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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  • Komodo

    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.

    I see you have a good working knowledge of hatred yourself, old chum. Nice to see the real Old Testament prophet surfacing from the prolix and disdainful pixels you occupy here. And I get a real sense of achievement from that.

    You’re talking sewage. JFJFP addresses the matter, too.


    • Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are mostly located on hilltops and dump manure, untreated sewage and wastewater into the valleys – polluting Palestinian water sources and agricultural land. According to 1997 figures from the West Bank, settlers were 6 times more polluting that Palestinians (300,000 settlers produced 30 mcm of wastewater a year, while in the same period, 1,870,000 Palestinians produced 31 mcm of wastewater).

    • Highly polluting Israeli industries are being relocated to the West Bank (again, on hilltops) to avoid Israeli environmental regulations. At least 200 industries in 7 industrial zones in the West Bank send untreated industrial effluents and wastewater into Palestinian streams and agricultural land.

    • In February 2001, Israel discharged 3.5 million cubic meters of untreated wastewater mixed with rainwater into northern Gaza strip towns.

    What’s not to love?

  • Flaming June

    A video of the Israeli deliberate fouling with sewage of Palestinian land was one of the first You Tubes I saw when I went on the internet in 2007. Memorable for me. For the Palestinians it must be heartbreaking to see their land fouled in this way.

    Israel’s sewage war on Palestinian Farmers Part 1 of 4 Part 1

  • Flaming June

    The Return of Martin Indyk

    ‘Now that Obama and Netanyahu have contrived another virtual peace process, he has come forward to offer his judgment that peace indeed is to be had. The initiative badly needs a supposedly authoritative seal of approval. For it is nonsensical to think that anything close to a meaningful agreement and stable settlement cam emerge from current conditions. Let’s remind ourselves of its cardinal features. An ultra right Israeli government headed by an avowed opponent to any serious concessions at whose side is Foreign Minister and governmental no. 2, Avigdor Lieberman, who has been described as a “Jewish fascist” by the most honest and prescient of Israeli commentators –Uri Avnery. That is one. An American president who has been humiliated repeatedly and personally by Netanyahu who holds over his head the drawn sword of the Israeli lobby. Obama was stared down on the settlements, cowed into submission to the point where he reflexively swallowed whole, and publicly parroted word by word the Jerusalem spin on the Gaza flotilla affair. That is two. Mushrooming Israeli settlements (all illegal) on the West Bank that, along with collateral infrastructure, have eaten up a large fraction of Palestinian land. Those ‘facts on the ground’ are three. Then there is the hapless Mr. Abbas – used as a dish rag by both the Israelis and Americans – whose sole value for them is as signatory of an accord composed and issued jointly by Netanyahu and Obama. The fact that Abbas’ authority has been shredded by his repeated forced obeisance to the will of the Palestinians’ keepers is conveniently overlooked. A nominal President whose writ, such as it is, runs for only half the people and territory of Palestine he officially represents, he still will suffice for the legal formalities to be met. That is four.’

  • glenn_uk

    I hope everyone didn’t misunderstand my “31 Jul, 2013 – 1:08 am” post… glanced at, it might appear to mean the opposite of its intent.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Glen. 5 37pm

    Re your 1 08am post “…why would the Eminences be happy at a guilty verdict?”

    No danger of your piece being misunderstood by anyone who took the trouble to read it. And your stuff is always worth the effort.

    At worst you were feeding the trolls. But then, aren’t most of us guilty on that charge and they’ll infest blogs like this whether we feed them or not.

    And to be fair on the useless feckers, they do spark of some interesting and amusing exchanges and make sure that issues like justice for the Palestinians and the more informative posters get plenty of attention. We could petition Haifa Uni to give us some better ones, but like they say, “the devil you know…”

    I’m sure the comments threads would wither a bit if all we could do here is agree with each other?

    So please keep on posting your insights. You have at least one fan.

  • glenn_uk

    Sofia: You are very kind, thank you for the assurance that at least some sense could be made of that post 🙂

  • pt

    U are terrifying in ur knowingness
    Flaming july

    &thenitwereaugust in thesubjunctive

  • pt

    U are terrifying in ur knowingness
    Flaming july

    &thenitwereaugust in thesubjunctive

    Pt x

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Glenn; You were missed. Glad you are back and hopefully fit-as-a-fiddle. Now if we could just get Clark back on a schedule. Cryptonym and Guano, likewise.

  • technicolour

    Glenn, very considered and comprehensive response, much appreciated, thanks.

  • technicolour

    For example, I was overwhelmed with something when it turned out that Bradley Manning was not going to be sentenced to death, but it was a combination of relief and gratitude – and horror and disgust that this was ever the possibility. I can’t say how I feel about the idea that he faces life in prison for espionage, because the fact that he was found guilty of espionage in the first place seems unworthy of even typing: we know what a spy is, and it was not Bradley Manning. Did he plead guilty to those charges after his ‘cruel and inhuman’ torture on remand?

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Tech; not sure if you saw this yesterday, but the irony and synchronicity of the date July 30 boggles the mind.

    “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.”

    Nuff said?

  • glenn_uk

    Sofia wrote, “

    @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.”

    About the “clever” apologists – the privileged right-wing parasites you mention have enough money to hire people to tell them what they want to hear. John Kenneth Galbraith, economist to F. Roosevelt, said in the 1930s : “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises moral philosophies, that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

    The apologists for these philosophies believe this stuff, they are sociopaths, or they just rationalise it as having to make a good living. Or some combination thereof. Somewhat akin to gun-runners – somebody would do it, so why not do it myself? And maybe I can can steer it in a better direction, etc., as Blair rationalised his pitching in with Dubbya’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    The flag-wavers are rather sadder, IMO… they simply think they are doing the right thing, being patriotic, even regarding it as wholesome entertainment. After all, it’s officially sanctioned, The Sun et al promotes this flag-waving as simply good citizenship, the BBC reports on it all day long, so they’ll get no criticism and possible brownie points.

    The fact that these filthy Tories get elected for anything, anywhere – even dog-catcher in a rough area – is testimony to the power of propaganda, generalised stupidity and ignorance, and nothing else.

  • Someone

    “The program allows intelligence officials to conduct surveillance even when their targets are unknown, or are performing supposedly anonymous activity such as browsing the web. Unlike other systems, it does not require a “strong selector,” such as an email address or IP address, to conduct surveillance.”

  • Flaming June

    Weird weather. It’s 29C here with 76% humidity. Thank goodness for potable water out of the tap. Tomorrow back to 15C apparently.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Turbine à Glace Professionnelle 11:26 am

    “This post is worth everyone’s attention. How can I find out more?”

    Welcome to the menagerie.

    Opinions and links aplenty to explore. A wonderfully diverse blog-ecology filled with creatures of passion, intellect and compassion, sly parasites, noisy drunks, clever chappies and paid henchmen. Who could ask for anything more?

    What will you bring?

    Thanks Craig for creating this space.

  • pt

    From time to time in (un)certain social situations …
    A drunk appears
    Babbles somewhat ambiguously for a while
    Then disappears …

  • Yonatan

    Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian appears to have opened a Q&A section on Reddit regarding the Guardian and Snowden

    A couple of interesting questions were asked regarding Snowden and Assange:

    [–]wokkachikka 17 points 1 day ago
    Given how the relationship between The Guardian and Assange soured quite spectacularly, did you approach this story and Snowden differently?

    No answer from Rusbridger

    [–]mickstep 130 points 1 day ago
    1, What do you think of Noam Chomsky’s and Edward Herman’s Propaganda Model?
    2, Does the propaganda model apply to the Guardian/Observer? If not why not?
    3, Do you have a response to Craig Murray’s claim about Amelia Hill’s article about Julian Assange addressing the Oxford Union ?

    [–]alanrusbridger[S] 123 points 1 day ago
    1: I haven’t read it. On my reading list: along with Middlemarch, War and Peace and Harry Potter.
    2: I’ll let you know once I’ve read it
    3: Not really. His most explosive Guardian revelation to date is that I wear a wig (I don’t)

    I find it interesting the the editor of a so-called left wing newspaper isn’t aware of the propaganda potential of journalism and how the state uses that potential. The answers to the seconds and third questions are suitably evasive.

  • Flaming June

    The ConDems have flogged off our blood plasma (given freely by volunteers inc me for +25 years for their sick and injured brothers and sisters) to the privateers.

    Unbloodybelievable. I am getting really angry.

    Their project to privatise the NHS will go down the pan, if slowly.

    They have had to take back the operations of Clinicenta, a division of Carillion, who were running Listercare in Stevenage. Mind you our taxes have paid £53m for the privilege. A lose lose situation.

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