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Until Julian Assange is Free None of Us Are Printer friendly page Print This
By John Wight | Sputnik
Sputnik
Monday, Jan 29, 2018

© REUTERS/ Peter Nicholls

Julian Assange’s legal bid to have his outstanding UK arrest warrant dropped reminds us that daring to speak truth to power comes at a price.

If Julian Assange had been confined to a foreign embassy in Moscow or Beijing for five years, on the same grounds on which he has been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, his plight would have been a cause celebre, sparking calls for boycotts, sanctions, and action at the UN on the part of free speech and prisoner of conscience liberals in the West who are never done excoriating Russia and China.

As it is the UN has already intervened in the matter of the plight of the Wikileaks founder. In February 2016 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that the "arbitrary detention of Julian Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation."

Given that the Swedish authorities dropped their investigation into the original charges of rape and sexual molestation — made against Assange in 2010 and which he has always denied and claims were politically motivated — the outstanding UK arrest warrant for breaching bail conditions in 2012 which relates to those charges is surely now moot. Julian Assange, you may recall, sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London fearing not extradition to Sweden but the US over his central and high profile role as the face of Wikileaks.

In 2018 not only does the threat of extradition to the US continue to hang over him with this outstanding UK arrest warrant, if anything the threat is even greater, what with the part Wikileaks played in disseminating damning facts about Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and the leadership of the DNC in the run up to the 2016 US presidential election. The ensuing Washington liberal establishment rage that has ensued as a result of Clinton losing the election to Donald Trump has been positively volcanic.

Clinton, her supporters, and elements of the Washington establishment claim that the information Wikileaks published came by way of Russian hacking, while Julian Assange and groups such as Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), made up of former US intelligence operatives and officials, maintain that the information came by way of a leak within Washington itself. Meanwhile, up to this point, the investigation into alleged Russian hacking is yet to produce one scintilla of concrete evidence that any such hacking on the part of Moscow took place.

The real crime Julian Assange committed was not breaching his bail conditions but daring to speak truth to power. Wikileaks under his stewardship has become the bête noire of governments, particularly Western governments, revealing the ugly truth of war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq, the West's role on the destabilization of Ukraine, the destruction of Libya — and this is without the part it played in exposing Hillary Clinton as a putative president whose record is a monument to mendacity instead of president in waiting.

The whistleblowing organization Wikileaks is and continues to be a thorn in their side and must be destroyed. Which means that Julian Assange must be destroyed, a man who teaches us that believing you live in a free society and actually behaving as if you do is not the same thing. The former allows you to exist in a bubble of soporific comfort, while the latter is liable to get you confined to a foreign embassy for five years and counting.

The personal toll on Assange's physical and psychological well being as a result of his confinement should not be overlooked. Indeed the toll it is having was recently confirmed by the medical opinion of two clinicians, who upon examining Assange at the embassy in October 2017 renewed calls for him to be granted safe passage to a London hospital for treatment. In an article for the Guardian, the clinicians write: "While the results of the evaluation are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare."

Julian Assange, as with Chelsea Manning, as with Edward Snowden, is being punished for removing the veil of freedom, human rights, and civil liberties from the face of an empire of hypocrisy and lies. They lied about Iraq, they lied about Libya, they lied about Syria, and they lie every day about the murky relationships between governments, corporations, and the rich that negates their oft made claims to be governing in the interests of the people.

The only question that remains to be answered now is to what extent the British authorities are prepared to continue to do Washington's bidding in refusing to step back from what is by any objective measure a campaign of persecution in the case of Julian Assange? The sage words of Albert Camus resonate when considering this man's plight: "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

The kind of freedom rebellion unlocks you can never buy at Harrods, the luxury store of choice for the rich and superrich located along the street from the location of Assange's confinement, or indeed at any of the other temples of luxury which colonize this obscenely rich part of London. But it is a freedom nonetheless that a society interested in the things that truly matter dismisses at its peril.


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