By Jeff Cohen – Rootsaction.org
Besides all the mainstream journalists, cameras and satellite trucks across the street from Ecuador’s embassy, I was heartened to see British citizens protesting their government’s actions — and also standing up for Bradley Manning, the young U.S. Army private who faces life in prison as the accused WikiLeaks leaker of documents showing military and diplomatic crimes by the U.S. government. Among the placards I saw: “Exposing War Crimes Is Not a Crime — Free Assange, Free Manning” and “Protect Freedom to Publish.” and “If Wars Can Be Started by Lies, They Can Be Stopped By Truth.”
It’s important to know that Britain’s Foreign Office recently threatened Ecuador in a letter — claiming a legal basis to go ahead and arrest Assange from the embassy after revoking the building’s diplomatic status. On Thursday, a prominent Conservative member of Parliament tweeted that Britain should break off diplomatic relations with Ecuador and then invade the “former embassy” to seize the WikiLeaks founder.
A U.S. group I co-founded, RootsAction.org, is circulating a short online petition thanking Ecuador and protesting Britain’s threats against the embassy and refusal to uphold the right of asylum.
As the father of two daughters (who are with me in London), I take sexual assault allegations seriously (Assange has never been charged). But standing outside this embassy surrounded by British police, it looked to me like a classic case of powerful Western states uniting to intimidate a less powerful country on behalf of their prerogatives toward domination and war. It had nothing to do with “the rule of law.” And it had nothing to do with women’s rights.
Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2002, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC (overseen by NBC News). He is the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media – and a cofounder of the online action group, www.RootsAction.org.
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