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Ben & Jerry’s co-founder arrested at Assange vigil

Activists gathered in Washington to demand the release of the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher

Businessman Ben Cohen and several CodePink activists were arrested on Thursday outside the US Department of Justice, after demanding the release of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange from a British jail.

“Unless things change, and unless we change them, freedom of the press is going up in smoke,” Cohen told the small group of activists gathered outside the DOJ building, before setting fire to a prop labeled ‘The Bill of Rights’.

“There is no democracy without the freedom of the press, because the press is the only thing that can hold the government accountable,” he added.


Cohen demanded to meet with Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss the ongoing imprisonment of Assange. After being told he did not have an appointment, he sat down at the entrance to the building and refused to leave. He was then arrested by Homeland Security police.

The protest also featured a billboard with a quote from Assange, reading “Censorship is for losers,” mounted on a truck that parked on the street outside the DOJ.


Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison in south London since April 2019, after Ecuador canceled his asylum under pressure from the US. He had spent almost seven years in the embassy of the Latin American country, seeking refuge from trumped-up Swedish charges he called a front for US persecution.

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After his arrest, Washington unsealed a years-old indictment charging the WikiLeaks publisher under the Espionage Act for the 2010 publication of Iraq and Afghanistan war documents. Among the trove was the notorious ‘Collateral Murder’ video showing the US military killing civilians, as well as other classified documents. If extradited and convicted, Assange faces up to 175 years behind bars.


A number of foreign leaders, media figures and even prominent members of the ruling Democrats have called on US President Joe Biden to drop the charges against Assange, so far to no avail. 

Cohen and his business partner Jerry Greenfield co-founded Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in 1978, with social justice as one of the company’s key values. He resigned as CEO in 1996 but remained on the governing board after the company was sold to the multinational Unilever in 2000. Cohen also continued with social activism, donating to the Democrats and supporting a variety of progressive causes in the US and abroad. 

July 07, 2023 at 02:41AM


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