The Empire Slowly Suffocates Assange Like It Slowly Suffocates All Its Enemies

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readMar 27, 2024

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

The British High Court has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may potentially get a final appeal against extradition to the United States, but only within a very limited scope and only if specific conditions are met.

The court ruled that Assange may appeal only on the grounds that his freedom of speech might be restricted in the US, and that there is a possibility he could receive the death penalty. If the US provides “assurances” that neither of these things will happen, then the trial moves to another phase where Assange’s legal team may debate the merits of those assurances. If the US does not provide those assurances, then the limited appeal will move forward.

Absurdly, the court determined that Assange’s lawyers may not argue against extradition on matters as self-evidently critical as the fact that the CIA plotted to assassinate him, or on the basis that he is being politically persecuted for the crime of inconvenient journalism.

The mass media are calling this a “reprieve”, even “wonderful news”, but as Jonathan Cook explains in his latest article “Assange’s ‘reprieve’ is another lie, hiding the real goal of keeping him endlessly locked up,” that’s all a bunch of crap.

“The word ‘reprieve’ is there — just as the judges’ headline ruling that some of the grounds of his appeal have been ‘granted’ — to conceal the fact that he is prisoner to an endless legal charade every bit as much as he is a prisoner in a Belmarsh cell,” writes Cook. “In fact, today’s ruling is yet further evidence that Assange is being denied due process and his most basic legal rights — as he has been for a decade or more.”

Cook writes the following:

“The case has always been about buying time. To disappear Assange from public view. To vilify him. To smash the revolutionary publishing platform he founded to help whistleblowers expose state crimes. To send a message to other journalists that the US can reach them wherever they live should they try to hold Washington to account for its criminality.

“And worst of all, to provide a final solution for the nuisance Assange had become for the global superpower by trapping him in an endless process of incarceration and trial that, if it is allowed to drag on long enough, will most likely kill him.”

This kind of slow motion strangulation is how the empire operates all the time these days, across all spheres. Helping Israel starve Gaza while slowly pretending to work toward solutions. Drawing out a proxy war in Ukraine for as long as possible to bleed Russia. Slowly killing Assange in prison without trial under the pretense of judicial proceedings.

The US-centralized empire hunts not like a tiger, killing its prey with one fatal bite to the jugular, but more like a python: slowly suffocating the life out of its prey until it perishes. It favors the long, drawn-out, confusing strangulation of inconvenient populations and individuals, carried out under the cover of bureaucracy and propaganda spin. In today’s world it prefers sanctions, blockades and long proxy conflicts over the big Hulk-smash ground invasions we saw it carry out in places like Iraq and Vietnam.

These slow suffocations can take more time, but what they lack in efficiency they make up for in the quality of perception management. It’s bad PR to just openly invade countries and murder people, which is why the leaders of the western empire have been able to wag their fingers at Putin despite their being quantifiably far more murderous than Russia. People start snapping out of the propaganda matrix you spent so much time building for them and begin organizing against the political status quo your power is premised on.

So they opt for slow strangulation strategies where they can confuse the public about what’s happening and who’s responsible, outsourcing the blame to other parties while posing as the good guy who’s trying to bring peace and stability. It takes time, but the empire has time to burn. That’s what happens when you’re the most powerful empire in the history of civilization; you have the luxury of biding your time while orchestrating large-scale, long-term operations to advance your power agendas.

Meanwhile Gaza starves, Ukraine bleeds, and Assange languishes in prison, each needing this to end with more urgency every day.

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Featured image via Landjager (CC BY-NC 3.0 DEED)

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