A Reprieve for Assange

The High Court’s decision to permit Julian Assange to appeal his pending extradition is an important, if partial, victory. The judges are aware that, in reality, he has no case to answer. The US charge of ‘espionage’ is blatant nonsense. The fact that it hasn’t already been dismissed and Assange released is a sign of the UK’s generalized subordination to American interests.

Full credit must be given to the international campaign to free him – in particular the steely determination of his wife Stella Assange – and to Nils Melzer’s forensic and unanswerable deconstruction of this whole sordid affair. The New York Times and Guardian, both barometers of obsequious opinion, have acknowledged the absurdity of the charges. Even the otherwise slavish Australian political class has voted to demand his release. (‘History’, wrote Engels, ‘is made in such a way that the final result always arises from conflicts between many individual wills, of which each in turn has been made what it is by a host of particular conditions of life.’)

Assange’s only ‘crime’ was to expose a crime. To make available the evidence of US brutalities in Iraq. He could only do so because Chelsea Manning supplied him with the explosive ‘Collateral Murder’ video along with other vital information. She has since regained her freedom, while Assange still rots in Belmarsh. An even-handed Crown Prosecution Service would not have pursued him in the first place. Back in 2013 the Swedes were keen to drop the case. But the CPS, led by Starmer, pleaded with them to keep it open. He and his staffers flew to the US where they conspired with the Obama administration – though the documents related to these trips have been either hidden or destroyed. Like hardened criminals, Starmer and his chums did not want any details leaked to the public. That this fellow is now the so-called ‘Leader of the Opposition’ – applauded by the establishment for having gotten rid of Corbyn’s cohort, reinstated the Blairite old guard and supported the Israeli genocide – is hardly surprising. His training to become the next acceptable Prime Minister began with the framing of Assange.

Another appalling and vindictive decision was to keep Assange locked up in a maximum security facility, with prolonged periods of solitary confinement amounting to outright torture. The official explanation was that he had jumped bail, which might explain the refusal to release him; but an open prison, such as are used to keep financial criminals, would surely have sufficed. The real reason was that the intelligence agencies wanted him punished and humiliated. As a result the WikiLeaks journalist is so ill that he has not been able to attend his two most recent court hearings. Are they hoping he will die before the final appeal?

Five years ago, Assange wrote to a friend from his prison cell:

I am unbroken, albeit literally surrounded by murderers, but the days when I could read and speak and organise to defend myself, my ideals and my people are over! Everyone else must take my place. I am defenceless and am counting on you and others of good character to save my life . . . Truth, ultimately is all we have.

Truth alone is never enough, especially in this vile world of Western double standards. The British judicial system has a gruesome record when it comes to dealing with ‘enemies of the state’. That’s because it was created to be an enemy of the people.