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JOHN PILGER: A Day in the Death of British Justice

August 12, 2021

By John Pilger
in London
Special to Consortium News

I sat in Court 4 in the Royal Courts of Justice in London Wednesday with Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner. I have known Stella for as long as I have known Julian. She, too, is a voice of freedom, coming from a family that fought the fascism of Apartheid. Today, her name was uttered in court by a barrister and a judge, forgettable people were it not for the power of their endowed privilege.

The barrister, Clair Dobbin, is in the pay of the regime in Washington, first Trump’s then Biden’s. She is America’s hired gun, or “silk”, as she would prefer. Her target is Julian Assange, who has committed no crime and has performed an historic public service by exposing the criminal actions and secrets on which governments, especially those claiming to be democracies, base their authority. 

For those who may have forgotten, WikiLeaks, of which Assange is founder and publisher, exposed the secrets and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the murderous role of the Pentagon in dozens of countries, the blueprint for the 20-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, the attempts by Washington to overthrow elected governments, such as Venezuela’s, the collusion between nominal political opponents (Bush and Obama) to stifle a torture investigation and the CIA’s Vault 7 campaign that turned your mobile phone, even your TV set, into a spy in your midst.

WikiLeaks released almost a million documents from Russia which allowed Russian citizens to stand up for their rights. It revealed the Australian government had colluded with the U.S. against its own citizen, Assange. It named those Australian politicians who have “informed” for the U.S. It made the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the rise of jihadism in American-armed states in the Gulf.

About Those Who Take Us to War

There is more: WikiLeaks disclosed the U.S. campaign to suppress wages in sweatshop countries like Haiti, India’s campaign of torture in Kashmir, the British government’s secret agreement to shield “U.S. interests” in its official Iraq inquiry and the British Foreign Office’s plan to create a fake “marine protection zone” in the Indian Ocean to cheat the Chagos islanders out of their right of return.

In other words, WikiLeaks has given us real news about those who govern us and take us to war, not the preordained, repetitive spin that fills newspapers and television screens. This is real journalism; and for the crime of real journalism, Assange has spent most of the past decade in one form of incarceration or another, including Belmarsh prison, a horrific place.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, he is a gentle, intellectual visionary driven by his belief that a democracy is not a democracy unless it is transparent, and accountable.

On Wednesday, the United States sought the approval of Britain’s High Court to extend the terms of its appeal against a decision by a district judge, Vanessa Baraitser, in January to bar Assange’s extradition. Baraitser accepted the deeply disturbing evidence of a number of experts that Assange would be at great risk if he were incarcerated in the U.S.’s infamous prison system.

Professor Michael Kopelman, a world authority on neuro-psychiatry, had said Assange would find a way to take his own life — the direct result of what Professor Nils Melzer, the United Nations rapporteur on torture, described as the craven “mobbing” of Assange by governments – and their media echoes.

Those of us who were in the Old Bailey last September to hear Kopelman’s evidence were shocked and moved. I sat with Julian’s father, John Shipton, whose head was in his hands. The court was also told about the discovery of a razor blade in Julian’s Belmarsh cell and that he had made desperate calls to the Samaritans and written notes and much else that filled us with more than sadness.

Watching the lead barrister acting for Washington, James Lewis — a man from a military background who deploys a cringingly theatrical “aha!” formula with defence witnesses — reduce these facts to “malingering” and smearing witnesses, especially Kopelman, we were heartened by Kopelman’s revealing response that Lewis’s abuse was “a bit rich” as Lewis himself had sought to hire Kopelman’s expertise in another case.

No Contradiction

Lewis’s sidekick is Clair Dobbin, and Wednesday was her day. Completing the smearing of Professor Kopelman was down to her. An American with some authority sat behind her in court.

Dobbin said Kopelman had “misled” Judge Baraister in September because he had not disclosed that Julian Assange and Stella Moris were partners, and their two young children, Gabriel and Max, were conceived during the period Assange had taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

The implication was that this somehow lessened Kopelman’s medical diagnosis: that Julian, locked up in solitary in Belmarsh prison and facing extradition to the U.S. on bogus “espionage” charges, had suffered severe psychotic depression and had planned, if he had not already attempted, to take his own life.

For her part, Judge Baraitser saw no contradiction. The full nature of the relationship between Stella and Julian had been explained to her in March 2020, and Professor Kopelman had made full reference to it in his report in August 2020. So the judge and the court knew all about it before the main extradition hearing last September. In her judgement in January, Baraitser said this:

“[Professor Kopelman] assessed Mr. Assange during the period May to December 2019 and was best placed to consider at first-hand his symptoms. He has taken great care to provide an informed account of Mr. Assange background and psychiatric history. He has given close attention to the prison medical notes and provided a detailed summary annexed to his December report. He is an experienced clinician and he was well aware of the possibility of exaggeration and malingering. I had no reason to doubt his clinical opinion.”

She added that she had “not been misled” by the exclusion in Kopelman’s first report of the Stella-Julian relationship and that she understood that Kopelman was protecting the privacy of Stella and her two young children.

In fact, as I know well, the family’s safety was under constant threat to the point when an embassy security guard confessed he had been told to steal one of the baby’s nappies so that a CIA-contracted company could analyse its DNA. There has been a stream of unpublicised threats against Stella and her children.

Based on a Fraudster

For the U.S. and its legal hirelings in London, damaging the credibility of a renowned expert by suggesting he withheld this information was a way, they no doubt reckoned, to rescue their crumbling case against Assange. In June, the Icelandic newspaper Stundin reported that a key prosecution witness against Assange has admitted fabricating his evidence. The one “hacking” charge the Americans hoped to bring against Assange if they could get their hands on him depended on this source and witness, Sigurdur Thordarson, an FBI informant.

Thordarson had worked as a volunteer for WikiLeaks in Iceland between 2010 and 2011. In 2011, as several criminal charges were brought against him, he contacted the FBI and offered to become an informant in return for immunity from all prosecution. It emerged that he was a convicted fraudster who embezzled $55,000 from WikiLeaks, and served two years in prison. In 2015, he was sentenced to three years for sex offenses against teenage boys. The Washington Post described Thordarson’s credibility as the “core” of the case against Assange.

On Wednesday, Lord Chief Justice Holroyde made no mention of this witness. His concern was that it was “arguable” that Judge Baraitser had attached too much weight to the evidence of Professor Kopelman, a man revered in his field. He said it was “very unusual” for an appeal court to have to reconsider evidence from an expert accepted by a lower court, but he agreed with Ms. Dobbin it was “misleading” even though he accepted Kopelman’s “understandable human response” to protect the privacy of Stella and the children.

If you can unravel the arcane logic of this, you have a better grasp than I who have sat through this case from the beginning. It is clear Kopelman misled nobody. Judge Baraitser – whose hostility to Assange personally was a presence in her court – said that she was not misled; it was not an issue; it did not matter. So why had Lord Chief Justice Holroyde spun the language with its weasel legalise and sent Julian back to his cell and its nightmares? There, he now waits for the High Court’s final decision in October – for Julian Assange, a life or death decision.

In the Land of Magna Carta

And why did Holroyde send Stella from the court trembling with anguish? Why is this case “unusual”? Why did he throw the gang of prosecutor-thugs at the Department of Justice in Washington — who got their big chance under Trump, having been rejected by Obama – a life raft as their rotting, corrupt case against a principled journalist sunk as surely as Titantic?

This does not necessarily mean that in October the full bench of the High Court will order Julian to be extradited. In the upper reaches of the masonry that is the British judiciary there are, I understand, still those who believe in real law and real justice from which the term “British justice” takes its sanctified reputation in the land of the Magna Carta. It now rests on their ermined shoulders whether that history lives on or dies.

I sat with Stella in the court’s colonnade while she drafted words to say to the crowd of media and well-wishers outside in the sunshine. Clip-clopping along came Clair Dobbin, spruced, ponytail swinging, bearing her carton of files: a figure of certainty: she who said Julian Assange was “not so ill” that he would consider suicide. How does she know?

Has Ms. Dobbin worked her way through the medieval maze at Belmarsh to sit with Julian in his yellow arm band, as Professors Koppelman and Melzer have done, and Stella has done, and I have done? Never mind. The Americans have now “promised” not to put him in a hellhole, just as they “promised” not to torture Chelsea Manning, just as they promised ……

And has she read the WikiLeaks’ leak of a Pentagon document dated 15 March, 2009? This foretold the current war on journalism. U.S. intelligence, it said, intended to destroy WikiLeaks’ and Julian Assange’s “centre of gravity” with threats and “criminal prosecution”. Read all 32 pages and you are left in no doubt that silencing and criminalising independent journalism was the aim, smear the method.

I tried to catch Ms. Dobbin’s gaze, but she was on her way: job done.

Outside, Stella struggled to contain her emotion. This is one brave woman, as indeed her man is an exemplar of courage. “What has not been discussed today,” said Stella, “is why I feared for my safety and the safety of our children and for Julian’s life. The constant threats and intimidation we endured for years, which has been terrorising us and has been terrorising Julian for 10 years. We have a right to live, we have a right to exist and we have a right for this nightmare to come to an end once and for all.”

@johnpilger

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist and filmmaker based in London.Pilger’s Web site is: www.johnpilger.comIn 2017, the British Library announced a John Pilger Archive of all his written and filmed work. The British Film Institute includes his 1979 film, “Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia,” among the 10 most important documentaries of the 20thcentury. Some of his previous contributions to Consortium News can be found here

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Julian Assange: peering through the murk

By Joshua Rozenberg 2 August 2021

If Julian Assange is extradited to the United States and convicted of any of the charges he faces there – such as unauthorised obtaining of national defence information – the US government will let him serve his sentence in an Australian prison.

Julian-Assange-May-2019

Julian Assange

The US has also agreed that, as things stand, the Wikileaks founder will not be held at the administrative maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado, known as ADX. Nor will he be subject to special administrative measures designed to prevent the disclosure of classified information – such as limits on correspondence, visits and telephone calls.

But if, as Swift has held, the US has raised ‘arguable issues that should be considered at a final hearing’, lawyers with clients currently facing extradition to the US need to know – now – precisely what these are

This could be a game-changer. An application by the US government for Assange’s extradition was dismissed in January because a court in London had found it would be oppressive to extradite him to a country where he might face these restrictions. District Judge Baraitser was persuaded that if he was subjected to the ‘extreme conditions’ of special administrative measures, ‘Assange’s mental health will deteriorate to the point where he will commit suicide’.

But Assange remains in prison. The district judge refused him bail after the US government said it would seek to appeal to the High Court against her decision. And on 5 July Mr Justice Swift granted the US permission on three of the five grounds set out in its application for permission to appeal.

What were those? This is where the story becomes murky.

The judge’s two-page order, which has not been published but is readily available from the court, explains briefly why he refused the US permission to appeal on grounds 3 and 4. It says nothing about Swift’s reasons for granting permission on grounds 1, 2 and 5.

That’s not a problem as far as the parties are concerned: they know what the grounds of appeal were. And when the appeal is heard – this autumn or next year – we shall find out too. But if, as Swift has held, the US has raised ‘arguable issues that should be considered at a final hearing’, lawyers with clients currently facing extradition to the US need to know – now – precisely what these are.

Foreign governments seeking extradition are represented by the Crown Prosecution Service. I asked the CPS for a copy of the application they had filed for permission to appeal. They refused to let me see it. Instead, they suggested I asked the High Court. The court told me I needed to make a written application to the judge and pay a fee of £255. I was not willing to do so – it raises concerns about access to justice data that were the subject of an important report by the Legal Education Foundation last month – and I have not been able to get hold of a copy in any other way.

After further requests, the CPS agreed to send me an informal briefing note that had been supplied to other journalists shortly after Swift’s ruling. This note, which includes a minor inaccuracy, is the source of all media reports and legal commentaries on the judge’s ruling.

The first arguable ground, according to this note, was that Baraitser had made errors of law in applying the test under section 91 of the Extradition Act 2003. This says that if the physical or mental condition of a suspect ‘is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him’, the judge must either order his or her discharge or adjourn the hearing until he or she is better. We don’t know what Baraitser’s alleged errors were.

The second arguable ground is that, having decided that the threshold for discharge was met, Baraitser should have notified the requesting state of her provisional view and given the US a chance to offer assurances.

The third arguable ground – ground 5 – was that the US has now provided the UK with the assurances I summarised earlier.

The two grounds on which permission was refused related to the evidence of a defence psychiatrist and the risk of suicide. Swift said that Baraitser’s findings were reasonably open to her and her conclusions on the disputed evidence were also reasonable. The matters referred to in the application for permission to appeal – we have no idea what these were – ‘are no more than an attempt to re-run determination of the evidential disputes reached by the district judge’.

Nick Vamos, an extradition partner at Peters & Peters, said the apparent willingness of the US authorities to provide specific assurances – which they have resisted in the past – may signify the importance they place on this case. Alternatively, it may ‘simply be the US bowing pragmatically to the inevitability that bespoke assurances are now an indispensable part of many extradition proceedings’.

But it’s the details that matter: would Assange have to remain in the US pending any appeal, for example? It may be some months before we find out.

joshua@rozenberg.net

Julian Assange and Australia Day

On 4th January 2021 a British court in London resolved that Australian journalist Julian Assange should not be extradited to the U.S.A. to face charge of spying. The judge Vanessa Baraitster refused however to release Assange on bail from the British prison in which he is being held. He will remain there pending examination of the American appeal against the British judgement.

On 26th January Australia will be celebrating its national day. The following video is an extract from a Tribute to Assange organized in Athens, Greece, in 2019 on the occasion of the national day of Assange’s native land.

Ο Τζούλιαν Ασάνζ και η εθνική γιορτή της Αυστραλίας

Στις 4 Ιανουαρίου 2021 αποφασίστηκε από βρετανικό δικαστήριο στο Λονδίνο, ο Αυστραλός δημοσιογράφος Τζούλιαν Ασάνζ να μην εκδοθεί στις Η.Π.Α., όπου θα αντιμετώπιζε κατηγορίες για κατασκοπεία. Η δικαστής Βανέσα Μπαράιτσερ αρνήθηκε όμως να απελευθερώσει με εγγύηση τον Ασάνζ από την βρετανική φυλακή που κρατείται. Θα παραμένει έγκλειστος μέχρι την εξέταση της έφεσης που θα υποβάλλουν οι ΗΠΑ.

Στις  26η Ιανουαρίου  γιορτάζεται η εθνική γιορτή της Αυστραλίας. Το ακόλουθο βίντεο είναι απόσπασμα ενός αφιερώματος στο Ασάνζ που διοργανώθηκε στην Αθήνα το 2019 με αφορμή την εθνική γιορτή της πατρίδας του.

Απόσπασμα από το αφιέρωμα:

Assange letter to Australian parliamentarians

I think it is a good proposal for you to be present in Australia, even if only online, on 26th January, given your connections with the country and your world-wide influence.
Nikos Vakolidis (addressed to Yanis Varoufakis)

Australia Day Letter to Australian parliamentarians from W. Hall (convenor of Unity4j Greece)

Dear parliamentarians,

I write to you as an Australian citizen resident for many years in Greece. (I have also taken out, or should I say been granted, Greek citizenship). Two years ago, on 26th January 2019 I was the convenor, in Athens, of an Australia Day tribute to Julian Assange. Given that 26th January 1788 marks the beginning of European civilization in Australia, I thought it appropriate that Australia Day should be commemorated, as it was in 2019, only a few hundred metres from that key “totem” of European civilization: the Acropolis of Athens. And similarly that the Australian citizen Julian Assange should be recognized as a key upholder of what are praised as the standards of that civilization. Australian parliamentarians should similarly recognize that contribution from Julian Assange, whose rights as an Australian citizen they, and we, have the duty of defending, even if he were a person of ordinary accomplishment.

Among the participants in that tribute were the Queensland activist Phillip Adams, whose photograph you see on the right above, and who has made titanic efforts for a number of years to secure recognition of the injustice that has been suffered for over a decade by Julian Assange. Another participant was Nikos Vakolidis, convenor in the city of Ioannina in Northern Greece of the MeRA25 party, which has representation in the Greek parliament and was established by Australian (and Greek) citizen Yanis Varoufakis, whose photograph you see on the left.

I have no connection with Yanis Varoufakis other than common links with the island of Aegina, but Julian Assange was one of the first members of the pan-European citizens’ movement DiEM25 founded by Varoufakis and collaborators. Julian Assange has turned to Varoufakis for support on numerous occasions, particularly during his years of asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy but also afterwards, when he was expelled from there and lost, for political reasons, the Ecuadorian citizenship he had been granted, again for political reasons, leaving him with only the Australian citizenship that is his possession by birthright.

I have asked Nicos Vakolidis to convey the message to his leader Varoufakis that he, Varoufakis, should find a way to speak directly to Australians on Australia’s national day, 26th January, and specifically to fellow parliamentarians.

After the recent British court decision precluding Assange’s extradition to the U.S. to face charges which amount to attempted penalization of a journalist, who is in any case not an American citizen, from “doing his job”, the continued incarceration of Julian Assange in Britain is difficult if not impossible to justify legally. Not being a lawyer I cannot speak with authority on this subject but Julian Assange remains imprisoned in Britain without having been charged in Britain with any crime other than breaking bail (which he said he was obliged to do to avoid extradition to the U.S., something which the U.K. is now on the record as opposing). Ten years imprisonment for breaking bail is certainly something without precedent.

Is this a time to analyse the politics behind some of the confusion that surrounds the case of Julian Assange? In the immediate aftermath of the British court’s decision on non-extradition of Assange to the U.S., Yanis Varoufakis participated in a relevant online discussion with French journalist Frank Barat.

If you look at (or listen to) what Yanis says in the discussion with Frank Barat you will note an implication that Donald Trump is in the category of single-minded persecutors of Assange. But the reality seems to be that Trump has been not so much a key enemy as a semi-enemy, or unreliable ally, of Assange. Indeed one of Trump’s closest and most loyal followers, Roger Stone, got himself into trouble (and prison) by being too supportive of Assange.

 Of course a party-political agenda helped Roger Stone to speak without constraint on the subject of Assange, just as party politics has evidently induced Varoufakis to “pull his punches” in his defence of Assange.

Nevertheless, it would certainly help Julian Assange if Yanis spoke directly to Australians, and specifically Australian parliamentarians, and said to them what he is already saying to the world, but not specifically to Australians, and/or to parliamentarians, i.e. that Julian Assange should be released from prison immediately.

Wayne Hall

Varoufakis on Assange & Trump

Frank Barat and Yanis Varoufakis: discussion on Assange and “being on the defensive”

Starting at 47.10

Frank Barat: So Yanis, I wanted to ask you. We spoke five minutes before about us, the movement, the Left, being on the offensive. I can just give you a brief example. Someone that I dearly respect and love, Jeremy Corbyn, when he was attacked and called an anti-Semite and they said he wanted the destruction of Israel, and all this. I thought I would have responded in a totally different way. And that’s the problem of the Left. By being that defensive and by saying in a way: “Oh, I didn’t do that. Oh, I didn’t do that” it played totally into the hands of the far right. And as a movement we have to stop doing that, right? We have to stop only responding to the attack but to be on the offensive ourselves. I know you agree, Yanis. You told me that just before, but…

Yanis Varoufakis: The purpose you are articulating is to turn the tables. In the case of Julian Assange the point is to start prosecuting the war criminals that are killing him as we speak. And this is a process that we are continuing. You are giving me a great pass for discussing the assassination that precedes the actual murder, and that is the character assassination. What you mentioned regarding Jeremy is precisely what I experienced too in 2015, when I was actually warned. This is something that I don’t think any of you knows. But I was in the White House in 2015 as the Minister of Finance of Greece, and I just had a chat with Obama. And as I was coming out a former student of a friend of mine, who worked as part of the White House, approached me and said: “Minister, can I have a word with you?” We were sitting next to a toilet, you know. And he said: “I feel the obligation to warn you that in ten days there is going to be a character assassination against you.” Precisely ten days later every major newspaper: Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, you know, El Pais, all of them unleashed a torrent of abuse against me. Just complete fake news about me. About what I was saying. I experienced that. Why? Because that was the moment when the will of the Greek people had to be bent and, you know, we had to fold, and Varoufakis had to get out of the way. So they created essentially a narrative that made it impossible for any of my arguments, or facts, to emerge. Because suddenly it became something about me. This is exactly what they did with Jeremy. And this is exactly what they did with Julian. And, you know, the Establishment, the Deep State, call it whatever you want, the oligarchy, have become much much better at it than they used to be. Because back in the 1960s and the 1970s, you know, they would accuse you of being a Communist. Accuse me of being a Marxist. I am a Marxist and I’m not really going to suffer that much if you accuse me of being a left-winger. I am a left-winger. But now what they do is something far worse. They accuse you of something that really hurts you. Calling somebody like us a racist, a bigot, an anti-Semite, you know, a rapist. This is what really hurts because, you know, if anybody calls me a rapist today, right, even if it is complete baloney, I feel as a feminist, the need to give the woman implied or involved somehow in this accusation the opportunity to speak against me. Because this is what we left-wingers do. So this is what they do. The character assassination of Julian Assange is what? That he elected Trump, single-handedly, and that he was a rapist. Now look I don’t want to get deeply into this but allow me to do some reporting. I’m going to finish off with an account of a discussion I had with Julian in the Ecuadorian Embassy in November 2017. It’s no secret to the United States authorities because as I found out recently I actually watched the video that they taped of me speaking to Julian in the Ecuadorian Embassy as part of the court case that the Spanish judge started against the company employed to videotape Julian and me having this conversation. So I’m only telling you that which the NSA already knows. So he had actually sent me a message. I was in Athens and he said: “I need to speak to you. Can you get on a plane and come to London?” Which I did. I did that a number of times on a number of issues, but this is of interest to all of us, especially in the context of the character assassination of calling him a Trumpist. So, you know, almost every discussion we had for years was all about how to get him out, different ways and campaigns and so on, the purpose of which, just like what we’re doing today, is to save his life and get him out of there. And he said to me: “You know, one of the Republican senators came to visit me, recently.” I thought: “Oh my God, that’s big news. A senator going into the Ecuadorian Embassy, along with somebody else.” “And they offered me a pardon. A presidential pardon from Trump.” I said “OK, on condition of…?” “That I reveal that the Hillary Clinton e-mails……” Over which Trump had a problem at the time as you remember. All right? With the Mueller investigation and so on. “…. did not come from the Russians.” And I said “Julian, from what you’ve told me in the past you don’t know where your information comes from. I mean, Wikileaks is structured in such a way that it’s double blind. Nobody knows anything. Even Julian does not know who is sending the stuff to Wikileaks. This is the whole point of the design of the software.” He said: “Yes, that’s true, but this person, who actually gave me the e-mails, the Hillary Clinton e-mails, actually made himself known to me.” Himself or herself, I’m not sure, right? And I said: “So what, can you confirm that it was not the Russians?” He said: “Absolutely.” I said: “Well, why don’t you then?” He said: “That goes against the whole principle of Wikileaks. Non disclosure of sources.” So I said: “What if your source is OK with the idea of being disclosed?” He said: “Well look firstly, it’s very dangerous because if I get in touch with this person they may find out that I got in touch with this person and then therefore he may be found, he or she may be found out. So I don’t want to jeopardize that person. But even if they gave me the OK to disclose that I got the e-mails from them it would be against the principles of Wikileaks to do this.” So I said: “So what did you do? What did you say to the Trump representative?” “I told him to fuck off.” Now this is the man we are talking about, right? I mean I find Julian infuriating many times. I find most of my friends infuriating. I find myself infuriating. You know I clash with them. This is what it means to be friends, right? But he’s a man of principle. He had a chance of being pardoned by telling the truth. But because that would mean disclosing his sources he didn’t do it, and I said: “But you know you may end up in a Supermax prison as a result of that.” He said: “Yeah, I know and the worst thing”, he said to me, “is that because I will have turned the Trump people down they will be even more determined to bring me down.” That was in November 2017. I have the video.

Comment by W. Hall on this account.

The Guardian reports as follows the story of the congressman’s visit to Assange: “Assange’s lawyers alleged that during a visit to London in August 2017 congressman Dana Rohrabacher told the Wikileaks founder that on instructions from the president he was offering a pardon or some other way out if Mr. Assange …..said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC (Democratic National Committee) leaks.”

A few hours later, however, Rohrabacher denied the claim, saying he had made the proposal on his own initiative, and that the White House had not endorsed it.

“At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange” the former congressman wrote on his personal blog. “Likewise I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange. I was on my own fact-finding mission at personal expense to find out information I thought was important to our country.

At no time did I offer Julian Assange anything from the president because I had not spoken with the president about this issue at all. However, when speaking with Julian Assange I told him that if he could provide me with information and evidence about who actually gave him the DNC e-mails, I would then call on President Trump to pardon him,” Rohrabacher added.

“At no time did I offer a deal made by the President, nor did I say I was representing the President.”

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told reporters: “The President barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than that he is an ex-congressman. He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject.”

….. “In September 2017 the White House confirmed that Rohrabacher had called the then chief of staff, John Kelly, to talk about a possible deal with Assange, but that Kelly had not passed on the message to Trump. Rohrabacher confirmed that version of events on his blog on Wednesday.”

“I told him that Julian Assange would provide information about the purloined e-mails in exchange for a pardon. No-one followed up with me including Gen Kelly and that was the last discussion I had on this subject with anyone representing Trump or in his administration,” he wrote.

“Even though I wasn’t successful in getting this message through to the President I still call on him to pardon Julian Assange, who is the true whistleblower of our time.”

(end of quote)

So it seems that the attitude of all parties in this discussion was more or less exploratory. Assange seems to have been cautious but apparently not as negative as telling Rohrabacher to “fuck off” and certainly not willing to commit himself to anything without being more sure of how authorized Rohrabacher was to speak for anybody other than himself. The fact that he summoned Varoufakis to discuss the issue with him does not suggest that he was giving absolute priority to Wikileaks’ principles of non-disclosure, nor that he would exclude in principle the idea of accepting a “pardon” from Trump.

What the discussion omits is what was actually said in Hillary Clinton e-mails and how the leaking of this information was handled.

Roger Stone wanted to make this the key issue, and he went to prison for that. And he said nothing about it in his speech in Washington a day or two ago either, now that he is out of prison. His speech was electoralist.
7th January 2021

Ασάνζ και τέχνη

Η τέχνη δεν μπορεί να σε κάνει καλύτερο άνθρωπο, μπορεί να σε κάνει μόνο χειρότερο. Το μόνο που μπορεί να σε κάνει καλύτερο είναι η πραγματικότητα, αν την κοιτάζεις κατάματα.

Από τις 11 Μαΐου 2020 η γκαλερί Sala Fontana του Palazzo delle Esposizioni θα φιλοξενήσει την έκθεση «The Assange Condition» που δεν θα δέχεται επισκέπτες, ακόμα και αν οι γκαλερί επιτραπεί να ανοίξουν τις πόρτες τους για το κοινό. Θα περιέχει μια σειρά από σαράντα περίπου πορτρέτα του Ασάνζ ζωγραφισμένα από τον Μίλτο Μανέτα στο διάστημα από τον Φεβρουάριο μέχρι το Μάιο φέτος

” Ο Διογένης, κάποτε που στην Κόρινθο ετοιμάζονταν όλοι για μια πολιορκία, κύλησε το πιθάρι του και το τσουλούσε πάνω κάτω. Τον ρώτησαν «γιατί;». «Για να βοηθήσω κι εγώ στον κοινό αγώνα» απάντησε. Έτσι κι εγώ αποφάσισα να ζωγραφίζω ένα πορτρέτο του Ασάνζ για κάθε μέρα που περνάει στη φυλακή: Μέχρι τώρα 480 ημέρες. Όχι, δηλαδή, ότι η τέχνη μπορεί να βοηθήσει τον Ασάνζ ‒ μόνο το να αλλάξουμε τον κόσμο μπορεί να τον βοηθήσει. Ζωγραφίζοντάς τον, όμως, αισθάνομαι μια σχέση μαζί του που τη λέω #AssangePower. Αισθάνομαι σαν ο δικός μου αγώνας ‒πολύ διαφορετικός, βέβαια, από τον δικό του‒ να συναντιέται μαζί του! Και επειδή όλα τα πορτρέτα που κάνω τα δίνω δωρεάν σε όποιον μου τα ζητάει στα social media, αισθάνομαι πως ο Αγώνας Μας γίνεται και Αγώνας Τους, τουλάχιστον αυτών των λίγων που με παρακολουθούν στο Διαδίκτυο.

Το Palazzo delle Esposizioni στη Ρώμη αποφάσισε μέσα σε δύο μέρες να κάνει έκθεση. Συνήθως παίρνει δύο χρόνια να την οργανώσουν, αυτήν τη φορά πήρε δύο μέρες! Η έκθεση ανοίγει στις 11 Μαΐου. Τα έργα έφυγαν σήμερα. Σαράντα+ πίνακες. Πάνε εκεί και τα βάζουν στον τοίχο, αλλά το Palazzo είναι κλειστό λόγω Covid-19. Τα εγκαίνια τα κάνουμε στο Instagram στον λογαριασμό CondizioneAssange. Γύρω στις 18 Μαΐου το μουσείο θα ξανανοίξει, αλλά η έκθεση, που λέγεται «Κατάσταση Ασάνζ», θα παραμείνει κλειστή. Γιατί τον Ασάνζ δεν μπορείς να τον δεις. Αν γίνει κάποιο θαύμα και βγει από τη φυλακή, θα ανοίξει η έκθεση στο κοινό. Ή, αν τον δολοφονήσουν με Covid-19, που είναι πολύ πιθανό. Η έκθεση είναι ‒έγινε εκ των πραγμάτων‒ εμβληματική για την κατάσταση που ζούμε όλοι μας του τελευταίους μήνες. Έγκλειστοι.”

Assange and Art

Art can’t make you a better person, it can only make you worse. The only thing that can make you better is reality, if you look it in the eye.

From May 11, 2020, the Sala Fotana Gallery of Palazzo Delle Esposizioni will host the exhibition “The Assange Condition”, which will not accept visitors, even if the galleries are allowed to open their doors to the public. It will contain a series of about forty portraits of Assange painted by Miltos Manettas in the period between February and May this year

”Diogenis, once when in Corinth everyone was preparing for a siege, rolled his jar, pushing it backwards and forwards. They asked him why. “To help in the common struggle,” he replied. This made me decide also to paint a portrait of Assange for every day he spent in prison: so far 480 days. Not that art can help Assange – only changing the world can help him. Painting him, though, I feel a relationship with him which I call #assangepower. I feel as if my own struggle – very different, of course, from his – is meeting with his! And because all the portraits I do I give for free to anyone who asks me on social media, I feel as if Our Struggle is also Their Struggle, at least for those few who are watching me online.

The Palazzo Delle Esposizioni in Rome decided within two days to hold an exhibition. It usually takes two years to organize one. This time it took two days! The exhibition opens on May 11th. The works left today. Forty and more paintings. They go there and put them on the wall, but the Palazzo is closed due to COVID-19. The opening will be on Instagram and on the CondizioneAssange account. Around May 18 the museum will reopen, but the exhibition, called “Situation Assange”, will remain closed. Because you can’t see Assange. If a miracle occurs and he gets out of jail, the exhibition will open to the public. Or if they murder him with COVID19, which seems quite possible, the exhibition will become – it already is de facto – iconic for the situation we have been living through in recent months. Inmates.”

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