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Anthony Albanese has the power to save Julian Assange. But will he?

We’re all enormously relieved that the corrupt #ScottyFRomMarketing has gone.

And we like Albanese, I think.

But – will he have the guts to help our Australian hero, Julian Assange?

Albanese had the perfect opportunity in Tokyo on Tuesday, meeting the U.S. president. He could have raised the matter with Biden.. But he didn’t.

When will he? Will he speak up for Assange at all?

Now is the time for Australia to intervene, and to demand the repatriation of Julian and an end to his persecution. It’s about time our mealy-mouthed and pathetic media and politicians broke their silence and cringing subservience to the USA.

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May 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Extraditing Julian Assange would be a gift to secretive, oppressive regimes

Handing over the WikiLeaks founder to the US will benefit those around the world who want to evade scrutiny

Peter Oborne 22 May 22,  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/20/extradite-julian-assange-investigative-journalism-wikileaks

In the course of the next few days, Priti Patel will make the most important ruling on free speech made by any home secretary in recent memory. She must resolve whether to comply with a US request to extradite Julian Assange on espionage charges.

The consequences for Assange will be profound. Once in the US he will almost certainly be sent to a maximum-security prison for the rest of his life. He will die in jail.

The impact on British journalism will also be profound. It will become lethally dangerous to handle, let alone publish, documents from US government sources. Reporters who do so, and their editors, will risk the same fate as Assange and become subject to extradition followed by lifelong incarceration.

For this reason Daniel Ellsberg, the 91-year-old US whistleblower who was prosecuted for his role in the Pentagon Papers revelations, which exposed the covert bombing of Laos and Cambodia and thus helped end the Vietnam war, has given eloquent testimony in Assange’s defence.

He told an extradition hearing two years ago that he felt a “great identification” with Assange, adding that his revelations were among the most important in the history of the US.

The US government does not agree. It maintains that Assange was effectively a spy and not a reporter, and should be punished accordingly.

Up to a point this position is understandable. Assange was anything but an ordinary journalist. His deep understanding of computers and how they could be hacked singled him out from the professionally shambolic arts graduates who normally rise to eminence in newspapers.

The ultimate creature of the internet age, in 2006 he helped found WikiLeaks, an organisation that specialises in obtaining and releasing classified or secret documents, infuriating governments and corporations around the world.

The clash with the US came in 2010, when (in collaboration with the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, the New York Times and other international news organisations) WikiLeaks entered into one of the great partnerships of the modern era in any field. It started publishing documents supplied by the US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

Between them, WikiLeaks and Manning were responsible for a series of first-class scoops that any self-respecting reporter would die for. And these scoops were not the tittle-tattle that comprises the daily fodder of most journalism. They were of overwhelming global importance, reshaping our understanding of the Iraq war and the “war on terror”.

https://4b00398cd5d8ac5695872d9cb288db87.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

To give one example among thousands, WikiLeaks published a video of soldiers in a US helicopter laughing as they shot and killed unarmed civilians in Iraq – including a Reuters photographer and his assistant. (The US military refused to discipline the perpetrators.)

To the intense embarrassment of the USWikiLeaks revealed that the total number of civilian casualties in Iraq was 66,000 – far more than the US had acknowledged.


It shone an appalling new light on the abuse meted out to the Muslim inmates at Guantánamo Bay, including the revelation that 150 innocent people were held for years without charge.

Clive Stafford Smith, the then chairman of the human rights charity Reprieve who represented 84 Guantánamo prisoners, praised the way WikiLeaks helped him to establish that charges against his clients were fabricated.

It’s easy to see why the US launched a criminal investigation. Then events took an unexpected turn in November 2010 when Sweden issued an arrest warrant against Assange following allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange refused to go to Sweden, apparently on the grounds that this was a pretext for his extradition to the United States and took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Sweden never charged Assange with an offence, and dropped its investigation in 2019.

This was an eventful year in the Assange story. Ecuador kicked him out of the embassy and he was promptly arrested for breaching bail: he’s languished for the past three years in Belmarsh prison. Meanwhile the US pursues him using the same 1917 Espionage Act under which Ellsberg was unsuccessfully prosecuted. Assange’s defence, led by the solicitor Gareth Peirce and Edward Fitzgerald QC, has argued that his only crime was the crime of investigative journalism.

They point out that the indictment charges Assange with actions, such as protecting sources, that are basic journalistic practice: the US alleges that “Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records”. Any journalist who failed to take this elementary precaution when supplied with information by a source would be sacked.

The US stated that Assange “actively encouraged Manning” to provide the information. How disgraceful! No wonder Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, has warned that: “It is dangerous to suggest that these actions are somehow criminal rather than steps routinely taken by investigative journalists who communicate with confidential sources to receive classified information of public importance.”

Despite all this, there’s no reason to suppose that Patel will come to Assange’s rescue – though there may yet be further legal ways to fight extradition.

Even if Patel wasn’t already on the way to winning the all-corners record as the most repressive home secretary in modern history, the Johnson government, already in Joe Biden’s bad books, has no incentive to further alienate the US president.

If and when Assange is put on a plane to the US, investigative journalism will suffer a permanent and deadening blow.

And the message will be sent to war criminals not just in the US but in every country round the globe that they can commit their crimes with impunity.

May 23, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Leaked emails expose UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s connection to MI6-style ‘research and influence operation’AND to extraditing Julian Assange

British Home Secretary Priti Patel is due to imminently decide on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to the US, where he faces life imprisonment for journalistic activities.

Patel sat on the advisory council of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society think tank alongside Lord James Arbuthnot – a former Conservative Minister of Defence whose wife, Lady Emma Arbuthnot, made two key rulings against Assange in 2018, before being forced to step aside due to a “perception of bias.”

it is safe to assume the intelligence cabal bringing its influence to bear on Patel would strongly favor his extradition to the US.

The GRAYZONE, KIT KLARENBERG·MAY 18, 2022,

A deeply anti-democratic MI6-linked cabal’s apparent influence on Priti Patel raises serious questions about her fitness to rule on Julian Assange’s extradition to the US.

  • Cabal now managing MI6-inspired “research and influence operation” 
  • Effort may be funded by intelligence agency actors
  • British Home Secretary implicated in plot
  • Green advocates and perceived Chinese agents targeted
  • Home Office infiltrated by cabal’s civil service mole
  • Cabal seeks to seize power over energy policy and “displace” government minister
Continue reading

May 23, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The US Cries About War Crimes While Imprisoning A Journalist For Exposing Its War Crimes

 https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-us-cries-about-war-crimes-while?s=w. 20 Apr 22, In what his lawyers have described as a “brief but significant moment in the case,” a British magistrates’ court has signed off on Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, bringing the WikiLeaks founder one step closer to a US trial under the Espionage Act which threatens press freedoms worldwide.

The extradition case now goes to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval, which will likely be forthcoming as Patel is a reliably loyal empire manager. After that point, Assange’s legal team will be able to launch an appeal. 

This is happening at the same time the United States and the United Kingdom are loudly demanding accountability for alleged war crimes by the Russian military in Ukraine, which is interesting because attempting to bring accountability for war crimes is precisely why Julian Assange is in prison.

“He is a war criminal,” President Biden said of Vladimir Putin following allegations of war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine earlier this month. “I think it is a war crime. … He should be held accountable.”

Biden: Putin should face war crimes trial for Bucha killings 4 April 2022

Wikileaks 5 April – 12 years ago today 5 Julian Assange published the Collateral Murder video detailing the gunning down of civilians, children & 2 Reuters journalists. Assange faces a 175 year sentence if extradited for revealing this and other war crimes

This is why the US government is trying to extradite Julian Assange: for revealing the US massacre of civilians, including two Reuters journalists in Iraq

And that’s all I’d like to say here today, really. That this discrepancy is very interesting.

I mean, can we take a moment to deeply appreciate the irony of this? Because it’s so obscene and outrageous it’s actually hard to take in unless you really let it absorb. The most powerful government in the world, which serves as the hub of the most powerful empire that has ever existed, is working to extradite a journalist for exposing its war crimes while simultaneously rending its garments over war crime allegations against another government.

I mean, damn. You would think a power structure that had recently been caught red-handed committing war crimes and is currently in the process of imprisoning a journalist for exposing those war crimes would at least have the sense not to yell too loudly about war crimes for a little while. But this is how confident the empire is in its ability to control the narrative.

Really take it in. Really digest it. The more you think about it, the freakier it gets. Not only is the empire persecuting a journalist for exposing its war crimes while at the same time demanding that others be held accountable for war crimes, it is also attacking the free press for reporting the truth about the powerful while at the very same time engaging in a massive propaganda operation which holds that it is involved in Ukraine to protect its freedom and democracy.

I mean, the gall. The absolute temerity. The balls on this empire, man.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Assange exposed many ugly realities about the powerful in his work with WikiLeaks, but everything that he has managed to expose thereafter simply by forcing them to prosecute him far surpasses the revelations in those publications.

If the highest form of journalism is exposing the darkest secrets of the most powerful people in the world, then Julian Assange is the highest form of journalist.

April 21, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Dissent is dying in America – the backlash is vitriolic

AMERICAN DISSENT ON UKRAINE IS DYING IN DARKNESS   https://popularresistance.org/american-dissent-on-ukraine-is-dying-in-darkness/  AUDIO 

When It Came To The Ukraine Conflict, Professor Michael J. Brenner Did What He’s Done His Whole Life: Question American Foreign Policy.

This time the backlash was vitriolic.

As the death toll in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues to rise, there have only been a handful of Westerners publicly questioning NATO and the West’s role in the conflict. These voices are becoming fewer and further between as a wave of feverish backlash engulfs any dissent on the subject. One of these voices belongs to Professor Michael J. Brenner, a lifelong academic, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS/Johns Hopkins, as well as former Director of the International Relations & Global Studies Program at the University of Texas.

Brenner’s credentials also include having worked at the Foreign Service Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense and Westinghouse, and written several books on American foreign policy. From the vantage point of decades of experience and studies, the intellectual regularly shared his thoughts on topics of interest through a mailing list sent to thousands of readers—that is until the response to his Ukraine analysis made him question why he bothered in the first place.

In an email with the subject line “Quittin’ Time,” Brenner recently declared that, aside from having already said his piece on Ukraine, one of the main reasons he sees for giving up on expressing his opinions on the subject is that “it is manifestly obvious that our society is not capable of conducting an honest, logical, reasonably informed discourse on matters of consequence. Instead, we experience fantasy, fabrication, fatuousness and fulmination.” He goes on to decry President Joe Biden’s alarming comments in Poland when he all but revealed that the U.S. is—and perhaps has always been—interested in a Russian regime change.

On this week’s “Scheer Intelligence,” Brenner tells host Robert Scheer how the recent attacks he received—many of a personal, ad hominem nature—were some of the most vitriolic he’s ever experienced. The two discuss how many media narratives completely leave out that the eastward expansion of NATO, among other Western aggressions against Russia, played an important part in fueling the current humanitarian crisis. Corporate media’s “cartoonish” depiction of Russian president Vladimir Putin, adds Brenner, is not only misleading, but dangerous given the nuclear brinkmanship that has ensued. Listen to the full discussion between Brenner and Scheer as they continue to dissent despite living in an America that is seemingly increasingly hostile to any opinion that strays from the official line.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s family tirelessly advocate for his freedom

 https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/julian-assanges-family-tirelessly-seek-his-freedom,16208 By John Jiggens | 31 March 2022,

The fight for Julian Assange’s freedom goes on in the face of Western intransigence, writes Dr John Jiggens.

FRESH FROM attending the marriage of his son Julian Assange to partner Stella Moris, Assange’s continent-hopping father, John Shipton, will address the Palm Sunday rally in Brisbane on 10 April and attend a Q&A at a preview screening of the film Ithaka.

Produced by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton, Ithaka was directed by multi-award-winning director Ben Lawrence. The yet-to-be-released documentary will be a special thank-you to Julian’s many Queensland supporters. 

Filmed over two years across the UK, Europe, the U.S. and Australia, Ithaka follows John Shipton’s punishing schedule to save his son. 

We witness John embark on a European odyssey to rally a global network of supporters, advocate to politicians and cautiously step into the media’s glare, where he is forced to confront the events that made Julian a global flashpoint. 

In marked contrast to the war in Ukraine, the Iraqi war was covered by journalists embedded with the invading forces.

Civilian deaths were dismissed as “collateral damage”.  

When WikiLeaks showed us what “collateral damage” looked like from the perspective of Iraqi civilians, releasing a video of a massacre by an Apache helicopter gun crew of Iraqi civilians and two Reuter journalists, Julian Assange called it Collateral Murder.  

This intervention played an important role in ending the illegal UK, U.S. and Australian invasion of a sovereign nation, and because of this, the war criminals he exposed are destroying Julian Assange with the consent of the Australian Government, claiming he is the criminal.

But Assange was a hero for peace. 

For the Apache helicopter crew, the civilians on the ground were dehumanised. Like boys playing a computer game, they exclaimed “light ‘em up!” as they blew apart their victims from their unseen platform a mile in the sky.  

When a good samaritan stopped to help those still living, he and his children were ruthlessly machine-gunned. The crew blamed their father, saying he shouldn’t have brought children to a war zone.

Ithaka tracks John Shipton’s journey alongside Julian’s then-fiancée, Stella Moris, as they join forces to advocate for Julian.  

Stella and Julian’s marriage was a rare joyful moment for this embattled family. The mainstream media, of course, presented it as a bizarro celebrity wedding. Knowing which details to ignore, they focussed on the bride and groom’s clothes, rather than the politics. 

We learned that Julian, his brother Gabriel, and Stella and Julian’s two sons, Gabriel and Max, wore tartan kilts in honour of their Scottish heritage.

Vivienne Westwood, a long-time supporter, designed and made Stella a full-length wedding dress, which was adorned with graffiti and one of Westwood’s signature corsets. 

The largest contingent of the wedding party were prison guards and one of them was given the task of being the official photographer. Before saying “I do”, Stella was searched multiple times and had to pass through security scanners and sniffer dogs.

She was patted down in her wedding gown and fingerprinted four times. 

Two of the couple’s six guests, U.S. journalist Chris Hedges and Scottish journalist Craig Murray (who was to be one of the witnesses) were denied entry. They stayed outside with 150 supporters.

Craig Murray, who was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was fired for exposing the CIA black sites and torture centres in that country, was told that he could not enter because he would “endanger the security of the prison”

As Stella admitted:

“It’s not the wedding we would have planned.”

She also said:

“But we’re choosing to take control of our lives. We’re doing it for love, for each other, for our sons and because Julian’s life has been put on hold for long enough, robbing him of years with his family.”

Belmarsh’s Governor Jenny Louis ordered the couple’s family out of the prison the minute the service was over and Julian was taken back to his cell, knowing he may never get to live with his family. 

As their own bizarro wedding present, the UK Supreme Court dismissed Assange’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to allow his extradition to the USA. 

With Julian facing a 175-year sentence if extradited to the U.S., his family members are confronting the prospect of losing Julian forever to the abyss of the U.S. justice system.

Dr John Jiggens is a writer and journalist currently working in the community newsroom at Bay-FM in Byron Bay.

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March 31, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

London. Anti-nuclear campaigners have won a victory for free expression

ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners have won a victory for free expression after
forcing Transport for London (TfL) to back down from refusing to consider a
peace advert on the network.

TfL initially refused an application from the
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) for advertising space across the
capital but has been forced to reconsider following a threat of legal
action by the Public Interest Law Centre.

The application, originally
submitted in 2021, is for an advert showing a nuclear weapon broken in two
by CND’s famous peace symbol. It asks: “Why are we getting more nuclear
weapons when we could be investing in healthcare, renewable energy,
education?”

TfL had ruled the advert could not be carried because it
“promotes a party political cause or electioneering.” Acting for CND,
the law centre argued that the advertisement was not party political and
that TFL’s refusal to carry it was potentially in breach of the right to
free expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human
Rights. TfL has acknowledged that the original decision was incorrect, that
the advert was not party political, and have invited CND to resubmit the
advert for consideration.

 Morning Star 24th March 2022

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/anti-nuclear-campaigners-win-victory-for-free-expression

March 26, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

As UK government touted ”media freedom”, Julian Assange in high security Belmarsh Prison was an embarassment

JULIAN ASSANGE POSED PR PROBLEM FOR UK GOVERNMENT’S MEDIA CAMPAIGN  https://declassifieduk.org/julian-assange-posed-pr-problem-for-uk-governments-media-campaign/

UK officials were worried about public reaction to their hosting a media freedom event a few miles from Belmarsh prison, where Assange is incarcerated. The Foreign Office monitored activity online, developed ‘lines to take’ and warned ‘we should be ready’, emails show.

JOHN MCEVOY23 MARCH 2022  The UK’s treatment of Julian Assange posed a public relations problem for the Foreign Office’s media freedom campaign, files seen by Declassified UK show.

In July 2019, the UK co-hosted a Global Conference for Media Freedom, a first-of-its-kind event where 50 countries gathered to form a Media Freedom Coalition.

Costing £2.4 million, the event was hailed as “a major milestone” in the UK government’s “campaign to protect journalists doing their job”.

The conference was held just months after WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. 

He was transferred to Belmarsh prison, “the closest comparison in the United Kingdom to Guantánamo”, as a UK parliamentary report has described it.

Addressing the media conference, then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt declared: “If we act together, we can shine a spotlight on abuses and impose a diplomatic price on those who would harm journalists or lock them up for doing their jobs”.

‘We should be ready’

The hosting of a media freedom event within miles of Belmarsh prison in southeast London was seen as a public relations problem. Internal Foreign Office emails show UK officials monitored online behaviour accordingly.

After Hunt announced plans for the conference in February 2019, one official complained about “a few individual crazy responses to the FS’ [Foreign Secretary’s] tweet”.

By June, officials were requesting “Lines to Take on how best to respond to questions we expect to be raised on this occasion about the UK handling of the case of Julian Assange”.

In particular, “Icelandic criticism of UK handling of [the] Assange case” was seen to be “affecting messaging on media freedom”. 

This email was likely related to former Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, who had asserted in June that the Assange case put “the British justice system…on trial”

On 8 July, two days before the conference began, an unnamed official wrote about “a ramp up in activity by Assange campaigners”. 

One cause for concern was Assange’s mother Christine, who had “joined calls for a tweetstorm during the conference”, as well as “accounts [which] are small scale or are run by active trolls and provocateurs”.

The official outlined rules for engagement, noting “our current approach is right and we shouldn’t engage…However, we should be ready. I’m keen that we agree ahead of time how and when our approach would evolve”.

In an email with the subject line “Media Freedom Conference – online register of interest form”, one official even questioned: “what if someone like Assange applied to attend?”

The Foreign Office emails discussing Assange remain heavily redacted for reasons of “national security”.

‘No communications strategy can make this go away’

According to a recent academic study, Julian Assange “was by far the most frequently discussed individual on Twitter” with regards to the Media Freedom Coalition.

“Numerous tweets highlighted the apparent irony that the UK was establishing and leading an international initiative on media freedom, while simultaneously undermining free media…in their handling of Assange”, the researchers found.

Since 2019, the UK has nonetheless continued to use the Global Conference for Media Freedom as a vehicle through which to claim it supports press freedom.

Rebecca Vincent, the Director of International Campaigns for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), commented:

“It is disappointing that rather than looking to address the very serious substantive concerns about the case of Julian Assange, the UK Foreign Office seems to have treated the matter as only a public relations inconvenience as it prepared to host the Global Media Freedom Conference and launch the Media Freedom Coalition. 

“But the truth is that no communications strategy can make this go away. As long as Assange remains detained in the UK and as long as the US continues to seek his extradition and prosecution for publishing information in the public interest, this case will serve as a thorn in the sides of both governments and the Media Freedom Coalition itself.”

She added: “They should instead lead by example by dropping the charges, releasing Assange, and putting an end to his persecution once and for all”.

March 24, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Assange denied permission to appeal

March 14, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, UK | Leave a comment

The US and NATO have never been sanctioned for start ing wars. Why? — RT World News

That’s right – you can’t read this, now that the Western powers have censored it.

March 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention

Although the threat of imminent extradition has been stayed, Assange stands on thin ice. What began as a case on the most fundamental rights of journalists to expose war crimes and torturehas been whittled away by the British judiciary to the single question of how “assurances” of Assange’s safety should be given by one criminal state to another.

Whatever the outcome, the US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention, even though he has been convicted of no crime.

Assange granted leave to appeal to UK Supreme Court against extradition,  https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/01/24/assa-j24.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws Oscar GrenfellThomas Scripps, 24January 2022

The UK High Court has provided WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a route to appeal to the Supreme Court in his extradition case against the United States government.

Assange is seeking to overturn the High Court’s direction last December that he be extradited, against the earlier ruling of the lower Magistrates’ Court that to do so would be “oppressive” on health grounds.

The High Court upheld a US appeal against the Magistrates’ Court ruling despite accepting evidence of Assange’s intense physical and psychological ill-health. It also did not contest the likelihood that the conditions he would be subjected to in the US, as discussed throughout the entire preceding court process, would likely result in his death by suicide.

The December ruling was overwhelmingly based upon supposed US assurances, issued months after deadlines had elapsed, that Assange’s conditions in an American prison would not be as bad as previously accepted.

With numerous caveats and loopholes, the US assurances asserted that Assange would not be held under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), a regime of total isolation, to which those convicted of terrorism offenses, along with drug lords and major serial killers, are sometimes subjected in federal prison.

The High Court found that the Magistrates Court should have solicited such assurances prior to its ruling.

In response to Assange’s request for leave to appeal this decision yesterday, the judges certified a single point of law of public importance, the requirement for an issue to be heard in the Supreme Court. This was: “In what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings [in this case, the magistrates’ court].”

Assange’s lawyers had argued that “profound issues of natural justice arise where assurances are introduced by the Requesting State for the first time at the High Court stage… These issues have never been addressed by the Supreme Court.”

As his solicitors elaborated in an explanatory note, “There has long been a general approach by the courts that requires that all relevant matters are raised before the District Judge appointed to consider the case in the Magistrates’ Court,” but this has been undermined by the treating of assurances as “issues” rather than “evidence”, allowing them to be introduced at a later stage in proceedings.

“The defence argument is that despite being as demanding of close evidential scrutiny as the evidence already heard, and despite the content of the assurances being applicable to the testimony of witnesses already heard but not to be heard again, assurances have been afforded a different procedural position.”

The assurances in question, accepted in “good faith” by the High Court, are given by a state with a decades-long history of lies and dirty tricks whose record in the Assange case was exposed a month before the High Court ruling as including plans to kidnap and assassinate the heroic journalist.

Based on the statements of 30 former US officials, Yahoo! News revealed that the Trump administration and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had discussed kidnapping or assassinating Assange when he was a political refugee in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2017. The US indictment was first conceived of as a pseudo-legal cover for a possible CIA rendition.

The character of that indictment, as a concoction from spies and criminals, had been proven in June 2021. Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, whose testimony still forms a crucial part of the indictment, admitted that all his substantive allegations against Assange were lies proffered in exchange for immunity from US prosecution. The star US witness is reportedly facing prosecution in Iceland on fraud charges, having been convicted of child molestation and embezzlement offenses prior to his latest collaboration with the American government.

Although the threat of imminent extradition has been stayed, Assange stands on thin ice. What began as a case on the most fundamental rights of journalists to expose war crimes and torturehas been whittled away by the British judiciary to the single question of how “assurances” of Assange’s safety should be given by one criminal state to another.

The Magistrates’ Court upheld the sweeping US attacks on democratic rights contained in the attempt by a state to prosecute a journalist for publishing true information about its unlawful activities. This forced Assange to defend the US appeal on the grounds of the threat to his mental health posed by extradition and imprisonment in the US. The High Court’s acceptance of the US appeal means Assange’s defence is now limited to the question of when assurances should have been provided.

In keeping with the UK’s courts’ trashing of democratic rights throughout this case, the High Court rejected out of hand the point of appeal that the assurances are worthless because the US asserts the right to withdraw them if Assange violates, or is alleged to have violated, certain conditions.

Assange’s lawyers argued “oppressive treatment” is barred, “whether or not the requesting state justifies its imposition by reference to conduct.”The High Court replied that it did not consider these arguments to “raise certifiable points” for the Supreme Court’s consideration.

It is now technically down to the Supreme Court to agree to hear Assange’s case; it would be highly unusual, though not impossible, for it to refuse to consider an issue certified by the High Court.

If Assange’s appeal is unsuccessful and his case is sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel to rubber-stamp his extradition, then his lawyers can seek to cross appeal the Magistrates’ Court’s original decision on the substantive issues of the case—press freedom, the espionage act and the bar on extradition for political offences. But leave to do so is not assured and would mean years more incarceration as the new appeal works its way through the courts.

Whatever the outcome, the US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention, even though he has been convicted of no crime.

He remains in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison, dubbed the UK’s Guantanamo Bay. With the British government allowing the mass spread of Omicron, in the latest stage of its homicidal “herd immunity” policy, the prison has reportedly been hit by COVID outbreaks. Assange, because of his fragile health, is at intense risk of succumbing to the virus. The repeated prison lockdowns intensify his isolation.

January 27, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, Legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Is US extradition inevitable for Julian Assange? | The Stream

Aljazeera English, 14 January 2022, It’s been more than a decade since the website WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos – some of which revealed possible US war crimes. Now WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has one more chance to appeal a UK ruling that would allow him to be extradited to the US.

Last month, a UK High Court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking and violating the US Espionage Act. The ruling goes against a lower court that previously said harsh US prison conditions would endanger Assange given his worsening mental and physical health.

Assange’s legal team has since filed an appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court, but in order for the appeal to be considered, it must be deemed of “general public importance”.

n 2019, the Trump administration indicted Assange for violating the US Espionage Act on counts related to the WikiLeaks release of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables. The US argues the release of classified information put the lives of American allies in danger.

Twenty-four civil liberties and press freedom groups, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders have called on the Biden administration to stop its prosecution against Assange. In a joint letter to the US Justice Department, they argue that Assange’s prosecution could set a precedent that would harm press freedom and the safety of journalists reporting on national security issues.

Assange spent seven years in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and was eventually arrested in 2019. Last week, Assange’s supporters marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment at London’s Belmarsh high security prison.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss the outlook for Assange’s case and its broader implications for press freedom worldwide.

January 14, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, media | Leave a comment

The Australian government is complicit with USA and UK, imperilling the health of Julian Assange, may well cause his death.

AUKUS alliance driving Assange to his death,  https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/aukus-alliance-driving-assange-to-his-death,15904, By John Jiggens | 6 January 2022,   The actions of the U.S., UK and Australia are imperiling the health of Julian Assange and could result in the tragic death of the publisher, writes John Jiggens.

THE NEWS THAT Julian Assange has suffered a stroke while detained in London’s Belmarsh Prison has strengthened the fears of Assange supporters that the AUKUS alliance is comfortable with the WikiLeaks’ founder’s death at their hands.

But would an Australian Government be complicit in a plot against one of its own citizens?

Consider these recent stories.

In September 2021, Yahoo! News revealed that Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA Director in 2017, became party to a scheme to kidnap Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy or to assassinate him.

The Yahoo! investigation was based on conversations with 30 former U.S. officials. Among those interviewed, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange.

Greg Barns SC, a barrister and advisor to Julian Assange, told Bay FM:

“It was like something out of a James Bond film, except sadly, it was very true. There was a clear plan to take Assange out. We now have the Australian Government on notice that one of its citizens was the subject of a conspiracy to murder plot by the CIA.”

Further, he remarked:

The conduct of the CIA was outrageous, unlawful and represents a complete breach of the so-called alliance or friendship between Australia and the United States.

The CIA acts essentially as a criminal enterprise. It is state-sanctioned criminality. To be overtly planning to murder someone in any circumstances would amount to a conspiracy to murder for anyone else and the persons would face very serious criminal charges.

The Yahoo! report prompted prominent Assange supporters to write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking if the Australian Government accepted the behaviour of an ally plotting to murder an Australian citizen and questioning whether Australian intelligence agencies participated in the plot or were notified about it.

Five weeks passed while Morrison’s office composed a 100-word reply.

It acceped no responsibility or accountability whatsoever. Indeed, Morrison’s reply did not deny Australian involvement or knowledge of the plot.

Instead it passed the buck, advising:

Concerns about the legality or propriety of the activities of Australian intelligence agency are best directed to the IGIS, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security.’

During the UK High Court extradition appeal in October, the Courier Mail ran another story, titled ‘Assange snubbed Aussie help 29 times, says Payne’.

Why, in the middle of Assange’s High Court hearing, was Foreign Minister Marise Payne using her friends in the Murdoch media to portray Assange as un-Australian, snubbing her patriotic ‘’Aussie help’’?

Assange’s father John Shipton commented:

“I get no help from Marise Payne in any way whatsoever. Saying I have been snubbed 29 times by Julian is to defend her. It’s only to defend her. It’s nothing to do with Julian.”

The family have continually asked for Payne and Morrison to actively engage with Australia’s UK and U.S. allies. They see extradition as an outrageous surrender of Australian sovereignty and they expect that Morrison and Payne should tell UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden so.

Shipton, who has travelled to 50 countries to garner support for Julian, said:

“Everywhere I go, people ask where is the Australian Government in this? What is the substance of Australia in its relationship with the UK that it allows this show trial to go on without comment?”

 

January 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian government and Labor opposition ignore the suffering of Australian Julian Assange. Can they afford to, as election looms?

If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia.

the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

Saving Julian Assange,  Last week, the British High Court ruled that Julian Assange can be extradited to face charges in the United States. His fiancée, Stella Moris, vows to continue the fight alongside his network of supporters. By Amy Fallon.  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2021/12/18/saving-julian-assange/163974600013099?fbclid=IwAR2dLaNxKG0FTyBvywjYpL_HpxPb8RWA6rF0mQwIE-X8Pnd8TMbAzkWed2Y#mt This week, Stella Moris said she and Julian Assange still intended to marry in the new year, although they have not set a date. She is currently speaking to the prison about arrangements. Moris hopes it will be a ceremony attended by close family and friends, with their children, Gabriel, 4, and Max, 2, taking part.

“The High Court ruling has made things even more precarious than before,” she tells The Saturday Paper.

“But that has only strengthened our determination to celebrate what is constant and certain in our lives – our love and support for each other.”

Moris is a South-African born lawyer and an activist in her own right. Her family were involved in the anti-apartheid battle. After the British High Court ruled that her fiancé could be extradited to the United States, her response was simple: “We will fight.”

“History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

She sees the case in these terms: “Every generation has an epic fight to fight, and this is ours, because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society.”Last week’s decision was made after two of Britain’s most senior judges ruled Assange, earlier deemed a suicide risk, had received assurances from the US that he would not face the strictest measures before a trial or once convicted. They found a lower court had erred in offering him protection.

“That risk is in our judgement excluded by the assurances which are offered,” one of the judges, Lord Burnett, said. “It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel must now approve Assange’s extradition. Lawyers for the 50-year-old are appealing the decision. Subsequent hearings are likely to raise the issue of free speech, which campaigners say is at the heart of the case involving the Walkley Award-winning journalist.Many around the world are now calling on the Australian government to intervene and save Assange’s life before it’s too late.

“There seem to be no limits to the savagery of the Anglosphere – US, UK, Australia – in exacting revenge for the crime of informing the population of what the powerful want to conceal,” the intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky later told The Saturday Paper.

He urged followers of Julian Assange, wanted by the US for breaking espionage laws after publishing hundreds of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and diplomatic cables, to “get organised”.

“And act,” added Chomsky, because there was “not much time”.
Another two to three years may drag on before the extradition is resolved. Australian journalist John Pilger, who described Assange as “frail and skeletal” the last time he hugged his friend in 2020, said the fact he was still alive was remarkable.

Last weekend’s revelation, that Assange had suffered a stroke in October, didn’t shock the veteran reporter. A month earlier, a Yahoo News report revealed that the CIA allegedly planned to assassinate Assange.

“If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence. History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

To Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, Julian, is a “bad dancer” with a “dorky sense of humour”. But, he says, “he is very sweet with his children, very good with kids, and a very principled man”.

Shipton produced the recent documentary Ithaka, which tells the story of Gabriel and Julian’s father’s struggle to have Assange freed.“Often people lose sight that these are actual real people involved, not just a head on a screen, or a headline, that this is a person’s father, brother, partner,” Shipton says. “Once people find out about how tragic the actual injustice that Julian suffered [is], and through no fault of their own his family are suffering, they’re quite confronted that they’ve allowed it to carry on for as long as it has.”

Shipton concedes the fight is just as much or even more political than legal, and others echo this. “There is no doubt that [this] aggressive and relentless pursuit is driven by the US security and defence state,” said Greg Barns, a barrister and adviser to the Australian Assange campaign.

A bipartisan Australian Parliamentary Friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home group comprises 25 senators and MPs, but was adding “about one member or so monthly”, says Shipton. In the past week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has spoken out against Assange being sent to the US. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia. The opposition has urged the government to encourage the US to close the matter, although it has not elaborated on what it means by this.According to Kellie Tranter, a Maitland-based lawyer, human rights activist, researcher and former WikiLeaks Party candidate, the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

“If the level of interest keeps increasing, the government may feel obliged to act as the Howard government did in the case of David Hicks,” she says, referring to the former Guantánamo Bay detainee. “The last thing the government wants is this case soaking up oxygen in place of its policies. It’s public criticism, which is exactly what they wanted to avoid in the case of Hicks.”Tranter points out that progressive campaign group GetUp! played a critical role in Hicks’s repatriation by making his detention by the US an election issue, mobilising public opinion against his mistreatment. They may be the only organisation capable of doing the same in this case, she said. GetUp! said they had no comment on Assange.

In Britain, Assange has admirers from all walks of life. Sadia Kokni, 40, is British-born with African, Indian and Middle Eastern heritage and the managing director of a cosmetics company. Despite having a disability, she attends twice-weekly protest vigils at the Australian high commission with “Team Assange”, comprising about 50 people, including bus drivers, graphic designers, nurses and artists.

“I campaign for nothing, I only campaign for Julian,” Kokni says. “Unlike when people campaign against a war – it’s a nation against a nation – when it comes to Julian it’s the most powerful nation in the world against one man and he’s exposing the atrocities of global governance and things that every living person should be aware of.”

Although Kokni acknowledges Assange’s predicament could be treated with greater urgency by the British parliament, she also feels disbelief over Australia’s inaction.“They could be doing a lot more, Australia. I find it ridiculous,” she said, singling out the high commissioner, George Brandis. “Brandis – what is he actually doing? Has he written any letters?”

The Australian high commission in Britain did not respond to requests for comment.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics | Leave a comment

The reasons for the USA’s persecution of Julian Assange : Glenn Greenwald spells it out

“much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do.”


Julian Assange Loses Appeal: British High Court Accepts U.S. Request to Extradite Him for Trial

Press freedom groups have warned Assange’s prosecution is a grave threat. The Biden DOJ ignored them, and today won a major victory toward permanently silencing the pioneering transparency activist.

Glenn Greenwald  11 December   In a London courtroom on Friday morning, Julian Assange suffered a devastating blow to his quest for freedom. A two-judge appellate panel of the United Kingdom’s High Court ruled that the U.S.’s request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to stand trial on espionage charges is legally valid.

As a result, that extradition request will now be sent to British Home Secretary Prita Patel, who technically must approve all extradition requests but, given the U.K. Government’s long-time subservience to the U.S. security state, is all but certain to rubber-stamp it. Assange’s representatives, including his fiancee Stella Morris, have vowed to appeal the ruling, but today’s victory for the U.S. means that Assange’s freedom, if it ever comes, is further away than ever: not months but years even under the best of circumstances…………

In response to that January victory for Assange, the Biden DOJ appealed the ruling and convinced Judge Baraitser to deny Assange bail and ordered him imprisoned pending appeal. The U.S. then offered multiple assurances that Assange would be treated “humanely” in U.S. prison once he was extradited and convicted. They guaranteed that he would not be held in the most repressive “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado — whose conditions are so repressive that it has been condemned and declared illegal by numerous human rights groups around the world — nor, vowed U.S. prosecutors, would he be subjected to the most extreme regimen of restrictions and isolation called Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”) unless subsequent behavior by Assange justified it. American prosecutors also agreed that they would consent to any request from Assange that, once convicted, he could serve his prison term in his home country of Australia rather than the U.S. Those guarantees, ruled the High Court this morning, rendered the U.S. extradition request legal under British law.

What makes the High Court’s faith in these guarantees from the U.S. Government particularly striking is that it comes less than two months after Yahoo News reported that the CIA and other U.S. security state agencies hate Assange so much that they plotted to kidnap or even assassinate him during the time he had asylum protection from Ecuador. Despite all that, Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde announced today that “the court is satisfied that these assurances” will serve to protect Assange’s physical and mental health.

The effective detention by the U.S. and British governments of Assange is just months shy of a full decade. ……………………….. Assange has been imprisoned in the high-security Belmarsh prison, described in the BBC in 2004 as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay.” He has thus spent close to seven years inside the embassy and two years and eight months inside Belmarsh: just five months shy of a decade with no freedom………..

……….  In May 2019,the British government  unveiled an 18-count felony indictment against him for espionage charges, based on the role he played in WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs and diplomatic cables, which revealed multiple war crimes by the U.S. and U.K. as well as rampant corruption by numerous U.S. allies throughout the world. Even though major newspapers around the world published the same documents in partnership with WikiLeaks — including The New York TimesThe GuardianEl Pais and others — the DOJ claimed that Assange went further than those newspapers by encouraging WikiLeaks’ source, Chelsea Manning, to obtain more documents and by trying to help her evade detection: something all journalists have not only the right but the duty to their sources to do.

Because the acts of Assange that serve as the basis of the U.S. indictment are acts in which investigative journalists routinely engage with their sources, press freedom and civil liberties groups throughout the West vehemently condemned the Assange indictment as one of the gravest threats to press freedoms in years. In February, following Assange’s victory in court, “a coalition of civil liberties and human rights groups urged the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite” Assange, as The New York Times put it.

That coalition — which includes the ACLU, Amnesty International, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Committee to Protect Journalists — warned that the Biden DOJ’s ongoing attempt to extradite and prosecute Assange is “a grave threat to press freedom,” adding that “much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do.” Kenneth Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times that “most of the charges against Assange concern activities that are no different from those used by investigative journalists around the world every day.” ………………

But the Biden administration — led by officials who, during the Trump years, flamboyantly trumpeted the vital importance of press freedoms — ignored those pleas from this coalition of groups and instead aggressively pressed ahead with the prosecution of Assange. The Obama DOJ had spent years trying to concoct charges against Assange using a Grand Jury investigation, but ultimately concluded back in 2013 that prosecuting him would pose too great a threat to press freedom. But the Biden administration appears to have no such qualms, and The New York Times made clear exactly why they are so eager to see Assange in prison:

Democrats like the new Biden team are no fan of Mr. Assange, whose publication in 2016 of Democratic emails stolen by Russia aided Donald J. Trump’s narrow victory over Hillary Clinton.

In other words, the Biden administration is eager to see Assange punished and silenced for life not out of any national security concerns but instead due to a thirst for vengeance over the role he played in publishing documents during the 2016 election that reflected poorly on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Those documents published by WikiLeaks revealed widespread corruption at the DNC, specifically revealing how they cheated in order to help Clinton stave off a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). WikiLeaks’ reporting led to the resignation of the top five DNC officials, including its then-Chair, Rep. Debbie Wassserman Schultz (D-FL). Democratic luminaries such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Al Gore’s 2000 campaign chair Donna Brazile both said, in the wake of WikiLeak’s reporting, that the DNC cheated to help Clinton……………………………

It is difficult at this point to avoid the conclusion that Julian Assange is not only imprisoned for the crime of journalism which exposed serious crimes and lies by the west’s most powerful security state agencies, but he is also a classic political prisoner. When the Obama DOJ was first pursuing the possibility of prosecution, media outlets and liberal advocacy groups were vocal in their opposition. One thing and only one thing has changed since then: in the interim, Assange published documents that were incriminating of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, and Democrats, as part of their long list of villains who they blamed for Clinton’s defeat (essentially everyone in the world except Clinton and the Democratic Party itself), viewed WikiLeaks’ reporting as a major factor in Trump’s victory.

That is why they and their liberal allies in corporate media harbor so much bloodlust to see Assange imprisoned. Julian Assange is a pioneer of modern journalism, a visionary who was the first to see that a major vulnerability of corrupt power centers in the digital age was mass data leaks that could expose their misconduct. Based on that prescient recognition, he created a technological and journalistic system to enable noble sources to safely blow the whistle on corrupt institutions by protecting their anonymity: a system now copied and implemented by major news organizations around the world.

Assange, over the last fifteen years, has broken more major stories and done more consequential journalism than all the corporate journalists who hate him combined. He is not being imprisoned despite his pioneering journalism and dissent from the hegemony of the U.S. security state. He is imprisoned precisely because of that. The accumulated hostility toward Assange from employees of media corporations who hate him due to professional jealousy and the belief that he undermined the Democratic Party, and from the U.S. security state apparatus which hates him for exposing its crimes and refusing to bow to its dictates, has created a climate where the Biden administration and their British servants feel perfectly comfortable imprisoning arguably the most consequential journalist of his generation even as they continue to lecture the rest of the world about the importance of press freedoms and democratic values.

No matter the outcome of further proceedings in this case, today’s ruling means that the U.S. has succeeded in ensuring that Assange remains imprisoned, hidden and silenced into the foreseeable future. If they have not yet permanently broken him, they are undoubtedly close to doing so. His own physicians and family members have warned of this repeatedly. Citizens of the U.S. and subjects of the British Crown are inculcated from birth to believe that we are blessed to live under a benevolent and freedom-protecting government, and that tyranny only resides in enemy states. Today’s judicial approval by the U.K. High Court of the U.S.’s attack on core press freedom demonstrates yet again the fundamental lie at the heart of this mythology. https://greenwald.substack.com/p/julian-assange-loses-appeal-british

December 20, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, Reference, USA | Leave a comment