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.





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

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  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    ” 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.”

    Yes Arbed. I suspect this was staged to have such an outcome. Obama has publicly stated that we need a watchdog press, but I think he regards only major outlets which are loathe to lose their precious access to government sources, as true members of the Media. Congress is supposedly working on a Shield Law to provide some solace to the lapdogs.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    per my last comment.

    James Ball, the Guardian’s data editor, writes that “the Obama administration didn’t merely go through the motions” in pursuit of Bradley Manning; military authorities “imposed a charge that should have sparked far greater alarm than it did”.

    They argued that by talking to the media, Manning had “aided the enemy” – a charge tantamount to treason, which can carry the death penalty (though this was not pursued in Manning’s case).

    This is not so much the beginning of a slippery slope for a democratic nation as a headlong plummet. A guilty verdict would have redefined the media – from outlets such as WikiLeaks to bastions of the establishment like the New York Times – as proxies for the enemy. It would have ended any distinction between a traitor selling military secrets to the highest bidder and someone speaking to a journalist on a matter of conscience and for no reward.

    By finding Manning not guilty on this dangerous charge (though guilty of espionage and theft), military judge colonel Denise Lind has pulled the US back from the precipice – for now. But that outcome does not alter the fact that such a charge was sought by prosecutors in the first place.”

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    @Ben. 7 57pm

    Re 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.”

    I don’t mean to cause offence, but where I come from we assume that (stereotypical) Americans don’t do irony.

    How very wrong we are!

  • Anon

    I think we can all agree that human rights are for the victims of Western, or Western-aligned, aggression. Everyone else can go stew because the injustice you are suffering does not fit in with the Murrayistas’ anti-West narrative. Bare-faced liars and hypocrites, the lot of you.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Jemand :

    “You see, it is more important for her to be seen parading her bleeding heart than caring about the real causes of tragedy.”

    Obviously, Jemand, because caring about the real causes of tragedy (in the case of refugees from Indonesia, that one-time leader of the “non-aligned world”, the abuse of human and economic rights by the govt of Indonesia) might – oh, horror! – lead her to having to criticise a non-Western govt. And that would never do, would it.

    You and Anon have really got the hypocrites and Eminent Selectivists on the run this time, keep it up!

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Sofia; Add to that, a knowledge of History. Irony is just a rusting metallic substance and denial is a river in Egypt.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    It may of course be mere fancy on my part, but is there not just a slight, sour smell of disappointment in the posts from the Eminences that Mr Manning has NOT been found guilty of aiding the enemy?

    I expect the the same smell will become evident should Mr Manning gets less than the 120 years or whatever that have been thrown around on this blog in the last few hours.


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    That’s your only contribution to the issue of Manning? What sentence would your sense of justice demand?

  • Flaming June

    WIKILEAKS CASE:Website founder Julian Assange condemns verdict, describing Bradley Manning as a ‘hero’

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Reporters without borders have issued a statement on the Manning verdict:

    The information that Manning allegedly passed to WikiLeaks – used by newspapers such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and Le Monde in coordination with Julian Assange’s website – included revelations of grave abuses in the ‘war on terror’ launched by the Bush administration.

    The ‘collateral’ fatal shooting of Reuters employees by a US Army helicopter in Baghdad in July 2007 is a well-known example. Should this reality have been concealed from the U.S. public and international opinion? Which was more serious – committing such crimes or revealing them to the public?

    The conditions in which Manning has been held, his unfair trial and the lack of transparency during the hearings speak volumes about the fate reserved for whistle-blowers and the way the rule of law is being flouted. Edward Snowden would have every reason to fear persecution, as defined by the Geneva Conventions, if he were to return to the United States.

  • Anon

    “It may of course be mere fancy on my part, but is there not just a slight, sour smell of disappointment in the posts from the Eminences that Mr Manning has NOT been found guilty of aiding the enemy?”

    Exactly my thoughts, Habbabkuk. There is certainly a tangible sense of disappointment over on RT, where they were were clearly hoping for Manning to be bound and gagged and sent to the gas chamber. One has to have one’s prejudices confirmed!

  • Flaming June

    No crime is too large or too small for the crooked bankers to commit. Remember B.Liar has a financial connection to J P Morgan.

    JP Morgan pays $410m to settle US energy case
    JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon has been trying to improve the image of the bank

    Related Stories
    JP Morgan to advise on bank sale
    JP Morgan boss wins shareholder vote
    JP Morgan makes record profit

    JP MorganChase’s energy unit has agreed to pay $410m (£268m) to settle charges from the top US energy regulator that it manipulated energy markets.

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) agency alleged JPMorgan’s trading practices drove up prices for electricity, mainly in California and the Midwest.

    The fine is the second largest penalty in FERC history.


  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Media not out of the woods.

    “The Manning verdict had plenty of bad news for the press. By finding Manning guilty of five counts of espionage, the judge endorsed the government’s other radical theories, and left the journalism organization that initially passed along the leaks to the public, Wikileaks, no less vulnerable than it had been before the case started. Anyone who thinks Julian Assange isn’t still a target of the US Government hasn’t been paying attention; if the US can pry him loose from Ecuador’s embassy in London and extradite him, you can be certain that he’ll face charges, too, and the Manning verdict will be vital to that case.

    The military tried its best to make life difficult for journalists covering the Manning trial, but activists – not traditional journalists – were the ones who fought restrictions most successfully. Transcripts weren’t provided by the government, for example. Only when the Freedom of the Press Foundation crowd-sourced a court stenographer did the public get a record, however flawed, of what was happening.

    That public included most of the press, sad to say. Only a few American news organizations (one is the Guardian’s US edition) bothered to staff the Manning trial in any serious way. Independent journalists did most of the work, and did it as well as it could be done under the circumstances.”

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    ‘exactly my thoughts’

    The tag-team high-fives. TV wrestling is fake too.

  • Dreoilin

    “but is there not just a slight, sour smell of disappointment in the posts from the Eminences that Mr Manning has NOT been found guilty of aiding the enemy?”

    Póg mo thóin, Habbabkuk. You’re as thick as manure but not half as useful. Take your feckin ‘sour smells’ elsewhere. And take Anon with you.
    Just because you dissemble here doesn’t mean everyone else does too.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Ben Franklin (20h43)

    “That’s your only contribution to the issue of Manning?”

    Just trying to adjust my level of debate (almost but not quite) down to yours, my Sage friend.

    Example :

    “Must’ve hit a raw nerve.” (your contribution to my post on Komodo’s previous outburst of hysterics)


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    So, you have nothing to add. ‘Natch!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Dreoilin

    It’s gratifying to see that Mary’s couple of hurt remarks some while back have had the effect of bringing you firmly back on side.

    I have to hand it to Mary, she’s got you lot sussed out 🙂

  • Hasbarista

    Anon – “Exactly my thoughts, Habbabkuk. There is certainly a tangible sense of disappointment over on RT, where they were were clearly hoping for Manning to be bound and gagged and sent to the gas chamber”

    Classic DIY tag team instructions from the manual written in herzliya !! Why even 911er ehud borg would be proud !

  • Anon

    What did Manning actually achieve other than dumping a load of classified government material online? The “Collateral Damage” video was indeed shocking, but it had already been reported on. And what has Wikileaks actually achieved, other than monumental amounts of self-publicity? In every country, what Manning did would be deemed a seditious act and dealt with accordingly, and, in most cases, much more severely. I have much more admiration for Snowden, who revealed something worth knowing. That said, Snowden’s big mistake was in ‘revealing’ US spying on foreign governments. He should have stuck with PRISM, and by doing so would have avoided accusations of treachery.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Ben

    And what are you adding to the debate, other than covering up your disappointment with the verdict by spewing out garbage every 20 minutes or so (20h19, 20h29, 20h50, 21h10…) designed to put the US in the worst possible light again?


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    @Dad! and Team

    Póg mine too while you’re about it, the lot of you.

    Then go and do something useful with your lives.

    You are bloody useless at disrupting this blog.

    All you do is demonstrate the bankruptcy of the misery-dealing elite agendas that you peddle.

    Why can’t we have a half fit-for purpose bunch of trolls?

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    “And what are you adding to the debate, other than covering up your disappointment with the verdict by spewing out garbage every 20 minutes or so (20h19, 20h29, 20h50, 21h10…) designed to put the US in the worst possible light again?”

    Praise from Caesar.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Still on the theme of disappointment, sour smell thereof:

    Just suppose, for a moment, that there were to be a just and fair outcome to the forthcoming Israel – Palestine talks.

    What on earth would the Eminences do?

    Well, of course, they would – using their superior knowledge – say that the outcome is not really just and fair at all.

    And then, a second thought. Supposing – oh, horror of horrors! – the Palestinians and the Israelis endorsed the outcome in their referendums!

    What then?

    I predict one of two outcomes :

    – the Eminences would commit group suicide


    – they would finally have to start blogging on injustices and violations of human rights elsewhere (Russia, China, Africa, South America, the Indian sub-continent….).

    It’s a terrible thought and I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t thought of it at all.


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Hasbarista

    Honestly if sewage satanyahu were to turn up again at the UN Podium with the kind of see through yarmulkers this two man tag team are wearing, he may be laughed out of the Plenary session just like madoffs wife was in Judge Chins court with her “I am having to pay for his security out of my own money” !! More worryingly such shameless yiddery is a sign the millennial blowback must be near, and with it vast collateral damage.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Habbacack is quite upset at my lack of Nationalistic pride as though that’s a defining measure for members of the human race. A love of one’s country is a terrible thing. It’s a Patriot Game for fools and scoundrels who have little else in their bag for humanity and themselves

  • Arbed

    Ben Franklin, 8.29pm

    Is this the article by James Ball you’re talking about?

    Hmmm. Presumably this article is James Ball’s attempt to appear to have been a supporter of Bradley Manning all along.

    Oh, the hypocrisy.

    I thought this bit was particularly piquant:

    By finding Manning not guilty on this dangerous charge (though guilty of espionage and theft),

    Which conveniently leaves out the fact that it was James Ball’s own spiteful “accidental” leaking of the Wikileaks Non-Disclosure Agreement he did/did not sign (delete depending on which version of the story/confession of Ball’s you believe) on Twitter, which the US government used as evidence of the “value” of all those theft charges against Bradley Manning they’ve just convicted him on.

    The maths: That’s a potential 45 years out of those 136 to which James Ball has made such a “supportive” contribution.

    More details here:

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    I think it was a tweet on the live thread (Guardian) but I didn’t know he apparently displeased someone, Arbed Murky circumstances around the ‘signing’ and intent. If he’s a burrowing worm, he hasn’t turned yet AFAICT. His work shows fairly consistent support, but I’m not reading between the lines yet.

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