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Wallraff: "Assange has become a scapegoat"

ASSANGE"It is incomprehensible that an undermining of the rule of law to such an extent can take place in a democracy like Sweden," says Günter Wallraff in a conversation with MODERN TIMES about the Julian Assange case. And adds: "The death sentence is as good as handed down."

(Partly machine-translated from Norwegian by Gtranslate (extended Google))

Arne Ruth
Ruth is a former editor-in-chief of Dagens Nyheter.

[A BETTER TRANSLATION WILL APPEAR SOON!]. AR: – What made you start a support campaign for Julian Assange in Germany?

GW: – It was an article in the serious weekly newspaper Die Zeit that made me react. I realized that the Assange trial was more than just a case of international abuse. I managed to get hundreds of signatures for a petition that we then got inserted as a full-page advertisement in the influential German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine. Normally, the newspaper is a conservative voice in Germany. We got a discount and paid only a third of the normal advertising price. We had heavy politicians on the list, among them a former foreign minister, an interior minister and a party leader for the Greens. All three joined the press conference when we launched the appeal. And we brought in famous personalities and journalists. This was a breakthrough for a German support movement for Julian Assange.

AR: – When I heard about your initiative, I called you. We wanted to create a similar movement in Sweden with harsh criticism of the Swedish government's role. In one week we got 72 famous names with us. We created a website, www.netjulianfree.org, and more than 3000 international names quickly signed the petition. But we received no response from the government to our appeal, which was directed at it. The Swedish media also chose to remain silent, both about the appeal and about the government's lack of response.

"The treatment of Assange can be seen as a measure, a litmus test of future boundaries for journalism and freedom of expression. It's a scary perspective. "
Günter Wallraff

GW: – Before our initiative, there was almost no information about Assange in Germany. When he was mentioned, it was usually in a condescending way or by asking questions about his motives. He was obviously to be silenced to death. But as we highlighted the facts, public opinion changed. We succeeded in reversing the trend.

AR: – As I see it, Sweden is still stuck in the same prejudices against Assange that characterized Germany at the beginning of the year. What is happening now is a personal act of revenge by forces in the Swedish judiciary. Assange has become a scapegoat. It is incomprehensible that an undermining of the rule of law to such an extent can take place in a democracy like Sweden.

GW: – When I was threatened by the German judiciary after my revelations, I could always count on support from your country, Sweden. Swedish society was a democratic role model. Sweden defends democratic legal principles. And it was not just in theory! Sweden had a prime minister who dared to speak in plain text Vietnam. Olof Palme's statements received worldwide attention. He embodied global legal principles. All this has now been turned upside down both in theory and in practice!

- UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has examined the court documents about Assange in Swedish archives. He masters Swedish. His conclusion is that the official Sweden launched accusations of rape that lacked a legal basis. One would have expected that such a serious accusation would create a great deal of attention in Sweden. But the Swedish government called Melzer junk. And the Swedish media did not react to Melzer's conclusions or to the authorities dismissing his accusations.

- For me, this is totally irresponsible. Melzer is a key witness to the many systematic abuses against Julian Assange. When he visited Julian in prison in London with two specialists in psychological torture, their criticism had an international impact.

Assange deserves our support

AR: – How do you assess the consequences of the Swedish culture of silence?

GW: – The treatment of Assange can be seen as a measure, a litmus test on future boundaries for journalism and freedom of expression. It's a scary perspective. Melzer calls the ongoing treatment of Assange in Belmarsh Prison a deliberate form of psychological torture. Ordinary prisoners, including those convicted of murder, may receive visits from children and relatives. And they get to have confidential conversations with their lawyers. Assange is denied all this. One deliberately creates difficulties for Assange in his daily life.

- One increases to make him desperate by an ongoing and conscious form of decorientering. The abuses are getting stronger.

- Assange is prevented from participating in his own trial on normal terms. In the courtroom, he is placed behind a glass wall, much like an animal to be observed and still kept separate from others. He can be kept in solitary confinement for 11 hours a day. He is not even allowed to hug his children. He was denied contact with his lawyer for several months.

All this is about depriving him of dignity, of breaking him down as a human being.

- All this is about depriving him of dignity, of breaking him down as a human being. It is an extended form of killing. He deserves to be called a martyr. But a martyr is not necessarily a saint. Assange has had a difficult emotional life, but he has overcome these problems.

- Assange deserves our unreserved support. But our compassion for him must also have a political dimension. We must not turn a blind eye to the political guilt of those who call him a criminal. If he is extradited to the United States, it also means that we are throwing all our democratic values ​​overboard.

- The consequences of this will haunt us. The international undermining of legal principles is already in full swing. Extradition to the United States will mean a total collapse of the credibility of the British judiciary. The death sentence has been handed down.

- The district of Virginia, where the court is located, is also a central area for the US intelligence service. Everyone who has been brought before this court has been convicted according to predetermined plans. Even the jury members are recruited from among CIA agents.

Democratic counter-forces

AR: – If you compare your own working methods with Assanges, do you see similarities and differences?

GW: – I have worked in a different way. My working methods are also very different from others. Everything I reveal, I must have experienced from within, on my own. For Assange, WikiLeaks is a network where you can penetrate to get an overview of the whole. When I myself went towards power structures I wanted to investigate, I stopped right at the edge. I got support from people further inside the system. They helped me find the abuse of power that was going on inside.

- In addition to drawing attention to Assange, I must show my great respect for Chelsea Manning. Both live under the pressure of constantly being condemned. Manning deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. The journalist who revealed Hitler's rearmament, Carl von Ossietzky, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935. It was an important political celebration.

"Extradition to the United States will mean a total collapse of the credibility of the British judiciary. The death sentence has been handed down. " Wallraff

- Although I do not want to equate the United States with Germany in the 1930s, we must acknowledge an important fact: There is an American state in the state that acts in a way that no one can predict: the intelligence service. Add an unpredictable president (Trump) who called all criticism "fake news."

- Then it is inevitable that such a power structure uses terrorist methods. This includes manipulation of journalists. The goal is for Washington's definition of "national security" to affect power structures in all other countries.

Carl von Ossietzky said something that can guide us in our view of Julian Assange: "We can not trust the world's conscience as long as our own conscience is asleep." Both are driven by their own conscience.

- WikiLeaks revealed war crimes of the worst kind. As in a computer game, we can in the WikiLeaks leaked video Collateral Murder from Iraq see how people are massacred, and experience how the killers show their hurt joy in a series of outbursts of joy. Children were seriously injured, it is described in detail. But the war criminals get no punishment. No one is held personally responsible.

- We need new media that systematically report on war crimes, and we must build a cross-border opinion that ensures that the culprits are brought to justice.

- The case of Julian Assange is not just about justice, guilt or innocence. US intelligence services are working to exercise global power. They want to influence us all. We must create democratic counter-forces that cannot be limited by national legal ideas such as the German or the Swedish. If democratic principles are to have a chance of survival, we must promote new forms of popular movement across national borders. We must also find allies among active politicians. I believe in that possibility.

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