The true reasons behind the hunt for Assange’s head~ 11 min

By Duarte Guerreiro

On Wednesday, Julian Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy under London police arrest. In his hands he carried Gore Vidal’s book “History of the National Security State”, based on a series of interviews of the author by the Real News Network. While he was being carried away by agents, Assange cried out “You must resist!”.

The embassy had been his residence over the past seven years, ever since he sought refuge there from the United States and its allies’ transparent attempts at punishing him for the repeated occasions in which Wikileaks made them the world’s laughingstock.

When he was originally granted asylum, Rafael Correa was Ecuador’s President and Assange had the sympathy of the left-wing reformist ruler. Since then, Ecuador got a new president, bearing the ironic name of Lenín Moreno. Previously Rafael Correa’s Vice-President, Moreno has revealed himself to be a turncoat of the worst sort, dismantling much of his predecessor’s progressive legislation and aligning himself with the US in terms of international politics. Rafael Correa named him “the greatest traitor in the history of Ecuador and Latin America” for allowing the embassy and sovereignty of Ecuador to be violated by the surrender of Assange to his tormentors, in disrespect of the laws governing political asylum.

1. No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Article 3 of the United Nations Convention against Torture

Besides Ecuador, both the United States and Great Britain subscribe to the Convention. In fact, Ecuador even declares that:

Ecuador declares that, in accordance with the provisions of article 42 of its Political Constitution, it will not permit extradition of its nationals.

Assange had been granted Ecuadorian nationality on December 12, 2017. It was recently rescinded to allow his expulsion from the embassy, alleging Assange’s documents contained irregularities.

Assange’s living conditions at the embassy have been severely degraded since the election of Moreno, who basically tried to impose a total interdiction on Assange’s political or journalistic activities, as ordered by the North-Americans. His communication with the outside world had already been limited to the extreme. His access to the Internet and phone communications was contingent on terms dictated by the US and visits by journalists were controlled and spied on to the extreme.

Moreno is under fire due to the so called “INA Papers” scandal. These have implicated President Moreno, his family and close friends in a network of bribery, influence trading, money laundering and offshoring.

Moreno’s government has tried to attribute the leaks to Assange and Wikileaks, yet provided no evidence for these claims. The other side says that they only provided public commentary about the case while denying any direct involvement in the revelations.

Moreno’s credibility with Ecuadorians is now at 17%. Meanwhile, Moreno is using Assange as a bargaining chip with the US in order to obtain a deal regarding international debt relief. In February of this year, the IMF lent Ecuador 10.2 billion dollars.

Assange is now facing the possibility of being extradited to the US, where a farcical trial awaits him, heralding grave implications for journalistic freedom. No matter what shape the accusations take, what is really on trial is if publishing the embarrassing secrets of Western governments should or should not be considered a crime worthy of imprisonment – or perhaps an even worse fate.

Wikileaks’ victories

Under this climate, we must assume that we will hear many more fabrications on why Assange is being persecuted. It is thus important to remember the many and explosive Wikileaks revelations who have earned them the Empire’s wrath, and to contrast these with the petty reasons being publicized by the media.

“Collateral Murder”

On April 5, 2010, the first Wikileaks revelation to capture the whole world’s attention appears. A 17 minute video shows a combat helicopter pilot massacring civilians in the New Baghdad suburb in Iraq. Besides the wounded and killed Iraqi civilians, including children, two Reuters journalists are torn apart by the strike.

The video shows the reality behind the “intelligent” and sanitized US wars. Behind the lie is the good old imperial war machine, indiscriminate and gratuitous. The video is viewed millions of times all over the world – the version at the Wikileaks website alone has 16 million views.

The Afghanistan and Iraq logs

On July 25 and October 22, 2010, respectively, Wikileaks reveals the Afghanistan and Iraq logs. These are a collection of documents belonging to the North-American war machine which prove that the US is hiding the true cost of its wars in terms of civilian lives, along with the use of indiscriminate force on civilians by its own troops and mercenaries. Furthermore, they also show how the Western troops have been turning a blind eye to the torture practices of the Iraqi forces.

Most importantly, it unmasks the propaganda claiming that the United States are winning some kind of undefined “victory” in the Middle East. The logs show a continuously deteriorating situation with no end in sight.

The Guantánamo files

On April 25, 2011, Wikileaks revealed information on the nature and conditions of the detainees at the extrajudicial North-American detention camp of Guantánamo. The documents show that 150 of the detainees have no connection to terrorism – they are just innocents who were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Imprisoned for years with no rights or trial and subjected to interrogations seeking to extract information which they do not possess, almost 100 detainees are found to be in a depressive or psychotic state.

Internal State documents

These aren’t a single revelation, but a set of them between 2009 and 2018. They include secret American Congress reports, the contents of the email accounts of major figures working for the espionage apparatus, an enormous collection of US diplomatic dispatches, revelations about North-American spying of its own allies and information about the tools used by spying agencies, among other revelations.

Image by Carlos Latuff for Wikileaks

The American State isn’t the only one targeted. Wikileaks also reveals information about the dealings of the Syrian, Saudi, German, European Union and United Arab Emirates States, among others.

The revelations expose the United States’ contempt for all international rights, including those of its allies. The situation ends up becoming a major diplomatic blow. The world is reminded of John Dulles maxim: “The United States of America does not have friends; it has interests”.

The Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s emails

In 2016, the communications of the Democratic National Committee are leaked. The Committee is responsible, among other things, for nominating a Democratic Party candidate for the presidential elections.

The emails show that the supposedly neutral Committee is in fact under the control of the Clinton wing of the party and has been doing everything under its control to benefit the establishment’s candidate in detriment of more viable rivals, and to the advantage of their Republican opponents.

These include strategic discussions about implicitly accusing Bernie Sanders of being an atheist, in order to harm his image with the religious electorate. Or about the benefits of providing a veneer of respectability to Trump’s candidacy by answering his media antics seriously and thus elevate his credibility as a contender. It was calculated that his candidacy was one of the few against which Clinton might win. Behind her pseudo-populist and pseudo-feminist media coverage paid for with billionaires’ money, Clinton was highly unpopular as a candidate.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks also revealed that Clinton was using a low security personal email server where she exchanged correspondence regarding State secrets, further eroding her artificial reputation as a serious stateswoman.

Image by Carlos Latuff for Wikileaks

In the aftermath, Clinton ignominiously lost to Trump, a third-rate reality TV star, where Sanders would have easily won. For the ambitions of one of History’s monsters (a major pusher for the military interventions in Libya and Syria) and the servility of her political mafia, the world must endure a Trump presidency.

Furious with the electorate and incapable of recognizing their own grave mistakes, the Democratic Party apparatus and the media which closed ranks around Clinton launched themselves into a Russophobia spectacle not seen since the Cold War. The blame over the lost election could not possibly be due to their own gross incompetence. It must have been Putin, hiding under the bed of every God-fearing American while publishing Facebook memes so devastating that they are tearing the Republic apart.

We have not yet seen the end of this episode. As the chances vanish of ever seeing concrete evidence that Russia did all it is accused of, such as being responsible for the hacked emails, the horde of careerist conmen filling their pockets with media fueled paranoia are only going to double down on the conspiracy theories.

One of the likely outcomes is that, barring a half-serious reformist candidacy such as one by Sanders, Trump will be reelected. He only needs to point at the thunderous failure of the “Russiagate” narrative and ask the electorate: “If they lied about these accusations, what else have they lied about? Why will you believe anything my enemies say about me?”

Exposing the spying industry

One of the growth sectors after September 11 is the private spying industry, which includes companies such as Stratfor, Hacking Team and Peter Service. All have suffered information leaks which were later published by Wikileaks, exposing not only their spying campaigns but also their methods.

It showed how these companies, beyond the usual spying between nations and corporations, are also used to spy on civilian political action groups. For example, Stratfor was hired by Dow Chemical to spy on activists seeking justice over the Bhopal disaster in India; Coca-Cola hired them to spy on PETA; they also spied on Occupy Wall Street.

They revealed the press as cowards

Wikileaks has many other famous revelations to its name, such as publishing the communications of the “sultan” Erdogan’s AKP party in Turkey; or the revelations about high impact trade agreements such as the TTIP, which were being negotiated behind the backs of the people who will feel their consequences.

However, one of Wikileaks most interesting revelations was indirect: they showed how much the serious and respectable press is nothing but the domesticated animal of the powerful.

For example, the data leaked to Wikileaks by Chelsea Manning was the basis for the “Collateral Murder” video, the Afghanistan and Iraq logs and the Guantánamo Files. But before approaching Wikileaks, Manning had contacted the Washington Post and the New York Times. The first showed little interest; the second didn’t even call back.

When the media finally started to publish the Wikileaks revelations, it was always with a resentful attitude. Their hand was forced either because a story had become too big to ignore or because they had to cooperate with the organization as it grew in importance for fear of losing an exclusive or not being the first to publish a breaking story.

The bitterness, however, remained. To their eyes, Assange is nothing but an intruder in their backyard. They had previously enjoyed a quiet life of rewriting State Department and Foreign Affairs press-releases filled with outrageous lies designed to help sell wars to the public, like the Iraq War. To their final hour, they will hate Assange and Wikileaks for revealing they are a farce and for forcing them to do their jobs.

This is why we can’t count on them to tell the truth. We are already witnessing the strategy by which Assange’s rights and legacy are to be ignored. It will be a barrage of petty and legalistic attacks seeking to depoliticize what is clearly a political persecution. Assange broke a subparagraph rule of the (unilaterally imposed) deal with Ecuador. Assange misfiled the asylum papers. Assange might have helped Manning break a password. Assange was rude to the Ecuadorian ambassador. Assange revealed irrelevant personal details of some war criminal. And so on, until we discover that Assange doesn’t wash behind his ears when taking a bath.

But let us not be fooled. Assange and Wikileaks have embarrassed the masters of the world. What they want is his head on a plate, and to obtain it they will set every precedent required against press freedom and international law.

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