By Mark Buckley
Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott should have the full support of the left and the labour movement as a whole in their principled stance in opposing the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.
Wikileaks and Julian Assange have been targeted by successive US administrations because of their role in whistleblowing the illegal activities of the US military and their political leaders including mass murder, the murder of civilians and journalists, the cover-ups by the Pentagon, the CIA and others as well as the vast levels of corruption involved in the ‘rebuilding’ projects in Iraq. It is the people responsible for what amount to these war crimes who should be facing lengthy jail terms, not those who have exposed them in the public interest.
A string of leading US officials have already pronounced Assange guilty and Secretary of State Pompeo, when CIA director, characterised Wikileaks as a ‘non-state hostile intelligence service’. The fate of Chelsea Manning is instructive, as she has once more been incarcerated indefinitely for refusing to divulge information about the whistle blowers, and initially faced a 35-year sentence. The charges against Assange include ‘conspiracy’ with Chelsea Manning. Corbyn and Abbott are absolutely correct to expose his extradition to the US, where he would likely face an effective life sentence.
The US has moved in a co-ordinated fashion to ensnare Assange. The corrupt, anti-left government in Ecuador removed Assange’s immunity as the US agreed to provide it a $4.2 billion IMF loan. The British government is desperate to ally with Trump, as the only major viable trade agreement that could be agreed after Brexit is with the US.
In this country, the Labour right has lined up with the Labour defectors in Change UK and Tories to attack Corbyn and Abbott, falsely arguing that Assange could be extradited to Sweden for allegations of sexual assault or rape. Others openly suggest that he could then be extradited to the US.
Unless and until there are charges brought and an extradition warrant issued by the Swedish authorities, it is impossible to legally extradite him there. Currently there are no such charges, and the sole extradition request is to the US. That is where Assange will be extradited to, if the US and British governments get their way.
The US is set on revenge against Wikileaks and Assange, and wants to issue the most severe deterrent to any other whistle blowers on its further military attacks. The Ecuadoran and British governments are simply doing the US’s bidding. The whistle blowers have committed a great crime in their eyes, revealing the truth of the US’s murderous assaults. They are the real criminals and the Labour leaders opposing Assange’s extradition to the US are absolutely correct to do so.