Julian Assange: A Journalist Marked for Death by the United States

The U.S. government wants Assange's head on a platter. Will anything stop it?(New Media Days via Flickr)
On Friday, a British appeals court kowtowed to the U.S. government, ruling in favor of the DOJ's request to extradite Wikileaks-founder Julian Assange, despite a CIA plot to assassinate him.

Glenn Greenwald alerted me Friday morning to the bad news. Not Greenwald himself, but his newsletter, which of course scooped the MSM in the U.S. with the report that a British appeals court had ruled in favor of a U.S. Department of Justice request to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on bogus espionage and hacking charges.

Assange’s true crime: exposing the lies, coverups, illegal spying and murders of the U.S. government. From the revelations about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to exposing the double-dealing of the U.S. in diplomatic cables to shining a light on the CIA’s hacking tools, Wikileaks’ data dumps have so chagrined the U.S. government that the CIA under Mike Pompeo plotted to kidnap and/or kill Assange while he was still holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

British cops dragged Assange from the embassy in April 2019 after Ecuador jerked his political asylum as part of a backroom deal with the U.S. Assange has been in a UK prison ever since, as the U.S. attempts to extradite him. In January, British Judge Vanessa Baraister turned down the extradition request on humanitarian grounds, citing the risk that the Aussie native might commit suicide in the medieval conditions of the U.S. penal system.

As Greenwald explains, the Biden DOJ “appealed the ruling and convinced Judge Baraitser to deny Assange bail and ordered him imprisoned pending appeal.”

Wikileaks’ release of the so-called “collateral murder” video alone — which showed a 2007 Apache helicopter airstrike in Baghdad that killed several civilians, including two Reuters journalists — is an achievement that 99.9 percent of self-described journalists in the U.S. will never match.

The U.S. government promised that Assange would be treated humanely in U.S. custody, guaranteeing “that he would not be held in the most repressive ‘supermax prison in Florence, Colorado — whose conditions are so repressive that it has been condemned and declared illegal by numerous human rights groups around the world,” and that “once convicted, [Assange] could serve his prison term in his home country of Australia rather than the U.S.”

Apparently, that was enough for a British court to play lapdog to good-ole-fashioned Yankee bullying and say grace over the extradition. Greenwald notes how hollow this ruling is, given the circumstances.

He writes:

What makes the High Court’s faith in these guarantees from the U.S. Government particularly striking is that it comes less than two months after Yahoo News reported that the CIA and other U.S. security state agencies hate Assange so much that they plotted to kidnap or even assassinate him during the time he had asylum protection from Ecuador. Despite all that, Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde announced today that “the court is satisfied that these assurances” will serve to protect Assange’s physical and mental health.

The Assange camp says it will again appeal, this time to Britain’s Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a number of free speech and journalism groups have forcefully spoken out against the court’s decision, though some of these were not always so willing to defend Assange.

Indeed, many mainstream media types like to argue that Assange isn’t a “real journalist.” Which is absurd.  Wikileaks’ release of the so-called “collateral murder” video alone — which showed a 2007 Apache helicopter airstrike in Baghdad that killed several civilians, including two Reuters journalists — is an achievement that 99.9 percent of self-described journalists in the U.S. will never match.

There was a shift, however, when the DOJ added “espionage” charges to its original hacking indictment. Suddenly, many journos realized their sorry asses might be on the line as well.

They’ve changed their tune, but not entirely.

For instance, in its double bylined report on recent developments, the “gold standard” of journalism, The New York Times, studiously ignored Yahoo! News’ bombshell Sep. 26 investigative piece, uncovering the illegal CIA plot against Assange, even though countless Assange supporters, including Greenwald, have noted the importance of this disclosure regarding Assange’s fate.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this arrogant snobbery, this willingness to turn a blind eye to the government’s most nefarious deeds. After all, I see the same attitude often in regard to the feds’ case against veteran newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, which has broad implications for freedom of speech online and off.

But it still infuriates. And it reinforces the perception that the journalistic establishment wants to crush alternative sources of information, whether it be Wikileaks, or Glenn Greenwald, or social media in general.

Look at the MSM’s coverage of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. You’d think social media was collectively responsible for every societal evil from suicide and depression to hate speech to teen girls’ poor body image.

Journalists and pundits’ panacea for this problem? Government regulation, aka, censorship, naturally. They want their roles as gatekeepers restored. They do not want Assange to become a martyr to free speech.

But that’s beyond their fawning approach to government power.  Assange, whatever happens to him from here on out, is and always will be a free-speech icon. And all the head-burying in the world from stuffed-shirt media toadies will not change this.

Please also see:
First Amendment Warrior Phil Harvey, Founder of Adam & Eve, Dead at 83
and
Prosecution, Defense in Lacey/Larkin Case Lock Horns over Motion to Dismiss for Double Jeopardy

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About Stephen Lemons

Stephen Lemons is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than 20 years of experience covering everything from government corruption to white-supremacist gangs. In addition to Front Page Confidential, his work has appeared in Phoenix New Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon.com, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report magazine.

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