By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
The story we get repeatedly from the press is that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London because he fears being sent by the British to Sweden to answer sex charges and then eventually being extradited to the U.S. to answer espionage charges here.
It’s true that British Foreign Minister William Hague says the country has a “legal obligation to see Mr. Assange extradited to Sweden.” But there is no confirmation of a U.S. indictment of Assange.
Much of the coverage seems designed to make Assange into a martyr of some kind.
Some members of the press, however, are raising questions. The New York Times noted, “It struck many as odd that Mr. Assange, who shot to fame as a fighter for media freedom, chose Ecuador as a potential refuge. Mr. Correa has presided over a crackdown on journalists there.” It is only odd if one believed the propaganda about Assange being a free speech advocate or “whistleblower” in the first place. On the contrary, he has functioned as an agent of influence for the Russian government.
There is something else odd about this case. There have been numerous reports that the Justice Department has established a secret grand jury to indict Assange under the Espionage Act. But there is no hard evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder ever intended to prosecute him. From the start, while talking tough about a criminal investigation, Holder has also talked about “gaps” in the law that may prevent prosecution.
In the case of the gay Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, the Assange conspirator on trial for treason, the death penalty has been strangely taken off the table. The threat of the death penalty could have been used to get Manning to talk about the involvement of Assange and others in the conspiracy to steal and release classified information.
The Australian newspaper puts Assange and his political motives into some perspective in an editorial that says: “Julian Assange displays blinding hypocrisy trying to hide behind the skirts of Ecuador, which regularly aligns itself at the UN with the likes of Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela on issues such as support for Syria’s murderous Assad regime.”
The skirts also included those of his mother, who complained that her son had been living in cramped conditions at the embassy, under psychological stress, and had not been outside to “see the sun.”
The Australian went on, “Were Mr. Assange not so cowardly, he would recognize his best interests would be served not by pompously pursuing the role of martyr but by going to Sweden so sex-assault charges he strenuously denies can be tested. Sweden is not Equatorial Guinea. Nor is it Ecuador, a country whose anti-US President, Rafael Correa, Mr. Assange’s protector, shamelessly misused the courts against journalists after they called him a dictator—action condemned by the UN Human Rights Council and the Washington Post, which wrote of the ‘most comprehensive and ruthless assault on free media in the Western Hemisphere.’”
The latter suggests that even liberals in the press seem to be waking up to the true colors of Julian Assange. When will they wake up to the fact that the tough rhetoric coming out of the White House and the Justice Department is getting stale?
Some of the toughest rhetoric came from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs during a press briefing on November 29, 2010: “Obviously there is an ongoing criminal investigation about the stealing of and the dissemination of sensitive and classified information.”
He went on to say, in regard to the WikiLeaks disclosures:
- “…the stealing of classified information and its dissemination is a crime…”
- “WikiLeaks and people that disseminate information to people like this are criminals, first and foremost. And I think that needs to be clear”
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has also talked tough. She recently said, “I believe Mr. Assange has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States. He has caused serious harm to U.S. national security, and he should be prosecuted accordingly.”
She sent a letter to Holder on December 2, 2010 making the same argument. Here we are 20 months later.
Isn’t it about time for the media to conclude that the Obama/Holder Justice Department is bluffing and that it has no intention of going after Assange and WikiLeaks?
The Russians and other adversaries or enemies of the United States have benefited immensely from the WikiLeaks disclosures, which included classified information about U.S. counter-terrorism efforts. In return, perhaps as a show of thanks, the Russians gave Assange a TV show, where he interviewed such figures as Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah and U.S. Marxist professor Noam Chomsky.
The Russia Today (RT) show, funded by Moscow, is broadcast into the United States but has not been required to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Holder shows the same leniency to such outlets as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Al-Jazeera and Iranian Press TV.
The Russians may have balked at giving Assange sanctuary. But Assange had interviewed Ecuador’s president Correa on his RT television show. The New York Times reported that “when Mr. Assange arrived at the embassy, he issued a statement saying that Mr. Correa had invited him to seek asylum in Ecuador during an interview for Mr. Assange’s TV show on Russia Today, an English-language cable channel financed by the government of Vladimir V. Putin.”
This means the Russian government, which not only funds but controls the channel, facilitated the deal.
The government of Ecuador is a member of the Hugo Chavez axis of nations that serves the interests of Russia, Cuba, and Iran in Latin America. Former CIA officer Brian Latell points out that the Venezuelan intelligence service functions as an arm of Cuba’s intelligence service, the DGI.
At this point, even the tough rhetoric is disappearing from the official statements. CNN Reports that U.S. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd on Thursday offered “no comment on Julian Assange or the dispute over his asylum between Ecuadorian and UK authorities.” This does not sound like a Justice Department eager or willing to bring Assange to justice.
The reason may be that President Obama’s base, including Code Pink and other such groups, are part of the “Free Bradley Manning” coalition who also believe that Assange is a hero. Code Pink worked with and promoted CIA defector Philip Agee, an identified Cuban DGI and Soviet KGB agent.
As we have reported before, the far-left has argued that the Espionage Act, under which an indictment could be brought, is unconstitutional. This argument is coming, however, from Robert Meeropol, founder and executive director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. His parents, atomic spies and communists Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were charged, tried and executed after being found guilty of violating the law.
The advisory board of the Rosenberg Fund includes Angela Davis, the former Communist Party USA official who beat a murder rap; former Rep. Ron Dellums, the Oakland Democrat who once served as a member of the House Intelligence Committee; communist folksinger Pete Seeger; Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and even Leonard Peltier, the American Indian activist now in prison for murdering two FBI agents.
This is the crowd Holder doesn’t want to upset with an indictment of Assange.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at email@example.com.