Ex-UN Expert: Biden's 'Summit for Democracy' is Sheer Hypocrisy Amid US Effort to Persecute Assange
17:19 GMT 11.12.2021 (Updated: 18:30 GMT 03.11.2022)
On Human Rights Day, a British court ruled to that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the US where he might face a decades-long prison term. The ruling indicates that the US and UK are just paying lip service to human rights and democratic principles, says retired UN Independent Expert Alfred-Maurice de Zayas.
US President Joe Biden on 9-10 December held the first virtual "Summit for Democracy" which brought together over 100 nations. While Biden was weighing down on the necessity of protecting basic human rights and freedoms, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean the UK green-lighted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange extradition to the US. If extradited, Assange will face espionage charges that could put him in jail for decades for exposing bombshell documents detailing the US military misconduct and apparent war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
'Persecution of Journalists is Incompatible With Democratic Governance'
"The so-called summit for democracy is a painful exercise in hypocrisy," says retired UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order Alfred-Maurice de Zayas. "The persecution of journalists is totally incompatible with democratic governance. Many do recognise Assange as an emblematic human rights defender who deserves international solidarity, indeed he deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace because by revealing war crimes and crimes against humanity, Assange has revealed the barbarism of war and aggression."
De Zayas has criticised the countries involved in the summit for attending and not speaking out in Assange's defence. According to the retired UN expert, Western democracies' silence about the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder "completely delegitimises" them.
"Assange did what every journalist does – inform people, publish information that we have a right to know," de Zayas highlights. "As an American, I am embarrassed that it is my country that is putting up this extravaganza. As a practising Christian, I wish that the United States would start by repairing US democracy rather than dictating to others what to do. We should first sweep at our own doorstep."
2 November 2021, 16:48 GMT
Assange's Extradition to US Spells Danger to Journalistic Profession
De Zayas argues that the UK court's decision to allow Assange's extradition to the US contradicts "fundamental principles of non-refoulment and contravenes the Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights."
"The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has held on repeated occasions that Assange’s detention is arbitrary and contrary to article 9 ICCPR," the former UN expert emphasises. "The UN rapporteur on torture, Professor Nils Melzer, determined that Assange’s treatment amounted to physical and psychological torture under article 7 ICCPR, that he has been held under conditions that violate article 10 ICCPR, and that he must be released and granted compensation for the indignities he has endured."
In his book Der Fall Julian Assange (Piper, Munich), Melzer details the corruption of the rule of law in the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador exposing multiple violations of the ICCPR by the aforementioned states. "Moreover, the collusion among countries that are all States parties to the ICCPR is hard to swallow, because all of these countries pay lip service to human rights," the ex-UN expert notes.
28 September 2021, 18:51 GMT
However, it's not only Julian Assange whose rights have been violated, according to de Zayas: "It is the right of all of us to know what crimes have been committed, our right to demand accountability from our democratically elected leaders."
De Zayas warns that "the journalistic profession is under frontal attack
." No journalist can now feel safe
after the US was given the green light to extradite an Australian citizen by the British court, therefore creating a dangerous legal precedent.
Australian MPs have recently demanded Prime Minister Scott Morrison intervene in the case of Assange, according
to The Guardian.
"An Australian citizen is being prosecuted for publishing details of war crimes, yet our government sits on its hands and does nothing," Adam Bandt, the Australian Greens leader, told Guardian Australia.
For his part, independent MP Andrew Wilkie called upon the Australian premier to “end this lunacy” and demand Washington and London release Assange. De Zayas notes that many non-governmental organisations have also joined their voices to demand Assange’s release.
US Will Silence Assange One Way or the Other
Meanwhile, Assange's fiancée Stella Moris said that the WikiLeaks founder intended to appeal the latest court's ruling. De Zayas explains that the lower British court's ruling had copped out by deciding that Assange should not be extradited only on grounds of his ill health and mental condition.
However, the 10 December "disgraceful ruling" pretends that, after all, Assange’s health "is not all that bad," the ex-UN expert notes, adding that "what still remains to be decided on appeal is whether it is at all possible to extradite a person who faces continued persecution and mental torture from the US."
He does not believe, however, that Assange will be extradited: "The European Court of Human Rights will not permit it – and the outcry of Amnesty International, HRW and other powerful NGOs would be troublesome," de Zayas underscores. "Many UN Rapporteurs would make loud noises. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the High Commissioner for Human Rights would speak out."
17 August 2021, 12:07 GMT
At the same time, de Zayas expects yet another travesty on the part of Western authorities: they may try to keep Assange “bottled up” in Belmarsh as long as possible. And this is fraught with serious risks for the WikiLeaks founder given his poor health, according to the former UN expert.
"The team of medical doctors and psychiatrists who accompanied Professor Nils Melzer during his visits to Assange stated clearly that his life is in acute danger," he says. "This entails multiple violations of the Convention against Torture – but the corporate media does not tell us that."
It appears that the US establishment wants to punish Julian Assange so severely that no future whistleblower will ever dare do what Assange did, de Zayas notes, stressing that this directly contradicts all democratic values.
According to de Zayas, notwithstanding all the propaganda about the US as a “democratic” country, history demonstrates a consistent pattern of cruelty toward the Native Americans
, toward the Afro-Americans, toward Latin American immigrants, and those who dare to speak the truth. At the same time, rich and powerful are enjoying total impunity for committing what could be qualified by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as crimes of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, the former UN official concludes.