Julian Assange in His Own Words

Julian Assange in his own words, Book Review by Helen Mercer


A Ray of Hope: Julian Assange Given Leave to Appeal

With the recent judgement handed down by the High Court judges supporting the US appeal in the case of Julian Assange we have truly entered an Alice in Wonderland world. Logic, not to mention due legal process, has been abandoned as the judges, to paraphrase Lewis Carroll, ‘try the whole cause and condemn him to death’.

In comparison the recently published ‘Julian Assange in his own words’ presents a world of sober analysis and penetrating insights. This almost-pocket-sized book consists of very short, pertinent extracts from Assange’s many writings, interviews and speeches published before he was imprisoned on remand in Belmarsh two and a half years ago. These allow a deeper understanding of the outlook of a person described by Edward Snowden as ‘one of the most far-sighted thinkers in technology…consistently ahead of the curve’.

The book groups the extracts into thirteen themes, covering the core purpose of Wikileaks and of Julian’s life, and allows the reader to construct his or her own view from these building blocks. A powerful preface by Charles Glass summarises what emerges: “Assange has taken the side of the victims against the powerful who conspire against them in secret” and in particular, like the poet Wilfred Owen with whom Glass compares Assange, his subject is war – “the pity of war, the pity war distilled”.

The book acts as a powerful antidote to the ignorant lies about Assange’s character. Judges, journalists and politicians have felt free to smear Assange as a ‘narcissist’ and ‘self-publicist’: this book reveals a man to be admired for his integrity and humanity, an intelligent and considered thinker.

Assange explains the world in terms of systems. The internet, he explains, is ‘the top of the whole neoliberal system’ of commercial transaction and property laws which underpin it. He targets the ‘privatisation of words’….’the way we refer to our common intellectual record is becoming privatised, with different parts of it being soaked up into domain names controlled by private companies, institutions and states”. The “investors of a few Silicon Valley companies” promote a mindset and culture tolerable to their interests, a process he describes as ‘digital colonialism’.

Operating on the premise that ‘our civilisation can only be as good as our knowledge of what our civilisation is’, Assange’s aim in creating Wikileaks was to create a ‘rebel’ system which would expand humanity’s ‘full intellectual record’. Such a record would counteract the various levels of censorship and hence the determination of what constitutes ‘knowledge’.

An important passage analyses the ‘censorship pyramid’ (p.59) a key component of the knowledge industry which other philosophers have described, in which powerful actors control and direct the means of production, distribution and exchange of ‘knowledge’ or the ‘narrative’.

When it comes to understanding how complex human institutions actually behave Assange asserts that all existing political theories are bankrupt. It is ironic that, had he been left free to develop his full capacities, he might have made valuable contributions to this rich field of human thought.

The second theme which emerges, especially in the section on activism but echoed throughout the book, is his own sense of personal commitment and his call to action by others. “If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers…The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may, I cannot escape the sound of suffering….men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them”.

Karen Sharpe’s painstaking collection should become an essential tool in the campaign for Assange’s freedom.

You can Buy the book from www.orbooks.com

A ray of hope?

It looks as if Julian Assange will be given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court

[The reason given by High Court, for granting Assange appeal to Supreme Court, …. ]:

” …. looks like just a technical point on timing and deadlines. This is very important, because it may be the screen behind which the British Establishment is sidling slowly towards the exit. Was Lord Burnett looking to get out of this case by one of the curtained doors at his back? 

If any of the other points had been certified, there would have been detailed discussion in court of the United States’ penchant for torture, its dreadful prison conditions, and its long record of bad faith (it is an accepted point of law in the United States that domestic authorities are not bound by any assurance, commitment or even treaty given to foreign governments). For the Supreme Court to refuse Assange’s extradition on any of those grounds would be an official accusation against the United States’ integrity, and thus diplomatically difficult.

But the Supreme Court can refuse extradition on the one point now certified by the High Court, and it can be presented as nothing to do with anything bad about the USA and its governance, purely a technical matter of a missed deadline. Apologies all round, never mind old chap, and let’s get to the claret at Simpson’s. 

Can there really be an end in sight for Julian? Is the British Establishment quietly sidling to the exit?”

And from the front page of the Morning Star 25 January

For an appeal to be considered by Britain’s highest court, a case must raise a point of law for “general public importance.” 

Yesterday, two senior judges ruled that there was a point of law, but refused permission for the appeal. 

But Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Lord Justice Holroyde did agree that Mr Assange could ask to bring the appeal to the Supreme Court himself. Mr Assange’s lawyers have two weeks to make the application to the court.
His fiancee Stella Moris said the decision was a win, but warned that Mr Assange was still “far from justice in this case.” 

She said: “Let’s not forget that every time we win, as long as this case isn’t dropped, as long as Julian isn’t freed, Julian continues to suffer. 

“For almost three years he has been in Belmarsh prison and he is suffering profoundly — day after day, week after week, year after year. Julian has to be freed and we hope that this will soon end. 

“Our fight goes on and we will fight this until Julian is free.” 

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet also welcomed the decision, saying that the case “is damaging media freedom every day that it drags on.” 

She said: “The US is seeking to extradite Assange on charges that relate to the very business of gathering and processing news. 

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