Peace Train: Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange caught in repressive regime

If Assange is extradited, this will make a mockery of international law

The U.S. effort to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain continues.

The U.S. political, intelligence and military leadership wants revenge for the embarrassment and harm to the nation’s standing in the world caused by WikiLeaks’ publication of materials documenting numerous U.S. lies and crimes. Note that WikiLeaks was joined by the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel in publishing much of the material WikiLeaks obtained from Chelsea Manning.

Manning, a courageous and conscientious U.S. Army intelligence analyst, found evidence of appalling U.S. crimes. The public needed to know about these crimes, and thus Manning leaked huge amounts of information to WikiLeaks.

In an effort to intimidate future highly moral people from becoming whistle blowers, a U.S. military court lowered the boom on Manning with a sentence of 35 years in prison for these leaks. After serving nearly seven years in prison, some in solitary confinement, President Barack Obama finally commuted all but four months of her sentence in January 2017.

In June 2017, Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News uncovered a 2011 U.S. military report that found the leaks by Manning had no strategic impact on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Clearly U.S. officials lied when they claimed that the leaks significantly harmed national security. This report’s finding also undercut a key premise for the U.S. effort pressuring Britain to extradite Assange, a person who had effectively been a prisoner in the Ecuador Embassy and then in a British prison for eight years.

Despite this finding by the U.S. military, President Donald Trump continued his war on journalists and a free press with this extradition request/demand. Unfortunately Manning was used as a pawn in the effort to nail Assange.

For example, in March 2019 Manning was called to testify before a grand jury in a case brought by the U.S. government against Assange and WikiLeaks. Unsurprisingly, Manning courageously refused to play along. As a result of that refusal and of another refusal to testify before a second grand jury, she served approximately another year in jail and was fined more than $250,000. Manning was finally released after the second grand jury’s term expired.

The Assange extradition hearing resumed on Sept. 7. During the first week of this show trial, expert witnesses clearly demonstrated the political nature of this effort despite the U.S. government’s claim to the contrary.

However, the expert testimony and facts may have little effect given the bias shown against Assange by British Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser in her previous rulings. She seems determined to accede to the U.S. request, despite the extradition being in violation of the 2003 Extradition Treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. This treaty prohibits extradition based on political grounds. If this biased British magistrate rules to extradite Assange, her decision will make a mockery of international law and national sovereignty.

For more information on this show trial, see the article by Peter Hitchens at

A recent article by Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker concludes by saying: “It pushes out the fact that the United States is attempting to accomplish what repressive regimes can only dream of: deciding what journalists around the globe can and cannot write. It pushes out the fact that all whistleblowers and journalism itself, not just Assange, is on trial here.”

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