The United States and the United Kingdom are constantly criticizing the press and freedom of expression in other countries. They publish reports and give official support to civic organizations that prepare press freedom assessments in their countries. They seem very assertive about the whole thing and they are radical in their approach. However, the freedoms of press and expression in their own countries are not unlimited as they recommend to other countries. The most dramatic indicator of this is the yearslong "hunt" for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
U.S. intelligence pursued Australian-born Assange on 18 charges, including espionage, for releasing thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011. Assange had taken refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he lived for six years under inhumane conditions. He has been in prison in the U.K. since 2019. Two weeks ago, the British government accepted his extradition to the U.S.
So what is Assange’s unforgivable great crime? WikiLeaks documents released by Assange contained information about how U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan. Other documents showed that 66,000 civilians were killed during the invasion of Iraq and that Iraqi forces tortured the prisoners.
Can the information in the disclosed documents be denied? No. So, has Assange actually been punished for so many years for being a journalist and fulfilling his responsibilities towards his profession, humanity and reality? Is that why the British judge is upholding Assange's extradition, leaving the final decision up to the government? Is the judge concerned about the reports in the U.S. press that the CIA is plotting to assassinate Assange? Doesn't he want to bear the responsibility of leaving Assange to an agenda that knows no limit?
Whatever the decision, the courage demonstrated by Assange, whose life was poisoned because he did his job properly, and the hypocrisy of those who gave speeches about "freedom of the press" and remained silent about his drama, have already gone down in history.
The Spanish Embassy in Ankara responded to the article I wrote last week in Daily Sabah about the death of migrants trying to cross into the Melilla region. Gregorio Laso, press and information counselor at Communication Office of the Embassy of Spain, said that “we are not responsible for the tragedy that happened in the Moroccan side of the border some days ago.” He said “this tragedy happened in an Islamic country called Morocco at the frontier city with Melilla called Nador.” Laso reminded that after the incident, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was not aware of the details of the atrocities while thanking the Moroccan authorities for their cooperation. He also highlighted that Sanchez expressed his sadness about the death of irregular migrants in a statement to the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia. And Laso claims that I ignore these points.
Dear counselor, I thank you for your kind interest, however, your response does not answer the questions in my article. My article is out there. What I am asking is whether your policies and politicians would be as cold-blooded if the migrants were white Ukrainians instead of "dark-skinned" people and Muslims.
Let me expand a little more and repeat my question. If the wounded who died under the concrete wall in Melilla were Ukrainians, whose dogs were even greeted with a ceremony in Europe, would you be content to say that the responsibility was on the other side? Would your security forces just watch the massacre since its not their "job"? Should they have called an amublance? Or should they have tried to provide medical aid as soon as possible or even opened the doors at the beginning of the incident to prevent the stampede? Also would your head of government, Sanchez, be willing to do more than making a short statement to La Vanguardia? Wouldn't contemporary Western public opinion flood the media?
In your statement, you say that your government is not racist and that you do not have “ghettos for migrants” in Spain. I have no doubt about it. I was in Madrid a week ago. I have great sympathy for the Spanish people and culture. To be honest, I'm in love with your country. So I can say that my questions pointing to a common problem are not based on prejudice.
Moreover, the U.N. is issuing warnings about the passive racism and discrimination that I have underlined, which is taken for granted in the West. It warns that in Europe, Ukrainian refugees are treated very differently than Middle Eastern, Muslim and African refugees.
I am aware of the limits of diplomatic language. But I am quite sure that you will sincerely ponder my sincere questions in your mind.