Caitlin Johnstone: Assange Free, But No Justice

We all still live under a globe-spanning power structure that has shown the entire world that it will destroy your life if you expose its criminality.

Activists in London staging their weekly protest outside Belmarsh Prison against the continued detention within of dissident journalist Julian Assange, 29, 2022. (Alisdaire Hickson, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article.

Julian Assange is free. Early on Tuesday he was en route to the Northern Mariana Islands, a remote U.S. territory in the western Pacific, to finalize a plea deal with the U.S. government which will see him sentenced to time served in Belmarsh Prison. Barring any shady shenanigans from the empire in the process, he will then return to his home country of Australia a free man.

Importantly, according to experts I’ve seen commenting on this astonishing new development it doesn’t appear that his plea deal will set any new legal precedents that will be harmful to journalists going forward. Joe Lauria reports the following for Consortium News:

“Bruce Afran, a U.S. constitutional lawyer, told Consortium News that a plea deal does not create a legal precedent. Therefore Assange’s deal would not jeopardize journalists in the future of being prosecuted for accepting and publishing classified information from a source because of Assange’s agreeing to such a charge.”

I’ve obviously got a lot of big feels about all this, having followed this important case so closely for so long and having put so much work into writing about it. There’s so very, very much work to be done in our collective struggle to liberate the world from the talons of the imperial murder machine, but I am overjoyed for Assange and his family, and it feels good to mark a solid win in this fight.

None of this undoes the unforgivable evils the empire inflicted in its persecution of Julian Assange however, or reverses the worldwide damage that has been done by making a public example of him to show what happens to a journalist who tells inconvenient truths about the world’s most powerful government. 

So while Assange may be free, we cannot rightly say that justice has been done.

Justice would look like Assange being granted a full and unconditional pardon and receiving millions of dollars in compensation from the U.S. government for the torment they put him through by his imprisonment in Belmarsh beginning in 2019, his de facto imprisonment in the Ecuadorian embassy beginning in 2012, and his jailing and house arrest beginning in 2010.

Justice would look like the U.S. making concrete legal and policy changes guaranteeing that Washington could never again use its globe-spanning power and influence to destroy the life of a foreign journalist for reporting inconvenient facts about it, and issuing a formal apology to Julian Assange and his family.

Justice would look like the arrest and prosecution of the people whose war crimes Assange exposed, and the arrest and prosecution of everyone who helped ruin his life for exposing those crimes. This would include a whole host of government operatives and officials across numerous countries, and multiple U.S. presidents.

Justice would look like a hero’s welcome and a hero’s honors from Australia upon his arrival, and a serious revision of Canberra’s obsequious relationship with Washington.

Justice would look like formal apologies to Assange and his family from the editorial boards of all the mainstream press outlets which manufactured consent for his vicious persecution — including and especially The Guardian — and the complete destruction of the reputations of every unscrupulous presstitute who helped smear him over the years.

John Shipton, Assange’s father, at a Mexico City venue of the screening of the film Ithaka, a Fight to Free Julian Assange, in May 2023. (Joe Lauria)

If these things happened, then we could perhaps argue that justice has been served to some extent. As it stands all we have is the cessation of one single act of depravity by an empire that is only backing off to make room for newer, more important depravities. 

We all still live under a globe-spanning power structure which has shown the entire world that it will destroy your life if you expose its criminality, and then stand back and proudly call this justice.

So I personally think I’m just going to take this one small victory in stride with a quick “thank you” to the heavens and get back to work. There is still so much to do, and vanishingly little time to do it. 

The fight goes on.

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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16 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Assange Free, But No Justice

  1. John Trout
    June 27, 2024 at 11:26

    Everyone is cheering that Assange is now free but the lesson is learned: if you shine the light on US/isreal atrocities the Zionist hammer will come down hard.

  2. Lily
    June 26, 2024 at 16:26

    All the best to Julien Assange and his family!

    Thanks to CN, to Joe Lauria and to Caitlin Jonstone. Without your concistency Julien would not be free.

  3. John Z
    June 26, 2024 at 07:03

    Thank God and all the people, including you, Caitlin, who rallied for years in support of Julian. Perhaps we, the people, could begin a fund to pay off the debt he faces, according to the mob that ruined his life from the get-go. I don’t have much, but for him I would certainly kick in something. Hurrah for his freedom, and may tyranny and unbridled cruelty continue to be challenged and destroyed. The fight goes on.

  4. MeMyself
    June 26, 2024 at 03:42

    Julian Assange is receiving moral support compensation from those of us who appreciate his work. And those who are responsible for his persecution are void of moral ( Morally Bankrupt) compensation to offer it.

    • Jack Lomax
      June 26, 2024 at 20:01

      Indeed those who persecuted him are morally bankrupt.But who are they ? The complete answer is the powerful in the western empire. And have they now repented and feel guilt? Of course not. They used Julian as in the cruel past of this cruel system they put people in the public stocks or publically hang them so that the victim struggles and screams as he was slowly choked to death -no long drop for them. But the cowed audience was small and modern technology has allowed them to take their high profile victim into long term captive misery with the constant threat of a violent death or prolonged dying hanging over their heads.Sometimes (but rarely) the victim gathers so much public sympathy that the process ends with their release. That’s Julian. But his release has not tainted the system. The message is still clear. ‘If you have access to information which would be a grave embarrassment to us if you released – before you do just remember Julian Assange!

  5. Realist
    June 26, 2024 at 03:09

    Very curious to know Edward Snowden’s and Chelsea Manning’s reaction to the whole Julian Assange saga. There but for the “grace of god” went they and all of that… Manning actually spent time in Uncle Sam’s slammer–hard time without any assurance that he’d ever get out. I should think they’d have a bond most of us could never truly understand.

  6. michael888
    June 26, 2024 at 00:50

    Political opponents and their “crimes”, particularly whistleblowers, now receive a third level of Justice in the West.

    Our Establishment criminals are above the Law, most of the People (98%) plea bargain to avoid federal “Justice”, and then the political opponents/ whistleblowers get an “overdose” of Western justice; laws are made up or bent especially against them. Public examples must be made to protect our corrupt Establishment.

    Let’s hope Assange can rebuild his life. He’s only 52, but has endured so much.

  7. firstpersoninfinite
    June 26, 2024 at 00:15

    Assange is now Mandela. We are now South Africa, before apartheid ended. We have a long prison sentence of our own to experience going forward, and those who made it possible are both running for president. Don’t expect the confetti at the end of the presidential race to fall on anyone innocent of this crime against our own collective conscience. Assange is free! And that alone deserves our celebration.

  8. Graeme
    June 25, 2024 at 20:15

    The opening sentence of Kafka’s ‘The Trial ( written 1914 and 1915)’:
    “Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.”

    The same applies equally to Julian.

    And typically, the real criminals are still on the loose.

  9. June 25, 2024 at 17:34

    Thank you Caitlyn for your endless work on Julian’s case over the years. We’ve been yelling from the mountaintop for over a decade, so seeing him a free man boarding the plane was surreal. I actually thought it was a deepfake and someone was playing a very cruel joke.

    We’ll not get the justice Julian deserves. Washington and it’s vassal states don’t operate that way. Look what crimes Israel commits knowing they have #GenocideJoe backing them up 100%.

    Based on the extent of persecution Julian incurred for a decade, the US should be forced to pay reparations for lost income and damages to his health. Sticking him in the back with $520,000 bill for a plane flight the day he is set free is cruel and unusual punishment.

    I am glad that Stella and family will soon be living a normal life in Australia with Julian. Thankful for that gift, but as you say, there is lots more to be done.

      June 25, 2024 at 18:32

      It is the Australian government that is charging him for the plane, according to Stella Assange.

  10. David Hallam
    June 25, 2024 at 17:29

    The only justice that would be even barely sufficient for the years of brutal captivity and torture Julian Assange has endured, would require the public execution of every member of every government and of every director of every corporate propaganda fake news outlet in the so-called West who didn’t take demonstrably direct action, daily, to effect his release. And that’s a bare minimum.

  11. John Gilberts
    June 25, 2024 at 17:03

    Shame on Albanese and Australia for stiffing Julian and his family for his flight. Outrageous. Thank you Julian, Stella, WikiLeaks, friends, family and supporters such as CN and all who stood by this critical struggle for truth, free speech, anti-imperialism and antifascism. Bravo.

    Allow me also to express and share my deepening disgust for the complicity and collaboration of the msm in the crimes of the powerful and the persecution of opposition, who seem now to be always on the side of the monsters.

    We have a lot of work to do.

  12. floyd gardner
    June 25, 2024 at 16:04

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Caitlin for your exquisite steadfastness!

  13. Drew Hunkins
    June 25, 2024 at 15:45

    Of course it’s nice that he’s free, but that he had to plead guilty for doing journalistic work is troubling.

  14. JonnyJames
    June 25, 2024 at 14:16

    I fully agree with Caitlin as usual.

    While I should not be surprised I still can’t believe that they will charge him over half a million USD for the plane ride. That looks like flagrant extortion by the pathetic, boot-licking, vassal US empire, aka the so-called Australian govt. They have (other than cheap rhetoric) done bugger all to help an Australian citizen. (Just like the US gov. does nothing when US citizens and journalists like Shireen Abu Akleh, are assassinated in broad daylight by Israeli military.)

    We could add to the long list of things that would bring “justice”: it would be great to see Tony Blair, Bush Jr. Barack Obama, The DT, Genocide Joe, the entire Israeli govt., the US Senate, Congress, The British govt., most of Parliament and many more in prison. Alas, prison and taxes are only for the “little people”.

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