The arrest of Julian Assange

Thirteen years ago Wikileaks exposed to the world torture and cruelty at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. More exposures followed showing abuses by US armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2010 video footage shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight showed soldiers revelling in killing two Reuters journalists and ten other civilians in Iraq. Two young children were also injured.

Following the video leaks the US government began a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange and asked allied nations for assistance. In November 2010  Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, following questioning of him months earlier over allegations of sexual assault and rape. Assange denied the accusations, saying the sex was consensual, and he was never charged. He refused to return to Sweden for questioning fearing he would be extradited to the US. He offered to be interviewed in London. 

Assange was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 where he has been holed up ever since. The Swedish case was dropped and Assange was left facing a charge of evading bail in Britain, for which the  penalty is a small fine. He was unable to leave the embassy to report to the court without risking extradition to the US.

Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship but a change of government in Ecuador in 2017, with a president who is allied with Trump, no longer granted protection. On 11 April 2019 British police dragged Assange from the embassy and now the US has presented the indictment against Assange for conspiring with Chelsea Manning to hack a government computer.

The article below by John Pilger looks at the implications of the arrest of Assange.

The Assange arrest is a warning from history

by John Pilger

The glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle against the law. Indecency against courage. Six policemen manhandled a sick journalist, his eyes wincing against his first natural light in  almost seven years.

That this outrage happened in the heart of London, in the land of Magna Carta, ought to shame and anger all who fear for “democratic” societies. Assange is a political refugee protected by international law, the recipient of asylum under a strict covenant to which Britain is a signatory. The United Nations made this clear in the legal ruling of its Working Party on Arbitrary Detention.

But to hell with that. Let the thugs go in. Directed by the quasi fascists in Trump’s Washington, in league with Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno, a Latin American Judas and liar seeking to disguise his rancid regime, the British elite abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice.

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Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy London 2017

Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair’s “paramount crime” is the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange’s crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth. Read the rest of the article