Will Julian Assange ever see freedom again?
It’s been almost a decade since the WikiLeaks founder was forced into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as he hid from American suppression. The world’s leading imperial power has been relentless in its hunt of a non-America who revealed war crimes in the Middle East.
The US’ European lapdogs have faithfully fulfilled their role to support America’s attack on press freedom.
Assange had been hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy after skipping bail on an extradition for sexual allegations in Sweden that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture described as “systematic slander”.
Ecuador’s new president Lenín Moreno effectively agreed to surrender Assange as part of a deal to get Ecuador access to an IMF loan, which the US has veto power on.
Despite the initial Swedish charge having expired years ago, British forces were allowed into the embassy. He has been held in the high security Belmarsh prison since then to process America’s extradition request.
The US grievances primarily lie with the collaboration between Chelsea Manning and Assange that saw the release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in the 00’s. Within them was the evidence of the ‘regular’ killing of civilians in Afghanistan and at least 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians. Manning was imprisoned for espionage and her release only came after President Obama pardoned her 7 years into her imprisonment.
Assange is wanted on similar charges. The UK District Judge on Assange’s extradition case went to great lengths to support the charges, setting a dangerous precedent for those who wish to expose the lies of our violent and secretive governments.
It is the advice of numerous psychologists that has saved Assange for now. After years of persecution being stuck inside, Assange’s mental state is reported to be extremely fragile and the psychologists assigned to him have said he’s likely to attempt suicide if moved to one of the “oppressive” US prisons. Judge Vanessa Baraitser went to great lengths to point out this is the only reason he’s not been extradited.
As bail was denied and the inevitable appeal process gets underway, Assange remains locked in Belmarsh prison, which has recently had a severe COVID-19 outbreak. The British state has set a dangerous precedent by showing its subservience to the American empire and its willingness to suppress press freedom.
The Mexican government is the only one to yet offer the Australian asylum.
The ability to expose state secrets is vital because, as Assange says, “If wars can be started with lies, wars can be stopped with truth”.
Mali Kakembo, is a member of the YCL’s Wales district