Julian Assange Isn't Evading Justice, He's Evading Torture

Caitlin Johnstone

You don't get to torture whistleblowers and then whine when they start fighting extradition attempts, America.

Two days before the U.S. presidential elections, featuring a candidate whose corruption has been exposed in many significant and undeniable ways by Julian Assange's transparency advocacy organization WikiLeaks, the Swedish government has released a statement reminding everyone that Assange is scheduled to be interviewed regarding accusations from 2010 in that country. The statement contains no new information. At all. But if you Google the words "Assange" and "Sweden" right now, you will see the Clinton-dominated media has pounced on this joke of a story like a flock of seagulls on a pile of Doritos.

Here is a Guardian article from October 13 delivering an actual news story that Assange's interview has been rescheduled for November 14 to enable his legal team to be present for it. You'd never guess that this was already a long-established fact from today's headlines, however, which include a great many titles like "Date set for Assange to face questions over alleged rape" by CBS News, "Sweden Sets New Date for Questioning Julian Assange" by the Wall Street Journal, and "Sweden sets new date for questioning WikiLeaks' Julian Assange" by MarketWatch.

So let's clear this thing up, shall we?

As an unapologetic firebreathing feminist, and a rape survivor myself, I don't want to just blow off the allegations of rape against Assange. You can check out justice4assange.com if you want to check out the accused's side of things yourself, but I don't want to get into that right now, because I do not know with certainty whether or not Assange is guilty of rape, and I'm not going run the risk of inadvertantly becoming one of the countless people responsible for silencing the voice of yet another victimized woman and contributing to the ongoing epidemic of rape under-reporting. I do think it's very politically convenient that the year the rape charges emerged just happens to be the same year WikiLeaks made its biggest headlines ever with its revelations of American war crimes in its Collateral Murder video and its "Afghan War Diary" and "Iraq War Logs" releases, but I don't know for certain that Assange has never raped anybody.

What I do know for certain is that Chelsea Manning was tortured. In 2011, a letter was signed by 295 legal scholars asserting that her treatment was in violation of the U.S. Constitution, saying the soldier was being "detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral." The Guardian reports that in 2012 the UN special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez formally accused the U.S. government of treatment that was "cruel, inhuman and degrading" to Manning.

A Gizmodo article titled "Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture" says that solitary confinement can do irreversible psychological damage in as little as 15 days. The Guardian reports that Manning was in solitary confinement for nearly a year. The New York Times reports that she attempted suicide a second time last month.

None of this is a secret. The controversies surrounding Manning's treatment after she was arrested for giving secret information to WikiLeaks were public knowledge by the time Assange sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in the summer of 2012. He was well aware of what will happen to him if the U.S. is able to use its considerable sway to get Sweden to extradite him. He's aware of it now.

Who among us wouldn't fight that? If you knew that going through what Manning went through was even a remote possibility, you'd fight tooth and claw to keep anything that could lead to that possibility from happening. They'd have to pry me off the embassy ceiling with a crowbar and I'd fight kicking and screaming the whole way, even if I was guilty as sin.

Nobody deserves to be tortured. Even those who pretend to know that Assange is a rapist (and they don't) are aware that torture is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution and is not a valid punishment for any crime. If the U.S. government wants to claim that such practices are reasonable and acceptable, it needs to burn the Constitution and be honest that it's no longer interested in behaving like the government of a first-world country.

The ACLU Legislative Counsel said in 2014 that the Obama administration has prosecuted more national security "leakers" than all other presidencies combined, by an immense margin. Washington's Blog did the math and found that the Obama administration has sentenced whistleblowers to 31 times the amount of jail time as all other administrations before him combined. This is unquestionably the most anti-leaker environment that has ever existed as far as the U.S. is concerned, and Assange is not at all paranoid to think these people will come after him.

Chelsea Manning was tortured. That brave, gentle, intelligent mind was pummeled, tormented and humiliated by a brutal regime bent on killing government transparency and silencing anyone who tries to show the American people what what its government is up to. All because she wanted to do the right thing. Assange's latest leaks have revealed corruption and deceit so immense it's impossible to wrap one's mind around it all, and yet we're meant to believe he's the bad guy for doing his darned best to avoid being tortured. Right.

You don't get to torture whistleblowers and then slander them for evading extradition attempts, America. That's not a thing. Julian Assange will continue to do everything he can to avoid being tortured like Chelsea Manning, as would anybody else. And I hope succeeds.

[Featured Image by Michael Sohn/AP Images]