By Pablo Vasco
On June 17, following a ruling by the British Supreme Court on April 20, the British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, authorized the extradition to the United States of the Australian journalist Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks portal. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and press freedom organizations such as Reporters Without Borders were denied access to the trial, confirming its falsity.
With total hypocrisy, a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Security pointed out that they have not “found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression”. For its part, the US justice system accuses Assange of 18 crimes of espionage and computer intrusion because of the information published on the portal, which could lead to Assange being sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.
Assange was held captive in Britain for more than ten years without being convicted. He was first under house arrest for alleged sexual offenses, in a false process already dismissed. Between 2012 and 2019 he was a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. As investigated by Yahoo! News, in that period Trump’s CIA made plans to kidnap and/or kill him. In 2019, due to a change of government, the president of Ecuador Lenin Moreno took away his right to asylum, the foreign ministry suspended his citizenship rights and thus Assange was arrested by the British police and transferred to the high security prison of Belmarsh, near London.
In 2010, Assange publicly exposed on his website more than 700,000 documents and emails confirming war crimes, assassinations, torture, espionage and diplomatic and political conspiracies of the United States, China, Russia and the European Union against civilian populations. In particular, US abuses committed in Guantanamo prison (Cuba), Iraq and Afghanistan were exposed.
The disclosure of these crimes shook the world. Since the publication in WikiLeaks, the Yankee government has pursued Assange relentlessly in order to arrest him, take him to the United States, “judge” him and sentence him to life imprisonment, as an example for him and a threat against any other person on this earth who dares to expose the crimes of imperialism.
Assange published documents as a journalist, he did not give them to any government, but they still accuse him of espionage. Even espionage is a political crime, and therefore not extraditable, but they still want to extradite him. In other words, empires violate their own laws and international conventions in order to persecute and punish those who expose their crimes.
Assange’s wife, Stella, stated that she will use “every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free. He is very strong. It’s the opposite of being used to but his instinct is to fight back and we’re going to fight back.” Meanwhile, Wikileaks described the British ruling as “dark day for press freedom” and clarified that Assange will appeal it to the courts and, as a last resort, to the European Court of Human Rights
Freedom of press and the right to information
As pointed out by a recent statement of the Encuentro Memoria, Verdad y Justicia of Argentina in solidarity with Assange, “the British decision to extradite him to the United States represents a real authoritarian attack against the democratic freedoms of press and expression, in the face of which we reiterate our demand to annul such measure and grant him his freedom.” Furthermore: the Anglo-Yankee alliance that today rages against Assange is not only subjugating the freedom of speech and press, like a sword of Damocles to intimidate all journalism, but also attacks the democratic right of the public to receive information freely. From the ISL, we call on workers, youth and peoples to double the demand in defense of Assange.