George Monbiot’s Excuses for Not Speaking Out Loudly in Defence of Assange Simply Won’t Wash

There is much more at stake than simply Assange’s rights being trampled on.

By Jonathan Cook and cross-posted from his blog, http://www.jonathan-cook.net.

Faced with a barrage of criticism from some of his followers, George Monbiot, the Guardian’s supposedly fearless, leftwing columnist, offered up two extraordinarily feeble excuses this week for failing to provide more than cursory support for Julian Assange over the past month, as the Wikileaks founder has endured extradition hearings in a London courtroom.

The Trump administration wants Assange brought to the United States to face espionage charges that could see him locked away in a super-max prison on “special administrative measures”, unable to have meaningful contact with any other human being for the rest of his life. And that fate awaits him only because he embarrassed the US by exposing its war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq in the pages of newspapers like the New York Times and Guardian – and because Washington fears that Assange, if left free, would publish more disturbing truths about US actions around the globe.

But there is much more at stake than simply Assange’s rights being trampled on. He is not simply the western equivalent of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and dissident who notably offered his own support to Assange during the hearings. Weiwei [who knows all about the crushing of political dissent by vengeful states] covered his mouth outside the Old Bailey courtroom in protest at the media’s blanket silence over the crimes being perpetrated against Assange.

Assange faces a terrifying new kind of extraordinary rendition – one conducted not covertly by US security services but in the full glare of publicity and, if the London court approves, with the consent of the British judiciary. If extradition is authorised, a precedent will be set that allows the US to seize and jail any journalist who exposes its crimes. Inevitably, that will have a severe chilling effect on all journalists investigating the world’s only super-power. It will not only be the death of journalism’s already enfeebled role as a watchdog on power but a death blow against our societies’ commitment to the principles of freedom and openness…

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