Happy Birthday Julian Assange: The High Price of Truth

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Julian Assange
Julian Assange

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”― George Orwell

Happy Birthday Julian Assange: A Prisoner of Conscience in the Modern World

On his 52nd birthday, Julian Assange, the journalist, whistleblower, truth-sayer, son, husband, and father, finds himself confined within the walls of Belmarsh prison—a sombre occasion that serves as a stark reminder of his enduring captivity and the victim of state revenge.

As the oppressive walls of Belmarsh prison enclose around him, we are confronted with the grim reality of a man whose only “crime” was exposing the dark underbelly of war crimes and government wrongdoing. His sin? Uncovering uncomfortable truths that those in power sought to keep hidden from the public eye.

Today, we extend our wishes to Julian Assange, acknowledging that any semblance of happiness is unimaginable in the face of his nightmarish predicament. It is a bittersweet travesty that his wife and two children must visit him in prison as if he were a common criminal when the key to their happiness lies not in a short visit overlooked by guards but in the reversal of his extradition and his immediate release. However, as Western governments inch closer to authoritarian rule, that birthday wish seems to be slipping further away.

Stella Assange and children
Stella Assange and children #FreeAssangeNow

The price Julian Assange and his family have paid for his unwavering commitment to journalistic integrity have been steep, with his health steadily deteriorating within the unforgiving confines of Belmarsh, a high-security prison notorious for its harsh conditions.

It is this harrowing tale and its telling that should stir the hearts of all journalists, bloggers, and truth-tellers alike. For seven arduous years, Assange sought refuge within the Ecuadorian embassy, followed by an additional five years in Belmarsh, with every passing moment haunted by the fear of extradition to the United States—a place where he would undoubtedly face an unfair trial and a draconian prison sentence.

Let us not mince words here—Julian Assange’s prolonged incarceration is a calculated tactic by the UK and the US governments to deter others from stepping forward to expose similar crimes. By making an example out of Assange, they aim to instil fear in anyone who dares to speak truth to power.

At the core of Assange’s case lies the publication of leaked classified documents—a testament to his work with WikiLeaks. The dissemination of information in the public interest lies at the very heart of media freedom and the public’s right to be informed about governmental wrongdoing. This act, protected under international human rights law, should never be subjected to criminalisation.

Julian-Assange

The decision by former Home Secretary Priti Patel to approve his extradition is a blatant slap in the face of justice, further confirming our suspicions of a vendetta against Assange. This is nothing short of revenge—a deliberate move to silence dissent and launch a direct assault on press freedom. The charges brought against him under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act are thinly veiled attempts to criminalize the very essence of investigative journalism, jeopardizing the foundations of democracy itself.

The potential extradition of Julian Assange poses an existential threat to the essence of press freedom—a danger that cannot be ignored or underestimated. If allowed to proceed, it would signal open season on journalistic practices, empowering governments to silence those who dare to expose their wrongdoings, regardless of international borders. The consequences are chilling, not only for the fourth estate but for the very fabric of our democracy.

Let us be unequivocal: the dissemination of information in the public interest is an inalienable right enshrined in international human rights law. Yet, the relentless pursuit of Assange by the US government for his journalistic pursuits is an outright assault on this fundamental principle. By making an example out of him, they send a troubling message—a message that emboldens autocrats and undermines the very values we claim to uphold.

How can the United States, or indeed the United Kingdom, lay claim to being beacons of democracy? How can we point fingers at other nations for suppressing free press and dissent when we allow such a travesty to unfold within our borders? The hypocrisy is deafening, and we must confront it head-on.

In the face of this injustice, we must stand united, demanding justice for Julian Assange—a resolute defender of truth in our modern world. It is incumbent upon us to advocate for his immediate release and safeguard the future of press freedom. This battle is not solely about one man’s fate; it is about the very soul of journalism and our right to be informed.

The eyes of the world are upon us as history unfurls its pages, and we bear the responsibility of ensuring that it unfolds in the right direction—towards liberty, justice, and the vindication of Julian Assange.

On his birthday, the only way to honour him is to fervently demand his immediate release from prison, his freedom from extradition, and his protection from further persecution. Anything less would be a grave travesty of justice and an indelible stain on our collective conscience.

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