The United States and its vassal-state type allies the UK and Sweden have seemingly conspired to punish the WikiLeaks founder for exposing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dragged out of his embassy sanctuary ostensibly for jumping bail after seven long years of self-imposed isolation, Julian Assange is now incarcerated in Britain’s high-security Belmarsh prison.
Within hours of his court appearance the US produced an extradition request based on a newly-unsealed indictment alleging Assange had encouraged former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack Defence Department computers. Manning’s sentence was commuted but she has been rearrested for refusing to implicate Assange.
In an era when truth is subjective, it has not set him free. Lest we forget the same embarrassing revelations were also disseminated by the Guardian, the New York Times and others which coordinated with the journalist they now vilify.
A video of US helicopter pilots laughing and joking as they opened fire on unarmed Iraqis, among them two Reuters’ employees and a wounded man attempting to crawl to safety was aired on almost every major network, the same that now adopt holier than thou stances.
What happened to the BBC “Journalism is not a crime” campaign? They are keeping their distance just like candidate Trump who on multiple occasions expressed his love for WikiLeaks and now says the organisation is “not my thing”.
Worse, Assange has fallen foul of the ‘Me Too’ movement over the rape allegations. Swedish prosecutors who dropped the case two years ago are mulling reopening the file. Women’s groups say failing to send him to Sweden endorses ‘rape culture’. I’ve heard TV pundits falsely affirm that he “ran away” from Sweden to avoid arrest.
How about some facts! It was only after the two women met and swapped stories that they went to the police hoping to force him to take a test for HIV citing his failure to use protection considered ‘rape’ under Swedish law. One of the self-ascribed victims allowed him to remain as her guest. Text messages between the women indicate they did not want Assange charged; they simply wanted him to be tested. “It was the police who made up the charges,” wrote one. The Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne cancelled the arrest warrant stating, “No crime had been committed and there was no evidence of rape”. Assange was then free to travel.
Once he was in the UK, a different prosecutor filed a surprise extradition request. Assange smelled a rat when his offer to be interviewed in London was refused despite Swedish prosecutors regularly travelling to meet with suspects. Assange was arrested and kept in solitary confinement before receiving bail. It was his fear of being extradited to the US by Sweden that drove him to seek asylum, which was granted by the then president of Ecuador Rafael Correa who opened his embassy’s doors and approved Assange’s nationality application.
Correa is furious terming his successor, Lenin Moreno of being “the greatest traitor in Ecuadorean and Latin American history” for allowing the British police to enter the embassy. Lawyers assert that stripping an individual of asylum is illegal under international law.
A report in the New York Times asserts that Trump’s campaign chief Paul Manafort attempted to persuade Ecuador to hand over Julian Assange in 2017. Moreover in June last year, US Vice-President Mike Pence discussed the issue with President Moreno. “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward,” stated a White House official. Coincidentally, just days ago the IMF announced a $4.2 billion was being extended to Ecuador.
Following Ecuador’s change of government, the noose was tightened. Assange’s internet access was restricted. Visitors were denied. Complaints about his hygiene and his cat came thick and fast. His private conversations with his lawyers and doctors were spied upon.
Philosopher and historian Noam Chomsky says the arrest is scandalous. He cites the shocking extraterrestrial reach of the United States. “Why should the United States have the power to control what others are doing elsewhere in the world?” he asks. At least the US stands by its citizens arrested abroad! Conversely, Australia’s right-wing government has dumped one of its own.
The message is truth-tellers beware. No one can stand up against the gang of powers that be. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called upon Britain to release Assange from a situation of “arbitrary detention” while blaming Swedish prosecutors for a lack of due diligence. The ruling was rejected by the UK along with its reputation for justice and fair play. Only a British judge can save this truth warrior from years of hell. Pale, frail and with failing health, hasn’t he suffered enough?
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.