On October 8, the Norvegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Price to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”. (The Nobel Peace Prize 2021 – Press release (nobelprize.org))
The Nobel Prize Committe tries to capture (as it mostly does) the current Zeitgeist. Anyone stating that “free and independent journalism is under threat nowadays” might be nominated for the Understatement of the Year Award. But such a statement cannot be better underscored than by the persecution of Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowers platform Wikileaks. The Australian journalist Assange is being persecuted for more than 10 years, and since 2019 being imprisoned without any charges in the London Belmarsh High security prison, formerly known as “the British Guantanamo”.
Barely two weeks ago, investigative reporting revealed the detailed plans of the American authorities in 2017 to kidnap Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and murdering him. The motives for the vengeful persecution of Assange by the American and British authorities aren’t an enigma. The revelations by Wikileaks of government and corporate crime worldwide, more specifically the war crimes of the US and British imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture practices of the CIA and the vast spying programs of the US government on its own citizens, provide us the answers.
The omission of any reference of the Nobel Prize Committee to the Assange case seriously disappointed us – vigilant citizens, individual concerned reporters and members of the Assange solidarity committees. The omission fits however with corporate media’s downplaying of Assange’s persecution.
We want to state that if anyone should be recognized for the cause of world peace, it is Julian Assange!
The next round of hearings on his extradition case are scheduled in London on 27 and 28 October. We urge our public broadcast companies to inform the public on the case, instead of keeping silent like they have done the last 2 years, burying the broader critical issues of free speech, independent journalism, the rights of political prisoners, resulting in damaging Assange’s reputation.
The initiative of this open letter is by the Leuven solidarity committee for Assange, who in September 2021 awarded the “Whistleblower Award” to Frank Vanhoutte and Thomas Goorden, citizens who revealed the “PFOS”- soil and water pollution scandal in the Port of Antwerp, involving the US multinational 3M and covered by the Flemish government. In 2020 our solidarity committee demanded the city council of Leuven to install whistleblower protection practices for their staff, which they refused to do.
Assange Committee, Kessel-Lo
Free Assange Belgium