Analysis Britain Europe Imperialism United States

Julian Assange’s Ordeal

By Lal Khan

Last Tuesday a senior British district judge, Emma Arbuthnot rejected Julian Assange’s appeal for his freedom. This means that now Assange will continue to face arrest if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy and will be confined in the meagre room in the embassy building where he has managed to survive for almost six years.

In 2012 Julian Assange had taken refuge in this embassy to avoid extradition by the British imperialists to Sweden or the U.S. over allegations of sexual assault and subversive activities against the US imperialist state, which he denies. Though Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation against him, he still faces arrest if he leaves the building. Ecuador recently granted him citizenship and asylum. It had tried unsuccessfully to persuade British officials to give Assange diplomatic status, which might have made it possible for him to leave Britain even if US officials sought him.

Assange faces a secret US indictment on charges related to WikiLeaks’ disclosure of classified US documents. The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said recently, “Arresting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a priority… we’ve already begun to step up our efforts and we will seek to put some people in jail.” On January 20 this year the former left-wing Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, who gave Assange asylum back in 2012, said that he’s “afraid for Julian Assange’s safety… for (incumbent) President Lenin Moreno it will only take pressure from the United States to withdraw protection for Assange.”

Judge Arbuthnot also rejected a UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention report of February 2016 that stated, “Mr Assange’s detention should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected… Mr Assange should be afforded the right to compensation.” This arrogance of the British judge speaks volumes of the real character of the so-called impartiality of this judicial system. The British Imperialists at the peak of their colonial rule had built state structures that suited its domestic rule and colonialisation in foreign lands it occupied.

One of the most crucial institutions was the judiciary. Even after they ended direct colonial rule this judicial system still dominates the capitalist rulership in these former colonies including the South Asian subcontinent. The judiciary was portrayed to be a sacrosanct institution by the official intelligentsia, grafted local politics, religious and ethnic stalwarts on society. The laws, judicial ethics, legal intricacies and other devious manoeuvrings of this system were so devised to sustain the capitalist state’s coercion.

Domestically the oppressed classes were entangled in this judicial web. They were exhausted and pauperised by this protracted, convoluted and expensive system of justice. On the foreign plane, it provided ample justifications for the imperialist stranglehold, plunder and class oppression. In other words, it was a Machiavellian institution shrouding the brutalities of imperialists and their fostered native elites upon the toiling classes. This legal system was incubated in the garb of a democratic façade and ‘sovereignty’ of the state where only the wealthy and powerful in society could rule and prevail at the helm of the state, society, economy and the political system.

This system is still being practised in the former colonies of the Empire and Britain itself. They ensured the continuation of their system’s rulership after the imperialists’ departed. However, these ‘independent’ states were weak and their capitalist economies were inherently crisis-ridden and rotten from the start. Hence these states have had to use the judiciary so inadvertently that it has exhausted its potential to be effective and sustain its charade of sanctity on mass psychology. This hyperactivity of the judiciary in these countries has belittled the confidence of the ordinary people suffering woes of the judiciary for generations. Its obscene corruption and plunder of the poor has given rise to a seething revulsion in society.

In the developed capitalist countries they have been able to preserve its impact to a certain extent due to their relatively durable economic base. However, with the worsening crisis of capitalism on a world scale and decline of imperialism this relative stability and social inviolability would start to unravel. But on crucial and delicate issues such as the vengeance of the imperialists against Assange, an anti-secrecy activist, the British Judiciary’s partiality and double standards have been glaringly exposed.

Assange had dared to challenge the US security and state establishment to a degree yet unseen. WikiLeaks posted the procedures manual for Camp Delta, the tyrannous US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay that revealed the vicious character of the American state. In 2007 the WikiLeaks posted a video showing a US military helicopter firing on and killing two journalists and several Iraqi civilians. The military claimed that the chopper’s crew believed the targets were armed insurgents, not civilians. On July 25, 2010 WikiLeaks posted more than 90,000 classified documents related to the imperialist atrocities in the Afghanistan war.  In July 2016 WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails from Democratic National Committee staffers proving that the committee favoured presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the US presidential primary elections and the rigging in the nomination to remove Sanders from the race.

The imperialists will never forgo such “crimes”. The British imperialists who have become mere toadies of the US are so subservient to the American big brother that they would extradite Assange to the US if he leaves the diplomatic premises. This means an incarceration and even death sentence for him for ‘subversive activities’. Assange’s health is deteriorating but the so-called European values of humanitarian causes don’t apply in such cases. The French and other European rulers have refused to provide him any respite. Even the capitalist governments of his home country, Australia, have blatantly refused to accept him back.

There have been many protests and appeals for putting an end to his ordeal, limited to the civil society organisations these pose little threat to the British or the US regimes and hence have been ineffective. A wider and stronger movement of the youth and workers above all in Britain and the USA is required to get Assange a new lease of life and end his painful ordeal.