On Tuesday and Wednesday the 20th and 21st of February 2024, in the Royal Courts of Justice in Westminster, Julian Assange will be making his last allowable appeal within the UK judicial system against extradition to the United States. There will be a rally outside the Courts on both dates, starting at 8.30 a.m. If you are able to attend, this is a crucially important moment for Assange and may be his last chance to avoid extradition.

Many people are apathetic about the Assange trial. This is no doubt due, in large part, to the smearing he has been exposed to in much of the press. It is difficult to enthusiastically support someone when the media have consistently encouraged you to dislike or distrust them.

But Assange deserves our support not because of the kind of person he may or may not be, but because of his actions in exposing war crimes and corporate or state failings, and because his extradition poses a threat to the freedom of the press and the publication of whistleblowing information.

If Julian Assange is incarcerated for exposing state malfeasance, then journalists everywhere will think twice about doing the same. In exposing any form of state crime, will they ultimately find themselves extradited to, and imprisoned by, the very state they are holding to account?

In tackling the manufactured apathy towards Assange’s cause, it is necessary to challenge the most common smears levelled against him. The writer and activist Caitlin Johnstone has addressed this comprehensively here: https://caityjohnstone.medium.com/debunking-all-the-assange-smears-a549fd677cac.

For convenience I summarise and/or paraphrase her analysis below, in some cases adding my own slant.


In fact, in 2013, the Pentagon ruled there was no evidence that the Chelsea Manning leaks, released by WikiLeaks and for the publication of which Assange is being indicted, had any impact on US strategic interests. The agent leading the review stated it did not lead to any US troop or agent deaths: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/bradley-manning-sentencing-hearing-pentagon.


In fact,

a) He published redacted docs despite pressure from the Guardian to do otherwise.

b) WikiLeaks only published the unredacted docs after Cryptome and others had already put them in the public domain.

c) Guardian journalists are implicated in initially making the unredacted docs available to the public, not Assange: https://WikiLeaks.org/Guardian-journalist-negligently.html.



a) There’s no evidence for this. If you have some (that’s not just an allegation), bring it on! (Note to reader: Accusation does not = proof.)

b) Russia didn’t provide the leaks that Assange is being extradited for… Chelsea Manning did, and she was a US asset not a Russian one.


In fact,

a) Unless you believe ‘Accusation = Proof’ there’s no evidence of this. It’s denied by both WikiLeaks and Assange.

b) Donald Trump Jr asked WikiLeaks for assistance. WikiLeaks refused.

c) Assange, with some justification, disliked Hilary Clinton (Clinton hounded WikiLeaks), but his views on Trump were equally scathing. In July 2016 Assange compared the choice between Clinton and Trump to a choice between cholera and gonorrhoea.

He was no fan of either.



a) Both Assange and Farage claim otherwise.

b) If you claim he did, please provide your evidence since no one has to-date. (Note: Allegations you may have read in the media don’t amount to evidence.)

c) Assange is one of the most surveilled and vilified people in the world. If he really conspired with Trump, Bannon, Farage, Russian agents etc do you really think the UK or US governments would choose to hide it?


No evidence was produced in a court of law to back up any accusation of rape and the rape accusation was withdrawn by the accuser prior to charge or trial. It appears the accuser’s original intention was to find a means of coercing Assange to take an HIV test. A second accuser claimed Assange deliberately tore a condom which they then used as a part of consensual sex, but the item in question when submitted to the police revealed neither the accuser’s nor Assange’s DNA: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/missing-dna-evidence-in-julian-assange-sexual-assault-case-newspaper-says/news-story/c9b3ebdfe4f9ccb02dc094d900e56b8f.

Assange was never formally charged by the Swedish authorities on the basis of either of these accusations, though he was summoned for questioning, and it is this which generated the arrest warrant for him. The questioning could have taken place in the UK but the UK authorities refused to give permission for this.

It has been reported that the original accuser felt corralled into making their allegation before subsequently withdrawing it. The Swedish authorities dropped the case prior to a misconduct hearing relating to the Swedish prosecutor’s handling of the case.

For a compelling repudiation of the rape accusation, please see this article by Nils Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture: https://medium.com/@njmelzer/response-to-open-letter-of-1-july-2019-7222083dafc8.


Assange has always been clear about his reasons for taking refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador: it was to avoid extradition to the United States for sharing the evidence of war crimes provided to WikiLeaks by a US Intelligence whistleblower. It is now clear this was a legitimate concern.

Assange offered to return to Sweden if Sweden or the United States guaranteed Sweden would not subsequently extradite him to the US. Both countries refused to provide this guarantee, so he took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy.


Yes, he did – but so what?

a) He had already spent sufficient time under house arrest to cover any penalty for this; and

b) Wouldn’t you, if the alternative was an unjust and politically motivated extradition to a US prison?



a) He does what journalists do: providing the public with information which powerful vested interests would prefer we didn’t see.

b) He has received numerous prestigious journalistic awards.

c) He is a member of the Australian Media Union.

d) Even if this were true, so what? His incarceration awaiting extradition for exposing war crimes is a threat to anyone who wants to expose government or state wrong-doing, so it’s a threat to openness, justice AND journalism whether he’s a journalist or not.

Are you happy with that?


Have you ever wondered why anyone who threatens the establishment or the worldview of the powerful miraculously ‘turns out’ to be some form of monster?

In making personal attacks on Assange you are effectively parroting the smears of the powerful…. and further entrenching their power.

Why would you do that?


That’s it. I suspect you get the drift. When anyone exposes war crimes or the corruption of the powerful, if they can’t simply shoot them, their spokespeople in the media and politics will smear them into oblivion.

In Assange’s case, I am confident the United States authorities would indeed be happy to see him dead. This isn’t in fact hyperbole, as shown here: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/sep/27/senior-cia-officials-trump-discussed-assassinating-julian-assange).

Also of great importance, is the clear intent of the United States to make an example of Assange, in order to intimidate anyone who might be considering whistleblowing or publishing further whistleblowing information. This is why numerous journalistic organisations oppose the US case against him and his extradition to the state whose crimes he exposed: https://europeanjournalists.org/blog/2024/02/14/uk-assange-prosecution-threatens-press-freedom/.

You can find a list of 10 of the most significant leaks that came from the Chelsea Manning material published by WikiLeaks here: https://slate.com/technology/2013/06/bradley-manning-trial-10-revelations-from-WikiLeaks-documents-on-iraq-afghanistan-pakistan-and-europe.html. In all cases, a strong public interest argument can be made for disclosure.


With thanks to David G. Silvers, Cancillería del Ecuador, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons, for the Assange photo.

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