The Cruel Persecution of Assange Represents a Deep Crisis of Western Democracy
The Cruel Persecution of Assange Represents a Deep Crisis of Western Democracy By Nozomi Hayase – Information Clearing House
This has been the 7th year that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spent Christmas in confinement inside Ecuador’s London embassy. For nearly a decade, the US government’s aggressive witch-hunt of truthtellers has trapped him in the UK.
Assange claimed political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to mitigate the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his publishing activities. He has been unlawfully held by the UK government without charge, being denied access to medical treatment, fresh air, sunlight and adequate space to exercise. In December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange was being “arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released”. Yet the UK government’s refusal to comply with the UN finding has allowed this unlawful detention to continue.
This cruel persecution of Assange represents a deep crisis of Western democracy. As injustice against this Western journalist prevails, the legitimacy of traditional institutions has weakened. The benevolent Democracy that many were taught to believe in has been shown to be an illusion. It has been revealed as a system of control, lacking enforcement mechanisms in law to deal with real offenders of human rights violations, who for example illegally invade countries under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Under this managed democracy, the premise of ‘no person is above laws’ is made into a pretense that elites use to escape democratic accountability. Media has become the ‘Guardian’ of ruling elites that engage in propaganda to distort truth.
Dictatorship of the West
Assange’s plight, his struggle for freedom revealed a dictatorship in the West. There have been changes in Ecuador’s treatment of Assange ever since a new President Lenin Moreno took office in May 2017. Contrary to the former President Rafael Correa, who courageously granted the publisher asylum, Moreno has shown total disregard for this Australian journalist who has become a political refugee and also a citizen of Ecuador since December 2017.
This Ecuadorian government’s shift in attitude had to do with Western governments’ bullying this small nation of South America. It was reported that the US has pressured Ecuador over loans, making it act illegally in violation of international laws as well as its own constitution. At the end of March, one day after a high level US military visit to Ecuador, this new Ecuadorian president unilaterally cut off Assange from the outside world, by denying his access to internet, prohibiting him from having visitors and communicating with the press. Assange has been put into isolation, which Human Rights Watch general counsel described as being similar to solitary confinement.
In mid October, in the guise of restoring his internet access, Ecuador issued a “Special Protocol” that perpetuates this silencing of Assange. By further restricting his freedom of expression and requiring him to pay for medical bills and phone calls, Moreno government seeks to break Assange. He is forcing him to leave the embassy on his own accord and get arrested by UK authorities, who are refusing to give him assurances to not extradite him to the US.
Assange has met the fury of empire by exposing US government war crimes having the blood of tens of thousands of innocent people dripping from its hands. He has become a political prisoner, being treated as an enemy by the most powerful government in the world. Last month, US prosecutors mistakenly revealed secret criminal charges against Assange under file in the Eastern District of Virginia.
James Goodale, First Amendment lawyer and former general counsel of the New York Times, commented on the danger of US government’s efforts to charge a journalist possibly under espionage who is not American and did not publish in the US: