Friday, October 7, 2011

The 'Getting' Of Assange And The Smearing Of A Revolution by John Pilger

Martin Luther King
 
The 'Getting' of Assange and the Smearing of a Revolution
 
by John Pilger
 
Global Research, October 6, 2011
 
The High Court in London will soon to decide whether Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct. At the appeal hearing in July, Ben Emmerson QC, counsel for the defence, described the whole saga as “crazy”. Sweden’s chief prosecutor had dismissed the original arrest warrant, saying there was no case for Assange to answer. Both the women involved said they had consented to have sex. On the facts alleged, no crime would have been committed in Britain.
 
However, it is not the Swedish judicial system that presents a “grave danger” to Assange, say his lawyers, but a legal device known as a Temporary Surrender, under which he can be sent on from Sweden to the United States secretly and quickly. The founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who published the greatest leak of official documents in history, providing a unique insight into rapacious wars and the lies told by governments, is likely to find himself in a hell hole not dissimilar to the “torturous” dungeon that held Private Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower. Manning has not been tried, let alone convicted, yet on 21 April, President Barack Obama declared him guilty with a dismissive “He broke the law”.

This Kafka-style justice awaits Assange whether or not Sweden decides to prosecute him. Last December, the Independent disclosed that the US and Sweden had already started talks on Assange’s extradition. At the same time, a secret grand jury – a relic of the 18th century long abandoned in this country -- has convened just across the river from Washington, in a corner of Virginia that is home to the CIA and most of America’s national security establishment. The grand jury is a “fix”, a leading legal expert told me: reminiscent of the all-white juries in the South that convicted blacks by rote. A sealed indictment is believed to exist. 
 
Under the US Constitution, which guarantees free speech, Assange should be protected, in theory. When he was running for president, Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, said, “Whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal”. His embrace of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” has changed all that. Obama has pursued more whistleblowers than any US president. The problem for his administration in “getting” Assange and crushing WikiLeaks is that military investigators have found no collusion or contact between him and Manning, reports NBC. There is no crime, so one has to be concocted, probably in line with Vice President Joe Biden’s absurd description of Assange as a “hi-tech terrorist”.
 

Should Assange win his High Court appeal in London, he could face extradition direct to the United States. In the past, US officials have synchronised extradition warrants with the conclusion of a pending case. Like its predatory military, American jurisdiction recognises few boundaries. As the suffering of Bradley Manning demonstrates, together with the recently executed Troy Davis and the forgotten inmates of Guantanamo, much of the US criminal justice system is corrupt if not lawless.
 
In a letter addressed to the Australian government, Britain’s most distinguished human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, who now acts for Assange, wrote, “Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions... it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”
 
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