‘Nearly Every War Has Been the Result of Media Lies’: Julian Assange, State-Corporate Media and Ukraine

MEDIA, 2 Jan 2023

Media Lens - TRANSCEND Media Service

14 Dec 2022 – Julian Assange once observed that, ‘Nearly every war has been the result of media lies.’ For daring to publish evidence of US war crimes, Assange now sits in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London, at risk of being extradited to the US within the next few weeks. The prospects for a fair trial range from miniscule to zero.

In a recent interview, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told US journalist Glenn Greenwald that legal avenues in London to challenge Assange’s unlawful extradition were being exhausted. What is needed now is, not recourse to a legal system that is subservient to power, but a political fight, as Hrafnsson explained:

‘In my perception, and I’ve been sitting in on all the proceedings in London, all the extradition proceedings in London have exposed only one thing, and that’s the fact that this is just not going to be won in a court. There’s no justice to be had in court rooms in London. That’s obvious and I don’t have to mention the United States, that’s one of the essences of the defence in fighting the extradition, that he will never be able to get a fair trial there. So, we’re running out of time. We need to push this on a different level and so I decided that we needed to go on a tour to shore up political support, because the only way to fight a political persecution is through political means.’

The Guardian recently joined with the New York Times, Le Monde, El País and Der Spiegel in publishing an open letter calling on US President Joe Biden to end Assange’s prosecution. It has been ten years since Assange sought refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy. After being dragged from the embassy by police in April 2019, Assange has been locked up in the harsh regime of Belmarsh prison, suffering from failing physical and mental health. Indeed, according to then UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, Assange is literally a victim of torture. In 2020, the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, published a letter from Doctors for Assange, with 216 signatories from 33 countries, drawing urgent attention to ‘the ongoing torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange.’

Political writer Thomas Scripps noted that the open letter from the five newspapers:

‘makes clear that Assange has been the victim of a monstrous campaign of state persecution, costing him years of his life and good health, for revealing state criminality, designed to set a chilling example for others.’

But what took them so long to speak out? Scripps observed:

‘The conduct of these newspapers over the past decade has been thoroughly reprehensible. Their efforts to poison public opinion against Assange, to give credence to the false claims and accusations made against him, facilitated the American state’s persecution of this principled and courageous journalist.’

Australian journalist John Pilger, who has done so much to raise public awareness of Assange’s plight, was scathing:

‘The editors of the Guardian, NY Times etc. finally speak up for Julian #Assange — weasel words and 10 years late. Ten years after the Guardian made public WikiLeaks’ secret password and launched a campaign of vilification against a truthteller.’

He added:

‘The Guardian, which has played a major role in the persecution of Julian #Assange, is now scurrying for cover with a call for him to be freed. But even its weasel statement repeats malign fiction about his failure to redact files.’

Pilger was referring to the oft-repeated smear that the WikiLeaks co-founder recklessly endangered the lives of informants when publishing information that exposed US war crimes. In fact, Assange was extremely careful in redacting names, and he was effectively thrown to the wolves by both the Guardian and the New York Times.

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