Consider, for a moment, that the Cuban government is seeking the extradition of an Australian publisher to the United Kingdom for exposing the crimes of the Cuban military. Consider that these crimes include a 2007 massacre of Cuban soldiers who were transported by helicopter to a dozen Iraqi civilians, among them two journalists for the Reuters news agency.
Now imagine that, if extradited from the UK to Cuba, the Australian publisher would face 175 years in a maximum-security prison, just for doing what media professionals are supposed to do. : report the truth.
Finally, consider the reaction of the United States to such Cuban behavior, which often consists of enthusiastic exclamations about human rights and democracy and a call for the universal discrediting of Cuba.
Of course, it does not take an imagination to know that the above scenario is a modified version of real events, and that the publisher in question is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The hostile nation is not Cuba but the US itself, which is responsible not only for the abrogation of Assange’s individual human rights but also for a staggering array of more macro-level attacks on people. all over the world.
According to the US account, Assange’s WikiLeaks efforts are endangering the lives of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere – even though it seems like a sure way to not endanger lives in such places is not blowing them in the first place.
It is also puzzling that a country where military killings are an institutional pastime should make such a selective stink about exposing some gory details.
Admittedly, footage of defenseless civilians being shot up close like videogame targets by a comical helicopter crew does little to support the projected role of Americans as the “good guys” – a façade that is important in terms of justifying the nation’s perceived right. to cause international trouble as it pleases.
If Assange wanted to save his own skin, he could have stuck to the kind of imperial propaganda that operates as mainstream journalism, a field that has been instrumental in selling the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the US public. .
Instead, he was held in Belmarsh prison in southeast London, awaiting extradition to the so-called “land of the free” while serving as a true case study of long-term psychological torture, documented in 2019 by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. .
In a caustic letter addressed to King Charles before his recent coronation, Assange described himself as a “political prisoner, held at your majesty’s pleasure for a disgraced foreigner who sovereign”. He said: “One can really know the measure of a society by the treatment of its prisoners, and your kingdom certainly excels in that respect”.
The disgraced foreign sovereign certainly shows kindness in that kingdom, as well, which boasts the highest incarceration rate on the planet and an impressive track record of killing innocent people. Indeed, domestic efforts to sentence a citizen of another country to 175 years in prison for telling the truth is also a good sign that something is very wrong in a society.
Then there’s the whole matter of the United States’ offshore penal colony at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the former CIA torture den and ongoing judicial black hole where the US seeks to eliminate some of the human fallout from its endless war
In fact, the fact that the US feels entitled to call out the Cuban government for its own “political prisoners” while operating an illegal prison in occupied Cuban territory can be safely blamed on under the category of gross hypocrisy.
If only there were journalists who wanted to talk about those things.
But just as you can’t hide the crimes of Guantánamo by classifying prisoners’ artwork, you can’t hide the horrors of US policy by effectively removing Julian Assange out of existence.
This is the old method of killing the messenger – where the “killing” takes the form of long-term psychological manipulation carried out in conjunction with a campaign to normalize the idea that Assange should be behind bars for forever-plus.
Finally, the attack on Assange isn’t just your typical disproportionate imperial conniption. Regardless of the final outcome, it already sets a dangerous precedent for criminalizing not only freedom of speech and the press but also – if you think about it – freedom of thought.
Even as Australian officials made more noise agitating for Assange’s release, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declined to say whether he would discuss the issue with US President Joe Biden at the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Sydney on May 24.
And as the endless wars of the US rage more and more invisible, so, too, the endless war on Julian Assange.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.