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

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  • Villager

    25 Jul, 2013 – 10:46 pm

    Quite right Jay. Who has created the State, if not us, the people? You and I, we….all of us have created the State/Society.


    And yes, as inside, so outside. It is our messy consciousness that is the consciousness of mankind. But, when it comes to change, we blame it all on outside factors. We think by playing with the structure somehow we are going to bring about radical change. We don’t want to look at ourselves, our own fragmentation and take any true responsibility towards that. Change can only come one individual at a time — and that must reflect onto ‘Society’ or the State. We live in darkness ourselves but expect the State to be a miraculous shining light of beacon.

    Btw, I like your comment about our own children being little Princes and Princesses and they should be raised as such. But we raise them with the best of will out of our own messy consciousness. So, its CATCH-22. That is where we are and that is what we are perpetuating. It is the same all over the world, be it the US, UK or Russia or the beautiful paradise islands of the Maldives. Its one Earth and its anything but whole or holy.

  • Anon

    An excellent and timely post, Craig, not least because some of your followers think the sun shines out of Putin’s backside merely for his thwarting of some of the West’s evil schemes. One must, of course, be careful not to ‘go over to the other side’ – to start hailing Russia, Syria, Iran as paragons of civilized virtue and decency, as some here are wont to do. Russia’s sheltering of Snowden is a geopolitical manoeuvre and has nothing to do with any principled belief in transparency or the rights of whistle-blowers, as the Navalny case neatly illustrates, if, indeed, it needed illustrating at all.

    On another note, I’m glad Mary, Komodo et al are showing signs of having moved on from the royal baby hype. I understand that at moments of great national importance such as the delivery of Prince George, some commentators can get a little carried away amid the hysteria and find themselves thinking of little else . I would therefore suggest the opening of a special thread, similar to the 9/11 ‘dungeon’ and dedicated solely to discussion of the young Prince, so that the debate about names, dress, styles and such like can be continued for as long as the Royal baby watchers see fit.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    The posts of 9 32 and 9 34 put me in mind of this old Christy Moore song.

    I know it’s a bit early in the day for Happy Hour so I’ll just post the lyrics. For anyone who hasn’t heard this man sing all I can say is he, like Michael D Higgins (122 times better value than UK head of state), is another Irish national treasure.


    For all of our languages, we can’t communicate
    For all of our native tongues, we’re all natives here
    Sons of their fathers dream the same dream
    The sound of forbidden words becomes a scream
    Voices in anger, victims of history
    Plundered and set aside, grown fat on swallowed pride

    With promises of paradise and gifts of beads and knives
    Missionaries and pioneers are soldiers in disguise
    Saviours and conquerors they make us wait
    The fishers of men they wave their truth like bait
    With the touch of a stranger’s hand innocence turns to shame
    The spirit that dwelt within now sleeps out in the rain

    For all of our languages, we can’t communicate
    For all of our native tongues, we’re all natives here
    The scars of the past are slow to disappear
    The cries of the dead are always in our ears
    Only the very safe can talk about wrong and right
    Of those who are forced to choose, some will choose to fight
    For all of our languages, we can’t communicate

  • John Goss

    Glenn_uk at 2.33 a.m. I posted the link to a film two days ago called “Unlawful Killing” by Keith Allen. Fortunately I got to see it (and I hope you did too) before it was brought down allegedly for ‘copyright infringement’. The BBC reported that Diana had been hounded to death by the paparazzi and has stuck by that story. After days and days of deliberation the jury brought in a verdict which was atually ‘unlawful killing’ or put another way ‘murder’. You can watch this film practically anywhere except in the UK. And basically that appears to be the reason. A verdict of ‘Murder’ should mean the police are looking for a murderer. But they’re not.

    My satirical fairy story, ‘Nanna Babba and the common girl’ was influenced by this film and Barbara Cartland’s articles on Royal Jelly in ‘Here’s Health’ magazine.

  • Komodo

    On another note, I’m glad Mary, Komodo et al are showing signs of having moved on from the royal baby hype.

    Just staying on topic as recommended by you and other excrescences. Snarked if I do, snarked if I don’t.

    Still, happy to see I didn’t initiate it on this thread.

    @ Fred: Good catch. Worth remembering. And on-topic, too. Think the excrescences will be vocal today?

  • John Goss

    Ben Franklin at 12.36 ‘Lower denominations are easier to carry and trade.’ I agree. Unfortunately, assuming there is no war, nobody would know what, or which, currency to trust, and people are advised to get themselves a trade so they can trade. George Dalton and several other ancestors on my mother’s side were silversmiths in Norfolk Street, Sheffield, and it might not be a bad trade to get back into. When the crash comes it will be merciless.

  • Komodo

    “The Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?” [David Ward MP]

    That’s it. A tweet.

    Was it the mention of apartheid which caused the offence?

    The Association for Civil Rights in Israel concluded in 2008 that a segregated road network in the West Bank, expansion of Jewish settlements, restriction of the growth of Palestinian towns and discriminatory granting of services, budgets and access to natural resources are “a blatant violation of the principle of equality and in many ways reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa”.[44]

    Israel has also been accused of apartheid by Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s attorney-general from 1993 to 1996 [45] and Shulamit Aloni, who served as Minister for Education under Yitzhak Rabin.[46]

    (and much more to think about) here –

    Maybe it was mention of the Zionists in the same sentence?

    Sigmund Freud on being requested to condemn the Arab riots of 1929:

    Letter to the Keren Hajessod (Dr. Chaim Koffler)

    Vienna: 26 February 1930

    Dear Sir,

    I cannot do as you wish. I am unable to overcome my aversion to burdening the public with my name, and even the present critical time does not seem to me to warrant it. Whoever wants to influence the masses must give them something rousing and inflammatory and my sober judgement of Zionism does not permit this. I certainly sympathise with its goals, am proud of our University in Jerusalem and am delighted with our settlement’s prosperity. But, on the other hand, I do not think that Palestine could ever become a Jewish state, nor that the Christian and Islamic worlds would ever be prepared to have their holy places under Jewish care. It would have seemed more sensible to me to establish a Jewish homeland on a less historically-burdened land. But I know that such a rational viewpoint would never have gained the enthusiasm of the masses and the financial support of the wealthy. I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.

    Now judge for yourself whether I, with such a critical point of view, am the right person to come forward as the solace of a people deluded by unjustified hope.

    Your obedient servant,


    Criticism was legitimate then. Or maybe only Jews are allowed to criticise Israel? Ah, that’s it. Self-haters though they may be, G-d gave them the right.

  • Flaming June



    1.A distinct outgrowth on a human or animal body or on a plant, esp. one that is the result of disease or abnormality.
    2.An unattractive or superfluous addition or feature.

    V. good


    Anon took no notice of my following post saying that I was on the wrong thread. My point in sending the post about the exhibition at Buckingham Palace is that
    a)we paid for these garments and baubles in the first place with buckets full of our taxes and
    b)a charge of £19 is being made to see them

    btw I said nothing about the royal baby. My motto is ‘No child shall be harmed’ which holds no meaning for our warmongering pocket politicians.

  • John Goss

    Flaming June at 4.02 a.m. (what were you doing up at that time?) the 2011 figures for total national debt stood at 14,200 billion dollars. It is now 16,877 billion and rising but that is just in the US (what it owes itself). The total debt, including that owned by other countries is more than three times that. 47% of the total debt is has been bought by foreign countries (China and Japan being the main holders of government bonds and securities). Why would they want to do that? I’m scratching my heat. As to GDP this is the most misleading of all and I would be tempted to leave it out of the equation. It amounts to all the money in the system (plus exports minus imports) but as governments can print money at will and the national debt is not subtracted from GDP an economy can look healthy even when it is on its knees. Dady Chery, in this article explains GDP, and what is bad for it, and who the vultures are that thrive on it, relating the whole lot to her native Haiti.

  • Komodo

    Re. David Ward MP, a little recent history:

    Tonge all over again. Some of the rank and file are a little disturbed by this, though –

    Good man.

    LibDem Friends of Israel were the instrument of choice for ensuring that no LibDem ever again is permitted to use the words “Israel” and “atrocity” on the same page. Without a single democratic vote being taken by the rest of the party.

    As their leader, Gavin Stollar, who has failed to get elected since 2001 as an MP, says, LDFoI is not well provided with funds, and is rather dependent on the benevolence of the Israeli government. Which might raise a question or two in itself.

    Our delegates, some of whom had previously visited Gaza with Christian Aid and CAABU, all came back grateful to LDFI for giving them the “balance” they needed. They all expressed appreciation that the issues many thought were black and white were actually more like shades of grey, and sometimes even impossible to interpret.

    Oh yes. That’s a fact.

    The trip confirmed that the power of seeing things firsthand cannot be underestimated.

    As well as the Dimona nuclear facility, they don’t seem to have visited Gaza. Recommended for next time, Stollar.

  • John Goss

    Though some of the comments appear to have digressed they do fit the last statement.

    “States are the enemy. We are the people.”

    We might not all have been in positions to blow whistles, but we can support the whistle-blowers in our own ways. On Saturday there are hopefully demonstrations all over the country in support of Bradley Manning, whose verdict (probably life imprisonment) is due to be announced around then. Only when the thieves and banksters’ system collapses can people take control of their own resources.

    “States are the enemy. We are the people.”

  • Komodo

    More Stollar after Clegg’s decision to appoint LDFoI his mentor:

    “Gavin Stollar, LDFI chairman, said that if the group “doubted Mr Ward’s sincerity in engaging in this process, or his willingness to take on board what’s coming, then there’s no question about our intention to feed that back.

    “LDFI has essentially been appointed as probation officers for David Ward,” said Mr Stollar. “If we are not convinced that he is salvageable then we’ll be in the position to report back to the leader and the chief whip and express our views.

    “Rather than making him a martyr, LDFI welcomes the opportunity to educate one of our MPs.

    I didn’t actually believe this assertion, that LDFoI, or any other Fo(any other country)
    could be authorised by anyone to ‘correct’ an elected MP’s opinions. But there it is, in the Jewish Chronicle, not Stormfront or al-Ahram…

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Mr Murray,

    You might know that states by their nature are repressive. Their main duty is to provide order (and security) in anarchic system. The problem with freedoms in modern days western societies is that with the introduction of War on Terror discourse western states were allowed to manipulate freedoms (and reduce them to some extend) in order to provide order (and security). Russia aside but in western societies with highly develop civic institutions this reduction of freedom is to great extend fault of western societies themselves. US citizens allow their government to keep people in prison indefinitely without charge and chance of fair trial, British citizens allow their government to participate in rendition and hand over their compatriots to foreign security services.

    There is no one else to blame in this but yourselves. Not you personally of course, as the man who put his career and health on the line to defend these freedoms you are in unfortunately minority camp.

  • Passerby

    Ottawa keeps silent over Israel’s arrest and abuse of Canadian activist

    The Canadian government has remained silent over the abusive treatment of a Canadian human rights activist in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by Israeli forces amid criticism that Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper prioritizes Israel’s interests over those of its own citizens,

    Interesting to find the corporate media somehow is blind to the abuse of the human rights under their nose, but always on the look out to show boat about the slightest infractions of the Jonny foreigner, that is the right sort of forefinger and not the kosher kind of course.

  • Passerby

    They laughed at the Mohammed cartoons. Why aren’t they laughing now?

    That is classed as running into a theatre and shouting zionist pigs Fire! (read this aloud and with a guttural hint of Yiddish German.

    pmsl indeed!

  • Colin Brace

    The US Dept of Justice is also said to have a conviction rate above 98%. If the Feds want to throw you in jail, they will. Appearances may be more orderly than in, say, Uzbekistan, but is justice being served? The US still likes to lecture others about “human rights” though.

    , “Between 2000 and 2005, 99 percent of the 435,000 federal criminal defendants prosecuted nationwide were convicted” Source: Beating a federal rap not easy – Pittsburgh Tribune-Revie

  • N_

    Any aspiring politicians here will be well advised to ‘forget’, if they ever knew, that the United Nations once upon a time had a policy describing Zionism as a form of racism (“Z=R”).

    Read accounts nowadays, and you’ll hear that the opponents of ditching the said policy were a bunch of rabid Nazis. You wonder just how fucking long the Zionazis are going to be able to run with that one. But no-one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the conditioned ‘public’, so it’s said.

    When Jenny Tonge was told to choose between “apologising” (!) for her criticism of Israel and losing the Liberal Democrat whip, she told Clegg to shove the whip where the Sun didn’t shine. Got to give credit where it’s due.

  • Colin Brace

    States are the enemy. We are the people.

    Without the State, who will protect us from the Corporation?

    I’d like to see the latter dismantled first. Then we’ll deal with the State.

  • Komodo

    I’m not sure what anyone in the UK could have done to avoid the subversion of our liberties by a state-enemy, Uzbek. Whistleblowers have some effect, but the state has ways of silencing them and redacting their legacy. Did Craig achieve any marked reform either in Uzbekistan or in the FCO? He raised public awareness magnificently, yes, but nothing seems to have altered: the nail that stood up was the nail that was hammered down, as the Japanese saying has it. Mass action has uncertain results, and with a consumerist, drugged population, is impossible to implement. What we are led to believe we are voting for is not recognisably related to what we get – saying it’s our fault implies that there’s a collective will for justice, and there isn’t. There is no visible route to a fair society that I can see, (though I am very open to suggestions).

  • Komodo

    Colin Brace I can relate to. How to dismantle the corporations? Stop buying stuff. Particularly stuff you don’t need. That IS an effective weapon. Possibly the only one left.

  • N_

    The Daily Telegraph published an article calling Jenny Tonge “Jihad Jenny”.

    The same newspaper also published an article “In Defence of Anders Breivik”, by Roger Hicks.

  • Flaming June

    No UK politician ever goes to Gaza Komodo. B.Liar made a fleeting visit after Cast Lead.

    I know about Stollar. He tried to get into parliament in Buckinghamshire and failed.
    He is one of David Ward’s ‘re-educators’.

    LDFoI is/was run by a fervent Zionist Monroe Palmer. Cleggover has ennobled him. He is a Barnet borough councillor as is his wife Susette.

    He enters his interest in LDFoI and also declares receipt of ‘fees’ but does not give any source for them.

    A puff piece about him here. No mention of Israel of course.

  • Flaming June

    Colin Brace Did you mean the Zionist Broadcasting Corporation or corporations in general? 🙂

  • Phil

    Colin Brace 26 Jul, 2013 – 12:47 pm

    “Without the State, who will protect us from the Corporation? I’d like to see the latter dismantled first. Then we’ll deal with the State.”

    Ah but doesn’t the people’s state immediately becomes the people’s only in name. At least that seems to have happened before and it makes perfect sense. Everyone is corruptible so retaining mechanisms of power invites corruption. In corporations and states.

    I hope for a gradual dismantling of both.

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