Author’s note: an extended version of this post, co-written with Kerri Bruss, with additional background information and research citations, can be read at https://milwaukeegreens.org/wp/2021/02/07/justice-for-julian-presenting-a-peculiar-case/
The plight of free speech activist Julian Assange was examined at a January video meeting hosted by the UU Church in Milwaukee. Local Greens were in attendance. Two speakers with first-hand knowledge of the detention and trial of the Australian Wikileaks publisher described an ongoing persecution intended to suppress dissent and opposition to international militarism.
Nils Melzer is a UN Special Rapporteur on torture and had some initial reluctance to look into the case. Having observed Assange in Bellmarsh prison along with medical doctors, and seeing signs consistent with psychological torture, he resolved to investigate. He found serious flaws with the rape allegations against Assange in Sweden. Specifically, cell phone records show that the two women involved were concerned with possible HIV transmission rather than rape. It was local police who changed the nature of the case. This occurred shortly after Wikileaks revealed the Afghan War diary, the largest public expose in US military history. Sweden is a close ally of the US in the Afghan War, and the implication is that Western governments coluded to concoct a serious charge against an enemy.
Wikileaks’ journalistic ethics were also discussed. Assange has not stolen or hacked information, but rather published what he received from sources, and has redacted documents to protect lives. Melzer believes that Wikileaks published evidence of grave war crimes, and that there are criminals in uniform who should be prosecuted. The campaign against Assange is about criminalizing the truth.
Ray McGovern, a former US intelligence officer turned anti-war activist, opened his remarks by describing the warm and caring spirit of his friend Julian Assange. This portrayal is in contrast to media reports of his having an abrasive personality. McGovern believes Assange’s technical skills for digital transfer of forbidden information made him a major threat and a target for global states. He also speculates that people with information could have used Wikileaks to save lives in past crises such as Vietnam and 9/11 if it had been available.
A lively discussion followed the presentations by the two speakers. There is joy in sharing information that is being totally and deliberately suppressed by the mainstream media. Attendees likely came away with a greater intention to follow Ray McGovern’s call to get out there and make some noise for Julian Assange.