by Ceren Sagir
LABOUR MPs Richard Burgon and Diane Abbott handed a letter to the governor of HMP Belmarsh yesterday, demanding permission for a meeting with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
The two socialist MPs joined Mr Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris outside the prison to deliver the letter on behalf of a parliamentary working group.
Mr Assange remains locked up at the Covid-hit south London prison pending an appeal after he beat an extradition case brought by the US.
But the journalist continues to face up to 175 years in jail if convicted of espionage in a US court, after revealing the country’s war crimes.
He has already spent two years in jail since he was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019 and has had bail requests denied three times.
Visits to Belmarsh have been limited due to Covid-19 restrictions.
On June 20, Ms Moris was able to visit Mr Assange, along with their two young sons, for the first time in eight months.
Mr Burgon, who co-ordinated the cross-party letter, said: “Julian Assange’s case has huge implications for press freedom in the UK and for the US-UK extradition treaty.
“It’s in the public interest that British parliamentarians are able to discuss these issues with Julian Assange.
“That the authorities have repeatedly stopped an online meeting going ahead speaks volumes.
“The Justice Secretary [Robert Buckland] and prison governor [Rob Davis] must now put a stop to their intransigence and allow it to go ahead without further delay.”
The letter is signed by 20 parliamentarians including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy, John McDonnell, Zarah Sultana, Caroline Lucas, Claudia Webbe and members of the House of Lords.