Assange’s martyrdom for truth continues

I should have seen this coming.

After ruling against extraditing Julian Assange to the United States to be tried for espionage and computer hacking, British Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that he must stay in prison.

One technique of the old Soviet Union for tormenting imprisoned political dissidents was to give them hope that they would be released by a certain date and then, when the date came due, tell them their sentences would be extended.

This is what has happened to Assange.

Julian Assange faces an array of charges in the United States, mostly related to his publication of secret U.S. documents that reveal war crimes. He accepted political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid possible extradition to the United states.

In 2019, Ecuador withdrew its protection and Assange was confined to Belmarsh prison, which is reserved for the most dangerous and violent criminals. He has been in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, and cut off from contact with family, friends and lawyers. A United States expert on torture has said that his conditions amount to torture.

Judge Baraitser ruled that the United States has a legal right to extradite Assange, but denied the extradition request on the grounds that his mental and physical health would be threatened if he were sentenced, as would likely happen, to the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. But conditions are nearly as bad, or maybe just as bad, in Belmarsh.

She possibly had a point when she declared Assange a flight risk. He did skip bail in 2012 when he took refuge in the embassy.

But there is no need or justification for subjecting him to the conditions in which he is being confined in Belmarsh. He could be confined without solitary confinement, lack of exercise, and lack of contact with visitors.

It was unrealistic to expect Judge Baraitser to refuse to extradite Assange on freedom of the press grounds. The British Official Secrets Act is even more far reaching than the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

There has been an informal policy in the United States of prosecuting whistleblowers, while refraining from prosecuting journalists and news organizations that publish the secrets the whistleblowers reveal. But this, too, has little foundation in logic or law.

The basic issue is that if a government can commit crimes in secret, and punish those who reveal the crimes, there is no limit to its tyrannical power.

The only way to address this issue for once and for all is to pay laws limiting secrecy. One way to do this would be allow accused whistle-blowers and journalists to go free if they can convince a judge or jury that the information they revealed was kept secret only to conceal crime, wrongdoing or incompetence.

LINK

British Judge Keeps Assange in Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition by Kevin Gotsztola for Shadowproof.

Wednesday’s Other Story: On the case of Julian Assange, and fearing empire more than Trump by Matt Taibbi on TX News. [Added 1/8/2021]

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