Being a legend and living one are two very different things. Julian Assange, who is surely fated to become one of the legendary figures of our times no matter what his actual fate proves to be, is at the same time living The Legend of the Suram Fortress. The tale is a simple one that over the centuries nearly every Caucasian country has claimed as its own, but which originated in ancient Armenia.
With the brutal arrest this morning by London’s Metropolitan Police, whose operatives dragged the hand-cuffed WikiLeaks publisher from the Ecuadorian Embassy where he had been given asylum seven years ago to avoid a possible extradition to the United States via Sweden on trumped up rape accusations originating with two Swedish paramours, who – by chance – discovered themselves to be rivals for Julian’s continued attention, insured the world’s peoples’ participation in the legend’s victim list possibly for decades, even centuries, to come.
What is the legend?
An ancient prince builds a series of fortresses on his kingdom’s borders to better protect his lands and people from raiders and foreign invasions. With the project nearly complete, a seemingly insolvable problem arises: upon its near completion, the fortress at Suram collapses again and again, leaving an “open door” that endangers all the people of the realm while calling into question the prince’s allegedly divinely-given powers and intentions.
It is at this moment fraught with danger to all the players that the legend’s young hero, Ashik Kerib, a wandering commoner of pure heart, sacrifices himself at the instruction of his former love, a jilted fortune teller, for the greater good by entombing himself with his own hands into the fortress’s walls; thus does the martyr insure that the Suram fortress stands through the centuries.***
So long as Julian was able to withstand his own self-immurement in the Ecuador Embassy, we Americans could still believe the First Amendment to the US Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech was sacrosanct. So long as Ecuador stood firm as a guarantor of the ancient right of asylum, the people of the world could believe a small but plucky Latin American nation might protect us all. As long as the British people kept the idea of “the rights of Englishmen” rattling around in their collective brain, the crown authorities’ worst intentions were hobbled.
That’s all changed now.
The Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno, worked closely with British and American authorities on obscure and unverified charges that Assange, whose internet, telephone and visitor rights had been cut off ages ago, was somehow behind the publication of photographs on the internet of Moreno’s family and himself enjoying themselves abroad to effect the betrayal of Assange.
Readers may not know or have forgotten just how plucky Ecuador, a true honey of a country, had shown itself to be under the previous thrice-elected president, Rafael Correo. For more than ten years, FedGov has been steaming over Correo’s withdrawal of base rights for the US Air Force at Manta, Ecuador. Other than the Philippines, I know of no other nation besides Ecuador that has successfully expelled the U.S. military once it established a foothold in country.
But when the puffed-up, fire-breathing, CIA-soaked Trump Administration operatives came grieving over Assange’s righteous exposure of U.S. war crimes, Lenin Moreno, a former ally of Correo and his immediate successor, chose to shame his nation at least, in part, to distract his electorate from the dubious off-shore activities the published photographs spoke to, and to partake in whatever benefits the U.S. was offering. The Ecuadorian people deserve better.
The UK authorities’ participation in these sordid dealings between the U.S. and Lenin Moreno, and their extraction of a physically-diminished Assange from the embassy for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request only adds to those same authorities’ mountainous betrayal of Brexit. The British people deserve better.
The consequences of U.K. authorities’ failure to honor the right of asylum and probable extraction of an Australian citizen and journalist with a perfect record of truthful publication to the United States to face charges of what? Privacy violations? Or impossibly illogical charges of treason? Here too a neglectful Australia should hang its head in shame. The Australian people deserve better.
Looking back, it is now easy to see Fedgov’s escalating machinations.
Was not the recent imprisonment of Chelsea Manning for her refusal to testify to a Grand Jury against Assange an act of preparation for Assange’s eventual extradition? And is it not odd that the flailing Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller never availed himself of Assange’s offer to demonstrate that the source for Hillary Clinton’s lost emails, which WikiLeaks published, was not a state actor? Why was the investigation of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s inexplicable murder waylaid? Or is Mueller’s failure to pursue either lead not vivid evidence of the truth of a man who is said to have made a career knowing what questions to never ask?
As to the inattentive and largely indifferent Americans, they are now being hoisted on their own petard, i.e. blind faith in a noxious, deceitful, highly politicized, and corporate mainstream media which has led them all on a merry war dance for many decades now.
If the American people fail to stand for Julian, then the nation – in time – will be truly lost, and it won’t be because of the horrors of a financialized economy and a paper currency alone.
Without open debate conducted under the auspices of a universally-supported First Amendment, the walls of what Americans thought was liberty’s fortress will crumble. The surveillance economy will prosper and eventually collapse into a dystopian reality.
I can’t say the inattentive and endlessly bickering Americans deserve better, but their posterity certainly does.
***You can view the late Sergei Paradjanov’s cinematic interpretation of the legend here. There is irony in this subplot as the film was the first Paradjanov, who was a celebrated and colorful but obscure-to-Americans Armenian quasi-surrealist film director, completed upon his release from a Soviet prison on sex charges. As one of his assistants confided to me, “It wasn’t a good idea to seduce the son of the regional party secretary.”