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Fri 26 April 2019
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Icelandic poetician Birgitta Jonsdottir, who collaborated with WikiLeaks in its early days, speaks up to defend him against extradition.

When I was fighting my own legal battle with the US Department of Justice in relation to my WikiLeaks work back in the day, I was advised by the Icelandic state department not to travel to America. The reason: the US establishment does not forget nor forgive.

We are seeing exactly the same play out today. Even if one could criticise Julian Assange for constantly poking his angry host, I never thought that the Ecuadorian President would actually revoke asylum status of anyone, no matter how annoying the house guest is.

The arrest of Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK is not only deeply disturbing, but will set a very dangerous example and erode further the rights of political asylum seekers.

There is a clear vendetta going on, as seen in the treatment of the other person mentioned in the US indictment against Assange: Chelsea Manning. She has now been in prison for 35 days because she refused to engage in a federal grand jury. They kept her in solitary confinement for 28 days.

The US establishment does not forget nor forgive.

Birgitta Jonsdottir

The only motivation is cruelty and vendetta. Her treatment before the trial was considered to amount to torture by the UN and Amnesty International.

Requests have been made for Assange not be extradited if he faces a threat to his life, via a variety of execution methods available in the land of the “free”. Hence this ridiculous hacking indictment.

It’s arguably innocent looking – just some hacking stuff – stating that Assange would get five years maximum in prison. By presenting the indictment in this way, those who promised to protect him will keep face and it will make it easier to extradite him without everyone getting motivated to fight it.

After all the defiant and often reckless manoeuvres by Assange towards US authorities, it’s obvious that he will be treated harshly and he will never get a fair and open trial. There is already speculation that the current indictment is just a pretext to get him flown over and then be indicted with various other charges of a more serious nature.

One could argue that this is a pretty good hack by US authorities. Without a doubt, the UK authorities will be happy to get rid of Assange, especially with the country currently paralysed by Brexit.

The court case against Assange’s extradition will be one of the world’s most important tests

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Anyone who has followed WikiLeaks for as long as I have knows that, if there ever was a time to fight for Assange, it is now.

I made a promise not only to myself but to him as well a long time ago that, if this day ever came, that I would fight against any attempts to bring him to America.

I really hope that everyone, despite what they think of him as a person, can look beyond the personality and understand what is at stake here for the future of journalism, the right to know about wrongdoing of powerful entities, such as humans, or their husks of an authority.

Everyone who cares about what WikiLeaks stood for back in the day – freedom of information, expression and the protection of whistleblowers – have to do everything in their power to stop him being extradited to the US.

Press freedom is under serious attack all over the world. The court case against Assange’s extradition will be one of the world’s most important tests if justice is to prevail for those freedoms and those who are willing to risk everything to shine a light in the dark corners of corruption, power and greed.

Birgitta Jonsdottir collaborated with WikiLeaks in 2009/2010 on various projects such as IMMI and the co-production of Collateral Murder.

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