Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, was apprehended on Thursday in Washington, DC during a demonstration backing the release of Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange.
Cohen, from the famous ice cream company in Vermont, criticized the American government’s legal action against Assange as an assault on journalistic liberty near the Department of Justice establishment, accompanied by the feminist advocacy organization CODEPINK.
Cohen and Jodie Evans, a co-founder of CODEPINK, were apprehended for obstructing the entrance to the Department of Justice (DOJ) structure. They positioned themselves in front of the pathway, impeding access for close to 60 minutes despite the heavy rainfall. This incident was captured on video.
During the beginning of the protest demonstrations, the ice cream co-founder ignited a “Freedom of the Press” sign on aflame while stated: “Freedom of the press is going up in smoke.”
“There’s no democracy without freedom of the press because the press is the only thing that can hold government accountable. And there’s no freedom of the press as long as Assange is being prosecuted,” Ben Cohen stated.
52-year-old Assange is presently incarcerated at Belmarsh Prison, a maximum-security jail located in London’s southeast area. He is awaiting to be extradited to the United States where he faces charges under the Espionage Act.
“It’s outrageous. Julian Assange is nonviolent. He is presumed innocent, and yet somehow or other, he has been imprisoned in solitary confinement for four years. That is torture,” Ben Cohen doth protest. “He revealed the truth, and for that, he is suffering and we need to do whatever we can to help him,” he added.
The founder of WikiLeaks has been charged with 18 unlawful counts following the release of numerous classified files concerning Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq War from 2010 to 2011.
Assange is facing upwards of 175 years behind bars if he’s found guilty.
A multitude of journalists have condemned the trial of Assange as a strike against the free and open press.
Cohen, recognized for his advocacy and having previously gained attention for his progressive perspectives, traveled to Washington, D.C., seemingly anticipating his apprehension.
“If you’re trying to fight an issue of injustice, you can scream and yell, you can write, but the ultimate thing you can do is get arrested for it, to disobey the unjust law. So that’s what I’m doing and I feel good about it,” Ben Cohen said to a reporter while sitting in the pathway that leads to the entrance of the DOJ structure.
Cohen subsequently mentioned that he and Evans were set free by law enforcement following a detention period of approximately three hours, as mentioned in a Twitter post.
UPDATE: Jodie and I have been released from police custody after being held for ~3hrs. It's time for @POTUS to follow thru with his promise — Journalism is NOT a crime. #Dropthecharges and #FreeAssange pic.twitter.com/3960AJZurb
— Ben Cohen (@YoBenCohen) July 6, 2023
Earlier this week, Ben & Jerry’s shared a courageous message on Independence Day, asserting that the United States was established on stolen territory which the nation ought to give back. This declaration ignited a surge of debates in the replies, with some supporting the viewpoint and others demanding a boycott.