[From the upcoming issue 7 of Communist Fight] As we go to press, judges at the High Court have retired to ‘consider their verdict’ (which may take weeks) in the US appeal against magistrate Vanesa Baraitser’s earlier ruling that Julian Assange could not be extradited to the United States because of the state of his mental health. The otherwise very conservative magistrate ruled that this would constitute a grave risk of suicide if he were subjected to the draconian treatment the US has already shown to those involved in the Assange case through its abuse and torture of Chelsea Manning, the very courageous former US soldier who was the source of information some of Wikileaks’ most important exposes of US imperialism’s crimes.
The US has given various ‘assurances’ to the High Court about how Assange supposedly would be treated if he were extradited to face charges under the Espionage Act, the use of which against journalists is a major attack on press freedom in the US. The charges Assange is confronted with could quite conceivably result in a sentence of 175 years, for exposing US’s imperialism’ monstrous crimes around the world, notably including evidence of massacres of civilians in Afghanistan and actual film footage of massacres of civilians in Iraq, such as the notorious 2007 ‘Collateral Murder’ video that showed US military personnel laughing and joking as they opened fire on journalists, and then on other civilians who tried to help the victims, including a number of children.
The US is trying to soft soap the court with unbelievable claims that the US will treat Assange with kid gloves if he is extradited, he will serve in open prison conditions, he will not be treated to ‘Special Administrative Measures’ (i.e. torture and solitary confinement) like Chelsea Manning was, he will only serve around 5 years, he will be able to serve his sentence in Australia, etc. Anyone who bought this would have to be extremely gullible given that both wings of US politics, including Hillary Clinton on one side to Sarah Palin and Mike Pompeo on the other, have actively sought out ways in which Assange could be kidnapped and/or assassinated. The US also has blatantly fabricated testimony against Assange, such as the testimony of the Icelandic ‘witness’ Thordarson who admitted fabricating material used for the original extradition hearing.
What is particularly egregious and dangerous about this case is the flagrant attack on democratic right to report the truth about imperialist atrocities has been colluded with by virtually every bourgeois media outlet in Britain, including the BBC and Guardian, who have maintained a conspiracy of near silence over the current extradition while holding nothing back in the fraudulent sexual accusations earlier in the US campaign, which much of the ‘left’ was suckered into going along with. Free Julian Assange now!