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Australians for Assange call for help – save our failing democracy, as USA continues, by despicable means, their case against him.

Australians for Assange 11 Oct 21

Dear Friends, John [Julian’s father] is headed back to London for Julian’s appeal trial to be held on the 27th & 28th of October.

Despite the incredible admission of lying by the US key witness, AND also revelations of a CIA plan to kidnap and assassinate Julian in London…the US is continuing with the case…this beggars belief.

We now know the US has been spying, plotting to kill and colluding with a known criminal to manufacture evidence.In John’s own words, “there is a Mount Everest of criminality surrounding Julian…and right at the very peak they even plotted to put poison in his cup…it makes you feel sick.”Everyone’s rights are being crushed and so to our “Justice” systems.

We must act to save what little is left of our democracy.Please help support John through this dark time in our history. Many thanks to those who have contributed already and even several times. The cost to Julian’s family is both emotional and financial…everyone’s help is critical to continue the campaign. WE MUST WIN! https://au.gofundme.com/f/saving-julian-assange
https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=australians%20for%20assange

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange


CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange

Mike Pompeo was apparently motivated to get even with Wikileaks following its publication of sensitive CIA hacking tools https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/cia-julian-assange-kidnap-assasinate-1232546/

ByWILLIAM VAILLANCOUR  The CIA reportedly plotted to kidnap Julian Assange, and some senior officials in the agency and the Trump administration allegedly went so far as to consider options for how to assassinate the WikiLeaks founder, Yahoo! Newsreported Sunday.

According to the report, then-director Mike Pompeo was apparently motivated to get even with Wikileaks following its publication of sensitive CIA hacking tools, which the agency found to be “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

Pompeo and others “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7,” according to a former Trump national security official, referring to the document dump. “They were seeing blood.”

Additional CIA plans allegedly included “extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group’s members, and stealing their electronic devices.”

The report, based on conversations with more than 30 former officials, notes that the CIA’s plans for Assange reportedly led to strenuous debates regarding their legality. Some administration officials were so concerned that they felt the need to tell members of Congress about Pompeo’s suggestions.

Assange is currently imprisoned in London as courts weigh a U.S. request to extradite him.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Iranian Guards Physically Harassed Female U.N. Nuclear Inspectors, Diplomats Say .

Allegations come amid rising tensions between Tehran and the U.N. atomic energy agency  While Iran says it isn’t trying to build nuclear weapons, a look at its key facilities suggests it could develop the technology to make them. WSJ breaks down Tehran’s capabilities as it hits new milestones in uranium enrichment and limits access to inspectors.   WSJ, By Laurence Norman, Sept. 14, 2021

Iranian security guards have physically harassed several female United Nations atomic agency inspectors at a nuclear facility over the past few months, diplomats say, and the U.S. has demanded that Iran stop the behavior immediately.

The previously unreported incidents at Iran’s main nuclear facility, Natanz, allegedly included inappropriate touching of female inspectors by male security guards and orders to remove some clothing, the diplomats said….. (subscribers only) https://www.wsj.com/articles/iranian-guards-physically-harassed-female-u-n-nuclear-inspectors-diplomats-say-11631626649

September 16, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, Iran | Leave a comment

USA Bill to protect journalists – EXCEPT FOR JULIAN ASSANGE

press freedom advocates, while supportive of the press freedom bill, said that the legislation would yield the biggest impact if the U.S. followed its own policies.

“Anytime we, or the U.S. government, or members of Congress are talking about press freedom internationally, it’s, in my mind, a good thing,” said Trevor Timm, co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “But for any of that advocacy to be remotely effective, it’s important for the U.S. to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

PRESS FREEDOM BILL WOULD PROTECT JOURNALISTS FACING PERSECUTION — BUT NOT JULIAN ASSANGE  https://theintercept.com/2021/09/08/julian-assange-international-press-freedom-act/ 8 Sept21,

Senators say they want to protect foreign journalists from government aggression. But what happens when the U.S. is the aggressor? Rose Adams

September 8 2021, EARLIER THIS YEAR, just days before World Press Freedom Day, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined forces to introduce the International Press Freedom Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill to protect at-risk journalists working in highly censored countries. The legislation is predicated on the idea that the United States is a uniquely safe place for journalists — but that notion doesn’t always hold up under scrutiny.

Introduced on April 29, the International Press Freedom Act is one of at least three press freedom bills that Congress has considered since Saudi authorities killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. But while other bills have proposed piecemeal protections — such as sanctions on restrictive governments or a government office for threatened journalists — Kaine and Graham’s bill takes a more comprehensive approach. In addition to directing State Department funds toward investigating and prosecuting crimes against journalists abroad, the law would create a new visa category for threatened reporters and open a State Department office with a $30 million annual fund to help journalists report safely or relocate.

Press advocacy groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists have praised Kaine and Graham’s bill, claiming that the legislation would “bolster U.S. foreign diplomacy on global press freedom.” In a statement, Kaine emphasized the U.S.’s responsibility to spread its free speech ethos.

“Enshrined in both our Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, press freedom is a core American value that we must constantly promote around the globe,” he said in a press release. “With this bill, our country will let journalists know that we will protect their right to report and offer safe harbor when they are threatened.”

But that safe harbor doesn’t seem to apply to foreign journalists the U.S. government itself has threatened. For years, the Justice Department has worked to extradite and prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing Army war logs provided by Chelsea Manning in 2010, and increased the pressure following his 2016 publication leaked Democratic Party emails that the Justice Department said were hacked by Russia. And though the government’s extradition efforts are inching closer to fruition amid several U.S. appeals, Kaine and Graham have remained silent.

Continue reading

September 9, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics | Leave a comment

Greater powers to be given to UK’s armed Civil Nuclear Constabulary – a threat to peaceful protest?

UK Government plan to give armed nuclear police more powers raises ‘profound concerns The Ferret,Billy Briggs
August 23, 2021

A UK Government plan to give an armed police force called the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) greater powers has raised “profound concerns” and been described as “deeply worrying”.

The CNC is a specialist force tasked with protecting civil nuclear sites in Scotland, England and Wales and nuclear materials in transit both in the UK and internationally. 

Counter-terrorism is a major part of its policing and the force employs 1,500 police officers. The CNC guards nuclear sites at Torness, Hunterston and Dounreay in Scotland, among other places across the UK.

It’s remit is set out in the Energy Act 2004 but the UK Government has just held a consultation seeking views on a plan to expand and diversify the force’s role.

Anti-nuclear groups have voiced fears over the proposal, however, arguing that the CNC’s remit should be limited to civil nuclear sites. The Scottish Greens said that centralised control over an armed police force with new powers would be a “very concerning development”…………..

Those responding to the consultation included the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) which submitted a joint response with anti-nuclear groups – Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group, Together Against Sizewell C, CADNO, People Against Wylfa B, Stop Hinkley and Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates.

The NFLA argued that the CNC’s powers should be “limited to civil nuclear sites, as its title implies”. Any expansion to other roles and duties for the CNC, they argued, would “represent an expansion of nuclear police at expense of the civil police force”


Councillor David Blackburn
, NFLA steering committee chair, said: “NFLA has joined with these six other campaigning groups to raise its profound concerns that an expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and an increase in its powers is moving it in the wrong direction. What is required rather is concerted efforts to reduce the risks of the UK’s nuclear legacy and to avoid developing new nuclear reactor sites.”

He argued that by making nuclear sites safer “there will become less of a need for an armed police force”.

“The concerning wider push for new laws which could reduce peaceful protest also greatly concerns us,” Blackburn said. “The proposals in this consultation move the CNC further into being an extensively armed police force, when we should instead be looking at ways to have a democratically controlled and accountable police force protecting the public in a measured way.”………    https://theferret.scot/uk-government-plan-to-give-armed-police-more-powers/

August 24, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, safety, UK | 1 Comment

Jailing of a British Blogger Should Worry Journalists on Both Sides of the Atlantic

AUGUST 10, 2021Jailing of a British Blogger Should Worry Journalists on Both Sides of the Atlantic, FAIR. ARI PAUL   IN A Conversation with C-SPAN‘s Brian Lamb (11/7/83) in 1983, then-Nation columnist Christopher Hitchens explained the United Kingdom’s Official Secrets Act, which, he said, says that “anything the government defines as a secret is a secret…. You can define something that is well-known by everybody as a secret under that law.” It gives the government a legal mallet to employ against investigative journalists probing national security.Lamb asked Hitchens, a British expatriate living in Washington, DC, if American journalists were freer than the ones in his home country. “Infinitely,” Hitchens replied, noting that Americans “have a constitution” that protects the freedom of the press.

Americans are accustomed to thinking that Britain is the European nation most like the United States, and with its robust market of salacious tabloid newspapers and saucy pop culture, Americans think of it as a free society. But Hitchens, like many British journalists, constantly challenged this myth. And the current imprisonment of blogger Craig Murray is a reminder of that gap.

‘Chilling effect on reporting’

Murray is a Scottish former diplomat who is vocal about his support for Scottish independence. He is also an outspoken advocate for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (New York Times1/4/21). According to the Scotsman (8/1/21), however, Murray “was judged to have been in contempt of court over blogs he wrote during the trial of former First Minister Alex Salmond”

Murray’s] posts contained details which, if pieced together, could lead readers to identify women who made allegations against Mr. Salmond, who was acquitted of all 13 charges, including sexual assault and attempted rape in March last year.An official at Reporters Without Borders said that a “prison sentence on charges related to his blogging is disproportionate and highly concerning,” adding that “journalistic activity should not lead to prison sentences anywhere,” because “imprisonment in connection with any journalistic activity should only ever be a measure of absolute last resort—if at all.”

Scottish PEN (Twitter7/30/21) said that Murray “is the first person to be imprisoned in Scotland for media contempt for over 70 years,” and the organization feared the “ruling will have a chilling effect on reporting and free expression.”But the New York Times hasn’t reported on Murray’s jailing, nor has AP. A search for his case at NPR and the Wall Street Journal yielded no results.

Why is this not big news? Belarus arresting a journalist who was flying outside the country (NPR5/25/21) was major news in the US press. The New York Times (12/28/20) made a big deal about the Chinese government clamping down on citizen journalists who challenged the government’s narrative about Covid-19. And NPR (2/4/21) reported on a Russian journalist who was briefly imprisoned for publicizing an anti-government protest on Twitter. It should be at least as alarming to American media that a key US ally would use jail as a weapon against any journalist…………..

History gives anyone concerned about the free press a right to be worried, as there are other examples of how the British press is censored to protect the powerful. The voice of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was once banned from BBC broadcasts (BBC4/5/05). The BBC cited “legal reasons” for not naming one of the soldiers on trial for the Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland (BBC7/14/21). The Guardian (8/20/13) was forced to destroy leaked documents from Edward Snowden because of “a threat of legal action by the [British] government that could have stopped reporting on the extent of American and British government surveillance revealed by the documents.”………….

An attack on all journalists

Laura Poitras, co-founder of the Intercept and one of the principal journalists involved in the Snowden leaks, said in the New York Times (12/21/20) that the prosecution of Assange is an attack on all journalists, and that use of the Espionage Act, which forbids the leaking of classified materials, could be used against the journalists who receive that information. She said: 

I have experienced the chilling effect of the Espionage Act. When I was in contact with Mr. Snowden, then an anonymous whistleblower, I spoke to one of the best First Amendment lawyers in the country. His response was unnerving. He read the Espionage Act out loud, and said it had never been used against a journalist, but there is always a first time. He added that I would be a good candidate, because I am a documentary filmmaker without the backing of a news organization.

As a British blogger, Murray is simply not protected by the First Amendment, and at first glance it would seem improbable that he would face this predicament if he was working in the United States. But given the aforementioned instances of the state going after leakers, the censorious trends in the Anglophone media are reasons for concern. US media should pay more attention. https://fair.org/home/jailing-of-a-british-blogger-should-worry-journalists-on-both-sides-of-the-atlantic/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Facebook blocks users from Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)’s website

*S

Facebook blocks users from Scottish CND’s website

Billy Briggs, 25 July 21

 The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is considering an official complaint to Ofcom after Facebook blocked users from accessing the peace organisation’s website. Anyone trying to access the official
Scottish CND site from its Facebook page in recent weeks has been advised the URL breaches “community standards”.

Scottish CND told The Ferret that many people have complained about not being able to access its website
via Facebook. The peace group thinks it may have been a “malicious complaint” or the perhaps the word “bomb” in the URL which is proving problematic.

 Ferret 24th July 2021

July 26, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Chris Hedges: Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law

“Lliving in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance. This truth terrifies those in power.”

Chris Hedges: Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law — Rise Up Times Julian exposed the truth.  He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption and mendacity that defines the global ruling elite.
Chris Hedges gave this talk at a rally Thursday night in New York City in support of Julian Assange. John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s father and brother, also spoke at the event, which was held at The People’s Forum.  By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

BY MODERATOR  June 11, 2021  This why we are here tonight.  Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian decry his prolonged suffering and the suffering of his family.  Yes, we demand that the many wrongs and injustices that have been visited upon him be ended.  Yes, we honor him up for his courage and his integrity. But the battle for Julian’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher.  It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era.  And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Julian and his family, but for us.

Tyrannies invert the rule of law.  They turn the law into an instrument of injustice.  They cloak their crimes in a faux legality.  They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality.  Those, such as Julian, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.

I was in the London courtroom when Julian was being tried by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, an updated version of the Queen of Hearts in Alice-in Wonderland demanding the sentence before pronouncing the verdict. It was judicial farce. There was no legal basis to hold Julian in prison.  There was no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the U.S. Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Julian in the embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Julian and his lawyers as they discussed his defense. This fact alone invalidated the trial. Julian is being held in a high security prison so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the degrading abuse and torture it hopes will lead to his psychological if not physical disintegration.

The U.S. government directed, as Craig Murray so eloquently documented, the London prosecutor James Lewis.  Lewis presented these directives to Baraitser.  Baraitser adopted them as her legal decision.  It was judicial pantomime. Lewis and the judge insisted they were not attempting to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press while they busily set up the legal framework to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press. And that is why the court worked so hard to mask the proceedings from the public, limiting access to the courtroom to a handful of observers and making it hard and at times impossible to access the trial online.  It was a tawdry show trial, not an example of the best of English jurisprudence but the Lubyanka.

Now, I know many of us here tonight would like to think of ourselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries.  But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is in fact conservative, it is the restoration of the rule of law.  It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning democracy, be incendiary.  But living in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance.  This truth terrifies those in power………..https://riseuptimes.org/2021/06/14/chris-hedges-julian-assange-and-the-collapse-of-the-rule-of-law/

June 15, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, UK | Leave a comment

Marginalized voices are ignored in favor of nuclear development

How Nuclear Waste Impacts Marginalized Communities, Geopolitics. By Ainsley Lawrence -June 11, 2021

(Amazingly, this excerpt comes from a quite enthusiastic pro nuclear article)

‘………………..Marginalized Voices are Ignored in Favor of Nuclear Development.

All over the world, nuclear power plants are planned and developed within communities that do not want them and question their safety. Yet, corporations press on with their plans. One prominent example occurred in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, in which an estimated 32 million people were affected.

Marginalized Voices are Ignored in Favor of Nuclear Development

All over the world, nuclear power plants are planned and developed within communities that do not want them and question their safety. Yet, corporations press on with their plans. One prominent example occurred in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, in which an estimated 32 million people were affected.

As a direct consequence of their being ignored, marginalized communities like those below the poverty level or with higher populations of minority groups tend to live closer to nuclear power plants. According to Stanford University research, a larger percentage of African Americans lived within 50 miles of nuclear power plants than their white peers.

Infamously, Chernobyl represents exactly what happens to marginalized communities when a nuclear disaster occurs. The city’s many subsistence farmers found themselves suddenly without the means to make a living when the disaster occurred. As a result, they were forced to rely on government subsistence to make ends meet, and many have either returned or stayed in the region where housing is cheaper.

Because the risks associated with nuclear power lower property values, lower-income families both already live in planned sites for nuclear development or come to live there after they’re built. This means when a disaster occurs, it is the poor who face more of the devastation. 

Protections Aren’t for Everyone

The leaks at the Savannah River nuclear site in the American South showcased just how racially and financially disparate the effects tend to be when dealing with dangerous nuclear waste. From the evidence that emerged that black workers were frequently sent into high-radiation areas without the proper protection to the lack of job mobility experienced by the same, historically marginalized workers and the larger black community in Savannah River took a disproportionate amount of the fallout.

There were at least 30 cases of cancer and ailments associated with the Savannah River site in its earlier days, but the leaks of nuclear containments continue to give the community health concerns, especially when it comes to the availability of safe drinking water. Poor water quality can lead to illness and even death. When polluted with radiation, the effects of contaminated drinking water can be even worse.

But Stanford research shows that ionizing radiation standards are designed more to protect adult males. For nuclear facility workers, even these standards can be waived, allowing facility owners to expose workers to as much as 50 times more radiation than is allowed for the common citizen. Often, these workers don’t even receive hazard pay.

Minority and low-income communities are at higher risk of the radiation pumped via nuclear waste into their communities because of their proximity. At the same, these communities have statistically higher levels of women and children. These risk factors, much like the reasons nuclear power plants are built in these areas in the first place, perpetuate racist and classist outcomes………

June 12, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, health, USA | Leave a comment

Targeted surveillance threatens human rights defenders

OPERATING FROM THE SHADOWS: INSIDE NSO GROUP’S CORPORATE STRUCTURE   https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/doc10/4182/2021/en/

31 May 2021, Index number: DOC 10/4182/2021, Targeted surveillance is a serious threat facing human rights defenders globally. Though often carried out by states, this practice is enabled by digital surveillance tools provided by private companies. However, the lack of transparency about the operations of the surveillance industry poses a serious obstacle for victims of unlawful surveillance to seek accountability and the right to remedy. This briefing seeks to shed light on one specific company – NSO Group – and thereby help to overcome this barrier. This briefing is jointly written by Amnesty International, Privacy International and The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).

June 1, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Two years since Julian Assange was seized from the Ecuadorian Embassy

the Biden administration has continued Trump’s pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder—in 2010, Biden had labelled him a “high-tech terrorist”. 

Two years since Assange was seized from the Ecuadorian Embassy, World Socialist Website, Thomas Scripps, 9 April 2021   Two years ago on Sunday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was seized from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He has been incarcerated ever since, fighting extradition to the United States where he faces life imprisonment in barbaric conditions for exposing war crimes, coup plots, mass state surveillance, torture and corruption.

On April 11, 2019, Assange’s political asylum status was revoked by the Ecuadorian government and British police entered the embassy building, dragging him away. The recently published diaries of former Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan confirm the involvement of the highest levels of the state in this lawless operation.

Duncan explains how he watched the police raid on a live feed from the “Operations Room at the top of the Foreign Office.” Codenamed “Pelican”, Duncan recalled how one of its officials looked on, “wearing a pelican-motif tie.” Duncan’s diary entry concludes, “So, job done at last—and we take a commemorative photo of Team Pelican. It had taken many months of patient diplomatic negotiation, and in the end it went off without a hitch. I do millions of interviews, trying to keep the smirk off my face.”

The sadism of the British state’s snatch-and-grab operation was matched only by the degraded efforts of the pseudo-left to vilify Assange and blacken his reputation in support of a manufactured sexual assault investigation launched by Sweden in 2010. Rightly fearing that his extradition to Sweden would be a stepping-stone to US extradition, Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy. While he was there, his former “media partners”, most prominently the Guardian, and an international roll call of pseudo-left groups, launched a despicable years’ long slander campaign to smear him as a sexual predator………………

The Trump administration, it was later revealed, was working with the CIA to spy on Assange, including his privileged communications with lawyers and doctors, and to steal his personal documents. CIA operatives discussed plans for Assange’s kidnap or assassination, until Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno agreed to turn him over to the UK police.

Once in the hands of the British state, Assange was subjected to two years of pseudo-legal persecution, culminating in a degrading show trial. Hauled in front of Westminster Magistrates Court just hours after he was seized from the embassy, Assange was found guilty of violating bail. District judge Michael Snow declared, “His assertion that he has not had a fair hearing is laughable. And his behaviour is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.”………..

Assange’s time in Belmarsh was characterised by the repeated and flagrant denial of his legal rights, aimed at crushing him and which left him suicidal. He was repeatedly denied proper access to his lawyers and to materials necessary to prepare his defence. When Assange reached the end of his sentence, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ordered that he continue to be held in Belmarsh on remand. During the initial week of Assange’s extradition hearing, held in February 2020 at Woolwich Crown Court, he was held in a glass box, with Baraitser preventing him from speaking or communicating effectively with his lawyers. He was stripped twice and handcuffed 11 times on the first day.

In the run-up to the main hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in September 2020, Assange was repeatedly denied bail, even as COVID-19, to which he is especially vulnerable on account of a respiratory condition, ripped through Belmarsh prison.

The US government used this time to develop its monstrous assault on democratic rights. The initial indictment of the WikiLeaks founder, unsealed on the day of his seizure from the embassy, charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, with a maximum sentence of five years. On May 23, 2019, the US unveiled 17 new charges under the 1918 Espionage Act with a combined potential sentence of 170 years. These charges have chilling implications for freedom of the press, criminalising basic journalistic practices and holding them tantamount to treason or espionage.

Another superseding indictment was issued on June 24, 2020, after one phase of Assange’s hearing had been completed and a matter of weeks before the defence was due to submit its skeleton argument for the second. Besides being a gross abuse of due process, the new indictment, based largely on testimony from FBI informants with histories of fraud and entrapment, expanded the framework of the charges to an even wider range of journalistic activity.

The immense significance of WikiLeaks’ and Assange’s journalism, and the criminality of their persecution, was underscored at his hearing in September. Dozens of witnesses spoke to WikiLeaks’ pioneering source protection and the global impact of releases like the Collateral Murder video, revealing the massacre of Iraqi civilians, journalists and first responders by a US Apache helicopter gunship. The US case was exposed as a groundless, vindictive witch-hunt designed to destroy Assange and set a dictatorial precedent for what will happen to any journalists who dare expose imperialist crimes.

With a ruling in favour of extradition considered all but assured, Baraitser delivered a surprise decision against on January 4 of this year. But her politically calculated ruling blocked the extradition request solely on the grounds that it would be oppressive by reason of Assange’s compromised mental health and his risk of suicide if he were imprisoned in the US. She accepted every other element of the prosecution’s case, including its denial of free speech and freedom of the press, and its justification of the abuse of Assange’s democratic rights.

This left the gate wide open to a US appeal. The US Department of Justice quickly responded, “While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Mr. Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offense, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States.”………

the Biden administration has continued Trump’s pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder—in 2010, Biden had labelled him a “high-tech terrorist”. As the World Socialist Web Site and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) have warned, Assange’s persecution is integral to the war drive of US imperialism, escalated by Trump and now intensified by his successor.

Biden has engaged in an aggressive anti-China campaign and is whipping up anti-Chinese xenophobia at home, promoting conspiracy theories on the origin of COVID-19. The US and its allies stand on a cliff edge with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, with NATO’s endless anti-Russia provocations and proxy incursions threatening to spill into war.

Military conflicts of such catastrophic scope can only be pursued abroad by destroying democratic rights at home. WikiLeaks’ releases of the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs were a spark to mass anti-war sentiment all over the world. The ruling class in the imperialist countries around the world are determined to prevent their war plans and crimes being reported and have sought to crack down on left-wing, socialist and anti-war opposition. The Assange case is emblematic of this turn to dictatorship.

In the two years since Assange’s arrest, two sharply opposed political perspectives have defined themselves in the fight for his freedom. The official campaign, run by Don’t Extradite Assange (DEA), has based itself on rotten appeals to the state and its representatives. The DEA’s first champion was former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Throughout the 2019 general election, as leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn maintained a politically criminal silence on Assange, blocking the development of a mass movement against British and US imperialism to secure his freedom. When Corbyn did finally speak, it was to appeal to Boris Johnson and the British justice system that had trampled Assange’s democratic rights………..

The pandemic has proved beyond all doubt that there is no constituency in the ruling class for even the most basic democratic rights, including the right to protest and assembly and the right to life. It has responded to the virus with a policy of social murder and by advancing its preparations for state repression and war on a vast scale……….

On the second anniversary of the WikiLeaks founder’s seizure, we reaffirm our demand for Assange’s immediate, unconditional freedom and our commitment to a programme of class struggle to achieve it. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/04/10/assa-j01.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

April 12, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, UK, USA | Leave a comment

French report on the unfairness of France’s nuclear history in Algeria

French report grapples with nuclear fallout from Algerian War  https://thebulletin.org/2021/03/french-report-grapples-with-nuclear-fallout-from-algerian-war/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ThursdayNewsletter03042021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_AlgerianWar_03042021&__cf_chl_captcha_tk__=32bfe924bf6171eab26d9deb08cd73459b5e69dc-1614896664-0-AWxxiguytXLkG_ERcOpFeDyCqmv7X1FYZmZBNGAnlwY6ZlI8PgWd2By Austin R. Cooper | March 4, 2021 n January, the French historian Benjamin Stora filed a report commissioned by the French President Emmanuel Macron aimed at “reconciliation of memories between France and Algeria,” which France ruled as the jewel of its colonial empire for more than 130 years.

The Stora Report addressed several scars from the Algerian War for Independence (1954–62), a bloody struggle for decolonization that met savage repression by French troops. One of these controversies stems from French use of the Algerian Sahara for nuclear weapons development.

France proved its bomb in the atmosphere above this desert, naming the inaugural blast , or Blue Jerboa, after the local rodent. Between 1960 and 1966, France detonated 17 nuclear devices in the Algerian Sahara: four atmospheric explosions during the Algerian War, and another 13 underground, most of these after Algerian Independence.

French nuclear ambitions became inextricable from the process of Algerian decolonization. The Saharan blasts drew international outrage, stalled ceasefire negotiations, and later threatened an uneasy peace across the Mediterranean.

The Stora Report signaled that radioactive fallout from the Algerian War has remained a thorn between the two nations. But the document comes up short of a clear path toward nuclear reconciliation.

A United Nations dispute. The French bomb collided with the Algerian War before the first mushroom cloud rose above the Sahara. In November 1959, Algerian allies representing independent states in Africa and Asia contested French plans for the desert in the First Committee on Disarmament at the United Nations.

Part of the French strategy at the United Nations was to drive a wedge between the nuclear issue and what French diplomats euphemistically termed the “Question of Algeria.” French obfuscation continued for decades.

France would not, until 1999, call the bloodshed a war, preferring the line that what happened in Algeria, as part of France, amounted to a domestic dispute, rather than UN business. Macron became, in 2018, the first French president to acknowledge “systemic torture” by French troops in Algeria.

The Afro-Asian challenge to Saharan explosions hurdled France’s diplomatic barricades at the United Nations. The French delegation tried to strike references to the Algerian War as irrelevant. But their African and Asian counterparts painted the desert blasts as a violation of African sovereignty.

The concern was not only for contested territory in Algeria, but also for independent states bordering the desert, whose leaders warned that nuclear fallout could cross their national borders. Radiation measurements taken in the wake of Gerboise bleue proved many of them right.

Nuclear weapons represented another piece of French imperialism on the continent.

Secret negotiations resumed in September 1961, with US Ambassador to Tunisia Walter N. Walmsley serving as France’s backchannel. The US State Department worried that French attachment to the test sites might thwart the decolonization process.

Lead Algerian negotiator Krim Belkacem asked Walmsley if prospects for a ceasefire still hinged on France retaining control of the test sites. Krim got his answer when Franco-Algerian talks resumed the following month, at the end of October 1961.

France did not abandon its goal to continue nuclear explosions in the Sahara. But the Algerian position appeared to have softened. So long as further blasts did not impinge on Algeria’s “eventual sovereignty” over the desert, as one archival document put it, a deal looked possible.

The Evian Accords marked a nuclear compromise. Finally signed in March 1962, the landmark treaty granted France a five-year lease to the Saharan test sites but did not specify terms of use.

Going underground. Advice from the French Foreign Ministry played a key role in pushing France’s weapons program beneath Saharan mountains. French diplomats suggested that underground explosions would present, according to one archival document, “significantly less serious” challenges than atmospheric ones for future relations with Algeria and its African neighbors.

This did not stop Algeria’s first president, Ahmed Ben Bella, from winning political capital with the nuclear issue. In public, Ben Bella cast Saharan blasts as an intolerable violation of Algerian sovereignty, as had his allies at the United Nations. In private, however, Ben Bella acquiesced to the Evian terms and reportedly tried to squeeze French financial aid out of the deal.

The Hoggar Massif shook 13 times before France handed over its two Saharan test sites to Algeria in 1967. An accident occurred during one of these underground blasts, dubbed Béryl, when containment measures failed. Several French soldiers and two high-ranking French officials suffered the highest radiation exposures, but roughly 240 members of “nomadic populations” in the region received lower doses.

Meanwhile, France began construction on its Pacific test range in French Polynesia, the site of nearly 200 nuclear explosions between 1966 and 1996. Most took place underground, but France also conducted atmospheric detonations in Polynesia, and these continued into the 1970s. Even though the Limited Test Ban Treaty had gone into effect in 1963—prohibiting nuclear blasts in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space—France refused to sign it.

Contamination and compensation. As part of its reconciliation proposal, the Stora Report encouraged Franco-Algerian cooperation on environmental remediation of the Saharan test sites. An expert report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, concluded in 2005 that environmental interventions were “not required” unless human traffic near the sites should increase.

The Stora Report briefly mentioned compensation linked to radiation exposure from French nuclear weapons development, but this deserves a closer look. In 2010, the French Parliament passed a law recognizing these victims and establishing funds and procedures to provide compensation for illness and injury. So far, France has earmarked 26 million euros for this purpose, but almost none of that has gone to Algerians.

Decades earlier, France’s nuclear allies turned to compensation programs in an attempt to reconcile with marginalized groups affected by weapons development without disclosure or consent. In 1993, for example, the United Kingdom settled with Australia as redress for indigenous people and personnel involved in UK explosions conducted in the former colony.

Facing similar lawsuits, the United States provided monetary compensation and health benefits to the indigenous people of the Marshall Islands, where US nuclear planners “offshored” their most powerful blasts during the Cold War arms race. Other US programs have made compensation available to communities “downwind” of the Nevada Test Site and surrounded by the uranium mines fueling the US nuclear arsenal, including Tribal Nations in the Four Corners region.

Compensation programs map a global history of colonial empire, racial discrimination, and dispossession of indigenous land, but postcolonial inequalities look particularly stark from the Sahara. Including appeals, France has granted 545 of 1,739 total requests filed by French soldiers and civilian participants in the nuclear detonations, as well as exposed populations in Algeria and Polynesia. Only 1 of 52 Algerian dossiers has proven successful.

French officials responsible for evaluating these files report that the ones from Algeria often arrive incomplete or in a shoddy state, and pin the blame on the Algerian government’s inability or unwillingness to provide the geographical, historical, and biomedical evidence that French assessment procedures demand. Claims must demonstrate that an individual worked or lived in a fixed area surrounding one of the two Saharan test sites, between February 1960 and December 1967, and suffered at least one of 21 types of cancer recognized as radiation-linked by French statute.

A step toward reconciliation. If Macron really wants to tackle France’s nuclear history in Algeria—and its aftermath—his government should start here. The French Parliament opened the door to Algerian compensation in 2010, and important revisions to the evaluation procedures took place in 2017, but there has never been a level playing field. Macron could, for example, require that French diplomats posted in Algeria help Algerians build their cases and locate supporting documents.

Another option: Macron could declassify archival materials documenting the intensity and scope of radioactive fallout generated by French nuclear blasts. Draconian interpretations of French statutes on the reach of military secrecy continue to block access to the vast majority of military, civil, and diplomatic collections on France’s nuclear weapons program—including radiation effects. Foreign archives have provided useful information, but official documentation from the French government would help exposed populations—like those in the Sahara—understand what happened, evaluate the risks, bolster their claims, and likely find these more successful.

The Stora Report did well to acknowledge nuclear fallout from the Algerian War. Giving Algerians a fair shot at compensation should mark France’s first step toward reconciliation.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, civil liberties, environment, France, history, indigenous issues, investigative journalism, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Assange’s partner exposes ongoing denial of his legal and democratic rights, 

February 25, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

French parliamentarians nominate Julian Assange for Nobel Peace Prize

A Nobel Peace Prize for Julian Assange!   https://melenchon.fr/2021/01/28/un-prix-nobel-de-la-paix-pour-julien-assange/ Thursday 28 January 2021,  I decided to nominate journalist Julian Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize, as I have the power to do as a parliamentarian. Julian Assange is a hero of freedom. The WikiLeaks initiative has raised awareness of war crimes and serious human rights abuses. It is right that the peoples of the world express their gratitude to him.

On January 4, 2021, British justice refused his extradition to the United States, but maintained his imprisonment. More than ever, Julian Assange needs the protection of the peoples of the world. Granting him the Nobel Peace Prize would allow that.
  • Several other rebellious parliamentarians will share this process with me. I thus continue my fight for Assange’s freedom. After going to see him in London in 2012, after having held a videoconference meeting with him in 2013, I asked for political asylum in France in 2019 then 2020. At the time, the Minister of Justice Dupont- Moretti made the same request. Julian Assange served France, including revealing the spying on three Presidents by the United States.
  • I call on all French parliamentarians to in turn commit to having the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Julian Assange.

February 1, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, France, politics international, weapons and war | 3 Comments

America’s Committee to Defend Australian citizen Julian Assange

January 19, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment