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The case of Julian Assange: Sweden and the hypocrisy of imperialism

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The Swedish state has requested the extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden to be questioned about rape allegations. This is portrayed by the media as an attempt to “seek justice”. But the extreme determination with which they are pursuing the case indicates that there are other interests at play than concern with justice. Contrary to the carefully cultivated image of a neutral country, Sweden, in order to protect its own interest, is deeply involved in the intrigues of US imperialism.

The judicial saga

Free Assange plackard outside Ecuadorian embassy in London. Photo: VertigogenFree Assange plackard outside Ecuadorian embassy in London. Photo: VertigogenTo begin with, it might be worth restating some of the facts of the case, as determined by consent between the Swedish state and Assange at the time of his extradition hearing.

Julian Assange was in Sweden in August 2010 in order to give a lecture at the Swedish Christian Social Democrat organisation (Broderskap). He was staying in the flat of a Swedish member of this organisation. The two of them had sex. He also met and had sex with another woman during his stay. 

A few days after he left the flat of the first woman, the two women walked into a police station in Stockholm in order to attempt to force Julian Assange to take an STD test, as the second woman says she was worried about having had unprotected sex. The police woman, with whom they meet, decided after hearing the story of the second woman that this was in fact a rape allegation. However, the second woman refused to sign the statement.

Since rape in Sweden falls under public prosecution laws, the police and the prosecution do not need the consent of the victim in order to conduct an investigation. The duty prosecutor, without the consent of the alleged “victim”, decided to issue an arrest warrant for Julian Assange that very evening. The next morning the news was immediately published in the Swedish tabloid Expressen. How did they find out about it? We do not know. Furthermore, why did the prosecutor, against established practice, decide to confirm their story? We do not know that, either. Either way, the first Assange himself found out about the allegations was when he read about them in the newspapers.

The next thing we know, the charge of rape is dropped by the chief prosecutor but some of the lesser charges remain, about which Assange is interviewed on the 30th. Everything seems to indicate that the investigation is about to be closed. Incidentally, at this time Assange applies for permanent leave to remain in Sweden. This does not seem to be the action of a man who is terrified of being found guilty of a serious criminal charge.

The Swedish police gave Assange an undertaking that details of the case would not be disclosed to the media. Yet three days later the transcript appears in Expressen. Again the question arises: who provided the press with this information? And although the prosecutor had decided that there were no grounds to proceed with the allegation of rape, one day before the publication of the story, a different chief prosecutor steps forward with a decision to reopen the rape charges, after a complaint by the women’s lawyer on the 27th.

There then follows a period in which Assange attempts unsuccessfully to be interviewed by the Swedish prosecution. Assange gets confirmation from the prosecutor on the 15 September that he is free to leave the country. After another unsuccessful attempt at getting a date for an interview shortly after the 15th, Assange leaves the country on 27 September. The prosecutor then issues an arrest warrant.

Assange’s leave to remain in Sweden was declined in mid-October. After yet another failure to agree on a date around this time, Assange in November offers an interview in Britain or a written statement to the prosecution. The prosecution declined. Instead on the 26th of November, a European arrest warrant is issued. Also an Interpol Red Notice (request for arrest) was issued on the 20th.

Assange has repeatedly offered to answer any questions in Britain or issue a written statement to the prosecution. Such practices are both legal and common in spite of the prosecutor attempting to pretend otherwise. Why have the Swedish authorities persistently refused this offer?

The timing of these events is of crucial importance. They coincided almost exactly with the publishing of the first “Cablegate” documents on the 28th, a date which was known in advance. Immediately, after the publication a number of high profile politicians in the US started to demand that Assange be put on trial or even assassinated. The extradition order appears to have been rushed as it lacked the necessary information to be legally valid in the UK.

If anyone doubts the deadly seriousness of these threats, they should examine the case of Bradley Manning, the young American soldier, who is alleged to have leaked US government cables to Wikileaks. He has been imprisoned without trial and brutally tortured (see previous article and also Bradley Manning's treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules in the Guardian, 12.03.12).

Assange had very good reason to fear what might happen to him once he was extradited from the relative security he had found in Britain. Nevertheless, he came out of hiding to face extradition proceedings in the UK courts. He was granted bail. However, when it became clear that the Swedish authorities were determined to push through the extradition, in a desperate move he appealed for asylum in Ecuador. He offered to go to Sweden if he was granted a guarantee against extradition to the USA, which the Swedish foreign minister refused to give. The minister cites the independence of the judiciary as a reason but he is well aware that any extradition request from Sweden has to be approved by the government.

Assange was not offered an interview until the end of September, almost a month after the rape charges were reopened. Throughout this whole period, the Swedish prosecution service appeared indecisive and unwilling to interview him. Then suddenly the whole thing becomes extremely urgent, so much so as to merit the Interpol Red Notice issued on 20 November. It should be stressed that Assange has never been found guilty of anything; he is still only wanted for questioning. Yet for some reason, in spite of it being legally fully possible, the Swedish prosecutor has refused to interview Assange in Britain, or in the Ecuadorian Embassy, for that matter.

What is very strange is how the press is constantly kept well informed throughout the investigation. It is unclear whether this is deliberate. Is this simply the tabloids paying policemen and lawyers for information, as they did in Britain on a regular basis? That is possible. Or is it a case of deliberate leaks emanating from the prosecutor’s office? Probably the latter is the case. Either way, it hardly inspires confidence in the possibility of Julian Assange receiving “justice”.

The Swedish justice system does not come out of this looking good. It is absolutely clear that the Swedish prosecutor is determined to get Assange under lock and key, one way or the other. What is the reason for this extreme determination? We cannot enter the workings of her brain, but this much seems clear: that the prosecutor is being driven by other considerations than simply finding the truth.

The gutter press

In the whole affair, the press, in particular Expressen, have played a particularly pernicious role. The press has deliberately dragged the whole affair into the gutter. Less than 24 hours after they had first been made, Expressen immediately publicised the accusations for the world whole world to see. This goes completely against Swedish journalistic tradition, where suspects are generally kept anonymous. Not only this, but the prosecution assisted them, first by unofficially leaking and then by officially confirming his identity. Thereafter, the press has been kept mysteriously very well informed.

Perhaps Expressen will cite “public interest” in their defence. “Public interest” – that discredited formula used so often by Murdoch and other scoundrels to justify their abuses – is in this case nothing more than the defence of the interests of US imperialism. Does anybody believe that Expressen is interested in finding out the truth? It is one of the worst tabloids in Sweden, and has a history of manipulating sex stories to attack the Left.

The present editor of this muck-raking rag made his name for bearing the responsibility for a news bill (a daily advertising for the paper displayed at all news agents) about the sex life of the then leader of the Left Party, Gudrun Schyman. This news bill got the paper convicted for defamation in the high court in Sweden. This was at the beginning of a national campaign in the press against the Left Party, which prepared the way for the right-wing alliance winning the elections in 2006.

Expressen, furthermore, is part of the largest media monopoly in Sweden, the Bonnier group, which is wholly owned by the Bonnier family. For a long time it was carrying out a campaign against its main rival on the newspaper market, the labour movement press, a campaign they won some time ago.

Now, suddenly, this paper has become the “friend of women”, a “champion of women’s rights”. If the consequences were not so serious, it would be laughable. This is the rank hypocrisy of the Swedish establishment. One day, they attack women in public life on the most spurious grounds, the next day they are the champions of “justice”. But they are not the only ones. Incredibly, there are some people on the Left who have swallowed these lies without question.

Swedish “neutrality”

Julian Assange’s opponents often cite Swedish neutrality as a guarantee for Assange’s safety in Sweden. As most intelligent people ought to know, there is no such thing as neutrality. Neutrality is a carefully cultivated screen for the real activities of the Swedish state.

Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Clinton, US Secretary of State, and Reinfeldt, Swedish Prime Minister, at a recent meeting in Stockholm. Photo: US EmbassyBildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Clinton, US Secretary of State, and Reinfeldt, Swedish Prime Minister, at a recent meeting in Stockholm. Photo: US Embassy SwedenDuring the Cold War the Swedish state attempted, particularly during the era of the Social Democratic leader Olof Palme, to portray itself as a defender of the weak against the superpowers. In reality, the Swedish military and secret service were constantly co-operating with the US, something WikiLeaks has revealed. The US ambassador to Sweden finds the image of neutrality useful. He credits this image, for example, with Sweden’s ability to provide the US with intelligence on the Iranian nuclear programme.

From the point of view of the Swedish ruling class, its informal alliance with the US is a necessity. For the last four hundred or so years Sweden has fought Russia over the domination of the Baltic Sea. At the start of the 18th century, Sweden dominated the Baltic Sea with colonies in Germany and control of present-day Estonia, Latvia and Finland. However, after that, until the early 19th century, Sweden was fighting a losing battle, leading to the loss of one piece of territory on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea after another. This culminated in the loss of Finland in 1809.

During the Russian Revolution, the Swedes intervened on the side of the counter-revolutionary Whites in what is known as the Finnish Civil War. Again, during the Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, the Swedes backed Finland against the Soviet Union, and later supported the Finnish-German alliance against the Soviet Union. Throughout the Cold War, the Swedish military was wholly geared towards facing the threat of an invasion of the Soviet Union. No other threat was even considered.

Since the Swedish defence force was inadequate to face the Soviet Union on its own, assistance from NATO (that is the US) would have been a necessity. Still, its vicinity to the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries, as well as domestic considerations, made a public alliance impossible.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Swedish imperialism had a new chance. The weakness of Russian capitalism meant Russia could not maintain its grip on the Baltic States. Instead Sweden, with its long historical links to the region, stepped in. Today, around 50-75% of the banking sector (depending on the country) in the Baltic States is controlled by Swedish banks. To protect these interests, the Swedish state has been pushing for expansion of the European Union into Eastern Europe. It has also expanded its military co-operation with NATO (and the US) under the guise of “Partnership for Peace” and formally abandoned its position of “neutrality in case of war” in favour of not remaining passive “if an EU member state is attacked” (Department of Defence, March 19, 2009).

As a further indication of its collaboration with US imperialism, the Swedish government has participated in the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq. All these things have converted a secret understanding into an increasingly open one. Now, elements in the right-wing coalition are arguing for Sweden to join NATO. The foreign minister himself presents the main difference as being that “Sweden participates in much of the concrete co-operation” but “does not have the kind of influence over decision making that a formal membership would give.” (Aftonbladet, February 13, 2008). Clearly, Sweden has been rapidly moving towards an increasingly open alliance with the USA.

In order to prove itself to the US, the Swedish government in 2001 helped CIA agents kidnap two Egyptian citizens who were claiming asylum in Sweden. This was one of the most scandalous cases of “extraordinary rendition”. At the same time, the Swedish government, in a completely extra-judicial manner (no courts were involved and there was no right of appeal), also froze the accounts of three Swedish citizens after they had been put on the US terrorist list.

Like most governments, the Swedish Social Democratic one capitulated to the so called “war on terror” cooked up by the reactionary Bush administration after 9/11 to justify US military aggression all over the world. It may have significance that the Minister of Justice at that time, Tomas Bodström, is now a senior partner in the law firm that represent Assange’s alleged victims. Among the many hypocrites, he is one of the most blatant. In spite of being responsible for repeated breaches of Swedish law, Bodström dismisses Assange’s doubts about the Swedish justice system.

The present Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, is another new-found champion of the cause of women. He has publicly opposed Assange and WikiLeaks and criticised Assange’s Swedish lawyer for undermining faith in the Swedish justice system. Bildt claims that Assange is “living in a fantasy world”. He has also refused to give any guarantees to Assange regarding extradition to the US.

Who is Carl Bildt? He was Prime Minister during the right-wing 1991-94 government in Sweden when he carried out a savage attack against the Swedish welfare state. He is furthermore well known for sitting on the board of Lundin Oil, a company that has been involved in war crimes in Sudan (ECOS report, pdf, 2010). WikiLeaks claims to have documents proving that he was an informant to the US. If that is true, it would hardly be surprising.

At the time of the Georgian war, Carl Bildt made a lot of noise about intervention in the war. He asked why there was an intervention in Yugoslavia but not in Georgia. He even likened the invasion to Hitler’s! However, if the US was impotent to stop the Russian army, the Swedish was even more so. But why the obsession with Georgia? Putin was drawing a line in the sand with the war. After two colour “revolutions” in Eastern Europe, the Russians wanted to show their neighbours that they were capable of defending their interests in the region. Ukraine took due notice, and the so called “Orange Revolution” has since been reversed. The Baltic States have been warned and so have the Swedes.

In fact it isn’t just the US that wound up with egg on their face in the Cablegate scandal. There are numerous cables exposing the servile attitude of the Swedish government and political parties to the US. Consider for example how leading Social Democrats keep the US ambassador informed of their negotiations with their coalition partners (09STOCKHOLM707) and how they are fighting opposition against the Afghanistan war within their own party (08STOCKHOLM695).

The revelation of the Swedish government’s attitude to accepting Guantanamo inmates is also embarrassing (09STOCKHOLM677). Another is the revelation of extensive informal intelligence co-operation between the US and Sweden. The government’s objection to formalising it is that it is politically inopportune and could threaten the informal arrangement (08STOCKHOLM748).

All this is more than sufficient proof that it isn’t just the US that has a grudge against WikiLeaks and its founder. The Swedish state has very good reasons for persecuting Julian Assange – reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do either with “justice” or “women’s’ rights”.

The “independent” judiciary

Assange’s opponents display a truly touching faith in the allegedly independent character of Sweden’s judiciary, which fits in very nicely with their naive (and false) assumptions concerning Sweden’s neutrality. Even among people on the left, these things are routinely taken for granted. The reality is quite different.

One of the scandals that is doing the rounds in the Swedish press at the moment is that of a convicted serial killer, Thomas Quick. Quick has confessed to committing 35 murders and he has been convicted of eight of them. But now it turns out that he might not have been responsible for any of them. The man suffers from a mental condition that makes him confess compulsively to things he did not do.

How could this occur? Very simply, the Swedish police and prosecutors, under pressure to get results, supplied him with the details which he then used to make his “confessions”. Not only does this scandal affect Thomas Quick himself, but the families of some of his supposed victims have fought for years for the police to find the real perpetrators (Daily Mail, 16 August 2012). The capitalist police and judicial system does not deliver justice, as the recent scandal in Britain over the Hillsborough affair clearly shows.

Let us cite another, even more relevant case. During protests in Gothenburg in 2001 the police acted in an extremely heavy-handed manner against the protesters. In order to justify their heavy-handedness, they allowed the anarchist Black Block to burn and loot the main shopping street in Gothenburg. The mass media seized the moment and a massive campaign against the protesters ensued, including interventions from local and national politicians.

In the end 79 protesters were charged with various crimes relating to the protests; 70 of them were convicted. During the protests, the police managed to shoot and almost kill a protester. The protester who got shot was sentenced to eight months in prison. The police officer, who fired live ammunition into a demonstration, was freed, as were his colleagues who fabricated evidence for the trial. This was documented by the journalist Erik Wijk in his book Orätt (“injustice”).

What does this mean? It means that the Swedish justice system does not differ in any way from that of other capitalist countries. There is nothing independent or just about the Swedish judiciary. It is tied, like the Swedish politicians, by a thousand threads to the ruling class and its interests. The Capitalist state is in the last analysis not there to bring justice to crime victims but to defend the interests of the ruling class.

The long arm of Imperialism

That the US has taken an interest in this case from the very beginning is a barely veiled secret. A lot of noise has been made, however, about the lack of extradition requests from the US. This should not surprise us. The US diplomats and politicians are well versed in the art of war, and not just the open kind. The present mess with the Swedish court system suits them just fine. Although some impatient types on the Republican right, like Sarah Palin, are demanding immediate action, the more intelligent ones are happy to let the Swedish case run its course.

The attitude of the Obama administration ought to be clear from the statements from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said that WikiLeaks was not just an “attack on America” but on the “whole international community”, they “tear at the fabric” of “responsible government”. Translated into plain English, that means: it threatens the interests not just of the capitalist class in the US but of the whole world – it threatens to destroy people’s faith in the system as a whole.

She furthermore announced that the US government was taking “aggressive steps” against those that did the leaking (NPR, November 29 2010). President Obama himself, probably preferring not to get too involved, settled for calling the WikiLeaks actions “deplorable”. But US Vice-President Joe Biden argued that Assange is closer to a “high-tech terrorist” than a journalist and that they are looking into what can be done to stop this kind of thing. By equating the actions of Assange with terrorism, Washington is attempting to justify treating him in the same way that it treats everybody it regards as a terrorist. The mere use of this epithet is supposed to justify kidnapping (“rendition”), imprisonment without trial, torture and assassination.

In case somone was unclear about their intentions, the US administration in July this year made a number of statements. The Democrat head of the Senate Intelligence Committee called for Assange to be prosecuted and a Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, said that “there continues to be an investigation into the WikiLeaks matter” (Sydney Morning Herald, July 2 2012). Still, in order not to give WikiLeaks too much ammunition, they deny any interest in the extradition proceedings relating to Sweden. The message is clear: “you carry on…. When you are done with him, we’ll take over”.

The Swedish case has a number of advantages. Most importantly, it aims to blacken the name of Assange and by association, WikiLeaks. This character assassination will weaken resistance to a future extradition request to the US. Who wants to defend a rapist? Secondly, once he is in custody, and he is unlikely at this point to be given bail in Sweden, he cannot apply for asylum in Ecuador or any other place.

This is why the US are happy to bide their time while the Swedish government does the dirty work on their behalf. In the meantime, a grand jury appears to be preparing the case against Assange. This interpretation of US actions is incidentally shared by Stratfor (1057220, 1056763) a global security company who have strong links to US intelligence, and whose internal emails were released by WikiLeaks. It does not seem likely that the actual accusations were the result of a conspiracy, but they were extremely useful for the USA.

Imperialism and women’s rights

It should come as no surprise to people on the left that imperialism uses the issue of women in order to justify their actions. Ever since the days of the British Empire “protecting women” has been one of the favourite justifications for imperialist intervention. The British used it to justify their interventions both in Egypt and in India. This did not stop the very same ruling class from opposing suffrage and equal rights for women in Britain, or in their colonies for that matter.

The Bible bashing, “pro-life” Neo-Cons in the USA, who oppose the right of women to dispose of their own bodies and resort to terrorist tactics against abortion clinics, nevertheless felt compelled to “protect” the women of Afghanistan against the Taliban. They would like us to forget the fact that the US governments for years were funding, arming and advising these same Muslim fundamentalists, when they attempted to drown the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan in blood. At that time, of course, they were “freedom fighters”. We are also expected to ignore the fact that the US government for years has been backing one of the most reactionary regimes in the Middle East, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights are completely denied.

Liberal, democratic, pacifist Sweden, by the way, also has a long-term military co-operation with Saudi Arabia, which provides it with weapons contracts worth something like £1.2bn. Recently it was revealed that not only does Sweden export weapons to the Saudis, but the Swedish authorities have helped the regime build a new advanced armaments’ factory. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, has defended the relationship, describing the country as a “family business” with which it is important to keep good relations. It’s about “Swedish jobs” he says, but what he really means is that it’s about the profits of the armaments industry. All this in spite of the fact that exports to countries that violate human rights is supposed to be illegal in Sweden. This same Carl Bildt is one of those leading the chorus against Assange under the banner of “justice” and “women’s rights”. What rank hypocrisy!

The “right to justice”

But “what about the women?” some would object. What about their right to justice? Isn’t all the talk of imperialism just a smokescreen for Assange trying to escape justice? We do not know what occurred between Assange and the two women. We may never know. We are not under any obligation to vouch for the personal morality of Julian Assange. Nor do we have to accept, as some of Assange’s defenders do, that it is all the result of a big conspiracy cooked up in Washington. What we do know, and there can be no doubt about this, is that the real motive for the persecution of Assange is the interests of US imperialism. The charge of rape has been deliberately dragged in to muddy the waters and conceal the real issues.

Women’s organisations in Sweden have sarcastically remarked that Assange might as well travel to Sweden as it is practically impossible to be convicted of rape anyway in Sweden (No need to worry, Julian Assange, SVT Debatt). Indeed, the conviction rate for rape in Sweden is extremely low, as it is in most countries. Only around 3% of all reported cases of rape end in a conviction. One gets the feeling that some feminists feel that if Assange gets convicted, it will be a “victory” for women. That somehow the conviction of Assange, even during these circumstances, would be one step forward for equality. This would send the message that rapists can’t get away with it. That is the most generous interpretation of what they are saying.

Free Manning plackard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Photo: VertigogenFree Manning plackard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Photo: VertigogenThe cause of women would not be advanced one millimetre by Assange being brought to “justice”, because there is no way justice can be served in this case. Let us spell it out clearly: There is no way that Assange will get a fair trial in Sweden. In the first place, any trial will be prejudiced by the press coverage of the case. Julian Assange has already been tried by the public media and he has been found guilty. Second, and most importantly, the Swedish state has a direct interest in his conviction. Even if he doesn’t get convicted, he can be kept under lock and key long enough to prepare the grounds for his extradition to the USA, which is the real goal.

Nor has all this been in the interests of the two women, who have seen their personal lives dragged out for public scrutiny, thanks largely to the tabloids. Whatever the results of the judicial process, they will henceforth be known as the women who accused Assange of rape. Even if they, at some point, had wanted to pull out and withdraw their accusations, it is out of their hands. From the moment the Swedish state decided the case was one of rape, the state became the accuser. No matter what the outcome, the two women’s lives will have been irreparably harmed. But that is what least of all interests the Swedish state or its American masters.

Then we have the question of women’s liberation. Does anyone actually think that convicting Assange for rape would improve the situation for women? Or the corollary, does anyone think that this case will make rape more acceptable? It is enough to ask the question to get the answer.

The Swedish authorities and the US might be very happy to imprison this particular man for rape as part of their campaign against WikiLeaks but that would hardly solve the problem of the thousands of other victims of domestic or sexual violence. It will not provide them with secure shelters or a means of earning their living without an abusive partner. Nor will it do anything to solve the causes of violence against women, which is fundamentally the economic inequality between men and women. In the end, there is no justice to be had under an inherently unjust society.

Playing into the hands of imperialism

The extradition of Julian Assange would be a victory for imperialism. It would contribute nothing to the cause of women’s liberation.

Imperialism is the most reactionary and criminal agency on the planet. It was responsible for promoting Muslim fundamentalism in the past, and still backs reactionary regimes like Saudi Arabia, which is guilty of the most ruthless oppression of women. The imperialists can scarcely believe their good luck that people who call themselves progressives and left wingers have so eagerly jumped on the anti-Assange bandwagon. In so doing they are doing imperialism a great service. We do not question their good intentions, of course. We merely point out that the way to a very warm place is paved with good intentions. Every left-winger who supports the call for Assange to stand trial is objectively serving the cause of reaction.

Divide and rule is a very old tactic of imperialism, and this is indeed perhaps one of the most divisive questions on the Left. Clinton, Hague and Bildt are delighted to welcome this muddying of the waters. The more the rape allegations can circulate in the press, the more thoroughly Assange and WikiLeaks will be discredited. In this way the imperialists can rid themselves of someone who, by exposing their crimes before the public opinion of the world, caused them severe damage and consequently did an important service to the cause of world socialism. Yet some “Lefts” are blind to all of this. And there are none so blind as those who will not see.

It is not an accident that one vocal proponent of extradition is Nick Cohen. Writing in The Observer, this ex-Left made a name for himself for supporting the Iraq war, all in the name of “democracy”, of course. He probably also defends the occupation of Afghanistan on the grounds that it “liberates women”. Lately he has found it useful to criticise the Left for insufficiently opposing Muslim Fundamentalism – that is, he criticises the Left for showing insufficient subservience to the interests of US imperialism. In spite of all the revelations of WikiLeaks and the history of the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, he still claims that the First Amendment of the US constitution will protect Assange!

Cohen also feels the need to point to the fate of Bradley Manning, not in order to demand that the US release him, but in order to blacken the name of Assange. This is another useful story that has been spun in the press. Why isn’t Assange helping Manning? Why doesn’t he give him legal support? Such arguments are simply designed to blacken Assange’s name. The fact is that WikiLeaks and Assange constantly refer to Manning’s case, calling for his release. This is more than one can say of Assange’s critics who would much prefer to call for Assange to be extradited than Manning to be released from torture in US prisons.

Some, including Assange himself, have raised the question of a guarantee. If Sweden only issued a guarantee not to extradite him to the US, Assange could stand trial. Such a guarantee would be worthless. Let Assange rot in prison for a year or so, preferably after being convicted of rape. After that, someone might forget the guarantee. Or, Assange might find a couple of CIA agents waiting for him when he is on leave from prison, then on a plane to Guantanamo. The Swedish government will shed crocodile tears and protest indignantly against such an “infringement”, and then the matter will be forgotten. Either way, there are no guarantees.

In the end, the discussion over Assange’s extradition boils down to a question of whose side you are on. Are you going to cave in to the pressures of bourgeois public opinion, brought to you by the Murdochs and the Bonniers of this world? Or are you going to take a stance against the secret diplomacy of the imperialists, their lies and hypocrisy? For us, the choice is clear.

  • End to the persecution of WikiLeaks! Release Manning and Assange.
  • No more secret diplomacy! Let the governments of this world conduct their business in full openness. Let the peoples of the world decide for themselves what they think about the actions of the politicians that are supposed to represent them.
  • Down with the media monopolies! Put the servile press under the control of the trade unions and the journalists. Let them report the truth and not the lies of imperialism.
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