Justice for Assange!
NOBEL LAUREATES, 23 Jul 2012
As all concerned citizens of the world know, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is currently at the Ecuadorian embassy in London asking for political asylum.
I would add my voice to those of many people of conscience around the world to urge Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to grant him political asylum. British courts shamefully refused Mr. Assange’s appeal against extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning accused of sexual molestation. No criminal charges have been formally made against him.
Mr. Assange has said he is willing to answer questions relating to the accusations against him, but in the UK. He has good reason not to want to be extradited to Sweden, as he could find himself imprisoned in solitary confinement, and then very likely extradited to an American prison. American media have reported that the US Department of Justice and the Pentagon conducted a criminal investigation on “whether WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange violated criminal laws in the group’s release of government documents, including possible charges under the Espionage Act.”
Mr. Assange’s only crime is to care enough about people and their right to the truth. He had the courage and bravery to print many truths that embarrassed powerful governments. The WikiLeaks release of thousands of US State Department cables and the video footage from an Apache helicopter of a 2007 incident in which the US military appears to have deliberately killed civilians, including two Reuters employees, revealed the US’s crimes against humanity. For this ‘truth telling’ he has inherited the wrath of the US government and has been targeted in a most vindictive way (as has Pt. Bradley Manning).
I support the WikiLeaks’ right to publish leaked information, as it is in the interest of the public and their right to know. WikiLeaks were not the leakers or whistleblowers but an online news outlet.
Many believe there are persons in high places who not only wish to punish Assange for outing them but also send a warning for others to remain silent; they will not rest until Assange is behind bars in the US. There are even American politicians and TV personalities who have put Assange’s life in grave danger by calling for his assassination.
It is ironic that Assange’s basic human rights are being breached as he as a journalist working for people’s right to free speech and information through a free press. The Australian, Swedish and English governments have a responsibility to see this ‘man of courage’ be treated fairly and with justice. He must be allowed to tell his story in the UK to ascertain whether the incompetent and contradictory accusations against him are true or false.
We as world citizens must support Julian Assange, who tried to protect the innocent by outing the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is the perpetrators that should one day be made accountable for their crimes. It must also be remembered that if Assange ends up in an American prison for a long time and in grave danger to his life, or sentenced to the death penalty, we will have to ask the questions, ‘Who is next?’ and ‘Where goes freedom, human rights and justice?’
Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 Jul 2012.
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