The Democratic Socialists of America International Committee restates its opposition to the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. The U.S. seeks to put Assange, an internationally recognized journalist and publisher of WikiLeaks, on trial for publishing truthful information about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and the State Department’s backroom dealings.
Nearly every major press freedom and human rights group has been unanimous in opposing the prosecution of Assange. Multiple United Nations human rights experts have found Assange to have been the victim of severe deprivations of human rights, with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment finding that Assange has been a victim of “collective persecution” perpetrated by multiple state actors.
In January 2021, a British judge blocked the U.S. extradition request. While the judge wrongfully rejected Assange’s press freedom claims, she found that given Assange’s mental well-being, extraditing him to the U.S. would be oppressive. This ruling highlighted on a global stage the abhorrent nature of the U.S. prison system. The very same day Mexico offered Assange asylum.
This should have been the end, but the U.S. appealed this decision. Even though his extradition was ruled oppressive, British authorities have kept Assange locked away in Belmarsh Prison pending the U.S.’s appeal, placing him in near total isolation and putting him at risk for COVID. On October 27 to 28, the United Kingdom High Court will consider the U.S.’s appeal (the U.S. will be represented by British prosecutors, with the British people footing the U.S.’s legal bill).
If extradited to the U.S., Assange will face 17 counts under the Espionage Act for truthfully reporting on U.S. war crimes and abuses of power. This would be a blow to democratic rights not only in the U.S. but globally. Assange is not a U.S. citizen (he is Australian) and does not operate in the U.S. The U.S. is asserting the right to put on trial anyone anywhere in the world who exposes its war crimes.
It was also recently revealed by investigative journalists that the CIA considered both assassinating and kidnapping Assange. At the same time the UK is considering the U.S.’s bid to extradite Assange, a Spanish court is criminally investigating the private security firm UC Global. UC Global was hired by the Ecuadorian Embassy to carry out security functions, instead it is alleged they surveilled Assange, his legal team, and other journalists at the behest of the U.S. government. One former UC Global employee has similarly alleged the CIA plotted to kill Assange.
At its convention, Democratic Socialists of America passed a platform that called to “End U.S. government repression of journalists, whistleblowers, and others who expose war crimes and expose the realities of U.S. foreign policy.”
Assange has exposed U.S. war crimes. Instead of seeking to put journalism itself on trial, the United States should put on trial its own officials guilty of the war crimes Assange has exposed.