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The scourging of Julian Assange

by John Wight

Julian Assange’s latest attempt to have his outstanding UK arrest warrant dropped has failed in what stands as one of the most blatant and cruel examples of the British legal system being wielded as an instrument of persecution against a man whose only crime is speaking truth to power.

The judge presiding over his case, and who summarily dismissed it, was ‘Lady Arbuthnot of Edrom’. Yes, you read that right. In the second decade of the 21st century the UK legal system is still dominated by the kind of people whose morning workout consists of flogging the butler. Lady Arbuthnot also happens to be the wife of Tory peer and former junior Defence Minister Lord James Arbuthnot, whose father was Major Sir John Sinclair Wemyss Arbuthnot.

By now you should be getting the idea. These ridiculous products of privilege and the British public school system (private education for those unfamiliar with the quixotic and arcane code of the British ruling elite) are the guardians of a status quo of class oppression at home and imperialism abroad. In daring to rip off the mask of civility and moral rectitude behind which they and their masters in the US have long carried out their acts of brutality and barbarity at home and around the world, Assange is on the receiving end of their considerable wrath.

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 to the US over his role as founder and public 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 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, Russiagate, is yet to produce one scintilla of concrete evidence that any such hacking on the part of Moscow took place.

Again, 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 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 the part the whistleblowing outfit played in exposing Hillary Clinton as a politician whose record is a monument to mendacity.

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.”

It bears repeating: Julian Assange, as was Chelsea Manning, as will be Edward Snowden if he 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 between governments, corporations, and the rich that negates their oft made claims to be governing in the interests of the people.

Until Julian Assange is free none of us are.

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