THE NEW WORKER
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 19th April 2019


Defend Julian Assange!

THE ARREST of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last week is another despicable crime of British imperialism. The founder of WikiLeaks was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by the police after Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, revoked his political asylum. Assange had spent almost seven years in the building after being welcomed there by the previous president, Rafael Correa. Now he’s in Belmarsh charged with jumping bail and under a previously secret US indictment — a development which Assange predicted and stated as his reason for going into the embassy in the first place.

Assange, an Australian citizen living in Sweden, came to Britain following rape allegations that he strenuously denied. Assange was avoiding an arrest that he feared would lead to his deportation to the USA, where he faces charges that will put him behind bars for many years to come. The then progressive government of Ecuador offered him asylum and Assange took refuge in their embassy in London when the British government moved to send him to America. But Assange was denied free passage to leave the country.

Seven years later reactionary forces willing to do the bidding of US imperialism are back in charge in Ecuador. The Moreno regime handed Assange over to the police in exchange for around $4.2 billion worth of IMF loans and aid. No wonder former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa called Moreno the “worst traitor” in his country’s history for handing the WikiLeaks chief over to the Metropolitan police.

In the past the bourgeois media told us that information technology was transforming our lives for the better. The internet, Twitter and other social networking services were hailed as forces for individual freedom of expression and valuable tools of “democracy” when they were used to foment reactionary violence in Iran, Ukraine and throughout the Arab world.

But it’s a different tune when the boot is on the other foot. When WikiLeaks releases embarrassing documents, when the crimes of imperialism are exposed by ‘hactivists’ for all the world to see, the internet becomes ‘irresponsible’ and the most craven bourgeois pundits start calling for censorship, government control and the prosecution of those who have dared to break the ruling class consensus.

Russia is condemned for allegedly manipulating social media to influence elections in the heartlands of imperialism, and WikiLeaks reviled for releasing tranches of documents that expose the crimes of imperialism and the dirty work of their intelligence agencies.

Assange’s ‘crime’ has been his refusal to play the bogus ‘human rights’ game and turn a blind eye to the crimes of imperialism. He worked together with former US soldier and whistle-blower Chelsea Manning to expose war-crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the notorious ‘Collateral Murder’ video that shows American helicopter gun-ships mowing down innocent civilians in Baghdad under the cover of fighting ‘terrorism’.

Manning spent around seven years in prison for exposing war-crimes. She’s now back in jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. Assange faces even worse retribution if he falls into American hands.

Jeremy Corbyn says that Julian Assange should not be extradited. The Labour leader said: “The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.”

Corbyn is calling on the May government to oppose the attempt to put the 47-year-old WikiLeaks founder on trial in America for obtaining classified information from former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. This call must be echoed throughout the labour movement. Free Manning! Free Assange!