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US Intelligence Kept Assange in UK Dungeon for Exposing War Crimes – CIA Analyst

© AP Photo / Sang TanWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Belmarsh Magistrate's court in London for his extradition hearing, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Belmarsh Magistrate's court in London for his extradition hearing, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Sang Tan) - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.06.2024
The firebrand transparency activist will soon be free, but his years of confinement have caused untold damage to his mental and physical health.
Press freedom advocates claimed a significant victory this week when it was announced Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would be released from prison.
The journalist had been held in the UK detention facility, often called “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay,” for five years after police stormed the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had taken refuge. The incident was a shocking turnabout after former leftist leader Rafael Correa first offered Assange asylum in 2012. The raid was reportedly spearheaded by Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who drew up plans to kidnap and kill the firebrand transparency activist during his time at the Central Intelligence Agency.
Although those plans never came to fruition, US intelligence remained obsessed with Assange and likely prevented his release for years, according to ex-CIA analyst John Kiriakou. The former whistleblower joined Sputnik’s The Final Countdown program Tuesday where he discussed the surprising development with hosts Ted Rall and Angie Wong.
“The pressures are immense,” said Kiriakou, who himself accepted a plea deal after being targeted by the Obama justice department for revealing the CIA’s clandestine torture program. “One of the things that Julian was adamant about was that he would not take a plea to an espionage charge and in the end, he did not take a plea to an espionage charge. He took a plea to a conspiracy charge and was given time served.”
“So that's a win.”
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.08.2022
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The pursuit of Assange on espionage charges sounded alarms for press freedom advocates, who feared the Australian citizen could be sentenced to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Such a conviction would set a dangerous precedent for journalists, who could become subject to extradition to the United States from anywhere in the world.
“One of the things that's been fascinating to me today is to see the reaction from people across the ideological spectrum,” said Kiriakou. “The strongest support for this agreement has come from the Republican right. Very strongly supportive statements from Rand Paul, from Congressman Thomas Massie, from Tucker Carlson… Among Democrats, you're getting the party line.”
“The only interesting thing to me is the response of the neocons – so far led by Mike Pence – who is arguably one of the most irrelevant politicians in America today,” he continued.
Pence’s statement on the X social media platform, which was roundly criticized by users of the site, alleged that Assange endangered the safety of US service members “in a time of war.”
“Name one – literally, seriously – name one single troop whose life was put in danger because of WikiLeaks or Julian Assange's revelations,” Kiriakou responded. “Name one. Because you can't. What Julian Assange revealed was a series of systematic war crimes committed by the US military. That's what he revealed.”
Protesters stand with Julian Assange posters at the Royal Courts of Justice entrance in London, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.03.2024
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Assange’s work helped spark a global debate over the conduct of the US surveillance state, which has grown in power in recent decades. The journalist’s publication of leaked diplomatic cables generated significant embarrassment for the United States government, which was revealed to have plotted covert regime change operations, engaged in economic espionage and even spied on allied world leaders and Western media outlets.
The release of a video showing the US military’s killing of several civilians and two Reuters journalists in Iraq, provocatively titled “Collateral Murder,” provoked discussion about the consequences of the United States’ decades-long military engagement in the Middle East, which has led to the death of an estimated 4.5 million people according to one study.

“What was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created,” wrote two repentant US Army veterans depicted in the footage. “From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how US-led wars are carried out in this region.”

“I think that Joe Biden was under such pressure from the CIA, and probably by the FBI, that he just couldn't do that,” said Kiriakou when asked why the US president did not seek Assange’s release sooner. “Or, if he were to do that, he would have had to wait until after the election. Julian's health has been precarious, both physically and mentally, and I think it's probably better that it worked out this way and he can be home.”
Although Assange’s family and multitude of supporters are celebrating his newfound freedom, his effective imprisonment for more than a decade still sends a stark message about the ruthlessness of the all-powerful US surveillance state and its determination to punish anyone who dares expose its misdeeds.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.10.2018
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