Assange's Extradition to U.S.

Canada's Silence Speaks Volumes

– Hilary LeBlanc –

Protest October 29, 2022 outside Belmarsh prison, London, England, where Assange is being held.

The attempt to deport Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange from Britain to the U.S. violates many fundamental democratic principles. He is an Australian citizen who Britain is extraditing to the U.S. where he is charged with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act. New developments in the case have been all but ignored by the U.S., Canadian and European press which is focussed on Ukraine and dismisses its own hypocrisy and the complicity of the U.S., Britain and Canada when it comes to violating basic democratic freedoms.

"How can [the U.S.] demand Assange's extradition to the U.S. when Assange is not a U.S. citizen, was not involved in espionage against the U.S. and all he did was, without a doubt publicize war crimes committed by the U.S.?" asked Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, pointing out that Assange faces 175 years in prison "for merely exposing U.S. crimes beyond reproach."

Assange's case highlights the problem faced by the peoples of the world when governments which style themselves as defenders of democracy and the free press spare no effort to lock up a man whose only "crime" was to publish leaked documents that revealed wartime atrocities committed by those governments, Zizek points out.

This is the first ever indictment in the U.S. of a publisher under the Espionage Act. Using the act also means Assange cannot argue why he published what he published, what he exposed, and the fact that doing so did not result in any physical harm.

The extradition, charges and trial restrictions are a brutal attack on Assange for publicly exposing military documents that show the U.S. committed horrific war crimes, including torture and mass killings of innocent men, women and children, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange is an Australian citizen, not a British or U.S. citizen. At U.S. insistence he has basically been kidnapped and imprisoned -- since April 2018, in Britain's high-security Belmarsh prison -- without any conviction of any kind. As is common for political prisoners, he has been subject to brutal conditions in prison such that, in 2019, 117 doctors worldwide demanded that his "torture and medical neglect" be ended.

The entire case is revenge and blackmail by the U.S. against Assange and any journalists or people in media who make public U.S. war crimes and crimes against humanity and those of countries which are complicit with the U.S. The U.S. has adamantly pursued this case on the basis that Might Makes Right. President Obama pardoned former military intelligence officer Chelsea Manning, who leaked the files to WikiLeaks. She served seven years in prison.

The U.S. persisted, filing charges against Assange in 2018 and demanding he be arrested, which Britain did. Then extradition was ordered, but in January 2021 a British judge blocked extradition on the grounds that Assange could rightly fear that his health and well-being would not be provided for in U.S. prisons. The U.S. appealed, making assurances, not backed up by any legal documents, that he would be looked after.

Britain's High Court then approved the extradition of Assange in April. The Court found extradition would not be "oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process." It found too that extradition would not be "incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the U.S. he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health." Any justice-seeking judiciary should know what a lie this is and that U.S. assurances cannot hide the horrendous treatment of political prisoners in the U.S., including the torture of years of solitary confinement, extra-long sentences, and the blocking of visits by family and lawyers. The U.S. criminal justice system is known to be unfair and unjust -- rigging trials, adding terrorism charges, using Guantánamo, which is not U.S. territory, to by-pass rule of law, and more.

What possible credibility can the U.S. or Britain have when they claim to be defenders of democracy? In this regard, Canada's silence also speaks volumes about its alleged defence of freedom of speech, the press and journalists. U.S. actions are meant to silence, intimidate and criminalize conscience, beginning with freedom of speech and the press, both vital rights necessary for human discourse and accountability. Journalists, newspapers, lawyers, doctors, academics, and people worldwide have supported Assange and denounced the U.S. and Britain. They are demanding all charges be dropped and that Assange be released. It is high time for Canada to speak out against what is being done to Assange. Australia has also refused to uphold the rights of its own citizen against impunity.

The U.S. has pressured Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to remain silent, even though Assange is an Australian citizen. Albanese has said he will not intervene in the case. On June 20, he was quoted as saying "I intend to lead a government that engages diplomatically and appropriately with our partners." Evidently what is "appropriate" is being part of the U.S.-dominated Five Eyes spy network (along with Britain, Canada and New Zealand) and participating in U.S. war games in the Pacific and in NATO meetings.

The U.S. and all those who are complicit seek to divert attention from the heinous war crimes which they are committing in the name of democracy and the disinformation against their rivals and accusing them of war crimes. The press and media are to submit and promote disinformation and those who do not had better heed the precedent being set by the extradition of Assange.

The message for the peoples is that all notions of civil rights in the U.S. and nation-states complicit with it no longer exist. They are a thing of the past. The raison d'état of these states is no longer to maintain a rule of law which upholds civil rights as defined in the past. There is not a shred of civil rights, let alone democratic principles, involved in any aspect of the Assange case, a future trial, or sentencing. Only the peoples are standing up for democracy and freedom of the press and refusing to bow down. Assange has been firm, steadfast and uncompromising in his defence of his democratic right to speak out and do his duty as a publisher. He is innocent of the crime of espionage of which he is accused. He is not a U.S. citizen and cannot justifiably be tried in the United States, let alone for crimes which it is clear he did not commit.

This is political persecution pure and simple and the countries such as Canada which are complicit have no credibility whatsoever when they claim to defend human rights and freedom of the press in any country of the world, including their own. They aim to define a threat to national security in any way they wish to establish uncontested control over the entire world. It is necessary to speak out against the methods they are using to achieve this, including attempts to extradite Julian Assange.

Oppose the Extradition of Wikileaks Publisher Julian Assange to the U.S.!

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 10 - October 2022

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