Noam Chomsky calls Julian Assange’s arrest “scandalous” and “deeply disturbing” on many levels

Renowned political activist and MIT Emeritus Professor Noam Chomsky blasted Julian Assange’s recent arrest as “scandalous” and “deeply disturbing” for a number of reasons.

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested on Thursday morning by London’s Metropolitan Police on the charge of skipping bail.

His looming court appearance for skipping bail is the least of his worries. Assange was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years to avoid potential extradition to the United States for publishing classified military information.

Chomsky, who has been highly critical of America’s military policies and President Donald Trump, spoke to Amy Goodman from Democracy Now, explaining why the arrest is so concerning.

He explained what’s happening as follows:

“The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about—OK?—that’s basically what happened,” Chomsky said.

“WikiLeaks was producing things that people ought to know about those in power. People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.”


Chomsky compared Assange’s arrest with former Brazilian president Lula de Silva, who was prevented from running in the 2018 Brazilian elections and is now serving time in prison.

Chomsky said these two cases are evidence of “soft coups” where individuals seeking to challenge modern day power structures are being “silenced” by those who benefit from the status quo.

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“Under the Lula government early in this millennium, Brazil was the most—maybe the most respected country in the world. It was the voice for the Global South under the leadership of Lula da Silva. Notice what happened. There was a coup, soft coup, to eliminate the nefarious effects of the labor party, the Workers’ Party,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky drew a historical analogy with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s arrest of Italian philosopher and politician Antonio Gramsci, who was writing actively against Mussolini’s fascist government.

“Assange is a similar case: We’ve got to silence this voice. You go back to history. Some of you may recall when Mussolini’s fascist government put Antonio Gramsci in jail. The prosecutor said, ‘We have to silence this voice for 20 years. Can’t let it speak.’ That’s Assange. That’s Lula,” Chomsky said.

The linguistics professor also said Assange’s arrest demonstrated the US is comfortable overstepping its territorial boundaries to prosecute those who are critical of its government. He labeled the sudden Thursday morning arrest as “shocking” and a chilling warning to journalists around the world.

See the full video below. We’d love to hear from you in the comments section, sharing your own perspectives or links to resources that help to provide more context to this story.


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Notable replies

  1. I found Chomsky’s analysis of what’s happening quite fascinating for a number of reasons.

    The historical and contemporary analogies are particularly interesting, comparing Assange’s arrest with Lula de Silva and Antonio Gramsci.

    I’m wondering what others in the Ideapod community think of these comparisons, and what perspectives you draw from Assange’s arrest? Do you see Assange as simply a publisher making information available that the public have the right to? Or do you see him as a conspirator committing espionage against the American government, deserving a period time in jail or potentially even the death penalty?

  2. ACD says:

    The current propaganda era in the West – there have been others – during which investigative critical journalism effectively is silenced by the powers-that-be (whoever they are), began with 911, and Chomsky joins the powers-that-be in painting any scrutiny of 911 as the work of conspiracy theorists; so I find his outrage at the arrest of Assange disingenuous.

    “One of the most prominent gatekeepers of 9/11 truth is Noam Chomsky.”
    (taken from the following article)

    We will not have dealt with the coup d’etat in the US until we succeed in uncovering the truth of how 911 was organized and who was involved. Assange was making substantial progress toward this goal. This is the reason he has been singled out. Britain consistently has shown itself to be a willing collaborator with the US in this project.

    "… a rogue state is – a nation or state regarded as breaking international law and posing a threat to the security of other nations.” (taken from the following article)

    “At last there is no more hiding for the pretend liberals behind ludicrous Swedish allegations or bail jumping allegations, and the true motive – revenge for the Chelsea Manning revelations – is now completely in the open.” (taken from the following article)

    The most similar case is Daniel Elsberg and the Pentagon papers. The NYT published both Elsberg’s and Assange’s material. The anti-war movement in Elsberg’s era was far deeper than it has been during Assange’s era and the latter has been far more effectively stamped out than was the former. Chomsky should revisit his view of 911 and go beyond the rather obvious role which the suppression of Assange plays in the aftermath of the 911 coup d’etat.

    “Basically, Assange’s major fault lies in having revealed the true face of US imperialism through images, news, emails, cablograms and videos, an imperialism that has for decades brought wars, death and destruction around the world for its own political and economic gain, using illegitimate justifications that are backed up by self-proclaimed experts and amplified and repeated endlessly by the mainstream media.” (taken from the following article)

    Peter Lavelle’s always helpful half-hour group discussion:

    “It’s very important to defenders of the political status quo for us all to believe that Assange is not a journalist, because otherwise that would mean they’re cheering for a dangerous precedent which would allow for the prosecution of journalists who exposed the truth about US government malfeasance. And that would mean cognitive dissonance, which all defenders of the political status quo spend most of their day-to-day mental energy running away from.” (taken from the following article)

    “… behold the disgraceful episode of American journalists pimping for the leviathan state’s privilege to suppress the free flow of news and their own freedom of the press.” (taken from the following article)

    “Distinguished, highbrow newspapers and magazines like The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Vox, Vice, Daily Mail, and others of that caliber, are not just propaganda organs whose primary purpose is to reinforce the official narratives of the ruling classes.” (taken from the following article)

    “In what can only be described as a desperate attempt to divert attention, Moreno and his officials accused Assange and WikiLeaks of orchestrating the scandal.” (taken from the following article)

    How is the following any different from social credit scoring in China?

  3. Assange has certainly done a lot to reveal the reality of US imperialism.

    Can you explain what the “9/11 truth” is that you refer to? Or perhaps you could present the evidence in the form of an article on Ideapod?

    I’d be interested to invite people onto the site to have a discussion exploring the evidence.

    Perhaps the presentation of this evidence could also explain what you see as so wrong with Chomsky’s position.

    Personally, even after reading that article you linked to above, I still see the burden of proof for presenting irrefutable evidence on the theory of “9/11 truth” being with those who are presenting that theory, as opposed to those who are being asked to respond to it.

    For those reading this, here’s the video of Chomsky critiqued by the first article linked to in the comment above.

  4. ACD says:

    “Perhaps the presentation of this evidence could also explain what you see as so wrong with Chomsky’s position.”

    The best research of which I know on this topic is that assembled by Architects & Engineers for 911 Truth.

    The website linked above reports on the progress of a judicial investigation instigated by A&E911. Also on this site, under EVIDENCE, is a collection of data which constitutes evidence.

    911 is the most important political event of the current era because it has led to the vast expansion of US empire and the associated human suffering. Surely anyone interested in human rights and global governance has followed the unfolding of events since 911 with close interest. I submit that such a person cannot fail to see the deception of the officially accepted version of what ooccurred.

  5. It is not what is charged in the media. We must wait for a trial where evidence can be presented and a defense presented. Then a jury will decide. It should not be decided by the media or philosophers. How could I have an opinion when all I hear are opinions by people that may not have any more access to the facts than I do? Let this play out, time is needed to allow fair results.

  6. ACD says:


    I agree with your assessment on both cases: 911 and Assange.

  7. ACD says:


    “Can you explain what the “9/11 truth” is that you refer to?”

    I am using the term “truth” as follows: critical thinking looks past the accepted historical narrative and attempts to explain that which is not logically explained by official documents. It is similar to critical legal analysis. In the context of 911, the point is that the official narrative (as, for example, written in the 911 Commision Report) does not explain any of what was incontrovertibly observed on the day, as well as before and after the events of 911.

    “… perhaps you could present the evidence in the form of an article on Ideapod?”

    Is this the sort of material in which people here have an interest? Vox clamantis in deserto.

    “Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization.” – Oscar Wilde (as quoted in the article below)

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Written by Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibility.

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