August, 3, 2012 – By: Deborah Dupre
The mother of WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange is seeking refuge in the small safe haven nation, Ecuador, due the Assanges’ fear of United States persecution, a justified concern, according to The Guardian on Thursday. The American government, that claims world leadership in press freedom and democracy, is using Assange as an example of what will happen to other journalists and human rights defenders who expose high-level government corruption, The Guardian reports.
Assange’s and his mother’s concerns of U.S. persecution are justified on two counts, according to The Guardian:
“A grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, empanelled to investigate violations of the Espionage Act – a statute that by its very nature targets speech – has subpoenaed Twitter feeds regarding Assange and WikiLeaks. An FBI agent, testifying at whistleblower Bradley Manning’s trial, said that “founders, owners and managers” of WikiLeaks are being investigated.
“And then there is Assange’s 42,135-page FBI file – a compilation of curious heft if the government is “not interested” in investigating its subject.”
In considering whether Assangs’s concerns about being treated inhumanely if extradited to the US, The Guardian reports, “One need only consider how the US treated Bradley Manning, the army private who allegedly leaked the cables to WikiLeaks to see why.”
Manning spent nearly a year in 23 hours a day solitary confinement and then eight months “under conditions designed to pressure him into providing evidence to incriminate Assange”: stripped of clothing and made to stand nude for inspection.
Thousands of people, including legal scholars and the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, have condemned the U.S. treatment of Manning as inhumane and torturous.
“There is no reason for Assange to expect he will be treated any better.”
Assange’s mother, Christine Assange who is lobbying Ecuador to provide safe haven for her son, fears he would face death penalty in U.S., according to The News International on Friday.
“There is absolutely no doubt that this is a political persecution, by the Swedish prosecutors and the police, with interference of the government,” Ms. Assange said.
U.S. is sending message to human rights defenders including journalists who expose government corruption
The U.S. has indicated a strong crack-down on human rights defenders including journalists, a large cohort of targeted individuals. The U.S. targeting Assange sends a clear message to other journalists who expose high-level government corruption.
The Guardian reports that “the US government is more concerned with investigating a journalist and publisher than the high-level government officials whose alleged war crimes and misdeeds Assange and his cohorts brought to light.
“Why? To send a message to others who might dare to expose government misconduct, who believe that transparency, exposing abuses, and dissembling hypocrisy strengthen democracy – and who act on those beliefs.
“In short, the US is intent on persecuting a crusading journalist and publisher for his political expression.”
Assange’s mother stated, “The US government feels that it can seek to try my son for espionage, and possibly executing him simply for doing the job of a good investigative journalist, which is telling the truth about power.”
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino says Ecuador will respond to the Assange request on August 12, after the London Olympics.