Sweden’s issuing of arrest warrants for Julian Assange yesterday seems designed to further defame the WikiLeaks whistleblower whose network has released embarrassing secret documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The charges may increase pressure on mainstream news organizations to cease cooperating with WikiLeaks in the further disclosure of thousands of documents that have not yet been released.
The silencing of WikiLeaks will deny people around the world, including the American people, vital information about secret operations by US forces, which have resulted in higher civilian casualties than previously reported.
New developments in the case raises troubling questions, among them:
- What the New York Times account calls a “baffling on-again-off-again process that featured disagreements among prosecutors” over whether to arrest Julian Assange [NYT, Nov. 19].
- Whether it is only coincidental that the warrants were issued on the eve of the NATO meeting in Lisbon.
After Sweden’s recent national elections, which brought to power a center-right coalition, the Swedish state is becoming a satellite of the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies, and seeks a closer relationship with NATO.
Gone apparently is the era when the Swedish government stood up to the Great Powers as an independent sanctuary for freedom and dissent. A government, one which under Olaf Palme would have protected Julian Assange, has been replaced by a regime that functions as a virtual arm of the Pentagon. In October, the Swedish immigration board rejected Assange’s application for residence, which might have protected WikiLeaks’ servers from possible suppression, and now Sweden’s prosecutors seek to arrest him for “questioning”.
We soon may see the spectacle of Julian Assange in shackles, a sight which might cause orgasms among his enemies. The speculation is not far-fetched. In Iraq, Derek Harvey, the lead Defense Intelligence Agency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, said that secret assassinations gave him orgasms. [Woodward, The War Within, 2008, p. 380]
The trial of Julian Assange, if it ever takes place, may provide a window to defend himself before the eyes of the world. The state will attempt to narrow the evidence to such matters as broken condoms, while the defense maintains that Assange is innocent and being persecuted.
The driving force in this case is a separate office created by the Pentagon where hundreds of high-tech information warriors work around the clock to contain or suppress the WikiLeaks underground from further leaks. At the same time, a US Justice task force is considering charges of espionage, which would require extradition and trial in the United States.
A network of whistleblowers in the US, including Daniel Ellsberg, and noted civil liberties firms, are exploring ways to defend Assange against extradition.
But the first line of defense will likely be in Sweden, where the state’s core identity could be on trial.
Tom Hayden is the author of 17 books, a former California state senator and a longtime peace activist.
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