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“We call for the release of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, victims of state revenge”

Photo taken in Washington, DC on April 16, 2019, with a poster showing Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, for a “#FreeSpeech” protest campaign. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP

tribune. We know it today: the United States and Great Britain lied about the reasons for the start of the war in Iraq which left hundreds of thousands dead and wounded. The two countries have also belonged to military coalitions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, responsible for numerous acts of torture and other war crimes. For having revealed to the public part of these abuses, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are persecuted.

Sentenced to thirty-five years in prison in 2013, a sentence commuted to seven years by decision of Barack Obama, Chelsea Manning continues to be harassed by the American justice system, which again imprisoned her for several months because she had refused to testify against the founder of Wikileaks. Even more worrying is the plight of Julian Assange: kept in solitary confinement and in an alarming state of health, the journalist waits in a high-security prison near London for an extradition request formulated by the United States to be examined. February 25, 2020.

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Julian Assange is today the subject of psychological torture and punishment of rare violence. Even with the admission of Craig Murray, a former British ambassador, and Nils Melzer, the current UN rapporteur on torture, his life is now in danger: it is urgent.

Unconstitutional prosecutions

The charges against him in the United States are very heavy: if he is not considered a political prisoner, the journalist will be transferred there and faces up to 175 years in prison. What does American justice blame him for? Facts of conspiracy, hacking and espionage, after Wikileaks revealed in 2010 documents leaked by a soldier, Bradley Manning (Chelsea Manning today) testifying to the abuses of the American army in Iraq and Afghanistan. The journalist is thus accused of having “Shared the common goal of subverting legal restrictions on classified information and disseminating it publicly”.

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The charges are a concern for a number of news organizations and human rights organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which finds the charges against Manning to be unconstitutional and is alarmed by the jurisprudence that these lawsuits could lead to. It is indeed internationally renowned newspapers that have processed and published this information, and it is the right to inform that is seriously questioned here, not by a dictatorship but by democratic states adopting the methods of authoritarian regimes.

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