Earlier this month, on 17 June, Tory home secretary Priti Patel gave the green light for the extradition of Julian Assange – journalist and founder of WikiLeaks – to the USA.
This follows a ruling by the High Court last year, in favour of the US state, for his prosecution over a number of charges, including spying offences.
Assange is very likely to appeal this ruling, in the hopes of avoiding the wrath of US imperialism, which has hounded him relentlessly for years.
Patel’s extradition approval goes against a previous ruling, suggesting Assange ought to stay in the UK on the grounds of his deteriorating mental state, and the risk he would kill himself in an American prison.
Clearly, the British state has no regard for Assange’s wellbeing, who spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy, and who now languishes in Belmarsh prison, the ‘British Guantanamo’.
In an act of brutal humiliation, Assange was strip searched and thrown in an empty jail cell “for his own protection” on the day of this announcement.
Assange is to face 175 years in prison in the US if found guilty of his ‘crimes’, which in reality amount to nothing but exposing the crimes of imperialism.
Guilty of exposing the truth
Assange is correct to suspect he will not face a fair and independent trial in the US, whose security services previously planned his abduction and murder. If extradited, the ruling class will make an example of him, to show what awaits those who dare to challenge US imperialism.
On the pretence of fighting for ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, and uncovering ‘weapons of mass destruction’, the US led a coalition invasion force into Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to a catastrophic 20-year conflict.
As the many videos, photographs, and documents leaked by Assange and WikiLeaks showed, the US and its allies committed numerous war crimes during their invasion and occupation.
The architects of this barbarism – George W. Bush and ‘Sir’ Tony Blair – are living comfortable lives. However, the heroic individuals who exposed their crimes are condemned to face the vengeance of the US state.
No justice under capitalism
The ruling class cannot permit ‘freedom of speech’ to threaten their authority or undermine their interests. They will not hesitate to revoke the hard-fought rights won by the working class. And, when deemed necessary, they will jettison even elementary democratic rights.
The Tories, for example, are preparing to replace the Human Rights Act with their own ‘bill of rights’, in order to facilitate their planned racist deportations to Rwanda (part of a reactionary ‘culture war’ agenda), and empower them to clampdown on a rising strike wave in Britain.
While liberals and reformists lament this attempt to circumvent the European Court of Human Rights, in reality formal bourgeois legality offers slim protection for the basic freedoms of working people – whether these are penned in Brussels or London.
Similarly, in the view of the ‘democratic’ imperialists, Assange must be punished for bringing attention to their heinous crimes – freedom of expression be damned.
The only counter to such anti-democratic attacks is class struggle from below.
Assange can expect no assistance from the government of his homeland. The newly elected Labour administration in Australia, led by PM Anthony Albanese, previously stated it would work to help Assange. Now in government, however, Albanese is wavering on this commitment.
This should come as no surprise, since Australia is a crucial ally for western imperialism in the Pacific region. Deals such as the AUKUS agreement (signed last year) demonstrate how Australian capitalism is bound, hand and foot, to Washington.
With the world crisis of capitalism about to hit Australia in a big way, Albanese is wary of rocking the boat too much, lest he endanger the preferential treatment his country enjoys from its imperialist benefactors. As such, Assange has been left high and dry.
Capitalism on trial
The ruling class cannot be trusted to advance or defend the right to freedom of expression.
In this period of capitalist crisis, all the basic democratic conquests from the past – including press freedom, abortion, and voting rights – will be trampled over in order to weaken the labour movement, whip up reaction, divide the population, and preserve the profits and power of the capitalists.
Every class conscious worker and consistent democrat should stand in solidarity with Assange, who faces persecution for the sole ‘crime’ of telling the truth.
Moreover, these attacks on Assange are but a foretaste of what the ruling class will be willing to do against movements of workers and youth in the not-so-distant future.
While we applaud the actions of individual whistleblowers who expose the rotten character of imperialism, only mass struggle by the working class can put an end to the system responsible for the vicious crimes and horrors detailed by WikiLeaks.
- Free Julian Assange!
- Defend freedom of expression!
- Down with imperialism! Down with capitalism!