Julian Assange appeal – British justice on trial

Free Julian Assange (leaflet issued by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) at the 20-21 February demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice demanding the freedom of Julian Assange).

The chilling persecution of honest journalism has only served to highlight the unfreedom of bourgeois society and the lies and complicity of imperialist corporate media. It is not Julian Assange that is on trial here but the British justice system itself. The outcome of this trial will tell us whether or not that oft-praised ‘rule of law’ really exists; or, more likely, that the system will continue to bend the rules in order to serve the diktat of US imperialism. So panic-stricken are they becoming, they are prepared to make a public bonfire of those very ‘freedoms’ the possession of which is supposed to distinguish ‘liberal democracies’ from ‘totalitarian states’. In particular, that means clamping down on any journalist who takes the notion of press freedom seriously – principal amongst them the persecuted Australian journalist Julian Assange.

British imperialism is so desperate to hide its complicity with US war crimes from public scrutiny that it has conspired with the USA to keep Assange locked up in Belmarsh high security prison pending his illegal extradition to the US, where he will face espionage charges bearing a penalty of 175 years incarceration.

For Assange, an ailing man who before his last five years in Belmarsh had already spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in which he had sought refuge, extradition is likely to amount to a death sentence. In full knowledge of all this, in June the then British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, gave the go-ahead for the extradition order that is being appealed today.

The USA based its extradition request on an interpretation of its 1917 Espionage Act that blurred the distinction between journalism and spying, enabling the CIA to denounce the independent news organisation WikiLeaks as a “hostile non-governmental intelligence service”. And by following suit and branding every honest investigative journalist as a potential spy, the British state is sending out a chilling message to all journalists, bloggers and whistle-blowers in Britain: Don’t ask too many questions or dig too much dirt, or you may go to sleep a journalist and wake up a criminal.

But the outrageous persecution of Assange, intended to shut down democratic scrutiny of imperialism’s war crimes, is actually having the opposite effect. Sitting in his cell in Belmarsh, Assange is an unignorable reminder of the war crimes he fearlessly documented – as well as an indictment of the failure of most of his fellow journalists to challenge them.

The example he has set is now the yardstick by which all journalistic integrity is measured.


After the 2-day hearing of Julian’s appeal, the judges hearing the appeal (newly-appointed Lady Justice of Appeal Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, who as a barrister having full security clearance has – no doubt totally impartially – represented MI6 and the Ministry of Defence), declined to give an immediate decision but have delayed its publication until at least 4 March – all of which time Julian will continue locked up in bestial conditions in  Belmarsh.  If the decision does go in his favour, he most probably still won’t be released as all that will be done is to give him a further right of appeal!  This will enable the British prison service to carry on doing the dirty work of their murderous US counterpart of relentlessly, but excruciatingly slowly, killing Julian – who is already so unwell he could not attend his appeal.

In the meantime the government of the reactionary Polish ruling class is following the British example.  On 28 February 2022, i.e., two years ago, they arrested the Spanish independent journalist Pablo Gonzales, a supporter of Russia in Nato’s proxy war in Ukraine, as he was working on the Ukraine-Poland border documenting the human crisis arising from the mass of people fleeing from Ukraine to Poland.  They claim he was a spy working for Russia and have locked him up in a high security prison, in solitary confinement, allowed out of his cell only 1 hour a day, with virtually no access for family or friends.  Although the Polish authorities claim to have plenty of evidence to back up their claim that he was spying for Russia, none of this evidence has been produced and no charges have been made. 

In Poland as in Britain, the authorities never cease shedding crocodile tears for those people who in the Soviet Union were locked up in the ‘gulags’ and ‘subjected to forced labour’ (as opposed to Western imperialism’s approach which is to lock up people in isolation and enforced idleness even though they have not even been charged with any crime, let alone been found guilty!).  It is time these people saved their tears for the victims of their own politically-motivated miscarriages of justice!