Freeing Assange a victory

The release of Julian Assange is a win for a world-wide campaign. Journalists’ unions have been the backbone of that campaign. It is also a blow against the creeping censorship across the ‘Western democracies’

This was not an act of mercy from the floundering administration of Genocide Joe Biden. This was a response to international pressure. It was also a desperate attempt to buy favour. Biden had almost four years to stop persecuting Assange. Now opinion polls say he is facing electoral defeat. Thus, he is trying to win back support from more left-wing voters in America.

Assange was facing charges in America under the Espionage Act of 1917. He could have faced up to 175 years in the bowels of the American prison system. This is alarming. There are no allegations he committed any offence against American law when in America. All his activities were outside that country.

Assange’s ‘crime’ was exposing the war crimes of America in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The most infamous was the ‘Collateral Murder’ video. This showed two American military Apache helicopters gunning down 11 civilians in Iraq. The 11 included two journalists from Reuters news agency. Assange had founded Wikileaks to publish material like this. That is material America, and other governments, wanted to keep secret.

When we hear about terrorist states, we should think of America. This has gone beyond crimes in the former colonial countries. The Trump administration discussed assassinating Assange when he was in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. This would have breached any idea of ‘international law’. The Trump administration understood such ‘law’ only applies to the weak.

While he is now free, Assange has spent the past 14 years in inhuman conditions.

First, in 2010 he sought political asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. He had jumped bail when facing extradition for sexual assault charges in Sweden. He alleged that, if sent to Sweden, he would be further extradited to America. He spent nine years in a room in the Embassy. America put pressure on a new, more right-wing, Ecuadoran Government to evict him. Meanwhile, Swedish prosecutors dropped the sexual assault charges.

However, with Assange evicted the Americans sought his extradition. First, the British authorities jailed him for 50 weeks for jumping bail. Since ending that sentence, he has been held on remand in London’s Belmarsh prison. This is one of Britain’s harshest high-security prisons. This is despite his not having being convicted. Nor is there the slightest evidence he is a physical threat to anyone. Courts refused bail.

Assange has accepted a plea deal. In return for pleading guilty to one charge, he will be immediately released.

Meanwhile, we do not know the toll his imprisonment has taken on his health.

Thus, this victory has been won at great human cost. This case was not just about Julian Assange. It was about silencing any who exposed the crimes of the ruling élites of America.