The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Assange Case Shows the Limits of U.S. ‘Democracy’

Feb 26, 2024

While American politicians and the corporate media have spoken loudly about Putin’s treatment of Alexei Navalny, they have been practically silent about the case of Julian Assange. Assange and his lawyers recently put in an appeal of the British court’s decision to approve Assange be extradited to the U.S. Prosecutors in the U.S. are seeking to try Assange for spying and imprison him for 175 years. The British courts have rejected several of Assange’s previous appeals, and many observers believe this could be his last if this one fails.

So, what are the “crimes” for which the U.S. government is really persecuting Assange? In March 2010, he and/or his organization, WikiLeaks, apparently helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning download and leak hundreds of thousands of documents on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among those downloads that WikiLeaks released was video footage of U.S. soldiers killing 18 civilians, including two Reuters reporters, from a helicopter in Baghdad. The leaked Iraq and Afghanistan war documents revealed tens of thousands of civilian deaths, for which the U.S. had denied having any record, along with evidence of torture and abuse of prisoners.

Later in 2010, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of cables revealing U.S. spying on world leaders. Some of them showed that U.S. diplomats had knowledge of corruption by world leaders. Some of these exposures may have helped lead to the Arab Spring. In 2011, WikiLeaks worked against President Hosni Mubarak’s attempts to shut down mobile phone networks during the uprising in Egypt.

In Assange’s latest appeal, his lawyers argued that he was a journalist and his leaks should be covered by freedom of speech. Prosecutors working for his extradition portrayed him as simply a hacker and a spy. Assange became involved in hacking and working with hacking groups at an early age. Some of that hacking, whether his own or that of others with whom he was involved, may not have been done with the purest of motives. But in later years, his efforts and those of WikiLeaks were clearly directed at exposing the horrors of war and secrets of imperialism’s oppressive world order. And that is why the U.S. state apparatus wants to put him in prison and throw away the key.

Assange has essentially been imprisoned already for nearly 12 years. In 2012, to escape extradition he accepted political asylum from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In October 2018, U.S. politicians hinted to Ecuador’s president that economic cooperation, the joint war on drug trafficking, and the return of a USAID mission to Ecuador depended on their embassy turning Assange over to the U.S. Six months later, Ecuador revoked his asylum and London Police arrested him. He’s been held for nearly five years in HM Prison Belmarsh under harsh conditions, and his supporters are concerned about his mental and physical well-being.

Which confirms that Putin certainly is not the only world leader attempting to silence a prominent critic.