Assange Chris Hedges chris hedges report

The Chris Hedges Report: Julian Assange’s Father on Looming Extradition and Imperative of Mass Resistance

The persecution of Julian Assange is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism.

Click here or the picture below to listen to the podcast:

A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.

Tyrannies invert the rule of law. They turn the law into an instrument of injustice. They cloak their crimes in a faux legality. They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality. Those, such as Julian Assange, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.

I was in the London courtroom when Julian was being tried by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, an updated version of the Queen of Hearts in Alice-in Wonderland demanding the sentence before pronouncing the verdict. It was judicial farce. There was no legal basis to hold Julian in prison. There was no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the U.S. Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Julian in the embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Julian and his lawyers as they discussed his defense. This fact alone invalidated the trial. Julian is being held in a high security prison so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the degrading abuse and torture it hopes will lead to his psychological if not physical disintegration.

The U.S. government directed the London prosecutor James Lewis. Lewis presented these directives to Baraitser. Baraitser adopted them as her legal decision. It was judicial pantomime. Lewis and the judge insisted they were not attempting to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press while they busily set up the legal framework to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press. And that is why the court worked so hard to mask the proceedings from the public, limiting access to the courtroom to a handful of observers and making it hard and at times impossible for us to access the trial online. It was a tawdry show trial, not an example of the best of English jurisprudence but the Lubyanka.

It is imperative that those of us who care about a free press and the persecution of an innocent man, for Julian has not committed a crime, make our presence felt in the streets. I will be in Washington on October 8 with, I hope, thousands of others to ring the capital to call for Julians’ release, an act that will be replicated by protesters surrounding the British parliament the same day. Joining me from Mexico, where Mexican president Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has defended Julian’s innocence and offered asylum to the WikiLeaks founder, is Julians’s father John Shipton.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.


  1. The time is overdue to form the mass people’s movement to free Julian Assange. If you have not got on the streets to demand Julian’s freedom before then do so now. Melbourne Oct 8 Human chain with John and Gabriel Shipton and war crimes whistle blower David McBride at Princes Bridge south bank 11am. Human chain around UK parliament Oct 8 London. Or create your own event in solidarity.
    Join the movement!
    Be there or be in 1984

    1. Unfortunate for kumbaya lovers and virtue signalers, Assange is before the Courts, who are obligated by every measure to ignore, “mass people’s movements” and follow the law. If there were some provision under law that a Court could look out the window and count protesters and then decide to void a prosecution you might be on to something. Does that exist in England?

      A more useful tactic that is never popular with kumbaya lovers and virtue signalers who whether they know it or not are play actors in a theater is; go to work on that day instead of protesting, and then donate that full day’s pay to Assange’s legal defense fund.

  2. Still waiting for Australia’s new Labor government to show some guts and stand up to US imperialism.
    FAT chance.
    Sycophants Are Us.

    1. Yes it sounds cool, but sychophant means, “pandering flatterer,” and so is out of context with respect to what you seem to be getting at.

  3. “the men americans most admire dare to tell them the most extravagant lies; the men they most despise try to tell them the truth”. HL Menkhen
    “obama’s job is to lie to a nation of liars”. Kiese Laymon

    1. Artificial realities are necessarily built on lies, while natural realities are necessarily built on facts. Authority is a fundamental corruption of the caregiver intinct necessarity turning adults back into infants, ignorant, and dependent, in this artificial reality.

  4. The point here is to listen to the podcast then comment, not to comment on the preface. To that end, if one sets the podcast playback speed to 1.25x, the tediously slow Hedges sounds quite natural. 1.5x would also be good and gets it over with in 21min.
    The podcast itself breaks no new ground: Assange is in a tough spot. His father cares. Prosecutors suck yes thanks for that update to 500 year old news. Much of the talk rests on the angle that Assange is particularly fragile, though many men have done decades in places a lot rougher than the Ecuadorian Embassy. Belmarsh is hard time, but men survive there. Consider an innocent man going to jail lacking the satisfaction that it’s for an act of what they considered to be justice, and by comparison Assange should be doing well. The case should not be one of pity, but of legal justice.

    To that point; all Justice Systems over many centuries are grinding machines. (See “Piso’s Justice”) You have to be made of hard material to pass through unbroken, even if you manage to win your case, no matter where or in what time you’ve come under the law. The Espionage Act is particularly vile, a leftover from the time when women could not vote and society was segregated and American was a jingoist hell. I conflate it’s (prosecution speech for espionage) appeal in the modern public mind with the sick & unnatural love modern people are have for soldiers, “supporting the troops” no matter what evil they are up to. In some sense it is that ethic that Assange affronted with his rather tired non-revelations that, yes kids soldiers kill people all day without fussing over the details of every death.

    It is bothersome to court watchers that we hear so much moralizing re Assange, and so little legalese. The secrecy provisions of so called espionage cases makes it hard, but pundits could conjecture about hypothetical legal pathways and get off the “woe is Assange” bandwagon, to at least make the case appear to be winnable and thus sparking support. In this regard it may be true that Assange violated a law and his redemption lies in pardon or mercy.

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