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Julian Assange’s Biggest Fight in Notorious Prison Isn’t Over Extradition

NewsWeek, BY SHAUN WATERMAN ON 01/27/23 “…………………………………………….. Assange’s physical and mental health have declined severely during more than a decade in confinement — first sheltering from U.S. authorities in the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012-2019, where he lived in two rooms and never left the building, and for the last almost four years, since he was dragged from the embassy by British police in April 2019, in Belmarsh fighting extradition.

…………………… The proceedings in London continue to drag on. It has been more than a year since the High Court cleared the way for his extradition and his appeal was filed in August. But the court continues to weigh it, with no deadline to reach a decision. Even if he loses, there remains the possibility of an appeal to the British Supreme Court, or to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange could be in the U.S. within months, but he might remain in Britain for years.

His family says that with uncertainty about his extradition hanging over him like the sword of Damocles, he has lost weight and become depressed and anxious.

A confinement of uncertain duration

The worst part about the confinement is having no idea when or how he would be able to leave, Stella Assange said. “It is the uncertain duration that makes it so hard to bear … It’s a kind of torture.”…………..

The uncertainty has exacerbated Assange’s physical and mental deterioration, his wife said. In October 2021, during a High Court hearing about his extradition, Assange, attending via video link from Belmarsh, suffered a “transient ischaemic attack” — a mini-stroke. He has been diagnosed with nerve damage and memory problems and prescribed blood thinners.

“He might not survive this,” she said.

As a remand prisoner, not convicted or sentenced, and facing extradition, not prosecution, Assange is an anomaly in Britain’s most secure prison — designed to hold “Category A” inmates such as IRA militants, jihadis and murderers. One of a tiny handful of unconvicted prisoners, prison regulations require him to be treated differently, his wife said.

“He’s supposed to be able to get visits every day, he’s supposed to be able to work on his case,” she said, “But that’s only on paper. The way the prison system works, it is more efficient to treat everyone like a Cat A prisoner rather than to try to adapt the rules for individuals. In reality, that just doesn’t translate at all.” She said Assange is allowed one or two legal visits, and one or two social visits each week.

In between visits, time can stretch. And the isolation has been hard on him……………………………..

Phone calls, his half-brother Gabriel Shipton told Newsweek from Assange’s native Australia, are limited to 10 minutes. “You’ll just be getting into it and click, it’s over.”

Neither the governor’s office at Belmarsh, nor the press office for the British Prison Service, responded to emails requesting responses to detailed questions.

A source of inspiration and power

Assange gets thousands of letters and parcels from all over the world, Stella Assange said, but the authorities interdict banned items, such as books about national security, paintings and other forbidden objects.

His father, John Shipton, told Newsweek from Australia that Assange draws a lot of inspiration and power from the letters that people write to him. During their phone conversations, he will often read snippets or recall memorable letters, Shipton said. “He loves getting them … You can hear him light up a bit” when he talks about them………………………………………… more https://www.newsweek.com/2023/02/10/julian-assanges-biggest-fight-notorious-prison-isnt-over-extradition-1774197.html

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January 29, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, health, Legal | Leave a comment

The Belmarsh Tribunals Demand Justice for Julian Assange

Never before has a publisher been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act. The Assange prosecution poses a fundamental threat to the freedom of speech and a free press.

President Biden, currently embroiled in his own classified document scandal, knows this, and should immediately drop the charges against Julian Assange

JANUARY 26, 2023, By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan  https://www.democracynow.org/2023/1/26/the_belmarsh_tribunals_demand_justice_for

“The first casualty when war comes is truth,” U.S. Senator Hiram W. Johnson of California said in 1929, debating ratification of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a noble but ultimately failed attempt to ban war. Reflecting on World War I, which ended a decade earlier, he continued, “it begins what we were so familiar with only a brief period ago, this mode of propaganda whereby…people become war hungry in their patriotism and are lied into a desire to fight. We have seen it in the past; it will happen again in the future.”

Time and again, Hiram Johnson has been proven right. Our government’s impulse to control information and manipulate public opinion to support war is deeply ingrained. The past twenty years, dominated by the so-called War on Terror, are no exception. Sophisticated PR campaigns, a compliant mass media and the Pentagon’s pervasive propaganda machine all work together, as public intellectual Noam Chomsky and the late Prof. Ed Herman defined it in the title of their groundbreaking book, “Manufacturing Consent,” borrowing a phrase from Walter Lippman, considered the father of public relations.

One publisher consistently challenging the pro-war narrative pushed by the U.S. government, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, has been the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Wikileaks gained international attention in 2010 after publishing a trove of classified documents leaked from the U.S. military. Included were numerous accounts of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the killing of civilians, and shocking footage of a helicopter gunship in Baghdad slaughtering a dozen civilians, including a Reuters journalist and his driver, on the ground below. Wikileaks titled that video, “Collateral Murder.”

The New York Times and other newspapers partnered with Wikileaks to publish stories based on the leaks. This brought increased attention to the founder and editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange. In December, 2010, two months after release of the Collateral Murder video, then-Vice President Joe Biden, appearing on NBC, said Assange was “closer to being a hi-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers.” Biden was referring to the 1971 classified document release by Daniel Ellsberg, which revealed years of Pentagon lies about U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam.

With a secret grand jury empanelled in Virginia, Assange, then in London, feared being arrested and extradited to the United States. Ecuador granted Assange political asylum. Unable to make it to Latin America, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He lived inside the small, apartment-sized embassy for almost seven years. In April 2019, after a new Ecuadorian president revoked Assange’s asylum, British authorities arrested him and locked him up in London’s notorious Belmarsh Prison, often called “Britain’s Guantánamo.” He has been held there, in harsh conditions and in failing health, for almost four years, as the U.S. government seeks his extradition to face espionage and other charges. If extradited and convicted in the U.S., Assange faces 175 years in a maximum-security prison.

While the Conservative-led UK government seems poised to extradite Assange, a global movement has grown demanding his release. The Progressive International, a global pro-democracy umbrella group, has convened four assemblies since 2020 called The Belmarsh Tribunals. Named after the 1966 Russell-Sartre Tribunal on the Vietnam War, convened by philosophers Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sarte, The Belmarsh Tribunal has assembled some of the world’s most prominent, progressive activists, artists, politicians, dissidents, human rights attorneys and whistleblowers, all speaking in defense of Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

We are bearing witness to a travesty of justice,” Jeremy Corbyn, a British Member of Parliament and a former leader of the Labour Party, said at the tribunal. “To an abuse of human rights, to a denial of freedom of somebody who bravely put himself on the line that we all might know that the innocent died in Abu Ghraib, the innocent died in Afghanistan, the innocent are dying in the Mediterranean, and innocents die all over the world, where unwatched, unaccountable powers decide it’s expedient and convenient to kill people who get in the way of whatever grand scheme they’ve got. We say no. That’s why we are demanding justice for Julian Assange.”

Corbyn is joined in his call by The New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel–major newspapers that published articles based on the leaked documents. “Publishing is not a crime,” the newspapers declared.

Never before has a publisher been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act. The Assange prosecution poses a fundamental threat to the freedom of speech and a free press. President Biden, currently embroiled in his own classified document scandal, knows this, and should immediately drop the charges against Julian Assange.

January 29, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, media, USA | Leave a comment

Appeals Court Tosses Suit from Environmentalists, Midland Oil Company Contesting Nuclear Waste Storage Permit

Various suits against the NRC and the storage site linger in courts across the country.

The Texan BRAD JOHNSON 27 Jan 23

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed a challenge from anti-nuclear organization Beyond Nuclear, environmental groups the Sierra Club and Don’t Waste Michigan, and a Midland-based oil company against the approval of a spent nuclear fuel interim storage permit for a facility in West Texas.

In September 2021, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a permit application for the storage of spent nuclear fuel at an Andrews County facility. Interim Storage Partners is jointly owned by Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists — the latter of which has operated a storage facility for low-level radioactive waste at the site for more than a decade.

During the second special session of 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature abruptly passed legislation banning the storage of high-level radioactive waste, including spent nuclear fuel, in response to the NRC. That led to the state suing the NRC over the permit, a case still pending in court.

But the permit approval also sparked other lawsuits from a collection of activists, interest groups, and Fasken Oil & Ranch, the Midland company, consolidated into one proceeding.

On Wednesday, the court dismissed the group’s various claims and tossed the suit; Beyond Nuclear contended that the NRC acted “arbitrarily and capriciously,” the environmental groups alleged the agency “ignor[ed] deficiencies in the project’s environmental impact statement,” and Fasken asserted that it was wrongfully denied the ability to insert into the record its arguments against issuance of the permit by the NRC.

Kevin Kamps, a spokesman for Beyond Nuclear, told The Texan, “We are certainly disappointed and unfortunately the ruling focuses on a procedural technicality.” Kamps said that there is a similar permit and suit in development in New Mexico for a planned interim storage site there. He’s also optimistic that a ruling in the State of Texas’ suit will help their case here, potentially creating contradicting court decisions.

He added that “we’re not going anywhere” and hopes that courts will consider whether the NRC even has the authority from Congress to grant these permits — which he argues the agency doesn’t…………………. more https://thetexan.news/appeals-court-tosses-suit-from-environmentalists-midland-oil-company-contesting-nuclear-waste-storage-permit/

January 29, 2023 Posted by | Legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The Ohio nuclear scandal: Davis-Besse and Perry power plants in northern Ohio couldn’t cover costs, let alone make a profit.

An arm of FirstEnergy Corp. was “bleeding cash” as it explored options
for the two aging nuclear plants eventually rescued by Ohio House
legislation that federal prosecutors say former Speaker Larry Householder
championed in exchange for corporate bribes, a utility executive testified
Tuesday.

Steven Staub, the company’s vice president and treasurer, told
jurors on the second day of Householder’s corruption trial that power
prices had gotten so low in the years leading up to the bill’s passage in
2019 that the Davis-Besse and Perry power plants in northern Ohio couldn’t
cover costs, let alone make a profit.

 Independent 24th Jan 2023

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ap-ohio-charles-walker-cincinnati-fbi-b2268452.html

January 25, 2023 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Fukushima: court upholds acquittals of three Tepco executives over disaster

Three former executives from the company that operates the wrecked
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have had their not-guilty verdicts upheld
by a court in Japan, dealing a blow to campaigners demanding the firm take
legal responsibility for the disaster in March 2011.

The Tokyo high court
on Wednesday cleared Tsunehisa Katsumata, the former chairman of Tokyo
Electric Power (Tepco), along with former vice-presidents Ichiro Takekuro
and Sakae Muto, of professional negligence resulting in death. The court
said the defendants could not have predicted the massive tsunami that
crippled the power plant and triggered the world’s worst nuclear accident
since Chornobyl in 1986.


The three men were indicted in 2016 for allegedly failing to take measures
to defend the plant against tsunamis, resulting in the deaths of 44 people,
including elderly patients at a hospital, who had to be evacuated after the
disaster.

Guardian 18th Jan 2023

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/18/fukushima-court-upholds-acquittals-of-three-tepco-executives-over-disaster

January 18, 2023 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Pacific states entitled to claims against Japan for discharge of radioactive nuclear wastewater

As a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Japan has knowingly violated them all by making such a dangerous decision. Without exhausting all safe means of disposal, disclosing all information, or fully consulting with surrounding countries and international organizations, the Japanese government went ahead and unilaterally decided to dump its wastewater into the ocean in a flagrant attempt to pass on the disastrous consequences to other Pacific countries. Those countries have every right to defend their rights and interests through legal means.

Li Weichao  http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2023-01/06/content_10210311.htm

“We must remind Japan that if the radioactive nuclear wastewater is safe, just dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.” Vanuatu’s famous politician Motarilavoa Hilda Lini spoke for all people living in the Pacific region when making this statement.

The Japanese government announced in April 2021 that it will begin dumping the nuclear wastewater stored at Fukushima into the ocean from the spring of 2023. As that day is approaching, the international community is voicing waves of objection, and people living in the Pacific region have consistently expressed their strong protest. Analysts said if Japan did discharge the wastewater into the Pacific Ocean as planned, the Pacific countries would have the right to claim damages.

Japan decided to just dump the wastewater into the ocean in order to save trouble and money, at the price of transferring nuclear contamination to the whole world, which is extremely irresponsible and selfish. South Pacific countries have suffered enough from nuclear contamination. From 1946 to 1958, the US conducted 67 nuclear weapon tests on the Marshall Islands, the aftermaths of which are still haunting the local residents in the form of radioactive poisoning, contamination of marine species, and leak from radwaste landfill.

The Fukushima nuclear station had the highest-level nuclear accident that produced an enormous amount of nuclear wastewater – more than 1.3 million tons in storage right now. Even though Japanese politicians claimed that the wastewater is safe enough for drinking after being treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), that’s simply not true.

A Japanese NGO recently released an article saying that treated nuclear wastewater still contains 64 kinds of radioactive substances, including tritium, which, once released into the ocean, will contaminate the marine environment and spread through the food chain, till eventually taking a toll on human health and the ecological environment. A report released by Greenpeace, an international environmental protection organization, showed that the technology currently adopted by Japan cannot get rid of the Sr90 and C14 in the wastewater, which are even more damaging than tritium with their half-life of 50 years and 5,730 years respectively.

It’s foreseeable that dumping Fukushima’s more than 1.3 million tons of nuclear wastewater into the ocean is a murderous move for people living along the ocean and will put the marine ecology at stake with irreversible outcomes. A renowned environmental protection organization of Pacific island countries said that such an irresponsible move of transboundary pollution is no different from waging a nuclear war against the people and the islands in the Pacific region.

As a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Japan has knowingly violated them all by making such a dangerous decision. Without exhausting all safe means of disposal, disclosing all information, or fully consulting with surrounding countries and international organizations, the Japanese government went ahead and unilaterally decided to dump its wastewater into the ocean in a flagrant attempt to pass on the disastrous consequences to other Pacific countries. Those countries have every right to defend their rights and interests through legal means.

In fact, there are already precedents for claims of this kind. For instance, the International Arbitration Tribunal ruled in 1938 and 1941 that Canada’s Trail Smelter should compensate America’s State of Washington for the damages caused by the SO2 it emitted. The “Trail Smelter case” is generally considered the basis for holding countries committing transboundary pollution accountable. Countries along the Pacific Ocean can totally refer to it and pursue claims against Japan after scientifically measuring the damages imposed upon them.


The ocean is the common wealth and symbiotic home for humanity. Dumping nuclear wastewater into it is not Japan’s internal affair. Right now the IAEA is still conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the wastewater at Fukushima, and Japan’s pushing for the dumping plan reveals its intention to make it a fait accompli regardless of the concerns of other parties. Japan’s egregious atrocities in history have already caused horrendous miseries to the surrounding countries. Does it plan to add another entry to its infamous track record now?

Editor’s note: Originally published on news.cri.cn, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

January 11, 2023 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

John LaForge Set to Be First US Activist Jailed in Germany for Anti-Nuke Protests

More than a dozen German anti-nuclear activists and one Dutch campaigner have also been jailed in Germany for protesting U.S. hydrogen bombs housed at Büchel Air Base.

BRETT WILKINS, Common Dreams, Jan 03, 2023

As Russia’s invasion and NATO’s support of Ukraine have heightened nuclear tensions in Europe to their highest level since the Cold War, a Wisconsin peace activist is set to become the first American jailed in Germany for an anti-nuclear protest.

John LaForge, the 66-year-old co-director of Nukewatch, was convicted in December 2021 by the Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany on two charges of trespassing in connection with two 2018 protests against U.S. nuclear weapons at Büchel Air Base near Cochem. LaForge has been ordered to serve 50 days behind bars at JVA Billwerder prison in Hamburg and was also fined €600 ($633).

During one of the demonstrations, LaForge and other activists entered the base, and climbed a bunker likely housing B61 thermonuclear gravity bombs.

LaForge has refused to pay the fine and has appealed his convictions to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

In an opinion piece published last month by Common Dreams, LaForge noted that the $28 billion-per-bomb, variable-yield B61—whose military value U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair Gen. James Cartwright admitted is “practically nil”—”has 24 to 40 times the destructive power of the U.S. bomb that killed 170,000 people at Hiroshima in 1945.”

As Beyond Nuclear International points out, Büchel Air Base and six other facilities in Europe each house at least 20 B61s “under a controversial U.S./NATO program known as ‘nuclear sharing.’ The U.S. Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron maintains the U.S. bombs in readiness for German PA 200 Tornado jet fighter/bomber crews.”

Writing for Counterpunch last year, LaForge asserted that “NATO’s cold-blooded ‘strategic’ preparation for meaningless, genocidal atomic violence is cosmetically presented in defensive, sanctimonious, antiseptic language depicting hydrogen bombs as reasonable, measured, protective security blankets. This is a childishly naïve mindset that the wargamers promote but do not share.”

The Nuclear Register reports:……………….

More than a dozen German activists and Dutch anti-nuclear campaigner Frits ter Kuile have been jailed for Büchel protests.

At the peak of the anti-nuclear movement during the Cold War’s perilous closing decade, hundreds of thousands and even over a million demonstrators would turn out to protests in then-West Germany.

Nukewatch will host a “jail sendoff” for LaForge via Zoom on Thursday, January 5 at 7:00 pm Central European Time, which is 1:00 pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time.  https://www.commondreams.org/news/activists-buchel

January 5, 2023 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

Take Japan to court for nuclear water dumping

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily 2023-01-05

The Japanese government had announced in April 2020 that it plans to dump nuclear waste water from its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean from the spring of 2023.

As the date approaches, and given Japan’s record, it will not be surprising if Japan starts dumping the water any time soon without giving other countries advance notice.

While the action will save the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company money and trouble, it will also shift the trouble and cost onto other nations, the Pacific ones in particular. There is a precedent here. Years after the United States carried out nuclear tests on the Bikini Atoll, also in the Pacific, from 1946 to 1958, radiation levels there were considered too high to allow resettlement in 1998.

Fishermen from China, the Republic of Korea and other Southeast Asian countries, including from Japan, depend on the waters in the region to make a living. No wonder, Japanese fishermen were protesting the move to dump nuclear waste into the waters.

The US, which Japan always looks up to, has supported Japan’s plan despite studies showing that the region most polluted by the discharge will be the US’ west coast in two years…………

Senior Japanese officials, despite bowing politely at news conferences, have shown no sincerity in negotiating with their Pacific neighbors. When they announced the decision to dump the water into the ocean, they did not ask for understanding from any side except the US.

There is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and multiple nuclear safety conventions to which Japan is a signatory, but it has helped little. It is time for all sides involved to sue the Japanese government in international courts. Japan cannot do this evil deed and just walk away unpunished.  https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202301/05/WS63b613aba31057c47eba7bd1.html

January 4, 2023 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Revealing He Too Had Manning Leaks, Ellsberg Dares Justice Dept to Prosecute Him Like Assange

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nHA0zhYma8

“Let’s take this to the Supreme Court,” says the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, taking aim at what he argues is an unconstitutional use of the Espionage Act.

 https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/12/07/revealing-he-too-had-manning-leaks-ellsberg-dares-doj-prosecute-him-assange JESSICA CORBETT, December 7, 2022

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on Tuesday dared U.S. prosecutors to come after him like they have Julian Assange by revealing in a BBC News interview that the WikiLeaks publisher sent him a backup of leaked materials from former military analyst Chelsea Manning.

“Let me tell you a secret. I had possession of all the Chelsea Manning information before it came out in the press,” Ellsberg said to BBC‘s Stephen Sackur in the on-camera interview. “I’ve never said that publicly.”

Assange had sent him the materials—which include evidence of U.S. war crimes—in case “they caught him and they got everything,” the 91-year-old explained. “He could rely on me to find some way to get it out.”

Australian-born Assange is currently detained in London and fighting in British and European courts against his extradition to the United States, where he could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted under Espionage Act charges.

Inviting action by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Ellsberg said that “I am now as indictable as Julian Assange and as everyone who put that information out—the papers, everybody who handled it.”

“Yes, I had copies of it and I did not give them to an authorized person. So, if they want to indict me for that, I will be interested to argue that one in the courts—whether that law is constitutional,” he continued, referring to the Espionage Act.

Highlighting that the highest U.S. court has never held that it is constitutional to use the Espionage Act as if it were a British Official Secrets Act, Ellsberg said that “I’d be happy to take that one to the Supreme Court.”

The Espionage Act, “used against whistleblowers, is unconstitutional,” he asserted. “It’s a clear violation of the First Amendment.”

Ellsberg’s public confession comes after editors and publishers at five major media outlets that collaborated with WikiLeaks in 2010 for articles based on diplomatic cables from Manning released a letter late last month arguing that “it is time for the U.S. government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.”

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” the letter states. “Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”

The new Ellsberg interview also follows the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) confirming earlier this month that 51-year-old Assange has asked the tribunal to block his extradition to the United States.

Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton told Reuters last week that “I would imagine the U.S. wants to avoid” a case going before the ECHR for “trying to extradite a publisher from Europe for publishing U.S. war revelations when the U.S. is asking Europe to make all sort of sacrifices for the war in Ukraine.”

December 9, 2022 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Pursuing Assange in a US court could cause even more embarrassment than the WikiLeaks’ publications. 

It’s possible that pursuing Assange in a US court could cause even more embarrassment than the WikiLeaks’ publications. As the years have passed, we have learned that a Spanish security firm recorded his every move and those of his visitors and legal counsel in the Embassy of Ecuador. This was passed to the CIA, and was used in the US case for his extradition. The trial of Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers failed because his psychiatrist’s records were stolen by investigators, and this should set a precedent for Assange.

Enough is enough for Albanese on Assange: our allies may respect us if we say this more. https://johnmenadue.com/enough-is-enough-for-albanese-on-assange-our-allies-may-respect-us-if-we-say-this-more/ By Alison Broinowski, Dec 2, 2022

The Prime Minister’s surprise revelation that he has raised the case against Julian Assange with US officials and urged that charges of espionage and conspiracy be dropped opens up many questions.

Mr Albanese thanked Dr Monique Ryan for her question on Wednesday 31 November, giving what appeared to be a carefully prepared and timed answer. The Independent MP for Kooyong sought to know what political intervention the government would make in the case, observing that public interest journalism is essential in a democracy.

The news flashed around between Assange supporters in and outside Parliament, and reached the Guardian, the Australian, SBS, and Monthly online. Neither the ABC nor the Sydney Morning Herald carried the story, even the next day. SBS reported that Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed support for the campaign to free Assange.

But two days earlier, on Monday 29 November, the New York Times and four major European papers had printed an open letter to the US Attorney-General Merrick Garland, deploring the assault on media freedom which the pursuit of Assange represented.

The NYT, the Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Pais were the papers which in 2010 received and published some of the 251,000 classified US documents provided by Assange, many revealing American atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning gave them to Assange, who redacted names of people he considered could be harmed by publication. A senior Pentagon serving officer later confirmed that no-one had died as a result. Manning was imprisoned, and then pardoned by Obama. Assange spent seven years in diplomatic asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in London before British police removed him and he was imprisoned for breach of bail condition.

Assange has been in Belmarsh high security prison for three years, in poor physical and mental health. Court proceedings against him over extradition to face trial in the US have been farcical, biased, oppressive, and excessively prolonged.

In Opposition, Albanese said ‘Enough is enough’ for Assange, and he has at last done something about it in Government. What exactly, with whom, and why now, we don’t yet know. The PM’s hand may have been forced by the major dailies’ letter to Attorney-General Garland, which made Australian politicians and media appear to be doing nothing. Or he may have raised the Assange case in his recent meetings with Biden, at the G20 for example.

Another possibility is that he was talked into it by Assange’s barrister, Jennifer Robinson, who met with him in mid-November and spoke about the case at the National Press Club. When I asked if she could say if she and Albanese discussed Assange, she smiled and said ‘No’ – meaning she couldn’t, not that they didn’t.

Monique Ryan made the point that this is a political situation, requiring political action. By raising it with US officials, Albanese has moved away from the previous government’s position that Australia couldn’t interfere in British or American legal processes, and that ‘justice must take its course’. That wasn’t the approach Australia took to secure the freedom of Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, imprisoned for espionage in Iran, or of Dr Sean Turnell from jail in Myanmar. It isn’t Australia’s approach in China either, where a journalist and an academic remain in detention.

By taking up Assange’s case, Albanese is doing nothing more than the US always does when one of its citizens is detained anywhere, or than the UK and Canada quickly did when their nationals were imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. Australia allowed Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks to spend much longer in US custody before negotiating their release. We might gain more respect from our allies if we adopted their speedy approach to these cases, than we do by subservience to British and American justice.

It’s possible that pursuing Assange in a US court could cause even more embarrassment than the WikiLeaks’ publications. As the years have passed, we have learned that a Spanish security firm recorded his every move and those of his visitors and legal counsel in the Embassy of Ecuador. This was passed to the CIA, and was used in the US case for his extradition. The trial of Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers failed because his psychiatrist’s records were stolen by investigators, and this should set a precedent for Assange.

Even though Biden once called Assange a ‘hi-tech terrorist’, as President he is now an advocate of human rights and democratic freedoms. This might be a good time for him to put them into practice. Doing so would make both Biden and Albanese look better than their predecessors.

December 5, 2022 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

European General Court refuses Austria’s appeal against the Commission’s decision to support 2 nuclear reactors for Hungary

Judgment on state aid appeal by Austria regarding aid to build two nuclear
reactors at Hungarian power plant (General Court). On 30 November 2022, the
General Court handed down a judgment on an appeal by Austria against a
Commission decision which approved investment aid for two nuclear reactions
at a power plant (Paks II) owned by the Hungarian state.

Reuters 30th Nov 2022

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/Document/Iaeefdba8709311ed8636e1a02dc72ff6/View/FullText.html

December 2, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

‘Publishing is not a crime’: media groups urge US to drop Julian Assange charges

First outlets to publish WikiLeaks material, including the Guardian, come together to oppose prosecution

Guardian, Jim Waterson Media editor, 28 Nov 22

The US government must drop its prosecution of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange because it is undermining press freedom, according to the media organisations that first helped him publish leaked diplomatic cables.

Twelve years ago today, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El País collaborated to release excerpts from 250,000 documents obtained by Assange in the “Cablegate” leak. The material, leaked to WikiLeaks by the then American soldier Chelsea Manning, exposed the inner workings of US diplomacy around the world.

The editors and publishers of the media organisations that first published those revelations have come together to publicly oppose plans to charge Assange under a law designed to prosecute first world war spies.

“Publishing is not a crime,” they said, saying the prosecution is a direct attack on media freedom.

Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison in south London since his arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019. He had spent the previous seven years living inside the diplomatic premises to avoid arrest after failing to surrender to a UK court on matters relating to a separate case.

The then UK home secretary, Priti Patel, approved Assange’s extradition to the US in June but his lawyers are appealing against this decision.

Under Barack Obama’s leadership, the US government indicated it would not prosecute Assange for the leak in 2010 because of the precedent it would set. The media outlets are now appealing to the administration of President Joe Biden – who was vice-president at that time – to drop the charges.

The full letter sent by the media organisations

Publishing is not a crime: The US government should end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.……………………………………………………………….. more https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/nov/28/media-groups-urge-us-drop-julian-assange-charges?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

November 29, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, media | Leave a comment

Legal challenge to UK nuclear plan by groups Stop Sizewell C and Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), and others

 Campaigners against Sizewell C say they will not give up their fight to stop the nuclear power project and now have a date for a High Court case in London. The next stage of the legal challenge against the plans for the £25billion power station is set to take place with an oral hearing before a judge.

Campaign groups, including Stop Sizewell C and Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), have pledged to fight despite chancellor Jeremy Hunt announcing in his Autumn Budget that the Government would continue to provide £700m towards the cost of the project.

Chris Wilson, legal liaison officer with TASC, said the oral hearing would be held on December 14, during which the campaigners’ barrister will be able to present their arguments against the project before a High Court judge. If the judge deems there’s a case, the next stage will be a formal judicial review hearing
before the High Court, which could result in the development consent for the nuclear power station, granted by the Government in July, being overturned.

Even if the legal challenge is rejected at the oral hearing, the campaigners will still have the option of going to appeal. A first stage review of the legal appeal by the High Court initially recommended refusal, but the next stage, the oral hearing, will determine whether the challenge goes to a formal judicial review hearing.

 East Anglian Daily Times 27th Nov 2022

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/23151541.sizewell-campaigners-not-giving-up-despite-budget-decision/

November 28, 2022 Posted by | legal, UK | Leave a comment

Mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city fined for speaking Russian

The Kharkov city head has been accused of violating the law by addressing his fellow residents in a “non-state” language.

 https://www.rt.com/russia/567137-ukraine-mayor-fined-russian-language/ 24 Nov 22

Kiev has slapped the mayor of Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkov, with a fine for using what the authorities called a “non-state” language in an official TV address. Mayor Igor Terekhov is known for addressing his fellow residents in Russian.

Terekhov will have to pay a fine of 3,400 hryvnas ($92) for violating Ukrainian law, Taras Kremin, the Ukrainian government’s commissioner for the protection of the state language, said in a statement on Thursday.

The mayor had “used non-state language in his addresses to the residents of the city of Kharkov” during a news telethon, the statement read, calling this an “administrative offense.” The language commissioner’s office also issued an administrative warning to the mayor’s office, telling it to only use Ukrainian on the mayor’s social media pages.

Terekhov has until December 4 to appeal the commissioner’s decision, the statement read. The Ukrainian authorities did not specify what language the mayor had used during the telethon, but the Ukrainian media reported that he was known for regularly addressing his fellow residents in Russian.

According to the language commissioner’s office, Terekhov and some Kharkov city council members have already been found in violation of the state language law. It is unclear if they were sanctioned back then as well.

The Ukrainian state language law was signed by then-President Pyotr Poroshenko back in 2019, five days before his presidential mandate expired. The legislation requires Ukrainian public officials to use only the Ukrainian language when discharging their duties.

Ukrainians are also required to use the Ukrainian language in the fields of public services, medical care, education and science, as well as in the media, although certain exceptions are allowed. A person found in violation of this law might face a fine of up to 8,500 hryvnas ($230), which can be further doubled for a repeated offense.

In mid-June, the language commissioner was granted the right to impose fines on those found in violation of the law. In October, an assistant professor at the Ukrainian National Aviation University was slapped with a fine of 3,400 hryvnas ($92) for teaching through a “non-state language.”

November 25, 2022 Posted by | legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Nuclear Industry Liability under the Paris Convention

 The Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear
Energy and the Brussels Convention supplementary to the Paris Convention
established a special legal regime in relation to the compensation payable
in the event of an accident involving a civil nuclear power installation or
the transportation of nuclear substances to and from that installation.


Unlike general tort law, which is based on fault or negligence, under the
convention, the plant operator or party involved in the transportation is
exclusively liable for damages in the event of an accident and is always
deemed to be liable, regardless of whether fault can be established.

These two conventions were amended by agreement between the contracting powers,
including the United Kingdom, on 17 December 2021. After 1 January 2022,
nuclear plant operators became liable to pay compensation of up to €700
million in the event of an accident.

This level of liability will be increased by €100 million in each of the next five years leading to an
ultimate maximum liability of €1.2 billion towards claims involving
‘personal injury or loss of life, economic loss, the cost of preventive
measures and of measures of reinstatement of impaired environment’.

 NFLA 21st Nov 2022

November 22, 2022 Posted by | legal, UK | Leave a comment