Dr John Jiggens & Mia Armitage
What’s going to happen to Julian Assange?
With his recent arrest and extradition request by the US from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, it’s likely he will end up facing a similar fate to Chelsea Manning, who provided Assange classified US information that was published on WikiLeaks.
That classified information was the alleged war crimes and human rights abuses by the most powerful entity on the planet: the US government.
Manning has been jailed since March 8, 2019, for her continued refusal to testify before a grand jury against Julian Assange. She was previously imprisoned from 2010 until 2017.
The ABC reported that upon Assange facing the UK court for skipping bail, his supporters in the public gallery chanted ‘shame on you’ at the judge, as the the Walkley Award-winning journalist was led away to serve 50 weeks in the high-security Belmarsh jail.
United Nations human rights experts last week said the sentence imposed was ‘disproportionate’ to the relatively ‘minor violation’ of skipping bail.
The UN working group on arbitrary detention released a statement saying Mr Assange’s imprisonment shows he is being treated ‘as if he were convicted for a serious criminal offence’.
But during sentencing remarks, Justice Taylor said the WikiLeaks founder exploited his privileged position in asylum to flout the law and advertise his disdain for the law in the UK to the world.
This is despite Mr Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers saying his client sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy because ‘he was living with overwhelming fear of being rendered to the US’.
Bay FM Community Newsroom reporter Dr John Jiggens spoke to John Shipton, father of Mr Assange, in the week leading up to Mr Assange’s first court appearance after his eviction from the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Mr Shipton said he feared his son could be taken to Guantanamo Bay and tortured.
Support for Mr Assange is notably absent from both mainstream political and media circles – both major Australian political parties refuse to offer any special assistance.
Mr Shipton says that generally speaking, the ‘chattering class’ in the UK – and journalists – are not supportive at all.
He says aside from Media Lens, John Pilger, and ‘a couple of others’, those in the media industry have been ‘crowing merciless’ at Mr Assange’s prospect of being extradited to the United States.
As Mr Shipton speaks, it’s hard to know whether he is referring to stories published via his son’s WikiLeaks publication or if, conversely, Mr Assange was partly inspired to create WikiLeaks thanks to his father’s world views.
‘We have three grand narratives,’ says Mr Shipton, listing contemporary wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
He says US secretary of state at the time, Hilary Clinton, giggled as she watched on TV Muamma Gaddafi being sodomised to death with a bayonet up the anus.
While that particular video seems impossible to find eight years later, you can still find footage of Ms Clinton laughing as she says, ‘We came, we saw, he died’ in response to news of Mr Gaddafi’s death in 2011, during an interview.
Accounts of a brutal death at the hands of National Transitional Council forces, including the sodomy Mr Shipton mentions, are shared on several sites and The Guardian published photos of his bloodied face afterwards, but official reports quoted by www.news.com say Mr Gaddafi was ‘fatally wounded’.
Mr Shipton says ‘journalists are an absolute necessity, WikiLeaks is a necessity, Julian is a necessity.’
‘I would just like to see the Australian government act positively to ensure that Julian is not forcefully dragooned to an American oubliette… to bring him home to his family, to his friends.’
The interview with John Shipton is via Community Newsroom at bayfm.org.
Community Newsroom airs on Bay FM 99.9 Fridays from 11am.