Murderers, torturers and battle criminals will probably be toasting the British house secretary, Priti Patel, tonight. Her resolution to approve the extradition of Julian Assange turns investigative journalism right into a prison act, and licenses the United States to mercilessly seek out offenders wherever they are often discovered, convey them to justice and punish them with most severity.
Julian Assange’s supposed crime was to show atrocities dedicated by the US and its allies, primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq, in the course of the battle on terror. He shone a light-weight on the systematic abuse dealt out to prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. He revealed the truth that greater than 150 solely harmless inmates had been held for years with out even being charged.
He revealed a video of helicopter gunmen laughing as they casually massacred unarmed Iraqi civilians in an assault that killed round 15 folks, together with a Reuters photographer and his assistant.
The US declined to self-discipline the perpetrators of that atrocity. But they’re pursuing Assange to the ends of the earth for revealing it befell.
Once safely in US palms, it’s all however sure that Assange will spend the rest of his life in jail. That’s as a result of the US is set to indicate that horrible reprisals lie in retailer for any reporter who runs a narrative primarily based on US authorities paperwork.
That’s why Daniel Ellsberg, the previous US Marine Corps officer behind the Pentagon Papers revelations that uncovered the key US bombing of Cambodia and Laos, has mentioned that he feels a “great identification” with Assange’s work.
Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer, argued convincingly in court docket that Assange’s solely crime is investigative journalism. For instance, the US cost states that he tried to hide “the source of the disclosure of classified records”. Every journalist price her or his salt would do the identical, however the US insists that Assange is responsible of espionage – and the British house secretary shamefully agrees.
While it’s true that Patel is an unusually authoritarian house secretary, I think that each current holder of the workplace, Labour or Conservative, would have made an similar resolution. Britain values past measure its safety relationship with the US.
That helps clarify Patel’s judgment however doesn’t make it any extra forgivable. Boris Johnson and his ministers love to say that they assist press freedom. When it mattered most they dealt it a catastrophic blow.
A blow carried out – it needs to be famous – with the silent assent of a lot of the mainstream press. Too many British newspapers and broadcasters have handled the Assange case as a grimy household secret. They have failed to understand that the Assange listening to main as much as the Patel resolution is an important case involving free speech this century.
Assange’s authorized workforce are to enchantment, and let’s pray that they succeed. If they don’t, newsgathering in Britain – and in all places else the place the American authorities has affect – will change into a prison exercise finally punishable by incarceration for all times in a US jail.