No extradiction for Assange

Whenever I think of Julian Assange and the terrible vindictive campaign by the USA state, backed by our government, to keep him locked away, I remember the video clip, writes Dave Kellaway.

 

You may have seen it.  It is shot from a US helicopter gun ship and you see it firing on people a few hundred feet below. There is a chilling soundtrack too of the crew joshing and joking about their killing of Iraqis ( or was it Afghans? who it was changes nothing). The only reason the world saw that video clip was because Assange had built the WikiLeaks agency into an effective investigative news operation.

Assange has been locked away – first in 2012 when Ecuador granted him asylum in its London Embassy and then from 2019 in Belmarsh prison in London. He has not been convicted of any crime. The US government want to extradite him to charge him on offences against the Espionage Act. This act was notoriously used against whistle blowerslike Daniel Ellsberg who exposed what the American state was doing in Vietnam.  If the extradition is granted he could be sentenced to over a hundred years inside a US jail – a life sentence. Given the poor state of his health this could also be a virtual death sentence.

Make no mistake, the reason they want him is to stop people knowing the truth about what the US state and its huge military complex in doing on a global scale.  All the claims about jeopardising secret agents’ lives have been unproven. They use the catch 22 argument that they cannot provide the evidence because the operations are secret.

Many organisations like Amnesty or international journalist associations have spoken up and defended him. The Guardian newspaper has written a strong editorial supporting him. His courageous wife, Stella, has put out a thread on X (formerly twitter) outlining the legal arguments why he must be freed.

You would expect a mass party like Labour who claim to defend human rights and ethical values to have at least put out a statement or raised it in parliament or done something to stop the extradition.  It could be done without a full scale attack on the role of US imperialism. 

Keir Starmer, in another life that he has long since buried, defended people who the US corporate giant, Mcdonalds, had taken to court for libel. He also worked to support US prisoners on death row.  

A google search shows not a single statement against Assange’s extradition.  Today there is silence as he squirms towards adjusting the party line on a Gaza ‘sustainable ceasefire (soon to be redefined as a temporary truce because Biden has just decided that). Under Corbyn, Labour did take a position in support of Assange.

Today and tomorrow if you are able you can show your support for Assange by coming down to the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London, anytime after 8.30.


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Dave Kellaway is on the Editorial Board of Anti*Capitalist Resistance, a member of Socialist Resistance, and Hackney and Stoke Newington Labour Party, a contributor to International Viewpoint and Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres.

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