Assange as Navalny; that false equivalence between the West and autocracies

The thesis is currently circulating according to which the cases of Alexei Navalny And Julian Assange they would essentially be superimposable. In reality, regardless of how one thinks about the merits of the two events, they are rather different issues. But let's start by retracing the stories of Navalny And Assange.

At least since 2011, Navalny carried out political battles in opposition to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. In August 2020, he suffered a poisoning, for which, according to himself and the US State Department, the Russian services were responsible. The activist, after having been treated in Germany, decided to return to Russia, where he was arrested in January 2021. Instead, it was 2010, when Julian Assange, through its Wikileaks platform, published a significant amount of US diplomatic documents. Furthermore, in 2017, WikiLeaks itself began publishing another series of documents relating to the CIA's activities. Assange he was then indicted by the Trump administration's Justice Department between 2019 and 2020. With this in mind, the United States has forwarded the extradition request on which the London high court will have to rule shortly.

And here we come to the point. Why, regardless of how one thinks about the merits of the two events, are these issues not truly overlapping? First of all, a clear difference emerges between the Russian and American judicial systems. With all the problems and distortions that the American one can have (and does have), it is not comparable to the other in terms of guarantees and counterweights. Secondly, in the United States it is possible to defend Assangewhile in Russia it is not exactly easy to do the same thing for Navalny. Just last February 19th, the New York Times published an article in the “opinions” section, entitled “The extradition of Julian Assange threatens freedom of the press.” “The trial against Julian Assange represents an absolute threat to freedom of the press,” it was also headlined The Nation in 2021. To side with Assange he was also the then Republican congressman from Texas, Ron Paul: of libertarian orientation, the latter was a candidate for the nominations Republican presidential election in 2008 and 2012. The Democratic deputy also defended the founder of Wikileaks in 2022 Ro Khanna.

Because the problem ultimately has a broader scope. Especially following the pandemic, a whole political and thought current has developed in the West which tends either to present autocracies almost as models to follow or to establish false equivalences between the autocracies themselves and liberal democratic systems. Systems, let it be clear, which have their problems and which should not be naively idealised. But which still remain very different from political and institutional realities where there is no transparency or effective separation of powers. And, above all, where dissent is not tolerated.