Joint Statement by COSATU and SACP: Call for US authorities to stop political persecution of Julian Assange

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and the South African Communist Party (SACP) emphatically condemn the forcible seizure and arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, for his publishing activities of secret information, including news leaks, from anonymous sources. The US Department of Justice has laid charges of espionage by conspiracy to disclose classified documents, and to encourage others to do the same. This is a travesty of the truth. The documents in question revealed evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 Assange is in grave peril. He is currently in court on an extradition trial in the United Kingdom, on behalf of and at the behest of the US government. The US Justice Department previously issued a statement claiming that Assange only faces charges that could lead to a prison sentence of up to five years if he has been found guilty. COSATU is however aware that if found guilty, he faces the threat of 175 years in prison. Such an unimaginable punishment will have a devastating effect on his family.

 COSATU and the SACP call for an all-out campaign in South Africa, and internationally to defend Assange, oppose his extradition to the US, and secure his freedom, with guarantees against any future prosecution. If he is transferred to the custody of the US, anything is possible, including charges of espionage that carry a death penalty or indefinite detention as an “enemy combatant”.

 Assange has become a target because he did what journalists are supposed to do—expose the truth. The WikiLeaks publisher exposed the crimes that emerged out of wars launched based on lies, which have led to the deaths of more than one million people.

 We stand firm on the belief that it is the working class, the broad mass of the population, that must be mobilised to defend Julian Assange, and all class war prisoners. The demand for their freedom must be a rallying cry for the global working class. We therefore call on all workers and young people, and all those who uphold democratic rights, to come forward and take an 

Down with the dictators of capital! Long live the world socialist revolution!

Issued by COSATU and the SACP

Cde Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni (COSATU)

Cell: 072 535 1577

Dr Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo( SACP)

Cell: 082 920 0308