The response to Julian Assange’s plight from both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor Leader Bill Shorten sadly identifies two weak leaders subservient to the military industrial complex and Anglo-American establishment. Any Australian leader with a conscience would condemn the unjust incarceration of Assange and his planned extradition to the United States. Contrary to misinformation from corporate media, Assange has committed no crime and has been illegally detained without charge. In revealing war crimes, global corruption and human rights abuses, Assange has risked his life and sacrificed his freedom so the public can know the truth.
Morrison has washed his hands saying Assange will get no special treatment and Shorten even told a crowd last Saturday, “I don’t know if Assange was a journalist”. What utter nonsense! Assange won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism. Just this week Assange has been awarded the 2019 GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders of the Right to Information, an award sponsored by European parliamentarians after being established in 2018 in honour of assassinated Maltese journalist Daphne Galizia. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire will accept the award on behalf of Julian Assange.
Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno violated his own country’s constitution on 11 April to turn Julian Assange over to the United Kingdom for US extradition. Former President of Ecuador Rafael Correa (2007-17) says his country’s abandonment of Assange is “the biggest betrayal in Latin American history”. In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, Correa stated the facts. “It’s incredible. We cannot imagine something like this. It’s against international law; it’s against the institution of asylum; it’s against the Ecuadorian constitution, especially because since last year, Julian Assange has had Ecuadorian citizenship.”
War crimes exposed
Assange’s “crime” is to have conspired with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US Army, in releasing computer files including video evidence that documented mountains of actual crimes, which US authorities attempted to suppress.
One video, titled “Collateral Murder”, showed the US aircrews of two Apache helicopters on 12 July 2007 laughing after slaughtering a dozen innocent people, after dishonestly alleging to have encountered a firefight. Among the dead were two Reuters news employees, driver and camera assistant Saeed Chmagh and freelance photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, who was considered one of the best photographers in Iraq. Reuters demanded an investigation and in August 2007 used the Freedom of Information Act to request a copy of the video evidence taken from the primary helicopter involved in the attack. The US military withheld key information and video evidence on the grounds that it was classified. After WikiLeaks obtained and decrypted the video, it is clear why it was suppressed. The vision is sickening and clearly shows the innocent people posed no threat to the Apaches. Moreover, as the helpless victims picked up the dead and wounded, the Apache crew came back for second shots. Upon discovering children were in the firing line, did the US aircrew show remorse? Not at all. “Well it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle”, says one.
Other files revealed killings of hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan whose deaths, if not for WikiLeaks, would be otherwise airbrushed from history. And Assange exposed Hillary Clinton as the primary architect of the war in Libya, and released transcripts of her closed-door speeches to Goldman Sachs for which the bank paid her US$675,000—a payoff for her opposition to restoring the Glass-Steagall separation of banks perhaps?
In a 14 April Consortium News article, “The Martyrdom of Julian Assange”, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges makes clear the significance of Assange’s revelations: “WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organisation. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Edward Snowden, who made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Assange was on a US ‘manhunt target list’.”
The fraud of ‘British justice’
Prime Minister Theresa May cheered Assange’s arrest last week, saying it showed that in Britain “no one is above the law”—while the architect of the illegal invasion of Iraq and its subsequent war crimes, Tony Blair, walks free. At Westminster Magistrates Court, District Judge Michael Snow said Assange’s “behaviour is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests”.
Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray slammed the British show trial: “District Judge Michael Snow is a disgrace to the bench who deserves to be infamous well beyond his death. He displayed the most plain and open prejudice against Assange in the 15 minutes it took for him to hear the case and declare Assange guilty last week, in a fashion which makes the dictators’ courts I had witnessed, in Ibrahim Babangida’s Nigeria or Islam Karimov’s Uzbekistan, look fair and reasonable, in comparison to the gross charade of justice conducted by Michael Snow.”
Judge Snow appeared to be parroting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who in 2017, as then director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), called Assange “a narcissist who has created nothing of value”. Pompeo at the time said “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service”.
Why did President Moreno breach his country’s constitution in turning over Assange? The most plausible explanation centres on US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Ecuador last year. Pence raised the issue of Assange’s asylum status, and curiously soon after, Ecuador became the beneficiary of a US$4.2 billion IMF loan.
Swedish rape allegations
Establishment British media still deceptively claim Assange is “facing rape and sexual assault allegations in Sweden”, even though the case was closed nearly two years ago. Craig Murray among others has extensively documented the rape and sexual molestation charges against Assange. Stockholm’s senior prosecutor Eva Finne found on 25 August 2010 that the conduct alleged by the police “disclosed no crime at all”. Swedish prosecutors dropped the rape investigation in May 2017 following years of political pressure from US and UK authorities to keep the case open.
The rape allegations are farcical beyond belief! For example, SMS messages sent on 20 August 2010 from the alleged complainant Sofia Wilen, while at the police station, show that she “did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange” but that “the police were keen on getting their hands on him”. The following day Wilen texted that it was the “police who made up the charges”.
Australians must take action
Australian politicians need to demand justice. Julian Assange is after all, an Australian citizen. US Democratic Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard and UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have taken a more principled stand in their opposition to Assange’s extradition to the USA. Australians must speak out while we still can.