Ecuador, with the support of much of Latin America, is in what may be a long-term standoff with British imperialism over the fate of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.
In a heroic move, Ecuador offered Assange political asylum. The British government, acting like the old Empire, threatened to violate Ecuador’s sovereignty and storm its embassy in London. Much of Latin America has stood up for Ecuador and forced Britain to back off its threats.
Behind it all is the Barack Obama administration’s attempt to persecute anyone exposing the crimes of U.S. imperialism. Washington, with its NATO allies, is attempting to conquer those parts of the former colonial world that still maintain some independence or want to control their own resources.
WikiLeaks exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and many of the other machinations of U.S. foreign policy. The organization leaked hundreds of thousands of messages from U.S embassies worldwide and publicized some actual videos of military attacks in Iraq.
In August 2010, U.S. pressure led Sweden to demand Assange be brought from Britain to face an investigation of allegations of sexual assault. As the British organization, Women Against Rape, pointed out in a statement, “There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s safety.” (Guardian, Dec. 9, 2010) No one can believe that the Swedish authorities would have followed up on the allegations had it not been for U.S. pressure to persecute Assange and stop whistle-blowers who expose U.S. war crimes.
Assange fears — and most people believe his fears are justified — that if he goes to Sweden to argue the allegations there, he will be immediately extradited to the United States. The U.S. will then charge him with treason for exposing U.S. secrets. He would face long imprisonment and even a possible death penalty.
In light of the above, Assange, an Australian citizen who has been unable to leave Britain, requested asylum in Ecuador on June 19. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, in a courageous defiance of the obvious wishes of Washington, offered asylum, based on the risk of capital punishment should Assange be tried in the U.S.
The British government then threatened not only that they would stop Assange from leaving Britain, but, according to Ecuador’s ambassador, they would storm the Ecuadoran Embassy.
In response to this outrageous challenge to Ecuador’s sovereignty, the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of Latin America and of UNISUR, which include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela, have stood up with Ecuador against Britain — which in this case also means defying U.S. imperialism.
In a statement from the balcony of the Ecuadoran Embassy on Aug. 19, Assange said: “I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks. The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.’’
Assange also praised Pfc. B. Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, whom the U.S. accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks. Manning, who has recently self-identified as a trans person, had been held for more than a year in isolation in U.S. military prisons, conditions that some consider torture. Assange said Manning was ‘‘one of the world’s foremost political prisoners’’ and a hero if he did what he is accused of doing. (Boston Globe, Aug. 20)