Hundreds turn out in Barcelona to support Julian Assange
Wikileaks founder wanted by US authorities appeared in London court on first day of extradition hearing
Hundreds gathered in Barcelona’s Plaça Universitat on Monday evening to show their support for Julian Assange, who earlier in the day had appeared in court in London to face the first day of an extradition hearing to the US.
Among those represented at the demonstration were the civic group Catalan National Assembly and pro-independence political parties Junts per Catalunya, Esquerra Republicana and CUP.
Placards displayed messages of "freedom" and its Catalan equivalent "llibertat" while speeches talked of press freedom, democracy, freedom of expression and drew comparisons between Assange’s case and that of the jailed Catalan leaders.
US prosecutors want the the Wikileaks founder to face espionage charges, over major leaks of government secrets.
Exiled former president Carles Puigdemont was among those who tweeted his support for Assange, saying "without freedom of expression and freedom of press there is no democracy."
The case is expected to continue this week before being adjourned until May 18.
2017 independence referendum
President Quim Torra expressed his "solidarity and support" for Assange when the Australian was arrested in London in April 2019, having spent seven years seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy there.
Assange was one of the international public figures who supported the 2017 independence referendum and condemned the violent conduct of Spanish police during the vote, and in fact Assange’s comments on the referendum were replayed to the crowd during Monday evening's demonstration.