Campaigners fighting for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have staged a ‘night carnival’ in London.
About 2,000 people from the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign gathered at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, close to Holborn, before marching past Parliament Square around 6pm on Saturday.
Assange has been held in HMP Belmarsh in South East London ever since he was expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in 2019, after being incarcerated there for more than seven years.
He is currently fighting extradition to the United States after filing an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in December.
Assange’s wife, Stellaaddressed crowds at a rally in Westminster, holding up a scarf made by one of her husband’s staunchest supporters, the late Lady Vivienne Westwood.
Ms Assange said the carnival had “a big impact on central London” and applauded the “incredible” response.
“We have to keep building until the movement is so big that those in power and the courts realize that there is no other option than to free Julian,” she said.
The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-RatcliffeRichard Ratcliffe, also appeared on stage.
“I’m here as a point of hope,” he said.
Other speakers included former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn; WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Dame Vivienne’s son, Ben Westwood.
The late fashion designer’s son described how he and his mother visited Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy on a number of occasions and revealed how he walked the runway at a fashion show held at the building in 2014.
The procession was led by a huge golden effigy of Lady Justice, often blindfolded and holding a sword and scales, of whom a statue stands atop the Old Bailey.
Some campaigners also dressed up as the statue, while others portrayed prisoners and judges with flashing red noses.
Many also chose colorful carnival costumes as they beat drums and held up placards with slogans including “Hands off Assange – don’t shoot the messenger”.
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The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign tweeted that it had a “fantastic turnout” for the event.
National coordinator, John Rees, said the group “has a responsibility to ensure that this matter does not fade from the public eye”.
“Julian Assange has been convicted of absolutely no crime, and justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.
“The newspapers that worked with Assange have written a joint letter supporting his release, and he has the support of most of the major human rights groups in the world.
“This is unprecedented and in most cases this would have been enough to get him released.
“I hope our action tonight will help put pressure on the UK and US governments to release Julian Assange.”