By Isabel Ringrose
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Julian Assange receives extradition order as US empire seeks revenge

The US wants Julian Assange because the WikiLeaks website helped expose the crimes of US imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq
Issue 2802
A march in solidarity with Julian Assange, people march behind a black banner reading free julian assange

A protest in support of Julian Assange in London last year (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Julian Assange is one step closer to being extradited to the United States where he will face charges for unveiling imperialist war crimes. Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday authorised the case to be sent to home secretary Priti Patel for a decision.

With the Tories busy ramping up nationalist feelings and imperialist manoeuvres over Ukraine, they will want to do anything to keep their crimes sealed. The US wants Assange because his WikiLeaks project published hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Information provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning from 2010 and 2011 included around 750,000 documents. They exposed the murderous cruelty of Western imperialism.

WikiLeaks released some 91,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan by July 2010. This included footage of the Granai airstrike in 2009, in which a US airstrike killed up to 147 civilians.

Other footage from 2007 was filmed from a US military Apache helicopter as it blasted to pieces Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, Saeed Chmagh and nine other men, while seriously wounding two children. US forces then fired on an unarmed van picking up the bodies. Other documents revealed the US government ignored reports of torture committed by its soldiers.

Manning spent seven years in jail between 2010 and 2017. She was jailed again for over a year in 2019 after refusing to testify against WikiLeaks.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Assange’s team could not appeal the decision to extradite him. His lawyers now have four weeks to make appeals to Patel and the high court, but no appeal will be allowed after the order has been signed. If Assange is extradited and found guilty, he could be sentenced to 175 years in jail.

Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said in the seven-minute hearing on Wednesday, “In layman’s terms, I am duty-bound to send your case to the Secretary of State for a decision.”

Assange joined the hearing via video link from Belmarsh Prison where he’s been held for the last three years. Protesters gathered outside the court to rally against the extradition.

Assange’s wife Stella Assange told the protesters that despite the hearing being a formality, “I still felt sick to my stomach. The UK has no obligation to extradite Julian Assange to the United States. It is required by its international obligations to stop this extradition. Boris Johnson and Priti Patel—don’t extradite Julian to the country that conspired to murder him.”

Last December the high court found that Assange could be extradited to face 18 conspiracy and hacking-related charges. This followed in January 2021 a judge blocking Assange’s extradition on the grounds it would put his life at danger.

If Assange is extradited, it will be an attempt to silence anyone who wants to expose imperialist crimes. The Tories have recently praised brave protesters in Russia who are voicing opposition to president Vladimir Putin’s brutality. At the same time, they’re happy to cover their own crimes and are willing to damn those who expose them. Assange’s extradition must be opposed.

  • Watch the Wikileaks video from Iraq in 2007 here

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