Judge John G. Koeltl of the U.S. District Court for the U.S. District of New York has dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) against the Trump campaign, President Trump and other associates and high-level members of his campaign, Wikileaks, the Russian government, and others associated with Russian election interference efforts. The ruling is available here and here (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!
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.
The appeal hearing for the full access to the documents related to Julian Assange’s case has been held today at the Upper Tribunal, decision is expected on Friday
The Court officers said they were not expecting such a public for the FOIA litigation hearing where the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi appealed in order to obtain the full access to Julian Assange’s case documents, denied in the previous hearing.
The jam packed Court lasted from 10:30 am to around 4pm with a 45 min break and it was an experience worth remembering as it seeks to make history in the FOIA litigation in this country. Will the court’s decision become a catalyst in unlocking the Julian Assange’s case as we know it today? Judge Mitchell promised to reach his decision by Friday this week.
Here is a short video from outside the court.
A letter has been sent by a cross-group of parlamentarians to the European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans to urge him uphold Assange’s human rights under international and EU laws
Signs of life arrived from the European institutions, regarding Assange’s case. A letter signed by thirty-seven Members of the European Parliament has been sent the Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, in order to express serious concern for the Wikileaks publisher after the British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has validated the extradition request presented by the US.
“We deplore this decision”, the MEPs wrote, defining Julian Assange as “an international symbol of the struggle for political transparency” and pointing out that his detention is “only an attack to the right of information, which is a fundamental pillar of democracy.”
It is actually a key moment for the members of the House to highlight this, since just last April a new directive on whistleblowers was approved by the EU. As explained at the time by the spokesperson from the European Commission Christian Wigand, the new law is a broad agreement setting minimum standards in order to “ensure whistleblowers are better protected and protect them from retaliation.”
Actually, the 37 signatories mentioned the fact that the US extradition of Julian Assange would contravene both the European and the International Law. They not only reminded the Vice President that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations have requested to respect the Wikileaks founder’s right to mantain asylum status, but also pointed out that Ecuador, by allowing British autorities to arrest him, has exposed Assange to a real risk of human rights violations.
Embracing the qualified point of view of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, MEPS showed grave preoccupation that the extradition would put Assange at risk of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, they stated that “extradition is particularly problematic when the State of destination applies death penalty”. This is one of the cases where the right of non-refoulement is absolute. In other words, when in the extraditing Country capital punishment applies, the right not to be returned to conditions in which human rights are not being maintained to an acceptably minimal level must be always ensured, regardless of considerations of national security, political expediency and similars.
The parlimentarians who signed the letter also highlighted that Assange’s case falls unquestionably within those ones that are protected by the new European law on whistleblowers and recalled the fact that Wikileaks publisher in the past has been awarded by the European Parliament with the award for Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders of the Right of Information.
They closed the letters asking the Vice President to take action, and in particular to ensure that Assange gets the protection foreseen by the European Directive on whistleblowers itself, since the disclosure of State secrets operated by him was indeed carried out for the public interest.
- Sweden reopens rape investigation
- Sex, Lies and Julian Assange (documentary)
- Exclusive New Docs Throw Doubt on Julian Assange Rape Charges in Stockholm
Nikos Vakolidis writes:
I think the Swedish will reopen the rape case so they could have and then extradite Assange. It will be less traumatic for the British government to extradite him to Sweden for rape accusations than give him to the USA. And it will be easier for Sweden and with less political cost to extradite him to the USA than it would be for Britain or Australia. I think their laws are perfect for that. It will be very diplomatic to say ” he didn’t rape them but we have to extradite him for conspiracy in computer intrusion”. It seems in the end that the EU hypocritically decided for the law of protection of the whistle-blowers now. They wanted to seem that they care for Assange, they avoid the political cost of not interfering to protect JA by announcing that law but they give 2 years to member states for changing their laws so Sweden can extradite JA before changing its legislations. Brilliant We must request that the legislation of every country should change immediately, I think.