" If wars can begin with lies, peace can begin with truth "
Julian Assange, Trafalgar Square October 8, 2011
Julian Assange is an Australian-born journalist, computer scientist, and cyber activist. He is known as WikiLeaks’s founder, editor, and spokesperson. WikiLeaks is a multinational media organisation that publishes "classified" or otherwise restricted documents from anonymous sources.
In 2010, after revelations about the United States (U.S.) military and diplomatic activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, Assange found himself at the heart of an international politico-judicial affair that deprived him of his freedom. Initially placed on probation, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012 to 2019 and was ultimately incarcerated in the high-security prison of Belmarsh. This detention, which has lasted for 12 years, has been considered arbitrary since 2015 by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Opinion No. 54/2015).
Since 2018, the U.S. has requested his extradition on an indictment for various charges, mostly related to the highly contested Espionage Act (see the indictment).
However, all indicate that the trial he will undergo will not comply with international human rights standards. He faces a 175-year sentence — in reality, perpetual and incompressible — which would constitute an inhuman and degrading treatment according to the accepted human rights standards. He will likely be subject to ill-treatment and torture during his U.S. detention, both pre-trial and after his conviction.
In June 2022, the British government approved the extradition request. Julian Assange remains in prison in Belmarsh pending the outcome of the appeal proceedings.
“The Assange case is the story of a man who is being persecuted and abused for exposing the dirty secrets of the powerful, including war crimes, torture and corruption. It is a story of deliberate judicial arbitrariness in Western democracies that are otherwise keen to present themselves as exemplary in the area of human rights. It is a story of wilful collusion by intelligence services behind the backs of national parliaments and the general public. It is a story of manipulated and manipulative reporting in the mainstream media for the purpose of deliberately isolating, demonizing, and destroying a particular individual. It is the story of a man who has been scapegoated”
Nils Melzer, former Special Rapporteur on Torture of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, The Assange Affair, History of a Political Persecution, Critique Eds, 2022, p. 9.
Our odysseyOur Odyssey begins with a simple question to those around us and beyond: "Who is Julian Assange? ».
We found that his story was falling into oblivion or even evaporating into the image of a controversial figure. Yet it seemed to us that his story questioned the limits of our democracies. Sometimes we are confronted with unfounded, unproven, prejudiced or false beliefs and how we react to them makes the people we are.
With the Wikileaks project, state secrets that can be qualified as war crimes, torture and corruption have become known to the broad public. This work of "historian of the present", as the philosopher Geoffroy De Lagasnerie calls it, has denied Julian Assange of his freedom for now so many years.
Working with the facts and fantasies making his story, and trying to differentiate and understand them, we wanted to understand the reasons for people's support or ignorance towards him.By informing ourselves, focusing on the hard facts, we have taken the measure of the complexity of the political and legal situation Assange is in, and we want to invite a diverse and broad public to make this journey with us.
A theatre forumOur theatre forum was born from the desire to tell the story of a controversial man - a high-tech terrorist for some, a revolutionary hero for others - and then to question what he actually represents in a much broader scale.
Both a tragic and an exemplary figure, we wanted to bring together in the same space witnesses/experts and artists who would meet to tell the story of Julian Assange in all its complexity and confront the image we have of him with the concrete facts. For us, this forum is a place to construct a narrative, "an institute of history(s) and documentation" to quote the words of director Milo Rau, whose work has inspired us.
We do not claim to be neutral or exhaustive and we have no intention of substituting ourselves for the state or the international justice system that will deal with this case. It is a challenge to go beyond the strictly political and/or legal framework in order to create a cultural work, even more so when it is directly linked with current events. The difficulty is to deal with a situation that is taking place in the present time and whose political and judicial outcome is not yet known. The creation of a forum for the theatre seemed to us the most obvious solution to work around this dilemma.
At the crossroads of documentary theatre and an academic conference, our forum attempts to open up a public debate through a vehicle in which witnesses are invited to share their expertise and testimony with the public, who are in turns invited to participate actively in the process.
Actress, playwright and project designerShe practiced criminal and asylum and immigration law as a researcher and lawyer at the Brussels Bar before changing direction. While studying drama, she co-founded the feminist association Fem&L.A.W. She now devotes herself entirely to her artistic projects.
Playwright and directorDirector of VILLA by Guillermo Calderon, Les enivrés by Ivan Viripaev, The two-character play by Tennessee Williams, Knives in the chickens by David Harrower, The three sisters or adaptation of the loss after Anton Chekhov. She collaborated on the writing of An Irish Story by Kelly Rivière and on the direction of Tigrane by Jalie Barcilon. She is working on a dissertation on Karl Polanyi's work, The Great Transformation. She teaches theater pedagogy at the Cours Florent in Brussels.
Director, photographer and graphic designerShe has collaborated with different artists and actors of the performing arts, Jérémie Bossone, Thierry Smits, Émilie Maréchal, Sarah Siré, Natalie Yalon, Iannis Heaulme, Stijn Kuppens, Tcha Limberger, Celso y Frana, Alain Braulio, Samuel Dellicour, Michaël Grébil, Maria Jose Parga, as well as Institutions: AKDT, Supervlieg, Carthago Delenda Est, De Pianofabriek, Poësie Parcours, Festival Troubles, Cours Florent, Cie Thor. She has directed short films, music videos and commercials, as well as the theatrical feature film Les Enivrés by Ivan Viripaev, directed by Sarah Siré in 2021.
Web developer and 3D designer
Curator of artistic projects and production managerHe is a member of the curators' platform Komplot, and collaborates with Elsa Poisot, Virginie Strub, Adeline Rosenstein, Ayelen Parolin, Emilie Maréchal, Véronique Boudier, Carole Louis, Michael Grébil, Sarah Siré, Agostina d'Allessandro, Michael Hottier and Aurélien Oudot. He has worked as an administrator for the Compagnie Thor with choreographer Thierry Smits and curator Antoine Pickels. Responsible for the exhibition Zo veel Many Trees / Abattre with the collective of creators at LaVallée. He is currently working on the development of the non-profit organization Pola, committed to the realization of cultural events in phase with the problems of the contemporary world.
Actress, former lawyer and economist, production and communication managerAfter studying law and economics in Toulouse, Léa worked for several years in the Belgian law firm Daldewolf. At the same time, Léa pursued her acting training at the Cours Florent in Brussels where she met Sahra Datoussaid and assisted Sarah Siré as well as other teachers and directors. As an actress, she participates in various artistic projects both in film and on stage and teaches theater to teenagers. Recently, she has been working with Pola asbl on the production and communication of its projects.
- Nils Melzer - Ancien rapporteur NU - Porte parole de la Croix rouge
- Renaud Herbin - Directeur du TJP-CDN
- Stanislas Nordey - Directeur du TNS - Théâtre National de Strasbourg
- Dominique Pradalié - Présidente de la FIJ - Fédération Internationale des Journalistes
- Milo Rau - Directeur du théâtre NTGent, écrivain et metteur en scène
- Katia Roux - Amnesty France
- Cédric Villani - Mathématicien et homme politique français
- Brian Eno - Musicien