The Biden administration continues the Trump prosecution of Julian Assange. The case ought to be dismissed out of hand but the U.S. and its ally the UK are determined to punish Assange for revealing war crimes committed by the US/NATO Axis.
The U.S. effort to extradite Julian Assange from the U.K. continues despite the so-called “revelation” that the CIA plotted to kill him. It continues despite the fact that a key witness in the Department of Justice’s case against Assange, FBI informant Sigurdur Thordarson, not only admitted to lying to the prosecution last summer but has also been apprehended by authorities in Iceland. According to the Icelandic newspaper Stundin, Thordarson has been accused of going on a “crime spree,” which includes serious charges of financial fraud. Thordarson’s history of sexual abuse, pedophilia, and lying under oath in U.S. courts should close the case to extradite Assange yet the Biden administration has made no indication of doing any such thing.
Julian Assange’s case is indicative of a poisoned American psyche that has suffered from prolonged exposure to what Martin Luther King Jr. called the triple evils of capitalism, racism, and militarism. In the modern era, these evils have consolidated into a military-media industrial complex which has effectively merged the interests of corporations, military institutions, and the so-called “mass” corporate media. The United States is the only country in the world where majorities of people hold a negative view of WikiLeaks and believe Assange to be a criminal. That’s because the corporate media generally ignores Julian Assange’s case. When it is covered, Assange is portrayed as nothing more than an agent of a foreign government and an international criminal of the highest order.
The Yahoo! report on the CIA plot to kill Assange only reinforced the lie that the imprisoned journalist was an agent of Russia. According to Joe Lauria, Yahoo! reported that Russian informants planned on sneaking Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in 2017. The claim was made up by intelligence contractor UC Global in order to keep its $200,000 per month contract with the CIA. The authors of the Yahoo! report, which includes Russiagate enthusiast Michael Isikoff, left out this inconvenient truth from their story. The attempt to connect Assange with Russia is not a new phenomenon. Ever since WikiLeaks released the DNC’s emails implicating the Democrats in election rigging and Vault7, a series of documents revealing the CIA’s immense hacking capabilities, the U.S. corporate media has worked overtime to portray Assange as an agent of the Kremlin dedicated to undermining the United States.
Assange is repeatedly maligned by the U.S. elite because his award-winning journalism has exposed the criminality of the U.S.-led imperialist world system. His case demonstrates that propaganda works. Leading Democrats have cheered on censorship in a bid to ensure that Assange’s work cannot serve as an antidote to the poisoned American psyche. Furthermore, the U.S. effort to murder Assange is part and parcel of a larger campaign to manufacture consent for endless war. The entanglement of Assange in Russiagate’s big lie that Russia rigged the 2016 election with the help of WikiLeaks is not only a coordinated operation to discredit his work but also a key component of the U.S.’s military campaign against Russia.
Of course, Russiagate is only one big lie in a basket of lies told about Assange in U.S. media. U.S. spook agencies have used their endless media access to frame Assange as both an enormous threat and an unstable, careless actor. For the years Assange languished in the Ecuadorian embassy, U.S. and Western media portrayed Assange not as a victim but rather a deranged individual who has only punished himself by refusing to surrender himself to the U.S. “justice” system. The truth is that UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer has already confirmed that Assange is a victim of torture—an experience that is validated by his long-term isolation in the embassy and his treatment in Belmarsh prison, popularly known as the U.K.’s Guantanamo Bay. The United States is seeking to destroy Assange and use him as an example of what happens to those who dare use journalistic methods to meaningfully expose its many crimes.
Julian Assange’s fate is thus intimately tied to the U.S.’s supposedly beloved right to “free speech.” The treatment of Assange renders “free speech” a farce within the so-called “civilized” Western world order. More than this, Assange is a reflection of the repressive roots of the U.S.-led imperialist system. Under this system, democracy has always been an exclusive privilege of the rich. The frame-up and imprisonment of Assange follows a long U.S. tradition of violent repression against social movements and organizations that dare to play a role in the rectification of historic injustices.
This legacy includes, but is not limited to, the violent methods employed to silence Black people during the period of mass enslavement and the equally violent means wielded during Jim Crow to ensure they were stripped of political and economic power following emancipation. The anti-communist crusade against radical intellectuals and labor organizers during the Cold War laid the basis for the imprisonment of Assange by targeting all critics of oppression as “Reds.” COINTELPRO and the larger U.S. government campaign to destroy the Black and Indigenous liberation movements helped dismantle entire organizations such as the Black Panther Party and produce dozens of political prisoners such as Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal who have been locked behind prison walls for decades on political grounds.
The late Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford believed that the names of political prisoners should be said with as much ferocity and frequency as the names of Black people slain by police. It is also true that the names of political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal should be said in the same sentence as Assange. U.S. political prisoners and Assange share key similarities. Assange is being punished for his commitment to truth and justice just as Mumia Abu-Jamal and U.S. political prisoners are punished for their struggle to liberate humanity from the repressive forces that Assange has exposed. And just as Assange has seen his character villainized, so too have U.S. political prisoners been depicted as “cop killers” and criminals to justify their ongoing incarceration.
Julian Assange’s freedom is imperative because it is his kind of journalism which helps develop the power of the people through elevating their understanding of the oppressive realities that shape the global system of imperialism. WikiLeaks’ contributions helped break the cycle of U.S. public support for endless war. The attack on Assange and WikiLeaks has made U.S. war propaganda that much more effective, as evidenced by recent polling data that suggests a majority of the U.S. population supports military intervention in Taiwan against China.
The American psyche will remain poisoned until a higher level of consciousness exists among left political forces that can propel them into develop a winning campaign to free Julian Assange and all political prisoners. Freedom for Assange will not only save his life, but also the future of journalism itself. On October 22nd, Stand with Assange New York is organizing an event to discuss what is next for Julian Assange and what we can do to support his campaign for freedom. You can register for that event, here.
Danny Haiphong is a contributing editor to Black Agenda Report and co-author of the book “American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People's History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.” He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow his work on Twitter @SpiritofHo and on YouTube as co-host with Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report Present's: The Left Lens. You can support Danny on Patreon by clicking this link.