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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  • nevermind

    Thanks for you apt description above Arbed, Nick Davies is a little shit and his actions have led to a series of consequences he should be hauled over a barrel for. He and Martin Indyk have a lot of smell in common.

    ‘I was so relieved to hear that Lt. William caley, war criminal, only got three years for murdering a whole village of civilians in Vietnam.’

    US logic, ha, a contradiction in terms if there ever was one, follows that Bradley Manning should get life, should he not?

    Will the verdict be a judgement on the US judicial system? will it have progressed since the heady days of ‘collecting gooks ears for beer’?

    off course if you are educated, as Lt. Caley was, he would have used the term Victor Charlie for Viet Cong.

    Free Bradley Manning NOW!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yonatan, at 9:03am: Underlying the substance of the specific and very relevant points you attempted to raise with Rusbridger, only shamefully to be dismissed as ‘just another peasant’ is a deeper, structural fact. As in a private school Debating Society, sections of the ruling class assume various rhetorical positions but remain the ruling class. Only they can instrumentalise consent and dissent and only through them is art, politics and the generally accepted view of the world mediated by these things deemed credible. Rusbridger’s typically metropolitan, snobbish response to you is a superb example of Chomsky and Herman’s model but it also exemplifies a very British social class narrative.

  • N_

    I absolutely love the latest statement by Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, the dirty little money-laundry for international criminals who are helped to salt their money away by MI6.

    Clearly saying what he really ‘thinks’, he says the Spanish government is acting “like North Korea”.

    Yeah, sure, mate.

    This is pigshit-stupid Tory kneejerking in action. Guardian readers, trendy this that and the other, ‘lefties’ of all descriptions, trade union militants, reformers of all kinds, pacifists, Quakers, ultraleftists, anti-monarchists, ‘intellectuals’, Christians who run food banks, opponents of nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and above all, FOREIGNERS and those who have any truck with them – we were all once upon a time told to GET BACK TO RUSSIA. There’s something bloody wrong with the lot of us!

    We’re nothing but bandwagon-jumpers. We’ve got absolutely no thoughts in our heads and absolutely no solid base on which to stand our attitudes. We don’t think at all.

    Either that, of course, or our opponents have got rabies.

    Rabies, with little pictures of the ‘Queen’ and a slogan saying ‘INHERITED WEALTH FOREVER!’ imprinted on every single virus.

    Don’t let any facts get in the way. Never mind, for example, that when Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev came to Britain in 1956 he said that if he were British he’d vote Conservative.

    Only a trendy lefty would make such an irritating point, right?

    But it’s not ‘Get back to Russia’ any more.

    Oh no; times’ have moved on. For anyone who’s opposed in any way to the absolute right of inherited wealth, to the cesspools of vomit known as ‘queen, country, and Tory Party’, nowadays it’s “HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN NORTH KOREA?”

    Shall I tell you what? These morons are going to do themselves big-time harm if they maintain this kind of orientation. They’re sounding increasingly like the hangers-on around the Hohenzollerns, Habsburgs and Romanovs in 1917-18. More please! Give it the best you’ve got!

  • N_


    Thanks for the Adam Michnik link. If you are interested in profound aspects of what has been going on in eastern Europe but which are hardly ever discussed in western Europe, you will also find the writings of Georg Tamas very useful.

    I would especially recommend this article.

    Tamas, who was an MP in Hungary in the early 1990s, mentions facts such as the following:

    1) In Poland, 41 MPs proposed a bill to appoint Jesus Christ as honorary president of Poland, with some wanting to amend this to honorary king. The speaker threw it out on a technicality, not daring to risk a vote because they might have won.

    2) In Hungary, MPs discussed for 5 months what the republican coat of arms should be, and decided that it should include the holy crown; but there was no significant debate on unemployment when 2 million jobs disappeared in a country with a population of 10 million.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I’m posting this spammish comment because I note that the number of comments on this thread has been ‘666’ for a week or more. And as we know, if the comments close at ‘666’ on any thread on any blog on the web, the world will begin to end. If the world begins to end, we shall have to summon Bruce Willis to save it – a prospect worse than Armageddon. Hence this post, which will save the world, if not from mutual assured destruction, then at least from Bruce Willis.

  • Gari Sullivan

    You end your article saying The state is the enemy. We are the people. This truth is often forgotten by the people – and the likes of Stephen Fry – who get taught who to hate by media manipulation of the west’s enemies and lack of disclosure about its friends.

  • Flaming June

    If confirmation was needed that this is a fascist country, read on. It was referred to earlier by Ben Franklin.

    Glenn Greenwald’s partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours
    David Miranda, partner of Guardian interviewer of whistleblower Edward Snowden, questioned under Terrorism Act

    All his electronic equipment was confiscated for good measure. Mrs May’s goons are at this moment trawling through the hard drives.

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