by David McGowran
Following the illegal arrest of Julian Assange by the British State from his residence under political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, I have deemed it necessary to provide some framing and context as to how this man, this journalist, came to be a virtual prisoner in an inner city building for seven years. Sadly our media are so slavish to simplistic narratives that are smoothed out and refined with each passing year that it is now all too easy too see Julian Assange’s attempts to hold out from any form of arrest as somehow absurd.
The media machine began really to perform on behalf of the big state actors (ultimately the US) during the more dramatic moment when Julian Assange successfully obtained political asylum and access to the sovereign space of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. What was very concerning during that time was that support for Assange had been divided and diminished devastatingly as Swedish prosecutors pursued him for 'rape'. A very emotive subject and one that had many people talking, but unfortunately about the wrong things. His name had been dragged through the mud, his character assassinated and many normally critically minded people were preoccupied with the rights and wrongs of sexual assault rather than democracy and freedom of speech. I personally don't believe he was ever guilty of any sexual assault and doubt that under ordinary circumstances the complaint would even have made it to a court.
Assange has had very real reasons for avoiding Sweden and they have been nothing to do with answering questions in a police station. Assange had done that already and the police were happy to let him go. He also remained in Sweden voluntarily for five weeks to be available for any follow up questioning. The police had been invited to interview him in London and at the Ecuadorian Embassy also so the thing that happened was that the world was being influenced to think of this as a rapist avoiding a rape charge. Very clever tactic but the fact is that the Swedes had an agenda to get Assange into American hands. The Swedish government had publicly announced in 2012 that they would detain Assange without charge. The Crown Prosecution Service requested that the 14 days that Assange had to apply to the European Court of Human Rights be reduced to zero. Was Assange to expect fair treatment?
The circumstances leading up to the arrest warrant are somewhat erroneous. Firstly, no complaint of sexual assault was being made. The inquiry at the police station was to clarify his female partner’s rights to have Assange take an STD test in the purely hypothetical event of his refusal. She claims that she was railroaded into making a rape allegation but refused to do so and signed nothing. The Duty Prosecutor on advice from the interviewing police then issued the warrant. Assange was not contacted and was arrested in his absence. Next, this information was deliberately leaked to the Swedish tabloid 'Expressen' which announced to the world in the morning that Assange was a rapist.
Within 24 hours a more senior prosecutor dismissed the rape allegations as having no foundation. Assange then quite willingly made a statement at a police station on Aug 30th 2010. He did make his concerns known during the interview that he feared it was to be leaked to Expressen. Despite the denial of the interviewing officers the entire interview was leaked to the tabloid who published the information the next day.
A third prosecutor appeared on the scene and once again the case was opened. Assange remained in Sweden for five more weeks to be available for questioning but despite repeated requests made to prosecutor Marrian Ny he was given no opportunity to do so. On September 15th 2010 Assange was permitted to leave Sweden. Marrian Ny then issued a 'secret' warrant for Assange's arrest. Assange continued to make contact but Ny very suspiciously declined the offer of an interview in England using the existing mechanism of Mutual Legal Assistance because she claimed that was illegal under Swedish law. This third prosecutor has told a very revealing lie. There is no such law in Sweden.
The manner in which Ny has persued Assange has been highly irregular. As the warlog.wikileaks.org was being announced, Ny issued an Interpol Red Notice Alert. These are only issued for high level terrorists and dictators. The president of Syria does not even have one of these. This was directly in response to Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning’s release of around a quarter of a million documents know as 'Cablegate' which Assange was preparing to make public.
There was always a genuine concern that the US would make an extradition request of Sweden who have previous form on extradition and torturous rendition on behalf of the US. The United States Grand Jury sitting in Virginia have been continuing their investigations into Wikileaks and Assange on the charge of 'Conspiracy to Commit Espionage'. Their investigations involve the names of all the people known to have been involved with Assange and Wikileaks. Those who have had involvement have been taken aside at airports, followed and intimidated by FBI agents, many of whom have used underhanded tactics like pretending to be Homeland Security agents. Some have reported that these agents may possibly be looking to turn people into informants. Assange's own UK legal adviser has also been subject to an 'Inhibited List'. Us Homeland Security use this phrase for people they feel the need to monitor and the Australian High Commission have complied with the US on this one.
Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning had been held in pre-trial detention for over two years in conditions described by the UN Special Rapporteur as amounting to torture before being released after seven full years of incarceration leading to a suicide attempt.
Had Assange ever made footfall in Sweden he would have been at the mercy of a system which has a record of complying with US wishes. Sweden has acted illegally in the past and in one case been exposed by Amnesty International for sending Mohammed el Zari and Akmed Agiza to Egypt to be tortured. The UN eventually demanded that Sweden paid both parties compensation.
To conclude. Julian Assange has at every stage been staring into the open jaws of the US beast which has systematically used torture and lifelong incarceration on those who would seek to expose the nature of it’s hold on global power and lift that thin veil of illusion that keeps the masses to hypnotised. The charges against him were very convenient and used very successfully to divide opinion, particularly amongst the left where sympathies have always been stronger. The narrative has been too easy to write and retell, that he was running from something that he an obligation to face but the reality is that everything that took place in Sweden in 2010 relating to charges and warrants were traps set way back in the US State Department who saw Assange as gettable. The real story is a remarkable one of courage and ingenuity and like Chelsea Manning who is behind bars once again, Julian Assange has sacrificed his life so that we even have the chance to see past the illusion that if believed in any longer will destroy all that is good on this earth.