USA Takes Revenge on Assange

Julian Assange, fitted up by the British State (aided by Sweden) to please its American masters


by Peter Oborne

Murderers, torturers and war criminals will be toasting the British home secretary, Priti Patel, tonight. Her decision to approve the extradition of Julian Assange turns investigative journalism into a criminal act, and licenses the United States to mercilessly hunt down offenders wherever they can be found, bring them to justice and punish them with maximum severity.

Julian Assange’s supposed crime was to expose atrocities committed by the US and its allies, primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq, during the war on terror. He shone a light on the systematic abuse dealt out to prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. He revealed the fact that more than 150 entirely innocent inmates were held for years without even being charged.

He published a video of helicopter gunmen laughing as they casually massacred unarmed Iraqi civilians in an attack that killed around 15 people, including a Reuters photographer and his assistant. The US declined to discipline the perpetrators of that atrocity. But they are pursuing Assange to the ends of the earth for revealing it took place.

Once safely in US hands, it’s all but certain that Assange will spend the remainder of his life in jail. That’s because the US is determined to show that terrible reprisals lie in store for any reporter who runs a story based on US government documents.

That’s why Daniel Ellsberg, the former US Marine Corps officer behind the Pentagon Papers revelations that exposed the secret US bombing of Cambodia and Laos, has said that he feels a “great identification” with Assange’s work.

Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer, argued convincingly in court that Assange’s only crime is investigative journalism. For example, the US charge states that he tried to conceal “the source of the disclosure of classified records”. Every journalist worth her or his salt would do the same, but the US insists that Assange is guilty of espionage – and the British home secretary shamefully agrees.

While it is true that Patel is an unusually authoritarian home secretary, I suspect that every recent holder of the office, Labour or Conservative, would have made an identical decision. Britain values beyond measure its security relationship with the US.

That helps explain Patel’s judgment but doesn’t make it any more forgivable. Boris Johnson and his ministers love to claim that they support press freedom. When it mattered most they dealt it a catastrophic blow.

A blow carried out – it should be noted – with the silent assent of much of the mainstream press. Too many British newspapers and broadcasters have treated the Assange case as a dirty family secret. They have failed to grasp that the Assange hearing leading up to the Patel decision is the most important case involving free speech this century.

Assange’s legal team are to appeal, and let’s pray that they succeed. If they do not, newsgathering in Britain – and everywhere else where the American government has influence – will become a criminal activity ultimately punishable by incarceration for life in a US jail.

NOTE: Peter Oborne is a freelance journalist, formerly chief political commentator and columnist with the Telegraph, but who resigned from the paper to launch a blistering attack on the paper’s management and owners over its lack of coverage of an HSBC money laundering tax story, which he described as a “fraud on its readers”. Peter Oborne, associate editor of the Spectator and a familiar face on Channel 4 Dispatches documentaries, claimed the paper deliberately suppressed stories about the banking giant, including revelations that its Swiss subsidiary helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars in assets, in order to keep its valuable advertising account. He said it was a “most sinister development” at the broadsheet title, which he described as “the most important conservative-leaning newspaper in Britain”, but where he alleged the traditional distinction between the advertising and editorial departments had collapsed.


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9 Responses to USA Takes Revenge on Assange

  1. duncanio says:

    Peter Oborne is a brilliant journalist.

    He may be a Conservative Party supporter and an advocate of the British Union but he is a democrat.

    Normally that combination of attributes would be considered a contradiction in terms but Oborne has integrity, honesty and decency.

    If there were more principled reporters like him (in England AND Scotland), Julian Assange would not be going through hell for the last 10 plus years and Alex Salmond’s reputation would have rehabilitated by his own trial victories.

  2. tombkane says:

    Heart breaking.

    I noticed this in the Guardian. And the editorial saying how wrong it was.

    Maybe Steve Bell will do a cartoon.

    The Guardian was complicit in this foul treatment of Julian Assange. And if they had opened up comments on either of those articles, they would have heard all about it.

    Time to pray for Julian.

  3. peeliewallie says:

    Utterly disgusted by the whole debacle. Only hope the appeal is successful but not holding my breath on that one!

  4. diabloandco says:

    How much more revolting , unethical and cruel do the Tory Party have to become before there is a revolution. It seems that the folk of the UK are willing to put up with lies on a grand scale , theft , fraud , perversion, illegal imprisonment , breaking of international treaties and any other disgusting old rubbish – at least until it happens to them.

  5. vivianoblivian7 says:

    The only aspect of this whole lamentable decision I scornfully laugh at is the much promoted line; “this poses a threat to all journalists”.
    Let’s face it 99% of professional “journalists” are State sanctioned stenographers. The only impact of this decision is to give them a license to be even lazier cnuts than they already are.

  6. benmadigan says:

    have just heard that if left-wing M Melechon is voted French PM in Sunday’s election, he will be offering Assange French citizenship and a medal.
    M Melechon is the only statesman who has offered to back Assange .
    Let’s hope he gets elected to a position to be able to do something positive
    That would make a difference as Assange will have the French government fighting his corner – something Australia never did

  7. sadscot says:

    I saw this piece in the Guardian when it was published. Well said Peter Oborne. (A previous piece he wrote on the sorry state of our media was also an absolute corker.)
    The Guardian has been loudly cheering the victory of Carole Cadwalladr over Aaron Banks and banging on about “saving” investigative journalism. It once was happy to publish all that Wikileaks exposed yet, on Assange, it was also happy to run with the smears launched against him. It was only too willing to defend Chelsea Manning and to call for a pardon for Manning. (Manning was the source of the information Wiki published) but it dropped Assange like a ton of bricks. It published articles by idiots like Jess Phillips over the (now dropped) allegations from Sweden. Women like Phillips and Creasy were in full attack mode against Assange, determined to paint him as just another male predator. They are disgusting, vile individuals. Phillips in particular is always happy to tell us about the sort of threats she has to live with. The risks Assange and his colleagues took in bringing out the truth about what was going on are probably beyond Phillips’ understanding. If investigative journalism needs to be protected and the Guardian can celebrate Cadwalladr’s victory, it has a great deal of explaining to do concerning its decision to play down all that Assange has had to suffer. Shame on them all.

  8. sadscot says:

    This is the article about the UK Media, by Peter Oborne, which appeared in Open Democracy.

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