…By a fellow whistleblower
The barbarity of wars
In Franz Kafka’s story Metamorphosis, a travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa, wakes up one morning to discover that he has turned into a giant insect. This is not dissimilar to what has happened to Julian Assange. Tired of his uncomfortable presence in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the UK government, acting in concert with others, have engineered his removal.
While the TV news shows him being pulled screaming from the embassy, we are fed lies to distract us from what Assange and WikiLeaks have achieved: the huge cache of information they released that exposed the barbarity of US-led oil wars in the Middle East.
Through half-closed eyes, we watched footage secretly obtained from US government sources by WikiLeaks of the helicopter gunships killing Reuters journalists and civilians, then returning to finish off their rescuers.
Uncomfortable truths about the “war on terror” have been replaced with stories of how Assange murdered his own cat and smeared faeces on the walls of the embassy.
We are told that he wore the same socks for days, skateboarded through the corridors and ate food with his hands.
It ends with pictures of the wretched man being hauled off to Belmarsh Prison, Britain’s very own Guantanamo.
His dehumanisation allows for his permanent exile from society and gives licence to the State to inflict whatever penalties they choose to impose.
Additionally, without courageous people like Assange, they have carte blanche to impose their barbarities across the world. This principle has not been lost, even on those in the military.
The “War on Terror”
Mike Lyons, a Royal Navy submariner and today a member for Veterans for Peace, has said:
“I remember unashamedly shedding a tear the first time I saw the collateral murder video. To see such callousness and disregard for human life by the crews of the Apache helicopters made me question the part I played in the military machine.”
For expressing these views, Lyons was court-martialled and served seven months in a military prison before being “dishonorably” discharged.
Lies about Assange have been accompanied by farce.
The Swedish allegations
His embassy arrest was made on the grounds of his “failure to appear in court” for a hearing based on an expired Swedish extradition request.
Contrary to most press reports, there were two women involved, one from Enköping and the second living in Stockholm. After separate sexual encounters with him, the two wanted to track Assange down to be tested for sexually-transmitted diseases.
The mass media have incorrectly reported that he was charged with rape. They chose to ignore the words of the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finné, who said, “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”
They also choose not to report that on 19 May 2017, Finné applied to the Stockholm District Court to rescind Assange’s arrest warrant, effectively ending the investigation against him.
Sweden tried to drop Assange’s extradition, but the English Crown Prosecution Service has continued to behave as if it is still in place.
Finally, the two women who made the complaints against him withdrew them, with one saying that she had been pressured into making them by prosecutors linked to Swedish intelligence and their US overseers.
She was “shocked” when they arrested him because she only “wanted him to take [an HIV] test”. She “did not want to accuse Assange of anything . . . it was the police who made up the charges”.
She has been quoted as saying, “I have not been raped” and that she had been “railroaded by police and others”.
Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape have stated :
“The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction . . . The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will.”
What sentence would Julian Assange face?
Behind all this has been the US government who, according to Edward Snowden, have placed Assange on a “manhunt target list”.
Washington’s bid to get him, say Australian diplomatic cables, is “unprecedented in scale and nature”.
According to John Pilger: “a secret grand jury has spent years attempting to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted”.
To date, all the US has managed to come up with is a sealed indictment charging Assange with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified US government computer”.
Although this count carries a maximum five year sentence — less than the time Assange has been trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy — it hasn’t stopped Republican Senator, Ben Sasse, tweeting that he should serve “the rest of his life” in prison and US ex-Vice President Joe Biden declaring that Assange is a “cyber-terrorist”.
Is journalism the next target?
Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who worked with Assange and WikiLeaks to help Edward Snowden escape US arrest said:
“If you’re cheering Assange’s arrest based on a US extradition request, your allies in your celebration are the most extremist elements of the Trump Administration, whose primary and explicit goal is to criminalize reporting on classified docs & punish [WikiLeaks] for exposing war crimes.”
If Assange and WikiLeaks are succesfully criminalised, the next step will be to outlaw independent online news sources like The London Economic as a practice run before they come for newspapers like The Guardian.
On a personal note, I write as someone who was a whistleblower.
During the four-and-a-half years I sought to bring corruption to light, I was sacked and lost my income and reputation, but it was nothing compared to the sacrifices made by Julian Assange, and others such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
They have suffered imprisonment, torture and exile in their attempts to inform the public of State-inflicted horrors. They have my undying gratitude for their sacrifice and courage for the “crime” of being truth-tellers in a time of lies, cynicism and war.
By David Wilson, anti-war activist, co-founder of War Child and whistleblower