The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.
The Australian government and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have an historic opportunity to decide which it will be.
They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home.
Assange does not ask for special treatment. The government has clear diplomatic and moral obligations to protect Australian citizens abroad from gross injustice: in Julian's case, from a gross miscarriage of justice and the extreme danger that await him should he walk out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London unprotected.
We know from the Chelsea Manning case what he can expect if a US extradition warrant is successful -- a United Nations Special Rapporteur called it torture.
I know Julian Assange well; I regard him as a close friend, a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I have watched a tsunami of lies and smear engulf him, endlessly, vindictively, perfidiously; and I know why they smear him.
In 2008, a plan to destroy both WikiLeaks and Assange was laid out in a top secret document dated 8 March, 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the US Defence Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy the "feeling of trust" that is WikiLeaks' "centre of gravity."
This would be achieved, they wrote, with threats of "exposure [and] criminal prosecution" and an unrelenting assault on reputation. The aim was to silence and criminalize WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.
Their main weapon would be personal smear. Their shock troops would be enlisted in the media -- those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.
The irony is that no one told these journalists what to do. I call them Vichy journalists -- after the Vichy government that served and enabled the German occupation of wartime France.
Last October, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Sarah Ferguson interviewed Hillary Clinton, over whom she fawned as "the icon for your generation."
This was the same Clinton who threatened to "obliterate totally" Iran and, who, as US secretary of State in 2011, was one of the instigators of the invasion and destruction of Libya as a modern state, with the loss of 40,000 lives. Like the invasion of Iraq, it was based on lies.
When the Libyan President was murdered publicly and gruesomely with a knife, Clinton was filmed whooping and cheering. Thanks largely to her, Libya became a breeding ground for ISIS and other jihadists. Thanks largely to her, tens of thousands of refugees fled in peril across the Mediterranean, and many drowned.
Leaked emails published by WikiLeaks revealed that Hillary Clinton's foundation -- which she shares with her husband -- received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the main backers of ISIS and terrorism across the Middle East.
As Secretary of State, Clinton approved the biggest arms sale ever -- worth $80 billion -- to Saudi Arabia, one of her foundation's principal benefactors. Today, Saudi Arabia is using these weapons to crush starving and stricken people in a genocidal assault on Yemen.
Sarah Ferguson, a highly paid reporter, raised not a word of this with Hillary Clinton sitting in front of her.