Edward Snowden Is Asking You To Help Julian Assange

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • American whistleblower Edward Snowden spoke at The Belmarsh Tribunal via a livestream from his remote location in Moscow over the weekend.

    • In part, he was urging people to stand up for Julian Assange as he faces another extradition hearing this week.

    • The US continues to push to extradite Assange for exposing the government's war crimes.

  • Reflect On:
    • Are Assange's rights the same as ours?

    • If he loses his, do we eventually lose ours?

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Julian Assange has a big week coming up. He will find out just how hard The US will push to get him extradited for revealing secrets the powerful elite wanted to remain hidden. A UK judge had previously denied his extradition to the US, but the US government appealed and a hearing was granted for Oct 27th and 28th, 2021.

Assange and his legal team attempted to block the hearing, citing Assange’s declining physical and mental health, but his appeal was denied and the hearing will march on.

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Speaking in exile from Moscow to the audience of the Belmarsh Tribunal, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden stood up for Assange again, pushing back on the US and UK for treating a journalist, who’s done nothing wrong, as a criminal.

“What we are witnessing is a murder that passes without comment. […] an allegation of journalism in the first degree. […] When I came forward in 2013, I said the reason that I came forward was that we have a right to know that which is done to us, and that which is done in our name by our governments. That was already under threat and when you look at the world since it seems that that trend is accelerating.”

Edward Snowden

Snowden is a rebel himself, taking a stand for ‘doing the right thing’ in the face of corrupt governments. Assange had done similar, revealing war crimes the US had committed during their occupation in Iraq, among many other things.

Snowden went on to call upon people to do more to stand up for Assange,

“Do we still have that right? Do we have any rights? Today we see someone who has stood up to defend that right who has aggressively championed that right at an extreme cost and it’s time for us to defend his rights.”

Assange has long been a hero amongst people who believe the government should be held accountable for their crimes and who believe their power has grown too great – people like myself. As a journalist watching what is happening to Assange, I can only imagine how he feels. We’ve gone through extreme hardship as censorship and demonetization has completely uprooted our business and company, but I am free, not sitting in a prison like Assange is.

According to Snowden,

“[Assange] has been charged as a political criminal – something that I understand quite well – but he has been charged as the purest sort of political criminal for having committed the transgression of choosing the wrong side. […] “The charges are absolutely an unadorned legal fiction,”

Edward Snowden

The fact that Assange can be held in prison for what he has done shows not only how much power governments and powerful elite figures have, but it also shows how steep their control over mass perception truly is. They have been able to use the media to convince the public that what Assange is going through is right. Perhaps the biggest sign of mass psychosis in this case is watching most journalists in mainstream media go along with the governments ideas about Assange, effectively putting their own profession at risk and doing the opposite of what it was designed to do – hold the government accountable.

If extradited and convicted in the US, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison. 10 years for each of the 17 charges filed under the Espionage Act, and five for a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violation.

Hopefully more of us can take a moment to step back, take a breath and think about whether we have given government too much power. Assange’s fiancée, Stella Morris, said, “His rights that are being violated are your rights too. If he loses this, we all lose.” Perhaps this is a defining moment bigger than most of us realize. What are we willing to do in it?

Perhaps the public can make enough noise and make the UK judge on his case think twice about sending Assange to certain death in a US supermax prison. After all, Assange has devoted his life to uncovering the truth for the good of the people – is that the fate you would choose for him?

“A successful prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder, which hinges on an allegation of conspiracy between a publisher and sources, would hamper reporters’ ability to work with sources and whistleblowers and unearth information that the public should know. The Biden administration should stop trying to extradite Assange and drop all charges against him.”

– CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney.

We often live from the perspective of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Whether consciously or subconsciously, this is how we seem to let go of what is happening to people like Julian Assange. Perhaps 40 years from now, when we recognize him as a hero, we will make a gesture for him, but by then it would be too late.

What stops us from acting in this moment? What stops us from questioning what’s happening to him and doing something to hold government accountable? Why must humans always be pushed to the brink before we stand up? Are we even able to see how much this situation affects us now and in the years to come?

“How far have we sunk if telling the truth becomes a crime? How far have we sunk if we prosecute people that expose war crimes for exposing war crimes? How far have we sunk when we no longer prosecute our own war criminals? Because we identify more with them than we identify with the people that actually expose these crimes. What does that tell about us and about our governments? In a democracy, the power does not belong to the government, but to the people. But the people have to claim it. Secrecy disempowers the people because it prevents them from exercising democratic control, which is precisely why governments want secrecy.”

Nils Melzer, Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of Int Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Prof of Int Law at the University of Glasgow, UN Rapporteur on Torture and Other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

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