World famous Journalist Julian Assange fights for a new appeal and release from prison

Hearings took place in the High Court in London this week to decide whether Julian Assange should be allowed to make a new appeal against his extradition to the United States.

Robert Harneis (DR)
Robert Harneis (DR)

By Robert Harneis

The on-line journalist has been held in the British Bellmarsh high security prison in London for five years. He has been found guilty of no crime but is the victim of a United States extradition process that has crawled its way through the courts since he was dragged illegally from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London five years ago. The United States has at least twice changed the grounds for extradition although Assange’s lawyers have not been given similar opportunities to oppose them.

Held for five years in Bellmarsh

He had taken refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid false accusations of rape seemingly concocted by the Swedish and British governments both of whom have become totally subservient to Washington, knowing that the United States intended to reveal spying charges and then demand extradition. The rape charges were dropped in 2019 as unfounded but Assange remains in prison.
Washington wants Assange partly for revenge because it was his online Wikileaks site that revealed so many disreputable American secrets, not just the video of the heartless machine gunning of Iraqi civilians, medical staff and Reuters journalists. An example is the memo to US embassy staff throughout the world, from the then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, urging them to steal the credit card numbers and DNA details of their diplomatic opposite numbers. Their relentless persecution of the Australian is also about terrorizing other journalists from copying him. For the record Wikileaks have revealed the secrets of many governments not just the United States.

Assange could die in prison

Julian Assange (Photo SNJ)
Julian Assange (Photo SNJ)

It is extraordinary that other more docile media entities like the British Guardian have not been prosecuted for revealing the same information. The legal arguments before the courts are relatively simple – should a person be extradited for a political offense or not? Is the proposed sentence disproportionate? Do the CIAs plots against Assange invalidate their extradition request? But the legal proceedings have proceeded at snail’s pace whilst Assange rotted in what was virtually continuous solitary confinement. He is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day and allowed one hour of recreation but without going out into the open air.
Assange suffers from ill health and there is a strong suspicion that the British and American governments would be only too happy if he died in prison, thus avoiding the odium of transferring him into the notoriously harsh US prison regime with its very politically oriented courts. There he risks spending the rest of his life in prison despite British judges claiming to believe otherwise.
He was too ill to attend the hearing. The fear is that if he is taken to the United States he will die of ill health or commit suicide.

Seven years at the Ecuadorian Embassy

Before he was imprisoned in Bellmarsh in South East London – known as the British Guantanamo – he benefited from political asylum with the Ecuadorians for seven years. He took refuge there because he was tipped off that the British and US governments intended to have him arrested and taken to America. During that time he was unlawfully spied on by the CIA during meetings with his lawyers. They also allegedly plotted to murder or kidnap him.
Assange may have his appeal refused. But this would make both the British and US governments look very bad as elections approach. Informed legal opinion believes that leave for a new appeal will be granted. But, due to the law’s delays, it will not be heard until the Autumn… conveniently after the US presidential elections. The days of fearless independent British justice are long gone.
Both governments are acutely aware that the world is watching to see whether the constant British and US preaching to other governments about observing the rule of law and human rights, actually mean anything or are just more hypocrisy and double standards.
Meanwhile his wife and supporters are demanding his immediate release as he has committed no crime.
Julian Assange has won multiple awards for his journalism.

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