The BBC China correspondent Stephen McDonell was locked out of WeChat in China a few days ago after posting photos of the candlelight vigil in Hong Kong marking 30 years since student protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square were gunned down by Chinese soldiers in June 1989.
"Chinese friends started asking on WeChat what the event was?" he wrote. "Why were people gathering? Where was it? That such questions were coming from young professionals here shows the extent to which knowledge of Tiananmen 1989 has been made to disappear in China. I answered a few of them, rather cryptically, then suddenly I was locked out of WeChat."
In order to get back on WeChat he had to agree that he was responsible for spreading "malicious rumors" and provide what is called a faceprint.
"I was instructed to hold my phone up -- to 'face front camera straight on' -- looking directly at the image of a human head. Then told to 'Read numbers aloud in Mandarin Chinese.' My voice was captured by the App at the same time it scanned my face."
Governmental abuse of WeChat, he wrote, "could deliver to the Communist Party a life map of pretty much everybody in this country, citizens and foreigners alike. Capturing the face and voice image of everyone who was suspended for mentioning the Tiananmen crackdown anniversary in recent days would be considered very useful for those who want to monitor anyone who might potentially cause problems."
This is almost certainly our future, and it is a future that Julian has fought courageously to prevent.
In another sign the noose is tightening, the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the country's national broadcaster, were raided by federal police last Wednesday. The raid was carried out because the broadcaster had disclosed detailed accounts of Australian special forces in Afghanistan killing unarmed people, including children. That story was generated, in part, by a leak of hundreds of classified military documents. The police raid and search through raw footage and thousands of files, emails and internal documents appear to be part of a hunt for the source, who will, no doubt, be arrested and imprisoned.
Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno capriciously terminate Julian's rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy -- diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory -- to arrest a nationalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Julian, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did Donald Trump demand the extradition of Julian, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?
The psychological torture of Julian -- documented by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and ill treatment, Nils Melzer -- mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of the novel "1984." It is said the Gestapo broke bones and the East German Stasi secret police broke souls. Today, we too have refined the cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. This is why Julian, his physical and psychological health in serious decline, has been moved to a prison hospital. We can all be taken to George Orwell's dreaded Room 101 to be made compliant and harmless. These "special administrative measures" -- and you can be sure there are American intelligence operatives here assisting the British in the psychological torture of Julian -- have destroyed thousands of detainees in black sites around the globe. These techniques, including prolonged solitary confinement, are the staple form of control in maximum-security prisons in the United States, where the corporate state makes war on its most oppressed and politically astute underclass -- African Americans.
There has been a coordinated smear campaign against Julian by our Thought Police, one that is amplified by the very media organizations that published WikiLeaks material. The campaign was detailed in a leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch and dated March 8, 2008. The document called for eradicating the "feeling of trust" that is WikiLeaks' "center of gravity" and destroying Julian's reputation.
This character assassination was championed by the Democratic Party establishment after WikiLeaks published 70,000 hacked emails copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton's repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted "open trade and open borders" and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign's efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton's advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the principal architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, should have remained hidden, that the public did not have a right to know, but they can't then call themselves journalists.
WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Snowden from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow after he made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Julian was on a U.S. "manhunt target list."
We must build popular movements to force the British government to halt the extradition and judicial lynching of Julian. We must build popular movements to force the Australian government to intervene on behalf of Julian. We must build popular movements to reclaim democracy and the rule of law. If Julian is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Donald Trump has attacked as "the enemy of the people," to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging of the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the profits of corporations and consolidate the global oligarchs' total grip on power will no longer be part of public debate.
First Julian. Then us.