Roger Waters participated in a pro-Julian Assange rally at London’s Home Office on Monday where he pressed for the release of the Wikileaks founder from prison and performed the 1975 Pink Floyd classic “Wish You Were Here.”
“How do we put ourselves in the position of a Julian Assange in solitary confinement,” he asked the crowd, “or with that kid in Syria or Palestine or Rohingya, being blown to bits by these people in this building here?”
Standing in front of a giant banner that read “Don’t Extradite Assange,” Waters also told an anecdote about his friend, a Junior Minister in the office of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was sent to the airport to meet former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s.
“President Gorbachev would like to know your opinion on the following question,” his friend was asked. “What do you think would have been different in world history if President Khrushchev was assassinated rather than President Kennedy?” His friend had no idea how to answer the question and several uncomfortable minutes passed before Gorbachev provided the punchline: “President Gorbachev believes it unlikely that Mr. [Aristotle] Onassis would have married Mrs. Khrushchev.”
This was a long-winded buildup to Waters saying he was going to visit with Gorbachev in October. “He’s getting to be very old now and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for understanding some of these things we’re sharing here together outside of our dilapidated, miscreant Home Office,” Waters said. “I will shut up now and sing this song.”
“Wish You Were Here” was written in tribute to the late Syd Barrett, but Waters dedicated this version to Assange. The Wikileaks founder was arrested at London’s Ecuadorean embassy in April after living there for seven years. He was charged with conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network in 2010. He’s also been accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden; a charge he has denied.
Assange is currently being held at a HM Prison Belmarsh in London as he awaits a full extradition hearing, which is due to take place in February 2020.
Waters, meanwhile, has kept a low profile since his Us + Them tour wrapped last December after playing 157 gigs around the world. On October 2nd and 6th, a film of the tour will play at movie theaters across America.