Sunday Column: President Trump should pardon Julian Assange.

By Derek Gardiner

Tomorrow Julian Assange will learn whether he is to be extradited to the United States to face 18 charges of espionage, computer hacking and releasing classified information. This is the end of a 10-year saga after Mr Assange came into possession of classified documents exposing the true extent of US actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay and massively reducing public support for these dreadful wars. He was forced to hide in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years after being granted asylum by the Ecuadorian authorities and the impact this has had on his body and mind is clear for all to see. He has spent the past 18 months in Belmarsh prison under solitary confinement for 23 hours a day due to lockdown restrictions, he is at serious risk of COVID with a weakened immune system from years spent out of the sunlight. The mental and physical torments he has been forced to endure are surely enough to make up for the "crime" of keeping the public informed in his role as a journalist.

The Anglo-US extradition treaty clearly reflects Britain's status as a junior partner when it comes to the special relationship. UK citizens can be extradited to the US if they commit crimes under US law in the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom while the UK cannot extradite US citizens most notably Anne Secoolas for the death of Harry Dunn due to her "diplomatic immunity". It looks as if the Old Bailey will grant extradition of Mr Assange to the US where he could face up to 175 years in prison for the charges against him, simply because they seldom refuse extradition. To all those on both sides of the Atlantic who have spent the last few years fighting the intolerance of the woke left and their attacks on freedom of speech and the press must defend Assange. Freedom of speech is a universal right and the taking down of few old TV shows is trivial in comparison to the apparatus of the US state coming down on Mr Assange.

While we don't know what will happen with the electoral college vote on Wednesday, we can work on the assumption that President Trump will leave office on 20th January and it is almost certain that Joe Biden will not pardon Assange, President Trump has benefitted from the democratic primary email leaks in 2016 and has often railed against the so-called deep state. If he wants to continue the fight against the establishment he can do so by issuing a pardon to Julian Assange in the short time he has left in the White House, several prominent people, even war hawks like Sarah Palin are now calling for the pardon of Julian Assange if Mr Trump wants to go out historically and set himself up for another populist run in 2024 then pardoning Assange is the perfect way to do that.

The government must not close the schools again

The disruption children have had to their education this year will scar them for the rest of their lives, it looks as if two consecutive years of A level and GCSE exams will be cancelled and grades will be given on a "teachers pet" basis without the fairness and rigour of a proper exam. For the alarmists at SAGE the R number is sacred and they will do everything and anything to get it down below 1 even close schools again and inflict damage on another set of school leavers who will leave with effectively no qualifications.

The crisis in British education will only get worse, we are partially in this mess because of people have lost their ability to think critically and are simply following what is said on TV. Attnetion spans are already very low and some young people are leaving school functioanlly illiterate.

The Prime Minister has sent out mixed messages by saying that parents should sent their children to school on Monday but he may close them in the near future. Instead of closing everything down again the government should ensure that hospitals have the capacity to cope with the number of new patients, if they need more space then the Nightngale hospitals should be used and retired doctors and nurses, who are currently put off by needless bureaucracy like having to undergo "prevent" counter-redicalisation training are fast tracked to staff them.

The government now seem to be obessesed with lockdowns rather than a coherent strategy to ensure the hospitals are not overwhelmed.