Julian Assange is the subject of an experiment in legalised brutality

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In Franz Kafka’s classic dystopian novel, Josef K., a hitherto anonymous bank cashier, is arrested for a crime he knows not what and thereafter prosecuted by a remote and impenetrable authority. As the story unfolds, K.’s repeated attempts to get to the bottom of his predicament meet with failure at the hands of a bureaucratic machine that is intent on crushing him.

Towards the end of the novel, prior to his execution, K. happens to look up and see a human figure appear at the window of the top storey of the house next to the quarry into which he is about to be thrown dead by his executioners. ‘Who was it?” he asks himself in desperation. ‘A friend? A good man? Someone who sympathised? Someone who wanted to help? Was it one person only? Or was it mankind? Was help at hand? Were there arguments in his favour that had been overlooked?’

Following this week’s extradition hearings in the case of Julian Assange, it has been impossible to shake the feeling that the UK legal system has been utterly debased in its reduction to something approaching a posse of upper class reprobates acting not in the interests of justice but instead in the interests of a sheriff in Washington.

The result is Assange being treated in like manner as K. in Kafka’s novel, plunged into something approaching purgatory, tormented and tortured in a prolonged process of retribution and revenge that you’d associate with a totalitarian state rather than a civilised society and liberal democracy, all the while looking around in desperation for support and salvation in a world that has turned in on him.

The fact he was denied the right to sit beside his lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, in court during this week’s proceedings, and was forced instead to sit at the back of the courtroom in bulletproof glass box, thus unable to participate in his own defence, tells us all we need to know about the nature of this despicable farce.

Moreover, that after the first day of his extradition hearing Assange had his court papers confiscated by prison authorities at Belmarsh Category A Prison, where he’s been held since being forcibly removed from his political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April 2019, and that thereafter he was handcuffed 11 times and stripped naked twice, only confirms that the seeds of fascism are ever-present and only require the right combination of injustice and brutality to be nourished and grow.

As to those responsible for overseeing Assange’s purgatory, we have a cast of establishment ghouls — machine men and women with machine hearts dredged up from the swamp of privilege and who with relish in their eyes and malice in their souls are with evident glee engaged both overtly and covertly in the destruction of a man, Julian Assange, whose very existence is a of the lie and hypocrisy which underpins their own.

Two of those who are currently prominent in Assange’s plight are presiding district judge Vanessa Baraitser and supervising chief magistrate Lady Emma Arbuthnot. Thanks to the excellent investigative journalism of Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard it’s already been revealed that the latter ‘has financial links to the British military establishment, including institutions and individuals exposed by WikiLeaks’ (my emphasis).

This they have the gall to describe as due process.

If extradited Assange will be charged in the US under the country’s Espionage Act, a draconian piece of legislation that was originally drafted in 1917 to forestall opposition to conscription after the US entered the First World War. It was under its provisions that Eugene Debs, the great American socialist agitator and antiwar campaigner, was charged with sedition, prosecuted and sent to prison for 10 years.

At his trial, upon being convicted, Debs said in his statement to the court, ‘I look upon the Espionage Law as a despotic enactment in flagrant conflict with democratic principles and with the spirit of free institutions’.

Julian Assange is our Eugene Debs. Though separated by a century time-wise, in spirit and in deed they are one and the same — heretics who refused to go along to get along when it came to mass murder being unleashed in the name of ‘progress’.

James Connolly it was who said that ‘Apostles of freedom are ever idolised when dead, but crucified while alive’. With this in mind may I politely suggest that it is the job of all right thinking people to not only see that Assange is brought down from his cross alive, but to ensure that the bastards responsible for putting him there are crucified in his place.


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