Singer MIA becomes Julian Assange’s latest celebrity supporter as she visits the WikiLeaks founder and ‘demands’ he is released from Belmarsh prison – after revealing she has been ‘trying to send him yoga books for a month’
- The musician, 44, said she believes Assange is being discriminated against
- Assange’s other celebrity visitors include Ai Weiwei and Pamela Anderson
- He was jailed 50 weeks in May for breaching bail and faces extradition to the US
The singer MIA has demanded the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after visiting him in London’s high security Belmarsh prison.
The rapper and songwriter is one of a number of celebrity supporters who have been to see Assange since he was sent to HMP Belmarsh, London, earlier this year.
Assange has been told he has to stay in prison despite completing his sentence – because officials fear he could flee before they extradite him to the US.
The 48-year-old will remain at Belmarsh until he is sent back to America to face computer-hacking allegations.
He had previously spent seven years in the Ecuadorean embassy in the capital to avoid extradition.
The singer MIA has demanded the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after visiting him in London’s high security Belmarsh prison
Assange was jailed for 50 weeks in May for breaching bail after being dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy when their government withdrew their permission for him to be there
Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order in June allowing Assange to be extradited.
He was then jailed for 50 weeks in the UK after he jumped bail by going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The WikiLeaks founder was due to be released from Belmarsh on September 22 but was told at a court hearing last month that he would be kept in jail because of ‘substantial grounds’ for believing he would abscond.
The 48-year-old appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via video-link from Belmarsh prison on Friday for a brief hearing, where he was told by deputy senior district judge Tan Ikram that he would remain in custody ‘for the same reasons as before’.
Mr Ikram told Assange that he would be required to attend a further case management hearing in person on October 21.
A final hearing in Assange’s extradition case is due to take place in February.
The 44-year-old musician, whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, was spotted leaving the prison
She said that she believes that Assange is being discriminated against as he is currently facing extradition to the US
She was asked by reporters who had gathered outside how the 48-year-old whistleblower was faring
The 44-year-old musician, whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, was spotted leaving the prison and was asked how the whistleblower was faring.
She said: ‘It’s difficult to describe… he shouldn’t be in there.
‘I think when you know there are people outside who are criminals, and you are inside for advocating peace, while people profiting from war outside are being celebrated… it hurts.’
MIA said she believes that 48-year-old Assange is being discriminated against.
MIA (pictured) is just one of Assange’s celebrity supporters to have visited him
She added: ‘I’ve been trying to give a yoga book to him for a month now and I come here every week trying to give him it and it’s impossible.
‘It’s very difficult even to get books in.
‘To me that’s a very extreme method, where [prisoners] are denied even reading books.
‘I wasn’t allowed to bring in sketchbooks for him to write the thoughts in his head or draw.
‘I first thought that all prisoners are treated like that, where they’re not able to have any dignity or own the space in between their ears.
‘I can sympathise with people who think he’s being treated unfairly… I think there is an element of discrimination.
‘The bottom line is he’s in there [in jail] because he exposed some war crimes.
‘We cannot make this an example for society where we penalise people for that.’
Assange’s other famous visitors have included artist Ai Weiwei and actress Pamela Anderson.
Ms Anderson, 52, recently took to day-time television to share her support for him.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain from Vancouver, she said: ‘He needs to be set free.
‘He’s an Australian in the UK waiting for a US extradition.
‘He was right seeking asylum because everything he said was going to happen, happened.’
Baywatch star Pamela Anderson was also pictured visiting Assange at the prison in May 2019