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US bullies have no respect for liberties

By Professor Stuart Rees, in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Letters to the Editor:

The prospect of US charges against Julian Assange will be a test of the Australian government’s courage in standing up to big brother America, thereby showing its independence and willingness to protect the interests of any Australian citizen (”Revealed: US plans to charge Assange”, February 29).

For centuries, governments and other powerful interests have behaved as though secrecy was a necessary form of governance. Since the introduction of the war on terror, civil liberties have been further eroded by the multiplication of public and private intelligence and counter terrorism agencies such as this Texas outfit, Stratfor, whose employees are invisible and not accountable.

That the WikiLeaks/Assange cables have told us something about the clandestine and sometimes criminal activities of governments and their sub-contracted intelligence collaborators is a public service not a crime.

A grand jury in Virginia has been struggling for months to concoct a charge against Julian Assange. This demonstrates not only the flimsy nature of evidence but also America’s usual bullying desire for revenge against someone who has merely revealed what has been going on.

This article first appeared in the the Sydney Morning Herald, Letters to the Editor, 1 March 2012