Julian Assange and Alex Saab, a journalist and a diplomat. The first, awaiting extradition to the United States, the other kidnapped and held in a Florida prison, with contempt for international law. Two examples of the imperialist arrogance of the United States supported, in the case of Assange, by the British government, while in the case of Saab the kidnapping it occurred with the complicity of a dependent country, Cape Verde, incapable of saying “no” to the United States.
Assange is “guilty” of having disseminated documents that highlight the true nature of the wars “for democracy”, led by the American gendarme. The “crime” of Saab, plenipotentiary ambassador of Venezuela, is that of having tried to break the siege imposed on the Venezuelan people to force them to turn against their own government. When he was kidnapped by the CIA, he was actually carrying out a humanitarian operation to bring food, medicine and fuel to the Bolivarian Republic.
Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks site, has been held for three years in Belmarsh maximum security prison, known as the “Guantanamo of London”. He has now also tested positive for covid and is in solitary confinement, at serious risk for his already precarious health conditions. Even Saab’s health, a stomach cancer survivor, is seriously weakened, especially after the torture he suffered and the conditions of deprivation in which he was held in Cape Verde, despite several pronouncements by international bodies.Now, the U.S. courts continue to postpone the hearing on his diplomatic immunity, while the international mobilization through the Free Alex Saab Movement, coordinated by lawyer Laila Tajeldine, is growing.
The mobilization for the release of Julian Assange, on the other hand, has already reached a high level of diffusion and has involved people belonging to various sectors of society in many countries. Last Saturday, in front of the London Parliament, an important demonstration took place in which, despite the controls and impediments, more than 5,000 people participated.
A long human chain in which the former Labour Party Secretary Jeremy Corbyn was also in attendance, along with well-known faces from cinema and international politics such as former Greek Minister Yanis Varoufakis. In the front row, Stella Moris Assange, a 38-year-old South African lawyer, wife of the Australian journalist since last March. Even the young wife of diplomat Alex Saab, Italian Camilla Fabri, is always at the forefront of the initiatives for the release of her husband, while supporting Assange’s fight.
Assange’s lawyers filed a final appeal in the High Court in London against the extradition order in the U.S., authorized on June 17 by British Home Secretary Priti Patel. In the United States, the founder of Wikileaks faces a sentence of 176 years in prison in all practicality, a death sentence. He could not even appeal to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free profession thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
Against Assange, an old law from 1917 was applied, the Espionage Act, a mechanism used, in the name of national security, to prosecute those responsible for leaks and officials who denounce the failures of the system, accusing them of treason and espionage. Former President Donald Trump has also used it. Saab has also been charged with “conspiracy”…
As of July 2010, the Wikileaks site has published 250,000 files revealing conversations between Washington and its diplomacies (about 270 embassies and consulates around the world) in the previous three years. In October 2010, 400,000 military reports on Iraq between 2004 and 2009 and more than 800 diplomatic reports on the Guantanamo base were made public. An explosive case that will bear the name
The one who passed the news to Assange was the soldier Bradley Manning who gave him confidential documents of the American diplomacy, rejected, until then, by all the important newspapers. Manning, a computer analyst, was a soldier in Iraq and had access to the databases, from which he extracted information for 8 months. He saved them on a CD masked with a Lady Gaga cover and then transferred them to a pen-drive destined for Assange.
In April 2010, Manning was arrested and in August 2013 a court martial sentenced him to 35 years. On that occasion, the former soldier declared that he had disclosed the documents to publicize the abuses committed by the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also revealed that he had always wanted to be a woman and that he wanted to be called Chelsea. Today she got her wish, but always refused to accuse Assange in exchange for benefits.
Alex Saab has also refused benefits proposed by the U.S. government in exchange for treason and false accusations against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Assange was pursued by an arrest warrant from Swedish authorities since 2010, including in Europe. In December of that year, he surrendered to Scotland Yard and was released after posting bail 9 days later. In February 2011, the British judiciary decided to extradite him. Assange appealed. In April 2011, following the Wikileaks revelations, the government of Ecuador, then presided by Rafael Correa, expelled the U.S. ambassador, Heather Hodges.
Assange, during his 500 days of house arrest in London, interviewed President Rafael Correa on his radio program broadcast on Russia Today. And, when the British Supreme Court decided to extradite him to Sweden in May 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London and was granted political asylum by Correa on August 15.
Ecuador thus rejected the threats of Great Britain, in line with the attitude adopted by the socialist countries of Latin America in the face of revelations of U.S. interference. A situation that worsened even more with the arrival of another source – Edward Snowden – and another big scandal, Datagate, which broke out in the summer of 2013 and which has also united in the rejection of interference, Latin American countries, Brazil and Argentina. Snowden, now a Russian citizen, showed the extent of illegal spying by U.S. security agencies, in violation of both privacy and sovereignty of states.
Not in vain, Assange’s lawyers then denounced the CIA for spying on conversations with their client when he was a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. According to the complaint, a private security company, UC Global, had recorded the meetings and delivered the material to the US spy agency, then headed by Mike Pompeo.
Trampling on the immunity of a diplomat, accredited as Venezuela’s ambassador plenipotentiar y to Africa, is not exactly an ordinary act. Closing the mouth of a journalist, or imposing censorship in the name of “national security”, on the other hand, is now a common occurrence in capitalist countries, which also abound in redundant proclamations about “freedom of the press” and “pluralism of information”.
These are two cases that serve to raise the bar of illegality and oppression of those who, waving the rhetoric of rights and democracy, consider themselves exempt from the duty to respect them. The task of those who recognize themselves with principles and human ethics, on the other hand, is to raise this bar.
First printed on: Resumen Latinoamericano
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