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Protesters Confront Blinken over Julian Assange Extradition and Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

HeadlineMay 04, 2023

Protesters have confronted Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the Biden administration’s prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and for failing to condemn the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by an Israeli military sniper last year while reporting from the occupied West Bank. Wednesday’s protest was led by CodePink’s Medea Benjamin, who interrupted Washington Post columnist David Ignatius as he interviewed Blinken in a forum marking World Press Freedom Day.

Medea Benjamin: “Excuse us. We can’t use this day without calling for the freedom of Julian Assange.”

Security: “You’ve got to go. Come on, you’ve got to go.” 

Medea Benjamin: “The Biden administration” — 

At this point the live stream went silent, as Medea Benjamin hooked her leg around Blinken’s chair while security pulled her off the stage.

Medea Benjamin: “Stop the extradition request” —

Protester: “Two hours and not one word about Shireen Abu Akleh!”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “Take it easy. Take it easy. Take it easy, guys.”

Protester: “Not one word about journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was murdered” —

David Ignatius: “So” —

Protester: — “by the Israeli occupation” —

David Ignatius: “So” —

Protester: — “forces in Palestine! Not one word about Julian Assange!

David Ignatius: “We’re here to celebrate freedom of expression, and we just experienced it.”

Reporters Without Borders warns 2023 is among the worst years on record for journalists worldwide, with seven media workers killed since January 1 and 563 detained or in prison.

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