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April 21, 2021

Editorial: Assange – traitor or hero?

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The moment where Assange became Christ?

The dramatic removal of Julian Assange from the UK Ecuadorian embassy on April 11 was a reminder that the planet’s most powerful are hostile to transparency and whistleblowers, and they will openly remove anyone who dares take them on. 

In case you missed it, Assange is an Australian citizen who heads WikiLeaks. His team dumped onto the world a trove of US classified information, which outlined US atrocities in Afghan and Iraq wars. 

Has anyone died from this ballsy act of transparency? Not to anyone’s knowledge. 

The US has already persecuted its own Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) who, as an intel analyst, initially provided Assange with the classified documents.

In 2012, a UN special rapporteur formally accused the US government of ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’, according to reporting from The Guardian. 

Former US intel agent Edward Snowden is another whistleblower who remains in exile; he informed us about the extent of secret surveillance across the Western world.

Since 2012, no Australian government has been interested or brave enough to defend Assange’s rights as a citizen. Presumably he is now being questioned by the West’s top-shelf spies and spooks.

Given Manning’s experience, maybe Assange is now experiencing ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’? 

His US extradition marks a dark precedent that affects not just journalists but everyone. Because keeping tyranny in check is not a popular career choice, and there’s not many who last at it. 

After seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK, he was finally given up to UK police.  

Despite the charge of rape being dropped a long time ago, he faces a fleeing bail charge.  

Yet it’s the charge of conspiracy to steal US classified information which is what it’s all about – the case will presumably centre around whether he helped Manning steal and crack hundreds of thousands of classified military files.  

It exposed US criminal conduct during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the cynical manipulation of global affairs for over 40 years. 

During his initial court appearance last week, Crikey’s Guy Rundle reported that Judge Mark Snow told Assange: ‘Your situation is a product of your narcissism’. 

Ouch. Having interviewed Assange in 2013, it’s a reasonable statement, yet one that seems unnecessary given he is before a court of law, not facing a character assessment.

That comment could well sum up how the elites think of upstarts who challenge authority. The world is built on trust, and what would unravel if the masses found out what the elites actually do?

From here it’s unclear how he will be treated by the most powerful entity on the planet. Despite president Trump supporting Assange during his 2016 campaign, there’s no consistency to Trump with anything he does.

The issue may well split Trump’s base, who see Assange as either a traitor or hero.

When asked by the ABC if he would intervene, Liberal PM Scott Morrison replied glibly, ‘It has got nothing to do with us and there will be no special treatment’.

‘When Australians travel overseas and find themselves in difficulty with the law, they face the judicial systems of those countries’, he said.

Yet clearly this is a special consular matter, and whatever consular assistance Assange was offered previously wasn’t strong enough for him to have confidence in leaving the Ecuadorian embassy.

Some world leaders expressing concerns for Assange’s safety include ironically Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, who has been linked to the deaths of journalists. UK Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said Assange’s extradition to the US ‘should be opposed by the British government’.

And lastly, it’s worth pointing out that Assange appeared to become erratic and hyper-partisan in recent years. He became a strong Trump supporter in the 2016 election.

Assange is accused of fuelling conspiracy theories, for example ‘suggesting that a murdered Democratic party employee leaked damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign to WikiLeaks rather than Russian hackers’.

Much of his psychological instability – apart from that caused by seven years of confinement – could be because he believes that Hilary Clinton wanted to ‘drone’ him, meaning he thought she wanted to kill him, presumably in the same horrific way many third world countries experience US foreign diplomacy. Drones are also reportedly operated from the secret US military base Pine Gap, located just outside Alice Springs.

Australian and UK governments continue to be complicit with the US military complex and fail to defend individual rights and democratic principles.

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