[A BETTER TRANSLATION WILL APPEAR SOON!]. Truth is a prerequisite for voters to be able to make good and informed choices. Therefore, whistleblowers are necessary for any living democracy. Whistleblowers need protection and encouragement.</p>
But those with power and authority have always wanted to cut off the wings of whistleblowers. Ibsen showed it clearly in En folkefiende, a drama that has become a concept, a jewel, for whistleblowers all over the world. Ibsen is celebrated like never before. Through the story of the struggle for clean water in a small Norwegian town, he showed us how truth is perceived as threatening by money power, political power and elites. But he also showed the central, but not always equally heroic, role of the media in the struggle for openness and truth.
In MODERN TIMES 'warning appendix, we discuss how leading forces, governing powers, but also the media in Sweden and Norway, have shown a lack of respect for the rule of law, human rights and freedom of expression. Much of the material will be about the United States' role in freedom of expression and notification cases. This is how it will be when the world's leading superpower takes such an aggressive line towards basic human rights and the rest of the world kneels reverently.
Character assassination of Assange
Anyone who has followed the case against WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange in London has noticed how the Swedish, British and American authorities have succeeded beyond all expectations with their character assassination of Assange. A comprehensive strategy to blacken the messenger was needed to weaken the message. The ball began to roll in earnest with unjustifiable accusations from the Swedish prosecution authorities already in 2011. That is why Nils says Melzer, The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, that Sweden has a special responsibility for Assange's fate, including the one that has unfolded with the trial in London.
A comprehensive strategy to blacken the messenger was needed to weaken the message.
Assange's mistreatment has so far culminated in a prison cell in a top security prison in London, with a court ruling on his possible extradition to the United States – by a judge who has repeatedly shown blatant hostility towards Assange. The bizarre thing is that the psychological result of the torture that the judiciary itself has practiced against him through ten years of blackmail, threats and imprisonment, is the argument the judge uses to reject US authorities' demands for extradition. Judge Vanessa Baraitser found it impossible to hand Assange over to a grotesque American prisoner of war and justified it with the risk of suicide this would entail – a decision the Americans will now have reversed.
Judge Baraitser's decision not to extradite Assange to the United States has made life easier for him, perhaps even giving him back his life. But it has not made it any less dangerous to be a whistleblower, a truth seeker or a journalist. For the judge gave judicial acceptance for the right of states to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with impunity.
The sentence was handed down in Room 2 of the Old Bailey – where Oscar Wilde in 1895 was sentenced to hard labor for homosexuality, a sentence that shattered him and led to his untimely death in 1900.
The German author Günter Wallraff warns: "What is happening before our eyes in the Assange case is an attempt to eradicate all remnants of international law and expose violations of it by a free press and universal freedom of expression."
[ See interview with Wallraff ]
Human rights under pressure
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted after World War II, established limits on what nation states can do. They established bans on harming civilians during war and on the use of torture, respecting the integrity of citizens in all countries and the general right to asylum. A key task for WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange, is to expose violations of these rights. CIA detective John Kiriakou, for example, was sentenced to two years in prison for revealing the US legalization of torture in August 2002 under the Bush administration.
The human rights declarations are today being erased. While crimes remain unpunished, are criminalized exposure of the crimes. The world has become a more dangerous place after the Assange ruling, and the pressure on whistleblowers is increasing, also in Norway. When will the Storting discuss the international weathering of these rights?
On the steps of the Storting in June 2015, the then President of the Storting, Olemic Thommessen, was encouraged by Aftenposten's Harald Stanghelle to bring warnings Edward Snowden's fate to Norwegian elected representatives and show that the Storting's celebration of 1814 was seriously intended. The request was rejected by Thommessen with anger and contempt.
UN torture rapporteur Melzer has demanded that the Swedish authorities – publicly – must rehabilitate and compensate Assange for the physical and mental abuse he has been subjected to. Melzer criticizes the authorities in Sweden, Ecuador, the United Kingdom and the United States for serious human rights violations. When Norway has remained silent on this, we will also be complicit – as we have signed the UN Convention against Torture.
Uses spy law from 1917
Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama brought forward a hundred-year-old law against traitors – the Spy Act of 1917 – and thus brought more whistleblowers to court than all other American presidents combined. This shows that it is not enough that President Donald Trump is out of the White House for this great power to be turned in the right direction. And Sweden has willingly followed the journey, as has the United Kingdom.
The Assange case is important. It is not unique, but it is special and a litmus test also on our willingness to defend freedom of expression – a human right that is not limited to members of press agencies and journalists' associations.