Excerpt from “From Press Freedom To Prison Systems, Everything Assange Touches Gets Illuminated”:
The US appeal of a British court ruling on the Assange extradition case has concluded, and the judges will probably not have a decision ready until at least January—a full year after the extradition was denied by a lower court. Assange, despite being convicted of no crime, will have remained in Belmarsh Prison the entire time.
During that time the judges will be weighing arguments they’d heard about the cruel nature of the US prison system, which formed a major part of the reasoning behind Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s rejection of the US extradition request. They’ll be considering the draconian policy of Special Administrative Measures, whose victims are cut off from human contact and from the outside world. They’ll be considering the brutality of the supermax ADX facility in Florence, Colorado whose inmates are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and where Assange could easily wind up imprisoned despite the prosecution’s flimsy assurances.
Assange probably never set out on this journey with the goal of calling attention to the abuses of the US prison system as his foremost priority, but, as is so often the case with anything his journey touches, those abuses keep getting pulled into the light of public awareness anyway. His case is now no longer just about press freedom, US war crimes, corrupt governments collaborating to stomp out inconvenient truth tellers, and the malfeasance of US alphabet agencies, but about the abusive nature of the US prison system as well.
And this is a big part of what I find so endlessly captivating about the life of this extraordinary individual. No matter what he’s doing, no matter where he is, no matter how beaten down and silenced and immobilized they may appear to have him, his life keeps exposing things. Keeps bringing things into the light.
It’s been a constant throughout his life as near as I can tell, from when he was a young man using his technical prowess to help Australian police bring down distributors of online child pornography in the mid-nineties. This curious impulse to bring what is hidden in the dark out into the light where it can be seen is what gave birth to WikiLeaks and all the major revelations about the criminality and corruption of the powerful which resulted from its publications.
And as paradigm-shattering as those many bombshell revelations were, they were arguably small potatoes compared to the criminality Assange exposed by simply standing his ground until the most powerful institutions in the world conspired to drag him from the Ecuadorian embassy and lock him in Belmarsh Prison for telling the truth.