Julian Assange is being punished for removing the veil of freedom, human rights, and civil liberties from the face of an empire of hypocrisy and lies.
It is a development that once again reminds us of the plight of a man who, in acting as a metaphorical canary down the coal mine of Western democracy, is living proof that a marked difference exists between believing that you live in a free society and behaving as if you do.
For in daring to remove the mask of civility and moral rectitude behind which Western governments have carried out their malign deeds at home and around the world in the cause of hegemony, Assange has since 2012 sat pride of place in the crosshairs of their considerable wrath.
It bears repeating: if the Australian whistleblower had been confined to a foreign embassy in Moscow or Beijing since 2012, in the same or similar circumstances, 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 who’re never done excoriating Russia and China on those very grounds.
If the Ecuadorians do evict Assange from their embassy in London, thereby exposing him to the tender mercies of the British and, most probably thereafter, US justice systems, the small Latin American country’s reputation will be dragged through the mud, descending from one of esteem in the eyes of peoples and nations of conscience and consciousness, to one of opprobrium.
Perhaps, in the eyes of the country’s current president, Lenin Moreno, this is a small price to pay for bending to the will of ‘Rome’, but in the court of history, it is those who defy empires, not those who serve them, whose legacies are celebrated and revered.
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 claimed were politically motivated – in May 2017. However, regardless, the outstanding UK arrest warrant in his case, issued against him for breaching the bail conditions of his initial appearance in a UK court relating to those charges back in 2012; this arrest warrant remains in force.
It means that if the Ecuadorians do evict Julian Assange from their embassy in central London, he will immediately find himself under arrest, facing not only a period in prison in the UK but, as mentioned, extradition to the US in relation to his role as editor-in-chief of Wikileaks. This is not speculation this is fact, given that Assange’s lawyers have tested it in court and had it confirmed.
As if to compound his current woes, not only does the threat of extradition to the US continue to hang over Assange, if anything it 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; and what with the Washington liberal establishment rage that ensued as a result of Clinton losing that election to Donald Trump, rage which evinces no evidence of dissipating anytime soon.
Clinton, her supporters, and elements of this Washington establishment continue to claim that the information Wikileaks published came by way of Russian hacking, while Assange and groups such as Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), made up of former US intelligence operatives and officials, maintain that it came by way of a leak within Washington itself. Meanwhile, at time of writing, the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian hacking – colloquially known as Russiagate — is yet to produce a shred of concrete evidence that any such hacking on the part of the Russian state took place.
The real crime Julian Assange committed was not a breach of his bail conditions but instead his actions in daring to speak truth to power. Wikileaks under his stewardship became the bête noire of governments, particularly Western governments, revealing the ugly truth of crimes committed by US forces in Iraq, the West’s role in the destabilization of Ukraine in 2014, the destruction of Libya – and this is without, as mentioned, the part the whistleblowing outfit played in exposing Hillary Clinton as a politician whose record is a monument to mendacity.
Julian Assange — as was the case with Chelsea Manning, and as will be the fate of Edward Snowden if he ever dares set foot outside Russia — 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 that exist between governments, corporations, and the rich that negates their oft-made claims to be governing in the interests of the people.
Assange’s fate is our fate, make no mistake, and thus: ‘Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.’
John Pilger: The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.