As a father dedicated to freeing his son, the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the world’s most famous political prisoner, John Shipton embodies the mantra at the heart of a new documentary: “A father, a family, a fight for justice.”
That documentary chronicling Shipton’s years-long efforts is called “ITHAKA” – a reference to a Greek poem emphasizing that it’s the journey not the destination. It screens Thursday at the Salem Film Festival (salemfilmfest.com) which seems an all too appropriate setting for Assange, 51, held since 2019 in a London prison and whose supporters see him as the victim of a 21st century witch hunt.
Shipton, 78 and Australian, is actively trying to help his son who for the last four years has been kept in solitary confinement in Belmarsh prison, diagnosed as depressed and considered potentially suicidal. Assange is the first publisher ever to be accused of espionage, a charge that threatens the guarantee of the United States Constitution’s First Amendment freedom of speech.
Is Assange’s argument for release a First Amendment issue or a medical one?
“The judge decided to release Julian from the extradition to the United States on medical issue. The United States Department of Justice appealed and won the appeal,” Shipton explained. “Now the defense have appealed and a judge is making a determination as to whether that appeal can go forward.
“I divide that into two elements,” he continued. “First, that First Amendment and the second is Human Rights and the application of due process. Eleanor Roosevelt founded the Universal Declaration of Human Rights back in 1948 at the United Nations. And of course, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is a treasure which must be held onto.”
What does Shipton hope this documentary may do?
“One is to bring the awareness of the film, to establish bonds with the people of the United States.
“The second is to bring attention to the public torture of a reporter and publisher, Julian, and the chilling effect that that’s having, to the attention to politicians and the executive branch. There’s considerable distance between what people understand as due process in the First Amendment and the actions of the National Security section.”
As Wikileaks’ publisher, Assange is facing a 175-year sentence.
“Julian has 126 awards for journalism. The publisher of the New York Times, along with other great legacy media news outlets, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Pais — all partners in the original publication — have signed a letter asking [Attorney General] Merrick Garland to drop the charges.”
As reported by Boston Herald
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Author: Amnon Jakony |
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