The Democratic Socialists of America International Committee strongly condemns the U.S. government’s persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
Both Assange and Manning are being targeted by the United States government for a 2010 release of a trove of documents that exposed U.S. war crimes and abuses in different parts of the world and helped reveal the far-reaching scope of the U.S. government’s secret drone program, among many other troubling and previously unknown aspects of U.S. foreign policy.
Chelsea Manning, recently imprisoned for a second time for refusing to cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department’s WikiLeaks investigation, made clear that her intent in leaking these documents was to spark a public debate on U.S. policy by “removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st-century asymmetric warfare” and showing how “first-world countries exploited third-world countries.”
Manning was released on May 9 after 62 days but was jailed again on May 16 after again refusing to testify before the grand jury in charge of investigating WikiLeaks.
In addition to jail, Manning is facing an unprecedented fine of $500 a day for each day she is jailed after 30 days and $1,000 a day for each day after 60 days she is jailed.
U.S. government officials have claimed that these disclosures endangered national security, but, nearly 10 years later, no evidence has emerged that human lives or U.S. security were adversely affected by the documents published by WikiLeaks.
The disclosures did, however, deeply embarrass the United States government, exposing abusive and undemocratic practices that sparked widespread disapproval in the U.S. and around the world.
It is for this reason that the U.S. government wishes to make an example of Assange and Manning, making it clear that there is zero tolerance for those who leak classified information in order to inform the public about U.S. government abuses.
The U.S. indictment charging Assange with helping Manning access classified government files anonymously has been roundly criticized as an attack on press freedom by the ACLU, Reporters without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch and other civil liberties organizations.
Similarly, Chelsea Manning’s second imprisonment, after refusing to provide testimony in the WikiLeaks investigation, was vindictive and cruel and clearly designed to intimidate potential whistleblowers that consider exposing government abuses.
The DSA International Committee also denounces the complicity of the Ecuadorian and UK governments in abetting the U.S.-sponsored persecution of Assange.
As UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard noted, ”By expelling Assange from his Embassy, Ecuador allowed the United Kingdom to arrest him, placing him one step closer to being extradited to the United States and, consequently, exposing him to the risk of serious human rights violations.”
The UK authorities, by detaining and sentencing Assange to a disproportionate sentence of 50 weeks imprisonment, are prolonging Assange’s arbitrary deprivation of liberty, according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Assange faces allegations of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. Swedish authorities reopened the rape investigation of Assange on May 13, 2019.
We recognize the seriousness of these allegations and that victims of sexual assault are all too often disbelieved. We believe that these kinds of crimes must be investigated seriously.
Unfortunately, the Swedish government’s failure to guarantee that Assange will not be extradited to the United States has compromised the effectiveness of the investigation and the ability of the alleged victims to pursue justice. The Swedish prosecutor, also repeatedly refused to question Assange in London, despite an open invitation to do so. No charges against Assange were ever brought.
These and other prosecutorial failings suggest Sweden has privileged cynical political calculations over justice. As the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted in 2015, the Swedish authorities’ positions also made them complicit in the arbitrary detention of Assange.
We believe that Assange should answer the allegations before him and that the Swedish government must act in good faith to facilitate this.
We demand that Julian Assange be immediately released and voice our strong opposition to any further detention of Chelsea Manning.
We call for the indictment against Assange to be dropped. We demand that the United States respect press freedom and cease its persecution of whistleblowers and those that publish revelations of U.S. government abuses.