Starting Feb. 12 — and continuing every day until Feb. 20 — eight million New Yorkers and hundreds of millions of onlookers around the world will be watching as these giant 30-foot-long billboard trucks circle the British Consulate on 48th Street; the U.S. courthouses and federal buildings in Foley Square; the United Nations on First Avenue; the corporate headquarters of media influencers like The New York Times, Daily News, Hearst, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Reuters, Warner Bros and Paramount; and the plush venues of Wall Street power players likeJPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Barclays, Black Rock and American Express.
Why are the billboard trucks coming now? And why to New York?
Because Feb. 20 is “X-Day” for Juian Assange. That is when the Britain’s High Court of Justice will give Julian a last chance to block his extradition to the U.S. If his appeal is denied, U.S. Marshals will snatch him out of Southeast London’s gloomy Belmarsh Prison and fly him to the U.S. (possibly within 24 hours), where he will be tried under the Espionage Act for publishing videos that exposed U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So confident is the U.S. Justice Department that it will crush Julian’s Feb. 20 High Court appeal against extradition, that it has already assigned a U.S. judge to his case. He is District Judge Claude M. Hilton, and he will try Julian’s case in the notorious Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse of the Eastern District of Virginia.
It should be understood that, in this district and this courthouse, the government almost never loses — because virtually everyone eligible to serve on a jury has a spouse or cousin or friend working for the government at the State Department, Justice Department, FBI or, most ominously, the CIA — whose Trump-appointed director, Mike Pompeo, famously plotted to poison or shoot Julian and dump his corpse at sea, and whose Langley headquarters just happens to be a 12-minute hop-skip-and-jump down the road from the Albert V. Bryan courthouse.
As Reuters rather admiringly notes (without touching on the obvious reason for such a splendid record of convictions),
“In the past 20 years, the U.S. government has racked up remarkable success rates in winning convictions or guilty pleas from people brought before the federal court in Virginia who were accused of espionage or terrorism. Because of its speed, the court is considered a “rocket docket.”
If Judge Hilton and the U.S. justice system find Assange guilty (Is water wet?), he will be locked away in a U.S. maximum security prison for up to 175 years. So his February 20 appeal before the High Court in London is crucial. How good are his chances?
That may depend on how much outrage and public pressure can be brought to bear on the British and American governments, since everyone knows that this is not really a legal case, to be scrupulously decided by dispassionate High Court judges solemnly parsing the law. It is a high-profile political case that the judges will decide (as British judges in this case have been deciding for the past 4 years) according to the wishes of powerful forces inside the CIA and M16.
Which is why the activist and political satirist Randy Credico, host of Julian Assange: Countdown to Freedom on WBAI-FM radio and the Progressive Radio Network (PRN), will be co-piloting huge “Free Assange” billboard trucks like this all over New York from Feb. 12 until the British High Court appeal date of Feb. 20.
Randy’s goal is to generate huge waves of provocative public noise in New York about Julien’s High Court appeal, as he did last year in Washington DC, where his mobile billboard trucks traversed the nation’s capital day after day, circling the British Embassy, the Department of Justice and the White House, alerting DC’s 700,000 residents and 22 million tourists to the years of illegal persecution and imprisonment that Julian suffered under Donald Trump, and continues to suffer under Joe Biden.
In Washington DC, Randy’s billboard trucks generated instant publicity and sympathy for Juian all over the world, and became a source of extreme embarrassment to U.S. and British leaders. Randy intends to generate even more public outrage by deploying his “Free Assange” billboard trucks in New York – at the crossroads of global media communications and financial power. These billboard trucks will be bigger and even harder to ignore than the Washington DC trucks — the better to increase public awareness and intensify the political pressure.
How many Assange billboard trucks will be coming to New York?
To lease these technologically sophisticated billboard trucks, create their giant 450-square-foot displays, and hire professional drivers to propel them around the city (with Randy co-piloting) is not cheap. The number of trucks will depend on how much money is raised for this campaign.
The cost of putting just one billboard truck on the streets of New York from Feb. 12 to Feb. 20 is $8,000. The final size of the fleet – two, three, four, even ten or more trucks — will depend on donations from people who care about Julian’s fate and the fate of investigative journalism.
For if Julian is convicted and imprisoned, any journalist, anywhere in the world, who dares to expose government crimes can be snatched from his country, dragged to the U.S., and imprisoned for life. That would end forever the historic role of a free press as the watchdog and guarantor of democracy and human rights.
Help Randy protect Julian Assange and freedom of the press
You can donate to the Assange Mobile Billboard Campaign at AssangeCountdownToFreedomcom. A contribution of $5, $10, $25 (or more if you can afford it) will assure it success, because there are more than enough of you reading this to make it happen.
Think of how good you will feel as you watch those “Free Assange” trucks go by, knowing that your donations are the fuel on which they run.
Steve Brown is a member of the editorial board of CovertAction Magazine and director of the Society for Independent Investigative Journalism (SIIJ). He is co-founder of the Progressive Radio Network (PRN), former director of the Pacifica Radio Foundation and WBAI-FM in New York, and President of the Alliance for Community Elections (ACE). He has run political campaigns for the U.S. Senate, Governor of New York, and Mayor of New York City.
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