Julian Assange is clearly fearful of what might happen to him if British authorities yield to pressure form Washington and extradite him to the USA. And he has good reason to be fearful. He faces a very long stretch in the hideous horror of an American maximum security prison if he is convicted there.
Assange, through WikiLeaks, blew the whistle on numerous US war crimes and crimes against humanity in various parts of the world, crimes that Washington and the Pentagon would much prefer the word never knew about. Of course he will be convicted. That’s why they want him so badly.
British PM Boris Johnson, beside being onside from a class perspective with all these US infringements of various people’s civil liberties (including extrajudicial killings – after all, they were enemies of the British ruling class too) is desperate to get a free trade agreement with the US, believing it will somehow fill the financial hole that leaving the EU will inevitably cause. He will happily throw Assange under the bus if it will help secure British business interests. I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but that’s how capitalism works.
The US is keen to present itself as a bastion of free speech and the rule of law, although the antics of Donald trump make that pose hard to maintain, certainly not with a straight face!
As Eric Lewis, an American criminal defence lawyer, explained at one of Assange’s extradition hearings at the Old Bailey, even if Julian Assange’s trial in the USA were to “go brilliantly” he could still expect to get a minimum of 20 years in prison following a conviction and it could go as high as 175 years. US authorities are playing for keeps.
“This indictment and particularly the second superseding indictment all point to a very aggressive
approach to sentencing on the part of the government. All signs point to a very long sentence
measured in many decades”, Lewis said.
Spokespersons for imperialism – and US imperialism in particular — like to pose as champions of “free enterprise”. But woe betide the entrepreneur who takes an anti-imperialist position!
Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State under Donald Trump, was formerly Director of the CIA, notorious for the numerous antidemocratic actions it has initiated across the globe – everything from armed invasions to assassinations, from interference in elections to coups and “colour revolutions”. When he was appointed CIA Director he characterised WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” and called its co-founder Julian Assange a “darling of terrorists” and a “fraud – a coward”.
The Trump administration has announced it will charge Assange with no less than 18 criminal offences (including 17 under the Espionage Act 1917). The US has one of the world’s harshest and most inhumane prison systems. Amnesty International likened the US prison regime to torture. As privately-run for-profit prisons proliferate in the US, and people of colour disproportionately predominate in US prison populations, the whole world can see the way capitalism is stomping on the collective neck of those who have reason to be dissatisfied with life in the “land of the free”.
The campaign to free Julian Assange is part of the global fight against the machinations of imperialism and in defence of democratic rights.