FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Australia Betrays Its Own Citizen Journalist

I’ve long had a fondness of Australia. Since back in the early 1980s, when I worked out of the New York City bureau of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, flagship of the Fairfax publishing company, writing for several Fairfax publications (including the sadly now defunct National Times and the magazine Business Review Weekly), and got to know a bunch of smart, funny Oz journalists, I’ve come to know the country as a place much like our own in many ways — like the friendliness and lack of artifice of its people and the vast beauty of its still vast wilderness areas.

But where I once also admired what appeared to be a strain of independence in Australia — a willingness to stand apart from America on things like socialized medicine, the death penalty, and the use of land mines in warfare — I have seen the country fall into line with terrible US policies like the invasion of Iraq, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and most recently the posting of US marines on Australian territory.

I also envied Australia over the years for having something totally lacking in the US: a major labor-based party advocating democratic-socialist policies, that successfully vies for power in running the country. But of late, that party, now headed by Prime Minister Julia Eileen Gillard, has been a shameless and uncritical apologist for US policies, including the so-called “Global War on Terror,” and policies like rendition to and detention at torture centers like Guantanamo and Bagram Airbase.

Most recently, Australia and its Prime Minister Gillard have been strangely passive in allowing the US to attack Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen.

Despite credible reports that the US has a secret sealed spying indictment prepared against Assange, currently facing deportation from Britain to Sweden on questionable and probably politically motivated charges of rape, and concerns that the US is prepared to seek to extradite him to the US to face potential capital charges if he is extradited to Sweden, Australia has not done anything to defend its own citizen against such threats. These threats and an unsuccessful appeal of the extradition request in British courts have led to Assange’s latest decision to seek asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. 

The most that Gillard has said about Assange’s case by way of “support” is that Australia does not permit extradition to countries where its citizens could face a death penalty, but of course the US could always promise not to seek the death penalty in any prosecution of Assange. Gillard also is on record as having stated that Assange is “guilty” of having released secret US documents from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and cables between the US and foreign governments (an astonishing statement since such an action is not even a crime!). The Gillard government in February passed legislation making it impossible for Assange, had he succeeded in defeating Swedish efforts to extradite him from Britain, to return to Australia and avoid a future extradition request from the US.

So it has come to this: A man who has courageously exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan is forced to flee to a Latin American country’s embassy to avoid capture, prosecution in a kangaroo court or perhaps even a military trial, and then imprisonment, torture and maybe even execution by the self-described “leader of the free world” — the country that has committed these war crimes he exposed. And his own country not only won’t help him. It is cooperating in his persecution.

My old employer, the Sydney Morning Herald, using Australia’s freedom of information law, obtained some diplomatic cables showing that the Australian government in Canberra has been working in concert with the Obama administration in the US to facilitate US prosecution of Assange as a spy. The Sydney Morning Herald also reports that the Australian government has taken steps to prevent further release of its diplomatic correspondence with the US regarding the Assange case.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this sell-out by Australia’s Labor Party of its own country’s sovereignty. Today’s Aussie Labor Party is a pale imitation of the party of Gough Whitlam, the first Labor prime minister, elected in 1972. Furthermore, Prime Minister Gillard is surely well aware of how Whitlam, who on taking office pulled Australian troops out of Vietnam, ended conscription, denounced President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as “mass murderers” and “maniacs” for the 1972 Christmas bombings of Hanoi, replaced “God Save the Queen” as the country’s national anthem, established policies giving land rights to aborigines, established a national health care system, spoke out for Palestinian rights and called for an Indian Ocean “zone of peace,” became the target of a successful CIA subversion campaign.

Still, it is sad to see a country’s government betray its own countryman on behalf of a more powerful nation. It’s something we in the US have become almost inured to, as when the US maintained a stony silence as Israeli soldiers murdered a 19 year-old Turkish-American peace activist on the Gaza peace flotilla in 2010. But that’s our own shame.

I had hoped for better from Australia.

At least Australians still have mainstream corporate news organizations that are willing to aggressively report on their government’s vile sell-out of the country’s national dignity.

Meanwhile, please write to the Ecuadoran government and urge them to resist pressure from the Gringo government in Washington and to grant Assange’s request for asylum.

Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia. 


More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

March 26, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How ISIS’s Brutal Project in the Middle East was Finally Overthrown
Joshua Frank
To Celebrate or to Not? The Mueller Question
George Ochenski
The Fox in the Henhouse: Bernhardt at Interior
Thomas Klikauer
Corporate Bullshit
William deBuys
12 Ways to Make Sense of the Border Mess
Robert Fisk
Ardern’s Response to Christchurch has Put Other Leaders to Shame, But Not for Its Compassion Alone
Binoy Kampmark
Disinviting Jordan Peterson: the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge and Approved Ideas
James C. Kennedy
The Poisonous History of Neo-Classical Economics
Jenna Orkin
Quentin Crisp’s Posthumous Book, the Sequel
Elizabeth Keyes
My Russia Hot-Air Balloon
March 25, 2019
Jonathan Cook
Three Lessons for the Left from the Mueller Inquiry
Dave Lindorff
The TSA’s Role as Journalist Harasser and Media ‘Watchdog’
Tanya Golash-Boza – Michael Golash
Epifanio Camacho: a Militant Farmworker Brushed Out of History
Robert Fisk
Don’t Believe the Hype: Here’s Why ISIS Hasn’t Been Defeated
Jack Rasmus
The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s Moves to the Right
John Feffer
After Trump
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9/11
Dean Baker
The Importance of Kicking Up: Changing Market Structures So the Rich Don’t Get All the Money
Lawrence Wittner
What Democratic Socialism Is and Is Not
Thomas Knapp
Suppressing Discussion Doesn’t Solve the Problem. It is the Problem.
Stephen Cooper
“I’m a Nine-Star General Now”: an Interview with Black Uhuru’s Duckie Simpson
Andrew Moss
Immigration and the Democratic Hopefuls
Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail