Tag Archives: Sweden

Every Single Line Of The Latest Guardian Assange Smear Debunked

It seems the closer we come to people rising up en masse to demand Julian Assange’s freedom, the more desperate his detractors become.

This isn’t the first time I’ve debunked a Guardian smear piece on Julian Assange but it’s certainly the first time that I’ve been able to debunk literally every single written line – including the caption.

Everything in italics and quotation marks below is from this audacious piece of tripe: “Julian Assange Is Not Alone In Lack Of Empathy For Women” by Deborah Orr, in her weekly column in The Guardian.

The regular text is my response.

“Photo Caption: Assange’s position is that the charges have been trumped up, because he is viewed by the US establishment as a dangerous and powerful insurgent.”

That is not Assange’s position. Because there are no charges. As has been repeatedly pointed out to members of the mainstream press who, as demonstrated in this very instance, continue to this day to write about and report on charges that have never been laid and do not exist.

From the Assange case “Fact-Checker” at Justice4Assange.com:

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 12.42.47 AM

“Six years on from the leak of accounts by two women of allegations of sexual assault and rape, Julian Assange has released his own interview with Swedish prosecutors, offering an alternative narrative to that offered by one of the women.”

Actually, he is offering the same narrative that he has espoused all along. The contents of his statement entirely align with prior releases of documentation related to the case, dating back years.

Specifically, his statements in relation to his innocence, his asylum claim, the manhunt, the persecution of WikiLeaks and the grand jury, the denials of the women themselves that they had been raped and the contents of the text messages of the younger of the two women are all contained in Assange’s publically available and thoroughly annotated 2013 affidavit which can be read in full here.

It is only to journalists like Ms Orr who have clearly not done their homework on the background to this case that anything contained in the recent statement release comes as a surprise.

“Somehow he has managed to persuade himself that his testimony satisfies the questions, but all it really does is advertise that he is a man who appears to have little respect for boundaries and who, far from even beginning to recognise this in himself, casts himself wholly as a victim of the sexual machinations of others.”

Assange’s testimony satisfies beyond reasonable doubt that:

a) he is being and has been persecuted for his publishing and journalistic activities, by the highest echelons of international governments

b) he is not a rapist but was smeared as such

c) he has ample grounds for asylum, as was duly granted to him, and

d) his continued arbitrary detention is in violation of human rights, international law, and common decency

The ‘sexual machinations’ Ms Orr refers to are not of the women involved but in fact that of the police officers, politicians, bureaucrats and intelligence agencies involved in branding Assange a ‘rapist’ in order to serve their own political motives.

Indeed, GCHQ staff famously bragged about (and were reprimanded for) the Assange case having been a ‘fit-up’.

“Rather in the manner of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Assange portrays himself as someone who always relies on the comfort of strangers.”

Actually, he portrayed himself as someone forced by the circumstance of persecution and pursuit by intelligence agencies wielding vast state powers, into seeking refuge wherever able.

Ms Orr’s supposition that he “always” does so is entirely disingenuous. Denied access to his own funds and with a huge target on his back, Assange had little choice but to rely on the sympathy of others.

“His argument is that during his time in Sweden he was a marked man.”

It is ridiculous to depict this as ‘his argument‘ when the Pentagon’s own releases announced that there was a manhunt for him. Yet again Ms Orr attempts to lay the responsibility for the persecution at the feet of the persecuted. The correct way to frame the statement would simply be to state the undeniable: he was a marked man.

“He had to be careful where he stayed, in case his cohort of known supporters was being monitored, in order that they would lead the spies to Assange. I don’t dispute that this worry might have been real and important for Assange.”

Gracious of her to depict this as real and important, but Ms Orr still personifies this to Assange, intimating that there were alternative approaches when there clearly weren’t any available.

“Nevertheless, quite why the perfect answer was to stay at the homes of women who wanted to have sex with him is completely glossed over.”

In fact it is Ms Orr doing the glossing over, as it is clear from Assange’s statement that the arrangements were made on his behalf.

His release clearly states in point 70:

“My contacts in Sweden had arranged for me to stay in two safe houses during the few days I had intended to stay in Sweden. One of the safe houses belonged to a journalist who I knew and another to a Social Democrat party figure unknown to me who had lent her apartment while she was away, or so I had been told. However, because these two original safe houses arranged prior to my arrival became known very soon, I stayed in three additional safe houses between 11 and 20 August 2010.” – Julian Assange

A far cry from Ms Orr’s depiction, which continues:

“In fact, he said one of the women was so “very clear” that she wanted to have intercourse that he “felt concerned about the intensity of her  interest”.”

This quote has been partially selected for convenience. The full context is that the woman:

“…made it very clear that she wanted to have sexual intercourse with me. I felt concerned about the intensity of [her] interest and I also deeply loved another woman, which played on my mind and left me emotionally distracted. [She] knew an unusual amount of detail about me and appeared annoyed with me when I was on my phone searching for news related to the US official government statements about me. I perceived she was irritated when I wasn’t giving her my full attention. I felt there was a risk my location would be revealed and that she might act unpredictably if she believed I was rejecting her.” – Julian Assange

What Assange is saying is that the situation was a double-edged sword. While much-needed temporary sanctuary and companionship was being offered, he also felt threatened by his physical safety being dependent upon the goodwill of his host.

“Now, plenty of people ignore “red flags” in the undertaking of sexual dalliances, as Assange apparently did.”

As above, his situation was more than merely the “undertaking” of a “sexual dalliance”, such as people who are not being hunted by the US Empire might indulge in or undertake. His overarching situation was downright precarious and dangerous.

What Assange is illustrating is that he felt that neither rejecting her nor staying with her guaranteed his personal safety. Both were fraught with risk.

“An emotionally healthy person would understand that this concern was something to be heeded, and that it was a situation to be avoided.”

This is a further display of blaming the persecuted rather than examining the circumstances of the persecution. Exactly how “emotionally healthy” is one supposed to be when one is being man-hunted by billion dollar international intelligence agencies? Would Ms Orr be “emotionally healthy” in such a position? Holding  Assange’s decisions and mental state up against that of any random member of the public is disingenuous and misleading. It was an extreme situation and thus the status quo test constantly being applied by Ms Orr is irrelevant and a distraction.

“Assange did not choose to take that course.”

Assange chose to take the course that he felt was most likely to increase his physical safety at the time. God knows he was not looking ahead six years to what Ms Orr and her kind would think about it after the fact – he was too busy trying to stay alive in that week.

“This in itself suggests a man who does not shrink from entering into situations that some may view as exploitative.”

What it suggests is a man travelling a path with no map, that few have ever walked before him, surrounded by strangers and tenuous plans and promises that too often fell through, doing the best he could under the most direst of circumstance.

“Assange’s position is that the charges have been trumped up, because he is viewed by the US establishment as a dangerous and powerful insurgent.”

As per my response to the misleading caption; once again, this is not Assange’s position. Because, to this day, no charges have been laid.

“Yet even his own supposedly vindicatory evidence reflects wider sexually exploitative attitudes.”

What his evidence reflects is that:

a) he has never been charged with any crime, yet was branded a rapist, including in the very publication in which Ms Orr writes

b) he left Sweden after consulting with the prosecutor first and receiving advance permission to depart, yet was then deemed a fugitive regardless

c) the first prosecutor cancelled the investigation as it was deemed without merit, only to later on be reopened after political intervention

d) Assange has been trying to give his statement for six years but has until now been denied the opportunity to do so, and

e) a ton of other material factors, all of which are completely absent from the content of Ms Orr’s article, which instead focuses on supposition and the projection onto Assange of assumed motives imagined by Ms Orr, among various other disparagements

“It’s not a crime to be sexually exploitative, to have little regard for the emotions or the boundaries of others, or to decide to have sex with someone because you need a place to spend the night.”

There is no evidence whatsoever that Assange was any more sexually exploitative than those who complained about him; both of whom have said that they were not raped, one of whom has claimed the police manufactured the investigation in order to tarnish Assange and the other of whom supplied a broken condom which was found to contain no DNA of either party whatsoever and had discussed taking their stories to the tabloids within a matter of days. Despite this and to his credit, Assange himself still does not accuse either woman of sexual exploitation.

“Indeed, this sort of behaviour seems pretty widespread, and hardly particular to Assange. And that is the really depressing thing.”

And here is the crux. Ms Orr is now expanding the playing field beyond Assange, to the wider sexual practices of millions. Which means she is taking general attitudes that she already held about society at large which appear to have coloured her opinions relating to the Assange case.

“People in the public eye are far more likely to be exposed for indulging in this sort of behaviour.”

Absolutely. They are. Which is what infuriates rape victims and survivor advocates like myself. Where I hail from, New Zealand, 95% of rape survivors never see their rapists charged and 99% of rape survivors never see their rapists convicted. Why? Because police agencies and indeed intelligence services and the governments who fund them, only have a vested interest in pursuing ‘justice’ in the few, select cases where it is politically expedient to do so. Thus seeing a man whose ‘victims’ state empirically that they are not victims at all be persecuted for six years while the overwhelming majority of actual rapists walk free amongst us is extremely exasperating and disappointing. This is then exacerbated by callous media personalities who indulge in furthering that persecution of the innocent targets of these political machinations, in the name of protecting women. The irony is rife and it is frankly a sick, Orwellian joke.

“Of course they defend themselves – and when they do so, they tend to feel they are being held to a different standard to others, and an unfair one.”

In this case it is worse. Assange is being held to the standards of others who have never been man-hunted by the US Empire, then what scraps of his experiences filter through to the public realm are then obsessively analysed by writers like Ms Orr who have also never been man-hunted by the US Empire.

“Often, a high-profile individual who has been implicated in a sexual scandal will attract many sympathisers, who understand that the behaviour of their hero is not so very unusual, and therefore believe there is nothing wrong with it. That’s depressing too – there is something wrong with it.”

To the contrary, other than solidarity from close friends and family, these people usually end up universally loathed. In the cases of Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Bill Cosby, these men were protected for decades by the very establishment that they served. It took decades for their victims to raise awareness of what happened to them yet once they finally managed to achieve mainstream awareness, their attackers became reviled, etched in history as the monsters they are. The very speed and ferocity with which the Swedish (and other) governments targeted and persecuted Assange speaks volumes. Were he an actual everyday common rapist it is more likely than not that the police would have taken little to no action. Were he a high society predator, it would have taken decades for the public to become aware of it. But because he is neither, and is in fact a target of Empire, he was smeared internationally by the entire world’s media within 24 hours of the allegations and six years later is still fighting for the most basic acknowledgements of the facts – such as that he has still never been charged with any crime, which Ms Orr fails to mention even once in her entire piece.

“Interpersonal exploitation – emotional, sexual or physically violent – is a blight on human relations and on human psychological health, for perpetrators as well as victims. It corrupts the social bonds that are so important to a decent society or culture.”

Absolutely. Which is why it is such a powerful tool for governments and spies when wanting to destroy the reputation of an adversary, or in this case, of a journalist and publisher who is standing in ideological opposition to their corruption and war crimes.

His testimony in aggregate details gross violation after violation of his rights. It details the negligence and maliciousness of the prosecutor, Marianne Ny, up to and including her acting in violation of Swedish law. It also displays the complete disregard for international law and disrespect for the institutions of international governance such as the United Nations, which was established by the very countries who are persecuting him. None of this is mentioned in Ms Orr’s article.

“Any person who gives himself (or herself) leave to behave in such a way is unlikely to understand quite where other lines should be drawn. And in those circumstances, it might be possible for such a person to fail to comprehend his behaviour as sexual assault or rape.”

When the alleged victims themselves deny that they are victims, what else is left? Apparently, six years of hit pieces in publications like The Guardian.

“His insight into and ability to understand his behaviour, its impact on others, and the ways in which others might experience or interpret it, is severely impaired.”

It seems that in fact Ms Orr and journalists like her are struggling with understanding the impact of their constant slew of attacks on Assange. Nor do they seem to understand the way others might interpret them. If they did have insight into this as well as to the profound importance of his contributions to journalism despite all he has been put through, they might not be so mystified at why he continues to enjoy the support he does.

“Assange’s leaked document illustrates a lack of empathy for the women he slept with.”

This is purely down to the interpretation of the reader. The leak of the allegations against Assange, prior to him even having been interviewed or made any statement, or to any charges being laid, certainly illustrated a lack of empathy for him as well as a desecration of the presumption of innocence and of Assange’s legal and human rights.

“It’s understandable if not admirable that he shouldn’t be spending much time considering the feelings of two women who have brought him so much trouble.”

The use of the word ‘admirable’ is strange in this context. There are many things about Assange that are admirable, none the least the way he has coped with such extreme prejudice, malignance and persecution over the last six years.

“But his testimony shows that he most certainly wasn’t spending much time considering their feelings long before events took the course they did.”

His testimony states of the woman involved:

“During that night and again in the morning we had consensual sexual intercourse on four or five occasions. Her words, her expressions and her physical reactions made it clear to me that she encouraged and enjoyed our interactions… In the morning she went out to pick up breakfast for us. After enjoying breakfast together, I left her home on good terms.” — Julian Assange

In light of the women stating plainly that they have not been raped, it seems the media who continue to portray them as rape victims, and Assange as being charged when he has not been, are the ones not “spending much time considering their feelings.”

“This may not be a crime.”

The original prosecutor determined that no crime had been committed. The only crimes appear to be those manufactured by malicious entities and the intense and concerted pressure applied by mainstream media outlets like The Guardian.

“The courts or prosecuting authorities will pronounce on that. But it is an attitude of mind that is pretty abject, very destructive and horribly widespread.”

Unfortunately, so is the attitudes of the vast majority of the journalists who have been cashing in on this story for more than half a decade.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

UN Ruling On Assange Exposes UK Lawlessness

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

For any student of modern propaganda techniques, the ruling announced last week in favor of WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) has provided fertile ground for research. Indeed, the level of media frenzy sparked by the ruling can be regarded as a barometer of the power and extent of establishment forces ranged against him and his organization.

UNWGAD found that the predicament of Assange amounts to ‘arbitrary detention’, a legal term that is clearly defined, deriving from Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that both the United Kingdom and Sweden are signatories to. Article 9 states that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’. Arbitrary arrest or detention ‘are the arrest or detention of an individual in a case in which there is no likelihood or evidence that they committed a crime against legal statute, or in which there has been no proper due process of law’. ‘Due process’ is defined as ‘the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person’.

Dr. Roslyn Fuller, a lecturer in International Law based in Ireland, has this to say about the ruling:

The Working Group stated they considered Assange’s case to fall under Category III, which covers cases where a trial does not comply with international human rights norms. The Working Group found that Sweden and the UK have pursued Assange in a disproportionate manner, given that the Swedish prosecutors could have questioned Assange at any point and he had declared himself willing to cooperate.

The two claims against Assange that were ‘dropped’ by the prosecutor last year were dropped because they were about to become time-barred. The prosecutor chose to allow this rather than to question Assange. One would think that if the prosecution had the interests of the alleged victims at heart, they may have chosen to pursue questioning in the UK – a common enough activity – rather than let the investigation lapse.

So while Assange may be holding out, so is Sweden, and nations have obligations to move the wheels of justice along as swiftly as practicable. The Working Group’s assessment is basically, “how hard can it be to conduct a preliminary investigation?” with the implication that if the prosecutor were serious, they would have gotten this wrapped up by now.

Furthermore, the Working Group found that “the grant itself and the fear of persecution on the part of Mr Assange based on the possibility of extradition, should have been given fuller consideration in the determination and the exercise of criminal administration, instead of being subjected to a sweeping judgment as defining either merely hypothetical or irrelevant”.

In other words, British and Swedish authorities should have considered that Assange’s fear of persecution might be founded and questioned him in the embassy, something it was perfectly possible to do with minimal effort in the interests of pushing their case forward. Questioning Assange at the embassy would not have jeopardized their case, whereas coming out of the embassy could have jeopardized Assange’s life. Thus, it would be disproportional to force him to do so when there was nothing to be gained by it. Assange’s interest in being protected from extradition to the United States outweighed the Swedish prosecution’s interest that he only be questioned in Sweden. Dismissing these concerns out-of-hand was arbitrary.

Even before UNWGAD’s announcement, serious pressure will have been felt by members of the group not to rule for Assange, according to the former chair, Norwegian lawyer Mads Andenas, as he explains in this short radio interview. Although reluctant to provide specifics, he makes it clear that any ruling against ‘big’ nations like the UK or the US face considerable institutional resistance.

The media reported the ruling before its announcement, allowing the headlines to get the digs in early. This BBC article stated: ‘Julian Assange is being “arbitrarily held”, UN panel to say’. In casual speech, ‘arbitrarily’ is often used in a roughly synonymous manner to ‘randomly’, implying that the UK is randomly detaining Assange. Cue an avalanche of outrage and indignation on social media and elsewhere from casual news readers deeply offended at the suggestion that the UK is somehow behaving like a dictatorship and randomly applying justice, given that Assange is of course free to leave the embassy at any time and further given that through relentless media disinformation and misinformation for years, the average news consumer now believes that Assange must ‘face justice’.

A Downing Street spokesman was on hand to supply fuel for the fire: “We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy.”

This statement also employs the non-legal use of the term ‘arbitrary’. Readers, the vast majority of whom have little or no knowledge of or concern about the details of the Assange case, are therefore given validation of an already misleading statement by an authority figure: classic psychological manipulation.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond rejected the UN group ruling, condemning it as ‘ridiculous’. Mr. Hammond, who has no legal expertise or background, further made the false claim that the group is made up of ‘lay people, not lawyers’ and that the ruling is ‘flawed in law’. [Note: Former Guardian journalist Jonathon Cook expands on this point expertly here]

The corporate media was also on hand to deride and condemn the ruling. The Guardian’s Marina Hyde, who has form smearing Julian Assange, wrote a rambling, vindictive, error-strewn article that has to be read to be believed. She then engaged in a smug, arrogant and self-congratulatory round of ‘banter’ [here and here] with like-minded journalist mates on Twitter, displaying a staggering level of contempt for a man described by the United Nations as deprived of liberty (add sunlight to that) for years as well as an embarrassing lack of awareness of her own gatekeeper role. It raises serious questions about editorial integrity at the Guardian, a newspaper of record, that a journalist with such obvious dislike for the subject of her article (with precedent) was permitted to write an analysis of a major story like this, particularly in light of the fact that Hyde usually covers showbiz and, by her own admission, has no detailed familiarity with the Assange case.

Social media lit up as soon everyone became an expert on international law and the qualifications and credentials of the members of UNWGAD. Comments below the line of articles all over the world slammed Assange with the usual tired and long discredited arguments.

The first wave of attack generally concerns the allegations of rape. It takes only a short period of research to find out the facts. [Note: anyone who believes they know what they are talking about with regard to the Assange case should read this FAQ here]

From the FAQ [emphasis (bold) mine]:

[] new information has emerged that both women explicitly deny having been raped by Mr. Assange. In a statement to the UK Supreme Court, the prosecutor acknowledged that the complainants wished only to ask the police for advice about HIV tests, having discovered they’d had both had sex with Mr. Assange. (There has never been an allegation Mr. Assange has HIV.) Neither of the women wished to lodge a formal complaint.

The woman of whom Mr. Assange is accused of the offence of “lesser rape” (a technical term in Swedish law) sent an SMS to a friend saying that she “did not want to accuse JA [of] anything” and “it was the police who made up the charges”. The other woman tweeted in 2013 that she had never been raped. Both women’s testimonies say that they consented to the sex. A senior prosecutor already dismissed the ’rape’ accusation, saying that there were no grounds for accusing Mr. Assange on this basis. But a third prosecutor, lobbied by a politician who was running for attorney general, took over the investigation and resurrected the accusations against Mr. Assange. Due to the great number of incorrect reports [], it is best to rely on primary source documents in this matter, which are on the internet and the UK Supreme Court “Agreed Statements of Facts” agreed to by the UK, the Swedish authoritiesm and Mr. Assange’s legal team. (See here and here.)

The women themselves in their own words explicitly say they were not raped. The women themselves in their own words said they had no wish to lodge a complaint. Yet to the experts in the corporate media and on social media or below the line, Assange is apparently a ‘cowardly rapist’ who is ‘holed up’ in an embassy ‘evading justice’. They occasionally even remember to write ‘alleged’ before ‘rapist’.

The next line of attack concerns Assange’s alleged evasion of justice. Yet Assange left Sweden on 27th September 2010 without impediment from prosecutor Marianne Ny, who had been assigned to the case from September 1st. It is worth noting that if this case was so serious that it became an international incident leading to the (very unusual) issuance of an Interpol Red Notice, and if the well-being of the alleged rape victims was such a priority for the prosecutor, the fact that Ny did nothing to question Assange before he left as a matter of urgency is highly suspicious.

It is also notable that Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, made some very disturbing claims with regard to the two women involved:

Julian Assange’s Swedish lawyer was shown scores of text messages sent by the two women who accuse him of rape and sexual assault, in which they speak of “revenge” and extracting money from him, an extradition hearing was told.

Björn Hurtig, who represents the WikiLeaks founder in Sweden, told Belmarsh magistrates court that he had been shown “about 100” messages sent between the women and their friends while supervised by a Swedish police officer, but had not been permitted to make notes or share the contents with his client.

“I consider this to be contrary to the rules of a fair trial,” he said. A number of the messages “go against what the claimants have said”, he told the court.

One message referred to one of the women being “half asleep” while having sex with Assange, Hurtig said, as opposed to fully asleep. “That to my mind is the same as saying ‘half awake’.” One of the women alleges that Assange had sex with her while she was sleeping.

Before destroying a man’s reputation an objective, honorable or honest person would first look into the details and circumstances surrounding the case. Such considerations obviously do not apply to Assange.

One final line of attack is the idea that Assange is ‘voluntarily’ hiding in the embassy. It is insulting to the intelligence and legal abilities of the UNWGAD lawyers to think that they are incapable of correctly interpreting this unusual situation in legal terms. Anyone believing that they are in danger of political persecution, as Assange does, has the legal right under international law to seek protection on humanitarian grounds. From the FAQ:

International law says that a sovereign country has decided to recognise Mr. Assange as needing protection from political persecution on humanitarian grounds. Mr. Assange has a right to meaningfully exercise that protection through passage to Ecuador. Ecuador invoked a number of applicable conventions, including the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. The United Kingdom and Sweden are also parties to the 1951 Convention and are obligated to recognise the asylum decision of Ecuador. While both states have been careful to avoid saying that they do not recognise the asylum, their actions can only be interpreted as a wilful violation of Mr. Assange’s right to ’seek, receive and enjoy’ his asylum. In international law, the obligation to protect persons from persecution under the 1951 Refugee Convention prevails over extradition agreements between states.

The United Kingdom says it has a treaty obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden even though he has not been charged with an offense. There is a conflict between the United Kingdom’s obligations to the 1951 UN refugee convention and its obligations under the European Arrest Warrant system. It is established law that these conflicts are to be resolved in favour of the higher obligation which is to the 1951 convention.

Rather than follow[] international law, the United Kingdom has chosen to interpret the conflict in favor of its geopolitical alliances. The United Kingdom has a history of breaking international law in this manner, for example, in its invasion of Iraq, its cooperation with US rendition operations, and its facilitation of global mass spying via its intelligence service GCHQ. Sweden is also a party to these last two violations.

Assange has reason to be concerned. A secret, long-running US investigation has been mounted against him, according to US Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd. “The grand jury is a serious business,” said Michael Ratner, a human rights lawyer advising Assange. “They’re all over this,” he added. [Sources here]

Reason for concern indeed given the US approach to whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, who was tortured while awaiting trial, as well as the US’s clear contempt for international laws and conventions, highlighted dramatically when it forced down the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales in the mistaken belief that Edward Snowden was aboard. That case also highlighted the powerful influence the US wields over European nations: France, Italy and Spain all denied airspace to Morales forcing the plane to land in Austria.

The UN ruling puts the UK and Sweden in a very sticky position as they recklessly try to play it both ways. In the past both nations have welcomed rulings by the same group when they benefited their geopolitical priorities, as this Crikey article explains:

What happens when the UN panel that you previously thought was excellent produces a verdict that you don’t like?

That was the problem facing UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (little-known outside the Tory Party and best known for having been a Goth in his younger days, not that there’s anything wrong with that) when the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in favour of Julian Assange’s complaint that he had been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden.

But Hammond’s problem is the Cameron government had a very different view of the WGAD when it ruled that the Burmese regime’s ongoing detention of Aung San Suu Kyi was a breach of international human rights law. “As in its previous five ‘opinions’, the Working Group has found that the continuous deprivation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberty is arbitrary, and has requested the government of Myanmar to implement its previous recommendations and to remedy the situation,” Hammond’s predecessor William Hague said in calling for her release. Indeed, it’s been only a few months since the British government was happy to quote the WGAD in its guidance on handling particular types of protection and human rights claims about China.

China is a constant target of the WGAD. Unlike other UN bodies that might be criticised for obsessing about Western governments while ignoring the human rights abuses of dictatorships, WGAD focuses almost entirely on non-Western countries. In the years while Assange has been detained, the Working Group has ruled against China 14 times — with most rulings dealing with multiple detainees — and against Iran nine times, as well as ruling against Cuba and North Korea (again, often covering multiple cases) four times each. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the Palestinian Authority have also been among its targets. It’s in such company the UK and Sweden now find themselves.

The United States was also happy to cite the WGAD in the case of Alan Gross, who spent several years in a Cuban jail after travelling to the country to provide Cuba’s Jewish community with internet access. US politicians and the State Department were happy to cite WGAD’s finding that Gross was arbitrarily detained. The US Justice Department also cites WGAD decisions in its criticisms of the human rights records of other countries. And the WGAD ruled last August that Iran was holding US journalist Jason Rezaian arbitrarily as well; the State Department also invokes the WGAD’s decision about other imprisoned journalists.

In short, the WGAD is usually a reliable source for Western countries eager to criticise the human rights records of countries like China, Iran and Cuba. But the moment it looks askance at Western practices, it’s “ludicrous” and dismissed.

This episode teaches some lessons. Essential among them is the fact that analysis in the corporate media is now crippled beyond repair, its credibility a smoking wreck. If one desired an analysis of an aspect of astronomy or cosmology, would one read the opinions of a writer who still advocates the Ptolemaic Model of the solar system? The same applies to an analysis of the complicated legal case of Assange by obviously biased and prejudiced non-experts who are given a platform to speak to millions nonetheless. This further applies to much of foreign policy and other areas that require ‘nuance’ in the corporate media because advertisers are so touchy about what reaches the general public. The only meaningful analyses now come from independent journalists and writers who are free from corporate or government/lobby-group influence.

We also learn that corporate journalists not only act as gatekeepers in their day job, but even in their free time, gleefully towing the establishment line and seemingly oblivious to the deadly consequences of their obfuscations as they help to bring liberal, anti-war opinion over to the ‘humanitarian interventionist’ camp of the imperialist ‘right to protect’ doctrine.

Disturbingly we can also acquire a sense of the enormous power wielded behind the scenes by those who want Assange. If the UK and Sweden are willing to reject the findings of a United Nations panel of legal experts, a panel they never had complaints with in the past when they were condemning China etc., then we know that the stakes are as high as they get. The recklessness of this rejection is staggering, as explained by the Center for Constitutional Rights [Emphasis (bold) mine]:

In our briefs to the WGAD, we argued that someone is effectively detained when they are forced to choose between confinement and running the risk of persecution. That is the precise dilemma faced by Mr. Assange, who would lose the protection of his asylum if he stepped out of the embassy. The risk of extradition is the ‘fourth wall’ for the now repudiated claim that he is free to leave the embassy. As a result, it has been years since Mr. Assange has had access to proper medical care, sunlight, or the ability to see his family.

The WGAD’s decision in Mr. Assange’s case sets an important precedent for refugees. In our submissions we analogized the situation faced by Mr. Assange to that of asylum-seekers in detention facilities. States may claim that asylum-seekers held in subhuman conditions are not ‘detained’ because they are technically free to leave for their home country, but this is a non-choice, since the home country would persecute the asylum seeker.

In choosing to reject the UN ruling, not only are Sweden and the UK failing to live up to their treaty obligations because they do not suit their agendas – a working definition of an action of what Western nations traditionally call ‘rogue nations’ – but they are also putting their own citizens at risk by setting a dangerous precedent that will allow any evil dictator anywhere to also reject the findings of the UN in the future.

It is profoundly telling – a shocking demonstration of the power of media propaganda – that millions of people automatically side with governments who have lied time and time again on every issue imaginable, that have committed some of the most terrible crimes in history, against one man who has risked his freedom and life to expose some of those crimes. The idea that he might have been set up or has been persecuted is summarily dismissed despite the obvious motive for Western governments to do such a thing and despite the enormous amount of documented evidence demonstrating that this is precisely the case.

The Assange situation has long been a farce but now a ruling of the United Nations has been permitted to become a political football. This way utter lawlessness lies. The UK must immediately release and compensate Julian Assange as the UN ruling dictates. Failure to do this will only serve to confirm its status as a rogue nation and US lapdog.

Written by Simon Wood

Twitter: @simonwood11
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