Rome Is Making Julian Assange An Honorary Citizen, Insists He’s a Symbol of Free Speech

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Julian Assange is still in jail, in the high-security Belmarsh Prison in London since 2019, but his supporters are still honoring him.

Soon, Julian Assange will become a honorary citizen of Rome, with cross-party support. While in the US and Washington in particular he’s seen as a spy that put lives in danger by leaking military and diplomatic records, in Rome he’s seen as a symbol for free speech and an unjustly persecuted figure.

From a Reuters report:

“The motion to make him a citizen of the Eternal City was spearheaded by Raggi, from the left-leaning Five Star Movement, and won cross-party support. “Assange is a symbol of free speech which is essential for any genuine democracy,” Raggi, who ran Rome’s city hall between 2016 and 2021, told Reuters. “He has been deprived of his own liberty for years, in awful conditions, for doing his job as a journalist,” she said.

The motion was approved on Tuesday, kick-starting a process that Raggi said she hoped could be completed by Christmas but may take slightly longer. Other Italian cities have taken similar steps. The northern city of Reggio Emilia granted Assange citizenship last month, while Naples is set to follow shortly. “

As Reuter notes, if Assange is ever extradited to the US, he risks up to 175 years in a maximum-security prison.

Assange also has supporters in Australia. Earlier in September, a report revealed six Australian politicians plan to fly to the US in late October to plead with president Biden.

Among their concerns is the threat to journalists from further persecuting Assange, which could provide inspiration to countries like Russia and China.

From that report:

“You’ve got China chasing journalists around the world, and you’ve got the Russians who have recently arrested journalists,” Barns told Guardian Australia. “You’ve now got China using the Assange case as a sort of moral equivalence argument. So the message [of the Australian delegation] is going to be: this is very dangerous for journalists around the world and a race to the bottom that’s going on.”

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