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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/9/18

On the Silencing of Julian Assange

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From Consortium News

By Dennis J Bernstein and *Randy Credico

After nearly six years in exile holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in the heart of London, Wikileaks founder and publishing visionary Julian Assange has suffered another body blow; Assange, who has been absolved of all accusations, has now been rendered incommunicado inside the tiny embassy in the Knightsbridge section of London.

This latest attack on Assange, this shutdown of crucial communication devices, obviously challenges Wikileaks publishing activities and undermines the crucial work of this incredibly important global news and publishing service.

Meanwhile, the US and UK governments continue their drumbeat demonization of Assange, who has become part of their Russiagate frenzy towards a new Cold War and maybe World War III. Indeed, the US and UK continue to threaten him. In the US, some senators and the current CIA director [Mike Pompeo], about to become Secretary of State, want to see Assange tried for treason and put to a public death. They threaten to arrest Assange in violation of two UN rulings and their own laws, as soon as he walks out of the embassy. said in a statement they released, as a part of a petition in support of Assange, "It is with great concern that we learned that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador's authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian. We demand that Julian Assange's isolation ends NOW!"

In the following interviews with noted journalist and filmmaker John Pilger and Christine Assange, mother of the WikiLeaks founder, we attempt to shed some light on the crucial case of Julian Assange and why he should finally be freed from further prosecution so that he can continue unfettered the great work WikiLeaks has done as one of the most significant publishers of government whistleblowers in modern history.

Dennis Bernstein: Well, there have been some changes at the [Ecuadorian] embassy. They have cut off Julian's Internet, effectively his lifeline. He has been living in that small room for so many years, and now they are trying to make it a little smaller. Could you give us your best understanding of what is going on now? Have you spoken to him?

John Pilger: No, I haven't spoken to Julian. It's not possible. They have done more than cut off the Internet, they have cut off the phone. Ecuadorian authorities have placed a blocker on all communications at the embassy. Perhaps worst of all, he is denied visitors. I know that his lawyers are meeting today and there is possibly a meeting with the Ecuadorians. Beyond that, I don't know anything.

You can appreciate the effect of these measures on someone who has been effectively imprisoned in a very small space without sunlight for going on six years now. This is tragic and it is coming from a small country that recognized the justice in the Assange case and gave him political asylum.

While I am not excusing this government's actions, we must recognize that it is under direct pressure from the United States, which is rolling back so many of the so-called progressive governments in Latin America. They cut off the communications for Julian just a day after Ecuador welcomed a delegation from the US Southern Command, the Pentagon's arm in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The government in Ecuador has tried almost everything to bring justice to Julian. It has tried to negotiate with the British government, it has called on the British government to give Julian free passage out of the embassy. He is not even given right of passage to a hospital.

There is a particular cruelty being imposed on Julian Assange because he is the embodiment of dissent which is missing across the political spectrum in Western countries. He has become the enemy to governments in the West.

Taking away his right to communicate is an attack on freedom of speech. It is an attack on our rights as well as his. I have never met anyone as defiantly courageous as Julian. Not at all courageous are the so-called opposition, who are silent.

DB: Assange is a very special kind of publisher who has an impact on history and the way we are going to remember it. But there is a cynical chorus of corporate journalists who scoff at truth tellers. It is almost out of style to tell the truth, to do your job of reporting.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

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