Following the events in Sweden only one word is on the mouth of the mainstream media: rape. It is printed and repeated over and over again by journalists, commentators and Tv anchors. This (as we’ve seen in the first part of this article) is simply not an accurate description of the events nor a fair assessment of the judicial accusations. But after all, the whole point is not to fairly report what happened but to have the connection “Assange equal rapist” sink into the public’s mind. He is betrayed by his peers.
The journalists that worked with him on the leaks of the Afghan and Iraqi logs turn their backs on him and a smearing campaign of unprecedented proportions begins. He is called a “rapist”, a “narcissistic individual”, described as “full of himself”, an “attention seeker”, a “tool of Russian intelligence”, a “useful idiot”, a “criminal”, a “spy”… He is accused of having “hygiene problems”, of not “washing his hair” and “smearing his own excrements all over the walls” (this last one is from The Guardian).
This marks the first time in history that an award winning journalist, who brought to the public attention war crimes, is vilified for not washing his hair. Needless to say this is one of the lowest points in journalism’s history. But after all the intention is clear and, so it seems, no low blow is low enough. The mainstream media wants to assassinate his character, to turn Assange, a very popular figure amongst the public, into a monster.
Why would they do that? I can only give you my personal opinion and the first thing that comes to mind is the famous quote by Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”. Furthermore I believe they hated him because his model of publishing was a threat to their existence.
Assange believes that: “Transparency and accountability are moral issues that must be the essence of public life and journalism.” Or, in the words of Australian journalist, and friend of Assange, John Pilger “He believes that journalists are the agents of people, not power: that we, the people, have a right to know about the darkest secrets of those who claim to act in our name”. In fact Assange forced these “journalists” to look at themselves in the mirror and what they saw was their continuous compromising with the integrity of their profession and their advocating on behalf of the powers-that-be, because this is the easy way to do journalism. In short Assange put them to shame and they hated him for it.
POLITICAL ASYLUM IN THE ECUADORIAN EMBASSY
On the 20th of November 2010, the Swedish police issues an international arrest warrant for Assange. On the 8th of December, he gives himself up to British police and attends his first extradition hearing. He remains in custody.
On the 16th of December, during the second hearing, he is granted bail by the High Court and released after his supporters pay £240,000 in cash. A further hearing on 24 February 2011 rules that Assange should be extradited to Sweden. This decision was upheld by the High Court on the 2nd of November and by the Supreme Court on the 30th of May the next year.
Assange continuously claims his innocence and that he is not concerned about the proceedings in Sweden as such. He believes that the Swedish allegations are designed to discredit him and are a pretext for his extradition from Sweden to the United States where, he fears, he would face an unfair and biased trial that would conclude with his reclusion in some far away American hellhole. A proof of this belief is that Assange’s lawyers made over 30 offers to arrange for Assange to visit Sweden in exchange for a guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US. Of course these offers were never accepted.
On the 19th of June 2012, Julian Assange steps into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London seeking political asylum. Two months later, on the 18th of August, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa confirms that Assange can stay at the embassy indefinitely. In its formal statement, Ecuador says that “as a consequence of Assange’s determined defense to freedom of expression and freedom of press… in any given moment, a situation may come where his life, safety or personal integrity will be in danger”.
The Ecuadorian embassy is small; a three bedrooms flat surrounded by tall buildings that block all sun light. Assange describes it as “living in a spaceship”. He has no proper medical care, little space and little privacy. Heavily armed officers of the Metropolitan Police Service surround the building 24/7 ready to arrest him if he steps out. Long range cameras are placed in the buildings surrounding the embassy enforcing a 24/7 surveillance (spying?) system. In fact this becomes one of the most surveilled places in the world. Please remember that at this point all that Assange is accused of by the British justice system is skipping bail.
The police surveillance is withdrawn on grounds of cost in October 2015 (3 years later), but the police says they would still deploy “several overt and covert tactics to arrest him”. The cost of the policing for the period was reported to have been something between £12.6 and 16 million of taxpayers money.
On 5 February 2016, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention studies the case of Assange and concludes that he has been subject to arbitrary detention by the UK and Swedish Governments since the 7th of December 2010 (6 years), including his time in prison, on conditional bail and in the Ecuadorian embassy. The Working Group says Assange should be allowed to walk free and be given compensation. The UK and Swedish governments reject the claim.
Meanwhile Julian Assange continues to run WikiLeaks from inside the embassy.
EDWARD SNOWDEN AND GOOGLE
In 2013 Edward Snowden, a CIA employee and subcontractor, leaks highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA). His disclosures reveals numerous mass global surveillance programs run by the NSA with the cooperation of European governments. This initiates an international discussion about national security and individual privacy.
WikiLeaks has nothing to do with the leak nor it’s publishing other than, maybe, a spiritual affinity amongst whistleblowers. That is the most likely reason why, in June 2013, Assange and others in WikiLeaks help Snowden flee from US law enforcement and save his life. The details of the story are very interesting and entertaining but a bit long to tell in this article. I invite you to look for them on the internet.
In 2014 Assange publishes the book “When Google met WikiLeaks” which tells the story of Assange and Eric Schmidt’s (at the time the CEO of Google) encounter. In the book Assange reports the close intrinsic link between the various American espionage agencies that, through Google, monitor all the information that passes through the network. Furthermore, he warns us of the danger of the monopoly of Google’s services. He states “Over the last 15 years Google has grown within the internet like a parasite. Internet browsing, social networks, maps, satellites-drones, Google is inside our phone, on our desktop, it is invading every aspect of our lives: both personal and commercial. At this point, Google has a very real power over anyone who uses the internet; that is practically anyone in the contemporary world”. He also adds: “Google has become evil. It is now aligned with American foreign policy. This means for example that Google can intervene in the interest of the United States, it can end up compromising the privacy of billions of people, it can use the power of advertising for propaganda purposes.”
The two visions of the future of the internet that emerge from the book are the polar opposites: for Assange, “the liberating power of the network lies in its freedom and in its being a world without a state”. For Schmidt, however, “the emancipation of the internet coincides with the objectives of American foreign policy“.
“People like Schmidt”, Assange writes, “will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but any point of view that challenges American exceptionalism, at the basis of US foreign policy, will remain invisible to them. They believe they are doing good. And this is the problem”.
2016 US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
During the 2016 US Democratic Party presidential primaries, WikiLeaks pulls one of their most daring leaks ever by publishing emails sent or received by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. It’s a political earthquake of biblical proportions.
In short this is the story: Hillary Clinton sets up a private email server and network for herself, her family and her closest collaborators. This is forbidden by the law because doing so prevents her emails from being accessible to the federal government and the Congress. The server is stored at a Clinton-owned office in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares physical space with the Clinton Foundation’s server. Hillary Clinton has a lot of classified information on that server. Clinton team emails end up in the hands of Assange and he publishes them on WikiLeaks. The FBI begins an investigation on the premise that Hillary Clinton violated the Espionage Act of 1913 by allowing national defense information to be “lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed” through “gross negligence.”
When she finds out about the FBI investigation Hilary Clinton deletes thousands of emails with a software program called “BleachBit.” Clinton and her legal team use the software to destroy about 30,000 emails which she deems “personal.” But as Trey Gowdy, member of the House Oversight Committee, pointed out: “You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridesmaids emails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see,”
The FBI report says that Justin Cooper, an aide of the Clintons, destroyed two Clinton’s old mobile phones by “breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.” Nevertheless, following the investigation, FBI Director James Comey claims that Clinton was “extremely careless,” but there aren’t enough grounds to prosecute.
So what do these leaked email reveal? For the most part nothing new to those who had paid attention to Hillary Clinton’s political career. That is the questionable relationship between the Clinton Foundation and its donors, Clinton’s ease with powerful interests on Wall Street and her ties to wealthy campaign contributors (other than her secret recipe for the “perfect risotto” – I kid you not!).
But what else? Did the emails provide a smoking gun of some sort? No. But, in Assange’s words: “Clinton emails (…) create a rich picture of how Hillary Clinton performs in office, but, more broadly, how the US Department of State operates.”
One of these “rich pictures”, according to multiple observers, although this was never proven, portrayed the real reasons of the French/NATO invasion of Libya and the proactive involvement of Hillary Clinton in making the war happen. I must stress that this has not been officially proven by the emails (or any other source) but I report it because I personally find it both interesting and plausible.
So the story goes that Rais Muammar Gaddafi was trying, with the partnership of other African states, to free himself from the yoke of the IMF with the creation of a new pan-African currency. He wanted to stop selling Libyan oil in US dollars and begin demanding payment instead in gold-backed “dinars” (a planned single African currency made from gold-of which Libya had an estimated 150 tons of). This had the potential to bring down the dollar and the world monetary system by extension and is, allegedly, the reason for the invasion and the removal of Gaddafi.
Whatever happened in Libya, what’s certain is that on the 22nd of July 2016, WikiLeaks releases another batch of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee seemingly presenting ways to undercut Clinton’s more popular competitor Bernie Sanders and showing apparent favouritism towards her. This leads to the resignation of party chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and raises some very serious questions about the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton’s election as the Democratic candidate. The revelations made by WikiLeaks most definitely play a big role in her defeat against Donald Trump.
As we all know (it’s been repeated endlessly over the past four years) after her loss Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party began accusing both Julian Assange and Donald Trump of being Russian (Putin’s) puppets. They accuse Assange of being a Russian spy and the Russian government of having provided Assange with the leaked emails. In other words for the past four years the Democratic party has being accusing Russia to have hacked (stolen) the 2016 elections (Which is in itself interesting considering that today the same people claim that it’s impossible to do so).
Julian Assange never said where the leaks came from. In a July 2016 interview, he implied that DNC staffer Seth Rich was the source of the leak and that Rich had been killed as a result. WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information about his murder. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who conducted the investigation on possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections, claimed that Assange “implied falsely” that Rich was the source to obscure the fact that Russia was the source.
It is impossible, for now, to tell what the truth is. But one thing is certain: Julian Assange, in the eyes of the US government, had crossed the line. He had to be stopped. No matter how.
ARREST IN THE ECUADORIAN EMBASSY
On the 2nd of April 2017 Lenín Moreno, the centre-left candidate in the 2017 Ecuadorian presidential election wins a narrow victory. Soon after his election Moreno drastically shifts his political stance to the right, distancing himself from Correa’s leftist legacy and making neoliberal changes to both domestic and foreign policy. He wants, first and foremost, to improve the country’s relations with the US.
Following a June 2018 visit by US Vice President Mike Pence, Moreno buys weapons, radar sets, six helicopters and other equipment from the US. He also begins a cooperation with the US government that would include training and intelligence sharing. During their meeting Pence and Moreno also talk about Julian Assange. It becomes obvious to most that Assange is an item on the agreement.
Moreno and his government impose new restrictions to Assange. They place cameras everywhere in the embassy, search every visitor, cut his internet connection, forget to supply Assange with food and toilet paper… in short they make his life impossible.
Furthermore they allow an extensive surveillance operation against Assange from within the embassy. Then they accuse him of being rude to the staff, of being unclean, of stinking, of leaving shit in the toilet, of smearing faeces on the embassy walls… It is worth noting that during the 6 years Assange stayed in the embassy not one negative comment was made about his behaviour. And yet, during the 18 months of Moreno’s presidency, if we are to believe the official narrative, Assange becomes a wild beast.
In any case on the 11th of April 2019, Ecuador revokes his asylum, with Moreno saying Ecuador has “reached its limit on the behaviour of Mr Assange”. Moreno refers to Assange as a “spoiled brat” and a “miserable hacker”. On the same day the Metropolitan Police is allowed entrance into the embassy and arrests Assange in connection with his failure to surrender to the court in June 2012 for extradition to Sweden.
It is interesting to note that at this time Lenín Moreno and the Ecuadorian government were awaiting an upcoming decision by the International Monetary Fund to grant Ecuador a $4.2 billion loan. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the decision of revoking Assange’s asylum.
Assange is taken to Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, a Category-A (High security) men’s prison in Thamesmead, south-east London, known “amongst friends” as the UK’s Guantanamo. The prison is considered one of he toughest prisons in the world and is home to violent terrorists and murderers. The prison has been accused multiple times of mistreating it’s detainees.
The prison regime forces detainees to remain in small cells for 22 hours a day with precarious health and psychological assistance. Assange is denied the right to fraternise with other prisoners, he has no internet nor telephone access which considerably hinders his ability to prepare his defense.
At the cost of sounding repetitive I must remind you that at this time all that Assange is culpable of, in the eyes of the British law, is SKIPPING BAIL!!
On the 1st of May 2019 he is sentenced to 50 weeks imprisonment. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says that the verdict contravenes “principles of necessity and proportionality” for what it considered a “minor violation”. Nils Mielzer, special rapporteur on torture at the UN, who visits Assange together with two doctors who are experts in torture, confirms that the activist will probably die in prison if he is detained for a long time.
It is surprising to note that organisations, such as Amnesty International, which formally denounce any violation of human rights in countries classified as non-liberal, have not said a word or organised awareness campaigns for Julian Assange. The deafening silence of all journalist associations is less surprising but just as shameful.
END OF PART TWO To be continued…