Socialist Worker

Jail the war criminals, not those who expose them

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2737

Protesting in defence of Julian Assange in London this month (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A court decision earlier this month blocking WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange from being extradited to the United States is a blow to imperialism.

The US wants Assange to stand trial over leaked, confidential documents published by WikiLeaks.

Information provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning from 2010 and 2011 in some 750,000 classified documents, revealed the horrific truth about imperialism.

The incriminating material includes over 250,00 US diplomatic cables and around 480,000 army reports—known as the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Diary.

WikiLeaks had released some 91,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan by July 2010.

It revealed civilian deaths, Taliban attacks, and involvement by other countries.

Footage of the Granai airstrike in 2009, in which up to 147 civilians were killed by a US airstrike, was also uncovered.

Some 400,000 ­documents regarding the Iraq War were released.

Classified footage from 2007 in Baghdad showed two Reuters journalists being fired at and killed.

After the men were killed US forces fired on an unarmed van that was picking up the bodies. The numbers killed in the attack varied from 12 to over 18, and two ­children were wounded.

The documents showed that the US government had ignored reports of torture committed by its military.

In 2011 779 secret files relating to prisoners detained at the Guantanamo Bay military base were published.

Documents noted that more than 150 innocent citizens from Pakistan and Afghanistan were held for years without charges.

They included details of the mental and physical ­wellbeing of the prison’s youngest and oldest detainees, including an 89 year old man and a 14 year old boy.

Powerhouses

Military powerhouses such as the US and Britain don’t want their imperialist ventures put at risk by individuals speaking out.

From 2012 to 2019 Assange was granted political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

He was arrested by Met police after failing to appear in court for extradition to Sweden.

Assange was taken to Belmarsh, where he has been held for the last 18 months.

Since the decision was made to not extradite him based on his mental health, he has been denied bail.

Assange and Manning have faced continuous legal action.

Manning was jailed from 2010 until 2017 as retaliation from the US establishment.

She was charged with 22 offences, including violations of the Espionage Act 1917 and aiding the enemy.

It was the first time the 1917 act has been used to indict a publisher or journalist.

Manning was fined and jailed again in 2019 for a year after refusing to testify against Assange.

The strength of the anti‑war movement encouraged the Wikileaks’ revelations of war crimes, and the cases leaked bolstered the movement’s arguments.

The prosecutions of Assange and Manning are a direct threat to those who reveal the reality of war.

But they also show how much the leaks have unnerved the authorities.

States pump out lies to rally support for their wars—such as claiming they are for humanitarian reasons. When crimes are uncovered, these lies are exposed.

Silencing those who unmask the truth only demonstrates why revealing it is so important.

Assange should be freed. And opposition to imperialist powers must fight to end their bloody wars permanently.

Those who commit war crimes should be jailed—not the people exposing them.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.