It’s “World press freedom day” today. You’d think as a journalist that I’d care a little about that, but I honestly don’t.
I find the whole notion of celebrating a “world press freedom day” in current times so completely hypocritical it’s comical. There is no “world press freedom”. As of the time of writing, journalism is in jail. The free press is in prison. Belmarsh prison in London, to be precise. The UK’s most maximum of security prisons.
I’m talking of course, about former Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, who is awaiting his fate from behind it’s walls, surrounded on all sides by the countries worst criminals. The man who murdered Lee Rigby is in there. As is the cop charged with Sarah Everard’s murder.
Julian hasn’t killed anybody, of course. In fact, he isn’t charged with any crime in this country, let alone murder.
That matters not. A secret court in the United States of America has decided his factual publishing of truthful documents in the public interest isn’t journalism, but in fact violations of their 1917 “Espionage act.”
Julian isn’t a US citizen, he’s Australian. In fact, he’s never been to America. Never even set a foot on American soil. That matters not, either. The US wants him for violating legislation they wrote over a hundred years ago to punish conscietious objectors to the 1st world war.
Julian has been in Belmarsh prison for 2 years, and the United Nations found he was in arbitrary detention before that during 8 years in the Ecuadorian embassy.
In January, a UK Magistrate, Judge Baraitser, ruled that Julian could not be extradited to the United States. Not because to do so would essentially mark the end of the world’s free press, but because to extradite him to the United States would be equal to that of a death sentence considering the harshness of their prison system, and the fragility of Mr Assange’s health.
The US under President Joe Biden have appealed that decision, arguing their prison system is not that harsh. We can therefore rest easy in the knowledge they will treat Julian with kid gloves, and not epstein him. Sorry, I mean “expose” him, to any further cruel and unusual punishment.
So, he has to go to our Supermax until the powers that be figure out what they’re going to do with him. Any day now the UK high court will rule on that decision, but until then, Julian must reside in Belmarsh.
All requests his defence have made for bail have so far been denied.
He’s not imprisoned for doing anything wrong, but for doing everything right. As Chris Hedges says, Julian is not being persecuted for his vices. Julian is being persecuted for his virtues.”
Chris Hedges is one of the few who will talk about Julian’s situation. The vast majority of “journalists” in the Western world won’t talk about any of this at all. They won’t even mention Julian’s name for fear of reaction.
For if the United States of America can reach inside another sovereign nation and pluck ajournalist from within its borders for publishing the truth about crimes it has committed, crimes in the public interest, and charge him in a secret court, giving no chance to even mount a defence or respond to any evidence, then there is no press freedom in the world.
A precedent will have been set. The United States government, or rather, those regrettable factions within it, will have free reign to do the same anywhere in the world. And if the almighty US of A can do it,what’s to stopSaudi Arabia, or China, or North Korea from doing the same?
The answer to that of course, is nothing. Not a damn thing.
Like I said, journalism, is in jail. There is no “World press freedom.” Not until Julian Asasange is free.
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