Is what Wikileaks commits a crime
Imprisoned Wikileaks founder - Assange's father: "They make him suffer to scare us"
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John Shipton fights for the release of the Wikileaks founder. An encounter with a father on a mission.
Somehow he reminds of Albert Einstein, with a little more baldness. Shed, uncombed white hair, the glasses are low. 75 years old is John Shipton. His voice is so calm, so monotonous, you have to listen carefully not to miss anything. Even when he verbally kicks someone on the shin, he sounds like a nice grandfather.
"Your questions only serve the people and institutions who have an interest in further distracting from the criminality of these crimes," he complains. He lowered his gaze as if he were embarrassed about the confrontation.
It seems clear that Shipton is almost always surrounded by people who adore his son. From journalists who see their colleague as a role model, from human rights activists who celebrate him as a martyr. In any case, Shipton is not used to critical questions and has little patience with those who ask them.
For example, the question of whether his son Julian Assange did not help Donald Trump to victory in 2016 by publishing internal e-mails for the American Democratic Party through the disclosure platform Wikileaks. He rolls his eyes. "This thing is cold coffee," he says. "The emails showed criminal activity by the Democrats." With that the subject is off the table.
Julian is not doing very well. First the years in the embassy and now this psychological torture.Author: John ShiptonFather of Julian Assange
For him maybe. But not for those who had celebrated Assange as an icon of progressive thought and free expression before the scandal; before he wreaked havoc on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Even today, many of Assange's supporters have not forgiven him for this. He has become an instrument of Vladimir Putin, so the allegation. The emails had been leaked to Wikileaks by Russian agents. For Shipton, that's not an issue. The result is crucial: the disclosure of illegality.
Thorn in the side of the mighty
Julian Assange was not yet born when his mother Christine left his father John Shipton in 1971 and moved in with Brett Assange, an actor. "He was my best friend," says Shipton, a former builder who seems to suffer from this breach of trust to this day. The little boy from back then was to develop into one of the most influential and controversial personalities of the last few decades.
Whether covert operations by the CIA, the machinations of the Scientology sect, the disposal of toxic waste or the shocking video of an American air strike on civilians in Iraq: Wikileaks and Julian Assange have been a thorn in the side of those in power and rulers around the world since 2006. The disclosure platform lets so-called whistleblowers upload documents via an anonymization network.
The publication of such raw data, secret reports, diplomatic dispatches and internal matters of parties and secret services broke state secrets, ended careers and, according to critics, risked the lives of innocent informants. While politicians and journalists, but also the public in many countries, welcome the release of secret or suppressed information, governments around the world have been fighting against the disclosure platform for years.
Julian Assange is her focus. Former President Donald Trump had called for the Australian to be extradited. The new American government under Joe Biden also wants to hold on to bringing the white-haired 49-year-old to justice in the USA. Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said in February that the US government would challenge a British judge's decision that Assange should not be extradited to the United States because of the risk that he would commit suicide. In her ruling on January 4th, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser had stated that "Assange is in such a state of mind that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".
Julian Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 after Sweden sought him on an international arrest warrant on allegations of rape. To this day, Assange denies having committed a crime.
Rather, accusation and arrest warrant are a means of extraditing him to the USA. There he faces 175 years imprisonment, maybe even the death penalty. The allegation of the American government: espionage.
Wikileaks had drawn the wrath of Washington after publishing thousands of pages of once-classified reports and documents produced by American military and intelligence agencies.
One of Wikileaks' most spectacular revelations was the video of an air strike on civilians in Iraq. There was also further information on alleged war crimes committed by American troops.
Cell neighbors of murderers and terrorists
Assange's self-imposed asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy lasted seven years. Quito even granted him citizenship. From the embassy balcony, he called on his supporters to put pressure on politicians and the judiciary. Only Assange could not leave the building in central London - the British police were ready day and night to arrest him.
In 2018, the Ecuadorian government's patience and hospitality ended. On the orders of the new President Lenin Moreno, the embassy first deprived him of internet access and then of his right to asylum. The British police arrested him on April 11, 2019. Since then, Assange has been in a solitary cell in a British maximum security prison - 23 hours a day. Terrorists and murderers are its neighbors.
Telephone call from the high-security wing
"He's not doing very well," says Shipton. "First the years in the embassy and now this psychological torture." For years the father has been trying to get the Australian government to bring his son home. But Canberra's close partnership with the United States prevents it from advocating for him in Washington.
These days Shipton is driving through the country with a group of activists to find support for the homecoming among the Australian population. To put pressure on the government from below. He does not hope for a just America: "The court specializing in espionage in the American state of Virginia has never declared anyone innocent."
Then Shipton's phone rings. He answers the call. It's Julian Assange.
"An eyesore for humanity"
Covid-19 has proven to be a blessing for those incarcerated in prison. Because visitors are not allowed, they are allowed to make phone calls more often. Ten minutes each time, then the line is cut. What did he discuss with his son? "It's nice of you to ask me," he says. "But I won't tell you." We, the media, the public, we should finally concentrate on what is important, he commands.
The enormous crimes that only came to light through the work of his son, for example. Since the beginning of the invasions of the countries in the Middle East by the US and its allies, six to seven million people have died. "Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan - the list is a document of the devil".
The term "crimes against humanity" is used too lightly. “Specifically, it means that someone murdered your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your children. The pole of sadness that hangs over the Middle East is an eyesore on humanity. It has to be corrected. " And those responsible would have to be held accountable.
Chronology of the Julian Assange case
2006: Julian Assange founds the Wikileaks disclosure platform. Whistleblowers can publish sensitive documents on the website.
2010: Wikileaks is making headlines around the world with the publication of secret US Army documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A video shows American soldiers killing several civilians, including two Reuters employees, from a helicopter. Experts speak of war crimes. The publications are very harmful to the US government.
2010: Sweden issues an arrest warrant for Julian Assange. The accusation: He is said to have sexually coerced two women in Sweden. Assange says the allegations are politically motivated. The British authorities arrested him but then released him on condition that he was not allowed to leave the country.
2011: The British High Court ruled that extradition to Sweden was legal. Assange fears that Sweden will extradite him to the United States. He objects.
2012: Assange flees to the Ecuadorian embassy in London after his appeal against extradition is rejected. He applies for political asylum.
2017: The Swedish public prosecutor's office has closed the investigation against Assange. A British arrest warrant is still in force against him because he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 and thus violated the bail requirements at the time.
2019, April: Ecuador has a new president and the new government is withdrawing political asylum from Assange. The British police arrested Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, also because of a preliminary application for extradition from the USA.
2019, June: The UK authorities receive an official extradition request from the USA. The US accuses Assange of violating the Espionage Act.
2020, February: The London extradition hearing begins. Only after an extradition could Assange be brought to trial in the USA. He faces up to 175 years in prison.
2020, September: After a long corona-related break, the hearing on the extradition request from the US judiciary will continue from September 7 to October 1.
2021, January: On January 4th, a court in London ruled not to extradite Assange to the United States. The US has announced that it will appeal the decision.
In his native Australia, prominent journalists have criticized Julian Assange for not being one of them. Because he publishes mostly raw data, unedited, not analyzed, cluster bombs, so to speak. Shipton says no: “This man has received 26 journalism awards, including the highest journalism award in Australia. He is and remains a journalist - a journalist without a taint of lies ».
"Does the sun rise in the morning?"
Is Assange a blood witness for freedom of expression and transparency? Another question that Shipton shows little sympathy for. Julian certainly does not make himself a martyr. “He'd rather come home and have a coffee with us. But he cannot because he is locked in a small room by others. So your question must be: Why are the powerful doing this? " The answer is clear: "They make him suffer in order to scare us into doing something like him."
When asked whether he will ever see his son in freedom again, the father answers both cryptically and surprisingly: "Does the sun rise in the morning?" He asks rhetorically. Of course his son will be free again one day. At the same time, Shipton had just claimed that he "used neither the tools of hope nor those of optimism."
Rendez-vous on March 11th, 2021, 12:30 p.m.
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