“Assange and WikiLeaks have benefited the world by combatting undue secrecy, exposing illegal cover-ups and championing transparency in government”
In the latest Media Lens blockbuster, David Edwards quotes journalist Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers:
‘Political asylum was made for cases like this. Freedom for Julian in Ecuador would serve the cause of freedom of speech and of the press worldwide. It would be good for us all; and it would be cause to honor, respect and thank Ecuador.’
In considering Assange’s plight, it is also worth considering the tremendous good he has done at extreme personal risk. Coleen Rowley, a former FBI Special Agent and Division Counsel, commented:
‘WikiLeaks’ efforts combating undue secrecy, exposing illegal cover-ups and championing transparency in government have already benefited the world. And I’m convinced, more than ever, that if that type of anti-secrecy publication had existed and enabled the proper information sharing in early 2001, it could have not only prevented the 9/11 attacks but it could have exposed the fabricating of intelligence and deceptive propaganda which enabled the Bush Administration to unjustifiably launch war on Iraq.’
Does Assange have good reason to fear extradition to the United States from Sweden?
On June 19, in a final bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange requested asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Credible commentators argue that Assange has good reason to fear extradition to the United States from Sweden. Ray McGovern, who was a CIA analyst for 30 years, commented:
‘Not only is Julian Assange within his rights to seek asylum, he is also in his right mind. Consider this: he was about to be sent to faux-neutral Sweden, which has a recent history of bowing to U.S. demands in dealing with those that Washington says are some kind of threat to U.S. security.’
Rebutting Obama’s assurances
Former US constitutional and civil rights lawyer Glenn Greenwald supplied some detail: ‘The evidence that the US seeks to prosecute and extradite Assange is substantial. There is no question that the Obama justice department has convened an active grand jury to investigate whether WikiLeaks violated the draconian Espionage Act of 1917. Key senators from President Obama’s party, including Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have publicly called for his prosecution under that statute. A leaked email from the security firm Stratfor – hardly a dispositive source, but still probative – indicated that a sealed indictment has already been obtained against him. Prominent American figures in both parties have demanded Assange’s lifelong imprisonment, called him a terrorist, and even advocated his assassination.’
Greenwald argued that smaller countries like Sweden are more vulnerable to American manipulation. Moreover, Sweden ‘has a disturbing history of lawlessly handing over suspects to the US. A 2006 UN ruling found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for helping the CIA render two suspected terrorists to Egypt, where they were brutally tortured.’ Greenwald concluded that Assange’s ‘fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational and well-grounded’.
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, explained the risks associated with extradition to Sweden: ‘Sweden does not have bail. Now, these are on allegations of sex charges — allegations, no charges — and they’re to interrogate Julian Assange. But despite that, he would have been in prison in Sweden. At that point, our view is that there was a substantial chance that the U.S. would ask for his extradition to the United States . . . once he comes to the United States—we just hold up Bradley Manning as example one of what will happen to Julian Assange: a underground cell, essentially abuse, torture, no ability to communicate with anybody, facing certainly good chance of a life sentence, with a possibility, of course, of one of these charges being a death penalty charge… A UN investigation found that Manning’s pre-trial conditions of severe solitary confinement were ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’.
As a serving US soldier, rather than a journalist, Manning was certainly more vulnerable to this type of punishment. But consider the ferocity with which US elites are pursuing Assange . . .
Read the scathing analysis in the second part of ‘Incinerating Assange – The Liberal Media Go To Work’ at http://www.medialens.org/