Newspapers and other media in the United States, Britain and Australia have recently declared a passion for freedom of speech, especially their right to publish freely. They are worried by the "Assange effect."
It is as if the struggle of truth-tellers like Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning is now a warning to them: that the thugs who dragged Assange out of the Ecuadorean embassy in April may one day come for them.
A common refrain was echoed by the Guardian last week. The extradition of Assange, said the paper, "is not a question of how wise Mr. Assange is, still less how likable. It's not about his character, nor his judgement. It's a matter of press freedom and the public's right to know."
What the Guardian is trying to do is separate Assange from his landmark achievements, which have both profited the Guardian and exposed its own vulnerability, along with its propensity to suck up to rapacious power and smear those who reveal its double standards.
The poison that has fueled the persecution of Julian Assange is not as obvious in this editorial as it usually is; there is no fiction about Assange smearing faeces on embassy walls or being awful to his cat.
Instead, the weasel references to "character" and "judgement" and "likeability" perpetuate an epic smear which is now almost a decade old. Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, used a more apt description. "There has been," he wrote, "a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing." He explains mobbing as "an endless stream of humiliating, debasing and threatening statements in the press." This "collection ridicule" amounts to torture and could lead to Assange's death.
Having witnessed much of what Melzer describes , I can vouch for the truth of his words. If Julian Assange were to succumb to the cruelties heaped upon him, week after week, month after month, year upon year, as doctors warn, newspapers like the Guardian will share the responsibility.
A few days ago, the Sydney Morning Herald's man in London, Nick Miller, wrote a lazy, specious piece headlined, "Assange has not been vindicated, he has merely outwaited justice." He was referring to Sweden's abandonment of the so-called Assange investigation.
Miller's report is not untypical for its omissions and distortions while masquerading as a tribune of women's rights. There is no original work, no real inquiry: just smear.
There is nothing on the documented behavior of a clutch of Swedish zealots who hi-jacked the "allegations" of sexual misconduct against Assange and made a mockery of Swedish law and that society's vaunted decency.
He makes no mention that in 2013, the Swedish prosecutor tried to abandon the case and emailed the Crown Prosecution Service in London to say it would no longer pursue a European Arrest Warrant, to which she received the reply: "Don't you dare!!!" (Thanks to Stefania Maurizi of La Repubblica)
Other emails show the CPS discouraging the Swedes from coming to London to interview Assange which was common practice, thus blocking progress that might have set him free in 2011.
There was never an indictment. There were never charges. There was never a serious attempt to put "allegations" to Assange and question his behavior that the Swedish Court of Appeal ruled to be negligent and the General Secretary of the Swedish Bar Association has since condemned.
Both the women involved said there was no rape. Critical written evidence of their text messages was willfully withheld from Assange's lawyers, clearly because it undermined the "allegations."
One of the women was so shocked that Assange was arrested, she accused the police of railroading her and changing her witness statement. The chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the "suspicion of any crime."
The Sydney Morning Herald man omits how an ambitious and compromised politician, Claes Borgstrom, emerged from behind the liberal facade of Swedish politics and effectively seized and revived the case.