Lowkey is a hip-hop artist and political campaigner. He has worked with Immortal Technique, Wretch 32, Akala, Dead Prez and Outlawz. He is part of the super group Mongrel alongside members of the Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles and Reverend And The Makers. The band released their album Better than Heavy in tandem with the Independent newspaper. His critically acclaimed music has received millions of streams on Spotify, sold over 25k albums digitally and garnered over 45 million YouTube views, with his most recent album Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 having been streamed millions of times. Lowkey has come out strongly against the detention and prosecution of Julian Assange, warning that what happens to the award-winning WikiLeaks publisher and journalist "will affect us all".
Sputnik: You've been quite outspoken in respect of the treatment and prosecution of Julian Assange. Why is that?
Lowkey: Well, Julian Assange has done more than anyone in my lifetime alongside his organisation, WikiLeaks, to expose what are known as - according to Donald Rumsfeld - "unknown unknowns". [Historian and philosopher] Peter Gallison in the book, Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance, guesses that the classified universe is not smaller - and it's very much, probably,larger than the unclassified one. We know that in the first year of the 'War on Terror', there were 33 million classified actions that took place by the US government. And they spent $5.5 billion in that year alone, to keep classified documents secure. When we look at who Julian Assange would have upset through WikiLeaks, we see governments far and wide-ranging from the Peruvian government, the Kenyan government, the Chinese government, the Iranian government, the German government, the Syrian government, the Saudi government, the Yemeni, the Turkish, the Russian, the French and the government of the UAE.
However, the only government that has attempted to — and successfully kept him incarcerated for over a decade— and is now attempting to have him extradited, where he faces over 170 years in prison, is the United States government. When we think about the things that were revealed through WikiLeaks, they were performing a very essential public service and that public service is informing people about how their taxes are spent and how their purportedly democratic governments are behaving when the lights are off and the cameras are nowhere to be seen.
Sputnik: What is it that you think is most important for people to know and understand about this case?
Lowkey: I would say the most important thing for people to absorb is that what happens to him will not only be about him, and will not be isolated to him. The ramifications of a successful extradition and then prosecution of Julian Assange will be chilling to all genuine journalists who, rather than performing as stenographers that blindly reproduce press releases given to them by the MoD [Ministry of Defence] and by the US Department of Defense and the Pentagon - journalists who actually want to encourage a critical thinking on the behind on the part of the populations of these countries, we know that it will really have terrible, terrible ramifications for all of them.
The reality is that what happens to Julian Assange will affect us all and it is for that reason that we must do everything we can to protect him.
Sputnik: Finally, how do you respond to Judge Vanessa Baraitser's ruling in the extradition case of Julian Assange? She did after all rule against extraditing him to the US.
Lowkey: Well, obviously, that is a statement of fact when she says that US prison system would not be safe for him, people within the US prison system of five times more likely to commit suicide than [in] the general population. However, the worry is that the main assertions of the US government were not challenged in any meaningful way [by the judge]. So it was kind of a get-out clause for the British government, and it leaves intact the very same logic that can be used to harm others. And obviously with the bipartisan dedication to getting their man, the United States is unlikely to retreat and go quietly into the night.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and concision.