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USA’s “outrageous” claim to “universal jurisdiction over every person on earth”- plea from Australia to save Julian Assange

 

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October 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

At long last – some Australian politicians speak up for Australian Julian Assange

Barnaby Joyce joins calls to stop extradition of Assange to US, The Age, By Rob Harris, October 13, 2019 Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has joined calls for the Morrison government to try to halt Julian Assange’s potential extradition from Britain to the United States on espionage charges, as the WikiLeaks founder’s supporters intensify their campaign to bring him to Australia.

Mr Joyce joined former foreign minister Bob Carr in voicing concerns over US attempts to have the 48-year-old Australian stand trial in America, where he faces a sentence of 175 years if found guilty of computer fraud and obtaining and disclosing national defence information.

Also seeking to increase pressure on the federal government is actress Pamela Anderson, who is demanding to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison to request he intervene in the case. She plans to visit Australia next month.

Assange’s supporters say they are increasingly concerned about his health and his ability to receive a fair trial in the US………

Mr Carr has challenged Foreign Minister Marise Payne to make “firm and friendly” representation to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, believing Australians would be “deeply uneasy” at a fellow citizen being handed over to the “living hell of a lifetime sentence in an American penitentiary”.

Mr Joyce, who in 2007 was the first Coalition MP to call for the then Howard government to act over the detention of Australian David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay, said his position was principled and he gave “no opinion of Mr Assange whatsoever”.

“If someone was in another country at a time an alleged event occurred then the sovereignty of the land they were in has primacy over the accusation of another nation,” Mr Joyce said.

“It would be totally unreasonable, for instance, if China was to say the actions of an Australian citizen whilst in Australia made them liable to extradition to China to answer their charges of their laws in China. Many in Hong Kong have the same view.”

Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London for bail violations after spending seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer allegations of rape and molestation in 2012.

In June, the then British home secretary, Sajid Javid, signed an extradition request after the US Justice Department filed an additional 18 Espionage Act charges over Assange’s role in obtaining and publishing 400,000 classified US military documents on the war in Iraq in 2010.

Mr Carr, the former NSW premier who served as foreign minister in the Gillard government, said he understood many people would have reservations about the “modus operandi” of Assange and his alleged contact with Russia.

“On the other hand, we have an absolute right to know about American war crimes in a conflict that the Australian government of the day strongly supported – we wouldn’t know about them except for Assange,” he said.

Mr Carr said the Morrison government should make strong representations to the US on behalf of an Australian citizen who “is in trouble because he delivered on our right to know”.

“I think the issue will gather pace and in the ultimate trial there’ll be a high level of Australian public concern, among conservative voters as much as any others.”……..

Mr Carr said the Morrison government should make strong representations to the US on behalf of an Australian citizen who “is in trouble because he delivered on our right to know”.

“I think the issue will gather pace and in the ultimate trial there’ll be a high level of Australian public concern, among conservative voters as much as any others.”…….https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/barnaby-joyce-joins-calls-to-stop-extradition-of-assange-to-us-20191013-p53080.html

October 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

The media blackout on Julian Assange’s imprisonment

All around the world, Assange’s treatment seems to have given the green light to governments to intimidate and hassle journalists. Australian police, for instance, recently conducted a raid on journalist Annika Smethurst’s home. Smethurst had not long before that revealed that the Government had been secretly requesting permission to spy on its own citizens.

He must not be extradited’ – Vivienne Westwood on Julian Assange

The media blackout on Julian Assange’s imprisonment   https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/the-media-blackout-on-julian-assanges-imprisonment,13094   By Mint Press News | 11 September 2019,  The same media that has spent years dragging Assange’s name through the mud is now engaging in a blackout on his treatment.

If you are waiting for corporate media pundits to defend freedom of the press, you’re going to be disappointed.

The role of journalism in a democracy is publishing information that holds the powerful to account — the kind of information that empowers the public to become more engaged citizens in their communities so that we can vote in representatives that work in the interest of “we the people.”

There is perhaps no better example of watchdog journalism that holds the powerful to account and exposes their corruption than that of WikiLeaks, which exposed to the world evidence of widespread war crimes the U.S. military was committing in Iraq, including the killing of two Reuters journalists; showed that the U.S. Government and large corporations were using private intelligence agencies to spy on activists and protesters; and revealed how the military hid tortured Guantanamo Bay prisoners from Red Cross inspectors.

It’s this kind of real journalism that America’s First Amendment was meant to protect but engaging in it has instead made WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange the target of a massive smear campaign for the last several years — including false claims that Assange is working with Vladimir Putin and the Russians and hackers, as well as open calls by corporate media pundits for him to be assassinated.

The allegations that Assange conspired with Putin to undermine the 2016 Election and American democracy as a whole fell completely flat earlier this month when a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed this case as ‘factually implausible’, with the judge noting that at no point does the prosecution’s threadbare’ argument show ‘any facts’ at all, and concluding that the idea that Assange conspired with Russia against the Democratic Party or America is ‘entirely divorced from the facts’.

Perhaps the brazen character assassination was priming the public to become apathetic towards Assange in preparation for his brutal fate, which would land him in the hands of U.S. and British authorities after spending years isolated inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Today, Assange sits behind bars in a London prison under shocking conditions even a murderer wouldn’t expect. Renowned filmmaker and journalist John Pilger visited him there and fears for Assange’s life, noting he is held in isolation, heavily medicated and denied the basic tools needed to fight his charge of extradition to the United States.

The United Nations has consistently condemned the actions of the U.S., U.K. and Swedish governments, and called for Assange’s immediate release.

Their special rapporteur on torture and ill-treatment visited him in May, declaring:

[Assange has been] deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively [more] severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture …The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now.

On May 23, Assange was charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for the possession and dissemination of classified information given to him by army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, marking the first time the Espionage Act has been used against a journalist for publishing classified information.

He now faces a sentence of 175 years in gaol if found guilty.

But you may not have known any of this because it seems clear the very media that spent years dragging Assange’s name through the mud are deliberately engaging in a media blackout on his treatment. So if you were waiting for the corporate media or their lapdog pundits to defend freedom of the press and freedom of speech, you’d be disappointed.

It is important to ask ourselves what Julian Assange’s real crime is. In an era, dubbed the “Information Age”, where the strategy of the powerful appears to be to know as much as possible about the rest of us while ensuring that we know as little as possible about them and how they operate, Assange worked to prevent that imbalance from becoming a rout and stuck like a bone in the throat of the mighty.

A double chorus of voices across the mainstream media spectrum cheered the destruction of the First Amendment. The New York Times applauded Trump, claiming he’d ‘done well’ to charge Assange with an indisputable crime’CNN demanded that Assange finally “face justice,” while others claimed the day in court of the narcissistic” “internet troll who attacked America with his vile spite” was “long overdue.

All around the world, Assange’s treatment seems to have given the green light to governments to intimidate and hassle journalists. Australian police, for instance, recently conducted a raid on journalist Annika Smethurst’s home. Smethurst had not long before that revealed that the Government had been secretly requesting permission to spy on its own citizens. Meanwhile, independent media everywhere are being marginalised by the crackdown on internet freedom.

In a clear sign to the world, Assange held up Gore Vidal’s book The History of the National Security State to the cameras while being dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy. The book warns of an increasingly powerful and unaccountable authoritarian government taking over the country.

Part of that is silencing dissent and limiting or destroying the freedoms centuries of struggle have won us.

If Assange is successfully prosecuted it will send a message to the world that the era of freedom to speak and publish is well and truly over. He will not be the last to be persecuted. The more a power oppresses and takes away rights, the more it needs to oppress and take away rights, until the last vestiges of opposition are destroyed or driven far underground.

We cannot expect corporate media to stand up to the corporate state. We have to do it ourselves, or any citizen of the world can be next. Will you heed this warning?

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neo-conservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

This article was originally published by MintPress News and is republished under a Creative Commons licence.

 

September 14, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Julian Assange to remain behind bars

Julian Assange to remain behind bars due to ‘history of absconding’   SBS 13 Sep 19, The founder of Wikileaks has been told he will be kept in jail beyond September 22.   Julian Assange has been told he will stay in prison after the custody period finishes on his current jail term because of his “history of absconding”.

In June, then home secretary Sajid Javid signed an order allowing Assange to be extradited to the US over computer-hacking allegations.

A 50-week jail term was then imposed in the UK after he jumped bail by going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012.   He would have been released from HMP Belmarsh on September 22, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday, but the 48-year-old Australian was told he will be kept in jail because of “substantial grounds” for believing he will abscond again……. Another administrative hearing will take place on October 11 following by a case management hearing on October 21, the court heard.

The final hearing in Assange’s extradition case is due in February……https://www.sbs.com.au/news/julian-assange-to-remain-behind-bars-due-to-history-of-absconding?cid=news:socialshare:twitter

September 14, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties | Leave a comment

UN warns that climate crisis is the greatest ever threat to human rights

Climate crisis is greatest ever threat to human rights, UN warns   https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/sep/09/climate-crisis-human-rights-un-michelle-bachelet-united-nations  

Rights chief Michelle Bachelet highlights role in civil wars.  ‘The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope’ Agence France-Presse in Geneva, 10 Sep 2019 Climate change is not only having a devastating impact on the environments we live in, but also on respect for human rights globally, the UN has warned.

The UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, cited the civil wars sparked by a warming planet and the plight of indigenous people in an Amazon ravaged by wildfires and rampant deforestation.

She also denounced attacks on environmental activists, particularly in Latin America, and the abuse aimed at high-profile figures such as the teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg.

“The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope,” she told the UN human rights council in Geneva.

“The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted” by climate change, she warned. Continue reading

September 10, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, climate change | Leave a comment

‘All of us are in danger’: John Pilger delivers warning from Julian Assange

Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

Roger Waters and John Pilger make powerful defence of Julian Assange in London, WSWS  3 September 2019

Up to 1,000 people gathered last night in central London to hear internationally acclaimed musician Roger Waters deliver a musical tribute to imprisoned WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.

Performing outside the UK Home Office, just miles from Belmarsh Prison where Assange is being held as a Category A prisoner, Waters sang Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Wish You Were Here.” He was accompanied by guitarist Andrew Fairweather Low.

Supporters filled the forecourt and pavement on both sides of Marsham Street, many carrying banners and placards demanding Assange’s freedom and the release of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Spontaneous chants rang out, “Free, Free Julian Assange!” and “There’s only one decision: No extradition!”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”………

Pilger warned that Assange’s condition was a matter of grave concern. “I worry a great deal about him if he spends many months in Belmarsh,” he said. “The regime there is imposing a kind of isolation on him that is deeply psychologically wounding. He’s in a small cell in the hospital ward. They seem not to know what to do with him. Of course, what they should be doing is letting him out. He certainly should not be in a maximum-security prison.”…….

Underscoring the point made by Kristinn Hrafnsson about the mainstream media, no major British television station reported on the event on their evening news broadcasts. Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

Via social media and publications such as the WSWS, however, reports and video of Waters’ performance, Pilgers’ speech and the statements of Gabriel Shipton are circulating widely and will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people internationally over the coming days.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, media, UK | Leave a comment

Physical and psychological abuse of Julian Assange

Clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson: They are trying to break Assange “physically and psychologically”  WSWS, By Oscar Grenfell , 28 August 2019Australian clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson has been an outspoken defender of Julian Assange, writing extensively on the grave implications of his persecution for democratic rights and freedom of speech.

Johnson explained to the WSWS that she writes about the psychology of politics and social issues. She has a background in media studies and sociology, and a PhD in the psychology of manipulating reality-perception.

Earlier this year, Johnson wrote an extensive fivepartinvestigative series titled The Psychology of Getting Julian Assange, published on the New Matilda website. Johnson provided the following responses to a series of questions from the World Socialist Web Site earlier this week.

WSWS: John Shipton and John Pilger have recently detailed the punitive conditions of Assange’s detention in Belmarsh Prison. Could you speak about the way in which his isolation, and the denial of his right to access computers/legal documents is aimed at stymieing his defence against the US extradition request and increasing the psychological pressures upon him?

Lissa Johnson: If anyone takes a moment to imagine what it must be like to face the prospect of 175 years in a US prison, having already been subjected to nearly a decade of arbitrary detention and judicial harassment, knowing that you have no chance of a fair trial in the US, having been smeared in the media and branded a “terrorist” and enemy of the state, then that gives you an inkling of what Julian Assange was dealing with even before being placed under lockdown in Belmarsh prison. If you add to that having read hundreds of documents from Guantanamo Bay and knowing, in intimate detail, what the United States does to those it brands terrorists and enemies of the state, then Julian Assange’s reality becomes even clearer.

Now, with the full force of the US national security state bearing down on him, Julian Assange has been stripped of his most basic abilities to protect himself. Continue reading

August 29, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Double standards in UK prison, as Julian Assange is deprived of justice

Julian Assange: Deprivation of Justice and Double Standards in Belmarsh Prison, 21st Century  Wire , AUGUST 28, 2019 BY NINA CROSS 

Alfred de Zayas, former UN Rapporteur, has described the actions of the British authorities in pursuit of Assange as “… contrary to the rule of law and contrary to the spirit of the law.”  What we see on the surface is an illusion of British justice, masking a political agenda behind it.

Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Prison is now being presented as beacon of good governance, indicative of a fair and just society which equitable but firm with perpetrators. After carefully reviewing the case of Julian Assange though, there can be little doubt that placing the award-winning journalist in such a facility is nothing but the latest vehicle for his rendition to the US.

So far, Belmarsh has been fulfilling that state agenda.

Belmarsh as the state’s next weapon of choice

Judge Deborah Taylor sent Assange to category A Belmarsh prison for a bail-skipping offense, even though he’d demonstrated that he had good reason to skip bail.  It is difficult not to conclude that the category A assignment was done so that he would be weak and vulnerable.  In essence, Assange was sent to Belmarsh for 50 weeks for failing to turn up at a police station.  There was no ongoing court case; he had no prior offenses; there were no charges; the Swedish investigation had been dropped.  So skipping police bail was all the British government had. It should also be pointed out that Judge Taylor made a series of mistakes during the sentencing on 1st May, referring to rape charges in Sweden, which Assange corrected and which she then acknowledged were wrong.  This indicates that Judge Taylor went into court at least uninformed, set in her mind that Assange had somewhere, somehow been charged with rape. This would seem to explain some of the reasoning behind Judge Taylor’s cruel sentencing, described by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as ‘disproportionate’ but also as furthering the arbitrary deprivation of Assange’s liberty.  What’s more, it has been pointed out how several thousand people in the UK skip bail each year and are in now way subject to such harsh punishment.

Clearly, Judge Taylor had used narratives provided by the state in order to send Assange to a category A penitentiary, even though these narratives have been thoroughly debunked.  …….

Following his assessment of Assange in May inside Belmarsh prison, Nils Melzer issued a statement detailing the conditions of dentention. Melzer was accompanied by two medical experts who specialize in the examination of possible victims of torture as well as the documentation of symptoms, both physical and psychological.  On examining Assange Melzer observed the following:

Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.

In addition to these concerns, reports also indicate Assange is being medicated. Continue reading

August 29, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Australian investigative journalist Mark Davis explodes the myths around Julian Assange

CN LIVE! Mark Davis Wikileaks Revelations

While the Internet was meant to democratise the transmission of information we see a few giant technology companies, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have near total control of what is seen and shared.

The situation is even worse in Australia with two or three media companies and the same technology giants having control. And the Government of Australia has granted them ever wider market access to extend their monopolies.

Slowly, instance by instance, the malicious and deceitful smears of Julian Assange’s character have been exposed for what they are; an effort to destroy trust in a system of anonymous leaking that will educate everyone.

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

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

Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange, Michael West, by Greg Bean — 16 August 2019 – It is the journalists from The Guardian and New York Times who should be in jail, not Julian Assange, said Mark Davis last week. The veteran Australian investigative journalist, who has been intimately involved in the Wikileaks drama, has turned the Assange narrative on its head. The smears are falling away. The mainstream media, which has so ruthlessly made Julian Assange a scapegoat, is silent in response.

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, investigative journalism, Reference | Leave a comment

Stifling democracy- Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce is even more repressive than UK’s

Cumbria Trust 11th Aug 2019 The Guardian has reported that residents in Southern Australia, who face having a nuclear waste storage facility imposed on them, are being forced
to sign an excessively restrictive code of conduct if they wish to attend
community meetings. This prevents them from taking notes, repeating certain
views expressed in the meeting, or trying to take part in the committee
discussions.

This appears to go well beyond the steps required to maintain
an orderly meeting, and serves to suppress democratic accountability. While
the last search process in Cumbria, MRWS, didn’t go to such extreme
lengths, there were some unnecessary restrictions which obstructed local
democracy. Specifically, executive members of the borough councils, and
cabinet members of Cumbria County Council, were told that they could not
give any public indication of whether they were minded to vote for the
process to proceed to the next stage. This ‘predetermination’ rule
allowed senior councillors to completely avoid public scrutiny on the
matter.

https://cumbriatrust.wordpress.com/2019/08/11/australian-troubles-with-community-engagement/

August 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

How the viewing public was ‘protected’ from seeing what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing did to people

Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the cutting room floor  https://thebulletin.org/2019/08/hiroshima-and-nagasaki-on-the-cutting-room-floor/ By Thomas Gaulkin, August 5, 2019 Seventy-four years after nuclear weapons were first and last used in war, it can be challenging to conceive of the devastation they cause. But even in the immediate months after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, news accounts offered a view of ingenuity and destruction that often elided the human cost.

The newsreels below [on original] were mainly screened to audiences in 1946 and 1947 and detail the destructive force of the explosions almost entirely through excited accounts of the structural damage to the cities.  There’s occasional mention of the lost city populations and the scientific knowledge to be gained from studying their casualties, but hardly any description of what people actually suffered, let alone personal accounts. It’s instructive to look at and listen to these reports today, and contemplate what is missing.

The 12-minute reel below was produced by the US War Department in 1946. “Tale of Two Cities” makes selective use of film that was confiscated from a Japanese filmmaker, Akira Iwasaki—though you wouldn’t know that from the narration, which boasts that “army cameramen have found and filmed pictorial evidence that tells in twisted steel and stone the effect of death-dealing atomic power.” (Some twenty years later, historian Eric Barnouw obtained more of Iwasaki’s footage and produced a remarkably different narrative that documented the horrible physical impact of the attacks on Hiroshima’s citizens.)

Contrasted with the triumphant tone of the news/propaganda made for 1940s audiences, silence changes everything. Made public only decades later, the two films below —one beginning with footage of wounded victims, the other, a full-color glimpse of survivors picking up the pieces of the ruined city—report what those above do not, without a single word.

Nagasaki And Hiroshima (1945)

Harrowing Accounts from Hiroshima Survivors

August 8, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, history, media, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia cracks down on climate activism. French journalists arrested while filming anti-coal activities

Adani protest: French journalists arrested while filming anti-coal activities, Guardian
Journalists charged with trespassing after filming Frontline Action on Coal activists include Hugo Clément, 
Ben Smee @BenSmee, Mon 22 Jul 2019 Four journalists working for the public television network France 2 have been charged with trespassing for filming a protest near the Abbot Point coal terminal, in north Queensland, targeting the operations of the Adani group.

July 23, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, climate change, media | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Attacks Gundersen – Again!

June 20, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Resources -audiovicual, USA | Leave a comment

Whistleblowers will be effectively silenced: the result of Australia’s police raids on journalists

It sends shockwaves through your life’: how the media raids will silence whistleblowers, Guardian  Christopher Knaus @knausc 9 Jun 2019

Those forces have already exacted a crippling toll.

“[My ex-wife] would probably say – and I think there’s an element of truth in it – it killed David McBride,” he says. “The man that she married was killed by the defence force, and I’m someone who’s different.

“Doing something like this, taking on the whole government, it sends shockwaves through your life, and not much survives, really.”

Wednesday’s raid on the ABC prompted outrage among civil rights groups, transparency campaigners, journalists and unions. It came just a day after federal police searched the home of the News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst, searching for documents related to her coverage of proposed new surveillance powers for the Australian Signals Directorate. 2GB host Ben Fordham’s revelation about asylum seeker boats attempting to reach Australia from Sri Lanka is also the subject of a home affairs investigation, as the department attempts to identify his source.

The raids have not occurred in isolation. Multiple whistleblowers who revealed government wrongdoing are currently being pursued through the courts with alarming vigour.

The government is prosecuting Witness K and Bernard Collaery, who revealed an unlawful spy operation against Timor-Leste during oil negotiations. Richard Boyle, the tax office worker who revealed the government’s heavy-handed approach to recovering debts, faces a long stint in jail if convicted.

Assoc Prof Joseph Fernandez, a journalism lecturer at Curtin University, has spent years studying source protection and the Australian media. He says the consequences of this week’s raids are clear, regardless of whether journalists are charged.

“Such raids, regardless of what happens here to journalists or to others, will have an immeasurable censoring effect on contact people have with journalists,” Fernandez says.

“In my research in this area over the years, it was clear that even senior public servants are apprehensive about having contact with journalists, even about mundane things, in the wake of laws that enable the authorities to track down sources.”

The McBride matter had been bubbling away for some time before Wednesday’s raid. Guardian Australia understands police have been talking to the ABC since at least September, trying to find a way to access the documents without resorting to a very public raid. …….

Denis Muller, from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, says arguments about the police operating at arm’s length from government miss the point.    “The point is that the politicians have constructed a repressive legal regime designed to protect the executive branch of government, impede accountability to the public and exert a chilling effect on the press,” Muller wrote in the Conversation……….    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jun/08/it-sends-shockwaves-through-your-life-how-the-media-raids-will-silence-whistleblowers

June 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Australia’s highly regarded ABC Chair, Ita Buttrose, speaks out on media freedom

 http://about.abc.net.au/statements/statement-by-ita-buttrose-abc-chair-on-the-publics-right-to-know/

An untrammelled media is important to the public discourse and to democracy. It is the way in which Australian citizens are kept informed about the world and its impact on their daily lives.

Observance of this basic tenet of the community’s right to know has driven my involvement in public life and my career in journalism for almost five decades.

The raid is unprecedented – both to the ABC and to me.

In a frank conversation with the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, yesterday, I said the raid, in its very public form and in the sweeping nature of the information sought, was clearly designed to intimidate.

It is impossible to ignore the seismic nature of this week’s events: raids on two separate media outfits on consecutive days is a blunt signal of adverse consequences for news organisations who make life uncomfortable for policy makers and regulators by shining lights in dark corners and holding the powerful to account.

I also asked for assurances that the ABC not be subject to future raids of this sort. Mr Fletcher declined to provide such assurances, while noting the “substantial concern” registered by the Corporation.

There has been much reference in recent days to the need to observe the rule of law.

While there are legitimate matters of national security that the ABC will always respect, the ABC Act and Charter are explicit about the importance of an independent public broadcaster to Australian culture and democracy.

Public interest is best served by the ABC doing its job, asking difficult questions and dealing with genuine whistle-blowers who risk their livelihoods and reputations to bring matters of grave import to the surface. Neither the journalists nor their sources should be treated as criminals.

In my view, legitimate journalistic endeavours that expose flawed decision-making or matters that policy makers and public servants would simply prefer were secret, should not automatically and conveniently be classed as issues of national security.

The onus must always be on the public’s right to know. If that is not reflected sufficiently in current law, then it must be corrected.

As ABC Chair, I will fight any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster or interfere with its obligations to the Australian public. Independence is not exercised by degrees. It is absolute.

___________________________________________________________

For further information contact:
Peter Munro, ABC Communications
munro.peter@abc.net.au

June 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment