Singer hits out at ‘discrimination’ against Assange
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 – real name Mathangi Arulpragasam – is one of a number of celebrity supporters who have been to see Assange since he was sent to Belmarsh earlier this year after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in the capital to avoid extradition.
A s k e d h o w t h e whistleblower was faring, the 44-year-old musician said: “It’s difficult to describe ... he shouldn’t be in there.”
The singer said she believes Assange is being discriminated against.
“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,” she said.
“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,” she said.
“I can sympathise with people who think he’s being treated unfairly. I think there is an element of discrimination.”
She added: “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, was jailed for 50 weeks in May for breaching bail after he was dragged from the embassy in London when the Ecuadorian government withdrew permission for him to be there.
He had been due for release in September after serving half his sentence but has been remanded in custody while he awaits extradition to the US to face charges linked to his alleged computerhacking and unauthorised disclosure of national defence information.
He is due to face a full extradition hearing on February 25.
Concerned: singer MIA