JOHN PILGER: Julian Assange Must Be Freed, Not Betrayed

When Julian Assange steps into Woolwich Crown Court on Feb. 24, true journalism will be the only crime on trial, writes John Pilger.

By John Pilger
Special to Consortium News

This Saturday, there will be a march from Australia House in London to Parliament Square, the centre of British democracy. People will carry pictures of the Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange who, on Feb. 24, faces a court that will decide whether or not he is to be extradited to the United States and a living death.

I know Australia House well. As an Australian myself, I used to go there in my early days in London to read the newspapers from home. Opened by King George V over a century ago, its vastness of marble and stone, chandeliers and solemn portraits, imported from Australia when Australian soldiers were dying in the slaughter of the First World War, have ensured its landmark as an imperial pile of monumental servility.

As one of the oldest “diplomatic missions” in the United Kingdom, this relic of empire provides a pleasurable sinecure for Antipodean politicians:  a “mate” rewarded or a troublemaker exiled.

Australia House

Known as  High Commissioner, the equivalent of an ambassador, the current beneficiary is George Brandis, who as Attorney General tried to water down Australia’s Race Discrimination Act and approved raids on whistleblowers who had revealed the truth about Australia’s  illegal spying on East Timor during negotiations for the carve-up of that impoverished country’s oil and gas.

This led to the prosecution of whistleblowers Bernard Collaery and “Witness K”,  on bogus charges. Like Julian Assange, they are to be silenced in a Kafkaesque trial and put away.

Australia House is the ideal starting point for Saturday’s march.

Serving the Great Game

“I confess,” wrote Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1898, “that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.””

We Australians have been in the service of the Great Game for a very long time. Having devastated our Indigenous people in an invasion and a war of attrition that continues to this day, we have spilt blood for our imperial masters in China, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. No imperial adventure against those with whom we have no quarrel has escaped our dedication.

Australian troops march in Saigon. (Wikimedia Commons)

Deception has been a feature. When Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent Australian soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s, he described them as a training team, requested by a beleaguered government in Saigon. It was a lie. A senior official of the Department of External Affairs wrote secretly that “although we have stressed the fact publicly that our assistance was given in response to an invitation by the government of South Vietnam”, the order came from Washington.

Two versions. The lie for us, the truth for them. As many as four million people died in the Vietnam war.

When Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, the Australian Ambassador, Richard Woolcott, secretly urged the government in Canberra to “act in a way which would be designed to minimise the public impact in Australia and show private understanding to Indonesia.”  In other words, to lie. He alluded to the beckoning spoils of oil and gas in the Timor Sea which, boasted Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, were worth “zillions”.

In the genocide that followed, at least 200,000 East Timorese died. Australia recognised, almost alone, the legitimacy of the occupation.

When Prime Minister John Howard sent Australian special forces to invade Iraq with America and Britain in 2003, he — like George W. Bush and Tony Blair — lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. More than a million people died in Iraq.

WikiLeaks was not the first to call out the pattern of criminal lying in democracies that remain every bit as rapacious as in Lord Curzon’s day. The achievement of the remarkable publishing organisation founded by Julian Assange has been to provide the proof. 

True Lies Exposed

WikiLeaks has informed us how illegal wars are fabricated, how governments are overthrown and violence is used in our name, how we are spied upon through our phones and screens. The true lies of presidents, ambassadors, political candidates, generals, proxies, political fraudsters have been exposed. One by one, these would-be emperors have realised they have no clothes.

It has been an unprecedented public service; above all, it is authentic journalism, whose value can be judged by the degree of apoplexy of the corrupt and their apologists.

For example, in 2016, WikiLeaks published the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, which revealed a direct connection between Clinton, the foundation she shares with her husband and the funding of organised jihadism in the Middle East — terrorism.

One email disclosed that Islamic State (ISIS) was bankrolled by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, from which Clinton accepted huge “donations”. Moreover, as U.S. Secretary of State, she approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her Saudi benefactors, worth more than $80 billion. Thanks to her, U.S. arms sales to the world — for use in stricken countries like Yemen — doubled. 

“Above all, [WikiLeaks] is authentic journalism, whose value can be judged by the degree of apoplexy of the corrupt and their apologists.”

Revealed by WikiLeaks and published in The New York Times, the Podesta emails triggered a vituperative campaign against editor-in-chief Julian Assange, bereft of evidence. He was an “agent of Russia working to elect Trump”; the nonsensical “Russiagate” followed. That WikiLeaks had also published more than 800,000 frequently damning documents from Russia was ignored.

On an Australian Broadcasting Corporation programme, Four Corners, in 2017, Clinton was interviewed by Sarah Ferguson, who began: “No one could fail to be moved by the pain on your face at [the moment of Donald Trump’s inauguration] … Do you remember how visceral it was for you?”

Having established Clinton’s visceral suffering, the fawning Ferguson described “Russia’s role” and the “damage done personally to you” by Julian Assange.

Clinton replied, “He [Assange] is very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And he has done their bidding.”

The Clinton-Ferguson interview. (ABC)

Ferguson said to Clinton, “Lots of people, including in Australia, think that Assange is a martyr of free speech and freedom of information. How would you describe him?”

Again, Clinton was allowed to defame Assange — a “nihilist” in the service of “dictators” — while Ferguson assured her interviewee she was “the icon of your generation”.

There was no mention of a leaked document, revealed by WikiLeaks, called Libya Tick Tock, prepared for Hillary Clinton, which described her as the central figure driving the destruction of the Libyan state in 2011. This resulted in 40,000 deaths, the arrival of ISIS in North Africa and the European refugee and migrant crisis.

The Only Crime on Trial

For me, this episode of Clinton’s interview — and there are many others – vividly illustrates the division between false and true journalism. On Feb. 24, when Julian Assange steps into Woolwich Crown Court, true journalism will be the only crime on trial.

I am sometimes asked why I have championed Assange. For one thing, I like and I admire him. He is a friend with astonishing courage; and he has a finely honed, wicked sense of humour. He is the diametric opposite of the character invented and then assassinated by his enemies.

As a reporter in places of upheaval all over the world, I have learned to compare the evidence I have witnessed with the words and actions of those with power. In this way, it is possible to get a sense of how our world is controlled and divided and manipulated, how language and debate are distorted to produce the propaganda of false consciousness.

When we speak about dictatorships, we call this brainwashing: the conquest of minds. It is a truth we rarely apply to our own societies, regardless of the trail of blood that leads back to us and which never dries.

WikiLeaks has exposed this. That is why Assange is in a maximum security prison in London facing concocted political charges in America, and why he has shamed so many of those paid to keep the record straight. Watch these journalists now look for cover as it dawns on them that the American fascists who have come for Assange may come for them, not least those on The Guardian who collaborated with WikiLeaks and won prizes and secured lucrative book and Hollywood deals based on his work, before turning on him.

In 2011, David Leigh, The Guardian‘s  “investigations editor”, told journalism students at City University in London that Assange was “quite deranged”. When a puzzled student asked why, Leigh replied, “Because he doesn’t understand the parameters of conventional journalism”.

But it’s precisely because he did understand that the “parameters” of the media often shielded vested and political interests and had nothing to do with transparency that the idea of WikiLeaks was so appealing to many people, especially the young, rightly cynical about the so-called “mainstream”.

Leigh mocked the very idea that, once extradited, Assange would end up “wearing an orange jumpsuit”. These were things, he said, “that he and his lawyer are saying in order to feed his paranoia”. 

“When Julian Assange steps into Woolwich Crown Court, true journalism will be the only crime on trial.”

The current U.S. charges against Assange centre on the Afghan Logs and Iraq Logs, which The Guardian published and Leigh worked on, and on the Collateral Murder video showing an American helicopter crew gunning down civilians and celebrating the crime. For this journalism, Assange faces 17 charges of “espionage” which carry prison sentences totalling 175 years.

Whether or not his prison uniform will be an “orange jumpsuit”, U.S. court files seen by Assange’s lawyers reveal that, once extradited, Assange will be subject to Special Administrative Measures, known as SAMS.  A 2017 report by Yale University Law School and the Center for Constitutional Rights described SAMS as “the darkest corner of the US federal prison system” combining “the brutality and isolation of maximum security units with additional restrictions that deny individuals almost any connection to the human world … The net effect is to shield this form of torture from any real public scrutiny.”

Woolwich Crown Court (Getty)

That Assange has been right all along, and getting him to Sweden was a fraud to cover an American plan to “render” him, is finally becoming clear to many who swallowed the incessant scuttlebutt of character assassination. “I speak fluent Swedish and was able to read all the original documents,” Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, said recently, “I could hardly believe my eyes. According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never taken place at all. And not only that: the woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm Police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”  

Keir Starmer is currently running for election as leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Between 2008 and 2013, he was Director of Public Prosecutions and responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service. According to Freedom of Information searches by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, Sweden tried to drop the Assange case in 2011, but a CPS official in London told the Swedish prosecutor not to treat it as “just another extradition”.

In 2012, she received an email from the CPS: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”  Other CPS emails were either deleted or redacted. Why? Keir Starmer needs to say why.

At the forefront of Saturday’s march will be John Shipton, Julian’s father, whose indefatigable support for his son is the antithesis of the collusion and cruelty of the governments of Australia, our homeland.

The roll call of shame begins with  Julia Gillard, the Australian Labor prime minister who, in 2010, wanted to criminalise WikiLeaks, arrest Assange and cancel his passport– until the Australian Federal Police pointed out that no law allowed this and that Assange had committed no crime.

Gillard addressing Congress. (YouTube)

While falsely claiming to give him consular assistance in London, it was the Gillard government’s shocking abandonment of its citizen that led to Ecuador granting political asylum to Assange in its London embassy.

In a subsequent speech before the U.S. Congress, Gillard, a favourite of the US embassy in Canberra, broke records for sycophancy (according to the website Honest History) as she declared, over and again, the fidelity of America’s “mates Down Under”.

Today, while Assange waits in his cell, Gillard travels the world, promoting herself as a feminist concerned about “human rights”, often in tandem with that other right-on feminist Hillary Clinton.

“Our world is controlled and divided and manipulated, … language and debate are distorted to produce the propaganda of false consciousness.”

The truth is that Australia could have rescued Julian Assange and can still rescue him.

Turnbull: Sent no reply. (Wikimedia Commons)

In 2010, I arranged to meet a prominent Liberal (Conservative) Member of Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. As a young barrister in the 1980s, Turnbull had successfully fought the British Government’s attempts to prevent the publication of the book, Spycatcher, whose author Peter Wright, a spy, had exposed Britain’s “deep state”.

We talked about his famous victory for free speech and publishing and I described the miscarriage of justice awaiting Assange — the fraud of his arrest in Sweden and its connection with an American indictment that tore up the U.S. Constitution and the rule of international law.

Turnbull appeared to show genuine interest and an aide took extensive notes. I asked him to deliver a letter to the Australian government from Gareth Peirce, the renowned British human rights lawyer who represents Assange.

In the letter, Peirce wrote,

“Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for [Julian Assange] any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

Turnbull promised to deliver the letter, follow it through and let me know. I subsequently wrote to him several times, waited and heard nothing.

In 2018, John Shipton wrote a deeply moving letter to the then prime minister of Australia asking him to exercise the diplomatic power at his government’s disposal and bring Julian home. He wrote that he feared that if Julian was not rescued, there would be a tragedy and his son would die in prison. He received no reply. The prime minister was Malcolm Turnbull.

Last year, when the current prime minister, Scott Morrison, a former public relations man, was asked about Assange, he replied in his customary way, “He should face the music!” 

When Saturday’s march reaches the Houses of Parliament, said to be “the Mother of Parliaments”, Morrison and Gillard and Turnbull and all those who have betrayed Julian Assange should be called out; history and decency will not forget them or those who remain silent now.

And if there is any sense of justice left in the land of Magna Carta, the travesty that is the case against this heroic Australian must be thrown out. Or beware, all of us.

The march on Saturday, Feb. 22 begins at Australia House in Aldwych, London WC2B 4LA, at 12.30 p.m.: assemble at 11.30 a.m.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist and filmmaker based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: In 2017, the British Library announced a John Pilger Archive of all his written and filmed work. The British Film Institute includes his 1979 film, “Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia,” among the 10 most important documentaries of the 20thcentury. Some of his previous contributions to Consortium News can be found here.  

41 comments for “JOHN PILGER: Julian Assange Must Be Freed, Not Betrayed

  1. February 22, 2020 at 07:02

    Excellent article. Thank-you.

    I hope “they” let Julian Assange go. He deserves to be free.

    I’m sending up a prayer to “My Lord” that it be so.


  2. Borbolactic
    February 21, 2020 at 20:27

    “Why does the U.S. government go to such extraordinary lengths to discredit, punish, and ruin persons such as Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange…? The government alleges that these persons give aid and comfort to the nation’s enemies and endanger national security. In reality, however, these persons’ only ‘crime’ is to tell the truth to the public about what the U.S. government is doing. By telling the truth about especially important matters, they endanger only the state, by exposing its lies and its hidden crimes for the world to see.

    The rulers can continue to plunder and bully the great mass of people only as long as the people believe the Biggest of All Big Lies, which is that the government seeks to be, and is, their essential protector and general benefactor. The Ellsbergs, Mannings, Assanges, and Snowdens, rare as they are, demonstrate that the government’s pose as protector and benefactor is nothing but a ruse to hide its essential nature and functioning. The only protection the rulers aim to provide us is the kind that a shepherd provides his sheep—protection from anything that interferes with his exclusive ability to determine how and when the sheep will be sheared and slaughtered.” ~ Robert Higgs

    • February 22, 2020 at 14:46

      Excellent comment…and right on the nose. This is all I have to say, since I don’t think I could do better.

  3. February 21, 2020 at 14:32

    Is there a report on the last case management hearing? I think it was Tuesday.

  4. jmg
    February 20, 2020 at 20:01

    TIMELINE: Freedom of the press and the extradition of Julian Assange


    “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
    — George Washington, 1783

    “First Amendment
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
    — U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, First Amendment, December 15, 1791

    “Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    “Article 19.
    “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
    — United Nations General Assembly, December 10, 1948

    “Classified National Security Information
    “Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations.
    “(a) In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to:
    “(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
    “(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; . . .”
    — U.S. Executive Order 13526, December 29, 2009

    “Journalism should be more like science. As far as possible, facts should be verifiable.”
    — Julian Assange, award-winning investigative journalist and publisher, July 14, 2010

    “As for supporting me if I am extradited, I would say that it would be way too late. If people want to support us, they need to do it before I am extradited . . . Even if they’re technically innocent under the law, which probably anyone within WikiLeaks is — as I know that our activities are protected under the First Amendment — the verdict is still not guaranteed, due to of the degree of national security sector influence in the judicial process.”
    — Julian Assange, June 15, 2011

    “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”
    — Julian Assange, speech at Trafalgar Square, October 8, 2011

    “There should be transparency of governments and there should be privacy for individuals.”
    — Julian Assange, May 29, 2015

    “It’s Julian Assange and WikiLeaks that have returned honour to journalism. Julian is a truth teller and that’s what has upset those who continue what Goebbels called ‘The Big Lie’.”
    — John Pilger, award-winning journalist and filmmaker, April 11, 2017

    “WikiLeaks is a media organization which publishes and comments upon censored or restricted official materials involving war, surveillance or corruption, which are leaked to it in a variety of different circumstances. . . . So far as the evidence before us goes, Mr. Assange is the only media publisher and free speech advocate in the Western world who is in a situation that a UN body has characterized as arbitrary detention. It is a matter of public controversy how this situation should be understood. The circumstances of his case arguably raise issues about human rights and Press freedom, which are the subject of legitimate public debate. Such debate may even help to resolve them, which would itself be a public benefit.”
    — Judge Andrew Bartlett QC, December 12, 2017

    • jmg
      February 20, 2020 at 20:02


      “The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.”
      — Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the UK Labour Party, April 11, 2019

      “The Assange arrest is scandalous. . . . The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about . . . That’s basically what happened. WikiLeaks was producing things that people ought to know about those in power. People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it.”
      — Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, historian, social critic, April 11, 2019

      “Mr. Assange’s arrest and possible extradition to face charges related to an alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to publish documents that exposed corruption and criminality by numerous private businesses, tyrants, and countries worldwide is ultimately an attack on press freedom. The arrest sets a dangerous precedent that could extend to other media organizations such as The New York Times . . .”
      — Center for Constitutional Rights, April 11, 2019

      “The indictment and the Justice Department’s press release treat everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal conspiracy. . . . activities that are not just lawful but essential to press freedom—activities like cultivating sources, protecting sources’ identities, and communicating with sources securely.”
      — Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, April 11, 2019

      “The arrest Thursday of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. . . . The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.”
      — Chris Hedges, award-winning journalist, April 12, 2019

      “The chat logs of the famous exchange between Chelsea Manning, who was the source of the 2010 disclosure, and someone who is alleged to be Julian Assange” [username ‘pressassociation’ and alias ‘Nathaniel Frank’] “but is actually using a secure and anonymous messenger, called Jabber, using protocol called Off The Record, which actually supposed to provide capabilities like plausible deniability.”
      — Edward Snowden, whistleblower, April 22, 2019

      “You are being lied to about Julian Assange. He has exposed more war crimes, crimes against humanity, corruption, and lies than perhaps anyone in history. That is why our government is so eager to lock him away forever.”
      — Lee Camp, broadcaster, April 23, 2019

      “Truth, ultimately, is all we have.”
      — Julian Assange, May 13, 2019

    • jmg
      February 20, 2020 at 20:02


      “Julian Assange’s indictment aims at the heart of the First Amendment.”
      — The New York Times Editorial Board, May 23, 2019

      “These unprecedented charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century.”
      — Freedom of the Press Foundation, May 23, 2019

      “For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information. . . . It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets.”
      — American Civil Liberties Union, May 23, 2019

      “The Department of Justice just declared war — not on Wikileaks, but on journalism itself. This is no longer about Julian Assange: This case will decide the future of media.”
      — Edward Snowden, May 23, 2019

      “A stunning and unprecedented assault on press freedom.”
      — Human Rights Watch, May 24, 2019

      “The indictment marks the first time the U.S. government has prosecuted a publisher under the Espionage Act. . . . It is a reckless assault on the First Amendment that crosses a line no previous administration has been willing to cross, and threatens to criminalize the most basic practices of reporting.”
      — Committee to Protect Journalists, May 24, 2019

      “The new Assange indictment endangers journalism.”
      — Bloomberg News, May 24, 2019

      “Let me be clear: it is a disturbing attack on the First Amendment for the Trump administration to decide who is or is not a reporter for the purposes of a criminal prosecution. Donald Trump must obey the Constitution, which protects the publication of news about our government.”
      — Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, May 24, 2019

    • jmg
      February 20, 2020 at 20:03


      “The First Amendment covers everyone. . . . The First Amendment also covers non-citizens such as Assange.”
      — Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, May 30, 2019

      “Now, the Trump DOJ has indicted . . . in direct defiance of a Supreme Court decision that ruled against this during the Nixon years. . . . In a landmark decision, known as the Pentagon Papers case, the Supreme Court ruled that a publisher may reveal whatever materials come into the publisher’s possession, no matter how they got there, so long as the materials are themselves material to the public interest.”
      — Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, May 30, 2019

      “The British government must not accede to the US extradition request for Julian Assange as he faces a real risk of serious human rights violations if sent there. . . . The UK must abide by its obligations under international human rights law that forbid the transfer of individuals to another country where they would face serious human rights violations.”
      — Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, June 13, 2019

      “Once again, we urge the judicial authorities in the UK not to extradite Assange to the US, as the charges are far-reaching and set a dangerous precedent that could affect the legitimate work of journalists and publishers everywhere.”
      — PEN International, June 13, 2019

      “The publication of classified documents is not a crime in the United States, but if Assange is extradited and convicted it will become one. . . . The extradition and trial of Assange will mean the end of public investigations by the press into the crimes of the ruling elites. It will cement into place a frightening corporate tyranny. . . . This is the gravest assault on press freedom in my lifetime.”
      — Chris Hedges, June 17, 2019

      “In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. . . . And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.”
      — Nils Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, June 26, 2019

      “A line has been drawn in the sand and either you are going to support Julian and fight this retribution and those indictments, or you basically step back and the lights will go out. That’s how serious it is.”
      — Kristinn Hrafnsson, journalist, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, July 2019

      “. . . the First Amendment interest in the publication of matters of the highest public concern. . . . This type of information is plainly of the type entitled to the strongest protection that the First Amendment offers. . . . the documents were of public importance. Therefore, the First Amendment protects the publication . . .”
      — Judge John G. Koeltl, July 30, 2019

      “It’s not just me. It’s much wider. It’s all of us. It’s all journalists, and all publishers who do their job who are in danger.”
      — Julian Assange, August 2019

    • jmg
      February 20, 2020 at 20:03


      “It’s important that parliamentarians learn the facts of this matter. There’s so much naiveté and ignorance and disinformation swirling around that it’s no wonder that a lot of people are wary or even dislike Julian, but I reckon that when people find out the facts of the matter they will get behind him.”
      — Australian Federal MP Andrew Wilkie, October 2019

      “The only person who’s abided by the law the entire time this epic tragedy has now lasted has been Julian Assange . . . What Assange practiced when he published ‘US war files’ is called journalism. Which thank god is perfectly legal. Much of what those files reveal is not. What he did when he allegedly ‘skipped bail’ in the UK is called requesting asylum. Also perfectly legal, a basic human right. He never broke a law.”
      — Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor, October 23, 2019

      “2011 . . . I knew that the FBI were on the way . . . they came here to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks . . .
      “As things turned out the best they could hope for was our silence. They can live with anything as long as they can keep us silent, uncritical, complaisant, but once we speak, they are just naked, like the emperor in the fable.
      “Kristinn Hrafnsson is highly respected in Iceland. . . .
      “WikiLeaks was bringing out the truth, revealing crimes which should have been taken to court. This has been prevented. So the charges brought against the publisher are, in reality, charges against free speech and freedom of the press. The American police and secret services are trying to create an atmosphere of impunity, where they can do anything. Even when they landed here, they were showing contempt for democracy.
      “What they are doing to Assange is in opposition to the American Constitution and the principles of human rights, they claim they are protecting. . . .
      “All this for carrying out investigative journalism. . . .
      “All depends on us. There is not such a thing as spectators. Everybody is taking a part — sitting quiet is taking part!”
      — Ögmundur Jónasson, former Icelandic Interior Minister, November 2019

      “This is not about me. This is about you!”
      — Julian Assange, November 5, 2019

      “If Europe loses Julian Assange, Europe will lose its soul.”
      — Sre?ko Horvat, philosopher, co-founder of DiEM25, November 6, 2019

      “Journalism is not a crime, Julian Assange must be released.”
      — International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), November 14, 2019

      “Sweden drops 9-year-old ‘preliminary investigation’ into Julian Assange for a third, and final time.”
      — Hanna Jonasson, Assange’s legal team, November 19, 2019

      “Julian Assange denounced in his publications war crimes condemned by the Geneva Convention. Today, he is the one they would like to imprison, that they would like to silence. The United States must drop its extradition request and end the espionage lawsuit against Julian Assange. We consider this case to be one of the most serious attacks on press freedom, on public freedoms committed within the European Union.”
      — French journalists’ unions (SNJ, SNJ-CGT, CFDT Journalistes), November 27, 2019

      “The case of Julian Assange is, in all senses, the turning point. It is the biggest and the most serious attack on journalism and the free press in decades, if not a hundred years. If this extradition goes ahead, journalists around the world will have lost so much that it will be very hard, if not impossible, to get back the rights that we had before.”
      — Kristinn Hrafnsson, December 9, 2019

      “We believe that the arbitrary detention and criminal prosecution of Julian Assange set an extremely dangerous precedent for journalists, media actors and freedom of the press.”
      — European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), January 2, 2020

      “We, journalists and journalistic organizations around the globe, express our grave concern for Mr Assange’s wellbeing, for his continued detention and for the draconian espionage charges.
      “This case stands at the heart of the principle of free speech. . . . Also, the use of espionage charges against people publishing materials provided by whistleblowers is a first and should alarm every journalist and publisher.
      “In a democracy, journalists can reveal war crimes and cases of torture and abuse without having to go to jail. It is the very role of the press in a democracy. If governments can use espionage laws against journalists and publishers, they are deprived of their most important and traditional defense — of acting in the public interest — which does not apply under the Espionage Act. . . .
      “Julian Assange has made an outstanding contribution to public interest journalism, transparency and government accountability around the world. He is being singled out and prosecuted for publishing information that should never have been withheld from the public. . . .
      “As journalists and journalists’ organizations that believe in human rights, freedom of information and of the public’s right to know, we demand the immediate release of Julian Assange.”
      — Journalists Speak Up for Julian Assange, 1237 signatures from 99 countries so far

    • jmg
      February 21, 2020 at 12:29


      “English lawyers have almost no time with him and international lawyers have no time with him, basically. So it’s a strategy from the UK to undermine his defense and have him out of the country as soon as possible, in order to forget about this issue which has cost them a lot of media [attention] and pressure and discomfort. We are victims of this strategy. . . .
      “He is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. . . . He reveals the nature of our regimes . . .
      “The conditions of his detention are sufficient to destroy a man. . . . And yet he is not destroyed. And yet he is still an active man and yet he will be able to defend himself, starting the 24th of February. So, that says a lot about who he is. . . .
      “I was very surprised by how tall he was and strong — he is much more impressive when you see him in real life — and how smooth and humble he was, which was very contradictory with what I had read about him, something that surprised me a lot. . . .
      “We are determined. We are neither pessimistic nor optimistic. We are fighting for a cause and whatever our chances, we will not let it go.”
      — Juan Branco, WikiLeaks legal team, January 23, 2020

      “The most essential journalism of every era is precisely that which a government attempts to silence. These prosecutions demonstrate that they are ready to stop the presses — if they can.”
      — Edward Snowden, article in The Washington Post, January 26, 2020

      “Threats to media freedom and journalists’ security in Europe
      “Member States . . . must . . . recognise, and ensure respect of, the right of journalists to protect their sources, and develop an appropriate normative, judicial and institutional framework to protect whistleblowers and whistleblowing facilitators, in line with Assembly Resolution 2300 (2019) ‘Improving the protection of whistleblowers all over Europe’; in this respect, consider that the detention and criminal prosecution of Mr Julian Assange sets a dangerous precedent for journalists, and join the recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment who declared, on 1 November 2019, that Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States must be barred and that he must be promptly released”
      — Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Resolution 2317, January 28, 2020

      “Dear Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,
      “We wish to nominate Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, in honour of their unparalleled contributions to the pursuit of peace, and their immense personal sacrifices to promote peace for all.”
      — 17 Members of the German Bundestag, January 31, 2020

      “Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been awarded Consortium News’ 2020 Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award for courage in the face of an unprecedented attack on press freedom.”
      — Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, February 10, 2020

      “Will the Prime Minister agree with the Parliamentary report that’s going to the Council of Europe that this extradition should be opposed and the rights of journalists and whistleblowers upheld for the good of all of us?”
      — Jeremy Corbyn, February 12, 2020

      “There was no espionage. There was no hacking. It was just a person doing the right thing and publishing important information in the public interest and frankly it is an international scandal that he is locked up in there in those conditions as a political prisoner.”
      — Australian Federal MP Andrew Wilkie, February 18, 2020

      “In view of both the press freedom implications and the serious concerns over the treatment Julian Assange would be subjected to in the United States, my assessment as Commissioner for Human Rights is that he should not be extradited.”
      — Dunja Mijatovi?, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, February 20, 2020


      Apologies for having posted so much now, six posts. It has been only today, feeling the urgency of the imminent extradition hearing.

      This timeline is just a careful selection of some of the most useful excerpts for all those defending Julian and freedom of the press in so many ways and so many places.

      Having so much disinformation, it’s very important to help each other to inform people on the facts and what is at stake.

  5. February 20, 2020 at 15:42

    Free Assange, Manning and Winner and bring Snowden home.

  6. pasha
    February 20, 2020 at 13:43

    Great piece.
    Julian might have written this:

    Do I dare
    Disturb the universe?
    In a minute there is time
    For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

    For I have known them all already, known them all:
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.

  7. pasha
    February 20, 2020 at 13:32

    The ultimate dictator known as the “Mother of Parliaments” has been pregnant for 800 years, yet somehow still has failed to give birth to democracy.

  8. Gunnar
    February 20, 2020 at 12:03

    Right on spot, thank´s for the article.

  9. February 20, 2020 at 04:14

    Americans do NOT want more time and money spent on Assange. He has been confined for years now, compensating for any wrongs the US feels he has committed. We ALL need to know what Assange and ALL truth-tellers have to say – especially in light of non-existent and/or flawed free-speech protections world-wide, as well as the over-classification of documents as “secret”. We have much more serious concerns. Let him go HOME.

    Trump and others have said it is the Pentagon that wants Assange here – well, as scary as Obama was, he denied them — see:
    This hell is more reason that we should all be knowledgeable about and invested in costs of war, weaponry, our soldiers, vets, policies, and future, via military conscription, in a variety of job types. It seems that when we will all be shipped off, the number of conflicts will decline. When we all have a say, the fight for Peace, Freedom of Speech, Due Process, and All Rights, will be paramount. We remain separate from the military at Our Own Peril.

  10. LJ
    February 19, 2020 at 16:46

    Of course you are right, Mr. Pilger. You should do what you think is right in support of Julian Assange and remain true to your own legacy as a Journalist. . Strange Days have Found Us. There is not much that can be done regarding this situation by We the People. Even if more American citizens were informed and upset by the situation it would not natter. Propaganda has been effective in this case. The leadership of the Democratic and Republican Parties are both in support of the status quo. I wish you and Mr. Assange both well. Peace.

  11. February 19, 2020 at 11:55

    I shudder to think of what is in store for Julian if he is extradited. I hope there is a massive turnout in support of him on Saturday. Thanks to courageous people like John Pilger, Roger Waters and Chrissie Hynde. Wish there were a million more like them.
    The ignorance and apathy is mind-blowing. Whenever I wear my shirts and buttons supporting Julian, I invariably get into a “discussion” with a complete idiot “liberal” who has no clue about the facts and significance of his case. I always refer them to Consortium to get educated.

  12. dean 1000
    February 19, 2020 at 10:16

    John Pilger is a friend of scientific journalism as well as a friend of Julian Assange.

    Reporting or publishing historical facts is not espionage. Historians do it all the time. Have the malfeasants stated a claim a court can relieve? Not really and everyone knows it. The failure to report wrong doing or a crime is a crime itself and could pose a threat to national security. It puts truth tellers in s catch 22 situation.

    Julian Assange has been tried and convicted by the Pentagon, intelligence agencies, and a boatload of politicians and their appointees. So he has been confined for the last 10 years in an embassy or Belmarsh prison. Now the national association of swamp creatures want to bring him to the U.S. and confine him for 175 years. …”and justice for all” except for Julian Assange and other truth tellers.

    Free Julian Assange.

  13. Lily
    February 19, 2020 at 06:25

    Not the psychpathic H.Clinton is the icon of this generation. That is Julian Assange and he will become even more so the longer he is imprisoned and tortured in Belmarsh Prison. Every single politician of the
    EU and their chaps from the mainmedia have lost their credibility. I am waiting for the day when they will accuse Russia or Chine because of missing human rights. They will be laughed at. How very stupid they all are.

    Thank you John Pilger, for this article. Thank you so much. I am not ashamed to say that it hrought tears to my eyes.

  14. February 18, 2020 at 23:59

    This, a brilliant and poignant article by a real journalist, a real friend and a loyal Australian. I thank god for him when Julian Assange has been dismissed and disgustingly betrayed by his own country. I have said such on many posts to them. I lived in Australia for 32 years and moved country because for years I could see where this country was heading, submissive and a puppet to America and their ways and a level of corruption, oppression, control and silencing which only a few Australians were awoke to. Was a journalist myself there and discovered too much information and sources, that I couldn’t be deceived nor asleep. Julian is a brilliant Australian citizen and Australian’s should be proud, so should their media, and media and people’s all over the globe be grateful for trying to warn and save us. That is his bravery and humanity. Julian Assange must be freed at any cost. Powerful article. Thank you John Pilger.

  15. Jenny Nichols
    February 18, 2020 at 18:46

    Thank you John, for standing by Julian assaunge. There are people in this world that know when the truth is told. Only people ashamed of their own cruelty try to hide behind the lie. We will be there in spirit for Julian on Saturday.

  16. Jim-Jams
    February 18, 2020 at 18:42

    Mr. Pilger,
    I salute your courage and sense of morality. You are a candle of light and truth in our ever darkening world.

    • TS
      February 19, 2020 at 06:55

      Hear, hear! You said it, “Jim-Jams”.

  17. elmerfudzie
    February 18, 2020 at 16:12

    Just one look at Hitlery’s mug caused me to react with malaise. Suddenly, a once popular song during those Vietnam years ran through my mind. Similar songs seem to be off the radar for today’s perpetual warmongering? It was Country Joe and the Fish singing their protest tune; Com’mon all of you big strong men, Uncle Sam needs a helpin hand, got himself in a terrible jamb, way down yonder in VietNam…drop your books pick up a gun whoopee were all gonna die! and it’s one, two three, what are we fighten for? don’t ask me I don’t give a damn, nest stop is Vi et-Nam…

    That whole miserable clique, Obama the Clinton(s), Kissinger and Cheney, will our country ever be able to wipe the blood off our collective hands caused by this, regime change, group? The souls of the children of Iraq will haunt us for decades to come and their last screams were overheard in heaven.

    I extend my eternal thanks to the Aussies, they were there with us, do or die, wrong or right.

    When we are supposed to stand up and fight, we don’t; nuclear proliferation, genocide, savage military juntas and so on, not a finger is lifted.

    Pray for justice America, it’s our only hope and avenue…

  18. Tv8
    February 18, 2020 at 15:43

    Measures should be taken…

  19. rosemerry
    February 18, 2020 at 14:16

    David Leigh and another “Guardian journalist” ie sycophant, Luke Harding, also wrote and the paper sold a biography of Julian Assange, repeating all the nasty personal spicy details already spread about Julian, with no real discussion of all the important and beneficial actions Julian was responsible for.
    Luckily Julian has friends like John Pilger- trustworthy, experienced, morally and physically courageous and respected by genuine people all over the world.

  20. John Pretty
    February 18, 2020 at 13:43

    A very interesting and considered piece.

    Julian’s unconventional journalism is a problem for him. And also his lack of appeal to those in positions of power and influence in the West.

    Politicians I liken to snakes. Though that may be unkind to snakes. I suspect that many politicians, when confronted by Julian’s supporters ask themselves, “What’s in this for me?” and then mentally confronting themselves with some of the more ugly aspects of their past personal histories they become silent.

    Most Western politicians seen beholden to Washington. And Washington is full of pseudo-liberal pathological liars. Hillary Clinton is a psychopath. I say that without a hint of irony or anger. This woman is ill. Anyone that disagrees with her she accuses of being a Russian agent. That this sick woman is still taken seriously is concerning.

    And not only her. Democratic politician Adam Schiff recently told Americans that Trump would sell Alaska to the Russians if elected for a second term. Where do these nutjobs come from?

    Julian is a maverick. A free thinker in an increasingly unfree world. The mainstream media is complicit, but even the so-called alternative media is guilty of oppression. I have been effectively silenced on two well-known alternative media sites for “wrong-think”.

    On OffG I was heavily criticised for saying that journalists should not be jailed. Yes, you read that right.

    My crime was saying that Laura Kuenssberg should not be prosecuted for her slip prior to the last election in December. I pointed out that OffG, in exposing Kuenssberg prior to the election had also committed the same “crime”. My comments were “trolled” by a smug individual calling himself “Ed”.

    Presumably the Editors and commentariat of Off-G considered Kuenssberg to be an agent of a hostile state. Where have I heard that argument before?

  21. bob
    February 18, 2020 at 13:23

    the appalling Victoria Derbyshire gave Assange’s dad, John Shipton a torrid time in interview this morning. She was foul and John remained calm and efficient – this is not JUSTICE – justice doesn’t live here anymore

  22. February 18, 2020 at 12:40

    I’ll be more than happy to stand with you ALL on SATURDAY 11.30.

  23. February 18, 2020 at 12:29

    I think the real crime on trial here is knowledge, not journalism, per se.

    The United States just really believes you are not entitled to know much.

    “Ignorance is strength” goes right along with “War is peace,” a deeply held conviction of America’s government.

  24. jmg
    February 18, 2020 at 12:03

    John Pilger’s is a great, impressive article. Straight truth can be shocking. Do those people have a conscience, or are they just possessed by their unscrupulous ambitions?

  25. Peter Dyer
    February 18, 2020 at 11:13

    Thank you from New Zealand, John Pilger.

  26. doris
    February 18, 2020 at 09:58

    Thank you, John Pilger, for your constant work to save the bravest journalist on Earth. It breaks my heart that the US and its blood-thirsty minions have the power to kill the truth and those who tell it. The last four US administrations should be the ones on trial for the mass murder they’ve committed and continue to commit in the name of righteousness. Nearly 7,500 bombs dropped last year in Afghanistan alone. Their evil knows no bounds.

  27. Mangus Colarado
    February 18, 2020 at 08:24

    The centre of democracy ? what democracy, it doesn’t exist, apart from in the mind of fools

  28. Jo Hayward-Haines
    February 18, 2020 at 07:56

    I commend Pilger.for his indefatigable dedication to finding the truth and bringing it to light through a.sordid.mesh of.lies and propaganda. I have learned so much and in every way i can however small i speak about Assange and his steadfast courage. At least we too can discover how the injustices of the past fuel present circumstances and work to change things. Immeasurable thanks.

  29. Eugenie Basile
    February 18, 2020 at 07:17

    I repeat ” I will Not trust any government ( or politician ) or MSM that does not speak out for the immediate liberation of Assange”.

  30. Jenny King
    February 18, 2020 at 05:21

    Solidarity with Julian Assange. He has had the courage to speak truth to power and expose corruption, lies, covert mass arms deals and state murders. I have always admired John Pilger and thank goodness that Julian Assange has John Pilger’s friendship and support. Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning have both been treated appallingly for exposing the truth. I will share this article and promote the march in support of Julian Assange. Unfortunately, I cannot go on it myself as I am disabled. This is so vitally important. There is so much at stake here, journalists’ right to speak out and expose evil and corruption is absolutely crucial, for example, how would Watergate have been exposed if it were not for two brave journalists who exposed the truth? I stand with Julian Assange!

    • zhenry
      February 18, 2020 at 23:46

      Thank you John Pilger for your brilliant exposition, demand for release and tribute to a real hero, Julian Assange.

  31. GMCasey
    February 17, 2020 at 23:10

    I just read, “All the Presidents Men.” Amazing what the press was like then—what happened? Julian Assange is a publisher, publishing truth–which of course, is a horror to the Americans, the Brits, the Aussies and basically to all those grasping and useless pieces of humanity, who ignore truth–and think that anyone will read them and take them seriously. Then too Chelsea Manning—would that all the military people in the U.S cared as much about their nation, The Trump admin. soulless as ever, was bested by the Obama Administration who somehow received a Peace Prize for his lying and war-like actions.
    I wonder where the free press has gone–and with that gone, there is no point in believing the major news sources—as they too sold their souls so long ago. There must be nations of the world who value truth and justice——but where have they gone?

    • Robert Marsh
      February 19, 2020 at 03:25

      Cannot believe the apathy of ordinary huma ity,Julian is a hero for our times and the devil driven world governments are leading us to a hell we at the moment can,t even imagine.Thankyou John Pilger for working so diligently to expose these demons that are in power.

    • Tony
      February 21, 2020 at 07:52

      Nixon was hounded out of office because he offended powerful interests.

      He clashed with the CIA over the JFK assassination files which they did not want him to see. Also, his opening to China and policy of détente with the Soviet Union would not have been good news for the CIA.

      There is some evidence, albeit not conclusive, that the CIA even tried to assassinate him in early 1972 but the hit man backed out when he was told who the target would be.

      Then, just a few months later came the Watergate break-ins. Some of the burglars were ‘retired’ CIA employees who left enough clues to link the operation to the White House.

      The Joint Chiefs of Staff also had problems with Nixon and it is interesting that General Alexander Haig played a big role in bringing Nixon down.

      Nixon was pursued by the Washington Post which at that time had strong links to the CIA.

      For a very different take on Watergate, see ‘Silent Coup: Removal of a President’ by Len Colodny and
      Robert Gettlin.

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