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(LifeSiteNews) — There was a noisy protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, as political prisoner Julian Assange’s two-day show trial commences. In his final court appearance he faces extradition to the United States on charges of espionage.

Protesters from around the world have gathered to demand the release of a man who said in 2011 that “almost all the wars of the last 50 years have been started by media lies.”

Euractiv reports: “Major media organizations, press freedom advocates and the Australian parliament are among those decrying [Assange’s] prosecution under the 1917 Espionage Act, which has never been used before over publishing classified information.”

Assange has been held without charge since 2019 at the maximum security Belmarsh prison, after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was arrested in the embassy in April 2019 when Ecuador suddenly revoked his political asylum. A statement from U.K. police said “Assange, 47, was being held on behalf of the U.S. authorities, as well as for breaching his original bail conditions.”

He has not been charged with any other criminal offense in the U.K. A separate Sky News report said:

When Assange was arrested inside the Ecuadorian embassy in May 2019, the U.S. indictment against him was unsealed, revealing a single charge of ‘conspiracy to commit computer intrusion’.

This was expanded later that month to include 17 new charges under the U.S. Espionage Act, including conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information, conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, obtaining national defense information, and disclosure of national defense information.

Why did Assange take refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London? He did this to avoid charges of rape in Sweden, which were dropped quietly in 2019 following a “review of the evidence.”

Assange faces 175 years imprisonment in the U.S. if convicted for publishing documents, including those exposing U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

New national security law cites WikiLeaks

The British government has passed (to no fanfare) a new National Security Act in December 2023, which in debates expressly mentioned Assange’s “data dumps” through WikiLeaks as a major reason for criminalizing investigative journalism pertaining to issues of “national security.”

READ: Press freedom under threat as UK National Security Act could put journalists in jail

Under the Act, journalists from “non-accredited” sources face years of imprisonment if found to be publishing material contrary to the official narrative.

With outcry from both left- and right-wing liberals, the campaign to silence Assange permanently has been described as a verdict on the future of journalism – and free speech – in the West.

State control of media in the West

As with the U.S., the European Union and its member states, the U.K. is taking steps to tighten state control of information.

Tucker Carlson’s most recent broadcast revealed the shocking degree to which U.S. intelligence agencies collude with Google, Facebook, and other social media platforms to suppress speech which is critical of the official narrative. It describes the “inversion of democracy” by a “national security state which is the main driver of censorship and election interference in the United States.”

READ: Supreme Court to hear case on Biden admin censorship collusion with Big Tech

With Assange’s ordeal now into its twelfth year, his health is failing and the only safe outlet for state-level whistleblowers has been seriously diminished.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has published a report on the global impact for journalism of the case against Assange:

As Julian Assange’s fate hangs in the balance, it is more crucial than ever for media organizations and journalists around the world to speak out in support of the principles at stake.

If the U.S. government succeeds in extraditing Assange and prosecuting him under the Espionage Act, anyone who publishes stories based on leaked classified information could be next – and the resulting impact will ultimately be on all of our right to know.

It’s time for global solidarity in support of journalism and press freedom, before it’s too late.

RSF was barred from visiting Assange in prison, describing reporting restrictions around Assange as the worst they have ever seen. Livestreaming of the hearing is limited, some crucial testimony is inaudible, with the extradition case being heard in one of the tiniest rooms in the Royal Courts – to further restrict access.

An active WikiLeaks would have very likely exposed a range of issues mentioned by Carlson – and not. An example is being made of a man who believed that the truth had the power to stop wars started by lies. The campaign to silence him has a long pedigree.

‘Can’t we just drone this guy?’ – Hillary Clinton

Assange has been threatened with a “drone strike” by Hillary Clinton, having laid the blame in 2015 for the creation of ISIS by “American destabilization” of the Middle East – including Hillary Clinton’s role in the destruction of Libya.

Clinton’s remark was reported by WikiLeaks in October 2016, citing evidence from a U.S. State Department memo:

A report from True Pundit on October 2, 2016, detailed the exchange:

Following Clinton’s alleged drone proposal, another controversial remedy was floated in the State Department to place a reward or bounty for Assange’s capture and extradition to the United States, sources said.

Numbers were discussed in the realm of a $10 million bounty.

The report noted the “bizarre” atmosphere of the U.S. State Department:

A State Department source described that staff meeting as bizarre. One minute staffers were inquiring about the Secretary’s blue and black checkered knit sweater and the next minute, the room was discussing the legalities of a drone strike on Assange and financial bounties, sources said.

Assange ‘should be killed’

A montage available on the Internet Archive compiles a series of U.S. politicians calling for the assassination of Julian Assange – and describing WikiLeaks as a “terrorist organization.”

Reports of the CIA plot to kill Assange under Trump were first published by The Grayzone in 2020. Following this, a number of exposes appeared.

Fairness In Accuracy and Reporting (FAIR) published news in October 2021 of the CIA plot to kill Assange, noting “the deathly silence of journalists who mocked Assange who have nothing to say about CIA plans to kill him.”

Then CIA director Mike Pompeo appeared to confirm the plot himself, which featured in a 2021 Yahoo! News investigation.

FAIR, an independent campaign “challenging media bias,” found almost ten times the number of mentions for the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny than for Assange:

… a Nexis search of British newspapers for the word ‘Navalny’ brings up 288 results from August 20-25, 2020.

The same search for ‘Assange’ between September 26-October 1, 2021, brings up a meager 29 results – one of which, a notable exception, was a Patrick Cockburn piece in the Independent (10/1/21).

Why is Navalny – who has never been very popular with the Russian people – so important – and Assange is not? Navalny was valuable to Western intelligence efforts, whilst Assange was a nuisance.

The New York Times was one newspaper which cooperated in what WikiLeaks described as a $2 million “smear campaign” against Assange. Elizabeth Vos for Consortium News reported in 2023 on how corporate media’s repeated smears against Assange showed “the legacy news media is not simply a second-rate form of journalism in comparison with WikiLeaks, but its intentional opposite.”

She reveals the reason why Assange remained in prison despite an offer for his release from then-President Donald Trump:

In 2017, early in the Trump Administration, Trump was reportedly willing to negotiate a pardon for Assange if he would out the sources of the DNC Emails and disprove Russiagate once and for all.

In August of 2016, Assange made comments on Dutch Television that all but admitted the source of the DNC emails was the murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. So, why not admit the identity of a dead source, if it indeed was Rich, disprove Russiagate, and gain his freedom?

Because WikiLeaks’ obligation, according to Assange, was the absolute protection of sources no matter the cost. It is a principle that may prove to cost the award-winning journalist his life.

Whilst the mainstream media personally attacks whistleblowers, Vos says “Assange went to the absolute limits of human endurance for the sake of protecting whistleblowing sources.”

So why does the media hate him?

Media lies start wars

In 2011 Julian Assange made a statement which reveals one major reason why the U.S. and the U.K. authorities want him dead, and their trusted sources seek to destroy his reputation. Assange said:

Nearly every war that has been started in the last 50 years has been the result of media lies.

The media could have stopped it – if they hadn’t reprinted government propaganda.

He argued calmly that the people must be lied to support endless wars.

Populations don’t like wars. They have to be fooled into wars.

If we had a good media environment, then we would also have a peaceful environment.

Whilst he defended the minority of journalists who had supported reporting the truth, he concluded with a serious question:

It is my opinion that the media are so bad we have to question whether we would not be better off without them altogether.

It is clear that the governments and media of the U.S. and the U.K. would be better off without Julian Assange altogether. This is the reason he remains the most important political prisoner in the world today.

He spoke for truth in the service of peace. This is why they want him gone.

In a moving statement, Yanis Varoufakis – the former finance minister of Greece – spoke of his recent visit to Assange. Describing how Assange has suffered in 23 hours of daily solitary confinement, he says:

If you care for your right to know what your governments are doing behind your back – then you must support Julian Assange.

Because Julian Assange is dying for your right to know what your government is doing on your behalf.

The hearing on Julian Assange’s extradition is taking place Tuesday and Wednesday. You can follow developments live on Twitter with the Free Assange campaign. Independent journalist Richard Medhurst is also providing live coverage from within the courtroom – to which livestreaming access has been blocked. 

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