Assange’s Case Represents ‘Failure of Western Law,’ says UN’s Nils Melzer

An interview was recently given by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, to Republik on Julian Assange. The headline reads "A murderous system is being created before our very eyes". During the interview, Melzer details just why he has got so involved in Assange’s case and what the implications of it are for the future of humanity.

Just to recap, Julian Assange, the former WikiLeaks editor, was arrested last year after spending years incarcerated in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he sought asylum for fear of being deported to the US to face charges relating to his publication of leaked documents. It was back in 2010 that WikiLeaks published damning evidence of torture and unlawful killings carried out by the US army, provided for by Chelsea Manning. He subsequently was wanted by Sweden on charges of rape, charges which have since been dropped, and which it has been suggested were part of a set-up to engineer Assange’s deportation to the US. Ecuador finally gave him up to the UK authorities last April, by inviting them into the embassy to extract Assange, after seven years of interment within the embassy walls.

The WikiLeaks founder’s ordeal is set to continue however, it seems. The 48-year old is currently wasting away inside Belmarsh prison, where he was kept for months in solitary confinement, before incredibly, prisoners themselves protested and asked that he be allowed to mingle with the others. The authorities recently agreed to this concession, but it all too little too late it seems for a man who has been destroyed by the US and British governments, for essentially trying to tell the truth.

As for Nils Melzer, he explains in his recent interview why he has specifically got involved in Assange’s case. His reasons are given as follows: 1. He says that Assange was disclosing evidence of systematic torture by the US army, but he himself has been persecuted for this. 2. Assange has been so ill-treated that he is now exhibiting signs of psychological torture. 3. There is a high chance of him being extradited to a country which Amnesty International has condemned for its use of torture. He also feels that the case has a special symbolic significance for the future of our democracies.

There are many extraordinary points made in Melzer’s interview, which I thoroughly recommend reading: the made-up rape allegation and fabricated evidence in Sweden, the pressure from the British authorities not to drop the case, the biased judge, detention in a maximum security prison, psychological torture – and future extradition to the US, where he could face up to 175 years in jail for exposing war crimes. But I think one of the most significant is the role that the media has played in this case. For Melzer admits that even he, initially, until he became aware of all the facts, was prejudiced against Assange as a result of what he saw and heard in the media. And it was the mainstream media that first began publishing false accusations that Assange had been accused of rape, the media that blackened his character.

The role of the media in Assange’s downfall cannot be underestimated. Even now, very few mainstream journalists are willing to cover his plight. Melzer states that the whole point of Assange’s "show trial" has been to intimidate journalists from doing what Assange did: "The message to all of us is: This is what will happen to you if you emulate the WikiLeaks model."

He believes the case is a scandal and "represents the failure of Western law". If convicted, he will consider it to be a "death sentence for freedom of the press."

If anyone was to be convicted, Melzer argues, it should have been the individuals who carried the massacres and torture Julian Assange reported on. But to date, not one has been charged, nor any criminal investigation been carried out into their actions. Instead, Assange has been the victim of a new harsh reality: "It is becoming a crime to tell the truth" Melzer states.

On Wednesday it was reported that a petition has been signed by over 130 prominent Germans in favor of Julian Assange’s release. The signatories include names such as former German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and previous vice president of the European Commission, Gunter Verhuegen. The petition states that Assange’s continued detention in the UK’s highest security prison – Belmarsh – violates his human rights, particularly given his poor state of health.

But these pleas are likely to fall on deaf ears. In Assange’s case it’s clear who is calling the shots, and that even European governments have been at the mercy of the US’ demands. And yet western nations follow the US’s lead at their own folly – our democracies are crumbling before our very eyes.

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

13 thoughts on “Assange’s Case Represents ‘Failure of Western Law,’ says UN’s Nils Melzer”

  1. And now the same government that is persecuting Assange for telling the truth wants to take away your ability to defend yourself by confiscating all guns .

      1. Odd that many of the people yelling the loudest about the dangers of privately owned arms, are quite silent about the dangers and actual abuses of arms in possession of agents of the federal government. I guess if the State shoots and kills an innocent person, it’s OK.

        I think labeling gun control advocates as “anti-gunners” is a misnomer. These people are not against gun violence, and are certainly not pacifists, they just want all gun violence to be monopolized by the State.

  2. And every war since 1945 represents the failure of the UN. Time to shut them down, kick them out, take back the land, and sell it to the higher bidder to help pay off the national debt. Can you imagine what all that land on the East River is worth??

  3. Please correct this sentence:
    He subsequently was wanted by Sweden on ̶c̶h̶a̶r̶g̶e̶s̶ allegations of rape,
    (It’s very important to get it right or it continues the false narrative)

    1. it was correct, there were charges, and the sentence continues with stating those charges were dropped. It sux that people think someone being charged with crimes implies they did those crimes, but reporting that he was charged with a crime is the most accurate way of reporting it, and necessary if one is including said charges as part of the reported upon conspiracy…

      1. UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer says there were never any charges filed. He’s a lawyer and also speaks and reads Swedish (as well as other languages).
        He states: “Just imagine being accused of rape for nine-and-a-half years by an entire state apparatus and by the media without ever being given the chance to defend yourself because no charges had ever been filed.”

        1. ah didn’t realize that… if their were no charges filed then I retract what I said

          1. I thought Sweden tried to extradite him ? How could they do that if no charges were filed

      2. There were not charges of rape. The use of the word ‘rape’ in translations from the original Swedish was deliberately misleading (as partisan as [correction: it wasn’t MEMRI] the partisan translation of Ahmedinijad’s use of a quote from Khomeini, where MEMRI translated “will fade from the pages of history” to “must be wiped off the map“).

        Furthermore, the original European Arrest Warrant did not cite charges: it ordered that he be detained on suspicion… there were no charges laid at the time. By the time the matter was dropped, the Swedes were still pursuing ‘preliminary investigations‘, which is not what you do when you’ve got enough evidence to charge someone.

        Do not confuse what journalists write about legal proceedings, with reality: journalists are dimwitted stenographers who have a shallow, dilettante understanding of whatever subject matter they’re covering.

        The EAW was to get him ‘rendered’ back o Sweden, so that the Swedes could continue to be the US’s torture-enabler… it intended to hand Assange over to the US for rendition to one of its torture sites. Sweden has long been a reliable conduit for the US in its program of rendition of people to black sites for torture.

        The US tortures people – including people it knows are innocent. It is holding innocent people in solitary, withj no intention to ever release them.

        The US political leadership should be executed.

        I am staunchly opposed to the nonsense US invention of a putative ‘R2P’ (Responsibility to Protect) justification for lethal action, but I would relax my opposition to it if China launched a massive missile barrage at Washington DC, so long as the Chinese only targeted Congress and the White House.

        1. Correct.

          Not only were there not charges of rape, there weren’t charges of any kind.

          Which made the European Arrest Warrant fraudulent and void (EWAs are only valid for those who have been charged, so they can be tried, and those who have been convicted, so they can be incarcerated; “we want to talk to him” is not one of their legitimate uses).

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