On Wednesday, a group of renowned progressives from around the world announced the first physical session of the Belmarsh Tribunal, in which participants would put the US administration on trial for war crimes and demand the release of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently imprisoned. Progressive International’s Belmarsh Tribunal, named after the notorious London prison where Assange is being held as he awaits extradition to the United States, will convene on October 22 to “try the U.S. government for its crimes of the 21st century—from atrocities in Iraq to torture at Guantánamo Bay to a surveillance program.”
“We are convening parliamentarians, journalists, lawyers, and investigators to fight for truth and justice against Assange’s extradition to the United States. In doing so, the Belmarsh Tribunal turns the tables in the extradition hearing against Julian Assange, a case that will shape the future of journalism for decades to come,” stated Progressive International, which organized a similar tribunal last year. The High Court of the United Kingdom has been assessing the Biden administration’s appeal in the extradition case against Assange, with a full appellate hearing planned for October 27 and 28.
“Wikileaks revealed the truth about the War on Terror. It exposed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as over 300 instances of torture and covert murders by US soldiers. The United States and its allies have hounded, imprisoned, and planned to murder Julian Assange for exposing the crimes of the War on Terror,” Progressive International added. According to Yahoo News, the CIA conspired to abduct — and perhaps assassinate — Assange in 2017 to punish Wikileaks’ disclosure of the “Vault 7” papers revealing CIA cyber warfare and surveillance actions under then-Director Mike Pompeo.
The Belmarsh Tribunal is modeled after the Russell Tribunal, which was formed in 1966 by philosophers Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre to hold the United States responsible for its horrific war crimes in Vietnam. Tariq Ali, a British historian and activist who was a member of the original Belmarsh Tribunal, will take part in this year’s event.
Members of the 2021 Belmarsh Tribunal include Heike Hänsel of the German Left Party, Selay Ghaffar of the Afghan Solidarity Party, Yanis Varoufakis of Greece, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Stefania Maurizi of Italy, Ben Wizner of the ACLU, and Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Jeremy Corbyn, and John McDonnell of the British Labour Party. “We will turn the world the right way up at the Belmarsh Tribunal. Putting war crimes, torture, kidnapping, and a slew of other heinous human rights violations on trial,” Corbyn stated on Wednesday.