Open Letter to President Trump 63

I am honoured to be one of the 101 initial signatories of the below open letter to President Trump demanding the end of the persecution of Julian Assange and Wikileaks for its essential publishing and journalistic work. Other signatories include Noam Chomsky, Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, Ken Loach, Mairead Maguire, Oliver Stone, Patti Smith, Slavoj Zizek and Yanis Varoufakis, as well as all the leading lights of the whistleblower community.

Dear President Trump,
We are journalists, activists and citizens from the United States and around the world who care about press freedom and are writing to you in response to the latest threat of prosecution against WikiLeaks for its journalistic work. We ask you to immediately close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and drop any charges against Julian Assange and other Wikileaks staff members which the Department of Justice is planning.
This threat to WikiLeaks escalates a long-running war of attrition against the great virtue of the United States — free speech. The Obama Administration prosecuted more whistleblowers than all presidents combined and opened a Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks that had no precedent. It now appears the US is preparing to take the next step — prosecuting publishers who provide the “currency” of free speech, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson. It is reported that charges, including conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act are being considered against members of WikiLeaks, and that charging WikiLeaks Editor, Julian Assange, is now a priority of the Department of Justice.
A threat to WikiLeaks’ work — which is publishing information protected under the First Amendment — is a threat to all free journalism. If the DOJ is able to convict a publisher for its journalistic work, all free journalism can be criminalised.
We call on you as President of the United States to close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and drop any charges planned against any member of WikiLeaks. It was a free and robust press that provided you with a platform on which to run for president. Defending a truly free press requires freedom from fear and favour and the support of journalists and citizens everywhere; for the kind of threat now facing WikiLeaks — and all publishers and journalists — is a step into the darkness.

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63 thoughts on “Open Letter to President Trump

  • Salford Lad

    Trump does not read newspapers , so it is unlikely he will be aware of this letter. The people around him will also keep him insulated against this letter.
    Consider a worldwide peoples petition as a back-up.

    • craig Post author

      I think the purpose is to influence public opinion. It is then hoped public opinion will work on Trump. I doubt Trump has ever heard of any of the signatories bar Pamela Anderson.


    Trump can barely read or write his name. Shoot – the fool can barely speak English.

    I feel it is a grand cosmic joke the Trump-Pence translated into English/American as Fart-cents.

    That said – open letters are valuable even though they have no direct effect on the addressee.

  • MJ

    “It was a free and robust press that provided you with a platform on which to run for president”

    Not sure about that bit. I’d say he was elected despite a controlled and feeble press.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      Seems to be working okay now.

      Fascinating reading down the list of signatories. Günter Wallraff is on there! German investigative journalist, pretty well-known in the seventies, I had no idea he was still alive and active. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is on there! If you’ve never read a book called “In The Freud Archives” (Janet Malcolm) it’s about his break with psychoanalysis, and it’s fascinating.


  • MJ

    “We ask you to immediately close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks”

    I know this is pedantic but I don’t think journalists should be producing copy containing split infinitives.

      • MJ

        Still best avoided in formal writing so the inner Victorian schoolmaster doesn’t snigger.

        • Shatnersrug

          I don’t know, I think language has changed I think split infinitives are beginning to sound more natural – thank Gene Roddenberry – contracted infinitives sound weak to modern ears.

          But then I would say that ?

          • Node

            …. thank Gene Roddenberry ….

            I think you’ll find it was Buzz Lightyear who went to infinitive and beyond.

  • Habbabkuk

    News from la belle France

    President Macron this morning appointed a new Prime Minister and charged him with forming a government.

    The new PM is M. Edouard Philippe, a member of the centre-right Parti re’publicain and a prote’ge’ of former PM Alain Juppe’.

    Needless to say, M.Philippe is – like M. Macron – an alumnus of the prestigious Sciences-Po and E’cole nationale d’Administration.

    No change there, then. Just the man to reach out to Le Pen voters. Not.


    And this afternoon the President of the French Republic is hastening to Berlin to meet Mrs Merkel.

    No change there, either….

    It is interesting to note that in the old days, when France ruled the EU roost, German Chancellors used to rush off to Paris to meet the newly-elected Presidents of France. Ever since the Presidency of M. Nicholas Sarkozy, it is the newly-elected Presidents of France who rush off to Berlin.

    • jake

      Ah yes, Sarkozy, who famously claimed he was there in Berlin the night the wall came down.

  • Habbabkuk

    Info needed: is it within the power of the US President (repeat : the US President) to “immediately close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks”


    “to drop any charges against Julian Assange and other Wikileaks staff members which the Department of Justice is planning.” ?

    I imagine the authors of the letter believe it is (at least, I hope they believe it is, for otherwise their efforts will be wasted…) but is that actually the case ?

    • Anon1

      It is within the power of Julian Assange to walk out the Embassy door and take his sorry arse to the States as he said he would do in the event of Chelsea Manning having his sentence commuted.

      • MJ

        Me neither. Tabloid headline writers always seem to get there first. Pure coincidence of course.

    • John Goss

      Yes it is. It is also within a president’s power to release the wrongfully-imprisoned Chelsea Manning (as was seen).

      • John Goss

        That’s right Habbabkuk. It is one of the problems with nesting. My response was to you, not Anon1, who for some inexplicable reason appears not to like Julian Assange, though I doubt he’s met the Wikileaks founder.

  • bevin

    The letter seems to be a very good thing. But it is curious that it has taken so long: the original Grand Jury proceedings were initiated by Obama and Clinton. It was Obama’s administration which persecuted ‘whistleblowers’ as no previous President’s had ever done. It was under Obama that Assange was forced to take refuge from fairly transparent attempts to manouevre him into a position in which he could be ‘rendered’ (something very easy to do thanks to Blair’s ‘reform’ of extradition proceedings) into the black hole that is laughingly called the US Justice system.
    Of course the British government, were it independent, could put an end to Assange’s predicament very easily. All it needs to do is to assure him that he will not under any circumstances be kidnapped or extradited and that his legal difficulties in the UK will be treated as the trivial formality that, absent the former Home Secretary’s grandstanding use of the Met, they amount to.
    There is excellent article at Counterpunch today which elucidates the politics of anti-Trump liberals.

  • Theresas EU pawn

    Great letter thanks, was Chelsea Manning not going to be released by the 31st of March? Will her imminent release require a comment from our politicians so in bed with that special relationship? currently on the dishonesty trail of never ending promises which bind them to absolutely nothing….

    In which case this will result in another BBC love fest for more internet control, blah blah cyber attack, JA and his valid conerns will be lucky to get mentioned at all.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    My open letter to President Trump would read as follows:-

    ” Dear President Trump,
    Please don’t kill the messenger, Julian Assange.
    Is it not ironic, if not absolutely hypocritical that you praised Wikileaks during the election campaign when the leaked information worked well to your advantage and enhanced your prospects of being elected. So with all this talk of Grand Jury and prosecution of Assange – what happened?
    Well, you have lied so much, been consistently inconsistent in what you say and do that the media now takes you as a laughing stock. Now, compare James Comey and his position on Hillary Clinton, which you lauded. Again, you flip flop all over the place and make yourself all the more mendacious and fundamentally untrustworthy in the eyes of the thinking section of American society and likewise for the rest of the world.
    It is evident that you have no regard for the importance of a socio-economic safety net in American society to protect the most vulnerable. Your Attorney General, now wants to reintroduce the failed policy of a sort of ‘three strikes’ approach to justice and incarceration and this, as you might be able to reason, will again only over-flood US prisons and impose an additional burden on the public purse. There is no sign that you comprehend this or begin to understand the skewed sentencing policies in the US when for the same offence, white offenders are sentenced less severely vis-a-vis all other ethnicities. If your overall plan advances to cut corporate taxation by 50% this will further enrich those least in need and constitute a long term disaster for the US economy as the deficit further widens. I ask rhetorically – can’t you connect the dots and reason logically as to the most probable outcome for your expressed policies?
    I have American relatives and on an individual basis do not bear any ill will to the American people. What troubles me and others who comprehend the implications for the world, of what you are doing, is that to the contrary of ‘making America great again’ – you are rapidly weakening both the stature of America in the world accompanied by, within the short 100 days or so that you have been in office – a significant debasement of the important office of President of the United States America.
    If you understand, with the good intentions that I have penned this letter, then if you can – please in a timely manner change course.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      I really doubt that JA is ‘just the messenger’. He is definitely an actor. And your appeal to Trump’s reason seems remarkably naive. The best one could say about Trump reason is ‘whimsical’ .

      • Courtenay Barnett


        I really doubt that JA is ‘just the messenger’. He is definitely an actor. And your appeal to Trump’s reason seems remarkably naïve…

        “Messenger’ in the sense that Assange opened a lot of people’s eyes to how activities in the state were arranged – unbeknown to the unsuspecting populace. So, he made many people understand by simply revealing facts – in the sense – he carried a message.

        One can say things to be consciously sarcastic. A person could be told, “My you are incredibly perceptive and intelligent” when exactly the opposite is meant. Trump is set in his ways and he will dig his own grave of impeachment and/or any myriad of problems he shall continue to create while President.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      I suspect you are technically and tiresomely correct that the President has no specific power to stop or direct a grand jury. On the other hand the President’s role may still be very influential.

      I guess it is an interesting question. My sense of the role of the President is that he is surrounded by powerful players and advisers and a president just has to knuckle down to these powers because they know the system and an direct it to some extent in the same way that the political figures in ‘Yes Minister’ were manipulated into following the right road. The curious thing about Trump is that he appears to be the first President in a long time who is oblivious to the procedures and processes and is determined to exercise his powers capriciously and with a distinct disdain for the established influences that surround such a figure. Pity that his personality is disordered, and he has the intellectual reach of a bag of stones.

      • John Goss

        Obviously Trump has not got absolute power. However, if he can sack the head of the CIA he can no doubt exert some leverage under a secret legal document (indictment) that was made by a former president with whom he has a conflict of interest. He is unlikely to “drain the swamp” overnight, if ever, even if he really intends such a measure. But the wrong legal measures that were used under Justice Phillips’ authority in our Supreme Court to hand Julian Assange over to Sweden show the influence government can have over the judiciary, and the influence the US government can exert on the UK government.

    • Theresas EU pawn

      Can’t you hurry up with fixing it John?
      there must be hundreds of Oxbridge humanitarians jostling to sign it, the BBC’s news and current affairs editors are not used to waiting, they want to sign it first. Or is it not meant to be signed by them?

  • Republicofscotland

    If the purpose is to influence public opinion, one does wonder what US public actually think about Julian Assange.

    The intention is a good one, however if the US public deem Mr Assange as anything other than, a person treated unjustly it could backfire. But I suppose the letter if nothing else creates a wider public awareness of Mr Assange’s predicament.

  • Jim

    Why has Habbs’ very pertinent question been deleted? Have there been any such open letters from these people re: suppression of political dissent in Putin’s Russia?
    I just googled ‘Jeremy Corbyn Chechen gay killings’ out of interest too, but only came up with public condemnations from Boris Johnson.

    • Republicofscotland


      Ask yourself why Habb, chose Russia, why not Saudi Arabia, or Israel, who have even worse human rights records when it comes to persecution.

      You’re being played Jim, and Russia is the bogeyman.

      Incidently Habb’s been pushing the Russia theme, on the last few threads, on page one definitely off-topic, and rightly deleted in my opinion.

      • Jim

        The point is they’re all terrible but you’ll get criticism of all of them from the hated ‘MSM’ Guardian for example. Half the contributors here will hate away til the cows come home about their ideological enemies, but are blind when it comes to Vlad’s authoritarianism.

        • Republicofscotland

          In all honesty Jim, most people are aware of Putin’s less than favourable actions, and I’d wager most agree with you.

          However to have Putin’s misgivings thrust down our throats every day of the week by the media and our politicians, whilst they try to hide their own hideous actions, is a sign of double standards.

          • Jim

            But my point was that the Saudis & Israel get lots of coverage too from, say, the Guardian. It’s pretty balanced, maybe not perfect but pretty fair imo.

    • Habbabkuk

      Deleting on topic questions like the one I put leads, logically, to the deletion of the non-answers I get and therefore serves to conceal the inability of people to deal with/answer the questions adequately.

      It’s called killing two birds with one stone……

      It also poses the question of whether Craig is aware of what some of his mods are up to or not.

  • SteveMol

    Craig, I fear one of the biggest hurdles you face is that Trump despises the Press (with some semblance of reasonable cause).

  • Ben

    I still think Craig should arrange a petition to require the NorKs to beat their swords into plowshares.

    No one has tried that yet.

  • Jim

    Just watched BBC North coverage of Jeremy’s public meeting in Leeds…for an organisation that’s regularly rubbished on here for its purported terrible bias, they were positively gushing. It was hugely well attended, which I found really heartening to tell the truth.

  • RobG

    What interesting times we live in.

    And yes, I know the other expression is not an old Chinese curse.

  • Habbabkuk

    “We call on you as President of the United States to close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and drop any charges planned against any member of WikiLeaks. It was a free and robust press that provided you with a platform on which to run for president.”

    To the cynical, this could sound like “Wikileaks helped you to get elected (by tripping up Hillary) so now you should do something for Wikleaks in return”.

  • John barr

    Time to get the real corrupt officials in court #hillary for prison. Trump you know the truth

  • Alcyone

    This post of Craig is a token for Craig in order that he can still label himself as a “Human Rights Activist” on his header. He has actually become a hardened Scots Nationalist in most of his preoccupations. Somebody can have a go and tell us what else constitutes his recent human rights activism. Why is The Former, once, Ambassador afraid to call himself a political-activist?

  • johnf

    Since this whole Russia-gate farrago started with Wikileaks publishing Hillary Clinton’s emails, a leak since blamed by the Clintonistas on the nefarious Putin, its good to see that evidence for them being actually leaked by a Democrat insider, Seth Rich (who was subsequently murdered in still unexplained circumstances), it is now emerging:

    “Family’s private investigator: There is evidence Seth Rich had contact with WikiLeaks prior to death”

  • criticalresponse

    Dear Mr. President Trump,
    If American politicians want to regain trust, against conspiration-theoriests and all the rubbish that goes on in rumours, media and with Propaganda and false flag operations, there is only one way: thruth! Come up with it! The one who starts with it, causes trouble and an outcry, but after a while, after shock and mourning, after trouble and disappointment and sky fall, probably you can start as a new government which learned a lesson out of a long imperialistic area full of wars and lies!
    People are fed up with your lies, so what? You have lost, probably you need some more people who tell it to you!

  • Diane Cummings

    Yes I applaud and support you all. Governments and politicians BREAK the law and LIE to their constituents and until they themselves abide by the law and tell us the TRUTH whistleblowers are our heroes and the only way we can protect ourselves from Governments becoming way too powerful and turning into tyrannical regimes (which is already unfortunately the case). Whistleblowers are loved by millions subversively and the prosecution of Assange or Snowden would just create many MORE Assanges and Snowdens and would be the end of the Republican Party in the US. The Democratic Party is finished and the end of the Republican Party might be a good thing as well. Drain the swamp COMPLETELY.

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