Unequal Before the Law Julian Assange, Nils Meltzer (Le Monde Diplomat)

Prison Bride: Stella Morris arriving at HMP Belmarsh for her wedding to Julian Assange, March 23, 2022

Leon Neal Getty

as As Special Rapporteur on Torture, I have been asked by the United Nations Human Rights Council to monitor compliance with the global prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment, and to report on violations of these prohibitions. It is tasked with investigating allegations and communicating questions and recommendations to the countries concerned. It is intended to clarify individual cases. When I investigated the case of Julian Assange, I found irrefutable evidence of political persecution and arbitrary judicial decisions, as well as willful torture and abuse. However, the states responsible (US, UK, Sweden, Ecuador) have refused to cooperate with me in carrying out the investigation procedures required under international law.

The Assange case tells the story of a man who was persecuted and abused for exposing the sordid secrets of those in power, especially war crimes, torture and corruption. This is the story of a deliberately arbitrary judicial decision made by a Western democracy trying to claim an exemplary human rights record. This is a story of deliberate complicity by intelligence agencies without the knowledge of the National Assembly or the public. And it is a story of reporting manipulated and manipulated by the mainstream media to deliberately isolate, demonize, and destroy individuals.

In a democracy governed by the rule of law, everyone is equal before the law. Essentially, this means that comparable cases should be treated the same. Like Julian Assange, who is currently incarcerated at Belmarsh high-security prison, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was sentenced to British extradition from 16 October 1998 until 2 March 2000. Detained in detention. Torture and crimes against humanity. Like Assange today, Pinochet described himself as “Britain’s only political prisoner.”

But unlike Assange, Pinochet was accused of committing, ordering, and approving of torture, murder, and corruption, not of obtaining and publishing evidence of such crimes. And unlike Assange, he was not seen as a threat to the interests of the British government, but was seen as a friend and ally during the Cold War and, crucially, the Falklands/Malvinas War.

Pinochet’s Luxury House Arrest

When a British court dared to apply the law and remove Pinochet’s diplomatic immunity, the decision was quickly overturned. The reason given was the possible prejudice of her one of the judges. Apparently, at one point he helped organize a fundraiser for Amnesty International UK, co-appellant in the Pinochet case. Husband repeatedly criticized by WikiLeaks was not only allowed to rule on an arrest warrant for Assange in 2018, but the Vanessa Ballitzer trial despite a fully documented dismissal request He presided over Assange’s extradition proceedings until an officer took over in the summer of 2019. None of Arbuthnot’s decisions were overturned.

Accused of being directly responsible for tens of thousands of serious human rights violations, Pinochet was not insulted, humiliated or ridiculed by British judges at his hearings, and was subject to heavy security. I was never confined to a solitary confinement in a jail. When he was taken into custody, Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed no satisfaction in Parliament that “no one is above the law in Britain” and his fervent demands that the government send the former dictator to Britain. There were also no open letters from the 70 MPs. Countries seeking his extradition. Instead, Pinochet spent his detention under luxurious house arrest at his mansion in Surrey. There, unlimited visits were allowed, including Chilean priests at Christmas and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Julian Assange, by contrast, is an inconvenient truth-teller who is accused of journalism, not torture and murder, and is not under house arrest. He is in solitary confinement.

In contrast to Pinochet, Julian Assange, an inconvenient truth-teller accused of journalism, not torture or murder, is not under house arrest.he was in solitary confinement

As with Assange, Pinochet’s health was the deciding factor. Although the general himself categorically rejected the idea of ​​release on humanitarian grounds, British Home Secretary Jack Straw personally intervened and requested a medical evaluation of Pinochet, who said he was suffering from amnesia and had difficulty concentrating. When several governments demanding his extradition requested a second independent assessment, the UK refused. Stroh himself found Pinochet unfit to stand trial and ordered his immediate release and repatriation.

Unlike the US on Assange’s extradition, states seeking to extradite Pinochet were denied the right to appeal. In the case of Assange, as with my official findings as UN Special Rapporteur on torture, several independent medical reports were ignored, and even when he could barely speak in court, his health was undermined. Ignoring his deteriorating condition and unfitness to stand, the trial continued. trial.

As with Pinochet, Assange’s extradition was denied, at least initially, on medical grounds. But Pinochet was quickly released, repatriated, and the state he applied for was denied any legal recourse, whereas Assange was quickly put back in solitary confinement, denied bail, and the U.S. appealed to the High Court. was asked to His silence during the rest of the extradition process, which lasted several years.

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Guy Smallman Getty

silence embarrassed dissidents

Comparing these two cases shows how untrue the double standards applied by the UK authorities and that in the UK everyone is equal under the law. The purpose of the Pinochet affair was to exonerate the former dictator and his loyal ally for crimes against humanity. In Assange’s case, the aim is to silence the disgraceful dissidents of WikiLeaks, an organization that challenges precisely this kind of impunity. Both approaches are motivated solely by power politics and are incompatible with justice and the rule of law.

The mainstream media in the US, UK and Australia have failed to grasp the existential danger that the Assange trial poses to press freedom, due process, democracy and the rule of law. The painful truth is that Assange’s persecution will end tomorrow if the major English-speaking media organizations take action.

The case of Ivan Golunov, a Russian investigative journalist who specializes in exposing corruption in civil servants, is instructive. When Golunov was suddenly arrested in the summer of 2019 on suspicion of drug offenses, the Russian mainstream media took action. Three major Russian daily newspapers, Bedmosti, RBC and kommersant, It printed an identical front page declaring: “We are Ivan Golunov.” All three openly challenged the legality of Golunov’s arrest, suspected that he was being persecuted for journalism, and demanded a thorough investigation.Russian authorities arrested in Fragrant and retreated within days, with a line of fire from their own media. President Vladimir Putin ordered Golunov’s release and dismissed two senior Interior Ministry officials. This proved that the arrest was orchestrated at the highest level and not the result of misconduct by a few incompetent police officers.

There is no doubt that this is an expression of solidarity comparable to this. guardian, BBC, new york times and washington post It will immediately end the persecution of Julian Assange. If there’s one thing the government fears, he says, it’s the media spotlight and critical press scrutiny. But what is happening in the mainstream media in the UK, US and Australia is simply too little, too late. As usual, their reporting ranges between dull and spineless, without realizing that the achievements of democracy and the rule of law are side effects of retreating into the dark ages of absolutism and the system. fluctuating and meekly reporting court proceedings. Governance based on secrecy and authoritarianism.

Some of the half-baked op-eds and articles Guardian and new york times It is not enough to condemn Assange’s extradition. While these two newspapers timidly state that if Assange is convicted of espionage, he would endanger press freedom, one of the mainstream media is also the due process, which has characterized the entire process. It does not protest blatant violations of human dignity and the rule of law. None of them held the government responsible for their crimes and corruption. No one has the courage to ask a political leader an uncomfortable question. They are shadows of the once revered ‘fourth estate’. Unequal Before the Law Julian Assange, Nils Meltzer (Le Monde Diplomat)

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