I had heard of Wikileaks and the excellent work they had done exposing the terrible war crimes of the US and other states around the world. I had also heard about the rape allegations against the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange. I kept wondering, why were reputable news organizations and other people on Mastodon calling for Assange’s release? Before reading this novel, my view of Assange’s reputation had been blackened by all the news stories I had heard about his rape allegations.
I am glad I have read this book. Like the author, Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, I had dismissed Assange as a person who did good work for Wikileaks but was personally a Very Bad Guy. Melzer at first didn’t want to look into the case but as he started to investigate it, he realized that many things didn’t add up.
This is a well-researched book that shows how the US, Sweden, and the UK, used the ’law’ and other means at their disposal to tarnish Assange’s reputation to try to distract people from the really damning evidence of war crimes and other malfeasance that had been published by Wikileaks. They also inflicted psychological torture on him to try and destroy him.
Let’s begin with the rape allegations in Sweden. They kept this case alive for 9 years as a preliminary investigation. This is shocking! If you have evidence, prosecute someone. This ‘investigation’ was started and stopped many times to keep Assange’s name in the news beside that very ugly word ‘rape’. It was a ruse to try and justify extraditing him to Sweden for the ‘investigation’ to then extradite him again to the US where he would be mercilessly abused in the US prison system. As an example of what was in store for Assange, look at how the US treated Chelsea Elizabeth Manning for years after leaking the video Collateral Murder to Wikileaks. Collateral Murder shows two AH-64 Apache helicopters in Iraq gunning down 8 people, including 2 war correspondents, and the medical personnel who later come to their aid. The US does not like their war crimes on the internet for all to see and will stop at nothing to distract people from their dirty deeds and silence those that speak out.
“Assange is not persecuted for his own crimes, but for the crimes of the powerful. It is the powerful who undermine our democratic institutions and the rule of law; who refuse to prosecute torture, war crimes and corruption; who betray our legal systems and shared values. We are talking about wars of aggression, torture, murder…The fact that not a single military commander, political leader, soldier or other official has been held accountable, gravely sabotages our credibility, legitimacy and authority of our democratic institutions, and should send a cold chill down our spines.”
Then there is the treatment of Assange while in the Equadorian embassy in the UK. The British government spent over $12.6 million pounds to surround and surveil Assange for years for an overdue bail charge. This seems going above and beyond to try and get a person in the UK extradited to Sweden. This was special attention by the UK government to please the US.
“Officers of the Metropolitan Police Service were stationed outside the embassy from June 2012 to October 2015 to arrest Assange if he left the embassy, and compel him to attend the extradition appeal hearing. The police officers were withdrawn on grounds of cost in October 2015, but the police said they would still deploy “several overt and covert tactics to arrest him”. The Metropolitan Police Service said the cost of the policing for the period was £12.6 million.” (source)
I cannot summarize the whole book here but the political prosecution has been brutal, and it will only get much more brutal if the US gets its wish to have him extradited to the US to face up to 175 years in prison for releasing evidence on US war crimes.
US private intel firm, Stratfor 2010: “Pile on. Move him [Assange] from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years. Seize everything he and his family own to include every person linked to Wiki.”
My mind was changed after reading this book. This is a worthy read to understand the timeline and backstory of the whole Julian Assange saga. An attack on Assange is attack on freedom of speech and journalists everywhere in the world. The US will try to get you, with help from their friends in their many signals intelligence alliances around the world if you speak the uncomfortable truths that governments don’t like to hear.
Book #48 in my 2022 Reading Challenge