Freedoms and rights under threat

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The extradition hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange began February 25 in London, England.  Should the British courts decide to hand him over to the United States, he will face 17 charges and up to 175 years in prison. Much has been written about Assange in the mainstream media, mostly false, defamatory and abusive, leading the public to show little sympathy for him or his case.

The extradition hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange began February 25 in London, England.  Should the British courts decide to hand him over to the United States, he will face 17 charges and up to 175 years in prison. Much has been written about Assange in the mainstream media, mostly false, defamatory and abusive, leading the public to show little sympathy for him or his case. A closer look at his situation should make those who believe in freedom of speech and information and general human rights very concerned, if not outraged.  
Medical experts who examined Assange in prison stated, “the evidence is overwhelming and clear. Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.” Nils Melzner, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, said that since 2010, when Wikileaks started publishing evidence of war crimes and torture committed by U.S. forces, “Four democratic countries joined forces – the U.S., Ecuador, Sweden and the UK – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so he could later be burned at the stake without any outcry.” 
The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law. If Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press. A show trial will make an example of Assange to intimidate other journalists and “a murderous system is being created before our very eyes. War crimes and torture (by Western nations) are not being prosecuted.” It’s not hard to imagine the hypocrisy and righteous indignation of countries like the U.S., UK, and Canada should the above situation be playing out in Iran, Venezuela or North Korea.
Extremely disconcerting is the epic media failure on this issue resulting in a mostly indifferent, if not hostile public towards Assange. Nils Melzer’s comments published in Republik on January 31, 2020, haven’t been mentioned in any U.S. or UK media 
outlet. Defending the criminal treatment of Assange is unconscionable. Remaining silent is equally deplorable, and yet that is exactly what our media and government have done for the last decade.
Wikileaks and whistleblowers around the world are treated as enemies as they risk their lives to inform the public about abuses of power perpetrated by our governments. Nils Melzner clearly spells out the dangers that lie ahead: “We give countries power and delegate it to governments – but in return, they must be held accountable for how they exercise that power. If [not], we will lose our rights sooner or later.”
Write to your MP and demand Canada stand up for Julian Assange.
Vagner Castilho
WAKEFIELD