Contributed from New South Wales
The latest word on Julian Assange, is that the US justice department has filed charges against him in secret.
The founder of WikiLeaks has always maintained that if he left the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he has been since 2012, he would be extradited to the US. The revelation of the charges backs this claim.
News of the charges came to light be accident. Authorities had mistakenly lodged a filing with another unrelated case. It mentioned charges against Assange. Their nature was not described, given that it was an application to have them “shielded.” This means, that they are held from public view and the defendant. The application said, “due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”
WikiLeaks’ response on Twitter was that the filing, “reveals existence of sealed charges (or a draft for them) against WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. was making preparations to prosecute Assange and was confident of being able to detain him and make him stand trial.
It is not known yet, if he is put on trial, whether Assange will be allowed to have the normal rights to a defence. There have been precedents to disallow this on the grounds of national security. There are the Guantanamo trials and the provision for exemptions in the American constitution. The refusal to disclose the content of the charges points in this direction.
He is sought over publishing classified diplomatic cables and other secret government records, and is accused of breaching American security and risking the lives of operatives.
Supporters of the accused do not buy this, and suggest that they have been effective and drawn the ire of the political establishment, because they expose that the American authorities have been doing things that most of the world considers to be wrong, including unlawful interference in the internal affairs of other countries, collusion with friendly governments, the association between the political elite and big money, the massive scale of corruption and the manipulation of the American political process.
They hold that this is information that the public had a right to know.
One of Assange’s lawyers, Barry Pollack, said it would be a “dangerous path for a democracy to take” for a government to bring criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information.
“The news that criminal charges have apparently been filed against Mr. Assange is even more troubling than the haphazard manner in which that information has been revealed.”
Here is the smoking gun, which shows this is not a normal criminal process. It is politically motivated, to at one and the same time, punish Assange and WikiLeaks and send out the massage to other would be disclosures of sensitive information – we will get you.
The case has thrown a new spotlight on the Australian government, which has failed to protect one of its citizens from unusual and unjust treatment. Assange has been fighting for his right to return to Australia.
Pamela Anderson a friend and staunch supporter, has just sent a new appeal to Scott Morrison. His response was a few smutty comments and a flat out refusal to do anything. He could not even be bothered to provide a justification.
This reveals much more about him and his government, than it does about the case. They are assisting the American government to impose a wall of silence on what they don’t want the public to know, and doing it in violation of international norms.
Leading American politicians have made it no secret, that they want to put Assange on trial for treason. It begs the question, how can a non-citizen be guilty of treason? This should be enough for Australia to at least conduct an investigation. But there is nothing and this is a dereliction of duty.