Incarceration Nation

Torture of Julian Assange

By Chris Kinder

Julian Assange is a journalist who has committed no crime. He is only “guilty” of publishing information revealing the war crimes and other deceits of U.S. imperialism, i.e., things we, the public, should all know. Yet he—the truth teller and publisher of WikiLeaks—is treated by the U.S. as if he was the worst criminal the world has ever seen. This is all done to intimidate the media, and cover up the crimes of the imperialist ruling class of the U.S.

The crimes of the U.S. include the murder of innocent civilians, including children and journalists. The now famous video “Collateral Murder,” showing one such incident in brutal detail, had been provided by Chelsea Manning, formerly (as Bradley Manning) of the U.S. military in Iraq. Manning is a heroine truth-teller who was jailed once for releasing documents and is now locked up for a second time by the U.S. for refusing to testify against Julian Assange in a kangaroo-court grand jury set up to frame Assange.

Manning is not the only one jailed for refusing to testify against Assange before this secretive grand jury. Jeremy Hammond, a member of the hacktivist network, Anonymous, is serving a decade in prison for allegedly disclosing information about the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), for revealing that they had been spying on human rights defenders at the behest of corporations and governments; documents which were published by WikiLeaks.

Assange faces bogus charge of espionage

Assange is accused by the U.S., under the World War I-era Espionage Act, of conspiring with Manning to obtain secret documents. There is no evidence for this alleged conspiracy whatsoever. Assange is a journalist/publisher, not a whistle-blower. He receives documents from whistleblowers and publishes them. No one has ever accused him of illegal activity, nor shown his revelations to be inaccurate in any way. Furthermore, all the major U.S. media, the New York Times, Washington Post and many others, have published the same material, straight from WikiLeaks.

That is what the U.S. ruling class wants to never happen again. But they can’t treat the U.S. media as they are treating Assange. After all the U.S. media is already about as subservient as it can be, and is owned by big corporations, for whom the U.S. government is the lapdog. But what they can do is the modern-day equivalent of putting Assange’s head on a spike, displayed for all to see. The message to both journalists and publishers is: first amendment rights be damned, don’t publish leaked material ever again! The threat to freedom of speech is blatant.1

UK-U.S. extradition is not for political offenses

This is why the U.S. is determined to extradite Assange from Britain—even though he is not a U.S. citizen (he’s Australian) and his work with WikiLeaks is based in Britain, not the U.S. They want to give him a life sentence—likely in solitary confinement—to shut him away in some U.S. dungeon until he dies. And that’s if they don’t manage to kill him while he is in Belmarsh. All this is to intimidate any journalist or any publisher from repeating Assange’s exposure of U.S. war crimes.

Assange is falsely accused under the Espionage Act, but his actual “crime” was in exposing U.S. war crimes for all to see. He didn’t steal this evidence, he just published it, after it was already revealed. Clearly, this was a political act, not a criminal one. If the law actually played any role in this, which obviously it does not for the U.S. and UK officials, it would prevent Assange’s extradition from the UK to the U.S. because extradition for political offenses is illegal under the treaty governing extradition between the two countries. The treaty is clear: “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”2

Assange had asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy, until...

Assange now awaits an extradition hearing set for February 2020. He is currently confined in Belmarsh, the top-security prison in Britain, a hell-hole on the outskirts of London where accused “terrorists” are sent to be tortured, rot away and/or die. Assange is kept there in isolation for 23-hours-per-day. Assange is no terrorist, and indeed no criminal whatsoever. He was sent there after police, at the behest of the U.S., invaded the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and dragged him out. He was then locked up in Belmarsh for the crime of...skipping bail! Normally there would be no jail time for this at all, and certainly not in Belmarsh. But not so with Julian Assange.

Assange’s earlier political asylum, granted by Ecuador under Rafael Correa, had been withdrawn by the new right-wing president Lenin Moreno. Moreno has allowed the U.S. to use the Galapagos Islands—a precious natural site explored by Darwin—as a military airfield, signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and agreed to hand over Assange to the U.S. and its CIA vultures.3

Police were allowed to come into the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Assange had found refuge from the threat of extradition to the U.S. for years. The U.S. now had Assange where they wanted him: imprisoned, and on a fast-track to extradition to the U.S., under a trumped-up charge of “espionage.” But that is just the beginning.

U.S./CIA interference against Assange in UK court

In order to cater to the support of the U.S. on the eve of Britain’s separation from the European Union, British authorities have bent over backward to do whatever the U.S. wants. That was shown in the Westminster Magistrates Court on October 21, 2019 in which Assange appeared for a hearing on the management and timing of the extradition proceedings. Assange’s lawyers wanted to allow more time for Assange to prepare his defense before the extradition hearing. All of Assange’s records and documents had been seized when he was arrested and forced out of the Ecuadorean Embassy, and he has been allowed only very limited contact with his lawyers while in Belmarsh prison.

As if to add insult to injury, officials from the U.S. embassy were seen to be openly conferring with the prosecution in the Magistrates Court during the hearing. And the magistrate (judge), Vanessa Baraitser, completely ignored all the defense arguments and denied their claims for delay at the end of the hearing without any further consideration. This was the same magistrate who a month earlier had ruled that Assange will remain in prison, despite the fact that his sentence for “absconding” bail expired on September 22. The extradition trial stays set for February, but in addition, it will now be held, not in the Westminster Magistrates Court, but in the much more restricted court in Belmarsh prison, which is hard to get to and has only three seats for public observers of the proceedings.

The CIA spied on Assange’s privileged contact with his lawyers

Even more importantly, a case now proceeding in a Spanish court shows that the CIA had contracted with a Spanish company to spy on Assange while in the Embassy, including recording privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers, in which his defense against the up-coming extradition proceedings was discussed. Such a charge would normally be grounds for the immediate dismissal of the case for extradition. Assange’s lawyers sought a delay to the extradition trial in order to allow time for the Spanish court to submit its findings, so that they could be heard at the upcoming extradition hearing. But Magistrate Baraitser ignored this.

All this was reported by a former British ambassador and friend of Assange, Craig Murray, who attended the hearing, and who said, “The charade might as well have been cut and the U.S. government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process.”4

Did the CIA torture Assange in a British prison?

Murray also said that from his appearance at the hearing, Assange appears to have been viciously tortured while in Belmarsh Prison. Murray reported: “I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated aging. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg [about 33 pounds] in weight.” Murray goes on, “But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both... it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, who found earlier in 2019 that Assange was the victim of a protracted campaign of “psychological torture,” has repeatedly condemned the British authorities for jailing him in a maximum-security prison. In a letter to the British government in May, Melzer stated that the conditions of Assange’s detention had resulted in his “continued exposure to progressively severe psychological suffering and the ongoing exacerbation of his pre-existing trauma.”5

Assange’s health and life
are at stake

On November 25, 2019 the New York Times reported that “The mental and physical condition of Julian Assange has so deteriorated that he could die in a British jail before his February hearing on extradition to the United States, a group of international doctors has warned.” In an open letter to the UK Home Secretary, the doctors called for Mr. Assange to be transferred from the high-security Belmarsh prison in London to a university teaching hospital to receive an expert medical assessment.6

These alarming reports about Assange, who was coherent and relatively healthy when arrested, combined with the U.S. Embassy officials directing the prosecution with British officials at the October hearing, which signifies their deep and direct involvement, leads to only one conclusion: the CIA is torturing Assange in Belmarsh Prison to the point of incapacity to deal with his own case. This severe treatment could be destroying his mind, and even threatening him with death.

The CIA MK-Ultra program

Death was a frequent occurrence for the victims of the CIA’s secret MK-Ultra program, run for 20 years in the 1950s through early 1970s. This CIA “mind control” program involved giving huge doses of LSD and other drugs to various experimental victims who were often not informed that experiments were being performed on them. Besides LSD, MK-Ultra used other chemicals, electroshocks, hypnosis, sensory deprivation solitary confinement, verbal and sexual abuse, all amounting to torture.

A new book by Stephen Kinzer reports on this in a description of how one man, Sidney Gottlieb, conducted this “work” in secret—even in secret within the CIA. CIA tops ordered it, but didn’t want to know about the gruesome details. The original purpose was to both destroy a person’s mind completely, and then recreate it in accordance with the desires of the perpetrators. As reported by Kinzer, this CIA project “was a continuation of the work begun in World War II-era Japanese facilities and Nazi concentration camps on subduing and controlling human minds.” Kinzer cites evidence that this was a continuation of a Nazi agenda, pursued at the Dachau concentration camp, and facilitated through the CIA’s secret recruitment of Nazi torturers and vivisectionists at the end of the war.7

The MK-Ultra program was terminated in 1973, but anyone who thinks that the CIA would not now use these techniques to attempt to destroy the mind of a perceived enemy such as Assange is delusional.

Torture, a long CIA record

The MK-Ultra project headed by Gottlieb began on the order of CIA director Allen Dulles; it was a part of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The conclusion of this particular program was that while it was possible to destroy a person’s mind, it was not possible to recreate a new mind in its place. But that was not the end of the story.

“Rendition” proved that the U.S. was not done with torture, far from it. Ronald Reagan authorized a rendition in 1987, and Clinton authorized rendition to nations known to practice interrogation, which was dubbed “torture by proxy.” George W Bush rendered hundreds for detention in foreign sites, and “extraordinary rendition” was continued under Obama. The UK authorities, specifically MI5 and MI6 (British security units), were complicit in renditions done by the U.S. “The Report,” a new documentary film on CIA torture in rendition sites, displays CIA “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including use of graphic images, and shows that the real extent of this torture has been underestimated and hidden from the world.8

Belmarsh prison is the latest “rendition” torture site, with Assange in the CIA’s cross hairs.

Did Assange commit rape?

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of this case for some leftists to understand is the “charge” of the rape of two women in Sweden which was leveled against Assange in the press. In general, believing the woman in a rape charge is important for many reasons: women are often afraid to come forward after the fact, the police are highly disrespectful and don’t bother to process “rape kits,” and while DNA evidence may be available, often the lack of consent in the act is difficult to prove. And while Assange has always maintained his innocence in this, and offered to be interrogated by Swedish officials, the charge still leaves a question as to his character.

But unlike most rape cases, this one is vastly different: it has the footprints of the CIA all over it.

First of all, this alleged “rape” came up just months after Assange enraged the U.S. war makers with the release of the “Collateral Murder” video, which showed the blatant killing of civilians in Iraq by U.S. troops from a helicopter.

Secondly, no official charge of rape has ever been leveled against Assange. The two women involved did not allege rape and would not sign onto a charge of rape. A Swedish tabloid went public with the story of an alleged rape, which is how Assange found out about it.

It was all about Assange’s extradition to the U.S.

After a senior Swedish prosecutor cancelled an arrest warrant for Assange, saying the evidence “disclosed no crime at all,” another prosecutor mysteriously re-started the case. Assange went to the police to make a statement and waited for five weeks to be questioned. He left Sweden only after being told by a prosecutor that he was not wanted for questioning.

After Assange left Sweden, Interpol strangely issued a Red Notice for Assange, something usually used for dangerous criminals and terrorists. At the same time—as we now know—a grand Jury in Eastern Virginia (which is notoriously in the home turf of the CIA-U.S. Intelligence community) had begun proceedings to find a way to put Assange to death or jail him for life.

As grand juries often are, this was a set-up. For us to not add two-and-two to make four...

You would have to be
out of your mind

We should have no doubt: the “rape” charge against Assange was a CIA construct from day one. Since when does the U.S. or UK governments concern themselves with rape charges abroad (or even at home)? Yet the UK Supreme Court ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden for something he was not even charged with; and the Swedish government refused to give any assurance that Assange would not be extradited from there to the U.S. This—in 2012—is when Assange sought and received asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Caitlin Johnstone, who defines herself as a 100 percent reader funded “rogue journalist” believes that, “rape culture is a ubiquitous societal illness that needs to be rolled back far beyond the conventional understanding of rape as a stranger in a dark alley forcibly penetrating some man’s wife or daughter at knife point.”

And about Assange? Johnstone said, “’d have to be out of your mind to believe a completely unproven allegation about a known target of U.S. intelligence agencies. It’s just as stupid as believing unproven claims about governments targeted for U.S. regime change, like believing Saddam had WMD.” (my emphasis) And: “...the fact remains that even if Assange were somehow to be proven guilty of rape, the argument ‘he’s a rapist’ is not a legitimate reason to support a U.S. extradition and prosecution which would set a precedent that poses a threat to press freedom everywhere.”9

The official Swedish report

A piece in the Observer, a London-based weekly newspaper, revealed facts as laid out in the official Swedish report on the Assange alleged rape case. Published in 2016, this report confirms that:

  1. neither woman charged Assange with rape;
  2. both women kept him in their respective abodes for days after the sexual incidents concerned;
  3. The two women “make it clear that their negative feelings after their sexual adventures with Mr. Assange were entirely due to the broken condoms and their fear of HIV”;
  4. Assange remained in Stockholm for five weeks in mid-August 2010 in which he was wanted for questioning, and left only after the Swedish prosecutors dropped the case.10

The investigation was immediately reopened by another prosecutor, but after Assange was safely locked up and expected to be railroaded into U.S. clutches for extradition, the case was closed for a final time in November 2019.

Women Against Rape oppose extradition of Assange

We do not tolerate any phony defense arguments against a rape charge, such as “how was she dressed” or “she was asking for it,” or “having unprotected sex without the woman’s permission shouldn’t qualify as sexual assault.” That is not what this is about.

As Women Against Rape spokespersons Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff put it in a Guardian article, “When Julian Assange was first arrested, we were struck by the unusual zeal with which he was being pursued for rape allegations. It seems even clearer now, that the allegations against him are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction.”

Axelsson and Longstaff also point out that the two women involved have been mistreated as well, both by the system and the public. This notwithstanding, they oppose extradition for Assange.11

Socialists must defend
Julian Assange

This a no-brainer: No extradition! Free Julian Assange immediately! And, free Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond now!

Julian Assange is a democrat, not a socialist. Assange falls in the category of muckraker, or in modern usage, investigative reporter. But journalists like Assange have played an important part in exposing the crimes of capitalism and imperialism throughout history. Consider Ida M. Tarbell (1857–1944). She was one of the leading muckrakers of the Progressive era, and an early pioneer of investigative journalism. She wrote the exposé, The History of the Standard Oil Company.

And Ida B. Wells (1862-1931), an African American investigative journalist who was born in slavery. Wells came to co-own and write for the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight and was one of the founders of the NAACP. She condemned the flaws in the United States justice system that allowed lynching to happen, and supported the women’s suffrage movement, among many other things.

Working people need these important truth-tellers.

The harsh treatment of many of these Progressive Era journalists and investigators was severe. But what Assange is going through today? The treatment of Assange shows how the U.S. imperialist ruling class has used modern control of information and advanced torture techniques to tighten the screws on opposition, wherever it arises. This is not fascism yet. But the essential groundwork needed to solidify the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in a fascist fashion is being built. The torture of Julian Assange is one important tentacle of this capitalist octopus.

Julian Assange is a libertarian, not a socialist, but his cause is critical to the class struggle against imperialist capitalism: we must know the truth of ruling class crimes.

The working class needs to mobilize behind a program which includes defense of muckrakers and whistle-blowers such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Jeremy Hammond. This is an important part of a revolutionary solution to the increasingly corrupt and oppressive bourgeois society that confines us all.

1 Displaying heads on a pike after the crushing of a revolt, and posting them on the roads leading into town, is an ancient tyrannical practice which was widely used by slaveocracy rulers in the U.S. after crushing slave revolts.

2 See the US-UK Extradition Treaty, at:


4 Craig Murray, “Assange In Court,” October 22, 2019. For the relevant U.S./UK Extradition Treaty, see:

5 “British Judge Jails Assange Indefinitely, Despite End of Prison Sentence...”

6 New York Times, And see the Open Letter at:

7 Stephen Kinzer, Poisoner In Chief, Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, New York 2019.

8 “The Report” review—gripping, fiery drama on CIA torture investigation,” “The Report” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

9 Caitlin Johnstone, “Responding To Assange’s Critics 1-3,” in Tariq Ali and Margaret Kunstler, editors, In Defense of Julian Assange, OR Books, 2019. Find the complete original Johnstone article, “Debunking All the Assange Smears,” (29 total) at The Medium:

10 Celia Farber, “Exclusive New Docs Throw Doubt on Julian Assange Rape Charges in Stockholm,” Observer, 05 February 2016.

11 Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff, “We are Women Against Rape but we do not want Julian Assange extradited,” the Guardian, August 23, 2012.