Starmer defends whistleblowers while ignoring Assange

  • Post last modified:May 22, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Labour leader Keir Starmer defended whistleblowers at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) while talking about the infected blood scandal:

Will the Prime Minister now commit to ensuring that those who do silence and gag whistleblowers will no longer be able to work in the NHS?

But while it’s right that the government should protect whistleblowers in this case, Starmer has ignored journalist Julian Assange.

Inconsistent Starmer

According to the UN, Assange is under arbitrary detention in Belmarsh prison in London for publishing leaked files from whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Yet Starmer is not protecting the right of whistleblowers to be heard through journalists. He is misusing his role as Labour leader through refusing to address Assange’s case.

This is the political persecution of a journalist who faces up to 175 years in prison if he’s extradited to the US for publishing classified files in the public interest.

And in fact, there are questions surrounding Starmer’s role in Assange’s case when he was Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from 2008-2013.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) deleted records of its then head Starmer’s trips to Washington that appear to concern Assange’s case. It also deleted key emails.

Director of Campaign for Freedom of Information Maurice Frankel told Declassified:

It’s inconceivable that records about a high-profile case, with major domestic and international implications, could properly have been destroyed while proceedings were and remain live.

Emails about where Keir Starmer would lunch in Washington are one thing, but records about discussions between the most senior British and US officials would have been historically significant and possibly relevant for business and legal reasons.

The CPS may have grounds to withhold these from an FOI request – but destroying historically and politically significant records is a different matter. The timing of any destruction is also critical. If they were destroyed while an FOI request for them was being considered that may have been a criminal offence.

Revealing US war crimes

Assange faces extradition to the US for publishing the revelations of whistleblower Manning. These include a video where a US helicopter crew laughed while killing a dozen people in Iraq including Reuters employees.

Other revelations in the 700,000 classified documents show a cover up of the US military killing more unarmed civilians in Afghanistan.

Assange represents a culture of accountability for states worldwide. If he’s charged, the case will set a precedent criminalising journalistic activity such as story hunting and source protection.

It will enable the US to act like a global mafia state, punishing an Australian journalist for his work.

Yet Starmer has not pressured Rishi Sunak to end the disgusting persecution of Assange. That’s despite his warm words on whistleblowers at PMQs. And it looks like the CPS may have covered up Starmer’s role in that persecution.

Featured image via Guardian News – YouTube and On Demand News – YouTube

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