Julian Assange and press freedom

 

Sir, – It is to be welcomed that a prominent Irish Times commentator covers the media trial of the century, that of Julian Assange (Fintan O’Toole, “Assange being persecuted to scare off future enquiries”, Opinion & Analysis, December 14th), albeit a commentary prefaced by distracting and irrelevant allegations on his alleged attitude to women, his alleged service to Vladimir Putin’s assault on democracy and the impact of his revelations on the 2016 US election that saw Donald Trump triumph over Hillary Clinton – that difficult dilemma that Americans faced of electing the least offensive warmonger.

Julian Assange is not being persecuted for any of these reasons, as Fintan O’Toole rightly observes. And he is being “persecuted”, as his fiancé Stella Morris reminded us after the judges’ atrocious decision. He has spent ten years incarcerated in one form or another, almost three of those in solitary confinement, and about to spend his third Christmas away from his family, in the notorious Belmarsh prison. He recently suffered a mini-stroke. He has been denied proper access to visitors and his legal team, who have been spied on by the CIA. Recent credible investigative reportage reveals that the CIA were also plotting to kidnap or assassinate him. All of this amounts to psychological torture as documented by Prof Nils Melzer, the UN rapporteur on torture, and is enough to have the case thrown out.

All of these facts are well documented, yet are met with an indifferent whimper by the mainstream media which appears to be in denial about the serious implications of this case for press freedom. The logs that Wikileaks revealed document, as Fintan O’Toole notes, “terrible things done to real human beings”. Let us be clear then that Assange is being persecuted for essentially exposing war crimes, governmental deceit, military cover-ups and ultimately the true wholescale horror of the disastrous, futile wars led by the US and British governments, facts that powerful political leaders do not want the public to know.

Dangled from the ramparts by the warmongering political leaders of America and Britain, Assange’s persecution is being used to silence other whistle-blowers, journalists, editors and publishers. It is the duty of all working in the media to join the growing international campaign to get the charges against him dropped and have him released from prison. – Yours, etc,

JIM ROCHE,

Irish Anti-War Movement, Dublin 1.