Julian Assange’s arrest was not a sudden development, cultural philosopher Slavoj Zizek told RT. Instead it was well planned and the final step in a long and ugly smear campaign against the WikiLeaks founder.
After sheltering in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for six years, Assange was dragged out of the building by British police on Thursday morning. The arrest comes after Ecuador’s new pro-US president withdrew Assange’s asylum claim, and after WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson claimed that an extensive spying campaign was conducted against Assange, designed to get him out.
“I was not surprised,” Zizek told RT. “The problem for me is how people will simply accept this as the result of the long, systematic, character assassination campaign.”
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The first step in the campaign, Zizek said, was to connect WikiLeaks – an independent journalistic outlet known for leaking classified materials, which also prides itself on having never published false information – with Russia and Vladimir Putin. The next step was “character assassination.” Assange, Zizek said, was painted as “arrogant,” “paranoid,” and even a rapist, despite Swedish authorities dropping all charges against him in 2017.
Then the gossip against Assange sank to an “incredibly dirty personal level, that he doesn’t clean his toilet, that he smells bad and so on. Can we imagine anything lower?” WikiLeaks has argued the same, calling Assange the victim of “a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him.”
This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him. #ProtectJulianpic.twitter.com/dVBf1EcMa5
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Assange’s arrest, Zizek continued, has “nothing to do with vengeance.” Rather, the WikiLeaks head was made an example of in the ongoing fight to clamp down on the free flow of information. Just like the European Union’s new copyright directive threatens to censor almost all free expression online,