Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Persecution of Julian Assange

  Judge Vanessa Baraitser is going to deliver her verdict on the extradition of Julian Assange by the United States on January 4.  He has published secret information of a government known as the Wikileaks that he has not been employed by, that he has no obligations towards. And he has not stolen the information himself. It was leaked to him by someone who had access to the information. And he published it because it was in the public interest to publish it. Now if the US has its way he will stand trial for espionage. But in essence, the American government is trying to criminalize investigative journalism. 

The details that Assange made public contained clear evidence for corruption, war crimes and other criminal conduct. National security defendants in the US don't receive what many would consider a fair trial. They're being tried behind closed doors based on secret evidence, that the defense has no access to and by a jury that is inherently biased, because they're selected from a population the majority of which is government friendly around Washington, DC.  No national security defendant has ever been acquitted.

If very likely Julian Assange is found guilty he will be imprisoned under a special detention regime, which is called special administrative measures, which essentially means total isolation for years: You can't speak to anybody. Even if you're let out for 45 minutes a day to have a walk, you're being let out from one concrete box to another concrete box where you're alone walking in circles. This type of detention regime clearly amounts to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. That is the opinion of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.  

Already Julian Assange while on remand in the UK has been in solitary confinement for all intents and purposes for more than a year now. Contrast this with the treatment of  Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile was in extradition detention in London for 18 months. He was not put in a high-security prison, but accommodated in a comfortable villa under house arrest. 

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