WikiLeaks demands answers as Twitter account is locked ahead of Assange extradition hearing

Photo by Simon Dawson/ Reuters: Outside the Magistrates Court where the Julian Assange extradition case is being heard

The following article was published in RT (17 February 2020) and deal with the ongoing on-going social media censorship being experienced by WikiLeaks and its founder.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson is seeking answers after the publisher’s official account was mysteriously locked, ahead of an extradition hearing for founder Julian Assange, who faces life in a US jail (or worse).

Hrafnsson claimed the @wikileaks Twitter account had been locked “shortly before Assange extradition hearing” and for no apparent reason, in a post from his personal account on Monday.

Lamenting he had been unable to “reach a human at Twitter” for answers, Hrafnsson tagged both the platform’s tech support and CEO Jack Dorsey.

The @wikileaks account’s most recent posts date back to February 9 and concern the dire precedent set by extraditing a publisher to stand trial on espionage charges.

Assange’s extradition hearing in the UK, which a court ordered to be split into two parts, is set to begin next week, while the second half is scheduled for May.

The publisher’s lawyers have complained that access to their client is being restricted, and Assange was only recently moved from solitary confinement at Belmarsh prison, after his fellow inmates staged a protest. The UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer has accused the UK government of contributing to Assange’s “psychological torture” after examining the activist last year.

Assange supporters flocked to Hrafnsson’s post to pile on Dorsey and Twitter, demanding to know why Assange’s rights – as an individual on the Council of Europe’s protected list, as well as a journalist – were not being respected.

The WikiLeaks account isn’t the first associated with Assange to be mysteriously frozen – Assange’s personal account was deleted, undeleted, and finally suspended, where it remains, while he was still under siege at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

 There does seem to be a coordinated campaign to memory-hole the WikiLeaks founder, who has been pursued by the US government for over a decade for publishing its deepest darkest secrets, and who faces a potential 175-year prison sentence if extradited from the UK.

Media reports on press freedom have conspicuously avoided all mention of the incarcerated publisher, while a “media freedom” conference held in London last year also avoided mention of the elephant in the room. 

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