Two lawyers who represented WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange had died only a month apart.
First was John Jones, who died in an apparent suicide on April 2016. Then on May 2016, Michael Ratner, a 72-year-old civil and human rights attorney who represented the WikiLeaks founder in the U.S., also died.
Jones also worked with Assange alongside Hollywood actor George Clooney’s barrister wife, Amal Clooney. The 48-year-old lawyer left behind two sons, according to The Sun.
The apparent suicide was committed by the top lawyer when he jumped in front of a train in West Hamstead, which police do not consider suspicious. However, friends and family members are still wondering why Jones needed to kill himself. The apparent suicide got little media coverage. The question of why he committed suicide is still increasing in terms of intensity.
Jones was the head of international law at Doughty Chambers. According to Law Fuel, he was regarded highly for his academic and legal skills, as well as his commitment to justice and law.
As a lawyer, Jones specialized in extradition, war crimes, and counter-terrorism. He had been taking cases from the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Lebanon and Cambodia.
Ratner died leaving behind a legacy of advocacy for whistleblowers and U.S. government detainees. He was also a founding member of the Guantánamo Bay Bar Association, in which almost 500 attorneys provided pro-bono representation to detainees. It is known as “the largest mass defense effort in US history,” as reported by The Guardian.
“As an attorney, writer, speaker, educator, activist … Michael Ratner’s passion was not just for the law but for the struggle for justice and peace,” said the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“Michael dedicated his life to the most important fights for justice of the last half century.”
While working as a lawyer, Ratner had sued three U.S. presidents: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush. He served a passionate argument for the impeachment of former President Bush for illegal surveillance, torture, misinforming Congress about the Iraq war, and defying the constitution’s separation of powers.
About Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, Ratner said, “[They] did their civic duty by disclosing information on government overreaching. They all exhibited great moral courage in doing so. And they all deserve far more than unfair imprisonment and exile for the service they have done for the American people and for people all around the world.”