At Parliament Square at the end of a #MarchForAssange last Saturday, these three speakers stressed the wider importance of the court battle to free Julian Assange from the grip of the American state.
This is not just about righting the wrongs of nearly a decade of lies and smears, it’s not about asserting the right of a publisher to expose government wrong-doing, and it’s not even just about press freedom or the right to free expression. The extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would be a historic step in a new march to totalitarianism which is manifesting around the world.
It will make easier the persecution of Glenn Greenwald who is facing a parallel battle against Bolsonaro in Brazil and it will give succour to leaders like Narendra Modi, Rodrigo Duterte, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Milos Zeman and of course Donald Trump, all of whom have openly intimidated journalists.
In the UK, Boris Johnson has recently excluded certain journalists from civil service briefings, talked about a new Official Secrets Act, and bullied the BBC about future funding.
As WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristin Hraffnson says in the film, if you’re worried about the environment, animal rights or gender equality, take note that ALL your fundamental rights are in jeopardy if Assange loses this case.
The trial itself, which began this week, is mired in injustice. Held in a tiny court, most of the world’s press is banished to an annex where they are complaining that they can’t hear.
Assange himself is in a bulletproof glass box, where he is having difficulty hearing or taking part in his own trial. The situation is so bad that even the prosecution QC has requested that Assange be allowed to sit with his defence lawyers (perhaps through fear that the whole charade will be too easy to overthrow as a mis-trial if allowed to proceed as is). Judge Vanessa Baraitser has refused this request, adding to the questions over her impartiality.
Savid Javid’s role in instigating the whole extradition process has come under scrutiny after payments and regular visits to the American Enterprise Institute were revealed. (At the secretive AEI forums which Javid attended, there were calls for Assange to be ‘neutralised’.)
All of this follows on from the murky history of the concocted Swedish allegations against Assange which led to his refuge/arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorian embassy, and the subsequent lies and smears over many years by the UK press.
Assange’s extradition trial is not about one man – again, Hraffnson sums it up well – “It’s a dark force versus us.”
See also our exclusive content, The Trials Of Julian Assange