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Stella Assange at Sydney rally: “It’s not just Julian who has lost his freedom, but all of us”

The whistleblower noted the comments of Australian Labor Party Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has made extremely tepid statements expressing “concern” over Assange’s plight. Albanese has said that “enough is enough” in relation to the Assange case. He claims to have made private representations to the US and British governments on behalf of Assange, but has stopped far short of any public demand for the Australian journalist’s freedom.

Albanese has recently hinted at the prospect of a plea deal in the Assange case. Kenny forcefully rejected this course. “Is there a Hicks solution? Why should there be? He has not committed any crime. He should not be forced to plead to anything. We need our prime minister to stand up, not just say ‘enough is enough.’”

Oscar Grenfell@Oscar_Grenfell, 24 May 2023

Some 800 people attended a protest in Sydney yesterday morning demanding the immediate freedom of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. People came from across New South Wales and from around the country to attend the rally, which was one of the largest demanding Assange’s freedom yet, despite being held on a weekday.

Speaking at the demonstration, Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, declared that the protesters were “at the forefront of a global movement for justice. A global movement that converges on one man, but the meaning of which goes far beyond Julian’s freedom. It’s not just Julian who has lost his freedom, but all of us. Because in order to keep Julian in prison, they have had to corrupt their own rules and their own principles.”

Stella, visiting Australia for the first time, noted that her tour had initially been planned to coincide with a scheduled visit of US President Joe Biden. He had been set down to attend a summit of the warmongering and anti-China Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue this week in Sydney.

Biden cancelled, however Stella proceeded with the visit. She explained the crucial importance of the fight within Australia to securing her husband’s freedom. Assange is detained in Britain and faces extradition to the US, where he would be tried on Espionage Act charges carrying 175 years imprisonment for exposing American war crimes.

Assange is an Australian citizen. Stella explained: “Julian’s case is a case of global importance. But you guys are at the centre of it because Julian is an Australian, he’s a country boy, and he’s from this country. That means that the key to securing Julian’s release lies with you.”

Assange’s supporters in Australia were part of a “global movement” involving millions of people all over the world, she said. There is a growing recognition, internationally, that “he’s in prison because he exposed the crimes of others. No decent human being will ever tolerate that. The only people whose interest remains Julian’s imprisonment, are the ones who are guilty and implicated in those crimes.”

Within Australia, there had been a “sea change.” Only a few years ago, there had been “radio silence” on Assange’s case. But increasingly it was being discussed in the media, as well as by official politicians. This, Stella stressed, was a consequence of the demands made by ordinary people and a protracted grassroots campaign.

This fight had to be deepened, she said. “You guys need to shout louder, fight harder, put the pressure on each of your representatives, make Julian’s situation visible everywhere, every day, on your cars, on your shirts. Every day you tell all your friends, you talk about it with your family… Make sure Julian remains top priority until he steps out of that prison. I think we’re near, we can achieve this together.”

Stella noted that it was her first time in Australia, but it would not be her last. “I will come back here, home with Julian, and our kids who are Australian citizens will come home too.”

John Shipton, Assange’s father, placed the persecution of Assange within a broader context. Brown University, in the United States, had recently published a report showing that there had been 4.5 million deaths in the Middle East following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. An earlier document, from the same institution, estimated that the predatory US-led wars in the region had displaced 38 million people.

Speaking of those US interventions Shipton condemned a “hegemon standing in a river of blood.” He emphasised the striving of ordinary people for “justice” and “humanity,” which would ultimately be victorious. Assange’s case and the fight for his freedom were integral to this broader struggle.

Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, said: “If anything is to be taken from Julian’s persecution, it is that it has mobilised people all around the world… The fight gives meaning to Julian’s work. It has brought us all together here to fight for something that is so important to our Western democracies and that’s a free press. How can we make decisions about what our governments do in our name if we don’t know? It’s not possible.”

David McBride addressed the protest. A former Australian army lawyer, he faces life behind bars for blowing the whistle on Australian war crimes in Afghanistan. They included verified murders of civilians and prisoners and other violations of international law. For these offenses, McBride, the man who exposed them, is the first to face court proceedings.

“There’s a good chance that even though I reported murders and cover-ups, that I’m going to go to jail for the rest of my life… It’s not something I hang my head about. It’s something I’m proud of… We need to stand up, the future of the planet depends on it.”

The whistleblower noted the comments of Australian Labor Party Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has made extremely tepid statements expressing “concern” over Assange’s plight. Albanese has said that “enough is enough” in relation to the Assange case. He claims to have made private representations to the US and British governments on behalf of Assange, but has stopped far short of any public demand for the Australian journalist’s freedom.

McBride responded: “I say this to Anthony Albanese. Enough of you saying ‘enough is enough.’ It means nothing. Imagine if I had witnessed war crimes in Afghanistan, witnessed murder and cover-up… and all I said to them is ‘enough is enough.’ It’s not enough.” McBride called for Albanese to “step up to the plate” and secure Assange’s unconditional freedom.

Stephen Kenny, Assange’s Australian lawyer, issued the same demand. Kenny represented Australian citizen David Hicks, who was rendered to the American military prison in Guantánamo Bay as part of the “war on terror.” Hicks was eventually freed and returned to Australia, as the result of a powerful campaign led by his father Terry Hicks. David Hicks had been compelled to sign a plea deal, despite having committed no crime.

Kenny noted the parallels. “Like David Hicks, Julian Assange has not committed any crime at all. So why is he in jail?” The editors of other major publications, who were involved in WikiLeaks’ 2010 and 2011 releases, for which Assange is being prosecuted, remain at liberty. This, Kenny explained, made clear that the case against Assange was political and required a political solution.

He outlined some of the abuses of the British judiciary. This included placing Assange in a glass box at the back of his courtroom during the first extradition proceedings, denying him the right to participate in his own case. Assange’s lawyers, moreover, had filed their latest appeal in November. The British judges merely need to determine whether he has an arguable case, a process which Kenny said should take several days or at most a week. But six months on and this task has not been completed.

Albanese has recently hinted at the prospect of a plea deal in the Assange case. Kenny forcefully rejected this course. “Is there a Hicks solution? Why should there be? He has not committed any crime. He should not be forced to plead to anything. We need our prime minister to stand up, not just say ‘enough is enough.’”

The rally raised several political issues. Many of the speakers, importantly, emphasised the decisive role of mobilising ordinary people in the fight to free Assange.

Inevitably, the statements of Albanese and other Labor representatives have generated some hope within the Assange camp. But there is no indication, whatsoever, that Albanese is fighting for Assange’s freedom, behind closed doors or anywhere else. This week he refused to even meet with Stella Assange. Albanese was part of the Gillard Labor government, which in 2010 and 2011, played a central role in the initial stages of the persecution of Assange……..


May 27, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Threats to journalism posed by UK National Security Bill brushed aside by Parliament

Mohamed Elmaazi, Truth Defence, 14 May 23

While the imprisonment of Julian Assange at London’s Belmarsh high-security prison — for the fourth consecutive World Press Freedom Day — was being raised by media outlets, civil liberty groups and press freedom organisations the world over, 3 May 2023 saw the UK House of Commons debate the latest iteration of the increasingly draconian National Security Bill 2023 (National Security Bill).

The National Security Bill creates a raft of new offences, including two which mandate either a fine or life imprisonment and multiple other offences prescribing a maximum of either 10 or 14 years imprisonment.

In March, a number of Peers in the House of Lords raised strongly worded concerns and proposed some level of restrictions but were ultimately unsuccessful. The House of Commons has not taken up these concerns either.

Number 10 and the Home Office, along with a majority of parliamentarians in both houses, are justifying this bill as necessary to protect national security and defend the country from “espionage”, “sabotage” and “foreign interference.”

A  detailed analysis of the earlier version of the National Security Bill from June 2022, which I drafted for Consortium News and which remains valid, should be consulted by readers seeking more information.

The National Security Bill 2023 is over 200 pages long and the most recent version as amended on 7 March 2023 can be found here with proposed Lords amendments as of 15 March found here and the subsequent amendments, disagreements and reasons made on 3 May 2023 found here.

For simplicity’s sake, “Clauses” in the Bill are referred to here as “Sections”, because that is what they become known as once a bill becomes law.

Despite government assurances, the National Security Bill would, if enacted, radically curb whistleblowing, public interest and adversarial journalism, and stifle direct action activism, all to levels unseen in the UK for multiple generations, if not in its entire history.

Life in Prison for Receiving Restricted Material…………………………………………………………..

“A Powerful Chilling Effect” on Investigative Journalism

These offences “would cover a wide range of reporting, whether about sexual assaults on board a nuclear submarine, Chinese influence in the UK, bullying by intelligence officers, an innocent photograph of a nuclear power station or huge investigations such as the Panama Papers,” Lord Black of Brentwood said during the Lords debate on 1 March 2023.

“The problem is that, when journalists start investigating a story, they cannot possibly know where it will lead and whether their reports might,” Lord Black said.

This creates a “powerful chilling effect on investigative reporting by responsible journalists,” he added. …………………………………………………….

Passing off “National Interest” for “National Security”

“[W]ithout a narrower definition of the interests of the UK, the Bill contains a worrying restriction on investigative journalism and campaigning where conduct that could be taken to breach Clauses 1 to 5 might be contrary to government policy,” Lord Marks noted………………………………………………………………….

A Convoluted and Draconian Law With No Real Protections

The House of Commons, on 3 May 2023, did not revive the matter of the need for protection for journalists and whistleblowers within this bill nor did they seek to restrict the application of the offences against journalists and activists………………………………..

It is noteworthy that the public can also be excluded — on national security grounds — from legal proceedings resulting from charges in this bill.

The National Security Bill appears fairly close to being finalised within the next month or two, and without any major organised opposition from the public and press, seems likely to pass without any journalistic or public interest protections whatsoever.

Truth Defence will publish at least two more posts on the National Security Bill. One will outline some of the new powers designed to authorise government officials to demand information, including journalistic materials from individuals. A further post will address the incredibly nebulous defined offences of “Foreign Interference”.

We will continue to update its subscribers in relation to this bill and other laws and policies which seek to curb and control the right to dissent, seek out information and hold the powerful to account.

May 16, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Chris Hedges: Julian Assange – A Fight We Must Not Lose


Authored by Chris Hedges via, (emphasis ours)

This is a talk Chris Hedges gave in New York City at rally calling for the immediate release of Julian Assange on World Press Freedom Day.

The detention and persecution of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British, Swedish and U.S. governments are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite, will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The legal lynching of Julian, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy — diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory — to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Donald Trump criminalize journalism and demand the extradition of Julian, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States? Under what law did the CIA violate attorney-client privilege, surveil and record all of Julian’s conversations both digital and verbal with his lawyers and plot to kidnap him from the Embassy and assassinate him?

The corporate state eviscerates enshrined rights by judicial fiat. This is how we have the right to privacy, with no privacy. This is how we have “free” elections funded by corporate money, covered by a compliant corporate media and under iron corporate control. This is how we have a legislative process in which corporate lobbyists write the legislation and corporate-indentured politicians vote it into law. This is how we have the right to due process with no due process. . This is how we have a government — whose fundamental responsibility is to protect citizens — that orders and carries out the assassination of its own citizens, such as the Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. This is how we have a press which is legally permitted to publish classified information and our generation’s most important publisher sitting in solitary confinement in a high security prison awaiting extradition to the United States.

The psychological torture of Julian — documented by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer — mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith in George Orwell’s novel “1984.” The Gestapo broke bones. The East German Stasi broke souls. We, too, have refined the cruder forms of torture to destroy souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. This is what they are doing to Julian, steadily degrading his physical and psychological health. It is a slow-motion execution. This is by design. Julian has spent much of his time in isolation, is often heavily sedated and has been denied medical treatment for a variety of physical ailments. He is routinely denied access to his lawyers. He has lost a lot of weight, suffered a minor stroke, spent time in the prison hospital wing — which prisoners call the hell wing — because he is suicidal, been placed in prolonged solitary confinement, observed banging his head against the wall and hallucinating. Our version of Orwell’s dreaded Room 101.

The psychological torture of Julian — documented by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer — mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith in George Orwell’s novel “1984.” The Gestapo broke bones. The East German Stasi broke souls. We, too, have refined the cruder forms of torture to destroy souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. This is what they are doing to Julian, steadily degrading his physical and psychological health. It is a slow-motion execution. This is by design. Julian has spent much of his time in isolation, is often heavily sedated and has been denied medical treatment for a variety of physical ailments. He is routinely denied access to his lawyers. He has lost a lot of weight, suffered a minor stroke, spent time in the prison hospital wing — which prisoners call the hell wing — because he is suicidal, been placed in prolonged solitary confinement, observed banging his head against the wall and hallucinating. Our version of Orwell’s dreaded Room 101.

All these crimes, especially after the attacks of 9/11, have returned with a vengeance. The CIA has its own armed units and drone program, death squads and a vast archipelago of global black sites where kidnapped victims are tortured and disappeared. 

The U.S. allocates a secret black budget of about $50 billion a year to hide multiple types of clandestine projects carried out by the National Security Agency, the CIA and other intelligence agencies, usually beyond the scrutiny of Congress. The CIA has a well-oiled apparatus, which is why, since it had already set up a system of 24-hour video surveillance of Julian in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, it quite naturally discussed kidnapping and assassinating Julian. That is its business. Sen. Frank Church — after examining the heavily redacted CIA documents released to his committee — defined the CIA’s “covert activity” as “a semantic disguise for murder, coercion, blackmail, bribery, the spreading of lies and consorting with known torturers and international terrorists.”

Fear the puppet masters, not the puppets. They are the enemy within. 

This is a fight for Julian, who I know and admire. It is a fight for his family, who are working tirelessly for his release. It is a fight for the rule of law. It is a fight for the freedom of the press. It is a fight to save what is left of our diminishing democracy. And it is a fight we must not lose.

May 14, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | 1 Comment



To His Majesty King Charles III,

On the coronation of my liege, I thought it only fitting to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to commemorate this momentous occasion by visiting your very own kingdom within a kingdom: His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh.

You will no doubt recall the wise words of a renowned playwright: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

Ah, but what would that bard know of mercy faced with the reckoning at the dawn of your historic reign? After all, one can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners, and your kingdom has surely excelled in that regard.

Your Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is located at the prestigious address of One Western Way, London, just a short foxhunt from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. How delightful it must be to have such an esteemed establishment bear your name.

“One can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners”

It is here that 687 of your loyal subjects are held, supporting the United Kingdom’s record as the nation with the largest prison population in Western Europe. As your noble government has recently declared, your kingdom is currently undergoing “the biggest expansion of prison places in over a century”, with its ambitious projections showing an increase of the prison population from 82,000 to 106,000 within the next four years. Quite the legacy, indeed.

As a political prisoner, held at Your Majesty’s pleasure on behalf of an embarrassed foreign sovereign, I am honoured to reside within the walls of this world class institution. Truly, your kingdom knows no bounds.

During your visit, you will have the opportunity to feast upon the culinary delights prepared for your loyal subjects on a generous budget of two pounds per day. Savour the blended tuna heads and the ubiquitous reconstituted forms that are purportedly made from chicken. And worry not, for unlike lesser institutions such as Alcatraz or San Quentin, there is no communal dining in a mess hall. At Belmarsh, prisoners dine alone in their cells, ensuring the utmost intimacy with their meal.

Beyond the gustatory pleasures, I can assure you that Belmarsh provides ample educational opportunities for your subjects. As Proverbs 22:6 has it: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Observe the shuffling queues at the medicine hatch, where inmates gather their prescriptions, not for daily use, but for the horizon-expanding experience of a “big day out”—all at once.

You will also have the opportunity to pay your respects to my late friend Manoel Santos, a gay man facing deportation to Bolsonaro’s Brazil, who took his own life just eight yards from my cell using a crude rope fashioned from his bedsheets. His exquisite tenor voice now silenced forever.

Venture further into the depths of Belmarsh and you will find the most isolated place within its walls: Healthcare, or “Hellcare” as its inhabitants lovingly call it. Here, you will marvel at sensible rules designed for everyone’s safety, such as the prohibition of chess, whilst permitting the far less dangerous game of checkers.

Deep within Hellcare lies the most gloriously uplifting place in all of Belmarsh, nay, the whole of the United Kingdom: the sublimely named Belmarsh End of Life Suite. Listen closely, and you may hear the prisoners’ cries of “Brother, I’m going to die in here”, a testament to the quality of both life and death within your prison.

But fear not, for there is beauty to be found within these walls. Feast your eyes upon the picturesque crows nesting in the razor wire and the hundreds of hungry rats that call Belmarsh home. And if you come in the spring, you may even catch a glimpse of the ducklings laid by wayward mallards within the prison grounds. But don’t delay, for the ravenous rats ensure their lives are fleeting.

I implore you, King Charles, to visit His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, for it is an honour befitting a king. As you embark upon your reign, may you always remember the words of the King James Bible: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). And may mercy be the guiding light of your kingdom, both within and without the walls of Belmarsh.

Your most devoted subject,

Julian Assange A9379AY

May 7, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Free Julian Assange, member of our organisations – European Federation of Journalists Our Italian FNSI affiliates were visited today in Rome by Julian Assange‘s wife, Stella Morris. The Italian journalists’ union, at the initiative of its Campania branch, presented Julian Assange with an FNSI membership card. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) passed on the initiative to its affiliates in Europe: 18 of them decided to follow the Italian example and grant Julian Assange membership (or honorary membership) of their organisations. The EFJ and its affiliates once again call on the UK authorities to release Julian Assange.

Here is the joint appeal delivered to Stella Morris in Rome this morning:

We, the undersigned European unions and associations of journalists, join the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in calling on the US government to drop all charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to his wife and children.

We are gravely concerned about the impact of Assange’s continued detention on media freedom and the rights of all journalists globally. We urge European governments to actively work to secure Julian Assange’s release.

To show our solidarity, we declare Julian Assange a full member, an honorary member or a free member of our organisations.


  • Maja Sever, EFJ President and TUCJ President, Croatia
  • Fabrizio Cappella, SUGC-FNSI Secretary, Italy
  • Satik Seyranyan, UJA President, Armenia
  • Borka Rudić, BHJA General Secretary, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Hrvoje Zovko, HND President, Croatia
  • Emmanuel Poupard, SNJ First General Secretary, France
  • Emmanuel Vire, General secretary SNJ-CGT, France
  • Tina Groll, dju in ver.di President, Germany
  • Maria Antoniadou, JUADN President, Greece
  • Laszlo M. Lengyel, HPU Executive President, Hungary
  • Pavle Belovski, SSNM President, North Macedonia
  • Luís Filipe Simões, SJ President, Portugal
  • Darko Šper, GS Kum President, Serbia
  • Dragana Čabarkapa, Sinos President, Serbia
  • Zeljko Bodrozic, IJAS President, Serbia
  • Petra Lesjak Tušek, DNS President, Slovenia
  • Miguel Angel Noceda, FAPE President, Spain
  • Urs Thalmann, impressum Director, Switzerland
  • Tim Dawson, NUJ, United Kingdom

April 30, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, EUROPE, media | Leave a comment

UN sounds alarm over Ukraine church crackdown

Kiev’s actions targeting the largest religious denomination in the country “could be discriminatory” 27 Mar 23,

The Ukrainian state may be discriminating against the nation’s largest religious denomination, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), the UN’s human rights watchdog said in a report published on Friday. The government of President Vladimir Zelensky is currently in the process of kicking UOC monks out of their homes.

The apparent mistreatment of the church, which has historic links to the Russian Orthodox Church, was highlighted in a report released by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It cited several draft laws submitted to the Ukrainian parliament as well as the actions of the SBU, Ukraine’s domestic security agency, against the clergy.

The UN body is “concerned that the State’s activities targeting the UOC could be discriminatory,” it said. The report cited “vague legal terminology and the absence of sufficient justification” in proposed legislation, explaining why it drew the OHCHR’s negative attention.

The report covered the period between August 2022 and January 2023, but more recent acts by the government have deepened the saga of the UOC. Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Culture Ministry ordered monks belonging to the jurisdiction to vacate their homes at the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, an iconic monastery in the Ukrainian capital.

Zelensky described the move as strengthening Ukraine’s “spiritual independence” and implied that the UOC was a tool that Russia used “to manipulate the spirituality of our people, to destroy our holy sites [and] to steal valuables from them.”

The president ignored pleas by UOC clergy to meet them and try to diffuse the situation.

Kiev previously expelled the UOC from two of the cathedrals above the monastery. Within days of that decision, the government-backed Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) was allowed to hold services on the premises.

The OCU was created with the support of then-president Poroshenko in what many political observers perceived as an attempt to bolster his re-election chances. Culture Minister Aleksandr Tkachenko said the expelled monks, who have until this Wednesday to move out, could stay in their homes by leaving the UOC and joining the OCU.

March 29, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

UN Rights Official Concerned Over Summary Executions Of POWs By Both Russia, Ukraine

March 25, 2023, By RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service

The United Nations has expressed deep concern over what it says were summary executions of prisoners of war (POWs) by both Russian and Ukrainian forces on the battlefield.

The head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, said at a press conference in Kyiv on March 24 that her organization had recently recorded killings by both sides.

“We are deeply concerned about…summary execution of up to 25 Russian prisoners of war and persons [out of action because of injury] by the Ukrainian armed forces, which we have documented,” Bogner said.

This was often perpetrated immediately upon capture on the battlefield,” she said.

“While we are aware of ongoing investigations by Ukraine authorities into five cases involving 22 victims, we are not aware of any prosecution of the perpetrators,” she added.

Almost half of the 229 Russian prisoners of war interviewed by members of the mission claimed torture or ill-treatment, according to Bogner.

Bogner also expressed deep concern over the alleged executions of 15 Ukrainian prisoners by Russian armed forces after their capture. She said the Wagner mercenary group was responsible for 11 of those killings.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry reacted to the report by thanking the UN mission for documenting violations of international law by Russia in the course of its aggression against Ukraine.

“At the same time, we consider it unacceptable to place responsibility on the victim of aggression. According to the UN Charter, Ukraine has the right to self-defense,” the ministry said………………….

March 26, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, Russia, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ukraine purges libraries of Russian-language books – official

Christina note: Does this remind you of anything?

Germany in 1933? 8 Feb 23, More than 10 million volumes have been pulled from the shelves, a senior Rada MP has said.

Ukraine has removed millions of copies of Russian-language books from its public libraries, Yevgeniya Kravchuk, a senior member of the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, said on Monday.

She stated that the Culture Ministry had provided recommendations on what titles should be taken off the shelves.

This move was provoked by an initiative declared by the Ukrainian government to “overcome the consequences of Russification,” which in practice means purging schools of certain literature, renaming streets, and dismantling monuments to Russian historical figures……………….

Ukraine has a sizable Russian-speaking minority, and many Ukrainian speakers are fluent in Russian.

In June, the Ukrainian Education Ministry proposed removing more than 40 books by Russian and Soviet authors from the curriculum. The list included the works of such renowned classical writers as Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Alexander Pushkin, as well as Boris Pasternak and Mikhail Sholokhov, both of whom won the Nobel Prize for literature. Ukrainian Culture Minister Aleksander Tkachenko urged the world in December to “boycott” Russian culture, arguing that Moscow has been using it for propaganda…………………..

February 9, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

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

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

“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

Julian Assange and the US government’s war on whistleblowers

Chris Hedges, The Real News Network, Fri, 20 Jan 2023 

Thirteen years ago, WikiLeaks published extensive leaked US government documents detailing a range of criminal and unethical acts, from the slaughter of civilians in the “War on Terror” to acts of espionage against foreign heads of state. Since then, the persecution of Julian Assange has not ceased. This year, Assange is expected to stand trial in the US for violations of the Espionage Act. Journalist Kevin Gosztola joins The Chris Hedges Report to review the cases of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, and discuss Washington’s wider war against whistleblowers and the truth itself.

Kevin Gosztola is the managing editor of Shadowproof, where he writes The Dissenter. He is the author of Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange.


Chris Hedges:  The long persecution of Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, is set to culminate in its final act: a trial in the United States, probably this year. Kevin Gosztola has spent the last decade reporting on Assange, WikiLeaks, and the wider war on whistleblowers. His new book, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case against Julian Assange, methodically lays out the complex issues surrounding the case, the gross distortions to the legal system used to facilitate the extradition of Julian, now in a high security prison in London, the abuses of power by the FBI and the CIA, including spying on Julian’s meetings when he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London with his family, doctors, and attorneys, and the dire consequences, should Julian be convicted, for the press.

Joining me to discuss his new book is Kevin Gosztola. So Kevin, you do a very… I think your book and Nils Melzer are the two books I would recommend for people who don’t understand the case. I use this show in this interview to really lay out for people who are unfamiliar with the long persecution of Julian and the legal anomalies that have been used against him. You know, what those are. So let’s just start with what are the charges, what are the allegations, which is where you begin your book.

Kevin Gosztola:  Yeah. And the intention was to look ahead and say, Julian Assange is likely to be brought to the US by the end of 2023, maybe 2024. We need something out there for the general public so they can wrap their head around the unprecedented nature of what’s unfolding. And so the charges against Julian Assange, he was first indicted back in April of 2019. Or sorry, that was when it was unveiled. He was charged first with a computer crime offense. They alleged, essentially, a password cracking conspiracy. And that was of intrusion, of essentially agreeing to help Chelsea Manning anonymously access military computers.

And then the other charges were 17 espionage act offenses. …………………………………………………………

January 25, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, USA | Leave a comment

UK police powers increased, to shut down climate protests

The police are to be given powers to shut down protests before they cause
widespread disruption, under plans being announced by ministers today. In a
move to clamp down on so-called guerrilla tactics used by groups such as
Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain, officers will for the first time be
allowed to shut down protests before they cause disruption.

They will also
be able to treat a series of protests by the same group as one incident
when defining what can be classed as “serious disruption” under the
Public Order Bill going through parliament. The measures are designed to
give more clarity to the police about when they can intervene to disrupt
protests such as the blocking of roads or slow marching to cause

Times 16th Jan 2023

January 17, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

UK govt to tighten anti-protest restrictions, despite criticism from human rights groups 16 Jan 23

Rishi Sunak will on Monday propose new measures to help the police stop disruptive public protest in Britain, heading further down a route that has drawn heavy criticism from civil rights groups.

The prime minister wants to broaden the legal definition of “serious disruption” in a new public order bill, to help police stop what he calls a “disruptive minority” who use tactics such as blocking roads or slow marching.

Sunak believes the public and business will support the government’s efforts to stop protesters causing serious disruption following a series of high-profile protests by groups such as Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain. But Human Rights Watch, the international NGO, last week criticised the government for a series of recent measures, including restrictions on protest………

The government will this week table an amendment to the bill, currently in the House of Lords, which it says will give police “greater flexibility and clarity” over when to intervene to stop a “disruptive minority”.

Police have already been given additional powers to prevent protesters using what Downing Street calls “guerrilla tactics”, but police chiefs say there is uncertainty over what reaches the threshold of “serious disruption”.

The changes would mean that police will not need to wait for disruption to take place and can shut protests down before any “chaos” is caused, Downing Street said.

Police would not need to treat a series of protests by the same group as standalone incidents but would be able to consider their total impact; they would also be able to consider the cumulative effect of long-running campaigns over a number of weeks intended to cause repeat disruption. Sunak said: “The right to protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy, but this is not absolute.

A balance must be struck between the rights of individuals and the rights of the hard-working majority to go about their day-to-day business.” Recommended Extinction Rebellion Extinction Rebellion abandons disruptive climate protests in UK Sir Mark Rowley, Metropolitan Police commissioner, said: “Increasingly police are getting drawn into complex legal arguments about the balance between that right to protest and the rights of others to go about their daily lives free from serious disruption. “The lack of clarity in the legislation and the increasing complexity of the case law is making this more difficult and more contested.” But Hassan said last week: “A slew of legislation was passed last year where fundamental human rights are being challenged.

The protest law is something we are deeply concerned about. “When you talk about civic space and about people’s right to participate in a democratic society, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to protest are key pillars of that. We’ve seen an outright assault from this government on that.”

HRW also criticised government measures including a new elections act which will require voter identification in polls and the plan to allow offshore processing of asylum claims in Rwanda.

January 16, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Guilty of Journalism

The Political Prosecution of Julian Assange

by Kevin Gosztola 7 Jan 23

From an acclaimed independent journalist, this carefully-documented analysis of the government’s case against Julian Assange and its implications for press freedom acts as a crucial, compelling guidebook to Assange’s upcoming trial.

The legal action against Julian Assange is poised to culminate in a trial in the United States in 2023, and this book will help the public understand the proceedings. The establishment media’s coverage of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition case has focused on his deteriorating health and what CBS News called his “secret family,” but most of this coverage failed to detail the complex issues at stake against Assange.

Guilty of Journalism outlines how WikiLeaks exposed the reality of American wars, the United States government’s unprecedented indictment against Assange as a publisher, and the media’s role in persuading the public to “shoot the messenger.” This new book by Kevin Gosztola, who has spent the last decade covering Assange, WikiLeaks, and the wider war on whistleblowers, tells the full story based on testimony from dozens of witnesses.

It examines abuses of power by the CIA and the FBI, including a spying operation that targeted Assange’s family, lawyers, and doctors. Guilty of Journalism offers a balanced and comprehensive perspective on all the events leading up to what press freedom advocates have called the trial of the century.

January 8, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties | 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

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