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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Free Assange!

A LONDON court issued an order to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States this week. Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison since he was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019 for breaching bail conditions in a separate extradition case involving Sweden.

Behind all this lies the less than hidden hand of the Americans who want to get their hands on the maverick journalist to face charges that could lead to the death penalty or a life-time in jail. The Americans have charged Assange with espionage after WikiLeaks published thousands of classified documents revealing war crimes committed by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Assange is an Australian who has never lived in the US and that country has no jurisdiction over him. Still that sort of thing has never bothered the country that built the concentration camp at Guantánamo or that has secret torture bases – not so secret after Wikileaks – all around the world.

The persecution of Assange has been condemned by journalists and human rights activists across the world, who have slammed the US and British authorities for attacking press freedom by going after the WikiLeaks founder.

The bourgeois media tell us that information technology was transforming our lives for the better. The internet, Twitter and other social networking services are hailed as forces for individual freedom of expression and valuable tools of “democracy” when they are used to foment reactionary unrest and regime change in countries that dare to stand up to imperialism. 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’ was 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 atrocities 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’.

Assange’s defence team have until 18th May to challenge the decision and make representations to Home Secretary Priti Patel before makes her decision on the ruling.

WikiLeaks’ chief editor Kristinn Hrafnsson said that by issuing the extradition order, the Westminster Magistrate’s Court had signed Assange’s death sentence. “Extraditing Assange would be a risk to his life,” Hrafnsson told the crowd assembled in front of the court. “It would be equal to a death sentence. Now, Julian’s life is in the hands of Priti Patel and Boris Johnson. They need to do the right thing.” Let’s hope so...