The supreme court on 27-8 October heard the US government’s appeal against the decision made by a lower court that Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face trial on assorted espionage charges.
That decision had been made on the basis of what most people would consider the weakest of Julian’s defences: namely, that he would be at risk of suicide if incarcerated in the USA (rather than the disproportionate nature of the probable sentence, or the likelihood of excessively cruel punishment amounting to torture, or the improbability of a fair trial).
The US immediately appealed, ensuring in effect that Julian would remain incarcerated in Belmarsh high security prison for several more months pending the hearing of the appeal. Now that the appeal has been heard – and it only dealt with the mental health defence – Julian has been once more returned to prison to await the judges’ decision, which is not likely to be forthcoming for several weeks.
Though the fact that Julian Assange has up to now been able to evade extradition to the US offers some consolation, we cannot rest on our laurels but must escalate the fight for his freedom. The forces of imperialist domination from Britain to the US and the Ecuadorian comprador government are colluding to make an example of Julian Assange and – more recently and by extension – Craig Murray.
The plight of these two investigative journalists and whistleblowers is used as a threat by example to all other journalists and politicians to keep quiet and toe the line if they don’t want to face a similar fate.
It is a sad fact that the majority of journalists and politicians in the west have complied, with dissidents being far and few between. Clearly there must be a redoubling of our efforts to campaign and struggle for the basic liberties of freedom of speech, of assembly and of the press.
The only freedom that is guaranteed by imperialism is the freedom to exploit the labour of the working class and subjugate the peoples of the world. Anything beyond that is only permitted for as long as it doesn’t threaten bourgeois rule.
The Ecuadorian betrayal
The Ecuadorian embassy was originally used as a place of refuge for Assange, who was being ruthlessly targeted and hunted down for the ‘crime’ of bringing imperialist war crimes to light. However, after the progressive government in Ecuador led by Rafael Correa ended its term of office, the country’s policy towards Assange changed as the new government sought to ingratiate itself with US imperialism.
The Ecuadorian ambassador invited the London Metropolitan police to storm the embassy, dragging out Assange and rushing him off to maximum security Belmarsh prison where he, an innocent man, has been held since April 2019 – 30 months so far!
Assange remains imprisoned in Belmarsh in accordance with the diktat of US imperialism, blowing notions of British sovereignty and the rule of law out of the water. After evading a US injunction to have him extradited to the US – where 23 hours a day of solitary confinement and torture awaited him – the US reapplied for extradition on the grounds that they could take measures to prevent his suicide!
With the help of his lawyer Carlos Poveda, Julian applied for Ecuadorian citizenship to enable him to claim asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy should he ever get out of Belmarsh.
Ecuador denied Assange’s claim for citizenship and asylum, undoubtedly pressured by the US and Britain, on the spurious grounds that “the supporting letter had multiple inconsistencies, different signatures, the possible alteration of documents and unpaid fees, among other issues”. Poveda filed an appeal against Ecuador’s refusal pointing out that the decision had been made without due process and that Assange could not be present at any hearing. (Ecuador revokes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s citizenship, Al Jazeera, 28 July 2021)
Ecuador is another party to the global conspiracy against Julian Assange alongside all the other countries, journalists and politicians who have turned their backs on him, and by extension on the values of transparency and democracy.
It is the job of communists to mobilise all allied forces in the fight to defend free speech, free information and a free press. Allies in this fight can be found in the ranks of the organised working class and among principled dissidents from the camp of the bourgeoisie such as Christopher Hitchens and Craig Murray.
The US strikes back with furious vengeance
Having had its request for extradition declined in January this year, the US sent lawyer Clair Dobbin to make the case that the clause citing the risk of suicide was spurious given that the expert advice was given by a Michael Kopelman, whom Dobbin accused of “misleading” the court for failing to mention the fact that Assange had a relationship with Stella Moris in which he had fathered two children.
However, as The Jacobin reported: “By the time the court actually heard any of the medical evidence, Judge Baraitser pointed out, the full nature of Assange’s relationship with Moris was known. So while the December report was possibly misleading on its own, the judge felt that the court was at no point actually misled. Given the totality of the circumstances, including a second report and the sharing of notes, Judge Baraitser found the distinguished neuropsychiatrist to be credible and impartial.”
How could one possibly blame Kopelman for omitting the details of Stella Moris and the two children? Given the horrendous treatment of Julian Assange at the hands of imperialism, God only knows what risk could come to his family and his other associates.
Craig Murray, who reported in detail every step of the original extradition hearing, valiantly exposing its biased kangaroo court nature and now languishing in jail on totally spurious charges, is a case in point. Nevertheless, Kopelman’s second report has been ratified as a viable defence so all is not lost and the fight goes on.
The Anglo-American plot to murder Julian Assange
Meanwhile, a shocking revelation was recently been brought to light by Yahoo News USA in a report titled The War on Wikileaks, in which three Yahoo journalists interviewed 30 former security officials in the Trump administration. These anonymous officials spilled the beans on conversations amongst senior government figures relating to the possible kidnapping and/or murder of Julian Assange in case legal niceties were insufficient to get him extradited to the USA.
This cavalier attitude towards freedom of press and the rule of international law was clear when former CIA director Mike Pompeo declared war on WikiLeaks, saying: “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service and has encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence … It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” (CIA director brands WikiLeaks a ‘hostile intelligence service’, The Guardian, 14 April 2017)
British involvement in that discussion is likely, given that what was being envisaged was that Assange might be murdered on London’s streets, in which case the execution would presumably have had to be carried out by armed British police officers, you know, for the sake of good PR!
The US and Britain, whether the appeal judges acknowledge it or not, are thus implicated in a conspiracy to commit a political assassination.
This information should be distributed and popularised as widely as possible, in order to help to disabuse the public of any illusions regarding the neutrality of the imperialist state and the reality of bourgeois ‘law and order’.
We must redouble our efforts to frustrate imperialism’s war on Wikileaks and Julian Assange in particular and on free speech in general. The more we succeed in doing so, the more our rulers will expose themselves as nothing but a clique of predatory gangsters.