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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/8/16

The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian

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That short sentence contains two deceptions.

Assange was interviewed in Sweden when the allegations were initially made. And he was allowed to leave the country after the first prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the case, saying: "I don't believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape."

It is not even true that an interview cannot take place because Assange will not return to Sweden. Remember Assange has not returned because he is seeking asylum in Ecuador's embassy to prevent his extradition to Sweden and what he fears will be an onward extradtion to the US, where he is likely to be tried for Wikileaks' activities, which have deeply embarrassed the White House.

It is quite possible for Marianne Ny, the Swedish prosecutor who revived the case after Finne dismissed it, to travel the short distance to London to interview him. It has happened before in much less high-profile cases. She knows where to find him, after all.

But despite Ny's aggressive pursuit of other angles to this case, she has dragged her feet for years over this simple and essential stage of her investigation to determine whether there is any substance to the claims against Assange.

Now judge for yourself the Guardian's seriousness in considering Assange's plight from this single sentence:

"[Assange] was granted bail [in the UK] while he fought extradition to Sweden and he broke his bail conditions, at great expense to those friends and supporters who had backed him financially, by fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy."

Assange is claiming asylum from political persecution, and has been backed by the world's authority on the matter -- the UN panel whose similar rulings in the the detentions of Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia have been enthusiastically upheld by the Guardian.

Assange is not paranoid. A grand jury has been secretly arraigned in Virginia, the home of the CIA, that is dredging up long-discarded laws to charge him with espionage, even though he is not a US citizen.

And in spite of all this, the Guardian thinks that the most pressing matter is Assange violating his bail conditions. Should this argument not be considered risible? Would the Guardian have dared raise it in relation to Suu Kyi, Anwar Ibrahim or the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei? Had they sought asylum in a foreign embassy from political persecution, as the UN panel's ruling at the very least implies is the case for Assange, would the Guardian be arguing that they should still have handed themselves over to the authorities so as not to break their bail terms?

The Guardian's truly Kafka-esque worldview is revealed in its editorial's concluding line:

"WikiLeaks was founded on exposing those who ignored the rule of law. Surely its editor-in-chief should recognise his duty to see it upheld."

Wikileaks was most certainly not founded to expose those who have violated local, state-based law. Wikileaks does not believe Suu Kyi should have spent many years under house arrest because she broke Burma's laws, or that Anwar Ibrahim should be in jail because he violated Malaysian laws. Or that George Bush and Tony Blair should live as respected multi-millionaires rather than face long jail sentences as war criminals because their local legal systems do not function properly.

Wikileaks was founded on another idea: that a fairer world requires transparency.

The secret machinations of the US grand jury, the endless obfuscations and hidden agenda of Sweden's second prosecutor, and the Guardian's own financial reliance on major corporations are all relevant to understanding why Assange remains arbitrarily detained -- and why the Guardian won't give him a fair hearing.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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