Later on, 20th April when Westminster Magistrates’ Court passed an extradition order Assange’s supporters gathered outside to protest his arrest and sentence. Labor leader and former Britain’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn told a crowd gathered outside the court that Secretary Patel “will now have a choice between standing up for journalism and democracy or revealing the truth of the war on terror.
The UK government has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US on espionage charges, on Friday Home minister Priti Patel signed the extradition order. In his Earlier ruling UK court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the US marking a major turning point in Assange’s years-long legal battle to avoid being deported to the US. However, this is not the end of Assange’s efforts and he has 14 days to appeal.
If Assange is extradited, he will have to appear before a federal jury on 18 charges. Of these 18 charges, 17 are under the infamous Espionage Act, which carries a combined sentence of 175 years. In the US, this action began under the government of Donald Trump, which continues under the administration of Joe Biden. Its basis is the publication of secret documents that exposed the US war crimes and violations of other international laws in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US government says Assange illegally accessed documents by conspiring with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, allegations that Assange and his lawyers say were made without any evidence. Things revealed during the extradition also revealed that part of the US action was based on false testimony and espionage during Assange’s stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The action has been heavily criticized by human rights groups and civil liberties advocates for its sharp political stance and a decade of spying by US agencies, calling it an attack on press freedom. Assange’s supporters have repeatedly demanded that the US and British governments withdraw the case against him and release him. Later on, 20th April when Westminster Magistrates’ Court passed an extradition order Assange’s supporters gathered outside to protest his arrest and sentence. Labor leader and former Britain’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn told a crowd gathered outside the court that Secretary
“Patel will now have a choice between standing up for journalism and democracy or revealing the truth of the war on terror”.
Supporters and civil rights groups have consistently pointed to the fact that Assange’s extradition also violates the US and UK extradition treaty, which forbids extradition for political crimes. Assange’s wife and his lawyer, Stella Assange, said:
“The UK has no obligation to extradite Julian Assange to the US, because of its international commitments the UK needs to stop his extradition this is a political matter and Julian Assange must be released.
Why do Assange matters?
Julian Assange is an Australian-born software developer and founder of WikiLeaks-an international non-profit whistle-blowing organization. It was the year 2010 when WikiLeaks published U.S military footage and videos from Iraq and Afghanistan. It was claimed that former US military personnel Chelsea manning passed these videos to Julian Assange, later manning was prisoned for 35 years in the year 2013 for violating the ‘Espionage Act of 1917’ and others. The 39-minute video of U.S apache helicopters firing and killing innocent citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan reignited the debate on the U.S occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Two Reuters journalists were also killed by the American army in Afghanistan after which the U.S government face a lot of allegations and protests across the country.
In the same year, WikiLeaks published more than 90,000 US military documents related to the war in Afghanistan, later in the same year WikiLeaks also published 391,832 documents related to the Iraq war. These all reports were the single and the largest proof against the U.S military exposing huge civilian casualties. Further, Assange was arrested in the year 2019 by the UK police from Ecuador where he was living for the last seven years. The U.S government charged him with hacking government computers and documents under the U.S Espionage act of 1917.
The lies of the U.S and its military
The Gitmo files published in 2011 and documents relating to detainee policies published in 2012 provided irrefutable evidence of US involvement in systematic human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, including so-called “black spots” in many parts of the world. In addition to helping ex-detainees such as Khalid al-Masri find partial redress, these files provided factual evidence of atrocities being perpetrated by the CIA and how Red Cross inspectors were misled.
WikiLeaks also revealed that US authorities held some 150 people in captivity for several years, despite knowing they were innocent. People were kept in inhuman conditions in the name of the fight against terrorism only to strengthen US control. For example, Al-Jazeera journalist Sami al-Hajj was detained for several years at Guantanamo Bay, despite the CIA knowing well that he had no links to terrorism. His imprisonment was extended only so that the CIA could extract internal information about the functioning of that media house.
A US Embassy shopping list published in 2018 shows how the US Embassy in Guatemala pulled out advertisements for polygraph coordinators 2018 to prevent asylum seekers from “lying” about persecution in their country. The case of Chagos Island, exposed in diplomatic cables, is a classic example of how the US has exploited the cause of environmental protection for its strategic interests and deprived people of their rights. According to the cables, American officials called on the British to establish “the world’s largest marine natural reserve” in Diego Garcia in 1966 to prevent hundreds of local people from reclaiming their lost land due to a US military base together they had hatched a conspiracy.
These revelations about the defense establishment, and several subsequent leaks, have largely undermined the narrative built around the so-called ‘global war on terror as a necessary step to ensure global peace and security. These revelations have exposed the imperialist nature of war along with the windfall gains for the military-industrial complex.