German MPs protest Assange’s arrest outside London prison

Two far-left German MPs, Heike Hansel and Sevim Dagdelen of Die Linke had been due to meet their "friend" Assange in London's Ecuadoran embassy later on Monday. But they were in for a surprise.

German MPs protest Assange's arrest outside London prison
Sevim Dagdelen (Die Linke) standing outside of Belmarsh prison on Monday. Photo: DPA

Instead, following his expulsion and arrest last week, they protested outside the top-security Belmarsh prison in southeast London where he is being held, carrying placards demanding his release.

The WikiLeaks founder is in custody awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

SEE ALSO: German MP visits Assange in embassy

He was arrested at the embassy on Thursday after Ecuador revoked his asylum, and is now also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.

The US indictment charges Assange with “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010.

EU 'must take action'

Dagdelen urged Britain and the EU to block any extradition request.

“We call on the British government not to extradite Julian Assange to the USA.

“The European Union must take action to protect a politically-persecuted publisher and journalist,” said the German politician, calling on Spain and her home country to grant Assange asylum.

SEE ALSO: Assange: US marine spied on me in Berlin

Dagdelen said they were trying to see Assange in prison, but their application was “still pending”.

“I'm a friend of Julian Assange. He's a son, a father, a brother and a good friend,” said Dagdelen.

“His whole life he sacrificed for the truth.”

They also accused the Ecuadoran government of “engaging in a disinformation and slander campaign against Assange” after a series of reports emerged detailing his increasingly disfunctional relationship with embassy staff.

Belmarsh has frequently been used in high-profile national security cases, including that of former Finsbury Park Mosque hate preacher Abu Hamza, who now resides in a US “supermax” prison following extradition.

Radical cleric Anjem Choudary, who was convicted in 2016 of encouraging support for the Islamic State group, spent some of his sentence there.

Belmarsh earned the moniker “the UK's Guantanamo Bay” in the period following the 9/11 attacks after it was used to detain a number of people under anti-terror laws.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Why taxes on pensioners in Germany have risen up to 500 percent since 2010

The tax burden on pensioners has increased fivefold within ten years in some cases, according to figures released by the Finance Ministry on Wednesday.

Why taxes on pensioners in Germany have risen up to 500 percent since 2010
Photo: DPA

For example, new pensioners now have to pay €430 in income tax per year on a monthly gross pension of €1500, compared with €79 in 2010.

The figures were released on Wednesday, as part of an inquiry submitted to the Federal Ministry of Finance by Die Linke. 

READ ALSO: How to maximize your German pension – even if you plan to retire elsewhere

For an individual with a monthly gross pension of €1700, €294 was due at the start of pension payments in 2010. This year that figure has risen to €758.

If the monthly earnings were €2000, €679 in taxes would have been due in 2010. Now the figure has risen to €1326. 

Die Linke Left Party leader Dietmar Bartsch criticized the increasing pension taxation as a “de facto pension cut”.

Why is there an increase?

The sharp increase is due to a change which was introduced in 2005. Until then, a tax-free allowance of 50 percent of the pension was permitted. 

Since then, the tax rate on pensions has risen by two percentage points annually. 

Health and long-term care insurance contributions and some everyday expenses can also be claimed.

The tax becomes due when the total income of a pensioner exceeds the basic annual tax-free allowance (€9168 or €764 per month). The average monthly pension in 2018 was €1219.

“In the next few years, the tax burden for small and medium-sized pensions will continue to rise,” Barsch told DPA.

He called on Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (both SPD) to present a plan with significantly higher tax allowances to protect small and medium-sized pensions.

In 2015, a total of €34.65 billion in income tax was paid to the state by taxpayers with pension income.

There is currently a push around Germany to raise the pension age to 69, up from 67, in light of rising lifespans.

Read more of our coverage of pensions in Germany HERE


Tax burden – (die) Steuerbelastung, (die) Steuerlast 

Fivefold – um das Fünffache

due/payable – fällig

Pension contributions – (die) Rentenbeiträge

Basic tax-free allowance – (der) Grundfreibetrag

To deduct – abziehen 

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.