A bit of the Monday morning feeling today? Well, try to imagine what it’s like for Julian Assange to wake up every day in Belmarsh maximum security prison knowing that his life is in the hands of Priti Patel.
Who is this character Prime Minister Boris Johnson entrusts with our safety as Home Secretary and with that of the very existence of the Australian founder of Wikileaks accused of espionage by the United States?
She’s the Conservative Cabinet minister Johnson’s predecessor at No 10 Downing Street sacked for holding unauthorised meetings with senior Israeli officials while “on holiday”.
Her loyalty to Israel was demonstrated again last week at a reception in Parliament for its London ambassador Tzipi Hotovely. This is a woman the Israeli newspaper Haaretz described as “an unabashed Islamophobe”, a far-right Likud politician “who denies the existence of the Palestinian people”.
According to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) report of the gathering, the Home Secretary said that Israel was “deeply personal” to her.
She emphasised that the UK and Israel both have an “unwavering belief in freedom, democracy and security” as well as “shared values”.
This is not the view of Israel shared by Amnesty International
or Israel’s leading human rights group B’Tselem.
Keeping company with Patel and Hotovely at the reception were Lords Pickles and Polak, both long-standing pillars of CFI. The pair’s behaviour in lobbying for Israel were described by Tory former minister Sir Alan Duncan in these terms:
“In any other country the conduct of Eric Pickles and Stuart Polak would in my view be seen as entrenched espionage and should prompt an inquiry into their conduct.”
So this is the company kept by Patel, the person with the power to send Assange for trial in the United States – and into a court where defendants are rarely found not guilty as jailed former CIA officer John Kiriakou explains.
Patel has hitherto been impervious to the worldwide campaign to defend Assange.
It was the previous Australian government’s deportation policy that apparently encouraged Patel to devise her inhumane scheme for sending people to Rwanda.
As she is clearly a politician who follows the lead of other countries, will she now listen to the new Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, who has called for the release of his fellow citizen?