Journalism Itself Locked Up in Belmarsh

It’s not just a man who is imprisoned for the crime of good journalism, but also the idea that anyone should be permitted to expose the criminality of the world’s most powerful and tyrannical people, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article.

As the 17th anniversary of the creation of WikiLeaks passes us by, it’s probably worth taking a moment to reflect on Julian Assange and what his persecution means for us and our society.

Because in a very real sense, it’s not just a man locked up in Belmarsh Prison for the crime of good journalism — it’s journalism itself. It’s the idea that anyone should be permitted to expose the criminality of the world’s most powerful and tyrannical people. It’s the idea that the public should be allowed to know what abuses the U.S. empire is committing around the world.

Julian Assange is the world’s greatest journalist. By revolutionizing source protection for the digital age with the creation of WikiLeaks 17 years ago and then going on to break some of the biggest stories of the 21st century, Assange set himself head-and-shoulders above any other living reporter anywhere on Earth. 

And by showing the world that they can lock up the world’s greatest journalist for revealing inconvenient truths, they are showing the world that they can lock up anyone.

That’s what this case has always been about. It’s not about whether Assange crossed some arbitrary procedural line when working with Chelsea Manning to expose U.S. war crimes. It’s not about the U.S. protecting its national security. It’s not about any of the other justifications people have put forward to excuse their sycophantic support for the persecution of a journalist for doing journalism. 

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It’s about setting a legal precedent that will allow the U.S. empire to extradite anyone anywhere in the world who reveals inconvenient facts about it. It’s about showing all journalists everywhere that if they can do it to the greatest among them, they can do it to any of them. And, like so much else in the world today, it’s about narrative control.

To accept the persecution of Julian Assange is to accept the idea that all media everywhere must function as propaganda organs of the U.S. government.

It’s to take it as a given that any journalist anywhere in the world who decides to do real journalism and expose inconvenient facts about the powerful in the public interest should be jailed until they can be extradited to the United States for a show trial, and then left to rot in one of the most draconian prison systems on the planet.

It’s to accept that we will never live in a truth-based society guided by facts and information, and must forever resign ourselves to living in a society dominated by the whims of the powerful.

Your position on the Assange case is therefore your position on what kind of society we should hope to live in, and what kind of future we should hope to have. In a very real way, it’s your position on humanity itself. 

Should humanity try to create a better world, or should we keep plunging into dystopia until we are driven into nuclear war or environmental catastrophe by rulers we are forbidden to question? 

Do we want to move into the light, or into the darkness? 

Your position on Assange shows your answer to these questions, and shows which course you want us to take.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

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

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19 comments for “Journalism Itself Locked Up in Belmarsh

  1. Arch Stanton
    October 6, 2023 at 16:57

    Even Private Eye (a fortnightly UK based publication that mixes serious investigative journalism and satire) is peddling the corporate media’s lies & propaganda about Julian, Russia, Syria & The White Helmets and pretty much anyone who the US / UK government have a gripe with.

    This is from a publication that tenaciously uncovered the lies and subsequent fit-up over the Lockerbie bombing, all thanks to the late Paul Cook.

    I bet he will be turning in his grave knowing how supine his old rag has become. I’m so close to cancelling my subscription, but at the same time they still go to places where other journalists don’t go e.g,
    they alone pursued the biggest corporate miscarriage of justice in UK history – Royal Mail & the prosecution of ~700 innocent sub postmasters (some died, committed suicide) and the contaminated blood scandal of the 1980s which even after 40 yrs the UK government is still not compensating the dying victims.

    But they have it in for Julian.

  2. ray Peterson
    October 6, 2023 at 16:22

    Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, exposing the criminality of
    America’s military-corporate security-state elite, while being
    the work of true journalism and journalists as yourself, requires
    a humanity driven leadership.
    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be Trump’s VP choice, and Biden
    may end up in jail for Burisma corruption.
    Opposed to this continuation of American power elite is Cornel West,
    running on the Green Party.
    For journalism he’s likely to bring in a WPA like Federal Writer’s Project
    so truth reporting journalists could have steady well-paying work.

  3. October 6, 2023 at 13:11

    The utterly inhuman treatment of our brother Julian, and by extension – his two beautiful, innocent sons, Gabriel and Max, and their mother, Julian’s wife Stella, is nothing but proof positive that we’re all living in a global asylum, an asylum where the supposed ‘Wardens’ are those DEFINITELY most insane – CRIMINALLY insane, that is! . . .


    I’ve long held the view that the faith of Julian, is to be likened with that of the ‘Canary in the coal mine’ of old, but as opposed to the miners of yore – who naturally and instinctively REACTED to the canary’s warning of imminent danger, global society at large has been mentally massaged to the point that brutal, absurd and abject ‘legal’ proceedings leading to years of incarceration and isolation in UK’s high security prison Belmarsh apparently is ”none of our concern” – which couldn’t be further from the truth! – Julian represents YOU, ME, and all the rest of us – including our children and all those not yet born, Julian represents the TRUTH which is the only thing that separates us from the above mentioned ”Wardens” – these includes of course the myriad of individuals employed for, and paid solely to GIVE US THE TRUTH, and nothing but the truth – the main stream public media! . . .

    The heart wrenching fact that Julian STILL is being held in captivity, speaks volumes of how we as a collective species have been brainwashed by the psychopathic parasites intent on governing our lives! . . . .

    Julian created a bridge between US and the reality of how our world are operated,
    IT IS IN OUR POWER TO STOP THEM FROM DESTROYING THAT BRIDGE – and the HERO – that did build that bridge! . . . .

  4. Nina Felshin
    October 6, 2023 at 10:58

    Great piece, Caitlin. Not only are you a uniquely creative journalist, you are a poet, a storyteller and,
    speaking as a lifelong curator of contemporary art, your work as a visual artist is exceptional. I
    LOVE the work that accompanies this piece. Unlike the rest of us, you clearly have more than 24
    hours in your day. Yay you!

  5. Valerie
    October 6, 2023 at 08:34

    “The mark of service to humanity, is no longer the Nobel Peace prize, but an espionage indictment from the US”

    Julian Assange

    (I believe this is the month the final decision is to be made regarding Julian’s extradition.)

  6. Richard Romano
    October 6, 2023 at 07:35

    Caitlin and Tim have in so few words say it better than anyone. Thanks.

  7. Lily
    October 6, 2023 at 05:35

    The capability of artists to look into the future has been proven again and again.

    Here i see rays of light coming to the rescue of this innocent good man, Julien Assange, still imprisoned by the pitchblack souls of his torturers.

    Thank you, Caitlin.

  8. rosemerry
    October 6, 2023 at 01:29

    As we see every day the descriptions of the Russian war crimes and the successes of the Ukrainian forces with excellent scriptwriters, actors, scene setters, professional videos, interviews and well-worn stories of wilful destruction of civilian buildings, always attributed to Ukrainian sources and never investigated, we see how the corporate western media have adapted to the Assange-free space occupied in virtually every part of the MSM. I live in France- every story from the limited “free media” is word for word the same, and no discussion of “Russian propaganda” is given any worth. Luckily the internet still provides the alternatives if people want to seek them.

  9. Cal Lash
    October 5, 2023 at 22:49

    Absolute travesty.
    Time to lock up his enemies.
    Free Assange.

  10. Hegesias Cyrene
    October 5, 2023 at 22:35

    I admit I’m an idiot, but I can’t find a place to make a one-time donation to her? (I donate to CN pretty much very quarter. Thanks.)

      October 7, 2023 at 09:05

      You can donate to Caitlin on hxxps://

  11. Randal Marlin
    October 5, 2023 at 18:17

    As usual, Caitlin Johnstone puts a finer, more penetrating and significant edge on the story than any other account I have read.

  12. Simon
    October 5, 2023 at 18:10

    Ms Johnstone, I appreciate your thoughts and view on the threats to Journalism by the wealthy and powerful. I agree that it is a shame that journalists and being persecuted for reporting important events but I must wonder if there are not even more relevant topics and people that need to be exposed and become the focus rather than those the government deems to be sacrosanct. Specifically, the people behind the threats that wield the power. I for one would truly love to see some focus on the politicians that became millionaires while working as Public Servants. We think it is there but why is it all so “hush Hush.” I guess I am saying that if the powerful can come after the story teller, why does the story teller not go after the powerful? Or am I missing something?

    • firstpersoninfinite
      October 6, 2023 at 01:03

      “…but I must wonder if there are not even more relevant topics and people that need to be exposed and become the focus rather than those the government deems to be sacrosanct.”
      No, there aren’t any “more relevant topics.”
      Thomas Jefferson: “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.”
      Quite honestly, that which “the government deems to be sacrosanct” are exactly those things which the government is determined we shall never “be capable of reading.” Yes indeed, you are “missing something.” The storyteller now is a paid shill for the powers that corrupt. Assange is a journalist seeking to inform, not corrupt. It’s really no more difficult than that to understand. Billionaires and their keepers are the ones who put Assange in jail and keep him there. The politicians who put Assange in jail do not fear being revealed.

  13. October 5, 2023 at 17:55

    @ Caitlin Johnstone
    Your concise and informed description of this tragic and inhumane persecution and false imprisonment of Julian Assange perfectly expresses my own long-held, but much less articulately expressed, feelings and opinions regarding Mr. Julian Assange’s incredible horrific treatment by the government of my own country, the United States of America. The majority of those who founded our society, despite the human flaws of the times in which they lived, rejected dystopia and its progenitors in their midst. My ancestor, Ethan Allen of the then colony of Vermont, was a staunch opponent of such inhumane criminal tyranny.
    Thank you Ms. Johnstone, and to CN for publishing this excellent treatise!!!
    As Usual,

  14. Gary Lee
    October 5, 2023 at 17:47

    Another nail hit on the head!

  15. Lois Gagnon
    October 5, 2023 at 16:02

    This emerging corporate fascist state is revealing its true intentions: to silence any and all those who resist total control by a small and vicious ruling establishment. There should be no more illusions given the recent absolution of Nazis. “It’s complicated” according to Politico. No more complicated than knowing right from wrong, but we are not supposed to think too hard about such things. Assange is the example for anyone who dares expose the criminality of the state. But Russia!

    Free Assange!

  16. CaseyG
    October 5, 2023 at 15:48

    Julian Assange is a truth teller. Julian Assange need to be a FREE MAN. America doesn’t have enough of those. I am glad we were able to see what America has been doing —but sad that it continues doing so many awful things to nations, peoples and its own soul. Oh where is that more perfect union, America?

    It is very hard to believe much of what you say, you of the said to be , “Free Press.” As the world has watched—and as the military gets bigger and more and more useless to life on Earth, does the government ever wonder—“what is its purpose?” EARTH—-the one planet that we know of which has LIFE. Yes somehow, valuing life is not what we do at all.WHY is that?

    To continue keeping a TRUTH TELLER in prison for not being any kind of of criminal, YOU America and the UK have shown that WE the People, all around the world—you have sadly shown that We the People of Many Nations do not seem to matter to you at all. WHY IS THAT?

    • Cal Lash
      October 5, 2023 at 22:47


Comments are closed.