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China berates US over double standards on free speech after Assange verdict

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange posts a sign on the Woolwich Crown Court fence. (Via Reuters)

China has berated the US for its blatant double standards on human rights and freedom of speech days after a UK High Court approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US.

Speaking at a press conference on Assange’s extradition to the US where he has been indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said he has taken note of media reports saying that the Assange case fully exposes double standards of the US on the issue of the freedom of speech.

“It seems that anyone can enjoy “freedom of the press as long as they refrain from criticizing or disclosing the unspeakable crimes committed by the US. Otherwise, they may end up behind bars like Mr. Assang,” Wenbin said.

The US government, which had challenged a decision made in January against his extradition, on Friday won an appeal at Britain’s High Court over the extradition of Assange.

Assange is accused of 18 counts related to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential US military records, including classified military and diplomatic files in 2010 about US bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq that proved highly embarrassing for Washington.

The High Court’s ruling once again proved the US and the UK’s cozy relationship and their aligned foreign policy orientation in suppressing the freedom of speech.

Slamming the verdict against the noted whistle blower, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said when the US once again calls for safeguarding freedom of the press and speech, “people will remember what happened to Assange”.

Hua Chunying, director general of China’s information department and foreign ministry spokesman, also lashed out at the Biden administration over Assange verdict.

“If Mr Assange were a Chinese and had leaked damning information about China, his fate would be totally different -- he'd be invited to the WhiteHouse & State Department and hailed as a hero on HumanRightsDay,” she tweeted on Monday.

 

If Mr Assange were a #Chinese and had leaked damning info. about #China, his fate would be totally different -- he'd be invited to the #WhiteHouse & State Department and hailed as a hero on #HumanRightsDay.

— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) December 13, 2021

 

She said Assange was charged for “revealing how the US military had killed 15,000+ civilians in unreported incidents during the Iraq war, tortured foreign nationals aged 14-89 in Guantanamo spied on UN chief & senior foreign diplomats, instigated coups in other countries, and meddled in the Yemen war which took thousands of lives.

“This is Anglo-Saxon democracy, freedom & justice. How ironic,” she wrote, with a hint of sarcasm.

Alex Lo, a Chinese columnist, writing in the South China Morning Post, also called out the US’ double standards.

“Just imagine if Julian Assange was Chinese,” he wrote. “As pointed out by at least one British pundit, the founder of WikiLeaks would have been celebrated and hailed as a hero by the West, instead of facing extradition to the US. Unfortunately, he exposed Western, especially American crimes, rather than Chinese ones.”

Meanwhile, Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, has said his legal team would appeal the decision.

“How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?” she said. “We will appeal this decision at the earliest possible moment.”

Furthering the acts of hostility against free speech and freedom of press, the UK government last week imposed sanctions on an Iranian reporter and TV producer on baseless charges of spreading “misinformation regarding political prisoners.”

Ali Rezvani, who works for the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), is accused of involvement in “interrogation of detainees,” and broadcasting their “forced confessions,” as well as spreading “misinformation regarding political prisoners, dissidents and hostages.”

Violating free media and free speech principles, the Western governments, including the UK and the US, have over the past years targeted Iranian news channels, media outlets and journalists with restrictive measures, such as sanctions.


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