The arrest of Julian Assange
Scotland is still immature when it comes to foreign policy, or at least the SNP is. Their silence over the arrest and detention of Wikileaks CEO and journalist, Julian Assange, is disquieting. Dragging him out of his sanctuary is an outrage. He is being silenced because he knows too much.
An attack on press freedom
We witness an attack on press freedom, on democracy, in Assange’s case a man who told us our governments are lying bastards, mired in illegal wars, squandering our taxes on vast arrays of armaments to help acquire foreign territory, to line their political pockets.
Almost as soon as he was thrown into a G4S truck the smearing began. Ecuador’s interior minister, Maria Paula Romo, described staff tolerating poor behaviour from the 47-year-old, including “putting faeces on the walls”. But his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, disputed the allegations when she appeared on Sky’s Sophy Ridge political show.
“I think the first thing to say is Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations over the past few days to justify what was an unlawful and extraordinary act in allowing British police to come inside an embassy.
The politics of the case with respect with Ecuador’s change of government with Lenin Moreno coming to power and ever since then inside the embassy it’s become more and more difficult to the point where Human Rights Watch said was akin to solitary confinement. He’s had a very difficult time – it’s not been easy.
And to suggest that someone would chose to remain in there without legitimate concerns about US extradition, which is exactly what was proven this week, I think people can’t really understand what it would be like to live in a room like that for a very long time.”
Some two-bit obscure court judge in England calls Assange a narcissist. Who the hell is he to defame the man’s integrity? He’s a journalist who did us all a tremendous favour at great risk to himself. I thought whistle-blowers were to be venerated, protected by law?
Assange has not yet charged with anything. Not even in Sweden were charges laid down. But guess what – he had two women pop-up from nowhere in Sweden to say he’s a rapist. That sounds familiar. The sex smear always lingers. (He has been willing to answer Swedish police questions, and invited them to London, an invitation never accepted.) It’s a wonder he’s not been called an anti-Semite. That’s a good lie to stifle dissent.
The women in his life
Of the women, Anna Ardin, the most vociferous of Assange’s accusers – made three charges. The other, Sophia Wilen, made only one charge and refused to say more. Ardin is politically active, reputed to have connections with Sweden’s nascent spy agencies.
Last year, the left-wing online magazine Counterpunch hinted that she could be a spy, especially considering her connections with anti-Cuban factions and the Cuban emigre community in Miami that is fanatically opposed to former president Fidel Castro. ”Anna Ardin … is often described by the media as a ‘leftist’,” wrote Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett. ”She has ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups.” In fact, she has ties to Israeli dark forces.
For my part, I’d rather not speculate on spy or not a spy. State agencies make it near impossible to prove spying, until the individual in question is dead. Ardin is, indeed, a political activist but the theory that Ardin may be an active spy or an amateur could obscure a more simple proposition: that she is a spurned lover who has seized the chance to go after a man who has made himself the No.1 enemy of the US. Evidence?
In January this year, well before WikiLeaks began dumping US diplomatic cables on the web and long before she had ever met Assange, Ardin published a manual on how to ”systematically take revenge” on ”someone who cheated or who dumped you. “Do a brainstorm of appropriate measures for the category of revenge you’re after … You can sabotage your victim’s current relationship, such as getting his new partner to be unfaithful or ensure that he gets a madman after him.”
The women withdrew their accusations – they made verbal charges, not as the west’s press egregously misrepresent, official charges. However, the US sees a way of imprisoning a whistle-blower who placed a spotlight on criminal activities.
The Pilger view
Eminent Australian investigative journalist, John Pilger, had some interesting facts to tell us. Pilger has a long illustrious record of speaking out loud having unearthed criminal activities by governments, including his own.
“Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair’s “paramount crime” is the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange’s crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth.
The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “sow the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilisation”. The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast.
Assange’s principal media tormentor, the Guardian, a collaborator with the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial that scaled new weasel heights. The Guardian has exploited the work of Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called “the greatest scoop of the last 30 years”. The paper creamed off WikiLeaks’ revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.
With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, turned on their source, abused him and disclosed the secret password Assange had given the paper in confidence, designed to protect a digital file containing leaked US embassy cables.”
The arrest amounts to nothing less than a coordinated crackdown on a journalist and activist: and this is part of the authoritarian shift that is taking place world-wide – from the US to Turkey, from Hungary to Brazil, and now from Ecuador to… the UK.
The submissive public void
They will chuck him in choky so they can get on with their illegal, clandestine nasty wee wars killing women and children and devastating agrarian and urban communities. Chelsea Manning, another whistle-blower is already incarcerated – a political prisoner.
The US government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take. If we don’t protest, if we shrug our shoulder and say, ‘terrible, and now what’s on television?” we allow it to happen to others. We become the submissive void of public concern.
What does our SNP say about Assange? Good riddance to bad rubbish, stop this outrage, or does it stay silent? Perhaps readers can point me to an official SNP statement, or a comment from an SNP MP that is officially endorsed. I can’t find anything.
And that is very sad and troubling.
(A shorter version of this essay first appeared in an article on the SNP’s foreign policies)