Rescuing The Sheep From The Lion’s Mouth: Solidarity With Assange


“The release of Assange and return to his Australian home is a victory for press freedom and fundamental human rights. It shows that no matter how long dark clouds seize the sky, sooner or later, the sun will shine”.

                                                                           BY OWEI LAKEMFA


JULIAN Assange, an innocent man walked out of an American-staged court this Monday, June 24, a free man after spending1901 harrowing days in British captivity. He spent those hellish days in the British Belmarsh maximum security prison in a 2×3 metre cell, isolated 23 hours a day. Not even a dog deserves such inhuman treatment.

The sin of Assange is that he is the Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks which exposed the war crimes, especially by the United States, in Iraq; human rights abuses, corruption and serial lies by the powerful. This was before Donald Trump, who told 21 lies for everyday he was American President, made falsehood a state policy.

The dehumanisation of Assange and holding him hostage, negated the fundamental teachings of the West on journalism. One is that facts are sacred. But for them, facts are harmful and should be teleguided by nuclear missiles of lies. Another is that: ‘It is the business of government to keep its secrets secret, and the business of the press to expose those secrets’. But for Western powers like Britain and the US, the public should know only what the government wants it to know. To them, a press that keeps the people informed is an enemy of the state. In fact, as is the case of Assange, a journalist who exposes what government wants covered up is no different from a spy, and should be so treated.

The West used to claim it stood by the truth; didn’t the Holy Scriptures state that: “Thou shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”? But we now know that as far as the powerful are concerned, ‘Thou shall know the truth, and the truth shall send you to prison.’

A hostage of Western hypocrisy, the attempt to destroy Assange physically and mentally is a testimony to the lies of Western press freedom, justice and commitment to human rights.

In the gathering of Western cocks led by the United States and Britain, Assange was essentially, a cockroach pleading his innocence. Only a miracle could save him as he had been held hostage by British Prime Ministers David Cameroon, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. Britain acted at the behest of US Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

In their mindless attempts to break Assange, the Western powers violated Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

They also raped several articles of the Declaration, including the fundamental right to the dignity of human person; freedom of thought, conscience, movement, fair hearing, personal liberty and family life.

Also, Britain, the jailor, violated its own laws, including its Human Rights Act 1998 which guarantees the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

Similarly, the US violated the First Amendment of its Constitution which states that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Although Assange spent five years in British prison, in all, he spent 14 years in that country mostly fighting against extradition to Sweden for what, in my view, were bizarre cases of suspected rape and alleged sexual molestation.

He had visited Sweden in 2010 during which two Swedish women, Ms. Annan Ardin, 31, in whose home he lived, and Miss W, a staff of Wikileaks, discovered he was simultaneously sleeping with them. The latter complained that on an occasion, he had unprotected sex with her and, Miss Ardin recalled that the condom broke while they were having sex. The ladies demanded that Assange took a test for sexually transmitted infections. But he allegedly declined on the basis that he hadn’t the time.

So, on August 20, 2010, the ladies went to the police to compel him. But the police said it could not do so unless there was a criminal aspect. The case was then reported as alleged rape and sexual assault. The latter complaint arose from Miss Ardin also claiming that Assange had one morning, exposed himself to her, and went on to rub his body against her. To Swedish authorities, such an act amounted to Assange having “deliberately molested” her. The complainants agreed they had consensual sex with Assange, but they had not consented to unprotected sex. Assange was interviewed by the police.

Twenty seven days after the complaint and on the legal advice that he was free to travel, he left for London. Same day, he was arrested in his absence. A European Arrest Warrant was issued and extradition proceedings initiated.

However, Assange, who the US was trying to arrest for exposing its classified secrets, said it was “actually an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the US.” He asked Sweden for guarantees that he would not be extradited to the US, but the latter declined. So for seven years, he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

While Britain held Assange, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that Britain and Sweden were holding Assange in arbitrary detention. Sweden, in 2019, dropped the charges against him, but Britain continued holding him until June 24, 2024 when under arrangement with the US, he was granted bail, taken before an American judge and sentenced to time already served in British prison.

The release of Assange and return to his Australian home is a victory for press freedom and fundamental human rights. It shows that no matter how long dark clouds seize the sky, sooner or later, the sun will shine.

In expressing solidarity with him and the millions across the world who campaigned for his release, I specially salute his wife, Stella, a Swedish-Spanish lawyer and human rights defender. Apart from standing firmly by his side, she showed remarkable commitment, taking care of their children, Gabriel and Max, while he was in prison.

The couple had met while he was holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy. So, this will be the first time the family will be meeting from the prying eyes of prison guards.

Assange has been prised out of the hands of the powerful. But the hounds are still out there waiting to snap journalists who dare publish the truth and make governments uncomfortable.

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