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Russia’s top MP calls out Western hypocrisy on Assange

The WikiLeaks founder would have been viewed as a ‘fighter for truth and freedom’ if his revelations had concerned Moscow or Beijing, according to Vyacheslav Volodin

Nations that support the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US will no longer be states based on the rule of law if the handover eventually happens, Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin argued in a Telegram post on Monday.

The situation around the detained whistleblower is an example of the lies, double standards, and spite on display from Washington, London, and Brussels, Volodin added.

Assange, now in his fifth year in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London despite having been convicted of no crime, faces 175 years in prison in the US for publishing documents via WikiLeaks that detailed alleged illegal US actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere. The files were leaked to him by former US soldier Chelsea Manning.

The published records and documents prove Washington’s involvement in coups and the instigation of wars, Volodin pointed out in his post. The leaked documents also purported to show that the US National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapped several European heads of state, including former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Assange “exposed Washington’s crimes. And the ‘world hegemon’ does not tolerate this kind of thing, destroying all those who disagree,” Volodin argued. The whistleblower would have been designated a ‘fighter for truth and freedom’ had his revelations concerned Russia or China rather than the US, according to the MP.

The fact that a person remains in a high-security prison without proven guilt “is nothing short of a scandal,” the lawmaker added.

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Australian PM backs Assange release calls

Assange was first arrested by British police in 2010 on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Sweden over allegations of sex crimes. He denied the accusations and claimed they were a pretext to extradite him to the US. In 2012, he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London only to be arrested again in 2019 after Ecuador revoked his political asylum.

The WikiLeaks founder is now awaiting the decision of the High Court in the UK on his appeal against extradition. He was not able to attend or even watch the recent proceedings remotely due to a sharp deterioration in his health.

In the US, Assange is facing 17 charges under the Espionage Act and a potential prison sentence of 175 years. The Espionage Act has never before been used to prosecute someone who published – but did not steal – classified material. Former US President Barack Obama refused to press charges against the Australian journalist for this very reason, arguing that Assange’s activity was protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

“His extradition would be a flagrant violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to freedom of speech,” Volodin warned.

 

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