As war breaks out in various parts of our globe, one yearns to know who is doing what for why so that the horrors can be stopped.  This was the promise of WikiLeaks under the leadership of its founder, Julian Assange, an Australian citizen.  Insiders of moral principle could safely leak documents in the public interest to this media  organization.   

The Lies of War Can Be Ended by Truth: Free Speech, Free Julian Assange!

by Amy Blumenshine  Women Against Military Madness  Vol. 41 No. 5  Winter 2023

Update: On October 16, Craig Murray was detained when he arrived at the Glasgow Airport after meeting with the Assange campaign and attending a Palestine solidarity event in Reykjavik, Iceland. He was interrogated by British counterterrorism agents and after one hour released. His phone and laptop were confiscated.[1]

As war breaks out in various parts of our globe, one yearns to know who is doing what for why so that the horrors can be stopped.  This was the promise of WikiLeaks under the leadership of its founder, Julian Assange, an Australian citizen.  Insiders of moral principle could safely leak documents in the public interest to this media  organization. People all over the world learned of the misdeeds of the powerful and were motivated to take action.  With this exposure, the hope was that fewer crimes would be committed.

Instead, the powerful attacked both WikiLeaks and Assange, who lost his freedom for over 13 years for publishing truthful information about U.S. government crimes.

Recently a delegation of Australian members of parliament traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge the U.S. to drop the prosecution of Assange. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said he will make the same request of President Biden during his scheduled visit to D.C. in late October.

When Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar met with the Australian delegation, they impressed upon her the significance of a letter they brought with them that was signed by 63 parliamentarians representing different sides of the Australian political spectrum. We don’t usually agree, noted one parliamentarian, but we agree on this.

It’s not surprising that the Australians were concerned. The U.S. sets a bad precedent when it imprisons a foreign journalist who publishes truths about the U.S. government. As the delegation pointed out, when China detained Chen Lei, an Australian journalist who was a prominent anchor on the news channel CGTN, the Chinese government accused her of sharing some of its state secrets;[2] for three years, they defended their action by pointing to the U.S./UK treatment of Assange.

As of this writing, the British have confined Assange to Belmarsh, a maximum-security prison in London, in expectation that he will be extradited for a trial in the U.S.  Some have called this punishment by judicial process, even as he is “presumed” innocent awaiting trial. The official UN rapporteur on torture who investigated Assange’s treatment, Nils Melzer, has characterized his treatment as torture.[3]

Among those flying to Assange’s defense, however, is Craig Murray, a Scotsman and former career diplomat for the UK who had become a whistleblower while serving as ambassador to Uzbekistan.   On the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 over a hundred people came to the Hook and Ladder, a nightclub venue in Minneapolis, to hear Murray plead for protections for whistleblowers and the media who publish them – most especially Julian Assange.

Coleen Rowley, renowned as a 9/11 FBI whistleblower, introduced the event with a quote from journalist and commentator Chris Hedges: “A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.” Upon learning of Murray’s visit to the U.S., Rowley had quickly organized a speaking engagement with the Tackling Torture at the Top Committee (T3) of Women Against Military Madness, along with Twin Cities Assange Defense.

Ironically, Rowley’s announcement of the event promoting free speech, entitled, “The Power of Personal Courage in an Era of Mass Censorship,” was taken down by Facebook. Rowley denounced this act of censorship as an example of the too common gatekeeping in these times.

Despite this setback, an audience was able to hear Craig Murray. In his speech, he detailed the slow-motion execution that the U.S. and UK governments have waged on Assange. The WikiLeaks revelations about U.S. torture, the “Iraq War Logs,” the “Afghan War Diary,” and even the political shenanigans of politicos earned Assange the vengeance of the U.S. security forces, said Murray. Unfortunately, those same entities engineered an effective public smearing with a character assassination. (It has since been revealed that the Swedish sexual assault charges, which served initially as the British excuse to seek the capture of Assange, were indeed merely a ruse in the attempt to ultimately extradite him to the U.S.)

It is conjectured that the U.S. prosecution was maneuvering how to manage this unconstitutional assault on freedom of the press. The Obama administration, for instance, held back on seizing Assange citing as their reason “The New York Times problem,” since mainstream media regularly reveal secrets. [4]

In his talk, Murray also honored the late whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who testified in defense of Assange near his own life’s end. The kangaroo UK court conducting the case for extradition attempted to sabotage Ellsberg’s testimony by allowing access to 600 pages of evidence only the evening before he was to testify (online) at 5:30 a.m. Nevertheless, the elder whistleblower spent the night reviewing the information and delivered his countering testimony at the wee hour. Ellsberg said that when he sought to end the Vietnam war he was far more guilty of “reckless” release of secret information than Assange.

To the government’s claim that Assange endangered individuals, Ellsberg pointed out that no such victim had been identified. He further noted that the post- 9/11 internationally illegal U.S. wars – which WikiLeaks sought to end – have resulted in the deaths of more than one million people and the displacement of over 27 million people. (The Cost of War Project estimates the number of deaths to be even higher.) [5]

While the perpetrators of those war crimes were never charged, Assange, the publisher of the documentation revealing them, faces a possible U.S. prison sentence of 175 years in what will effectively be solitary confinement.

Murray went on to say that we now know that U.S. security forces discussed plots to abduct and assassinate Assange [6] and that the private security firm hired by the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange had taken asylum, was working with U.S. intelligence to surveil him and his lawyers, including placing cameras in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. [7]

Furthermore, Murray said that after the CIA helped effect a change in the Ecuadorian leadership, the new government expelled Assange from his embassy sanctuary and preparation materials for his defense were collected and given to his prosecutors, the U.S.  Any of this prosecutorial misconduct, according to Murray, would ordinarily be cause for dismissal of a court case.

Murray’s own story is that he learned that the autocratic leader of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, was using torture on an industrial scale, even boiling alive his opponents. The torture and killings ­in Uzbekistan of which Murray had personal knowledge were excused by the UK and the U.S. as supportive of the global war on terror. In actual fact, these horrors were committed to terrorize the Uzbek people, maintaining Karimov’s rule while currying aid and political support from the U.S. and UK warmakers. Murray even knew that one of the victims, persecuted as a member of al-Qaeda, was actually a Jehovah’s Witness! Other improper factors protected Karimov, as well.  Murray explained that the senior Bush, George H.W., had a financial interest in building a prospective oil pipeline through Uzbekistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan. Uzbekistan’s location also facilitated profits from trafficking the opiate trade from Afghanistan, which under U.S. occupation produced over 90 percent of the global illicit market.

After exhausting internal channels to stop the British government’s support of Karimov, Murray took the story to a British newspaper, the Financial Times, which published it. He was induced to resign his ambassadorship immediately and given seven years pay – certainly a contrast to the treatment of Assange.

Many journalists and their professional associations have warned of the chilling effect on journalism of penalizing common behaviors of journalists, especially the publishing of truths that are embarrassing to the U.S. government.  Assange’s act of publishing classified information is being charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, which places draconian limitations on his defense during trial.  Murray called Assange’s treatment a long-term public execution to demonstrate the crushing power of the state to others.

Gary King, of Amnesty International, who has worked to obtain the release of prisoners in the Philippines, noted that Assange was the epitome of what Amnesty calls a prisoner of conscience: someone imprisoned by their government not for violence but for speaking inconvenient truths.

Murray quoted Assange: “If wars can be started by lies then wars can be ended by truth.” Murray urged all present to act if Assange is extradited to the U.S.  He urged the use of alternative media on that day in order to have an impact on the news narrative.

Murray concluded with this exhortation: “We need to rescue from persecution the leading proponent against war….This is the fight for truth, for justice, for the very principle of freedom of speech, against war, for the fundamental virtues in society that good people should be pursuing. I know that everyone here will be doing that with me.”

Amy Blumenshine is a member of the Women Against Military Madness End War Committee. She is a journalist, a scholar on military moral injury, and a Lutheran deacon.  She was present at the talk by Craig Murray.


Show up for Free Speech and Journalism!  The growing global support for freeing Julian Assange is a cause of optimism, but it’s important to plan for the worst. If he is extradited to the U.S., protests are planned.  In Minneapolis/St. Paul, local supporters will gather at the Minneapolis Federal Courthouse, 300 South Fourth Street, at 4:00 p.m. on the day after such an announcement. For this and other locations throughout the U.S., sign up for the national alert at   Be sure to take photos and share with media, especially alternative media.


Watch: “The Power of Personal Courage in an Era of Mass Censorship – Craig Murray, Former Ambassador” on Women Against Military Madness YouTube channel.


[1] Klarenberg, Kit. Former ambassador and Assange advocate Craig Murray detained under UK terror laws. The GrayZone. October 17, 2023.; Morrison, Hamish. Craig Murray: I was detained under terror laws after Palestine protest. Yahoo! News. October 18, 2023.

[2] Buckley, Chris. China Arrests Australian Journalist on Spying Charge. The New York Times. February 7, 2021. Note: She was released in October of 2023.

[3] UN expert on torture sounds the alarm again that Julian Assange’s life may be at risk. United Nations Human Rights. Office of the High Commissioner. November 1, 2019.

[4] Gold, Hadas. DOJ’s “New York Times Problem” with Assange. Politico. November 26, 2013.

[5] According to estimates from the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute 3.6-3.8 million people have died indirectly, not by munitions but by the destruction of life-supporting services in post-9/11 war zones, bringing the total death toll to at least 4.5-4.7 million and counting. They estimate the number of war refugees and displaced persons to be 38 million.

[6] Kidnapping assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s Secret War Plans Against Wikileaks, by Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor, and Michael Isikoff, September 26, 2021,Yahoo! According to this article, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, during the Trump administration, had a vendetta against Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing Vault 7, which exposed CIA hacking tools, the knowledge of whichresulted in a massive loss of datafor the CIA.

[7] Spanish security firm spied on Julian Assange in London for the United States.  María Irujo, José. El País. September 26, 2019.


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