Today Julian reaches precisely five years of incarceration in the Ecuadorean Embassy and I am on the train down to London for events to mark the anniversary. Given that two days ago I couldn’t make it to my balcony, I feel quite chuffed with my powers of recovery.
Yesterday I wrote that Corbyn’s advance has removed the “unelectable policies” excuse from New Labour and they have now to decide whether they are actually socialist or have adopted neo-liberalism out of belief.
Precisely the same faux-left now face precisely the same challenge over Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The “sexual allegations” never stood up to five minutes’ serious analysis, but they served their purpose brilliantly for some years. They enabled the “left” of the political establishment completely to evade the question of whether they supported whistleblowers on war crimes and corruption, or whether they supported official secrecy and the spiralling authoritarianism that defends the neo-liberals.
There is now only one active question with regard to Julian Assange. Do you think he should be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges and life imprisonment for publishing the Chelsea Manning Iraq war crime revelations, and for assisting Edward Snowden to escape? Because that is now the only legal jeopardy he faces.
All the faux-left who dodged that question now have to answer it.
Assange is wanted by the Metropolitan Police for what they themselves have called the “minor charge” of missing a bail appointment. It is indeed a minor charge, normally dealt with by a fine, particularly as the extradition request relating to the bail order is no longer in force. Assange’s defence is that he did not skip bail to run away, but to seek an alternative legal remedy – the political asylum process. That this latter has priority is proven by the fact that there are numerous people granted asylum in the UK who face “criminal” charges in their home country. Fear of persecution – often by unjust prosecution – is of course the basis of asylum.
But even ignoring this solid defence, there are many thousand people in the UK today who have missed bail. Julian Assange is the only one of those thousands with a permanent roster of plain clothes detectives keeping watch 24 hours a day. Why, when there are no longer any allegations for him to face? There is no open and honest logic to it.
The answer of course is that Theresa May and Amber Rudd have plans firmly in place for Assange to be arrested and incarcerated, while extradition to the United States is quickly arranged. That is why a man wanted on nothing but a “minor charge” has more police resources devoted to him than any murderer. Again I ask – which side are you on?