eleven voices represent the eleven years since the first leaks. One of the participants, Marina Warner says:

The main principle of uncovering truth needs to be defended and the rights of prisoners who have not been charged or tried are in urgent need of defence.  

The event was introduced by musician Brian Eno. He was joined by Marina WarnerA.L. Kennedy, myself, Jan Woolf, Matt Devereaux, Richard Bradbury, Robert Ilson, George Szirtes, Michael Rosen, and actors Zoe Aaronson and Gilles Madan reading Adrian Mitchell’s great poem ‘To Whom it May Concern’.

A refusal to cover up

Organiser Jan Woolf says, ‘Writers aren’t moralists, but their work carries moral weight. These writers are representing so many others who would have taken part. All realise that the case of Julian Assange represents the freedom of investigative journalism and a refusal to cover up war crimes. One day Julian Assange will universally be hailed as a hero.

‘This is an important statement from some of the UK’s leading writers on World Press Day. This country prides itself on a free press, but it cannot avoid the charge of hypocrisy while it holds Julian Assange in jail.’

Live-streamed on May 3, I’m delighted to say that the Artists for Assange event had hundreds of viewers in real time and the recording has been watched by many thousands more.

It helped ensure that the name Julian Assange was trending on Twitter in the UK on Press Freedom Day…no mean achievement since that ensured it overshadowed the official UK-US statement!

Watch the recording now.