Reprinted from the Black Agenda Report
Julian Assange is one of the political prisoners that the US claims not to have. The UK is again the good vassal, keeping him locked up until the Biden administration finds an opportune time to ship him off to a kangaroo court. Everyone who believes in press freedom and who opposes imperialism must be a staunch Assange defender.
December 10 is International Human Rights Day. It is always a sham holiday for the United States, which locks up its own people at rates exceeding those of every other country, and routinely makes war against the rest of the world. In 2021 the date was treated as even more of a mockery than in the past. Joe Biden convened a bizarre democracy summit, wherein he declared other nations good or bad based on whether they go along with the dictates of the U.S. empire. Although it was in London where the U.S. behaved in a particularly shameful manner, working with the United Kingdom to secure the right to extradite Julian Assange.
In 2018 Assange was indicted in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, a hanging court where acquittals are rare. His offense is one that the system will not tolerate. Over a period of years his organization, Wikileaks, revealed U.S. crimes committed around the world.
Assange ran afoul of four different U.S. presidents, republicans and democrats alike. Wikileaks revealed war crimes committed during the George W. Bush administration in their Iraq War Logs and Afghanistan War Logs. Private Chelsea Manning leaked the Collateral Murder video, which shows the deaths of civilians, including two Reuters reporters, as they were gunned down by a U.S. army helicopter crew in 2007.
Collateral Murder was released in 2010 when Barack Obama was president. All of the purported differences between democrats and republicans disappear when U.S. hegemony is in need of protection. Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, confirmed that Assange was under investigation. While the Justice Department ultimately chose not to indict, they laid the groundwork for Donald Trump to make Assange a political prisoner. Obama’s unprecedented use of the Espionage Act sent other whistleblowers to jail and gave Trump license to get his hands on Assange. Joe Biden, following Trump policy, has continued the Assange persecution.
The Trump administration built on the work of the Obama DOJ and secured a 17-count indictment in 2018, with charges that could result in a 175-year sentence. Of course they didn’t stop with criminal charges, which were useless as long as the Ecuadorian government gave Assange sanctuary in its London embassy. The Trump administration secured a $4 billion IMF loan for Ecuador, just one month before Assange’s protections were lifted. The timing of the transaction and the arrest were clearly not coincidental.
It isn’t surprising that presidents wage war against the truth tellers of the world. What is especially disheartening is the way that journalists have abandoned Assange and turned into U.S. government spokespeople if they discuss his case at all.
Media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Guardian worked with Assange for years, printing Wikileaks revelations on a regular basis. Yet they have said little in his defense ever since he was arrested on April 11, 2019. Neither have the liberal elites, who parrot the falsehood that Assange is responsible for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat. According to democratic propagandists, Russian operatives hacked the Democratic National Committee computers and gave a trove of embarrassing emails to Wikileaks. Hillary Clinton even refers to the organization as “Russian Wikileaks” just in case anyone forgot to blame others for her political debacle.
Of course, Wikileaks received the DNC documents the same way they received all others. A whistleblower leaked the material and the rest is history. Except history didn’t turn out as most people predicted. Hillary Clinton lost, in large part because of the corrupt behaviors that Assange revealed.
The DNC revelations were as big a threat as the war logs. Assange exposed how the Clinton campaign amplified Trump, in a mistaken belief that he would be the easiest republican to defeat. They also proved that the primary process was rigged against Bernie Sanders, who would have been the better candidate. The revelations had to be squelched and the need to turn Assange into a scapegoat only intensified over time. Russiagate was the means of vilification and made him persona non grata with people who might have been his defenders.
The Collateral Murder video shows the killing of two Iraqis who were employed by Reuters in Baghdad. One would think that some professional courtesy would be extended to their memories, if only for appearance sake. But that isn’t how corporate media operate. They work on behalf of the state and they conveniently forget their past relationship with Wikileaks and the killings of their colleagues so that they might stay in the good graces of the people prosecuting Assange.
Ultimately the U.S. and U.K. couldn’t be bad actors at all if powerful media organizations behaved like independent entities and not as an arm of the state. Assange has no influential friends and sits in Belmarsh prison, having suffered a stroke on October 27, 2021. His physical and mental health deteriorate while unscrupulous people in London and Washington decide his fate.
The corrupt process must be exposed and all Assange supporters must speak up. The United States should not be allowed to use the Espionage Act or any other mechanism to snatch up anyone, anywhere and charge with a crime of dubious legality. If they are allowed to do so in this case they will certainly do it again. Anyone who wants to expose high crimes will find themselves in Assange’s position. People who oppose the empire and its machinations are all at risk if Assange is extradited and stands trial in the Eastern District court. He is a political prisoner and others will be too if the prosecution proceeds. It is no exaggeration to say that we are all Julian Assange.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly at Black Agenda Report and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. Her work can also be found at patreon.com/margaretkimberley and on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.