One of the few towering figures of our time was reduced to nothing more than a sex pest and scruffy bail-skipper, writes Jonathan Cook.
By Jonathan Cook
For seven years, from the moment Julian Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, they have been telling us we were wrong, that we were paranoid conspiracy theorists. We were told there was no real threat of Assange’s extradition to the United States, that it was all in our fevered imaginations.
For seven years, we have had to listen to a chorus of journalists, politicians and “experts” telling us that Assange was nothing more than a fugitive from justice, and that the British and Swedish legal systems could be relied on to handle his case in full accordance with the law. Barely a “mainstream” voice was raised in his defense in all that time.
From the moment he sought asylum, Assange was cast as an outlaw. His work as the founder of Wikileaks – a digital platform that for the first time in history gave ordinary people a glimpse into the darkest recesses of the most secure vaults in the deepest of Deep States – was erased from the record.
Assange was reduced from one of the few towering figures of our time – a man who will have a central place in history books, if we as a species live long enough to write those books – to nothing more than a sex pest, and a scruffy bail-skipper.
The political and media class crafted a narrative of half-truths about the sex charges Assange was under investigation for in Sweden. They overlooked the fact that Assange had been allowed to leave Sweden by the original investigator, who dropped the charges, only for them to be revived by another investigator with a well-documented political agenda.
They failed to mention that Assange was always willing to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors in London, as had occurred in dozens of other cases involving extradition proceedings to Sweden. It was almost as if Swedish officials did not want to test the evidence they claimed to have in their possession.
The media and political courtiers endlessly emphasized Assange’s bail violation in the U.K., ignoring the fact that asylum seekers fleeing legal and political persecution don’t usually honor bail conditions imposed by the very state authorities from which they are seeking asylum.
Ignoring Mounting Evidence
The political and media establishment ignored the mounting evidence of a secret grand jury in Virginia formulating charges against Assange, and ridiculed Wikileaks’ concerns that the Swedish case might be cover for a more sinister attempt by the U.S. to extradite Assange and lock him away in a high-security prison, as had happened to whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
They belittled the 2016 verdict of a panel of United Nations legal scholars that the U.K. was “arbitrarily detaining” Assange. The media were more interested in the welfare of his cat.
They ignored the fact that after Ecuador changed presidents – with the new one keen to win favor with Washington – Assange was placed under more and more severe forms of solitary confinement. He was denied access to visitors and basic means of communications, violating both his asylum status and his human rights, and threatening his mental and physical wellbeing.
Equally, they ignored the fact that Assange had been given diplomatic status by Ecuador, as well as Ecuadorean citizenship. Britain was obligated to allow him to leave the embassy, using his diplomatic immunity, to travel unhindered to Ecuador. No “mainstream” journalist or politician thought this significant either.
They turned a blind eye to the news that, after refusing to question Assange in the U.K., Swedish prosecutors had decided to quietly drop the case against him in 2015. Sweden had kept the decision under wraps for more than two years.
It was a freedom of information request by an ally of Assange, not a media outlet, that unearthed documents showing that Swedish investigators had, in fact, wanted to drop the case against Assange back in 2013. The UK, however, insisted that they carry on with the charade so that Assange could remain locked up. A British official emailed the Swedes: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”
Most of the other documents relating to these conversations were unavailable. They had been destroyed by the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service in violation of protocol. But no one in the political and media establishment cared, of course.
Similarly, they ignored the fact that Assange was forced to hole up for years in the embassy, under the most intense form of house arrest, even though he no longer had a case to answer in Sweden. They told us – apparently in all seriousness – that he had to be arrested for his bail infraction, something that would normally be dealt with by a fine.
And possibly most egregiously of all, most of the media refused to acknowledge that Assange was a journalist and publisher, even though by failing to do so they exposed themselves to the future use of the same draconian sanctions should they or their publications ever need to be silenced. They signed off on the right of the U.S. authorities to seize any foreign journalist, anywhere in the world, and lock him or her out of sight. They opened the door to a new, special form of rendition for journalists.
This was never about Sweden or bail violations, or even about the discredited Russia-gate narrative, as anyone who was paying the vaguest attention should have been able to work out. It was about the U.S. Deep State doing everything in its power to crush WikiLeaks and make an example of its founder.
It was about making sure there would never again be a leak like that of “Collateral Murder,” the military video released by Wikileaks in 2007 that showed U.S. soldiers celebrating as they murdered Iraqi civilians. It was about making sure there would never again be a dump of U.S. diplomatic cables, like those released in 2010 that revealed the secret machinations of the U.S. empire to dominate the planet whatever the cost in human rights violations.
Now the pretense is over. The British police invaded the diplomatic territory of Ecuador – invited in by Ecuador after it tore up Assange’s asylum status – to smuggle him off to jail. Two vassal states cooperating to do the bidding of the U.S. empire. The arrest was not to help two women in Sweden or to enforce a minor bail infraction.
No, the British authorities were acting on an extradition warrant from the U.S. And the charges the U.S. authorities have concocted relate to Wikileaks’ earliest work exposing the U.S. military’s war crimes in Iraq – the stuff that we all once agreed was in the public interest, that British and U.S. media clamored to publish themselves.
Still the media and political class is turning a blind eye. Where is the outrage at the lies we have been served up for these past seven years? Where is the contrition at having been gulled for so long? Where is the fury at the most basic press freedom – the right to publish – being trashed to silence Assange? Where is the willingness finally to speak up in Assange’s defense?
It’s not there. There will be no indignation at the BBC, or the Guardian, or CNN. Just curious, impassive – even gently mocking – reporting of Assange’s fate.
And that is because these journalists, politicians and experts never really believed anything they said. They knew all along that the U.S. wanted to silence Assange and to crush Wikileaks. They knew that all along and they didn’t care. In fact, they happily conspired in paving the way for today’s kidnapping of Assange.
They did so because they are not there to represent the truth, or to stand up for ordinary people, or to protect a free press, or even to enforce the rule of law. They don’t care about any of that. They are there to protect their careers, and the system that rewards them with money and influence. They don’t want an upstart like Assange kicking over their applecart.
Now they will spin us a whole new set of deceptions and distractions about Assange to keep us anaesthetized, to keep us from being incensed as our rights are whittled away, and to prevent us from realizing that Assange’s rights and our own are indivisible. We stand or fall together.
Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. He blogs at https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/.
Thank you Jonathan, a damning indictment of the media and the so-called journalists who are employed there in an appalling catalogue of sociopathic unconcern for a fellow human being, and worse, a total unconcern for the ethics of the profession they say they belong to. By failing to act when according to their professional ethics they were required to , they are no better than doctors in their profession who failed to treat when treatment was essential, they should be struck off.
Leftish websites in the US think “it can’t happen to me! I’m good, he’s bad!”
“7 Years of Lies About Assange Won’t Stop Now”
The opponents are often enmazed in the can do/must do conflation requiring accelerating iterations thereby demystifying their “assets”whilst facilitating opportunities for others to render their “assets” liabilities and “weapons” into ploughshares.
They not only forget the trials and tribulations of Mr. Pinocchio despite the efforts of Mr. Disney and others, but also those of Ms. Pandora and her box.
The Soviet Union did emulate the present opponents’ practices particularly in the times of he who loved medals.
However the present opponents’ performances should perhaps lead to others nominating them for the Nobel Peace prize.
While reading this excellent summary by Johnathan Cook of MSM ignorance to the trails and tribulations of Julian Assange which go hardly reported not too mention seriously distorted by our corporate media my mind wandered to when Robert Parry wrote about the late great Gary Webb. I say this cause Webb suffered at the hands of his media peers as Assange is experiencing a similar treatment by the same dark forces of power who controls us all as of now. How sad such an important industry of information can be purchased so cheap of the integrity it takes to deliver the truth to the populace at large.
We are at a pivotal moment in our history of a free and open press and Julian Assange is at the epicenter of this moment as he is dragged away for further interrogation. The same media which allows Assange to be trampled upon is the same media who better beware for what goes around comes around is certainly in play.
Unfortunately whats going to “come around” is the complete destruction of society and the planet. When I look back over my lifetime, I think the beginning of the end was the invention of the television. Over the course of my life it has changed our entire society from being engaged “citizens” into being passive “consumers”. It seems to me that people are too lazy to even think anymore.
Let yesterday be the day that all pretenses of corporate-owned media being anything more than glorified stenographers for the wealthy and powerful were at long last dropped. No one cares that what was done to Assange can now be done to Maddow, Olbermann, Risen, or any other so-called “journalist” who dares say anything negative of the establishment, to such an extent that it is publicly embarrassed. They are so stupid that they think it won’t happen to them—their dutiful stenography for said establishment protects them for the moment, and all they are concerned with is the moment, the immediate. That their own security depends now exclusively on the mad whims of diseased minds like Caligula Drumpf, hasn’t sunk in…but it will, and far too late, once the indictments start rolling in.
Tulsi Gabbard has taken a stand warning about this clear assault on freedom of speech:
CNN interview re Julian Assange’s arrest
MSNBC Interview re assange
Given his known state of ill-health, the only ones who will be surprised should he suffer a fatal stroke or heart attack while the extradition is challenged are the brain-dead cultists who are more willing to believe the corporate media narrative than the truth. And who will likely cheer that he’s finally out of the way, and they can return to their Comfortable bubble of self-righteousness as the totalitarian dictatorship takes over.
What we have here with the treatment of Assange, and the lies told about it by the media, is a great eye test for American citizens. Ask your friends or anyone to look at this and tell you what they see. If they cannot see the gross injustice and abuse of power involved in this case, then they need to take off the distorting glasses that are making them blind to the truth.
Anyone in the English speaking world should be given the eye test, Mike k. I’m Australian, and I was at work when Assange was arrested. My elderly mother gave me the news that evening. I was upset – as she knew I would be – but I was even more upset when she said something about him being arrested for rape and wrongly holed up in that embassy. My own mother flunked your eye test, even though I’ve been her live in carer for the past couple of years and we discuss the news regularly. We’d discussed Assange and Wikileaks a few times, but seven years of mainstream propaganda got to her first and the propaganda stuck. I couldn’t overcome it.
The mainstream media and its talking heads have not only (for the most part, one exception being Ari Melber: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dctQSGF6kLI ) have abandoned Assange, ignoring the implications for the fate of all journalism and journalists in a profession that had already too willingly sacrificed ethics for profit.
And the negative spin they have echoed (which initially was most loudly echoed by Democratic party operatives and blindly partisan followers, in an attempt to deflect from the seriousness of the DNC’s collusion with Clinton and from the terrible decisions that led to her defeat, have had their effect.
For even beyond my sadness about the threats to Assange and to journalism, I must sadly report my observation that seemingly a majority of Democrats are only too happy to cheer the arrest of Assange, merely because of their partisan anger about the 2016 U.S. electoral results. That so many who would label themselves as “liberal” (which once had some positive meaning) are now cheerleading the suppression of freedom of information, is something I never would have thought I’d live to see.
MSM journalists don’t care about Assange’s fate because almost none of them will ever be in his shoes. They are all too happy to tow the line, repeating lie after lie, in service of their careers and regardless of the consequences for the world. They will never challenge the ruling powers in even the slightest way so they know they have nothing to fear.
Truly, Ryan Martin. It is a shock and a deep disappointment to see the people in my life who I thought had at least a modicum of decency and a desire for truth, turn away from this travesty of justice and agree with the persecution of Mr. Assange. They are so propagandized that they cannot see truth for what it is, nor do they even appear to understand the threat to ALL of us from this turn of events. Talk about disillusionment with humankind- I feel it strongly. It is here at CN and other independent media where I can feel like I am not living in an upside-down universe in regards to communicating with my fellow human beings. Thanks to all of you here who “get it.”
“Talk about disillusionment with humankind”
Thank you for your illustration of orientalism through restriction of “humankind”.
“I feel it strongly.”
It is very useful that you and others feel it strongly facilitating the efforts of others not so enmeshed.
“I can feel like I am not living in an upside-down universe in regards to communicating with my fellow human beings.”
It would appear that you are living/enmeshed in an upside down/downside up/leftside left/rightside right frame – universes not having ups or downs or leftsides or rightsides, although some may posit notions of oscillations or expansions or contractions but not linearity nor stasis – whilst feeling like you are not.
“….nor do they even appear to understand the threat to ALL of us from this turn of events.”
If the above adds to your shock and/or disappointment whether deep or not, let me assure you that not all of us feel threatened by this turn of events.
I have had it up to here with every wimpy, coward who always has to preface their words with “regardless of one’s view of Assange as a person”. People want so much to join the clique that it’s nauseating. That preface veers just a hair away from it so that they can still appear in it.
Very perceptive Ryan. Hillary Clinton, after once asking about the possibility of droning Assange in the Equadoran Embassy, is actively leading the attack on him.
Something interesting is happening which gives me some hope for Julian. If you read Breitbart News on the Julian’s arrest by British authorities, the “comments” section, with over 14,000 comments, shows overwhelming support (from typical Trump supporters) for Assange, many advocating he deserves a medal for his work. This support stems not only from the perception that he helped elect Trump (which was not true – he was a cautious Democrat supporter – but he provided the documents without political comment), but that Wikileaks presented the facts when most mainstream media were lying. There are high hopes that if he gets to testify, he will work with Barr and provide more evidence on the origins of the Russia collusion investigation and deep state actions against Trump. Also, these commenters want answers to show DNC emails were not leaked by Russia.
With friends like Breitbart….
A great summary of the many abuses of power that have been allowed to transpire to arrive at this disgusting point in time, and inspiration to hold those responsible for them to account. Free Assange, let his work continue and be replicated, it’s a gift to all the people.
Indeed the western mass media will spin “deceptions and distractions… to prevent us from realizing that… We stand or fall together.” They are controlled by the oligarchy, the dictatorship of the rich, traitors elevated by an unregulated market economy, as are all branches of the US government. We no longer have the tools of democracy to effect any reform, and are doomed to a century of demise, probably failing forever to cast off the tyranny of oligarchy, just as UK failed.
The US has completely disgraced itself since WWII, refusing its potential greatness when it might have rescued half the world from poverty, ignorance, malnutrition, and disease, solely because its oligarchy cared only to bully, steal, scheme and scam for private gain. America developed well economically, but politically was never great after about 1820, so this is a fitting end to a system with a fatal flaw: its Constitution was written before any general knowledge of the need to protect the institutions of democracy from economic power. The inevitable oligarchy is now entrenched beyond recovery.
There is some hope that as poverty and dissension become prevalent in future depressions caused by the dictators, states will secede economically and then politically. Perhaps history has in store generations of violence before that. But in the US, democracy cannot be restored by its people, and it will ultimately be recycled by some such means, when the people are forced to admit their subservience to the dictatorship of the rich.
Brilliant Sam. You have got it down exactly. This is where we are now, and there will be no easy out from this dead end tailspin. Our karma is too heavy now to release gently, it is going to land with an enormous crash. That cataclysm may likely destroy all of us too smart for our own good apes.
Thanks, Mike, good to hear from you. Interesting to consider whether a broad acceptance of karma might have helped; likely there would still have been enough amoral tyrants to seize the controls and bail out of the nation’s tailspin with their own loot, ridiculing and punishing their moral superiors as fools. Perhaps the morality that wins is applied only after the tyrants are defeated.
Sam, read Breitbart News on the arrest of Assange by British authorities. Over 14,000 comments on this one news item, and overwhelmingly they support Assange, many advocating he be given a medal for his work. Democracy can work in strange ways.
Well, you are welcome to hope or provide a model, but history and experience provide no model, and there is no mechanism for effective protest. If there were a million such comments (not even five percent of that has ever happened), even a million protesters (which has never happened even for issues of immediate concern to most of the nation), there would be no action at all. It would take a million violent protesters across the nation to get the slightest concessions, but the same dictatorship would continue to work the same way with minor tweaks to keep the next incident more secret. False hope prevents necessary action.
Well, maybe a million protesters would get the slight concessions of no real effect, and a million violent protesters would get seemingly real concessions, without affecting oligarchy operations. But I don’t see us getting there by foreseeable means. No wish to spoil hope here, but to direct it to practical means, which means major efforts.
I fear that for most Americans, food and shelter Trump aal else.
What has really been most hideous to me is the people laughing at the video of him being dragged out of the Embassy, resisting and yelling. Here is a man who has been tortured, stuck in one room for 7 years, being dragged around by cops. I’m sure even being outside is almost traumatic for him. And these people are laughing. It’s sick. I felt literally sick while watching that video, and these sociopaths are basking in it. We have no morals, and cannot ever think of anyone but ourselves here in the U.S. Pure evil has taken hold of us.
I agree Nick. We lost our moral center somewhere in the chaos of the 20th century. Having done so guarantees apocalypse in our not too distant future. Really too bad. I hate to be the bearer of news this dark, but most cannot hear it anyhow, so I don’t worry about upsetting folks anymore – they are incapable of understanding where we are headed.
I don’t think they want to see it, Mike. I have the nuclear war conversation with many ‘liberals’ and they all seem to think that because we haven’t pushed the button yet means we won’t. They point to all the times we came close in the Cold War (first Cold War, that is) as proof that we’re never going to do it. When I point out that back then, there were people working to keep it from happening, and that now those same types of people are working toward it (many journalists and politicians) they shift the subject onto how evil Putin is. When I point out that he’s nowhere near Stalin on the evil scale, but we still worked with him, I get ‘times have changed.’ And indeed they have. We now have a press that says talking to a Russian leader is treason. But they don’t get it. They are blind followers, and if CNN or MSNBC or Fox says it, then it must be true, no matter how many times those entertainment providers have been demonstrably wrong in the past.
Aah… what is Not Allowed 2 be revealed… strew path & bodies missing from Pa hole… No wings on Pentagon lawn… Long thin clouds dropped behind aircraft which hang in air, not dissipate skyviewed over Santa Rosa & Paradise Ca… Tnx CN & Jonathan Cook 4 Julian as evidence trail 4 conspiracy theory… & Death of America!
ICYMI – Joe, Ray, and Sara Flounders on “Crosstalk” on RT.com air date 4/11/19 (or 11/4/19). It is still airing, after which it is archived.