Chris Hedges: Julian Assange — A Fight We Must Not Lose

“This legal lynching marks the official beginning of corporate totalitarianism”  — from a talk the author gave at a rally in New York on World Press Freedom Day.


By Chris Hedges
Original to ScheerPost

The detention and persecution of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press.

The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British, Swedish and U.S. governments are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite, will be masked from the public.

They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement.

They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The legal lynching of Julian, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian embassy — diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory — to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador?

Under what law did former President Donald Trump criminalize journalism and demand the extradition of Julian, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?

Under what law did the C.I.A. violate attorney-client privilege, surveil and record all of Julian’s conversations both digital and verbal with his lawyers and plot to kidnap him from the embassy and assassinate him?

And Our Flags Are Still There – By Mr. Fish.

The corporate state eviscerates enshrined rights by judicial fiat. This is how we have the right to privacy, with no privacy. This is how we have “free” elections funded by corporate money, covered by a compliant corporate media and under iron corporate control.

This is how we have a legislative process in which corporate lobbyists write the legislation and corporate-indentured politicians vote it into law. This is how we have the right to due process with no due process.

This is how we have a government — whose fundamental responsibility is to protect citizens — that orders and carries out the assassination of its own citizens, such as the Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. This is how we have a press which is legally permitted to publish classified information and our generation’s most important publisher sitting in solitary confinement in a high security prison awaiting extradition to the United States.

April 5, 2010: Julian Assange addressing National Press Club about WikiLeaks’ Collateral Damage video showing U.S. air attacks in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed civilians on July 12, 2007. (Jennifer 8. Lee, Flickr)

The psychological torture of Julian — documented by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer — mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

The Gestapo broke bones. The East German Stasi broke souls. We, too, have refined the cruder forms of torture to destroy souls as well as bodies. It is more effective.

This is what they are doing to Julian, steadily degrading his physical and psychological health. It is a slow-motion execution.

This is by design. Julian has spent much of his time in isolation, is often heavily sedated and has been denied medical treatment for a variety of physical ailments. He is routinely denied access to his lawyers. He has lost a lot of weight, suffered a minor stroke, spent time in the prison hospital wing — which prisoners call the hell wing — because he is suicidal, been placed in prolonged solitary confinement, observed banging his head against the wall and hallucinating. Our version of Orwell’s dreaded Room 101.

Julian was marked for elimination by the C.I.A. once he and WikiLeaks published the documents known as Vault 7, which exposed the C.I.A.’s  cyber warfare arsenal which includes dozens of viruses, trojans and malware remote control systems designed to exploit a wide range of U.S. and European company products, including Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung’s Smart TVs, which can be turned into covert microphones even when they appear to be switched off.

(Vadim Smakhtin, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

I spent two decades as a foreign correspondent. I saw how the brutal tools of repression are tested on those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.”  From its inception, the C.I.A. carried out assassinations, coups, torture, black propaganda campaigns, blackmail and illegal spying and abuse, including of U.S. citizens, activities exposed in 1975 by the Church Committee hearings in the Senate and the Pike Committee hearings in the House. All these crimes, especially after the attacks of 9/11, have returned with a vengeance.

The C.I.A. has its own armed units and drone program, death squads and a vast archipelago of global black sites where kidnapped victims are tortured and disappeared. 

The U.S. allocates a secret black budget of about $50 billion a year to hide multiple types of clandestine projects carried out by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies, usually beyond the scrutiny of Congress.

The C.I.A. has a well-oiled apparatus, which is why, since it had already set up a system of 24-hour video surveillance of Julian in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, it quite naturally discussed kidnapping and assassinating Julian. That is its business. 

Sen. Frank Church — after examining the heavily redacted C.I.A. documents released to his committee — defined the C.I.A.’s “covert activity” as “a semantic disguise for murder, coercion, blackmail, bribery, the spreading of lies and consorting with known torturers and international terrorists.”

Fear the puppet masters, not the puppets. They are the enemy within. 

This is a fight for Julian, who I know and admire. It is a fight for his family, who are working tirelessly for his release. It is a fight for the rule of law. It is a fight for the freedom of the press.

It is a fight to save what is left of our diminishing democracy. And it is a fight we must not lose.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”

This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular columnClick here to sign up for email alerts.

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

19 comments for “Chris Hedges: Julian Assange — A Fight We Must Not Lose

  1. Lily
    May 12, 2023 at 09:09

    Christoph Lichtenberg, during the 18th century Professor at the University of Göttingen said:

    ” Wer die Wahrheit sagt, kann froh sein, wenn er mit heiler Haut davon kommt.”

    (The one telling the truth is lucky not to be sincerely punished for doing so.)

  2. Tony
    May 11, 2023 at 09:01

    “The U.S. allocates a secret black budget of about $50 billion a year to hide multiple types of clandestine projects carried out by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies, usually beyond the scrutiny of Congress.”

    But what is its income from other sources such as the drug trade?

    One of the nicknames for the CIA is the Cocaine Import Agency.

  3. S Wong
    May 10, 2023 at 11:56

    The US regime does not operate on legitimate laws. It makes its own “rules-based international order” [which we all know is a big joke] and flings them onto the world stage. If any nation or nation’s leader disobeys America’s gangster edict, that country will be attacked and or its leader murdered. This is the nature of the evil nation called the USA. The world will never achieve world peace without the removal of this regime that has entrenched itself as the sole hegemon and global imperialist power. American citizens are powerless to rein their own government because their electoral power has been hijacked by very powerful vested interests such as the super-rich, American conglomerates, the deep state, etc. The US president is just a lame-duck puppet being pulled by the strings of these wealth-hogging selfish, vested groups. The world has to wake up and see the US for what it really is: the world’s biggest bully.

    • May 10, 2023 at 16:11

      It should dawn on the people of the world that if the Justice Department of the US had treated war crimes against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan as a serious matter and honoured #Principle7Nuremberg, then there is a chance that NATO could have had some resilience and the people of those 2 nations wouldn’t be in the situation of wretched governance that they are in currently. Julian and Wikileaks have understood that the Principles resulting from the Nuremberg Trials are a high level of law, and can’t be brushed aside by insane side deals with the Taliban by people like Trump, and then rubber-stamped by a decrepit Biden. Robert F Kennedy Jr would enable the western powers to have some understanding of the theory and practice of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  4. Lily
    May 10, 2023 at 10:55

    The west will perish. China’s wisdom, Russia’s humanity, and the young strength of the Brics will be strong enough to save humanity and create a new order were right is strong and the week are cared for.

    May Julien survive till the time is fulfilled. Be strong and concistent, hero of the many.

  5. firstpersoninfinite
    May 10, 2023 at 10:33

    Brilliant, timely analysis, as usual, from Chris Hedges. Almost 80 years after WWII, the world is dividing up again at an almost corpuscular level. The unity we’ve pretended to have during that time was comforting to capitalism, but ugly in all its particulars. As R. Buckminster Fuller once pointed out, in 1900 only 1% of the world population had access to the needed resources to live to full life expectancy. By 1945, 44% had access to those same resources and same outcomes, the most ever in world history. Yet the colonial mindset which fed the world in 1900 is still our overarching philosophy of existence. Our shared consciousness, the religion of our shared reality, can’t move away from the compulsion to divide resources while hoarding those divisions which define us. As dark as the threat of corporate totalitarianism is (and I agree completely with Hedges’ summation), the necessary chaos does open channels to different outcomes. Our attempt to maintain hegemony over the world is an act of violence against ourselves as well. It is a death-bed fantasy. When the rest of the world walls us in as the new state of Cuba, America will reach its last, Puritanical heights amid opium dreams of deliverance. Our Babylonian captivity will be like a shiny amusement park, not a shining city on a hill. Such Biblical metaphors are always the language used by those imprisoned amid riches they can’t quite reach.

  6. Rudy Haugeneder
    May 10, 2023 at 10:03

    Perhaps the answer is to give AI more power. It couldn’t be much worse than Sapiens power — could it? Aside from the AI suggestion and taking into account Sapiens history and what is happening today, I am at a loss for an answer, especially as I daily drive past the growing numbers of homeless in the prosperous city of Victoria, BC, where I live. I am a hypocrite as I drive by, look at them and wonder how I was lucky enough to avoid becoming one of them, and continue to drive with my sadness at their plight quickly, the sadness disappearing (usually within seconds) as I drive on to whatever unimportant destination I was heading towards, knowing, without thinking about it, that this homeless observation is going to be repeated again and again and again in the coming hours and days and also knowing my momentary bout of guilt won’t transcend into any useful action towards dealing with their plight. I am Sapiens.

  7. May 10, 2023 at 00:46

    Breathtaking in its naked truth and compelling in ist reality of the ever-increasing, surmounting evil present in our Nation, in out Government.
    That we are, and have been for so long, has become a god-less nation wallowing in its own depravity, party to the murder,
    genocide and destruction of human life in nearly every country in our shrinking world — in whose name? Not in mine. Not in mine.
    What is the answer, Chris? What can the so-called average American citizen do? I feel such rage, such anger, such inability to help
    (except, of course, to carefully vet prospective legislators (most of whom have already been bought and paid for by the oligarchs z[SVd
    and others….
    For some time, I believe that ‘the handwriting has been on the wall’ (See Daniel 5).
    But we are blind to it. And then will come our inescapable judgment before our Creator of all that is and has been…
    Than you for this, It hit me so hard in the gut — and in my soul (that place within that tries so hard to show us the right way.
    to act, to love one another. I assume tht Mr. Fish produced the riveting portrait of Julian Assangge. Powerful. I cannot
    take my eyes away from it.

  8. Robyn
    May 9, 2023 at 19:56

    It should be remembered that Australia’s Prime Minister when Julian first sought asylum (Julia Gillard, Labor) thrashed around for an Australian law which could justify Julian’s prosecution and for grounds upon which his Australian passport could be cancelled. There was no Australian law she could use so she relied on vilification and putting her head in the sand. The vilification by Australian politicians has stopped but most still have their heads in the sand.

  9. CaseyG
    May 9, 2023 at 19:19

    Julian Assange is a TRUTH TELLER, one of the few on the planet.

    The CIA et al seem to be composed of devious power seekers—- and this is so unAmerican even from this country’s beginnings. Too many liars and cheats, it seems , are attracted to devious work. Sadly there is a Preamble that everyone could read—–apparently lying, and stealing seems so popular nowadays that what was once a nation has become a parody of its own self. : (

  10. Richard Romano
    May 9, 2023 at 17:52

    “When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
    Mark Twain

  11. Richard Romano
    May 9, 2023 at 17:41

    There is no law. Chris makes it very clear.

  12. Lois Gagnon
    May 9, 2023 at 17:34

    The US is a gangster state. The world will have to come to terms with that reality. If it’s not dismantled soon, life on earth is finished. What we have to decide is, are we prepared to fight for it or let the gangsters have their way? We are all Julian Assange.

  13. May 9, 2023 at 17:21

    It is so bloody pathetic people don’t see that Assange’s battle for justice is our battle for freedom of the press and freedom of speech; and one we certainly can’t afford to lose.

    It should also be of great concern that peoples of the West have given up on freedom of speech and democracy and accept the totalitarianism that is dooming our societies and leaving us in the dust as Eurasia moves on to a multipolar world where peace and prosperity will prevail.

    We like to see ourselves as the masters of the universe when we are only a rump of 13% of the world’s population. Where we should be building for the future we our digging ourselves a very deep grave.

    Seeing the state of Great Britain today speaks to the truth of what happens to former empires run into the ground.

  14. Anon
    May 9, 2023 at 16:59

    Interesting… Fiat means let it be: Latin… while Fiat Lux… means: Let there be Light!
    Add $ to Fiat: IMO Defines what occurred (by financier Design): 1913… US Treasury Privatised… (IOW) War Debt along w/ Other US Gov Expen$e$ Carrie$ Intere$t… to be Paid By… American Taxpayer$!
    Any Wonder US Corporatocracy Donate$ to Running Pol$…?…!!!
    Agree w/ Chris & CN… We Avg/Anon Americans Need 2 Fight… 4 a Little… LUX!

  15. Valerie
    May 9, 2023 at 16:44

    “Under what law”; ” Under what law”; “Under what law” – there is no law for the lawless.

  16. Joe Plumb
    May 9, 2023 at 15:29

    If I saw a fight, I’d agree. But, this is a “fight” without any fight.
    I don’t see any crowds in the streets.
    I don’t see workers on strike, making Bosses and Wall Street analysts sweat.
    I don’t see any legislatures tied up by procedure in protest, as a minority says no business as usual.
    I don’t see any real resistance at all.

    I see words, press conferences, and statements. I read to the end, but never saw a call to action.
    Growing up, we had a saying … “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
    The Establishment has to laugh hard at a resistance that only uses tactics that can never hurt them. Laughing all the way to the bank, along quiet streets, enjoying the sunset, laughing at the starving beggars.

    Today’s Left seems to think they can change the world with a smile and a kind word. How’s that working for ya?

    • J Anthony
      May 10, 2023 at 11:03

      That’s not much of a “left” then, is it

  17. Julia
    May 9, 2023 at 14:37

    Great one

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