Dame Vivienne Westwood protested the extradition of Julian Assange in London in a manner that instantly made headlines.
The famed 79-year-old fashion designer appeared outside the Old Bailey courthouse this morning dressed in a canary yellow suit and combat boots as she was lifted into a life-size birdcage. Secured by the help of bystanders, Westwood was suspended 10 feet in the air as she held a megaphone to speak out against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s potential extradition to the United States; a sign below her cage read “I Am Julian Assange.”
From her cage, Westwood exclaimed through her megaphone that she, too, is Julian Assange; the designer considered herself the canary in the cage, used by miners to detect poisonous gas when sent down into mines. “I am half poisoned already from government corruption and gaming of the system and legal system by governments,” said Westwood in a video shared by British journalist India Willoughby on Twitter.
Assange is being held in Belmarsh Prison in London and is set to face an extradition hearing in the United Kingdom on Sept. 7. If he is extradited to the U.S., he will be up against 17 charges under the Espionage Act as well as a conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge after thousands of classified documents were published on his site between 2010 and 2011. If he is extradited and then found guilty of the allegations, Assange could face up to 175 years in prison.
Westwood has never been one to shy away from the causes of social justice. The outspoken punk designer made the news in 2015 when she drove a military-style tank to former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s home as a protest against fracking. Last year, the bold fashion powerhouse used her fall ’19 collection to speak out against modern-age consumerism through statement-making designs.