The Belmarsh Tribunal comes to Capitol Hill on 20 January 2023 to hear expert testimony from journalists, whistleblowers, lawyers, publishers, and parliamentarians on assaults to press freedom and the First Amendment of the US Constitution
From Ankara to Manila to Budapest, state actors are cracking down on journalists, their sources, and their publishers in a globally coordinated campaign to disrupt the public’s access to information and shut off their sources of dissent.
A landmark case in this campaign is that of Julian Assange, the publisher who founded WikiLeaks, exposed crimes by the United States government, and now faces 175 years in prison if extradited from the Belmarsh Prison where he is currently held in the United Kingdom. Assange’s case is the first time in history that a publisher has been indicted under the Espionage Act.
Inspired by the Russell-Sartre Tribunals of the Vietnam War, the Belmarsh Tribunal brings together a range of expert witnesses – from constitutional lawyers, to acclaimed journalists and human rights defenders – to present evidence of this attack on publishers and to seek justice for the crimes they expose.
Since its first sitting in October 2020, the Belmarsh Tribunal has since traveled to London and New York with members such as President Lula da Silva, whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
The Washington D.C. Tribunal — organized by the Progressive International in partnership with the Wau Holland Foundation — will be held at the National Press Club, where Assange first premiered Collateral Murder, the leaked video documenting war crimes committed by the United States Army in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah, Iraq.
The Tribunal will be co-chaired by Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman and philosopher Srećko Horvat.
Members of the Tribunal include: Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, human rights attorney Steven Donziger, former CIA official Jeffery Sterling, parliamentarian Jeremy Corbyn, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Stefania Maurizi, publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, professor Noam Chomsky, Stella Assange, and many others.
Partners of the Tribunal include: Democracy Now!, Defending Rights & Dissent, Courage Foundation, DiEM25, The Intercept, The Nation, and PEN International.
Co-chair Srećko Horvat said:
“The First Amendment, Freedom of the press, and the life of Julian Assange are at stake. That’s why the Belmarsh Tribunal is landing literally just two blocks away from the White House next January. As long as the Biden administration continues to deploy tools like the Espionage Act to imprison those who dare to expose war crimes, no publisher and no journalist will be safe. Our tribunal is gathering courageous voices of dissent to demand justice for those crimes and to demand President Biden to drop the charges against Assange immediately.”
Human rights lawyer and former member of the Assange legal team Renata Ávila said:
“The Espionage Act is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation in the world: an existential threat against international investigative journalism. If applied, it will deprive us from one of our must powerful tools towards de-escalation of conflicts, diplomacy and peace. The Belmarsh Tribunal convenes in Washington to present evidence of this chilling threat, and to unite lawmakers next door to dismantle the legal architecture that undermines the basic right of all peoples to know what their governments do in their name.”