The family of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is staging events around the country this summer to advocate for the dropping of the United States' extradition request and the Espionage Act charges against him.
On Saturday, the road show came to Oakland, and Bay Area resident and The Color Purple novelist Alice Walker was there in person as part of her ongoing activism on Assange's behalf. Assange's brother, Gabriel Shipton, also spoke to the crowd, and there were live video messages by linguist and activist Noam Chomsky, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, and an audio message from imprisoned activist Mumia Abu Jamal — who began speaking out on Assange's behalf in 2020.
As NBC Bay Area reports, Shipton spoke about the U.S. needing to regain the "moral high ground" by lifting the extradition request, saying that U.S. leaders and diplomats often "get Assange thrown back in their faces" when they're trying to push for the release of other political prisoners.
And Chomsky said that Assange ought to be hailed as a hero rather than vilified and prosecuted for releasing details the public deserved to know about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This gross miscarriage of injustice prolonged over many cruel years should be ended at once," Chomsky said. "Julian Assange should not only be free, but should be accorded the great respect that he originally deserves for his contributions."
Ellsberg, who once faced a 115-year prison sentence for the Pentagon Papers release, said, "I was the first to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for giving information to the American public in order to reveal war crimes, crimes against peace, deceptions of the public."
Noting Assange's possible 175-year sentence if he is tried in a U.S. court, Ellsberg said, "Essentially the same charges that I faced exactly, and as wrongly based and unconstitutional in my own case."
Walker has supported some other controversial figures in recent years in the name of being an anti-war activist — including British conspiracy theorist David Icke and his book And the Truth Shall Set You Free, which includes what many have called anti-Semitic lies about the Jewish people in world history.
In supporting Assange, Walker compared him to John Brown during an online event last year, saying, "They hide these people from us, in this very way they're doing with Julian Assange — they lock them away, they kill them."
On Saturday, Walker compared Assange's humor and spirit to that of Mumia Abu Jamal, saying, "At some point, I suppose, you have to have some humor or you just die."
Here's video of the whole event:
Top photo of Alice Walker with Gabriel and John Shipton by Laila Wair.