Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange Extradition’

Assange’s martyrdom for truth continues

January 7, 2021

I should have seen this coming.

After ruling against extraditing Julian Assange to the United States to be tried for espionage and computer hacking, British Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that he must stay in prison.

One technique of the old Soviet Union for tormenting imprisoned political dissidents was to give them hope that they would be released by a certain date and then, when the date came due, tell them their sentences would be extended.

This is what has happened to Assange.

Julian Assange faces an array of charges in the United States, mostly related to his publication of secret U.S. documents that reveal war crimes. He accepted political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid possible extradition to the United states.

In 2019, Ecuador withdrew its protection and Assange was confined to Belmarsh prison, which is reserved for the most dangerous and violent criminals. He has been in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, and cut off from contact with family, friends and lawyers. A United States expert on torture has said that his conditions amount to torture.

Judge Baraitser ruled that the United States has a legal right to extradite Assange, but denied the extradition request on the grounds that his mental and physical health would be threatened if he were sentenced, as would likely happen, to the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. But conditions are nearly as bad, or maybe just as bad, in Belmarsh.

She possibly had a point when she declared Assange a flight risk. He did skip bail in 2012 when he took refuge in the embassy.

But there is no need or justification for subjecting him to the conditions in which he is being confined in Belmarsh. He could be confined without solitary confinement, lack of exercise, and lack of contact with visitors.

It was unrealistic to expect Judge Baraitser to refuse to extradite Assange on freedom of the press grounds. The British Official Secrets Act is even more far reaching than the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

There has been an informal policy in the United States of prosecuting whistleblowers, while refraining from prosecuting journalists and news organizations that publish the secrets the whistleblowers reveal. But this, too, has little foundation in logic or law.

The basic issue is that if a government can commit crimes in secret, and punish those who reveal the crimes, there is no limit to its tyrannical power.

The only way to address this issue for once and for all is to pay laws limiting secrecy. One way to do this would be allow accused whistle-blowers and journalists to go free if they can convince a judge or jury that the information they revealed was kept secret only to conceal crime, wrongdoing or incompetence.

LINK

British Judge Keeps Assange in Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition by Kevin Gotsztola for Shadowproof.

Wednesday’s Other Story: On the case of Julian Assange, and fearing empire more than Trump by Matt Taibbi on TX News. [Added 1/8/2021]

For Julian Assange, truth really is a weapon

January 5, 2021

The U.S. government spent 10 years trying to capture Julian Assange, exerting pressure on the governments of Britain, Sweden, Ecuador and other countries in humiliating ways.

A British judge’s decision Monday, denying a U.S. request for extradition, may be the beginning of the end of Assange’s ordeal.  Let’s hope so.

What made Julian Assange such a theat?

It was his insight that truth can literally be a weapon, and a dangerous one.  He explained his philosophy in a blog post in 2007, shortly he and friends launched Wikileaks.

His insight was that conspiracies—whether criminal, terrorist, corporate or governmental—require the ability to communicate in secret.  A conspiracy, in his definition, is any action that requires secrecy in order to succeed.

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.  This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems.  Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.

Source: IQ.ORG.

Criminal and terrorist conspiracies fall apart when conspirators fear that anyone they talk to may be an informer.  Corporate and governmental conspiracies fall apart when conspirators fear that anyone they talk to may be a whistle-blower.

The result of fear of leaks is that the conspirators either stop doing anything they fear being made public (unlikely) or that they become so concerned with not incriminating themselves that they stop communicating effectively.

Later on, in an interview, he presented a more hopeful view.  He said the fact that governments and powerful institutions persecute whistle-blowers is an indication that they are reform-able or at least vulnerable.  If they weren’t reform-able or vulnerable, they wouldn’t care what the public knows or thinks.

I have said before that censorship is always an opportunity. The signal that censorship sends off reveals the fear of reform, and therefore the possibility of reform. In this case, what we see is a clear signal that those structures are not merely hypocritical, but rather that they are threatened in a way that they have not been previously.

From this, we can see, on one hand, extraordinary hypocrisy from the entire White House with regard to the importance of the freedom of speech, and, on the other hand, a betrayal of those statements—an awful betrayal of the values of the US Revolution.

In spite of this, when such a quantity of quality information is released, we have the opportunity to rattle this structure enough that we have a chance of achieving some significant reforms. Some of those, perhaps, are just being felt, while others will take a while, because of the cascade of cause and effect.

Source: In Conversation with Julian Assange Part II

The third aim of Wikileaks was to create a unofficial historical record so journalists and historians would not have to rely on official sources.

Orwell’s dictum, “He who controls the present controls the past, and he who controls the past controls the future,” was never truer than it is now. With digital archives, with these digital repositories of our intellectual record, control over the present allows one to perform an absolutely untraceable removal of the past.

Source: In Conversation with Julian Assange Part I

When people like U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designate Wikileaks as a “hostile non-state intelligence service,” there’s something to it.  Assange and his friends really did try to disrupt the existing power structure, alone.  What was distinctive is that Wikileaks was facilitating spying not for a government or a political movement, but for we the people.

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British judge denies extradition of Assange

January 4, 2021

British Judge Vanessa Baraitser has denied the U.S. government’s request to extradite Julian Assange, on the grounds that his life and health would be at risk.

Wow! I did not see this coming.  The U.S. government will appeal, of course.  I hope Assange is released on bail as soon as possible.  His release is not a certainty.

LINKS

Wikileaks founder extradition to US blocked by UK Judge by BBC News.

Julian Assange cannot be extradited to US, British judge rules by Ben Quinn for The Guardian.

The Assange Extradition Ruling Is a Relief, But It Isn’t Justice by Caitlin Johnstone.

Terrible Assange Extradition Ruling for Press Freedom by Ian Welsh.  [Added 1/5/2021]

Assange Wins – The Cost: The Crushing of Press Freedom by Jonathan Cook for Counterpunch. [Added 1/6/2021]

A reminder: What we owe to Wikileaks

January 3, 2021

On Monday, a British court will decide whether or not Julian Assange will be extradited to the US, to face charges of espionage and cybercrimes.

Assange has been in jail since his arrest by the London Metropolitan Police on April 11, 2019 and as of today, has spent nearly a decade in confinement in one form or the other.

On Monday, Judge Vanessa Baraitser will decide whether Assange is to be extradited to the US to stand trial. Julian Assange faces 18 charges under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If extradited and convicted in the United States, he could face a jail term of up to 175 years.

If extradited, Assange would almost certainly be tried in northern Virginia, where 85 percent of the population is employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Department and the State Department.  Espionage cases are tried behind closed doors and on the basis of secret evidence.  Conviction is virtually certain.

Assange would almost certainly wind up in the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado.   He would be in permanent solitary confinement in a concrete box cell with a window four inches wide, with six bed checks a day and one hour of exercise in an outdoor cage.

Probably Judge Baraitser’s decision will be appealed, which means that Assange could remain where he is, in Belmarsh Prison.  Known as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay,” Belmarsh is normally reserved for the most violent and dangerous offenders and is no better than the Colorado supermax prison.

Assange had been confined to his cell for 23 hours a day.  Since an outbreak of the coronavirus in his wing of the prison, he has been kept in his cell 24 hours a day.  He is in poor health, and has been denied requested medical care.

His supporters say his life is in danger.  Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, has said Assange’s treatment amounts to torture and asked for an end to his “arbitrary detention.”

The charges against Assange have to do with his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning in exposing US war crimes and other atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But, as Suzie Dawson reminds us in the video above (from 2018), Assange has done much, much more for the world than this.

The basic issue is clear.  Does the U.S. government, or any other government, have the legal authority to commit crimes and punish people for revealing those crimes?  If it does have such authority, then what is our supposed democracy worth?

LINKS

Verdict in Julian Assange’s extradition case to be delivered on Monday by the People’s Dispatch.

The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom and Tyranny by Glenn Greenwald on Substack.

Crown Prosecutors Submit Final Argument for Assange Extradition by Kevin Gosztola for ShadowProof.

Assange Legal Team Submits Closing Argument Against Extradition to the United States by Kevin Gosztola for The Dissenter.

For Years, journalists cheered Assange’s abuse – now they’ve paved his way to a U.S. gulag by Jonathan Cook on his blog.

Julian Assange and journalistic hypocrisy

November 25, 2020

The Assange case and freedom of the press

October 8, 2020

The Unprecedented and Illegal Campaign to Eliminate Julian Assange by Charles Glass for The Intercept.

Daniel Ellsberg on the Assange Extradition and Growing Fascism for theAnalysis.news.

Reporters Claim Facebook Is Censoring Information on Assange Case by Alan McLeod for Mint Press News.

The Assange case is an exceptional attack on press freedom––so why is the media largely ignoring it? by Patrick Cockburn for The Independent.

Julian Assange: the fate of enemies of the state

October 4, 2020

Julian Assange in the dock. [BBC News]

Julian Assange is accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 by revealing U.S. war crimes,  I didn’t understand how the U.S. government treats people convicted of political crimes until I started following the Assange extradition hearing. 

It is like the old Soviet Union.  Crimes against the state were treated much more savagely than ordinary crimes.  Here is what Chris Hedges had to say about where Assange is likely to wind up.

The U.S. created in the so-called “war on terror” parallel legal and penal codes to railroad dissidents and rebels into prison. These rebels are held in prolonged solitary confinement, creating deep psychological distress. They are prosecuted under special administrative measures, known as SAMs, to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail.

They are denied access to the news and other reading material. They are barred from participating in educational and religious activities in the prison. They are subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. They must shower and go to the bathroom on camera.

They are permitted to write one letter a week to a single member of their family, but cannot use more than three pieces of paper. They often have no access to fresh air and must take the one hour of recreation in a cage that looks like a giant hamster wheel.

The U.S. has set up a segregated facility, the Communication Management Unit, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Nearly all the inmates transferred to Terre Haute are Muslims.

A second facility has been set up at Marion, Ill., where the inmates again are mostly Muslim but also include a sprinkling of animal rights and environmental activists. Their sentences are arbitrarily lengthened by “terrorism enhancements” under the Patriot Act. 

Amnesty International has called the Marion prison facility “inhumane.”  All calls and mail – although communication customarily is off-limits to prison officials – are monitored in these two Communication Management Units. Communication among prisoners is required to be only in English.

The highest-level “terrorists” are housed at the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, known as Supermax, in Florence, Colorado, where prisoners have almost no human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation. It is Guantánamo-like conditions in colder weather.

Source: Chris Hedges: The Cost of Resistance

Here is how John Pilger describes Assange’s current treatment (slightly abbreviated).

In the Assange trial, the defendant was caged behind thick glass, and had to crawl on his knees to a slit in the glass, overseen by his guard, to make contact with his lawyers.  His message, whispered barely audibly through face masks, was then passed by post-it the length of the court to where his barristers were arguing the case against his extradition to an American hellhole.

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It’s the USA that’s on trial, not Julian Assange

October 1, 2020

If a government has the power to commit crimes and to punish those who reveal those crimes, there is no barrier to any form of tyranny.

In Wikileaks, Julian Assange created a means by which whistleblowers could reveal crimes and not be caught, and an example for others to follow.  He is one of the greatest heroes of our time.

By forgiving war criminals and prosecuting Assange, the U.S. government is acting like a dictatorship.  The governments of the U.K., Sweden, Ecuador and Australia are acting as if they are ruled by this dictatorship.

LINKS

The Idea Behind WikiLeaks: Julian Assange as a Physics Student by Niraj Lal on Consortium News.

The Stalinist Trial of Julian Assange: Which Side Are You On? by John Pilger.

CIA Torture Victim Backs Assange at Extradition Trial by Kevin Gosztola for Shadowproof.

Julian Assange US Extradition Show Trial of Journalism at the Old Bailey by John Kendall Hawkins for Antiwar.com.

Assange on Trial: Solitary Confinement and Parlous Health Care by Binoy Kampmark for Counterpunch.

The Guardian’s deceit-ridden new statement betrays both Julian Assange and journalism by Jonathan Cook.

The deeper problem concerning Julian Assange

October 25, 2019

Julian Assange, who faces extradition from the UK to the USA on charges based on his publication of American government secrets, is being denied the right to a fair hearing.  He is being abused and tormented.

But the deeper problem is that even if his legal rights were respected, he might well be convicted under existing U.S. law.

And this would establish the precedent that the U.S. government can commit crimes, classify those crimes as secret and imprison anyone who makes these crimes known.

This would break the uneasy truce between the government and the U.S. press, in which whistleblowers reveal secrets at their peril, but the press is allowed to publish them with impunity.

Such a distinction does not make logical or legal sense.  In the law of libel, for example, the writer and the publisher are both liable for damages.  But in practice, it has allowed some abuses of power to come to light that otherwise would have been hidden.

The U.S. government has already claimed the legal right to wage undeclared wars, to commit assassinations, to engage in warrantless arrests and warrantless surveillance and to torture people to get information—all in the name of national security.

The most important remaining restriction on abuse of these powers is the force of public opinion.  But the public can’t have an opinion on what it isn’t allowed to know.

Among the Presidential candidates, the prosecution of Assange is opposed by Democrats Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard,, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Marianne Williamson and Republican Joe Walsh.

Sanders said that, if elected President, he would not prosecute whistleblowers.  I believe Sanders, but I remember President Obama also promised that, and Obama prosecuted more whistleblowers than any previous President.

Even if Sanders or one of the other candidates is elected, and even if they follow through on their promises, this would be just a matter of policy that could be reversed  by the next administration.

What’s needed is a law that allows people charged with revealing classified information to rebut the charge by showing they acted in the public interest by revealing crimes, wrongdoing or mismanagement and that the national interest was not harmed.

The same purpose could be achieved by judicial decision—that the use of the Espionage Act to protect the guilty or the incompetent is unconstitutional.

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U.S. treats Assange as Soviets treated dissidents

October 23, 2019

Americans and Britons have historically prided ourselves on the rule of law—the no-one is above being subject to the law and no-one is below being protected by the law.

Col. Rudolph Abel, the Soviet master spy who was apprehended in 1957, was defended in his trial by a top lawyer, James Donovan.  The accused Nazi war criminals tried at Nuremberg were given the opportunity to defend themselves and some actually got off.  All of them were treated humanely while awaiting trial.

The dissident publisher Julian Assange, who is accused of publishing secret information about U.S. war crimes, is being treated worse than any accused Nazi.  He has been kept in solitary confinement, denied needed medical care and restricted in the ability to conduct his own defense.

He appeared in Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday in a proceeding to schedule the hearing on whether he should be extradited from Britain to the United States on charges of spying.

Spectators saw that his physical and mental health is broken.  Of course it will be highly convenient to the U.S. national security establishment if he is unable to speak in his own defense and better still if he dies in prison.

He was barely able to understand what was going on.  He was like some Soviet dissident of the 1970s and 1980s who’d been subjected to psychiatric, or rather anti-psychiatric, drugs.

Here is what his friend Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, saw:

I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both.  [snip]

[H]aving attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that … … Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness. [snip]

Everybody in that court yesterday saw that one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes. To see my friend, the most articulate man, the fastest thinker, I have ever known, reduced to that shambling and incoherent wreck, was unbearable.

Yet the agents of the state, particularly the callous magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, were not just prepared but eager to be a part of this bloodsport. She actually told him that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later.

The question of why a man who, by the very charges against him, was acknowledged to be highly intelligent and competent, had been reduced by the state to somebody incapable of following court proceedings, gave her not a millisecond of concern.  [snip]

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New jeopardy for Assange and press freedom

May 24, 2019

The U.S. Department of Justice has indicated Julian Assange on new charges—violation of the Espionage Act of 1917—which carry a maximum penalty of 175 years in prison.

What he is accused of is publishing confidential information disclosing American war crimes in Iraq in 2010.

The previous indictment accused him only of aiding and abetting unauthorized access to computer files, which would have meant a maximum penalty of five years.

Violations of some sections of the Espionage Act carry a maximum penalty of death, but these involve giving military secrets to an enemy in time of war, which Assange is not accused of.

He would most likely wind up in the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, and conceivably could spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.

If he can be sent to prison for that, it means that the U.S. government has the power to commit crimes, up to and including murder, classify the evidence of those crimes as secret and send anybody who discloses those crimes to prison.

If he is sent to prison for that, it means that such freedom of the press as exists in the United States exists at the whim of whoever is in charge of the government.

So far as I know, the only prominent politician who has come to the defense of Julian Assange is Tulsi Gabbard.

In other news, Chelsea Manning is back in prison for refusing to testify against Assange.

And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has rejected a resolution demanding that the President ask permission from Congress before attacking Iran.

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Debunking all the Assange smears

April 20, 2019

The Defense Department’s Cyber Counterintelligence Assessment Branch in 2008 called on the U.S. government to build a campaign to destroy Assange’s reputation and eradicate the feeling of trust the public had in Wikileaks.  It’s safe to say that his reputation now is not what it was then.

Caitlin Johnstone and her followers have compiled a comprehensive rebuttal to all the accusations against Julian Assange that have been spread over the past seven years.

Click on Debunking the Assange Smears to read it.

I recommend reading the article if you believe any of the following.

  1. He’s not a journalist.”
  2. “He’s a rapist.”
  3. “He was hiding from rape charges in the embassy.”
  4. He’s a Russian agent.”
  5. “He’s being prosecuted for hacking crimes, not journalism.”
  6. “He should just go to America and face the music. If he’s innocent he’s got nothing to fear.”
  7. “Well he jumped bail! Of course the UK had to arrest him.”
  8. “He’s a narcissist/megalomaniac/jerk.”
  9. “He’s a horrible awful monster for reasons X, Y and Z… but I don’t think he should be extradited.”
  10. Trump is going to rescue him and they’ll work together to end the Deep State. Relax and wait and see.”
  11. “He put poop on the walls. Poop poop poopie.”
  12. “He’s stinky.”
  13. “He was a bad houseguest.”
  14. “He conspired with Don Jr.”
  15. “He only publishes leaks about America.”
  16. “He’s an antisemite.”
  17. “He’s a fascist.”
  18. “He was a Trump supporter.”
  19. “I used to like him until he ruined the 2016 election” / “I used to hate him until he saved the 2016 election.”
  20. “He’s got blood on his hands.”
  21. “He published the details of millions of Turkish women voters.”
  22. “He supported right-wing political parties in Australia.”
  23. “He endangered the lives of gay Saudis.”
  24. “He’s a CIA agent/limited hangout.”
  25. “He mistreated his cat.”
  26. “He’s a pedophile.”
  27. “He lied about Seth Rich.”

Source: Debunking All The Assange Smears – Caitlin Johnstone

If you care about Assange, truth-telling or freedom of the press, I recommend you bookmark her article so you’ll have it for reference.  You ought to be able to use a search function to go directly to the item you want to see refuted.

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The case for Julian Assange

July 25, 2018

The case for Julian Assange in a nutshell is that it should not be a crime to expose abuse of power by government.

The I Am WikiLeaks web site, established by the Courage Foundation, gives a more detailed account of Julian Assange’s life and work, and the various charges against him.  Courage has prepared  infographics that give the essence of Assange’s case.

Click to enlage

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Click to enlarge

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The rule of law and Julian Assange

July 25, 2018

The rule of law is a fundamental principle, at least as basic or maybe more basic than voting rights and freedom of the press.

This is part of our British heritage, going back to Magna Carta—the idea that nobody, not even the King, is above the law, and nobody, not even the humblest cottager, is below the protection of the law.

For us Americans, the rule of law was part of our Constitution even before we had a specific Bill of Rights.

The Constitution from the beginning has guaranteed the right of habeas corpus, which means the right of  arrested persons to be told what law they are accused of breaking, and forbid ex post facto laws, which declared things illegal after they were done, and bills of attainder, which declared certain persons outside the protection of the law.

I was shocked and disillusioned by how easily, after the 9/11 attacks, these fundamental principles were forgotten.

The Bush administration, the Obama administration and now the Trump administration claim the right to order the killing of anyone they deem a threat to the state, based on secret criteria and without accountability to anyone.

George W. Bush had a kill list.  Barack Obama called has a “disposition matrix”.  I don’t know what Trump calls it.  Most of us middle-class white Americans of have come to regard it as normal, possibly because we think only people with dark skins and Arab names will ever be on it.

I read a chilling article by Matt Taibbi about a journalist who figured out he is on the kill list, and is trying to get off it.  He doesn’t know what he is accused of nor how to appeal.

Julian Assange is in a situation in some ways similar to this journalist.  A grand jury has been meeting in Alexandria, Va., since 2010 to consider his case.  James Comey, when he was FBI director, and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions have said they intend to apprehend Assange.

Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democratic member of the House intelligence committee, has said he’s not interested in testimony from Assange until Assange is in custody.  Yet no charges against Assange have ever been announced.  If the grand jury has indicted him, those indictments are sealed.

Neither the US nor the UK government has been willing to say whether an extradition request is on file.

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In defense of Julian Assange

July 21, 2018

Suppose a government claimed the right to commit crimes, make those crimes state secrets and prosecute anyone who revealed them to the public.

Could you call such a government democratic?  Could you say its people enjoyed freedom of the press?

Yet that is what the U.S. government wants to do to Julian Assange.

Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, which makes it possible for whistle-blowers to reveal secret documents without their identity being traced.  Wikileaks publications revealed, among other things, the secret bibles of Scientology, censored videos of protests in Tibet, secret neo-Nazi passwords, offshore tax scams by Barclay’s bank, the inside story of the crashing of Iceland’s economy and texts of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

What got him into trouble was publication of information of crimes committed by the U.S. government, notably the killing of civilians in Iraq, and secret surveillance of the public by U.S. intelligence agencies.  That is why the U.S. government is determined to capture and imprison him.

The espionage laws are intended to punish those who give military secrets to a hostile foreign power.   In the case of Julian Assange, it is we, the people, who were given the secrets.  We are the supposed enemy.

A U.S. grand jury investigation of Assange has been ongoing since 2010.  It is widely believed that it has made sealed indictments against Assange.

He sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to the United States.  Since March, the Ecuadorian government has cut him off from communicating with the outside world, except for his lawyers and Australian consular officials.

Reportedly the government is planning to expel him from the embassy, leaving him subject to arrest by British police and extradition to the USA.  There his likely fate will be imprisonment, probably for life, or execution.

What can be done to Assange can be done to anyone who reveals information the U.S. government wants kept secret.  Anyone who cares about freedom of the press, or their own freedom, should stand with Julian Assange.

LINKS

I Am WikiLeaks.

Ecuador Will Immediately Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next? by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept.

Be Prepared to Shake the Earth If Julian Assange Is Arrested by Caitlin Johnstone.

Inside WikiLeaks: Working With the Publisher That Changed the World by Stefania Maurizi for Consortium News.  [Added 7/23/2018]

The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom by Chris Hedges for TruthDig.  [Added 7/23/2018]

The passing scene: Links & comments 11/18/14

November 18, 2014

Why US fracking companies are licking their lips over Ukraine by Naomi Klein for The Guardian (hat tip to Bill Harvey)

American oil and gas companies are using the Ukraine crisis to press for an increase on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and construction of LNG (liquified natural gas) terminals at U.S. seaports.

Supposedly this will enable the United States to export gas to Europe as a substitute for Russian gas cut off by sanctions.  The problem with this, as Naomi Klein pointed out, is that the Ukraine crisis probably will be long over by the time the LNG terminals are constructed.

This is an example of what Klein calls the “shock doctrine”—use of crises by special interests to manipulate people into agreeing to do things they don’t want to do.

The siege of Julian Assange is a farce by Australian journalist John Pilger.

Julian Assange has been living in a room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for two years to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questioning in a sexual misconduct case because he fears re-extradition to the United States for prosecution on his Wikileaks disclosures.

Pilger showed the case against Assange is bogus and his fears are well-founded.  Assange’s alleged victims haven’t accused him of any crime nor did the original investigators.  There is ample precedent for Swedish investigators to come to London to question Assange if they wish.  And the U.S. and Swedish governments have discussed his re-extradition.

Afghan Opium Production Hits All-Time High by Mike Whitney for Counterpunch.

The CIA would rather see Afghanistan dominated by drug lords than by the Taliban.

Ecuador grants political asylum to Assange

August 16, 2012

Julian Assange

Ecuador has decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange.  But he is not home free.  The British government served notice beforehand that it will not allow Assange free passage out of Britain, and that it has a legal right to storm the Ecuadorian embassy if Assange is not handed over.

This is from the Government of Ecuador’s announcement.

…the Government of Ecuador, true to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or on the premises of diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to citizen’s Assange, based on the application submitted to the President of the Republic, by written communication, dated London, June 19, 2012, and supplemented by letter dated at London on June 25, 2012, for which the Government of Ecuador, after a fair and objective assessment of the situation described by Mr. Assange, according to their own words and arguments, endorsed the fears of the appellant, and assumes that there are indications that it may be presumed that there may be political persecution, or could occur such persecution if measures are not taken timely and necessary to avoid it…

via Firedoglake.

This is from a translation of a letter by the British government to the Ecuadorian government prior to the granting of asylum.

As we have previously set out, we must meet our legal obligations under the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision and the Extradition Act 2003, to arrest Mr. Assange and extradite him to Sweden.  We remain committed to working with you amicably to resolve this matter.  But we must be absolutely clear this means that should we receive a request for safe passage for Mr. Assange, after granting asylum, this would be refused, in line with our legal obligations. … …

We have to reiterate that we consider continued use of diplomatic premises in this way, to be incompatible with the VCDR (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations) and not sustainable, and that we have already made clear to you the serious implications for our diplomatic relations.

You should be aware that there is a legal basis in the U.K. – the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act – which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr. Assange in the current premises of the Embassy.

We very much hope not to get this point … …

via MiamiHerald.com.

Click on Ecuador Endorses Assange’s Fears, Grants Asylum for a report on Firedoglake of Ecuador’s statement of its factual and legal basis for granting Assange asylum.

Click on Britain Says Assange Ecuador Asylum Won’t Change a Thing for Reuters’ report on the British government’s response to Ecuador’s decision.

Click on Ecuador is right to stand up to the US for comment by Mark Weisbrot in The Guardian newspaper.

Click on Ecuador Grants Asylum to Julian Assange for a live blog from Firedoglake.

Click on Declaration by the Government of Ecuador on Julian Assange’s asylum application for a full English translation of the Ecuadorian government’s statement.

Click on Foreign Secretary statement on Ecuadorian Government decision to offer political asylum to Julian Assange for the text of British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s statement.

Click on Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to Invade for Middle East historian Juan Cole’s comparison of the British threat to invade the Ecuadorian embassy with British complaints about Iranian failure to protect the British embassy and respect diplomatic immunity.

Click on Asylum for Assange: What are his options? for analysis by Asad Hasim of Al Jazeera English.

Retracing Julian Assange’s trail in Sweden

July 30, 2012

The Four Corners investigative team of Australia’s ABC broadcasting network tried to retrace Julian Assange’s steps during the time he is accused of having abused two women in Sweden.  They showed that there are many questionable things about the charges, and that there are good reasons why he fears being extradited to Sweden, although exactly what happened remains a mystery.

Click on Sex, Lies and Julian Assange for the video, a transcript and links to additional information.  If you viewed the video above, I recommend you click on this link and then the link to the sidebar showing an interview with Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer for Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen, the two alleged victims.

Click on Wikileaks: the Forgotten Man for the Four Corners report on the Bradley Manning case.

Click on The Wikileaks Interviews for Four Corners’ in-depth interviews with eight key figures in the Bradley Manning Case.

These Four Corners links have further links to further information and updates in the Julian Assange and Bradley Manning cases.

Should Julian Assange face the music?

June 22, 2012

A writer on the DailyKos web log takes defenders of Julian Assange to task for disregarding the serious charges made against him in Sweden.   I admit I haven’t taken these charges as seriously as I should have.

Normally when there are charges of rape, people on DailyKos side strongly with the victims – but not this time.  The talk here generally ignores the victims and is based on the theory that the whole thing is a setup by the prosecutor to get him illegally extradited to the US, where he’ll then face Bradley Manning-type conditions.  I could go into everything that’s wrong with this notion, but just to debunk some of the key arguments that keep coming up:

“There’s no charges against him. If they really wanted him, they’d charge him.”: Swedish law prohibits raising charges not on Swedish soil against a subject who hasn’t been given the opportunity to defend himself against the charges to be filed.

“They should just accept his offer to chat via Skype.”:  Suspects cannot dictate the terms of their questioning, a “Skype interview” isn’t at all like an actual police questioning, and as above, he can’t be charged remotely.

“The real reason they’re not charging him is because they know the charges are baseless.”:  Not only does Sweden believe the charges are not baseless, but the British court reviewing his extradition request found that there would be just cause to try him even in the UK.

“He’s just being charged with a minor crime, and the only penalty is a fine.”:  No form of rape is a “minor crime”, and while there are different categories of rape in Sweden and he’s being charged with the least severe of them, he’s still facing a sentence of up to four years.

“He’s just being charged for having sex without a condom and the girls waited days before filing charges and didn’t decide right away that it was rape.” … … The accusations are not “sex without a condom”. They’re four counts, ranging from violating the terms of consent (only consenting to sex with a condom), molestation, pinning down a subject in a sexual manner and trying to force sex, and having sex with a sleeping subject (again without a condom which the subject had made clear in their last encounter was a condition of consent – not that a sleeping individual can consent anyway).

via Daily Kos.

My reaction:

  • Just because somebody has done good things doesn’t mean they’re not capable of doing awful things.
  • Just because somebody has done good things doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be punished if they commit a crime.
  • Julian Assange, like everyone else, should stand trial if there is sufficient evidence to justify criminal charges.
  • Julian Assange, like everyone else, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until he is convicted of a crime.
  • If there were no reason to fear being handed over to U.S. authorities, Julian Assange would be obligated to go to Sweden to face the charges.
  • There is in fact good reason for Julian Assange to fear being handed over, and winding up like Bradly Manning and others who’ve run afoul of the U.S. national security apparatus.
  • Julian Assange, as a target of political persecution, is fully justified in claiming political asylum in Ecuador or any other country.

Click on On Standing With the Victim, Unless the Alleged Perpetrator is Julian Assange for the full DailyKos article.

Click on 10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange for The Guardian’s account of the charges.

[Added Later]  To make myself clear, I have no knowledge and no opinion as to what Julian Assange did or didn’t do in Sweden.  Overall I admire Assange’s intelligence and courage, and I think he did the world a service in creating WikiLeaks.

[Added 6/25/12, updated 6/29/12]  Click on Assange, Ecuador, Rape and Sweden Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 for the view of Swedish writer Oscar Swartz, author of  A Brief History of Swedish Sex.

The Julian Assange file

June 20, 2012

This is a collection of links, videos and comments about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks posted from June through December of 2012I rearranged the links and replaced dead videos on August 2, 2014.  I have to say I was wrong in my comment that the U.S. and U.K. governments had neutralized Assange and WikiLeaks.

Click on In Conversation with Julian Assange Part One and Part Two for an extended interview with Assange on his life and ideas.

Click on Conspiracy as Governance for Assange’s 2006 statement of his political philosophy.

Click on Interesting Question for Julian Assange’s old blog from 2007, which provides insight into his thinking..

Click on WikiLeaks for the WikiLeaks home page.

Click on This Day in Wikileaks for daily news updates concerning Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks.

Click on Justice for Assange for news from the Julian Assange Defence Fund’s Committee to Defend Julian Assange.

Click on Sex, Lies and Julian Assange for an investigative report by the Four Corners public affairs program of Australian’s ABC broadcasting network.

It shows that there are many questionable things about the sex charges against Julian Assange, and leaves the impression that there are good reasons why he fears being extradited to Sweden. But it doesn’t answer the question of exactly what Assange did or didn’t do to the two women he is accused of abusing.  We may never know the answer to that.  If you view the video, you probably should also view the sidebar showing an interview with Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer for Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen, the two alleged victims.

Click on Wikileaks: the Forgotten Man for a Four Corners report on Bradley Manning.

Click on The Wikileaks Interviews for Four Corners interviews with key figures in the Bradley Manning Case.

(more…)

Julian Assange meets the Occupy movement

May 29, 2012

Julian Assange is under house arrest in Britain and can’t get out and about to interview people for his The World Tomorrow TV program, but an interesting array of people come to him.

In Episode 7, he interviewed members of Occupy London and Occupy Wall Street, including David Graeber, an anarchist anthropologist and political theorist, who was one of the original Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Click on Digital Journal for a summary of Episode 7 and links to previous episodes.

Click on David Graeber, the Anti-Leader of Occupy Wall Street for a Business Week article about Graeber.

Click on “Intellectual Roots of Wall St. Protest Lie in Academe” for reasons why David Graeber should not be considered the leader or intellectual mentor of the Occupy Wall Street movement. [Added 6/5/12]

Click on Davod Graeber: anarchist, anthropologist, financial analyst for an article about Graeber and many links to his short writings.

Update [5/30/12]  Julian Assange lost his appeal to Britain’s supreme court against being extradited to Sweden to face chargesallegations of rape and sexual molestationmisconduct.  However, inasmuch as the ruling was based on an interpretation of international law not argued in court, Assange’s lawyers will have until June 13 to make an argument against the ruling.  Assange’s lawyers also are appealing to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.

If there is good evidence to support the charges, Julian Assange should be put on trial just like anybody else.  The problem is the possibility that Sweden’s current conservative government will hand him over to U.S. authorities, where he could be tried and sent to prison for revealing secret information about U.S. government misconduct.

Click on Julian Assange loses appeal against extradition for a report in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

Click on Julian Assange Loses Extradition Appeal for Time magazine’s account.

[Added 5/31/12] Click on Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview for background to the case.