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Friday, 12 April 2019 10:05

Treatment of Julian Assange a valuable lesson Featured

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Julian Assange Arrest Julian Assange Arrest

London police dragged whistleblower publisher and award-winning journalist Julian Assange out of his place of political refuge yesterday. Apart from anything else it is a valuable lesson about the true nature of those who rule over us.

Assange has been convicted today for jumping bail on a charge that was dropped and no longer exists. For that he was forced to seek political asylum and was guarded night and day for nearly seven years.

If we are going to talk about the rule of law, why are we not talking about the heinous crimes committed against Assange since 2012 by successive British governments?

Why was not Assange released from his confinement once the Swedish prosecutors dropped their spurious rape charges?

Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador, a legitimate foreign state. Why did the UK government refuse to obey international convention and grant him safe passage out of the UK to Ecuador?

Why was Assange cut off from access to the outside world, with no communications and proper medical treatment?

Why has the UK refused to abide by the edict stated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which demanded as recently as December 2018 that Assange be allowed to walk a free man out of the Ecuadorian embassy?

The UN High Commissioner ruled that Assange’s continued detention was arbitrary and therefore a violation of his human rights.

What this basically means is that Assange has been held prisoner without a credible charge. That is a breach of both UK and international law.

Of course, Assange is not frightened of being convicted of jumping bail in the UK.

After all, even if the presiding judge throws the book at him what sentence could he possibly receive for doing a runner on a charge that was subsequently dropped?

What Assange has always been afraid of is being extradited to the US.

However, even the US Department of Justice, despite its best efforts, has not been able to come up with a credible charge against Assange.

According to a US DOJ release: “The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.”

In plain language, the US alleges that Assange tried to help Manning crack a password. Really? After nearly seven years, that’s the best they can come up with?

The US and the UK are not the only state actors involved in this sordid contravention of human decency.

Sweden played its part by levelling the trumped up rape charges, later dropped, which led to Assange’s initial detention.

And, of course, there is Australia, the place of Assange’s birth. What a disgrace that not one soul in the political mainstream has raised his or her voice in defence of an Australian journalist who has been unjustly incarcerated for no crime.

Much could be said about the role of the mainstream corporate media in perpetuating the myth that Assange is some sort of pariah.

In fact, Assange was doing the job that the corporate media hacks who collect their pay checks each week refuse to do.

As a reminder to those sad excuses that now work for the mainstream press, a key part of the job of real journalists is to hold governments and power brokers to account.

Instead what we have are mealy-mouthed mainstream wimps pretending to be reporters cheering on the incarceration and maltreatment of a real journalist.

Fortunately there are still some real journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi who reside on the fringes of the mainstream and are not scared to give voice to the truth.

If there is a ray of light at the end of this puss filled tunnel, it is the fact that the Jeremy Corbin-led UK Labour Party has now publicly opposed the US extradition request for Assange.

However, Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten falls a long way short of Corbin in stature, and obviously believes that the best way to win an election is to show that there is no difference between his party and the ruling LNP.

One month out from the Australian Federal Election, don’t expect either of the two major parties to go into bat for Assange.

The Australian journalists union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has issued one short commendable tweet after years of silence: “Our government must ensure Julian Assange is safely brought to Australia.”

Would it be too much to expect at least some MEAA members to take heed of their union and ask government and opposition members what their views are on the Assange scandal?

After all, it is only the freedom of the press that is at stake.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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