When it comes to dispensing with an inconvenient critic, Saudi Arabia and the United States sure differ on means of destruction.
Saudi Arabia’s ruler Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), upset by critical US resident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, simply channeled the Queen of Hearts in Alice In Wonderland and shouted "Off with his head." Compliant MbS assassins cornered Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, dispensed with his head, and other body parts as well, to feed to the fishes.
The US, faced with a similar inconvenient critic, US war crimes outing Australian journalist, editor, publisher and activist Julian Assange, took the slow, less blood curdling route: years of life degrading extralegal persecution.
Assange started WikiLeaks in 2006, dedicated to exposing nations’ dirty laundry through leaking classified info related to governmental corruption and war crimes.
He ran afoul of Uncle Sam in April, 2010 when he released the damning video "Collateral Murder" showing US military personnel laughing as they obliterated 2 journalists along with 10 other innocents in an Iraq helicopter bombing. Coupled with his release of Afghan and Iraq war logs, Assange moved up to Journalist No. 1 on America’s hit list.
The last 12 years have been like the Steven King novel "Misery," with Assange playing the role of the tortured protagonist Paul Sheldon. Just 7 months after the damning video release, US friendly Sweden issued an international warrant for Assange’s arrest for sexual misconduct, including rape against 2 women Assange claimed were consensual relationships. Fearing the charge was a pretext for his eventual extradition to the US for his real crime of outing US war crimes, Assange jumped bail in London, taking refuge in Equator’s embassy there.
It took 9 years for Sweden to drop all charges against Assange. But his 7 year imprisonment in the Equator embassy ended when Equator, at the behest of Uncle Sam, withdrew their asylum, allowing the UK to barge in and arrest him in April, 2019, on bail jumping charges. Assange was off to a UK prison for a 50 week sentence, then an extended stay while UK extradition hearings linger on for 2 more years. Once his appeals are dispensed with, the mentally and physically declining Assange will be off to a final, lifetime stop in a US hoosegow.
The US won’t admit it but they’d likely prefer Assange dead. Why have a trial for being a pesky journalist that will publicly dredge up decades of US war crimes in the Middle East?
We could see the fist bump between President Biden and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman at their recent lovefest in the Saudi capital. We can only imagine MbS telling Joe, "You American’s are too soft on your critics. We Saudis quickly ‘slice and dice’….and no more inconvenient critic."
All things considered, Assange’s fate may be worse.
Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at www.heartlandprogressive.blogspot.com.