On June 14, 2019, a judge in London ruled in favor of an extradition hearing for Julian Assange. Assange is set to appear before a British court in February 2020 in a hearing on whether the WikiLeaks founder should be extradited to the U.S. on 18 counts of espionage. He is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison in southeast London for bail violations after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations in 2012. At that time, Assange claimed that Sweden’s real motivation was to send him to the United States for criminal prosecution in retaliation for his exposure of U.S. government activity.
For more on Julian Asssange’s work, see the section entitled What is Wikileaks? below; for more on the rape allegations against Assange in Sweden, see the section entitled Manipulation of a Serious Offense.
Following the June 14 hearing, officials at Southwark Crown Court, where Assange was jailed for a bail breach, confirmed an appeal had been lodged against the sentence. Assange had spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being handed over to British authorities. On April 11, 2019, the Ecuadorian government allowed British police to enter its embassy and arrest him. He is now in a hospital inside a British maximum-security prison due to his failing health, the result of seven years under de facto house arrest inside the Ecuadorian embassy. Under direction of the U.S. government, British police denied medical care to properly treat Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy and denied him the freedom to seek medical treatment. As of this week, Assange’s condition has not yet improved.
Meanwhile, a friend of Assange, Swedish programmer and data privacy activist Ola Bini, was arrested in Ecuador, where he currently resides, on April 11, the same day Assange was taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Bini has been jailed ever since without charges. For more about Bini, click here.
Julian Assange had been welcomed and offered unlimited asylum inside Ecuador’s British embassy for the better part of a decade while the country was led by a social democrat, former president Rafael Correa. So what changed in Ecuador’s politics? Spoiler: Capitalism.
In 2017, Lenín Moreno became president and immediately imposed austerity and deregulation on the Ecuadorian people, attempting to reverse all progressive gains made during their Citizen’s Revolution.
Never passing up an opportunity to exploit a Latin American neighbor, the U.S. sent Vice President Mike Pence to meet with Moreno at this time last year. Immediately afterwards, Moreno received promises of millions in IMF loans if he would sell out his country, returning Ecuador to a neo-colony of the United States, once again fully dependent economically on the U.S and the World Bank. For more on Moreno, click here.
Moreno and Ecuador’s neoliberal politicians, however, are merely the symptom, not the cause. American capitalists pressured, bribed and coerced Moreno into expelling Assange from their embassy. The British government, always America’s junior partner in crime, immediately arrested Assange. They deliberately paraded him before press photographers as a threat (and an invitation) to those brave enough to challenge the declining U.S. empire.
Assange’s arrest nearly completes the United States’ nine-year project to systematically silence its most vocal public critics and whistleblowers.
Consider this statement entitled “Trump’s War on the Press” dated November 2, 2017, from Vietnam Era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on his website Ellsberg.net:
“ACLU lawyers believe Trump is likely to prosecute journalists and editors for publishing leaks of classified information, for the first time, using the Espionage Act. So far, the Espionage Act has been used for leaks to the American public only against government officials or former ones, of which I was the first, for the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
“There were only two other such prosecutions before Obama; he prosecuted nine cases, or three times [emphasis ours –Ed.] as many as all previous presidents together. It’s being taken for granted that Trump will follow Obama’s pattern, but also believed that he will go further to use the Act against reporters for the first time.
“The Supreme Court might (or might not) find this application unconstitutional under the First Amendment, though the plain language of the Act – which was meant for spies, not leakers, and used only for spies before my case – applies as well to anyone who copies, holds, or passes on information ‘related to the national defense’ including journalists, publishers (like Julian Assange or the New York Times) or even readers of the newspapers (!) as well as to officials.
“Even if the Court eventually ruled against the use of the Espionage Act in this application (as I believe they clearly should, on First Amendment grounds), the costly and stressful legal proceedings, perhaps taking years, would have a frigidly ‘cooling’ effect on the journalistic process.”
So what should be our response to the Obama and Trump Administrations “weaponizing” the public’s right to know?
The only thing Chelsea Manning is guilty of is providing evidence to the public. This is evidence which we should be using to put the U.S. military leadership on trial for committing war crimes against unarmed Iraqi citizens and for executing Reuters journalists. To date, none of the perpetrators recorded committing these crimes are in prison. But Manning is, now for the third time.
Assange did Daniel Ellsberg one better: In addition to publishing proof of crimes committed by the U.S. government, Wikileaks and Assange broke every major news story about crimes committed by the E.U., U.N., Britain, Syria and the Middle East, NATO, the Democratic Party in the U.S. and its leadership, the NSA and CIA, Chevron, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Chevron, DynCorp, Pfizer, Monsanto, international banking, and on and on. Let’s free Assange and put these world leaders on trial for crimes revealed in documents he published. To date, only he’s behind bars, not them.
Like Manning and Assange, Edward Snowden did the world’s working class a service by exposing global surveillance programs led by U.S. spy agencies. These programs continue to compile and retain personal information on innocent people and violate individuals’ right to privacy continuously, on a massive scale never before seen. He also revealed the complicity and full cooperation of telecommunications companies in assisting government spying on citizens electronically, without a court order or warrant and with no cutoff date (yet).
In crisis, opportunity
Rather than see this as a defeat or time to despair, let’s seize this as opportunity to organize, agitate and educate the masses in the U.S. to stand up and fight back!
Manning, Assange and Snowden have given us hard evidence. Let’s use it to take down the most politically powerful leaders of the world. It’s no wonder why capitalists worldwide are panicking as a result of whistleblowers’ actions. Let’s use this evidence and prosecute corrupt corporate leaders, jail war criminals and torturers and end government agencies spying on us all!
People in the U.S. and globally are protesting outside Australian, Swedish and British consulates and embassies. Join these protests. Write or go in person to offices of your mayor, governor, representatives and senators and demand they call for the immediate release of Assange and Manning. Demand all changes against them be dropped.
Join students organizing on their campuses around these issues. Join demos called by existing groups in solidarity with Assange and others. If none exist organize them and invite like-minded groups to join you.
Exercise your right to dissent! Teach the next generation to build the struggle as well! Never stop pressuring the U.S. government to pursue and jail the *actual* war criminals revealed by Snowden, Manning and Assange.
What is Wikileaks?
Founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, Wikileaks is an online publishing website, offering over 10 million uncensored, unrestricted materials to the Public free of charge and with a perfect record of authenticity.
For almost ten years, every major newspaper and news network cited Assange’s published documents as their source when “breaking” news previously verified as true and published by Wikileaks. Following the Democratic Party’s defeat in 2016, however, these very same news networks turned 180 degrees against Assange. Since his arrest, they have revealed their hypocrisy and opportunism by simultaneously vilifying Assange as “not a journalist” while halfheartedly “defending” journalism but convincing no one. For convincing arguments in opposition to the mainstream media hacks, please read “Top US Newsrooms Condemn Assange Indictment”.
The following are a few of Assange’s major public revelations. A complete list of Wikileaks revelations may be seen here.
- In 2007, the full text of the Guantanamo Bay Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedure manual, detailing how the U.S. government knowingly tortured prisoners.
- In 2010, the infamous “Collateral Murder” video which U.S. military refused to turn over to Reuters in spite of the military killing two of its journalists. Service member Chelsea Manning gave Assange this video which revealed to the public real-time, cockpit video evidence of U.S. soldiers laughing while targeting and killing civilians in Baghdad along with the aforementioned Reuters journalists.
- In 2010, the Gitmo Files, detailing the illegal, indefinite detention of 779 prisoners by the U.S. in its Guantanamo prison, including “hiding” tortured prisons from Red Cross inspectors.
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal final text, deliberately hidden from public until Assange’s publication.
- The DNC Leaks, 44,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee.
- The Podesta Emails, almost 60,000 emails from John Podesta, chairman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign detailing their sabotage of the Sanders campaign.
- Documents investigating the massive, joint spy operations by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, in cooperation with the United States National Security Agency (NSA).
- In 2017, the Yemen Files, over 500 documents from the U.S. embassy in Yemen, providing evidence of United States military operations in Yemen, including the arming, training and funding of Yemeni forces by the U.S. in the years leading up to that country’s war.
- Vault 7, Central Intelligence Agency documents revealing the indefinite spying programs carried out against innocent civilians inside and outside the U.S. without warrant, probable cause, oversight or ability to contest the accuracy of accumulated “secret” evidence.
Manipulation of a Serious Offense
Four months after publishing Chelsea Manning’s explosive, “Collateral Murder” video, Assange was picked up by Swedish police in 2010, following allegations of sexual misconduct in that country.
No matter if the accused is penniless and unknown, or is as rich and politically powerful as Donald Trump, Joe Biden or Bill Clinton, accusations of rape, sexual assault and misconduct must always be investigated thoroughly, swiftly and seriously.
With this in mind, and assuming Swedish police took their responsibilities seriously, Assange was detained and questioned. The police then released him and he was free to travel to Britain. Several months later, however, while still in Britain, the Swedish government issued a warrant for his arrest. This brings into question the motives of Swedish government in denying justice to the women who placed the original charges. Why did Swedish authorities refuse for seven years to conduct their investigation of Assange while he in the embassy, for that matter? This, in spite of Assange’s repeated requests they do so.
To make matters worse, how committed were the police, how interested in seeking justice for these women were they, when, in 2013, Sweden dropped charges against Assange? Shouldn’t this have been as widely (and monotonously) reported on by the U.S. press?
Rather than simply “seeing justice served” as the U.S. claims to be, it appears the true motivation is the exploitation of these women to achieve narrow political interests and to silence its critics in the process.
–written by Joe Delaplaine
Top image via NewMatilda.com;