Navalny, Ward, Assange, Snowden and the Attack on Free Speech 670

Russia does not have a functioning criminal justice system at all, in the sense of a trial mechanism aimed at determining innocence or guilt.  Exactly as in Uzbekistan, the conviction rate in criminal trials is over 99%.  If the prosecutors, who are inextricably an arm of the executive government, want to send you to jail, there is absolutely no judicial system to protect you.  The judges are purely there for show.

When critics of Putin like Alexei Navalny are convicted, therefore, we have absolutely no reassurance that the motivation behind the prosecution or the assessment of guilt was genuine.  Which is not to say that Navalny is innocent; I am in no position to judge. People are complex.   I sacrificed my own pretty decent career to the cause of human rights, but in my personal and family life I was by no means the most moral of individuals.  I see no reason for it to be impossible that all of Navalny’s excellent political work did not co-exist with a fatal weakness.  But his criticisms of Putin made him a marked man, who the state was out to get, and the most probable explanation – especially as prosecutors had looked at the allegations before and decided not to proceed – is that he is suffering for his criticisms of the President rather than a genuine offence.

It fascinates me that the Western media view the previous decision by the prosecutors not to proceed as evidence the case is politically motivated against Navalny; but fail to draw the same conclusion from precisely the same circumstance in the Assange case.

David Ward MP has not been sent to jail.  He has however had the Lib Dem whip removed, which under Clegg’s leadership perhaps he ought to consider an honour.  It is rather a commonplace sentiment that it is a terribly sad thing, that their community having suffered dreadfully in the Holocaust, the European Jews involved in founding the state of Israel went on themselves to inflict terrible pain and devastation on the Palestinians in the Nakba.   Both the Holocaust and the Nakba were horrific events of human suffering.  For this not startling observation, David Ward is removed from the Liberal Democrats.  He also stated that, with its ever increasing number of racially specific laws, its walls and racially restricted roads, Israel is becoming an apartheid state.  That is so commonplace even Sky News’ security correspondent Sam Kiley said it a few months ago, without repercussion.  In Russia you cannot say Putin is corrupt; in the UK you cannot say Israeli state policy is malign.  Neither national state can claim to uphold freedom of speech.  Meanwhile, of course, David Cameron announces plans to place filters on the internet access of all UK households.

In the United States, the House of Representatives failed by just 12 votes to make illegal the mass snooping by the NSA which was not widely publicised until Edward Snowden’s revelations.  What Snowden said was so important that almost half the country’s legislators wished to act on his information.  Yet the executive wish to pursue him and remove all his freedom for the rest of his life, as they are doing to Bradley Manning for Manning’s exposure of war crimes and extreme duplicity.

Around this complex of issues and the persons of Manning, Navalny, Snowden and Assange there is a kind of new ideological competition between the governments of Russia, the US and UK as to which is truly promoting the values of human freedom.  The answer is none of them are.  All these states are, largely in reaction to the liberating possibilities of the internet, promoting a concerted attack on freedom of speech and liberty of thought.

States are the enemy.  We are the people.





670 thoughts on “Navalny, Ward, Assange, Snowden and the Attack on Free Speech

1 17 18 19 20 21 23
  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    A lot of Journos just got a reprieve.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)


    What we know
    Information is still filtering out of Fort Meade – we will have a full report from Ed Pilkington shortly – but for the moment, this is what we know:

    • Bradley Manning has been found not guilty of aiding the enemy

    • Manning has been found guilty of five espionage charges

    • He has been found guilty of five theft charges

  • Dreoilin

    I was not aware of any “compassion competition” on this blog.

    All I see are those who express compassion — and those who call that compassion ‘phony’ with references to ‘twisted morality’. It’s very offensive, actually.

    “thanks for the news re Manning”

    Yes, I assumed they’d throw the book at him and give him a life sentence. But I don’t think so now.
    He’s been found guilty of about 15 or so charges to which he had pleaded guilty. I haven’t heard anything about a sentence yet, but I’ve heard 20 years **mentioned**.

  • Dreoilin

    Sentencing to begin tomorrow, according to Sky. That concur with what you’re hearing Ben?

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    @Glenn. 5 44 and 5 53pm

    I can understand privileged right-wing parasites thinking their entitlement to our taxes is a good thing.

    What baffles me is the “clever” apologists and the obviously willing crowds who line the streets to wave plastic flags (made in China) and, when they can, give their votes to privileged right-wing parasites.

  • Dreoilin

    Tweet from Wikileaks

    Manning faces 136 years on the charges he has been convicted of today. Dangerous national security extremism from the Obama administration.

    (I’ll shut up now)

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Yes Dreoilin.

    Ed Pilkington ✔ @Edpilkington

    BREAKING #Manning facing poss top sentence of at least 130 years in military jail #WikiLeaks
    10:18 AM – 30 Jul 2013

    But the judge says she’s gonna give him credit for time tortured, er served.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Alexa O’Brien @carwinb

    Spec II, Charge II Guilty to his LIO plea for 793(e) Collateral Murder #Manning

    I attempted to find the charge in UCMJ, but nothing augers well. I assume this is the extra jail time for the CM video. This was the most damaging revelation from the perspective of the authorities.

  • Arbed

    Flaming June, 5.20pm

    I’ve just read this article from yesterday on the imminent Bradley Manning by Binoy Kampmark (who is the No 3 in the Wikileaks Party Victoria Senate election team):

    On the verdict itself, of course everyone’s relieved about the Aiding the Enemy and Garani video charges (the two big lead-ins for the Grand Jury indictment of Assange/7 founders and associates of Wikileaks) but Alexa O’Brien sums it up as she tweets after outlining the other 19 convictions adding up to a potential 136 years’ jailtime:

    Alexa O’Brien

    I am going back into the funeral of a young man. #Manning

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    It is a type of funeral. How else can we calculate the sacrifices of young men like Manning and Snowden. Their autonomous lives have been relinquisshed, just like a soldier who falls on a grenade to spare others.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    The Family’s statement;

    “While we are obviously disappointed in today’s verdicts, we are happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America’s enemies in any way. Brad loves his country and was proud to wear its uniform.

    We want to express our deep thanks to David Coombs, who has dedicated three years of his life to serving as lead counsel in Brad’s case. We also want to thank Brad’s Army defense team, Major Thomas Hurley and Captain Joshua Tooman, for their tireless efforts on Brad’s behalf, and Brad’s first defense counsel, Captain Paul Bouchard, who was so helpful to all of us in those early confusing days and first suggested David Coombs as Brad’s counsel. Most of all, we would like to thank the thousands of people who rallied to Brad’s cause, providing financial and emotional support throughout this long and difficult time, especially Jeff Paterson and Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network. Their support has allowed a young Army private to defend himself against the full might of not only the US Army but also the US Government.”

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Komodo

    “I don’t hate my country, and I don’t hate the West.”


    You are a bare-faced liar.

    You also hate Israel, and I’d say – judging by your latest frenzied series of posts – that you hate the good people who make you aware of your hatred.


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Jemand - Censorship Improves History

    Re Manning verdict.

    Charge of “Aiding the enemy” was problematic vis-a-vis the constitution and supposed freedom of the press provisions. It was best for the Whitehouse to drop it.

    Sentencing will require imprisonment severe enough to make other would-be whistleblowers rethink any idea of doing likewise but not so severe that it feeds anti-US propaganda. I think the Whitehouse got burnt by this case and want to see it behind them. How it affects Snowden, I’m not sure. Ten to twenty years is my guess with maybe a generous parole term, maybe a reduction in sentence on appeal.

    In relation to Assange & Co. I’ll be interested to know how some of the findings will feed into the process of formulating charges by the DoJ, if they don’t already have a sealed indictment.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Jemand

    “Anon, was that quote from before or after Kacynski having lost his mind? Because it makes perfect sense to me.”

    Thank you for that quotation, which makes perfect sense to me too.

    As to whether he said it before or losing his mind : even if he said it after losing his mind, it still sounds saner than most of the ravings coming from the keyboards of the Hate Brigade of Eminences 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    “Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cost taxpayers more than £3m
    Cabinet Office confirms policing and security costs for former prime minister’s funeral in April” (from the Frequent Poster, now)

    Back at the time, the F.P. was busily quoting msm which talked about £10 million.

    Then, very recently, she quoted a source which talked about £1,2 million.

    And now she’s quoting £3 million.



    La vita é bella, life is good!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Mr Scorgie:

    “If you want to talk about Pakistan; Russia; India; China; Cuba etc fair enough but the subject at the moment is human rights abuses by the west mostly the US and Israel.”

    And that, I think, sums it up in a nutshell : “the subject at the moment”.

    As decreed by Komodo, Flaming June and most of the other Eminences, not forgetting your good self of course.

    So you are not really interested in human rights abuses as such, you are simply interested in human rights abuses (which certainly exist) committed by the West and Israel.

    Thank you for coming clean about that.


    La vita è bella, life is good! (combat selectivity, laziness and hypocrisy)

  • Flaming June

    Will Amnesty International and HRW now designate Bradley Manning a prisoner of conscience? They have failed miserably so far.

    HRW: “Who is Bradley Manning?”
    Posted on June 7, 2013 by youreallbowlsofsoup

    On Wednesday June 5, 2013, Amnesty4Manning asked supporters of Pfc. Bradley Manning to participate in CALLS FOR MANNING- a day to pick up the phone and call local Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch branches. The objective was to gather information on how the two largest human rights organizations assess human rights violations, Manning support, and why he has not been recognized as a political prisoner or prisoner of conscience.

    Several participates reported to the Twitter account @Amnesty4Manning that Amnesty International representatives would ask for their name and email address promising to get back to them at a later time. Many callers were referred to the press release Amnesty issued the first day of Manning’s court martial. Some told @Amnesty4Manning that their calls went unanswered or straight to voice mail.

    The following is the account of a Manning supporter who phoned US branches of Human Rights Watch:

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    The LGBT’s have failed to support Manning sufficiently, as well. I think his small stature and boyish looks don’t make for a good PR face.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    @Hasbarakuk. 7 18pm


    Re the Evil Lizard:

    “You are a bare-faced liar.”

    You also hate Israel, and I’d say – judging by your latest frenzied series of posts – that you hate the good people who make you aware of your hatred.”

    When you put it like that, how could any sane person would not be persuaded?

    Now I understand what the University of Haifa means by “public diplomacy”.


    BTW what’s your take on the Bradley Manning verdict?

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    OK. Forget the “would”.

    …how could any sane person would not be persuaded?

    You de man Dad!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Dreoilin

    “Clearly Anon believes that compassion is a bad thing. We must work to get rid of it.”

    Come on, although I disagree with much of what you say, you strike me a fair-minded person. I don’t think Anon believes that but I do think he believes that compassion is not – how can I put this politely? – a certain element in Flaming June’s, or Komodo’s, or X’s character. And I agree with that belief.

    (And for what it’s worth, clipping one wing of caged birds is horrible).

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Dreoilin

    I should have written “..a CENTRAL element..”. Sorry.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    On this day in 1778….

    “The law passed by the Continental Congress on July 30, 1778, declared that it was the “duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”

    It was passed unanimously in response to a whistleblower, Marine Captain John Grannis, who presented a petition to the Continental Congress on March 26, 1777, to have a commander of the Continental Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins, suspended after he tortured British sailors who were captured.”

  • Sofia Kibo Noh



    The afternoon’s “torrent of cack” receeds down the plug-hole of blog history, seamlessly replaced by “an endless stream of drivel”.

    “…you are simply interested in human rights abuses (which certainly exist) committed by the West and Israel.
    Thank you for coming clean about that.”

    Sorry, I didn’t quite get the logic to that one. Can you explain in short words and give some proper examples to illustrate?

    Does Hiafa Uni teach you to be immune from embarrassment?

  • Arbed

    Jemand, 7.21pm

    In relation to Assange & Co. I’ll be interested to know how some of the findings will feed into the process of formulating charges by the DoJ, if they don’t already have a sealed indictment.

    My guess: The Garani video as link for direct conspiracy charges against Wikileaks in this Manning trial was always a long shot; the evidence simply wasn’t there (didn’t stop them trying, though). Now they’ll just use the Jason Katz version for the Grand Jury indictment instead. Re the Aiding the Enemy charge – well, you only had to listen to how many times Major Fein spat the words “Assange” and “Wikileaks” in his closing arguments to know what the game was there. But they were hampered by the fact that Manning got out in his plea statement that he’d approached the Washington Post and New York Times first before heading to Wikileaks, and they were forced to admit the charge would apply equally to the Washington press corps if they’d been the ones who carried Manning’s leaks when Judge Lind queried it. I think the First Amendment implications and the fact that Aiding the Enemy applies to “anyone”, not just military personnel, therefore forced her Not Guilty verdict there. Kinda curious as to her reasoning for the Garani video, though – given she must be aware how much the US Govt wanted that one for the Assange Grand Jury case. It’s not like she hasn’t waved through plenty of convictions here for which the prosecution didn’t really offer sufficient evidence too.

    It’s via the Espionage convictions, and follow-through conspiracy charges against Assange that he is genuinely exposed to the death penalty. I think it’s under section 793(d), IIRC. Here, latest Congressional Research Service report on Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information, from January 2013:

    Stratfor’s theory on how this could be done was to get the extradition done on criminal computer charges (for example, the CFAA) then declassify the death of an intelligence asset, somehow link that death to Wikileaks’ publications, and add to the charge sheet. The 793(d) becomes a death penalty offence if publication leads to the death of US HUMINT assets.

    This explains why all those top pollies kept screaming the words “blood on their hands” over and over back when the Wikileaks releases were coming out, and why David Leigh’s excretable libel “he said ‘they’re informants, they deserve to die'” was so venal, reckless and dangerous. Bear those two quotes – Stratfor’s and Leigh’s – in mind as you read that section in the Congressional report and you’ll see what I mean.

1 17 18 19 20 21 23

Comments are closed.