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.”

Humanity Is Making A Very Important Decision When It Comes To Assange

SOURCE: Caitlin Johnstone

The propagandists have all gone dead silent on the WikiLeaks founder they previously were smearing with relentless viciousness, because they no longer have an argument. The facts are all in, and yes, it turns out the US government is certainly and undeniably working to exploit legal loopholes to imprison a journalist for exposing its war crimes. That is happening, and there is no justifying it.

So the narrative managers, by and large, have gone silent.

Which is good. Because it gives us an opening to seize control of the narrative.

It’s time to go on the offensive with this. Assange supporters have gotten so used to playing defense that it hasn’t fully occurred to us to go on a full-blown charge. I’ve been guilty of this as well; I’ll be letting myself get bogged down in some old, obsolete debate with someone about some obscure aspect of the Swedish case or something, not realizing that none of that matters anymore. All the narrative manipulations that were used to get Assange to this point are impotent, irrelevant expenditures of energy compared to the fact that we now have undeniable evidence that the US government is working to set a precedent which will allow it to jail any journalist who exposes its misdeeds, and we can now force Assange’s smearers to confront this reality.

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

That’s the debate now. Not Russia. Not Sweden. Not whether he followed proper bail protocol or washed his dishes at the embassy. That’s old stuff. That’s obsolete. That’s playing defense.

Now we play offense: “Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

Demand an answer. Call attention to them and demand that they answer. Dig them out of their hidey holes and make them answer this. Drag them out into the light and make them answer this question in front of everyone. Because that is all this is about now.

Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t get tricked into debating defensively. Force the issue: the US government is trying to establish and normalize the practice of extraditing and imprisoning journalists for exposing its misdeeds. That is the issue to focus on.

You will find that anyone who dares to stick their head above the parapet and smear Assange now gets very, very squirmy if you pin them down and force them to address this issue. Because they cannot answer without admitting that they are wrong. And that they’ve been wrong this entire time. It’s a completely unassailable argument.

We now have two and a half months to prepare for the second half of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing: all of March, all of April, and half of May. We’re going to need all that time to seize control of the narrative and make it very, very clear to the world that a very important decision is about to be made by the powerful on our behalf, if we don’t make that decision for them.

This really is do or die time, humans. If we allow them to extradite and imprison Julian Assange for practicing journalism, that’s it. It’s over. We might as well all stop caring what happens to the world and sit on our hands while the oligarchs drive us to ecological disaster, nuclear annihilation or authoritarian dystopia. It’s impossible to hold power accountable if you’re not even allowed to see what it’s doing.

If we, the many, don’t have the spine to stand up against the few and say “No, we get to find out facts about you bastards and use it to inform our worldview, you don’t get to criminalize that,” then we certainly won’t have the spine it will take to wrest control of this world away from the hands of sociopathic plutocrats and take our fate into our own hands. We are deciding, right now, what we are made of. And what we want to become.

This is it. This is the part of the movie where we collectively choose the red pill or the blue pill. We are collectively being asked a question here, and our answer to that question will determine the entire course we will take as a species.

So what’s it going to be, humanity?

Truth, or lies?

Light, or darkness?

A world where we can hold power to account with the light of truth, or a world where power decides what’s true for us?

A world with free speech and a free press, or a world where journalists are imprisoned whenever they expose the evils of the most powerful institutions on this planet?

A world where we all actively fight to free Assange and get the job done, or a giant, irreversible leap toward the end of humanity as we know it?

Do we free Assange?

Or do we sit complacent with our Netflix and our KFC and trust the authority figures to do what’s best?

Do we take the red pill?

Or do we take the blue one?

Choose your path, humans.

Choose wisely.

Andrew Wilkie and George Christensen in London to visit Julian Assange, as Jeremy Corbyn says UK view on extradition is shifting

SOURCE: ABC NEWS

Two grey-haired men both wearing suits and glasses chat to each other in an office.PHOTO: Andrew Wilkie (left) met with the British Opposition Leader ahead of visiting Julian Assange at Belmarsh Prison.

British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn says he is surprised over what he sees as a shift in the British Government’s position on Julian Assange and the UK’s “unbalanced” extradition relationship with the United States.

Key points:

  • Australian MPs have arrived in London ahead of prison meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
  • Andrew Wilkie has met with UK Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn
  • Mr Corbyn believes the UK Government’s view on its “unbalanced” extradition treaty with the US has shifted

Mr Corbyn made the comments after a meeting with Australian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who is in London on a privately funded trip to visit the WikiLeaks founder in prison.

The Labour leader told the ABC that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s answers to House of Commons questions about the extradition deal the UK had with the US last Wednesday (local time) were unexpected.

“He accepted that it is an unbalanced treaty and it is not a fair one, therefore I think that is a big change by the British Government,” Mr Corbyn said.

In the House, Mr Corbyn had argued that the UK had a “one-sided extradition treaty” with the US and asked Mr Johnson to commit to an “equal and balanced” future relationship.

“I do think that there are elements of that relationship that are unbalanced and I certainly think it is worth looking at,” Mr Johnson replied.

Mr Corbyn said he thought this could be partly linked to a high-profile battle underway between the US and UK after Washington rejected a request for the extradition of an American citizen who fled Britain after allegedly causing the death of a teenage motorcyclist.

He said it was also unexpected that Mr Johnson did not argue against him when he questioned whether it was right that someone should be deported for exposing the truth.

“The Prime Minister did not challenge my assertions on this, but seems to me to understand that there is a principle here that somebody who opens up and tells the truth, as Julian Assange has done, should not face deportation to the United States,” Mr Corbyn said.

Assange ‘abandoned by Australian Government’

Mr Wilkie plans to visit Assange in Belmarsh Prison on Tuesday afternoon (local time), along with Queensland federal MP George Christensen, who is also in London.

“I want to convey a message to Julian that although he has been abandoned by the Australian Government, although he seems to have no support from the British Government or the US Government, he does in fact have a lot of support from millions of people right around the world,” Mr Wilkie told the ABC.

Mr Wilkie described the case against Assange as scandalous.

“Let’s not forget the substantive issue here, and that’s that an Australian citizen has publicised a range of important information in the public interest, including hard evidence of US war crimes, and his reward for doing that is facing extradition,” he said.

Ahead of the visit to the prison, Mr Christensen said he wanted to check on Assange’s welfare to inform the Government back home.

“For me to be a bit parochial, he’s a North Queenslander, he is someone who is facing potentially the rest of his life behind bars for simply wanting to publish and publishing the truth,” Mr Christensen said.

“That is wrong, that is morally and ethically wrong, and you’ve got to be in these fights if you believe in free speech and free press.”

‘Family is everything’

Assange’s father John Shipton will facilitate the meeting at the high-security Belmarsh Prison in south-west London.

Mr Shipton moved to London three months ago to be closer to his son and to support and lobby on behalf of the 48-year-old.

There is a strong resemblance between the 75-year old and his son.

Mr Shipton told the ABC he brought his four-year-old daughter to London because he wanted to show the world Assange was surrounded by family.

“I brought her to see Julian,” he said.

“I think the family gathering together and coming to see Julian will help him through this crisis and show people that Julian is not isolated, to show that family is everything.

“Without family you can’t defend yourself against the oppressions or winds of fate blowing in the wrong direction.”

Mr Shipton said he believed his son would not survive if he was jailed in the US.

“They didn’t go through 10 years of persecution to take him over there and put him in a feather bed,” he said.

Crunch time approaching for Assange

In less than a week’s time, Assange will face the legal might of the United States Government, which will argue for his extradition in a court near Belmarsh Prison, where he has been incarcerated since last year.

His own legal team say if the Americans succeed, he will not receive a fair trial and will be jailed for up to 175 years.

The WikiLeaks founder is facing 18 charges — 17 under the espionage act — for conspiracy to receive, obtain and disclose classified information.

Much of the information related to the US prosecution of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Who can forget that shocking image of American attack helicopters gunning down Iraqi civilians and journalists in the streets in Iraq?” Mr Wilkie said.

“This stuff matters. We should not be persecuting Julian Assange.”

Conservative British MP Bob Seely disagreed. He argued publishing the information was a crime.

“If you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime,” he told the ABC outside the UK Parliament in Westminster.

Mr Seely’s grievance also relates to the alleged manipulation of the 2016 US presidential election.

In that year, WikiLeaks obtained and released emails and other documents from the Clinton presidential campaign.

“It was pretty obvious reading the indictments put down by [former special counsel for the US Department of Justice] Robert Mueller that WikiLeaks was used wittingly or unwittingly, knowingly or not, as a vehicle by which the Russians hacked into the Democratic Congress servers and stole lots of information,” Mr Seely said.

“I think Assange has been a useful idiot for people to attack liberal democracies.”

The extradition hearing will last a month in total, but the trial will be split, with one week to begin on January 24 and the remaining proceedings taking place in May.

Defence lawyers for Assange have told preliminary hearings most of the witnesses they wish to call will give evidence anonymously, although the US counsel has already indicated they will argue to have them struck off.

For now, Mr Shipton will continue to call London home.

“Julian’s circumstance is dire,” he said.

“It’s very awkward to speak about it. It just upsets me.”

“The best thing is to take each day as it comes and work as well and as hard as you can on ensuring that your children aren’t oppressed and aren’t persecuted to death.”

BRITAIN’S GOT A SUPREME COURT SCANDAL: NEW DAMNING EMAILS SHOW UK CORRUPTION IN THE CASE AGAINST JULIAN ASSANGE

Julian Assange

SOURCE: POPULARRESISTANCE.ORG

Assange came awfully close to death in December. He is not out of the woods. He is currently locked up under maximum security in a British prison and ill, injured and enduring torture. He was taken from his legal refuge in Ecuador’s embassy on April 11, 2019 and whisked into solitary confinement for 10 months. He has days before a crucial US Extradition case on Feb. 24th, 2020 but he is virtually in a legal, technological and communication straightjacket along with his legal team. Assange has been forced to remain in UK for 10 years under the ruse that the UK was obliged to enforce a disproportionate, now obsolete, European Arrest Warrant (EAW) from Sweden. The outcome has been a catastrophic deprivation of Assange’s fundamental human rights.

He is facing a death sentence in the United States, anyway you measure it. He will never see Australian soil alive; he will be repatriated to Australia in a coffin if he first winds up in U.S. custody. There is no possibility of a fair trial there. My blog from Sept. 2018 outlines the judicial corruption in both Sweden and the UK. Since then, my hypothesis has been verified by emails publicly available on the UK’s Governmental site here.

Do new emails unmask political interference and collusion up to the highest levels of UK courts, including the UK Supreme Court in the Assange matter? Yes. Is the UK Supreme Court independent of political perversion from UK authorities all the way up to the Prime Minister, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Ministry of Justice and beyond? No. The UK tipped the scales of justice against him with prejudice and overt discrimination. He is not equal under the law in the UK. There is ample evidence for a Judicial Review should Assange’s legal team wish to pursue accountability from UK and Swedish authorities. Otherwise, Assange and his lawyers can expect more injustice, more prejudice and more corruption in order to streamline his illegal exit from the UK to the eager US authorities who have entrapped him extrajudicially over the past decade.

Redux: Assange challenged the proportionality of the extradition law, then the old disproportionate law was revoked and replaced. While that challenge was in court, the CPS held a large back log of cases in abeyance, then let those persons benefit from the revised law but not Assange. The revised law was not applicable retrospectively. It is no coincidence that Assange was the only case that fell outside the benefits of the revised law. He was excluded.

Britain’s Supreme Court was weaponized to incapacitate Julian Assange. The political interference in the UK Judiciary is the direct cause of his current torture, lack of legal access and due process. The UK’s CPS accelerated Assange’s EAW Swedish case and deliberately created a backlog of other EAW cases whose outcome depended on his matter being resolved negatively. The CPS manipulated the timing and order of Assange’s EAW case to dispense with him while it adjourned other cases so he would not be afforded protections under the revisions. This served the purpose of punishing Assange before any charges were laid or a guilt ascertained and circumventing his access to legally entitled protections. The “Assange exclusion clause” insertion is a problem for UK lofty ethical legal standards. The legal standards for him were uniquely inconsistent, unfair and disproportionate. When standard operating procedures don’t operate consistently the reason is political.

Such tactics must have been orchestrated at the highest level of government. When a law changed in Assange’s favour it did not apply to him; only to the other EAW cases that were adjourned pending the outcome of his case.This email authenticates the @UN’s decision that Assange’s detention was arbitrary. There is absolute certainty that the UK and Sweden conspired to hold scores of extraditions in abeyance pending Assange case, then denied him benefits.

“I should mention that the certified legal point has potentially far reaching consequences for scores of pending cases from, in particular, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Belgium and Greece.” (pg. 223) ~ CPS, UK.

The CPS rigged the case, stacked the deck, held a score of other extradition cases in abeyance while Assange’s legal challenge to UK extradition laws was in play. The CPS rigged the queue of extraditions to leave him behind, then wrote an exclusion clause which prejudicially targeted Assange. His name was not on the clause, but it is in that email.

The UK and Sweden colluded in a strategic campaign to detain then extradite Julian Assange, deny him due process and sabotage his chances of freedom. As a result, Assange and his legal team have faced one gross injustice after another. The UK has not acted impartially and thus robbed Assange of years of presumed innocence, health, freedom of movement, ability to communicate with the world and time with his children and family. His reputation was obliterated and his support base was severely restricted.

It is astonishing that Assange is trapped inside a maximum security prison, under extreme conditions which deprive him of his human and legal rights, because a supposed democracy refuses to allow safe passage out or provide assurances he won’t be extradited to the US.

It’s clear that Assange’s arbitrary detention has nothing to do with laws, habeas corpus, guilt or innocence or due process but has everything to do with the UK’s subversion of justice. For anyone to say that his incarceration has been self-imposed or that “he could walk out at any time” to “face justice” in light of these emails would be nothing short of delusional. He was kettled by police using a tactic that surrounds and threatens him but publicly claims that he is free to leave. Why is Assange being incarcerated without charge in conditions that amount to torture and why did the UK insist on arresting him if he leaves the embassy? Here is what Judge Lady Arbuthnot said:

“62. Having weighed up the factors for and against and considered Mr Summers’ arguments I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years. Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do so too.”

But that has been the UK government’s carefully constructed narrative all along. The UK portrays Assange as evading justice when in fact it thwarted every effort to advance the case; not only for him but for the two Swedish complainants. Why is he detained without charge for 10 suffocating years based on a nullified EAW and associated bail conditions?

BACKGROUND

UK Prosecutors admitted to destroying documents in this case. Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi summarized her FOIA investigation here.

These emails confirm the UK intentionally undermined Assange’s legal and human rights, specifically targeting him for political revenge. For the better part of a decade he has suffered conditions of torture, lost income for his publishing and public speaking work, lost friends to death but not been allowed to attend funerals, lost precious years with his children who have grown up without him and denied access to urgent medical care. The UK should be held responsible. His losses are immense. He is the only Western journalist held as a political hostage in a supposedly democratic country. ~Jude Fleming

FINDINGS FROM FOIA TRIBUNAL:

a. Wikileaks is a “media organization”.
b. There were no more documents to disclose. The emails associated with lawyer Paul Close, CPS account were deleted as the Guardian reported. c. The ICO argued that it was not in the public’s interest to disclose more material with the concern it might compromise relations with other nations, then withheld valuable information which we can partially see now. In fact it is in the public’s interest to find out what went on behind the scenes and reveal a perverse cover-up.

SALIENT POINTS FROM SWEDISH FOIA EMAIL ARCHIVE

The debate over the application of the Assange EAW had “gone into hyperspace” precisely because there were other pending EAW cases which would be affected by the outcome. As shown above, the CPS was piling up unresolved extradition cases pending the outcome of Assange’s challenge to the proportionality of his case in Sweden.

Of specific concern, the CPS deliberately excluded Julian Assange from benefitting when the UK revised its extradition laws (2014) wherein Britain no longer enforces EAW’s against persons who have not been formally charged with a criminal offence. The law was revised to be proportionate based on presumed innocence concerning an EAW suspect. If a person was not formally charged with an offense they could not be extradited to another country. The Assange case was pivotal in bringing about this legal revision yet he was prejudicially excluded. If the revised legal precedent were to have been applied to his case it would have allowed him to leave the UK but an exclusion clause was applied retrospectively. The UK actually delayed other EAW cases until the Assange matter was (pre-)determined then engineered a phrase to prevent Assange from benefitting. The Assange Exclusion clause limited the application of the revised law to ongoing or pending EAW cases and not those which had concluded/deemed “valid”. Had his case been addressed impartially his EAW case would have been determined based on the new legal precedent which considered proportionality (ie. UK will not extradite an un-charged person to another country especially when other methods of interview are available through Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) European protocols).

“The SC (Supreme Court) will know that the outcome will have an impact on numerous current pending EAW cases, no matter what. Cases are being adjourned regularly pending the outcome in Assange.” (Paul Close, CPS)

CONCLUSIONS

If the US had its way, Assange would have been extradited by UK authorities and transferred to US custody by now. But so far that hasn’t happened. Assange is now in a maximum security prison without the tools and access to persons to defend himself. He is among murderers, rapists, frauds and violent offenders. He is a nerd: a publisher, author, commentator, researcher and global teacher. The truth is Assange is not a fugitive. He is a mouse in a mouse trap; skilfully designed and set by UK and US authorities. He is a caged person, being held in inhumane, tortuous conditions like an exotic pet or a political trophy.

The UK contorted due process, rewrote laws, denied FOIA disclosures and prevented Assange from defending himself in Sweden or benefitting from revised laws in the the UK. Legal remedies for his case were exhausted but were done in such a manner as to undermine his access to justice. Therefore, the case is a political, not simply legal. Assange is a political prisoner. He is not a “fugitive of justice“, he is a victim of UK abuse of power. Assange had “reasonable cause” to enter Ecuador’s embassy as an asylee because he sought protection from inevitable extradition to the United States with a stop-over in Sweden.

“Assange has been kept like a caged exotic pet by the UK, likely on behalf of the US.” ~ Jude Fleming

The original EAW concerning him should have been dismissed as a political extradition, based on Section 13 of the UK Extradition Act which outlines conditions barring extradition of a person based on political opinions, but it was not. The United Nations condemned both Sweden and the UK for Assange’s prolonged arbitrary detention. The UK rejected the UN’s ruling, continues to flout his human rights and due process and insulted the UN’s expert panel. It conflated a minor bail infraction, he served a 50 week sentence and should have been released on bail September 2019.

Conflating bail breach is in keeping with the underhanded methods to strategically incapacitate Assange for an EAW which is no longer in effect for a non existent charge. Arbuthnot’s ruling juxtaposes a bail infraction with a man’s reasonable cause to fear for his life and liberty. Seeking asylum is not a crime. It was an inconvenience for the CPS. Arbuthnot’s ruling was an effort to reactivate an EAW that was formally withdrawn by Swedenyears ago.

In the words of Vivienne Westwood, the UK has abused its judicial powers in a “Mis-Rule of Law”, whereby the UK bent the normal application of law in order to exclude him from justice.

Assange was and is being given “special treatment” in the eyes of UK law which was adaptable and as fluid as a UK justice system would permit. Previous emails retrieved by Maurizi show that nothing about the case was/is typical and everything has been “done at break neck speed”. The UK has not applied law equally, fairly or without bias.

Assange is withstanding exponentially disproportionate punishment for allegations(s) which produced no charges or convictions. If this were a board game, it could be called:

Mis-Rule of Law, the Assange Edition.

It’s like playing a board game with a compulsive cheater who makes up the rules, subject to change on a whim, without notice but always in the favour of the cheater-liar. The UK’s consistent tactical approach has been to undermine Assange’s legal and human rights, wage a public relations campaign that put its conduct in a noble light and brands Assange as a cowardly criminal. Its histrionic disregard of the United Nations ruling is unpacked in full by Liora Lazarus.

IMPLICATIONS: Legal and Human Rights

Britain’s Supreme Court was weaponized to incapacitate Julian Assange. The political interference in the UK Judiciary is the direct cause of his current torture, lack of legal access and due process. Any condemnation or damage that arises from scrutiny of these emails is well-deserved. The UK’s international reputation and that of Her Majesty’s Government, (HMG) should not be more important than the life of a publisher and servant of the Global Public.

The UK has been caught in unethical and prejudicial behaviour toward Assange by pre-empting his extradition case resolution then excluding him from legal protections. Emails from Paul Close demonstrate the strategy for forcing Assange to stay in the UK. Delay the case. Prolong detention. Confuse the story. Coordinate press release with Sweden to advance a libellous version of events. Modify and improvise laws on an as-needed basis. Deny Assange any benefits that would logically apply to him after a law is revised. Every legal effort to challenge prejudicial treatment was sabotaged right up to the UK Supreme Court. Look again. Paul Close was quoting a source from higher up in the UK government below:

FURTHER QUESTIONS

Who was involved in the steering of the UK Supreme Court decision? Look at the email addresses in the above email. It was a “whole of government” effort to subvert justice: SOCA, Metropolitan Police in London, and FCO.

How intact is UK justice system? Can anyone trust UK justice now? Certainly not Assange nor his legal team. How far does UK CPS have to deviate from usual application of justice before it is glaringly obvious that it is no longer a legal deadlock but a political one requiring a political solution? It should also signal a pressing need for the UK to return to rule of law, due process, habeas corpus, presumption of innocence and restoration of Assange’s fundamental human rights.

Should the UK face criminal charges under the Conventions Against Torture which are litigated on an international basis? Yes.

In the battle for information, or control over it, Assange is a prime target for governments who want to restrict the public’s access. The culture of secrecy serves as an invisibility cloak for more abuse of power and corruption. Governments who oppose increased access to information have intentionally and strategically incapacitated Julian Assange for 10 years.

ASSESSING PRESENT DANGER

Assange’s greatest adversary is the US who wants to prosecute him for revealing materials which serve the public good but compromise official secrecy (of governments, corporations and persons). His work as a journalist, publisher, author and public speaker functions to empower those who need protection and challenge those with too much power who then abuse it. Consequently he is at the apex of US revenge operations. The US is a dangerous place for him. There is no limit to its appetite for power and dominance. US revenge fantasies would not be fulfilled were Assange to be killed; in order to exact the concentrated revenge the US Empire wants, it must comprehensively destroy him, his associates and his legacy. It must keep him alive so he can suffer under the full weight and strength of US “justice”. Assange had asylum in Ecuador’s embassy to protect him from being extradited to the US where it is certain his human and legal rights will be abused. The UK’s abuse of power thus far is but a mild foreshadow of what awaits him should he ever be extradited for prosecution in the US.

It is possible that the United States is exerting pressure on countries to cooperate with its goal to get him into custody to face US extradition and prosecution on US soil. The US may claim the “right to hot pursuit” with respect to Assange as a high priority target and coerce nations to manipulate their legal conduct to advance this goal. Based on the information in CPS / SPA emails it is possible that UK is exacting political revenge either independently or in concert with the US. It will go to almost any length to incapacitate Assange despite the fact that he had not been charged with any offence in any country up until May 2019. Let’s not forget the UK almost stormed the embassy to apprehend Assange. It was an overblown reaction given that he absconded bail, it was a police matter and should not have compromised the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic premises.

Given the UK’s treatment of the 2010 EAW against him it’s highly probable the US extradition proceedings would escalate to the Supreme Court and he would lose. Neither he, nor his legal team, nor global citizens can reasonably hope that any US extradition proceedings would be handled impartially. He has no basis to trust UK justice. He would eventually be extradited to the US based on a repeated version of “Misrule of Law”. He wouldn’t have a hope in hell: hellish incarceration, hellish torture and hellish US version of hellish corruption all delivered with hellish might.

The US Version of “Misrule of Law, Assange edition” would outshine the UK version with the power and polish of a seasoned, sociopathic military dictator.

NEXT STEPS FOR ENSURING JUSTICE FOR ASSANGE

  1. The UK must drop the extradition case against Assange. It is not obliged to enforce a politically motivated disproportionate legal request from the US which would certainly result in his death either in Belmarsh, on UK soil or in the U.S.. Assange must be released and granted safe passage. At the very least he must able to be granted bail with unimpeded legal and computer access.UK Courts must review earlier legal decisions and correct the record. No one is above the law, including UK Prime Ministers.

2. ASSANGE MUST BE AFFORDED THE COMPENSATION HE DESERVES.

UK and Swedish compensation must extend to: a. Assange’s family, who have suffered financially, physically and psychologically and b.Wikileaks as a media entity and not-for-profit public service publisher.

3. Initiate a Parliamentary Inquiry into the “Assange-exclusion clause” of the revised 2014 extradition law. The UK Supreme Court must review its final judgment and deem the EAW as invalid. Even though Sweden withdrew it, the historical record must be corrected at the highest level.

4. UK must issue a public and formal apology acknowledging misconduct and the tortuous harm it has caused. Without a public admission of fault, the reputation of the UK’s justice system will suffer more damage. A judicial review is in order and MP’s of UK Parliament might consider launching an inquiry to expose the abuses of power. It could also probe the waste of the public purse/taxpayer money spent to guard, investigate, litigate and harass Assange.

5. Assange might consider taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The appeal to UK’s Supreme Court had to do with the validity and legal standing of the EAW. Based on the evidence presented above, Assange could have the record corrected and be freed today.

6. File formal complaints to professional bodies that oversee the ethics and conduct of its members. Specifically, Paul Close needs to be disbarred from the legal profession. His role in the Assange case should be comprehensively studied and the UK Law Society should have an opportunity to assess the degree of malfeasance in his conduct.

7. Oversight: a. The UK’s FOIA needs serious scrutiny. The ICO must be compelled to release more documents pertaining to this case, particularly communications between the UK and the U.S.. If the UK’s Information Commission Office is not challenged then the FOIA process is degraded which is counterproductive to its professional purpose. Public authorities are habituating a reflex response of denying access to information which is contrary to genuine public interest. Reputation management concerns should not supersede citizens’ right to access material which is of public concern. b. The UK Supreme Court needs more oversight. Evidence hints that SC decisions were influenced by CPS misconduct, political and foreign influence. c. The UK CPS needs more oversight and persons responsible for unethical behaviour must face criminal consequences.

8. Australia should be actively executing his safe passage and repatriation now under protection, where he can receive urgent medical attention and spend time with family. It would be tragic if the only way that Assange could return to his homeland is in a coffin. He deserves a hero’s return.

“To waste another’s lifespan is the worst larceny.” ~ Jude Fleming

FINALLY

Britain has a Supreme Court scandal on its hands. How will it handle it? Thus far, the Information Commissioner’s Office has covered it up, withheld the truth and instrumentalized secrecy to detain and now torture Julian Assange. This must end immediately.

There is no doubt that Assange is a political hostage of the UK and the U.S. Global condemnation of the UK’s misconduct must be unified and unequivocal. Media organizations, journalism affiliates/committees, Amnesty, RSF, HRW and other human rights groups must increase awareness of this case in order to prevent it from happening to other journalists, publishers and activists. The world must condemn the targeted and protracted attack on Assange and Wikileaks. The only thing worse than the current situation would be if this information did not get the public and parliamentary scrutiny it deserves and Assange were extradited to the US predicated on blatant perversion of justice. Hit the streets in front of the UK Government offices and Belmarsh prison to demand that the UK free Assange immediately. His time has come.

“A murderous system is being created before our very eyes”

LINK TO FULL TEXT

A made-up rape allegation and fabricated evidence in Sweden, pressure from the UK not to drop the case, a biased judge, detention in a maximum security prison, psychological torture – and soon extradition to the U.S., where he could face up to 175 years in prison for exposing war crimes. For the first time, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, speaks in detail about the explosive findings of his investigation into the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

An interview by Daniel RyserYves Bachmann (Photos) and Charles Hawley (Translation), 31.01.2020

Julian Assange: The Lynching of the Charismatic Geek

SOURCE: Global Research

Once upon a time, there was a very bright little boy who grew up moving around Australia, never really taking roots. As an adolescent he found his own world in cyberspace, which offered a field for his insatiable curiosity. As he learned about that great world out there and its secrets, he developed his very own rigorous ethic: his vocation was to search for true facts and share them with the public. His moral compass developed free of conformist social codes. Truth was truth, deception was wrong, lies on the part of the powerful should be exposed.

The original sin of Julian Assange was the same as that of Galileo Galilei.  Galileo sinned by revealing to the people things the elite already knew or at least surmised, but wished to keep secret from the masses, in order not to shake the people’s faith in the official truth. Assange did the same thing with the formation of Wikileaks. The official version of reality was challenged. All lies should be exposed. By far the most sensitive targets of his wide-ranging reality revelations were the lies, the hypocrisy, the inhuman brutality of the United States in its wars of global hegemony. To Assange, these things were simply wrong.

At first, Wikileaks attracted a great deal of popular attention and even acclaim. Julian Assange became famous. He was a geek, but he didn’t look like a geek. Tall, handsome, striking with his nearly white hair, Julian was something strange: a charismatic geek.

He arrived in Sweden with near superstar status. Swedish women contrived to get him into their beds. They bragged about having sex with Julian: he was a trophy lover. But the charismatic geek didn’t know the social codes of the peculiar Swedish forms of virtuous promiscuity. This lacuna was exploited by his enemies in extravagantly unpredictable ways.

Julian Assange tried to straighten out what seemed to be a serious misunderstanding before leaving Sweden. But the Swedish side failed to make matters clear and he left for London.

In London, he was quickly taken up by the radical chic branch of the British upper class, the champagne and caviar humanitarians. The naïve charismatic geek who didn’t know the social codes no doubt thought he was among friends. He didn’t belong to any political or social movement in the UK, he depended on the beautiful people who for a time found him an interesting outsider, one of their latest causes.

Julian Assange may have been socially naïve, but he very acutely perceived what the imperial powers were working up against him. The totally unjustifiable demand for extradition to Sweden for questioning – unjustifiable because they had declined to question him while he was there and then declined to question him in the UK – appeared to Julian to be an obvious device to enable Sweden to extradite him to the United States, given the total obedience of post-Olof Palme Sweden to the wishes of Washington. Others didn’t see this so clearly, except for the excellent President of Ecuador at the time, Rafael Correa. Correa offered Assange asylum in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange, unconventional, negligent of the codes, but with a clear view of the danger stalking him, jumped the bail set up for him and moved into the embassy.

This was the beginning of his alienation from the caviar humanitarians. At first the smart set defended him. Such glamorous personalities as Jemima Khan and Amal Amamuddin (not yet Clooney) initially defended him and then lost interest. He was not of their world. He did not know how to compromise, he was a geek after all, less and less charismatic as he faded in the shadows of the embassy of Ecuador. It’s all very well to denounce lies and tell the truth, but one mustn’t overdo it. It’s delightful to have a cause when you have a solid social and financial background to fall back on, and when you know how to play the game so as to be in and out at the same time. Julian had none of those social graces. He was honest, intent, stubborn. He was incapable of hypocrisy, even in his own interest. He would not abjure, as Galileo did.

Such stubborn honesty on the part of someone who has nothing – no influential family, no fortune, no social status, no political party, nothing but his stubborn devotion to truth – is unbearable in a society based on lies. The media who profited from his scoops became the most zealous in denouncing him. No wonder: his honesty was a living reproach to the scribblers who had sold out all down the line, who get ahead by adding new touches to the mendacious “common narrative” required by the masters of their careers.

Lies were spread. Someone so honest must have hidden vices. He must be as bad as we are, or worse. The mob gathers. This man who knows the truth but not the social codes is an insult to us all, a freak, a monster, who must be destroyed.

The lynch mob is enormous. The media, politicians, even the judicial authorities. There are no loud shouts for blood but silent cruelty as the Anglo-American ruling Establishment shamelessly contrives to halt the last breath of the outsider who dared expose them for what they are.

Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange

SOURCE

It is the journalists from The Guardian and New York Times who should be in jail, not Julian Assange, said Mark Davis last week. The veteran Australian investigative journalist, who has been intimately involved in the Wikileaks drama, has turned the Assange narrative on its head. The smears are falling away. The mainstream media, which has so ruthlessly made Julian Assange a scapegoat, is silent in response.

Greg Bean likens the revolutionary work of Julian Assange to that of Johannes Gutenberg who invented the printing press. Government reaction, 580 years later, is similarly savage.

Five hundred and eighty years ago, Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press to the world. That single act created a free press which gave birth to the concept of freedom of speech. The two are inextricably linked; printing is a form of speech.

Gutenberg’s invention started the Printing Revolution, a milestone of the 2ndmillennium that initiated the modern period of human history including the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution, and began the knowledge-based economy that spread learning to the masses.

Such mass communication permanently altered the structure of society. Removing control of information from the hands of the powerful and delivering it into the hands of the disempowered.

The broad circulation of information, including revolutionary ideas, in many languages, undermined Latin’s dominant status and the authority previously held by those trained in Latin, it transcended borders, threatened the power of political and religious authorities, increased literacy breaking the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning, and bolstered the emerging middle class. It increased cultural self-awareness and cultural cohesion and undermined the authority of distant rulers and high priests.

His major work, the Gutenberg Bible was the first printed version of the Bible.

A global game-changer

Until 1439, Bibles were hand-scribed by rooms full of monks. There were virtually no mass produced books. Only an organisation able to fund these scribe factories could generate information that could be shared with others, in Latin. The Catholic Church was not impressed that Gutenberg made these scribe factories redundant.

But that’s just one enemy Gutenberg created. As well as destroying religious control he destroyed political control, which was largely aligned with the Church across Europe.

And then he destroyed the monopoly of the literate elite, creating educated populations where previously, powerful nobles had unchallenged control. Then, by supporting the local languages, all of which could be printed, he destroyed the dominance of Latin as the only language worth knowing.

Gutenberg was a game changer. He undermined the control of monarchs and the ruling class, the church, the political establishment, the Latin speaking elite, the educated upper-class, and probably also the authority and reliance on masters in every field of human endeavour as their previously spoken instructions, to a limited set of apprentices, could now be shared to the world in print.

Gutenberg destroyed the masters in virtually every realm by providing the means to expose knowledge to everyone. The genie was out of the bottle.

Imagine the masters’ anger.

Though anger could not save them from what Gutenberg had done.

From paper revolution to digital revolution

Today in 2019, 580 years since Gutenberg unleashed his printing press, the powerful are still trying to put the free press and freedom of speech genie back in the bottle.

Their present strategy is to make their knowledge, the element that is the key to retaining authority, as it was in Gutenberg’s day, secret, even Top Secret, and criminalising any action that reveals these secrets to anyone outside their circle of authority.

One of the ways this has been achieved is by enlisting the very core of what should be the free press, granting them almost monopoly rights to information dissemination and transmission and in exchange attaining for themselves the guarantee that their secrets will not be revealed.

Media concentration and control

In the US today, it is estimated that five dominant media organisations have almost total control of information transmission to the entire 325 million Americans. While the Internet was meant to democratise the transmission of information we see a few giant technology companies, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have near total control of what is seen and shared.

The situation is even worse in Australia with two or three media companies and the same technology giants having control. And the Government of Australia has granted them ever wider market access to extend their monopolies. As an aside, it’s both funny and ironic that the Turnbull Government last increased the capacity for Australian media to further consolidate and then Malcolm Turnbull was deposed by that same media for being insufficiently sycophantic to their wishes.

But in 2006, something akin to the arrival of Gutenberg’s press appeared that would threaten the tightly held master’s control as surely as Gutenberg’s press threatened autocratic control in 1439.

That something was a technology suite, from WikiLeaks, that protected the anonymity of individuals who leaked the secrets of corruption that powerful governments preferred to keep hidden.

The strategy was quite elegant in its simplicity. WikiLeaks recognised that organisations and governments can only succeed if they can communicate their instructions to the operational workforce. If the instructions are legal and legitimate, this can be done publicly and with no need to hide any of these instructions.

What have they got to hide?

If however, the instructions entail illegal or illegitimate actions, then the only way these can be communicated to the entire workforce is as secrets. And to ensure they remain secret the organisation or government must impose a penalty on anyone who breaks that secrecy and divulges the information to person not authorised to see it.

The very act of defining something as secret and restricting its dissemination is a clear indicator that the actions or events are very likely illegal or illegitimate. Imposing penalties on those who disseminate these secrets outside authorised channels is another indicator of illegal or illegitimate actions or events.

Authoritarian regimes, murderous military organisations, human rights breaching spy agencies, polluting or corrupt organisation, mind control religious cults, and many more examples are available where their ability to continue with the illegal or illegitimate actions or to hide past events all must utilise secrecy and impose punishment on leakers to ensure that secrecy.

WikiLeaks destroyed that ability. Anonymous leaking of illegal or illegitimate actions or events destroys the ability of corrupt organisations to continue being corrupt.

That undermines their authority and control. And that’s what WikiLeaks introduced to the world — a mechanism and technology that was as pivotal to educating, enlightening, and promoting corrective action as was previously achieved by the creation of Gutenberg’s printing press.

WikiLeaks destroyed the masters in virtually every realm by providing the means to expose knowledge worldwide. The genie was out of the bottle.

Imagine the master’s anger.

A drastic response

WikiLeaks’ threat to the powerful was recognised and every effort was, and is, being made to criminalise anonymous leaking, which would be akin to criminalising Gutenberg’s printing press, but there is not much chance this criminalisation will succeed.

Their strategy however, as exposed in a document leaked by WikiLeaks, outlined how WikiLeaks uses trust by protecting the anonymity and identity of leakers and concluded that damaging or destroying this trust would deter leaking; defame Assange and WikiLeaks to kill the threat posed by anonymous leaking.

For 12 years, since 2008, that is exactly what powerful organisations, powerful media and government, powerful military and corrupt corporations have been doing. They are trying to destroy the public’s trust in Julian Assange and, by so doing, destroying the trust in WikiLeaks and ensuring this mechanism of educating the world fails.

Slowly, instance by instance, the malicious and deceitful smears of Julian Assange’s character have been exposed for what they are; an effort to destroy trust in a system of anonymous leaking that will educate everyone. As an example, on Thursday, August 8, 2019, at an event in a pub in Sydney, Mark Davis, a multi-Walkley award winning video journalist destroyed the smear that Assange was cavalier; cavalier that is about the risk of death of informants whose names appeared in documents in one of the sets of releases.

Davis said that, not only was Assange quite worried about the risk, but that The Guardian and New York Times journalists showed little if any worry. The video is here. It is quite remarkable.

As well as these smears, numerous torturous actions were visited on Assange, aimed at achieving not just his discrediting but also to break him mentally and physically.

Assault on human dignity

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, recently wrote a damning articlepublished on the United Nations Human Rights website describing the situation in detail and comments, “In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” Melzer said. “The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”.

Sydney based Clinical Psychologist Lissa Johnson has also written about the treatment of Julian Assange ( link ) and the complicit actions of many who turn a blind eye.

“At this democratic crossroads, although establishment media have signalled their reluctance to support Espionage Act charges, in the knowledge they could be next, many nevertheless appear willing to act as instigators of torture, inciting publics to morally disengage, so that states can continue persecuting Julian Assange,” wrote Johnson. “Every act of ‘journalism’ that buries crucial information, and every utterance that vilifies or dehumanises Julian Assange, or sanitises his abuse, is complicit.. “.

Bring Julian Assange home

It’s time to bring Julian Assange home. Torturing and punishing him has never been legitimate and serves absolutely no purpose.

It’s time to recognise that anonymous leaking is here to stay and promote the world changing benefits that this system of mass education will deliver.

How can I be sure anonymous leaking is here to stay? Like Gutenberg’s printing press, WikiLeaks is not a one-off unit, it is a model for how to approach and overcome an issue. Many printing presses were built after Gutenberg revealed the concept and they were soon powered, automated and churning out printed material in huge volumes.

The same has happened with Julian Assange’s concept of a mechanism and technologies that can support anonymous leaking. A group called The Freedom of The Press Foundation, founded among others by Daniel Ellsberg, the man famous for leaking the Pentagon Papers that exposed the lies about the War in Vietnam, created a freely available WikiLeaks-like system called SecureDrop that is now in use by many news organisations.

And a number of these SecureDrop implementations are multi-national and so shield the recipient from AFP-style raids as they exist out there … somewhere … out of AFP and Australian authority reach … out of the reach of any other nation attempting to clamp down on anonymous leaking.

The WikiLeaks style anonymous leaking genie is out of the bottle and is not going back in.

Vive la revolution!

ALISON BROINOWSKI. Julian Assange One case dismissed: one to go

SOURCE

From the Australian mainstream media most readers won’t know it, but on 29 July a Federal Court in New York dismissed the Democratic National Committee’s case against Julian Assange for publishing leaked internal emails in 2016.

The Australian media usually overcome their mutual antipathy and band together to defend journalistic freedom and the rights of whistle-blowers, as we can expect to see in the case of Witness K. But Julian Assange is different. Denying that what he does is journalism is the excuse given by many in the media for taking no interest in the truth of his case or in finding out what is happening to him in Belmarsh supermax prison.

If Australian journalists were doing their job they would pursue Assange’s case with at least as much enthusiasm as they and the government brought to those of Peter Greste jailed in Cairo, Hakeem al-Araibi arrested in Bangkok, and Alek Sigley detained in Pyongyang.

The New York Times and Washington Post buried the highly significant story of WikiLeaks’ recent exculpation (Oscar Grenfell, ‘Media silent on dismissal of DNC suit against Julian Assange‘).To do otherwise would have brought down the house of negative cards about Assange which they have built ever since 2010. The New York Timespublished the war-log documents Assange passed to them before he, working through the night, had finished redacting 10 000 names. David Leigh at the Guardian published the very password for the cables database over which Assange is now facing prosecution.

All the media beneficiaries, and leaders of several governments, claimed repeatedly that Assange recklessly endangered the lives of people mentioned in the classified reports. They ignored that fact that in 2013 the Pentagon’s Brigadier-General Robert Carrconceded that no-one had been killed as a result of the leaked cables. The US and other governments were greatly embarrassed, but no-one died, while their killing of un-numbered civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria continues to this day.

Australia’s dearth of public interest journalism on the Assange case was somewhat relieved by Nick Miller’s coverage for Fairfax of statements by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (SMH, 28 July 2019). Nils Melzer visited Assange in Belmarsh in May, but his written concerns about the effects on Assange of anxiety and long incarceration have since been rejected by Sweden and the US.

Then came ABC Four Corners, with episodes on 22 and 29 July about Assange’s prosecution, ‘Hero or Villain’ Part 1 and Part 2. Telling viewers little that they haven’t already seen in Linda Poitras’ documentary Risk and Alex Gibney’s feature We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (a deliberately misleading title), the two ABC programs recalled that only after the US papers ignored Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning’s offer did she seek out WikiLeaks, and that Assange told her what he could and couldn’t do to help with encryption. Concerned about balance, Four Corners gave Assange’s enemies a lot of air-time for personal allegations and familiar smears like ‘vanity’ and ‘megalomania’. But about his present condition it said nothing.

Dr Lissa Johnson brought to the story her expertise as a clinical psychologist. She observed on 8 August that Four Corners ignored Melzer’s statements, and accused the mainstream media of contributing to Assange’s torture by cultivating the established narrative (https://newmatilda.com/2019/08/06/talk-to-the-totalitarian-hand-state-responses-to-the-torture-of-julian-assange-morally-disengaging-media-and-what-it-means-for-us-all/). Melbourne-based blogger Caitlin Johnstone has countered 27 smears against Assange, providing quotable ripostes, in ‘Debunking All The Assange Smears’. And lest Australians not forget, by April this year, more than 100 000 had signed Philip Adams’ petition to the government to act (https://newmatilda.com/2019/04/23/petition-calling-for-intervention-into-assange-extradition-passes-100000-signatures/). In the UK, that petition would trigger a debate in Parliament.

While public support for Assange builds through social media, Australian ministers have consistently refused to seek assurances that he will not be extradited to the US, which imposes the death penalty, and threatens him with its equivalent, more than 170 years imprisonment. Although his Australian lawyer Jennifer Robinson met politicians in Canberra in late July and informed them about Assange’s case, the Prime Minister made it known that he would not raise it with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Australian, 2 August 2019: 4). If Marise Payne mentioned it to the British Foreign Secretary at a Global Conference for Media Freedom (sic) in July, she didn’t say so.

Lissa Johnson was joined on 8 August by Mark Davis, a veteran of ABC and SBS, whose talk in a Sydney pub was screened on Consortium News. Davis was in the Guardian‘bunker’ in July 2010 when Assange decided to get the leaked documents published by mainstream media in the UK, US, and Europe. Exasperated that the ‘complete lie’ about Assange’s ‘lack of integrity’ has widely been accepted as truth, Davis blames the Guardian’s then editor, the plausible and urbane Alan Rusbridger, his brother-in-law David Leigh, and Leigh’s co-author, the ardent Russo-phobe Luke Harding. Davis says they claimed that the Guardian was only reporting about what Assange had published, thus avoiding blame for publishing it themselves while still claiming credit for the scoop. The Guardian decided that as Leigh had already published the password to the cache of documents it was ‘best to publish the whole thing’, Davis says. By December Julian Assange was under arrest. ‘Julian’s in jail now because of that subterfuge’, Davis told his Sydney audience (Mark Davis, ‘Julian Assange and the Culture of Revenge’ https://www.youtube.com/watch).

The recent dismissal by the Federal Court relates not only to allegations about Wikileaks, but also Donald Trump jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort over ‘Russiagate’. But the political establishment hasn’t dropped it, says a former UK ambassador (https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/08/in-the-world-of-truth-and-fact-russiagate-is-dead-in-the-world-of-the-political-establishment-it-is-still-the-new-42). That establishment still controls what is happening to Assange, and his coming extradition to the US, charged with espionage.

John Pilger, who visited him in Belmarsh last week, has expressed serious concern about his health. More worrying, given what has happened to other public enemies – Seth Rich and Jeffrey Epstein in the US and Sergei Skripal in the UK – is that someone may rid the world of this troublesome truth-teller.

Dr Alison Broinowski was a Senate candidate for the WikiLeaks Party.

Media silent on dismissal of DNC suit against Julian Assange

SOURCE

A federal court ruling last Tuesday dismissing a Democratic National Committee (DNC) civil suit against Julian Assange “with prejudice” was a devastating indictment of the US ruling elite’s campaign to destroy the WikiLeaks founder. It exposed as a fraud the entire “Russiagate” conspiracy theory peddled by the Democratic Party, the corporate media and the intelligence agencies for the past three years.

The decision, by Judge John Koeltl of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, rejected the smears that Assange “colluded” with Russia. It upheld his status as a journalist and publisher and dismissed claims that WikiLeaks’ 2016 publication of leaked emails from the DNC was “illegal.”

Despite the significance of the ruling, and its clear newsworthiness, it has been subjected to an almost complete blackout by the entire media in the US and internationally.

The universal silence on the court decision—extending from the New York Times (which buried a six-paragraph report on the ruling on page 25) and the Washington Post, to “alternative” outlets such as the Intercept, the television evening news programs and the publications of the pseudo-left—can be described only as a coordinated political conspiracy.

Its aim is to suppress any discussion of the court’s exposure of the slanders used to malign and isolate Assange, and to justify the unprecedented international pursuit of him over WikiLeaks’ exposure of US war crimes, surveillance operations and diplomatic conspiracies.

The New York Times, the Washington Post and other corporate outlets have relentlessly smeared Assange as a “Russian agent” and depicted him as the linchpin of a conspiracy hatched in Moscow to deprive Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton of the presidency in the 2016 US elections.

Now that their claims have been subjected to judicial review and exposed as a tissue of lies and fabrications, they have adopted a policy of radio silence. There is no question that if the court ruling had been in favour of the DNC, it would have been greeted with banner headlines and wall-to-wall coverage.

The response exposes these publications as state propagandists and active participants in the campaign by the Democratic Party, the Trump administration and the entire ruling elite to condemn Assange for the rest of his life to an American prison for the “crime” of publishing the truth.

The editors and senior writers at these outlets, such as New York Timeseditorial page editor James Bennet, are in constant contact with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Behind the scenes, they work out an editorial line that will advance the interests of the Wall Street banks and the military-intelligence apparatus. At the same time, they decide what news and information they will hide from the American and world population.

The efforts by the mainstream news outlets to bury the ruling presents a clear example of the type of media manipulation that has led millions of people to seek alternative sources of news on the internet, of which WikiLeaks is itself an example.

Judge Koeltl’s decision made plain the anti-democratic and dictatorial logic of the DNC case against Assange. He warned: “If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political, financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet.” This, he stated, would “override the First Amendment” protection to freedom of the press mandated by the US Constitution.

Koeltl’s finding was an absolute vindication of Assange and WikiLeaks’ 2016 publications exposing the attempts by the DNC to rig the Democratic Party primaries against self-declared “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders in favour of Hillary Clinton.

The judge found these releases, together with the publication of Clinton’s secret speeches to Wall Street banks, in which she pledged to be their representative, were “matters of the highest public concern.” They “allowed the American electorate to look behind the curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election.”

Koeltl, moreover, found there was no evidence to justify the DNC’s assertion that WikiLeaks had colluded with the Russian state to obtain the material. Assange and WikiLeaks have always maintained that the documents were not provided to them by the Putin regime.

The ruling demonstrated the flagrant illegality of the US vendetta against Assange. The slander that he was operating as a “Russian agent” to “interfere” in US politics was used by the American government and its intelligence agencies to pressure the Ecuadorian regime to sever Assange’s internet access in 2016, and again in 2018. It served as a central pretext for its illegal termination in April of his political asylum in the embassy building.

The judgment was also an implicit exposure of the lawlessness of the attempts by the Trump administration, with the full support of the Democrats, to extradite Assange from Britain, so that he can be prosecuted on 18 US charges, including 17 espionage counts, carrying a maximum sentence of 175 years’ imprisonment.

The Trump administration and the Justice Department are claiming that it was illegal for WikiLeaks and Assange to publish US army war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and other documents exposing US war crimes and intrigues, provided by the courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Koeltl’s ruling, however, reasserted the fundamental democratic principle that WikiLeaks had a right to publish the 2016 DNC documents, even if they had been obtained by the Russian government, or any other entity, illegally.

The clear implication is that even if Manning’s decision to leak US military and diplomatic documents was a violation of the law, WikiLeaks’ publication of them was not. The publication of both the 2010 and the 2016 leaks was constitutionally protected journalistic activity.

Koeltl further undermined the claims of the Trump administration, the Democrats and the media that Assange is a “hacker,” undeserving of First Amendment protections. The judge repeatedly referred to Assange as a “journalist” and WikiLeaks as a “publisher.”

In other words, the attempt to extradite Assange to the US and prosecute him is a frontal assault on the US Constitution and press freedom. In its disregard for domestic and international law, it can be described only as an extraordinary rendition operation, similar to the kidnappings and torture operations conducted by the CIA.

The hostile response to Koeltl’s ruling on the part of the entire political and media establishment, in the US and internationally, demonstrates that this conspiracy will not be defeated by plaintive appeals to the governments, political parties and media corporations that have spearheaded the assault on Assange’s legal and democratic rights.

All of them are using the persecution of Assange as a test case for the imposition of ever-more authoritarian measures, aimed at suppressing mounting popular hostility to war, social inequality and an assault on democratic rights.

What is required is the development of a mass movement from below, to mobilise the immense social and political power of the working class internationally to secure Assange’s liberty and to defend all democratic rights.

To take forward this critical struggle, the WSWS and the International Committee of the Fourth International last month called for the formation of a Global Defence Committee to free Assange and the courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning. All workers, young people and supporters of democratic rights should contact the WSWS today to take up the fight to free Assange and Manning!

Oscar Grenfell

Julian Assange and the Real War on the Free Press

(By  Katherin Da Silva/Shutterstock)

Source: The American Conservative

Trump administration officials were enthusiastic when Ecuador decided to expel Julian Assange from its embassy in London, where he had received sanctuary for nearly seven years. British authorities promptly jailed him for jumping bail on sexual assault charges in Sweden, and U.S. officials began plans to have Assange extradited to face espionage charges in this country. He just turned 48 in prison on July 3.

Last month, the Department of Justice added 17 counts to the one-count indictment that it had filed years earlier. His current imprisonment in Britain and the probability of a lengthy extradition battle have delayed the prospect of a high-profile trial in the United States, but that outcome remains Washington’s goal. The United States reportedly submitted a formal extradition request on June 6.

The issues at stake go far beyond whether Assange is an admirable (or even a reasonably likeable) person. He symbolizes a crucial fight over freedom of the press and the ability of journalists to expose government misconduct without fear of criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, a disturbing number of “establishment” journalists in the United States seem willing—indeed, eager—to throw him to the government wolves.

Official Washington’s hatred of Assange borders on rabid. The website WikiLeaks, which he and his colleagues founded in 2006, has published voluminous quantities of leaked documents—in some cases highly classified documents. Those revelations have embarrassed, even discredited, powerful government officials and political factions in the United States and other countries. Among WikiLeaks’s revelations were specifics about the torture of terrorist suspects at CIA “black sites” in the United States and allied countries, and evidence of U.S. war crimes, notably brazen killings of civilians, including two Reuters reporters, in Iraq. Some of the most spectacular news accounts emerged because of leaked documents that a young Army private, Bradley (later Chelsea) Manning had given to WikiLeaks.

U.S. officials were furious about such information becoming public. They not only prosecuted Manning for espionage—eventually imposing a draconian 35-year prison sentence—but they filed an espionage charge against Assange. The ongoing attacks on him are a bid for censorship powers not seen since the Nixon administration sought to prevent The New York Times and The Washington Postfrom publishing the Pentagon Papers. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the government’s bid for prior restraint. The ruling did not explicitly address the question of whether authorities could prosecute journalists once a story using classified documents was published. However, a succession of administrations have refrained from pursuing that option, and the prevailing assumption was that post-publication attempts at prosecution might run afoul of the courts as well. Individuals who leak items to the press remained as vulnerable as ever to prosecution for espionage, but members of the press have enjoyed de facto immunity. With the Assange case, that situation threatens to change.

U.S. foreign policy mandarins have sought to overturn or at least dilute the Pentagon Papers precedent from the outset. Their preferred alternative is Britain’s Official Secrets Act. Passed in 1911, that statute prohibits news outlets from publishing any information that the government deems confidential. Following the Supreme Court decision, Dean Acheson, one of the key architects of Washington’s post-World War II foreign policy, called for “a severe Official Secrets Act to prevent irresponsible or corrupt transfer of secret papers from the government to publishers.” During the 1980s and 1990s, hawkish types expressed similar attitudes. Michael A. Ledeen, a special adviser to the secretary of state, enthusiastically endorsed the British model. Ledeen was especially upset by the publication of Bob Woodward’s 1987 book Veil, an exposé of CIA dirty tricks. Ledeen stated that “such a book ought not to have been published,” adding that with an American Official Secrets Act, it would not have been.

Since the 9/11 attacks, such attitudes have grown. An especially outspoken proponent is Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. As an Army lieutenant in Iraq in 2006, Cotton became incensed at a New York Times story disclosing the Bush administration’s secret program to disrupt the financing of alleged terrorist organizations. In an open letter, he accused the Times of having “gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here.” Cotton asserted that as a Harvard Law School graduate and practicing attorney, he was “well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others—laws you have plainly violated.” He closed with a chilling wish. “I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.”

There is no indication that Cotton has changed his views since entering Congress. Nor was he alone at the time in wanting to prosecute journalists for disclosing information that might undercut U.S. policy. Republican Representative Peter King of New York blasted the Times for being “treasonous,” as did Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky.

The United States and other Western leaders became increasingly alarmed about the surge of WikiLeaks disclosures. They worried that whistleblowers were becoming emboldened and might leak information to more respectable media outlets. Their fears were realized in 2013 when Edward Snowden, a contract employee for the National Security Agency, transferred a trove of classified documents to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras at The Guardian. Those documents confirmed that, among other abuses, the NSA undermined private computer encryption programs and collected bulk data on Americans’ emails and other correspondence without obtaining a warrant. Equally appalling, NSA Director James Clapper had lied to Congress and the American people about the program.

The Department of Justice moved quickly to indict Snowden for espionage, but attempting to do the same with Greenwald and Poitras was more difficult. Greenwald especially was a prominent, if controversial, journalist, and going after him risked creating a media firestorm. It seemed more than coincidental, though, that authorities in countries closely allied with the United States (especially Britain) harassed the journalists—and in one case, Greenwald’s romantic partner—with lengthy, menacing interrogations when they traveled internationally.

U.S. leaders have focused their efforts on apprehending and prosecuting Assange, considered a more “fringe” player. But the Obama administration did increase attempts to harass or intimidate journalists who utilized leaked material. Officials conducted electronic surveillance of both journalist James Risen and Fox News correspondent James Rosen in an effort to identify their sources. The government named Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in an espionage case against his source. Similarly, the administration asserted that it had the right to prosecute Risen, even though it chose not to take that step. Those were ominous warning signals.

The government’s strategy in the Assange case is especially insidious. Federal officials argue that whatever the relevance of the Pentagon Papers precedent, it doesn’t apply in this case because Assange is not a real journalist engaged in legitimate journalism. Instead, he is allegedly a co-conspirator with Manning and other individuals who have illicitly leaked classified information. Ergo, he has committed espionage, and any legal protections that legitimate journalists might enjoy should not extend to his behavior. John Demers, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for national security, stated that thesis explicitly. “Julian Assange is no journalist,” Demers said. Assange engaged in “explicit solicitation of classified information.”

During the early years of his campaign, Assange had a considerable number of defenders among American progressives. Most WikiLeaks disclosures had discomfited the Bush administration, which left-wing figures loathed. But newer revelations targeted possible Obama administration misdeeds, and Assange began to lose favor with progressives.

Then in 2016, he committed an apparently unpardonable sin in the eyes of many liberals, when WikiLeaks published hacked or leaked information from the Democratic National Committee that exposed political dirty tricks by Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary campaign against Bernie Sanders. Assange and WikiLeaks were now anathema to most liberal journalists, and as allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election on behalf of Donald Trump intensified, the increasingly popular, and dubious, trope was that Assange was a tool of the Kremlin. When he was arrested in April 2019, liberal American journalists were among the biggest cheerleaders.

Theirs is a dangerously misguided stance. Successfully prosecuting Assange and WikiLeaks for espionage would be a mortal threat to a free and independent press in the United States. Some of the government’s arguments to support the theory that Assange is not a legitimate journalist are paper thin. One is that Assange urged Manning to provide more documents after the initial delivery of files. Yet investigative reporters from indisputably reputable news outlets routinely use methods similar to those Assange employed, including asking their sources to provide more information when investigating possible government misconduct. Another argument is that WikiLeaks does not edit leaked material, but merely releases it to the public. Other outlets have engaged in similar conduct, though, without being considered illegitimate members of the journalistic profession. BuzzFeed News, for example, published the salacious dossier on Trump that former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele compiled.

Yet the government has not sought to prosecute BuzzFeed News, and most mainstream media outlets defended the publication’s right to publish the material—although some criticized the actual decision. Unfortunately, many of them have taken a very different stance regarding WikiLeaks. The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and other prominent mainstream publications rejected the argument that Assange was engaging in journalism. “The case of Mr. Assange,” the Times editorial board stated, “could help draw a sharp line between legitimate journalism and dangerous cybercrime.”

Such attitudes partly reflect resentment at an upstart player that has broken several prominent stories. Legacy publications are less than thrilled about blogs and other online publications that have sprouted during the 21st century. The TimesPost, and other mainstream publications likely also exhibit special resentment toward Assange because he expressed open animosity toward U.S. foreign policy, while those publications usually backed Washington’s often blundering overseas commitments and initiatives.

Whatever their motives, such journalists are being gullible tools in the government’s attempt to plug leaks and stifle criticism, especially in the national security arena. Suppressing embarrassing revelations is clearly the intent of national security officials. Not only have the number of prosecutions against whistleblowers increased over the past decade, but federal officials have resorted to highly questionable tactics against pesky journalists from even established outlets, as the Rosen and Risen episodes confirm. The initiative against Assange is only the boldest and most recent.

We cannot allow the government to usurp the right to decide who is or is not a “legitimate” journalist. Yet that is exactly Washington’s ploy in the Assange case. If federal prosecutors prevail with that argument and eventually convict him of espionage, the implicit protections that the Pentagon Papers ruling has afforded the press will be severely diluted. Only legacy publications friendly to the national security bureaucracy could then count on government restraint—and even that expectation could become quite fragile. Obstreperous online outlets and their writers would routinely find themselves under threat of criminal prosecution if they published a story based on classified information. At a minimum, the new system would create a chilling effect on (already insufficient) foreign policy dissent in the media; at worst, the government would achieve the de facto, functional equivalent of the Official Secrets Act that officials have long sought.

It is fashionable in the journalistic community to accuse Trump of “waging war on a free press.” Yet most of his actions have consisted of little more than rude comments, combined with occasional harassment, such as suspending the White House credentials of adversaries in the press. But that type of petty conduct does not constitute a real threat to press freedoms. Prosecuting Julian Assange for publishing leaked classified information is such a real threat, and defenders of the First Amendment must unite to repel it.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor to The American Conservative, is the author of 12 books and more than 800 articles on international affairs. His book, The Captive Press: Foreign Policy Crises and the First Amendment (1995), received an “outstanding academic book” designation in Choice, the publication of the College Division of the American Library Association.