The US appeal of a British court ruling on the Assange extradition case has concluded, and the judges will probably not have a decision ready until at least January—a full year after the extradition was denied by a lower court. Assange, despite being convicted of no crime, will have remained in Belmarsh Prison the entire time.
During that time, the judges will be weighing arguments they’d heard about the cruel nature of the US prison system, which formed a major part of the reasoning behind Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s rejection of the US extradition request. They’ll be considering the draconian policy of Special Administrative Measures, whose victims are cut offfrom human contact and from the outside world. They’ll be considering the brutality of the super-max ADX facility in Florence, Colorado, whose inmates are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and where Assange could easily wind up imprisoned despite the prosecution’s flimsy assurances.
Assange probably never set out on this journey with the goal of calling attention to the abuses of the US prison system as his foremost priority, but as is so often the case with anything his journey touches, those abuses keep getting pulled into the light of public awareness anyway. His case is now no longer just about press freedom, US war crimes, corrupt governments collaborating to stomp out inconvenient truth tellers, and the malfeasance of US alphabet agencies, but about the abusive nature of the US prison system, as well.
And this is a big part of what I find so endlessly captivating about the life of this extraordinary individual. No matter what he’s doing, no matter where he is, no matter how beaten down and silenced and immobilized they may appear to have him, his life keeps exposing things. Keeps bringing things into the light.
It’s been a constant throughout his life as near as I can tell, from when he was a young man using his technical prowess to help Australian police bring down distributors of online child pornography in the mid-90s. This curious impulse to bring what is hidden in the dark out into the light where it can be seen is what gave birth to WikiLeaks and all the major revelations about the criminality and corruption of the powerful which resulted from its publications.
And as paradigm-shattering as those many bombshell revelations were, they were arguably small potatoes compared to the criminality Assange exposed by simply standing his ground until the most powerful institutions in the world conspired to drag him from the Ecuadorian embassy and lock him in Belmarsh Prison for telling the truth.
Assange created an innovative publishing platform which allowed whistleblowers to upload files anonymously on the premise that corrupt power needs to be able to communicate secretly in order to operate efficiently. Corrupt power responded by silencing, immobilizing, isolating, imprisoning and torturing him. In so doing, corrupt power exposed itself and its true nature far more than any WikiLeaks drop ever could.
Since Assange’s imprisonment, there’s been a jaw-dropping deluge of revelations about the malfeasance of the power structures which rule over us which could not have been exposed to such an extent in any other way.
It was revealed that the US power alliance will openly jail journalists for telling the truth with as much brazenness and despotism as any other tyrannical regime, giving US-targeted nations the ability to rightly call out the hypocrisyof Washington’s concern trolling about human rights.
It was revealed that because he inconvenienced the most powerful government in the world, Assange has been subjected to abuses which amount to psychological torture according to a UN special rapporteur on torture.
It was revealed that the CIA plotted to kidnap and assassinate Assange, an earth-shaking discovery we wouldn’t have been able to confirm for decades under normal circumstances, but due to a miraculous combination of partisan feuding and their frantic compulsion to silence him it was confirmed just a few short years after the fact.
It was revealed that the Western news media are so propagandistic and morally bankrupt that they will viciously smear a dissident journalist for years to manufacture consent for his arrest and imprisonment, and then act completely guiltless when the most powerful government on earth works to extradite him into its dungeons.
And now we’re seeing the same US government that has been plotting this man’s destruction and even death for many years humiliating itself by hilariously trying to arguethat he would be safe under their care, just so they can get their claws into him. Like Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events taking on whatever disguise might allow him to nab the Baudelaire orphans.
The more they come after him, the more damage they do to themselves. It’s like Assange is standing in a beam of sunlight surrounded by vampires, and every time they reach in to grab him they wind up disintegrating their own limbs.
Their old tactics never seem to have the intended effect. The harder they struggle to keep him from being able to expose their crimes, the more of their own criminality they reveal.
It always reminds me of the lyrics to that Johnny Cash song: “Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand, workin’ in the dark against your fellow man/ But as sure as God made black and white, what’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”
And the struggles of our world today really do seem to come down to a battle between light and darkness. I say this not in any kind of mystical or metaphysical sense, but in the sense that there are on all levels forces which wish to bring the unseen out of hiddenness and forces which have a vested interest in keeping things hidden.
On the global level there are vast power structures which have a vested interest in keeping their misdeeds out of public attention and making sure we all remain confused and misinformed about what’s really going on in the world. On a sociological level, there are individuals who have a vested interest in keeping their personal actions out of the light and preventing anyone from clearly seeing what they’re really up to. On an internal level we’ve all got subconscious forces at play within ourselves whose existence depends on avoiding the light of conscious perception.
And on every level there’s a struggle to bring those things into the light. On a global level there are forces working to expose the corruption and tyranny of ruling power structures. On a sociological level there are forces working to expose liars, manipulators, abusers, crooks and psychopaths. On an internal level there are always forces working to bring the endarkened aspects of ourselves into consciousness.
It’s a struggle that’s happening on every level of our species, and Julian Assange seems to be one of the very brightest points in that struggle.
It appears to be a very reliable principle of the human condition that if you firmly and sincerely resolve deep within yourself to desire truth above all else and to seek it at all cost, it causes everything your life touches to move into the light: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hidden psychological tendencies become seen, understood and resolved. Abusive family dynamics, manipulative behavior patterns and everything untruthful around you and in you all starts to move into the spotlight. Some relationships end, others deepen. It upends your world while grounding you in something far more meaningful than the sources in which you’d formerly sought stability.
This movement into truth can be devastating, humbling, humiliating, or downright terrifying, and sometimes all of them at once, because it’s a relinquishing of control and a surrendering to whatever’s true, no matter what that turns out to be, no matter how insecure or embarrassed or inadequate it might make you feel at first. But looking back there’s an immediate understanding that you wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I don’t know Julian Assange personally, but I suspect he may have signed an internal contract like this at some point in his life. The desire for truth, come what may, whatever the cost, whatever the consequences. Whether he did or did not, that has been the result of the luminescent path his journey has blazed through humanity during his time on this planet. And the world is a much better place for it.
The Assange Persecution Is Western Savagery At Its Most Transparent
The first day of the US appeal of the Julian Assange extradition case saw grown adults arguing in a court of law that the US government could guarantee that it would not treat the WikiLeaks founder as cruelly as it treats its other prisoners.
I wish I was kidding.
In their write-up on Wednesday’s proceedings, The Dissenter’s Kevin Gosztola and Mohamed Elmaazi report that the prosecution argued that “the High Court should accept the appeal on the basis that the U.S. government offered ‘assurances’ that Assange won’t be subjected to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) or incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super-maximum prison in Colorado.”
What this means is that in order to overturn the January extradition ruling which judge Vanessa Baraitser denied on the basis that the notoriously draconian US prison system is too cruel to guarantee Assange’s health and safety, the prosecution has established as one of their grounds for appeal the claim that they can offer “assurances” that they would not inflict some of their most brutal measures upon him. These would include the aforementioned Special Administrative Measures, wherein prisoners are so isolated that they effectively disappear off the face of the earth, or sending him to ADX Florence, where all prisoners are kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day.
What’s ridiculous about these “assurances,” apart from the obvious, is that within its own legal argument the US government reserves the right to reverse those assurances at any time and impose SAMs or maximum security imprisonment upon Assange if it deems them necessary. As Amnesty International explains:
“They say: we guarantee that he won’t be held in a maximum security facility and he will not be subjected to Special Administrative Measures and he will get healthcare. But if he does something that we don’t like, we reserve the right to not guarantee him, we reserve the right to put him in a maximum security facility, we reserve the right to offer him Special Administrative Measures. Those are not assurances at all. It is not that difficult to look at those assurances and say: these are inherently unreliable, it promises to do something and then reserves the right to break the promise.”
So the prosecution’s legal argument here is essentially “We promise we won’t treat Assange as cruelly as we treat our other prisoners, unless we decide we really want to.”
This is not just a reflection on the weakness of the extradition appeal, it’s a reflection on the savagery of all the so-called free democracies that have involved themselves in this case.
This same prosecution argued that Assange should not be denied US extradition from the UK on humanitarian grounds as in the case of activist Lauri Love because Love suffered from both physical and psychological ailments while Assange’s ailments are only psychological. They stood before the court and made this argument even as Assange was visibly pained and unwell in his video appearance from Belmarsh, which he was only able to attend intermittently due to his frail condition.
“For my newspaper, I have worked as media partner of WikiLeaks since 2009,” tweeted journalist Stefania Maurizi who attended the hearing via video link. “I have seen Julian Assange in all sorts of situations, but I have never ever seen him so unwell and so dangerously thin.”
So they’re just openly brutalizing a journalist for exposing US war crimes, while arguing that they can be trusted to treat him humanely and give him a fair trial if granted extradition. This after it has already been confirmed that the CIA plotted to kidnap and assassinate him during the Trump administration, after we learned that the prosecution relied on false testimony from a convicted child molester and diagnosed sociopath, after it was revealed that the CIA spied on Assange and his lawyers in the Ecuadorian embassy, and after intelligence assetJeffrey Epstein famously died under highly suspicious circumstances in a US prison cell.
The worst atrocities in history have all been legal. All the worst examples of genocide, slavery, tyranny, and bloodshed have been allowed or actively facilitated by the state. The persecution of Assange is geared toward entering the imprisonment of journalists into this category.
The goal is to set a legal precedent which allows journalists who expose the crimes of the powerful to be persecuted not covertly as is normally done in “free democracies,” but right out in the open. To tell journalists “We’ll just throw you in prison if you cross us.”
What makes this precedent uniquely dangerous is that it is not just threatening to imprison American journalists who expose US crimes, but any journalist anywhere in the world. This is an Australian journalist in the process of being extradited from the UK for publishing facts about US war crimes in the nations it has invaded. The aim is to set up a system where anyone in the US-aligned world can be funneled into its prison system for publishing inconvenient facts.
This is the savagery of the Western world at its most transparent. It’s not the greatest evil the US-centralized empire has perpetrated; that distinction would certainly be reserved for its acts of mass military slaughter that it has been inflicting upon our species with impunity for generations. But it’s the most brazen. The most overt. It’s the most powerful part of the most depraved power structure on earth looking us all right in the eyes and telling us exactly what it is.
And if we can really look at this beast and what it is doing right now, really see it with eyes wide open, it reveals far more about those who rule over us than anything any journalist has ever exposed.
Caitlin Johnstone is an Australian (where Assange is from) independent journalist whose further writings can be found at CaitlinJohnstone.com. Visit and subscribe to ShadowProof.com for further updates on Julian Assange's status, as well.
Read River Cities' Reader publisher Todd McGreevy's "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Why All People Who Wish to Live Free Should Care About Julian Assange's Plight."