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Final Assault on Press Freedom? - Text Version
Julian Assange reportedly came up with Wikileaks during the late 1990s. Today, he’s languishing in a British prison, as he waits for potential extradition to the United States. This post is about why.
Let’s first have a look at the timeline of main events, leading up to the Swedish sexual assault allegations.
Julian Assange can be considered part of the “cypherpunk” scene of the 90s, who were largely suspicious of organised government. To these cypherpunks, secrecy equalled conspiracy and those who leaked secrets were providing a much-needed service to humanity. How could they have known then; just how much and what kind of information would end up in the public domain over the next two decades?
By 2006, Assange was recruiting for Wikileaks, who’s “primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behaviour in their own governments and corporations.” Wikileaks was founded in December that year.
In February 2008, Wikileaks exposed money laundering by a swiss bank via the Cayman Islands. This also resulted in the first legal charge against Wikileaks. So, from very early on, it became apparent that those who expose corruption would suffer the punishment rather than those who perpetrate it.
In November 2009, Wikileaks published a comprehensive archive of text pager messages recorded in the United States on September 11th, 2001.
In 2010, things really got serious.
In April 2010, we saw the release of the “collateral murder” video. Wikileaks released video footage taken by a US military helicopter during a military strike on Baghdad Iraq and the casualties that resulted. US Apache helicopters launched an aerial attack in East Baghdad on July 12, 2007, killing at least 12 people. Among them were Reuters photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and camera assistant Saeed Chmagh. Saleh Matasher Tomal, a driver who tried to help those wounded was also killed, while his two children were injured. A military investigation cleared everyone involved and claimed to find no information of how the two children were hurt. Go here to find out more and see the video for yourself.
Whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning, then 22, an intelligence analyst stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, near Baghdad later admitted passing vast archives of military and diplomatic files to Wikileaks. Manning found the video material while browsing two classified networks used by the department of defence and state department. Manning is said to have been horrified at the footage and smuggled the files out on writable CDs labelled ‘Lady Gaga’. He wanted to “spark debate about foreign policy.”
Next, in July 2010, came US classified military documents on the war in Afghanistan with details of civilian victims and alleged links between Pakistan and the Taliban.
So, what about those ‘sexual assault’ allegations?
In August 2010, Julian Assange became subject to claims of sexual assault by two women. An arrest warrant was issued and then postponed till November. Five days after Assange’s arrest is ordered, a more senior prosecutor reviewed the women’s interviews and decided to end the rape investigation, having made the assessment that the evidence did not disclose any offence of rape. A month after that, the rape investigation was resumed by Sweden’s director of public prosecutions. Assange has always denied the allegations. Link below for agreed facts of this case.
In November 2010, Sweden’s arrest warrant for Julian Assange is reissued. A month later, he hands himself into UK police pending a court ruling on a Swedish extradition request. While on bail, Assange tells the media that the sexual assault allegations are part of a politically motivated campaign due to his Wikileaks activities. I recommend reading the information in the above link before making up your own mind.
At the very least, the information available suggests the charges were trumped up and opportunistic. Julian Assange made at least two regrettable decisions during his visit to Sweden in 2010. He picked the wrong two women to have sex with. This isn’t a judgement about the encounters or the women. It just doesn’t make him a rapist. It did give his enemies a prime opportunity to capitalise, which they have been doing ever since.
After more than a years’ worth of legal wrangling in the UK the Supreme Court ruled that Assange must be tried in Sweden.
In June 2012, Assange makes a plea for asylum to Ecuador. Assange and his supporters argue that his removal to Sweden would be followed by potential extradition to the US, likely on Espionage Act charges, where he could face the death penalty. So, the Swedish extradition case is alleged to have amounted to a US manoeuvre to get their hands on Assange, as the UK at the time wouldn’t have extradited Assange to the US where he would have been at risk of the death penalty.
In June 2013, Assange says he won’t leave the Ecuadorian embassy even if the Swedish arrest warrant is withdrawn due to fears of US extradition plans. Legal wrangling in Sweden now for over a year, over the arrest warrant, which ultimately stands.
By October 12th 2015, the day UK police call off its permanent vigil outside the Ecuadorian Embassy, their 24hour watch had cost the British taxpayer an estimated £12m. A short time later, CCTV cameras were installed instead.
On 5th February 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention supports Assange’s legal teams appeal, saying he is being ‘arbitrarily detained’ at the Ecuadorian Embassy. It urges an end to his ‘depravation of liberty’.
On November 14th 2016, Swedish authorities question Assange in the embassy over a two day period. On May 19th 2017, the rape case is dropped.
To save this post lasting forever I’ve skipped some details. For those wishing to know more, I suggest they start here.
Suffice it to say, the drama continues. Assange’s difficulties with Ecuador’s president Moreno seems to have started in December 2017, when Assange tweeted support for Catalan independence. Moreno is said to have told Assange “not to interfere in the politics of nations that are our friends.” By October 2018, Ecuador had cut off Assange’s communications and internet access.
On November 16th 2018, Assange is named in a court filing in Virginia. The document says the charges “would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested…and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition.” The US Justice Department says the filing was made in error.
On March 12th 2019, the IMF approves $4.2bn loan for Ecuador. A few weeks later, Ecuador’s President Moreno blames Wikileaks for recent allegations of corruption.
On April 11th 2019, Julian Assange is arrested by British police after being invited inside the embassy by the Ecuadorian ambassador. The arrest is for breaching bail conditions in 2012, as well as on behalf of US authorities. Finding Assange guilty of skipping bail, a UK judge called him a “narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest.”
Where did the UK judge get their inspiration from for their comments made when finding Assange guilty only a few hours after his arrest?
In April 2017, then CIA director Mike Pompeo (now US secretary of state) called Assange a “narcissist who has created no thing of value”, in the cause of “personal self-aggrandisement through the destruction of Western values.” Talk about fore-armed? Aren’t judges supposed to hear a case before deciding? This couldn’t have been more of a setup, and transparently so.
The only Western values being destroyed is by the likes of Mike Pompeo and his US cohorts, together with their all too willing British lapdogs, as they assume no responsibility for the terrorist and murderous actions of their respective administrations, foreign policy and regime change wars. Instead, they expect the masses to make like nodding dogs, accepting whatever ‘alternative truth’ they see fit to feed us.
Whatever anyone thinks about Julian Assange, he and Wikileaks have made a huge contribution to ending the sublime hypocrisy of the major Western powers. Because of Assange, we are no longer fooled by the lies of corrupt politicians and the corporations that ultimately control them. It’s just not so easy now for us to be fooled into a regime change war, on the pretext of some false flag or other.
This ultimately is what Assange’s extradition to the US is all about. It’s about sending a message to any other journalist who may feel tempted to stray from the mainstream narrative. Do so at your peril.