Roger Waters Says “Ruling Class” Behind Assange Imprisonment As Hundreds Rally Against His Extradition
“If they are allowed to extradite him from here, they will, and they will lock him up until he dies, which probably won’t be very long, just for being a journalist and informing the public of the things we need to know in our names by our governments.”
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters joined hundreds of protesters in London on Saturday to rally in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who will face an extradition trial on Monday that could see him sent to the United States and imprisoned for life. Waters blamed the “ruling class” for Assange’s egregious mistreatment in prison in a recent interview.
“The ruling class, the powers that be… the corporate world, the rich people, the people who run everything, the people who tell [U.K. Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and Donald Trump what to do,” Waters said of those responsible for Assange’s treatment. “I’m not suggesting there are men in hoods and secret societies but we all see what’s happening.”
The US is calling for Assange’s extradition on 18 charges over the publication of US cables. If found guilty he could be given a 175-year prison sentence.
Assange used WikiLeaks to publish classified diplomatic and military files that exposed U.S. war crimes, Guantanamo Bay’s “operating procedure,” the CIA’s global covert hacking program, the U.S.’s use of the World Bank and IMF for “economic warfare,” and numerous other forms of disturbing and unflattering information about powerful figures and institutions throughout the world.
Journalist Lee Camp argues that revelations like the ‘collateral murder’ video in Iraq have motivated U.S. national security elites to track down and silence Assange:
“The notorious Collateral Murder video, showing U.S. air crew gunning down unarmed Iraqi civilians with an enthusiasm that couldn’t be matched by an eight year-old winning a five-foot-tall stuffed animal at the county fair. They murdered between 12 and 18 innocent people, two of them Reuters journalists. Zero people have been arrested for the collateral murders. Yet Julian Assange has been arrested for revealing them.”
Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations that he feared would result in being handed over to the United States. Swedish prosecutors dropped the sexual assault investigation for the third time in November.
Last April, British authorities forced him out of the Ecuadoran embassy and imprisoned him in London’s Belmarsh prison for missing bail in 2012, when he began living in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over the now-dropped sexual assault allegation.
In November, more than 60 doctors sent an urgent letter to U.K. authorities warning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s health is so bad he could die in prison. In October, United Nations special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer described Assange’s egregious treatment as “psychological torture.”
Waters similarly condemned the way “kangaroo courts” have handled Assange’s case.
“He hasn’t had a trial,” he said. “The whole old adage of you being innocent until proven guilty by a jury of 12 of your peers has been tossed out of the window by the U.K. government and the U.S. government, and in consequence, Julian lives in solitary confinement. He’s committed no crime that anyone is aware of with the possible exception of a bail infringement for which he has already served 300 days in prison.”
Establishment Media’s Character Assassination Of Assange
Press freedom advocates argue that Assange is being smeared and psychologically tortured in a maximum security prison because of his effectiveness in bringing transparency to powerful institutions throughout the world.
UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer recently explained how mainstream media coverage of Assange led him to neglect the case because he thought the Wikileaks founder was “a rapist, a hacker, a spy and a narcissist.” But as soon as he started investigating the facts, he found that he had “never seen a comparable case” in which a person was “subject to nine years of a preliminary investigation for rape without charges ever having been filed.”
“They had to send me a couple pieces of evidence and to ask me, almost to beg me, to look at it and when I did
I started to see that really the public narrative that we know about Assange has been fabricated. It’s not true. The evidence is contradictory” @NilsMelzer#FreeAssange pic.twitter.com/ic2Kqte41p
— Assange Edits ? (@AssangeEdits) February 10, 2020
“I speak fluent Swedish and was thus able to read all of the original documents,” Melzer explained. “I could hardly believe my eyes: According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never even taken place at all. And not only that: The woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”
Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation into a 2010 sexual assault allegation involving Assange for the third time in November. Eminent journalist John Pilger notes that the sexual assault allegations against the Wikileaks founder were marred by extreme prosecutorial irregularities:
“In 2013, the Swedish prosecutor tried to abandon the case and emailed the Crown Prosecution Service in London to say it would no longer pursue a European Arrest Warrant, to which she received the reply: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!” (Thanks to Stefania Maurizi of La Repubblica)
“Other emails show the CPS discouraging the Swedes from coming to London to interview Assange – which was common practice – thus blocking progress that might have set him free in 2011.
“There was never an indictment. There were never charges. There was never a serious attempt to put ‘allegations’ to Assange and question him – behavior that the Swedish Court of Appeal ruled to be negligent, and the General Secretary of the Swedish Bar Association has since condemned.”
The leaked emails Pilger refers to showed that Swedish authorities wanted to abandon the case six years ago, but were pressured by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to continue. The CPS advised Swedish prosecutors not to interview Assange in Britain.
“Every time Assange offered them to interview him, come and question him in London, they refused to do so,” journalist Tariq Ali, who co-wrote a book with human rights lawyer Margaret Kuntsler titled In Defense Of Julian Assange, told DemocracyNow.
CNN and other corporate outlets repeatedly claimed that Assange was hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden because of the rape accusation.
“Assange always said he would consent to extradition to Sweden as long as it was accompanied by a guarantee that he would not be onwardly extradited to the United States for his journalistic activities. Ecuador offered that possibility to Sweden from the very beginning,” explained Fidel Narváez, an Ecuadorian diplomat who worked at the embassy where Assange lived in asylum, to the Grayzone.
“In May 2017, after Sweden closed the preliminary investigation for the second time, Assange still did not leave the embassy, because the risk of extradition to the US remained imminent — a fact that was proven to be correct when Ecuador handed him over to the British,” Narváez continued.
Prosecutor Marianne Ny refused to guarantee that Assange would not be sent to the United States if he came to Sweden to cooperate with the prosecutors, noted Pilger.
A Swedish court ruled last June that Assange, who has denied the accusation, should not be detained.
Independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone argues that the fact that even the UN Special Rapporteur was misled by the mainstream media’s propaganda campaign against Assange demonstrates the ubiquity of misinformation about the Wikileaks founder:
“Listen to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer describe how he’d been completely taken in by the horrible mass media smear campaign against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prior to taking his case. This is an educated, intelligent and highly compassionate man who, simply because he’d relied on the plutocratic media to help him figure out what’s going on in the world, had an understanding that Assange was a wicked man who was guilty of wicked deeds. It wasn’t until he took the case and began personally investigating the actual facts of the matter without the filter of the plutocratic media spinmeisters that he was able penetrate beneath the layers of narrative distortion to get at the reality of the situation.”
Assange’s Parents Speak Out
Assange’s mother and father spoke out on Saturday against their son’s potential extradition to the United States and the extreme legal irregularities that led to his detention in solitary confinement at a maximum security prison.
How can my son Julian recieve a fair US Extradition hearing?
*Supervising Chief Magistrate already shown bias/hostility
*Shes linked to UK @foreignoffice
*Husband named in @Wikileaks docs
— Mrs Christine Assange (@MrsC_Assange) February 22, 2020
Assange’s father, who attended Saturday’s rally alongside prominent figures like former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and current Wikileaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson, described the imprisonment of his son as “arbitrary detention.”
We marching to #London‘s Parliament Sq now with #JulianAssange‘s father John Shipton, @khrafnsson, @yanisvaroufakis, @SwaziJAF & @FollowWestwood out front…#WiliLeaks @couragefound pic.twitter.com/awNRywsZF2
— Patrick Henningsen (@21WIRE) February 22, 2020
“He has committed no crime, he published something, he’s a journalist, he did what journalists are supposed to do. There was no threat to national security,” Roger Waters said. “It looks as if the powers that be have every intention of submitting to the demands of the United States government to have him extradited to the US so they can lock him up until he is dead.”
We spoke with #WikiLeaks editor @khrafnsson after today’s demonstration for #JulianAssange in London’s Parliament Sq, about ‘dark forces’ at State &intel levels exerting undue influence on legal process: pic.twitter.com/IwXrk1NedR
— Patrick Henningsen (@21WIRE) February 22, 2020