The Other Trial of Assange
By Costas Vergos
The founder of Wikileaks is threatened with extradition to the United States. There he will face trial, conviction, and 175 years in prison. Temporarily, he is "housed" in Britain, in a high security prison, in complete isolation and in poor health.
Six months ago, a tribunal was held, in London, involving intellectuals, politicians, and activists from around the world in defense of Assange. Here are some of the witness statements:
Selay Ghaffar, spokeswoman of the Afghan Solidarity Party: “All Afghans, particularly the families of the war victims, expect this tribunal to heal the wounds for the thousands of innocent Afghan lives destroyed. In the week of the US humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, everybody asked this question: How did the two decades of military occupation of Afghanistan, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, end with the Taliban terrorists gaining a swift and easy victory? So far, only one person, by the name of Julian Assange, had the answer to this mystery. In 2011, he unmasked the truth through a set of documents, where he exposed the tyrannical US policy in Afghanistan and said that one of the goals behind sustaining the war was to wash many out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of the transnational security elite. Two decades of occupation brought us nothing but ruins and losses of lives. And while the mainstream media tried to portray a rosary picture of Afghanistan, the leaks by Assange revealed bloody atrocities, committed by US and NATO occupying forces. For instance, in 2007, the US Special Forces dropped 30 tones bombs on a compound where they believed that a high value individual was hiding. Locals reported that 300 civilians had been killed then. None of the media reported that incident. According to reliable sources about 241,000 Afghans have been killed by crossfire between US forces and the Taliban. In my belief, the real number is much-much higher as many incidents are not reported. The US occupation has also inflicted invisible wounds. In 2009, the former Afghan Minister of Public Health reported that two thirds of Afghans suffered from mental health problems. The war has exacerbated the effects of poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, lack of access to health care and environmental degradation.”
Tariq Ali, Pakistani-British prolific writer: “The Wikileaks reveal staff which everyone knows it's true, since some of it is on video. Americans, bombing Iraqi families totally innocent, laughing about it, are recorded killing them. Well it is not a joke for the millions who have died in the Arab world since this war began. Assange, far from being indicted, should actually be a hero.”
Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader in Britain: “Assange has paid a very-very-very high price for his lifelong determination to expose the truth. It is his belief that by exposing the truths one can save lives, one can stop wars, one can make sure that democracies function properly by holding all public officials elected or unelected to public account. His information exposed the dishonesty surrounding the claims on Iraq with hidden information about the numbers of people that had died from 'friendly' fire in Iraq but also the dangers of the concept of the embedded journalist, embedded on an aircraft carrier, sent to produce what are to the liking of the military.”
Yanis Varoufakis, former Minister of Finance of Greece: “I remember I spent a very long night with Julian in the Ecuadorian embassy when he called upon me to help him decipher officials of the IMF. Having spent in the previous year a very long time negotiating with them, listening to them on that tape, that Julian had procured through Wikileaks, I could hear the very same officials effectively agreeing with everything that I had been saying to them, revealing that the IMF knew that they were committing crimes against the Greek people and other peoples in Latin America.”
Edward Snowden, the man who revealed the mechanism by which we all around the world are being monitored (and who sought asylum in 20 European countries and finally Russia granted him asylum): “In 2013, when I revealed evidence of mass surveillance by the US, with the participation of UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and, when the newspapers of all of these countries began publishing these things, one of the papers, the Guardian, who held the material originally, was approached by the British state who said 'you have done enough, now it is time to stop'. And they had to send the material away, to the United States, because they didn't believe they were safe anymore. The agents of the British state went to the Guardian, they destroyed laptops, computers, they used grinders. Julian Assange would never be deterred by that.”
Source: Democracy Now, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDEG7Rd21d4.