Videos and headlines surfaced last night (AEST) of Julian Assange being forced out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and straight into a police van. In a faint voice – he certainly looked and sounded like he’d spent 7 years locked in a small room – he was calling “the UK must resist”. Seeing as Ecuador’s corrupt and bought President betrayed him, and the UK has now arrested him for probable extradition to the US, it is up to his home country to take a stand. Australia.
His arrest and forceful removal from the Embassy, according to one of his lawyers Renata Ávila, is illegal under International Law and, as Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship, also illegal under Ecuador’s own constitutional law. His arrest was not for the charges against him in the UK (breaching bail), but police confirmed he was arrested for the US charge of aiding Chelsea Manning (also recently imprisoned after being freed) in 2010. This abuse of his rights was carried out due to an extradition request.
Far from being arrested and carted off to the US, the man should be hailed as a hero of press freedom and government transparency. WikiLeaks has provided an invaluable service, both in the acquisition and publishing of documents and in the protection of whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Some seem to accuse WikiLeaks, and specifically Assange, for being supporters of Trump after releasing a number of DNC emails that allegedly damaged Clinton’s campaign.
For starters, Clinton ruined her own campaign enough without needing help from WikiLeaks. Secondly, while a portion of WikiLeaks’ own support base does seem to have an unhealthy addiction to Hillary and Bill Clinton, I believe the organisation and many of its sane supporters are simply anti-imperialist, which implies the entirety of the US government, not just the side you don’t like.
The fact that it is the Trump administration jailing Manning again and pressuring endlessly for Assange’s extradition seems to disprove the notion that they are ‘buddies’ in conspiracy with Russia. Instead, the US is pressuring the UK and corrupting Ecuador through IMF bailouts in an increasingly desperate attempt to capture Assange.
What needs to happen, and what I have believed and stated for years, is that Australia needs to step forward and bring him back here. Some say Morrison even called the election yesterday, not only to stop Parliament from discussing rather important matters today, but to divert attention here from the Assange case. No way to prove that, obviously, but successive Australian leaders have been deathly silent on Assange, no doubt due to us being so beholden to US interests.
To the contrary, however, any political party that stands up for Julian Assange, be it the Coalition, Labor, or the Greens, will almost certainly gain much credibility and support from the people. I’d issue it as a challenge to the parties, especially the Greens, to call for his return. Sadly I doubt any of them have the will to do so.
Julian Assange must be freed, and he should be returned to Australia to avoid extradition to the US. Who knows what will happen to him if he’s spirited away to that hellhole.
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