Musicians, MPs to lead UK Assange rally

Musicians including Pink Floyd's Roger Waters will rally for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Musicians including Pink Floyd's Roger Waters will rally for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Musicians and politicians are planning to lead thousands of supporters of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a march and rally in central London to oppose his extradition to the United States.

Assange's father, John Shipton, and couturier Vivian Westwood are among the scheduled speakers, while singer Chrissie Hynde and Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters are expected to perform at the event.

Activists plan global protests on Monday to coincide with the opening of Assange's US extradition hearing in London.

In an open letter to US President Donald Trump this week, Hynde said she wanted to "protest further punishment of a man who sought to defend freedom, albeit in a way you rightly disagree with."

"I know Mr Assange broke the law (as I have done defending the treatment of animals) but I believe he has been duly punished and should now be set free," she wrote via Twitter.

Tim Dawson of the National Union of Journalists, which also supports Saturday's protest, said it was "troubling" that Assange's case had not raised more concern from the British media.

"If his deportation to the United States is successful, the implications for media freedom are profound," Dawson said.

The US Justice Department said it charged Assange with conspiring with former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak a trove of classified material in 2010.

Manning was jailed for seven years for leaking documents, including State Department cables and military videos, to WikiLeaks to draw the public's attention to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Australian Associated Press