The big question the UK political and media establishment seem most concerned with is who gets first dibs on the Wikipedia founder: Washington or Stockholm?
By Jonathan Cook and cross-posted from his blog.
In my last blog post, I warned that the media and political class would continue with their long-running deceptions about Julian Assange now that he has been dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy. They have wasted no time in proving me right.
The first thrust in their campaign of deceit was set out on the Guardian’s front page today.
There should have been wall-to-wall outrage from public figures in the UK at the United States creating a new crime of “doing journalism” and a new means of arrest for those committing this “crime” overseas, what I have termed “media rendition”.
Remember that all of the information contained in the US charge sheet against Assange – the supposed grounds for his extradition – were known to the previous Obama administration as far back as 2010. But Barack Obama never dared approve the current charges against Assange because legally there was no way to stop them being turned against “respectable” journalists, like those at the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian.
This was the same Obama administration that had the worst record ever for prosecuting whisteblowers. Obama was no friend to investigative journalism but he understood that it would be unwise to so overtly subvert the notion of a free western press.
That the Trump administration has cast all this aside to get Assange behind bars should have every journalist in the world quaking in their boots, and loudly decrying what the US is seeking to do.
And yet the reaction has been either quiet acceptance of the US extradition request as a simple law enforcement measure or gentle mockery of Assange – that the scruffy outlaw dragged from the embassy was looking even scruffier after seven years of extreme house arrest and “arbitrary detention”. What a laugh!
Now we can see how the media is going to collude in a narrative crafted by the political class to legitimise what the Trump administration is doing.
Rather than focus on the gross violation of Assange’s fundamental human rights, the wider assault on press freedoms and the attack on Americans’ First Amendment Rights, UK politicians are “debating” whether the US extradition claim on Assange should take priority over earlier Swedish extradition proceedings for a sexual assault investigation that were publicly dropped back in 2017.
In other words, the public conversation in the UK, sympathetically reported by the Guardian, supposedly Britain’s only major liberal news outlet, is going to be about who has first dibs on Assange…