Wikileaks Central statement on Assange's arrest

December 9, 2010

December 8 statement by WL Central (Australia-based unofficial Wikileaks information resource.

* * *

On November 13th 2010, Burma’s most famous political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi, was released from house arrest. She had been confined to her house for almost 15 years.

The event provoked an outpouring of feeling across the world. People rejoiced because she had been set free, and her great spirit of endurance was celebrated. And under this all, a great sigh, at the loss of hours and days and years of a life. She had done nothing wrong. Hers was the plight of a political prisoner.

On Tuesday 7th of December, Julian Paul Assange, after willingly meeting with the British police, was placed under arrest, and remanded in custody for a week, pending an extradition hearing.

On December 14th, then, almost exactly a month to the day from the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from Burmese house arrest, a court of the United Kingdom will decide whether it is going to play its own role in an expeditious slide by Western democracies, increasingly visible in the last two weeks, into the habits of authoritarian rule.

The allegations from Sweden provide the veneer of legality for a political imprisonment. In truth, Julian Assange is not being accused of “rape,” no more than Socrates was accused of “corrupting the youth of Athens.” The two women who are alleged victims did not allege rape - their story has been co-opted by the Swedish prosecutor to pursue Assange. At every single stage of this Swedish case there has been absurd and frightening departures from the norms of criminal procedure. A cursory examination of the history of the case reveals abundant and suspicious oversights.

Isolated, these irregularities might be attributed to incompetence. In aggregate, that explanation becomes less credible. They point resolutely towards the abuse of the Swedish criminal justice system for a political end: the suppression of Julian Assange at all costs.

As for Socrates, so for Julian Assange. His real crime, which is not a crime in any Western jurisdiction, is to have embarrassed the powerful, by revealing not only the crimes of corporations and governments, but a political culture of complicity, deception and veiled contempt for the peoples of our democracies. He has done this entirely within the law. Wikileaks is a non-violent organization, whose strategy is to harness the right of free speech to expose secret misconduct. There are no legal grounds for the suppression of Wikileaks. And so the powerful must seek other means.

Sweden is not alone. The American position will not have escaped anyone in the past few weeks. And European and Commonwealth governments have fallen over themselves to capitulate to American wishes. Assange’s own sovereign government, the Australian government, has, in an unforgivable desertion of its duty to its own citizens, vocally presumed his guilt and backwardly conducted its police to find those laws by which he might be guilty.

It is apparent, also, that French, Swiss and American officials have abused their positions, exerting pressure well beyond the remit of their offices on private companies, to deny services vital to the free speech of Wikileaks. Assange has broken no law; the closure of his Swiss bank account, and the denial of service by Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and Amazon have no legal justification, and are therefore assaults by private companies on the freedom of speech in our democracies.

These actions have not gone unnoticed. Over the past two weeks, Wikileaks’ global support has grown until Wikileaks’ supporters were numbered in the millions, as the citizens of Western states were alerted to the accelerated decay of our democracies. The seriousness of the past two weeks’ events has not been lost on us.

Assault has been openly conducted on the founding ideals of our political cultures, by the very officials elected to defend those ideals. In their rush to suppress Wikileaks by persecuting Julian Assange, our governments have made it clear that they are now hostile to their own people, and enemies of the sacred institutions and offices they now occupy. The constitutional rights established to protect us from the abuses of state power have been brushed aside.

We, at WL Central, condemn in the most serious terms this concerted assault on our democracies, carried out in the persecution of Julian Assange. Our support for Wikileaks has always been pursuant to our greater support for the ideals of a single standard of justice, and freedom from tyranny, towards which Julian Assange has worked with tireless dedication and at great personal risk. The persecution of Julian Assange is not the persecution of one man, but the persecution of us all. It is not a single injustice, but an injustice to end all pretence of justice. It is an emergency of historical significance.

We therefore address the governments and legislatures of the United States, of the European Union Member States, and the governments and parliaments of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations, including, and especially, the government of Australia.

We affirm

* That Wikileaks is now an integral pillar in the international fourth estate.
* That Wikileaks’ work since its foundation demonstrates exigent flaws in the political cultures of our democracies, with dire consequences for domestic and global justice.
* That Wikileaks is therefore of critical importance to the cause of reform in our societies, and of critical importance to the maintenance of our freedoms.
* That Wikileaks is in fact insuppressable, and that any attempts to suppress it will not attain their goal, but cause further harm to our legal orders, and to the relationship between the governments and their peoples.
* That therefore any attack on Wikileaks or its staff or supporters is to be interpreted as an attack on our political cultures themselves.

We urge
o That the Australian government will meet its duty of advocacy for one of its own citizens and defend Julian Assange to the limits of its means.
o That governments will recognize Wikileaks as enjoying the same freedoms to communicate information as do we all, as well as those freedoms particular to the press.
o That governments will react to Wikileaks, not by further compounding their mistakes, but by resolving to act so as to be beyond reproach.

Finally, we urge that no perversion of justice occurs on December 14th and that the court meet the requirements of justice free from political influence. Julian Assange must not become a hostage to political convenience or expediency.

Only a month on from the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the West must not plunge its own freedoms into the disrepute it so roundly and justly condemns in other parts of the world. This is important, and it involves us all.

Proceed with great care. The world is watching.

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