The extradition trial for journalist and publisher Julian Assange is nothing but a travesty. His brutal persecution by American and British authorities is a shocking indictment of these Western states and their hypocritical pretensions about professing democratic rights and rule of law.
Assange may be the one sitting in the dock. But the whole world can see that it is not he who is really on trial, but rather the so-called authorities who are persecuting him.
The 48-year-old Australian-born founder of Wikileaksis being prosecuted for one simple reason. He exposed war crimes and global corruption perpetrated by the U.S. government and its Western allies. The abysmal fate he finds himself in stems from that concise truth.
Ever since Assange published war crimes committed by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010-2011, he has been hounded for revenge. Despite confinement for seven years at an embassy in London, seeking asylum, Assange went on to expose more colossal corruption such as illegal global spying against governments and citizens by the U.S. state. For these “crimes”, he has been hunted down, mercilessly.
In order to conceal the travesty, the American government is demanding that Assange be extradited from Britain to face criminal charges of espionage and computer hacking. If he is extradited, which will be decided after further court hearings in Britain later this year, Assange could be facing 175 years in prison. This week was the opening of the extradition trial.
The legal arguments and procedural abuses against Assange are “beyond caricature”, as former British diplomat Craig Murray points out. Murray and many other public supporters of Assange attended the court hearings this week. His informed commentaries are a must-read.
From the opening day, it was clear that the journalist would not receive a fair trial. Before attending court he had been cuffed and strip-searched several times on his way to the hearing from the maximum-security prison, Belmarsh Category A Prison, near London, where he has been held in solitary confinement for nearly a year. Assange, an intelligent, placid truth-teller, is being treated like a dangerous terrorist. That appalling circumstance alone tells any casual observer what is really going on.
The overt bias and hostility to the defendant from the sitting judge, Vanessa Baraitser, makes it obvious that there is no due process for Assange. His guilty verdict in her eyes is a foregone conclusion. The fact that Assange was confined to a glass-fronted dock during the whole week of hearings, unable to communicate with his defense team, and ordered, imperiously, to sit down several times by the judge whenever he tried to protest the absurd circumstances, demonstrates beyond any doubt that this is not a fair trial. It is a show trial.
The legal proceedings against Assange have the same aura as Alice in Wonderland. As Craig Murray and other observers have commented, the prosecution case is replete with contradictions, irrationality and irrelevancies, an edifice of make-believe that his shored up by vindictive prejudice and caprice.
If there were any justice, the case against Assange should be thrown out immediately. But no, it trundles on under the guise of legal gravitas and evident collusion between the American and British authorities. Because the objective is to crush Assange for daring to expose the war crimes, crimes against humanity and the rank global corruption out of Washington and London.
This is not just about a vendetta against one individual. The consequence of the inquisition unfolding against Assange is the destruction of any vestige of fundamental democratic rights that citizens in the U.S. and Britain presume to possess. If Assange is extradited, then what is at stake is freedom of speech and the basic right to due legal process. Without such cardinal rights, the foundation of democracy is obsolete.
We have reached the point in history where the perpetrators of criminal wars and monstrous crimes explicitly view themselves as above the law. They have impunity to destroy nations and kill millions of innocents. Julian Assange should be venerated for exposing the crimes through his courageous and ethical journalism. The torture and persecution he is being subjected to show how degenerate supposed democratic governments have become. Anyone who dares to expose these perpetrators and their systematic crimes will be likewise liable for the same punishment as Assange.
A particularly disturbing – and yet revealing – aspect this week was the near-total silence among Western mainstream news media about the Assange case. None of the major U.S. or British news outlets gave any reporting on the trial – despite the shocking abuse of due process and the immensity of nefarious implications for democratic rights.
Julian Assange, his colleagues at Wikileaks and brave whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden all worked for the public good and the truth by exposing history-making corruption by the U.S. and British governments. They did this in a way that the corporate-controlled news media in those countries abjectly failed to do. Their silence about his persecution is thus their shame.
The American and British states and their obedient media tools have been – and are being – laid bare by the struggle of Julian Assange. Millions of people around the world are rallying to demand his freedom.
Thanks to Assange, they are seeing that the would-be emperors and their fawning media lackeys have no clothes; that these would-be emperors are stripped bare from their presumed moral authority, and are naked in their lies and hypocrisies.