Julian Assange’s fate hung in the air as US continues arbitrary detention
Published: Oct 27, 2021 10:38 PM


The US has a long history of using its domestic laws as "international laws," seeking to extradite and imprison foreign nationals for business or political reasons. Washington usually does not have to provide detailed evidence to support its accusations. And it will not stop until it reaches the goal. 

The US on Wednesday began an appeal to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charge on American soil. A British judge rejected an extradition request earlier this year, irritating Washington. In August, a British court allowed the US to challenge this decision. 

Assange, who is wanted in the US for simply enjoying free speech rights, was arrested in Britain in 2019 after spending seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London to evade extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, which were later dropped. Assange is not the first victim of such political persecution from the US, and he will not be the last one either.

It is worth noting that being an ally of the US cannot protect one country's nationals from being persecuted. Assange hails from Australia, a loyal puppet of the US. French engineering firm Alstom's executive Frederic Pierucci, a French national, was arrested by the US on bribery charges in 2013 and locked up for five years. 

Given the increasing incredibility of Washington, no foreign national, businessperson or politically engaged person, or even student, can be so sure whether they would face arbitrary detention by the US when they travel there, and if arrested, what legal measures are available to them. Both Assange and Pierucci are chilling examples.

Yahoo News reported last month that some senior officials inside the CIA and the former Trump administration discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request "sketches" or "options" on how to assassinate him. 

This is more than terrifying: Even a person under the spotlight as Assange could be a target of assassination. How many people are being arbitrarily arrested, persecuted, tortured, and even killed by the US behind the curtain?

The US has never stopped unscrupulously persecuting foreign nationals and infringing on other countries' legitimate rights. 

Less than a month after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, illegally detained in Canada at the request of the US for 1,028 days, returned to China, Alex Saab, an envoy of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, was extradited to the US for money laundering charges in mid-October. Saab has been in custody in Cape Verde since June 2020. The Venezuelan government called the extradition "kidnapping" without an arrest warrant and due process. 

The US' actions against Assange show the world how Washington is creating political terror and engaging in political persecution in complete disregard of international rules. 

Morgan Ortagus published an article on CNN on Tuesday to warn that "Americans should be thinking twice about traveling to China" as they face risks. It is not surprising to see a former US state department spokesperson of the Trump administration bad-mouth China. However, given the US' arbitrary detention history, does Ortagus want to use such a biased article to blind and deceive more people? How can anyone feel safe visiting the US and even its allies as Washington continues to act recklessly for its own ends? 

To make people believe the US is a safe country, Washington should start by dropping charges against Assange and freeing him.