John Pilger: The Stalinist Trial of Julian Assange

The extradition hearing beginning this week is the final act of an Anglo-American campaign to bury Julian Assange. It is not due process. It is due revenge, said John Pilger in a speech Monday outside the court building.

Having reported the long, epic ordeal of Julian Assange, John Pilger gave this address outside the Central Criminal Court in London on Sept. 7 as the WikiLeaks Editor’s extradition hearing entered its final stage.

By John Pilger

When I first met Julian Assange more than ten years ago, I asked him why he had started WikiLeaks. He replied: “Transparency and accountability are moral issues that must be the essence of public life and journalism.”

I had never heard a publisher or an editor invoke morality in this way. Assange believes that journalists are the agents of people, not power: that we, the people, have a right to know about the darkest secrets of those who claim to act in our name.

If the powerful lie to us, we have the right to know. If they say one thing in private and the opposite in public, we have the right to know. If they conspire against us, as Bush and Blair did over Iraq, then pretend to be democrats, we have the right to know.

It is this morality of purpose that so threatens the collusion of powers that want to plunge much of the world into war and wants to bury Julian alive in Trump’s fascist America.

In 2008, a top secret U.S. State Department report described in detail how the United States would combat this new moral threat. A secretly-directed personal smear campaign against Julian Assange would lead to “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”.

The aim was to silence and criminalize WikiLeaks and its founder. Page after page revealed a coming war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech and freedom of thought, and democracy.

The imperial shock troops would be those who called themselves journalists: the big hitters of the so-called mainstream, especially the “liberals” who mark and patrol the perimeters of dissent.

‘Due Revenge’

And that is what happened. I have been a reporter for more than 50 years and I have never known a smear campaign like it: the fabricated character assassination of a man who refused to join the club: who believed journalism was a service to the public, never to those above.

Assange shamed his persecutors. He produced scoop after scoop. He exposed the fraudulence of wars promoted by the media and the homicidal nature of America’s wars, the corruption of dictators, the evils of Guantanamo.

He forced us in the West to look in the mirror. He exposed the official truth-tellers in the media as collaborators: those I would call Vichy journalists. None of these imposters believed Assange when he warned that his life was in danger: that the “sex scandal” in Sweden was a set up and an American hellhole was the ultimate destination. And he was right, and repeatedly right.

The extradition hearing in London beginning this week is the final act of an Anglo-American campaign to bury Julian Assange. It is not due process. It is due revenge. The American indictment is clearly rigged, a demonstrable sham. So far, the hearings have been reminiscent of their Stalinist equivalents during the Cold War.

Today, the land that gave us Magna Carta, Great Britain, is distinguished by the abandonment of its own sovereignty in allowing a malign foreign power to manipulate justice and by the vicious psychological torture of Julian – a form of torture, as Nils Melzer, the UN expert has pointed out, that was refined by the Nazis because it was most effective in breaking its victims. 

Cowardice in Canberra

Every time I have visited Assange in Belmarsh prison, I have seen the effects of this torture. When I last saw him, he had lost more than 10 kilos in weight; his arms had no muscle. Incredibly, his wicked sense of humor was intact.

As for Assange’s homeland, Australia has displayed only a cringing cowardice as its government has secretly conspired against its own citizen who ought to be celebrated as a national hero. Not for nothing did George W. Bush anoint the Australian prime minister his “deputy sheriff.”

It is said that whatever happens to Julian Assange in the next three weeks will diminish if not destroy freedom of the press in the West. But which press? TheGuardian? The BBC, The New York Times, the Jeff Bezos Washington Post?

No, the journalists in these organizations can breathe freely. The Judases on the Guardian who flirted with Julian, exploited his landmark work, made their pile then betrayed him, have nothing to fear. They are safe because they are needed.

Freedom of the press now rests with the honorable few: the exceptions, the dissidents on the internet who belong to no club, who are neither rich nor laden with Pulitzers, but produce fine, disobedient, moral journalism – those like Julian Assange.

Meanwhile, it is our responsibility to stand by a true journalist whose sheer courage ought to be inspiration to all of us who still believe that freedom is possible. I salute him.

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.  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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4 comments for “John Pilger: The Stalinist Trial of Julian Assange

  1. Michael Kuser
    September 8, 2020 at 12:30

    My great-grandfather, James Kerney, was both editor and publisher of the Trenton Times in Trenton, New Jersey a hundred years ago and he cited morality in a letter to his three sons describing the newspaper business:
    “No other calling, not even the church, has a greater obligation – or if it has, meets it with such courage. Back of the news should be the reputation of someone for outstanding honesty and courage to do the right, but to do it fairly and with a due regard for human weakness. There is no human perfection and newspaper judgment is not always right. But it is the clear duty of the newspaper man to make an honest endeavor to do the right as God gives him to see the right. … The real business of a newspaper is protecting the public from outrages from politicians and rich high-binders, who live as smug leaders of the community while they lift your watch.”
    I sent a postcard to Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison last year and can only hope it gave him a lift that day, if his criminal captors let him receive it.

  2. Boba
    September 8, 2020 at 08:40

    Dear John Pilger,
    Your great speech makes me cry. How truthful, how powerful, how sincere are your words!
    Thank you for your engagement and your tireless combat for Julian Assange- with great respect B.

  3. andy watters
    September 8, 2020 at 07:19

    I congratulate Mr. Pilger for his excellent article of yesterday on the injustices ongoing which are inflicted on Julian Assange.

    I have already donated to Julian’s campaign and attended the protest rally earlier this year.
    I continually email my local mp, also Priti Patel, Robert Buckland and PM Johnson = obviously with no responses. And I am bombarding friends and contacts with emails
    If there is anything else that can be done, please advise.

    Kind regards

  4. Fábio de Oliveira Ribeiro
    September 8, 2020 at 06:28

    I will make an important observation.

    The former Brazilian president was criminally accused based on preconceived certainties by the prosecutor. Brazilian law, which requires evidence of the authorship and materiality of the crime for the prosecution to be made, was ignored. During the procedure, the defense’s work was hampered by the judge. Lula was convicted because of journalistic accusations and with contempt for the proven evidence in favor of him that existed in the file. The judge who pronounced the decision was Lula’s political enemy. The law used for the conviction punished the practice of “specific acts” of corruption. It content was altered by the judge to make the conviction possible: Lula was convicted because of the practice of “unspecified acts” of corruption.

    The legal technique employed in this Julian Assange trial seems to me to be similar to that used in Lula’s case.

Comments are closed.