Ecuador and Assange 409

It is for the government of Ecuador, not the UK, to determine who is an Ecuadorian citizen. It is for the government of Ecuador, not the UK, to determine who is an Ecuadorian diplomat.

It is not in the least unusual for Julian Assange to become an Ecuadorian citizen. Having been granted political asylum, and having lived for over five years under Ecuadorian jurisdiction, naturalisation is a perfectly normal step. There are a great many refugees in this country who are now naturalised UK citizens. Julian appears suitably proud of his new citizenship, and rightly so.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office appears to be putting out a story that it has refused to accredit Assange as an Ecuadorian diplomat. As the Guardian reports:
“Earlier this week the UK’s Foreign Office revealed that Ecuador had asked for Assange, who was born in Australia, to be accredited as a diplomat. The request was dismissed.”

I have no knowledge that the Ecuadorian government ever notified Assange as a member of diplomatic staff of its mission. But it has every right to appoint Assange, now an Ecuadorian citizen, as an Ecuadorian diplomat if it so chooses. Ecuador cannot tell the UK who may or may not be a British diplomat, and the converse applies.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – to which the UK and Ecuador are both party – is the governing international law and determines the obligations to respect diplomatic immunity. It is crystal clear (Article 4,1) that the need to obtain agreement in advance of the receiving state only applies to the Head of Mission – ie the Ecuadorian Ambassador. For other staff of the mission the sending state (in this case, Ecuador) “may freely appoint” the other members of the mission, (Article 7), subject to provisos in Articles 5,8,9 and 11. Plainly the only one of these which applies in the Assange case is Article 9. Julian Assange is persona non grata – unwelcome -to the UK government. That is a legitimate reply to notification, but comes following the appointment; it does not pre-empt the appointment.

Here is the key point. A member of staff below head of mission can already have entered the country before appointment, and their diplomatic immunity starts from the moment their appointment is notified, and NOT from the moment it is accepted. Article 39 (i) could not be plainer:

1.Every person entitled to privileges and immunities shall enjoy them from the moment he enters
the territory of the receiving State on proceeding to take up his post or, if already in its territory, from
the moment when his appointment is notified to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or such other ministry
as may be agreed.

So to summarise.

There is no requirement for prior approval before arrival of staff below Ambassador, and it is just a notification regime (Article 10). If the FCO is telling the truth and Ecuador notified the UK of its appointment of Julian Assange as a member of diplomatic staff, the UK can only have refused by declaring Assange persona non grata. That does not remove his diplomatic immunity which started the moment he was notified. It continues until he has been given the chance to leave the country in “a reasonable time”. (Article 9.2, and 39.2).

The immunity of envoys has been universally regarded as essential to inter-state relations for thousands of years. The reasons why that immunity must start at notification are obvious if you think it through. The FCO bragging about refusing the alleged Ecuadorian request has been carried in virtually the entire neo-liberal media. Not one article, anywhere, has reflected anything approaching the applicable legal arguments. I am again left wondering whether mainstream media journalists are simply entirely incompetent, or deeply corrupt.

I suppose both.

409 thoughts on “Ecuador and Assange

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  • Alex Westlake

    “Ecuador cannot tell the UK who may or may not be a British diplomat, and the converse applies.”

    Presumably though if we want to assign someone to the British Embassy in Quito then Ecuador would need to grant him diplomatic status

    • Ba'al Zevul

      No, I’m afraid. Ecuador can appoint who it likes. However, I speculate that if Ecuador appointed someone with a criminal record, and a history of acquiring secret material and publishing it (arguably against the interests of the UK), who was currently subject to criminal prosecution for an offence against UK law long predating his appointment, long discussions would be held in private between the FCO and Ecuadoran representatives in order to work round the ridiculous situation. Which may be what has happened.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Scene: an austere basement at the FCO. It has been swept for surveillance devices.

        Manuel: I will be honest with you. It matters less than nothing to me what becomes of the Australian, but the Head of Mission is, what you say, a snowflake, and he wants to show middle finger to the USA. So what can I do?

        Sir Peregrine Parsonsnose: Hmmm. See your point, old chap. Well, how about this – just putting it out for collection, but it might work. We can’t reject your diplomat as such, and we don’t want him to get away scot free for jumping bail and dumping his chums in the proverbial. So you let us say we’ve rejected the application, which will save us from looking bloody feeble, and I don’t suppose a Sun reader will see much wrong with that. OK? You just don’t make waves?

        Manuel: OK, but what do we get?

        Sir P: Well, when it filters through that we can’t actually reject him, we mark him PNG and off he goes to Quito. We’ll pay for deep cleaning his room when he shoves off. And then we’ll try him in absentia so he doesn’t want to come back to a jail term. Problem solved for you, problem solved for us.

        Manuel: But can you in fact do this thing?

        Sir P: Oh, I think so*. He’s deliberately frustrated the attempt of the prosecuting authorities to have the case finally concluded for five years now.


        • giyane


          Your portrayal of our intelligence services is much too soft and genial. They have been using violent proxy Islamists who terrorise their own Muslim brothers and sisters usinmg guns and knives and the threat of much worse. There’s no need for anyone to pretend to be suave or charming.

          Parsons was last seen in public lying through his teeth that the intelligence services had foiled countless plots , while it in fact created the plot in Manchester to terrorise youngsters at a girlie pop concert.

          These people are not gentlemen. Mrs May is not a lady. They are cocaine addicts who get off on the abuse of power.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    “Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012,”

    “A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said that despite Sweden’s European arrest warrant for the WikiLeaks founder being lifted, he was under a separate warrant for skipping bail.”

    As the original reason, for requiring him to attand court, is no longer valid (the foreign allegations against him have been dropped – he has no case to answer), shouldn’t his lawyers apply to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and argue that the warrant for his arrest is no longer valid, as he has no case to answer, and that it be dismissed?

    On a seperate .but related issue, shouldn’t the UK Government, especially after a failed appeal, respect the direction of The UN – as reported by The Washington Times:

    “The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention,” panel chairman Seong-Phil Hong said when the panel announced its initial finding in February. Nearly nine months later, the same group said Wednesday that it was unconvinced by Britain’s subsequent appeal.”

    By failing to comply with this UN directive, the UK Government is not only seriously damaging its own International Reputation, but all International Law.


    • Loony

      The UK government does not care about its own reputation and neither does it care about international law. It cares only that it obeys instructions received from its hegemonic master.

      When or if Trump speaks the UK will do precisely as it is instructed to do. That could range from storming the embassy and publicly lynching Assange through to chartering a private jet and flying him to Ecuador.

    • Martinned

      shouldn’t his lawyers apply to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and argue that the warrant for his arrest is no longer valid, as he has no case to answer, and that it be dismissed?

      They could, but then they’d presumably be told that jumping bail is an offence quite separately from any reason why the bail was set in the first place.

      On a seperate .but related issue, shouldn’t the UK Government, especially after a failed appeal, respect the direction of The UN (…) UN directive

      There is no “direction of the UN” or “UN directive”. These working groups got in trouble in the past for pretending their conclusions were court-style judgements, so these days they make very clear that they are not. They are conclusions reached by panels of presumed experts. These conclusions do not represent the UN, and have no legal force whatsoever.

      • John Spencer-Davis

        Except that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has concluded that the “Opinions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are legally-binding to the extent that they are based on binding international human rights law, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The WGAD has a mandate to investigate allegations of individuals being deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary way or inconsistently with international human rights standards, and to recommend remedies such as release from detention and compensation, when appropriate.

        “The binding nature of its opinions derives from the collaboration by States in the procedure, the adversarial nature of its findings and also by the authority given to the WGAD by the UN Human Rights Council. The Opinions of the WGAD are also considered as authoritative by prominent international and regional judicial institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights.”

        • Martinned

          I’m sure that the UN High Commissioner and his office would like that to be true, but I’m afraid that it’s nonsense. The signatories to the ICCPR never consented to binding international arbitration or any other kind of court-like procedure, and without consent to be bound there is no obligation in international law. Of course that doesn’t prevent individual opinions from being authoritative – as indeed are all writings by international law scholars. That is why ” the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations” are mentioned explicitly in art. 38(1) of the ICJ statute, which lists the sources of international law. But only to the extent that they are right…

          • John Spencer-Davis

            I’m sure the UN High Commissioner and his office would put nonsense up as their official press release concerning the decision of a panel of international law scholars, as you have acknowledged that they are yourself. Who cares what you think, Martinned? I will prefer the decision of the panel and the UN High Commissioner, against the opinion of a relative nobody like you.

          • Martinned

            In the past I’ve quoted long lists of international law scholars’ publications to back all of this up, with absolutely zero impact on anyone’s pre-existing opinion. Please, for the love of everything that’s holy, pick up a basic introduction to international law book before spouting off any more opinions about the merits of the working group opinion.

  • Macky

    Last month saw the sudden suicide of James Dolan, aged 36, who helped construct the a secure IT, Wikileaks inspired system, for whistle-blowers to anonymously submit materials to journalists; yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz, who collaborated with Dolan on developing that system, driven to suicide by the US DOJ who were trying to make an example of him to deter other Internet Freedom activists; so fitting on this thread & at this time to remember them;

  • reel guid

    The Record has the story that the cost from PFI for Wishaw General Hospital will be £813 million. Over eight times the £100 it cost to build the place. £813 million cost courtesy of the Labour and Lib Dem coalition government at Holyrood.

    The same two parties that told Scottish people to vote No to protect the Scottish NHS. To stay in a UK that has seen England’s NHS move towards privatisation. And has seen and will see Scotland’s block grant reduced accordingly.

  • Ruben

    Hello Craig:

    I wonder if you have a Spanish version of this great article. If you don’t I would be happy to translate it.

    Thanks for letting me know.

  • Sharp Ears

    A deeply unpleasant and nasty ad hominem in Murdoch’s Times. How low can they go?

    Whiffyleaks: Julian Assange told to take shower
    Stephen Gibbs, Caracas | John Simpson | Rhys Blakely
    January 12 2018, 12:01am,
    The Times
    Julian Assange has been in Ecuador’s embassy since 2012. Staff have allegedly made complaints about his poor hygiene
    Julian Assange’s poor hygiene has played a role in the latest agitations by Ecuador to extricate him from his five-year standoff in its embassy, a well-placed source has told The Times.

    Staff at the embassy in Knightsbridge have made several complaints about the Wikileaks founder’s lack of cleanliness since he holed up in a back room there in 2012, the source said yesterday.

    The claim came after it emerged this week that Mr Assange, 46, had been granted Ecuadorean citizenship but that an application by the country’s government to assign him diplomatic status was turned down by Britain. “It seems he doesn’t wash properly,” the source, who has visited Mr Assange at the embassy, said.

    He added that the issue was a likely incentive in… paywall

    • Ba'al Zevul

      That is not a new allegation. Assange was described by a former close associate as aparanoid megalomaniac whose lack of personal hygiene and table manners suggest he was ‘brought up by wolves’.

      Note: Sri Lanka Sunday times. Owned by Wijeya Newspapers Limited, not Murdoch…

      Whether or not you agree with Wikileaks’ absolutely factual riposte to / petulant smear (delete as inclined) of Domscheit-Berg, you might acknowledge that D-B probably was probably long enough and in close enough proximity to Assange to register an olfactory opinion.

      • Tony_0pmoc

        Ba’al Zevul,

        I am amazed at your apparent personal animosity to Assange. Despite your age, I normally find you fair and reasonable, even when I disagree with you. Maybe you “know” something about Assange, that I only suspect.

        Can you tell us what it is?

        I know he is not guilty of rape in Sweden, on the basis, of what both girls involved actually said, did and tweeted, as was not only reported by Aftonbladet (The Swedish equivalent of the Sun) but also many Independent Swedish sources, some of who’m were actually there as witnesses

        I have almost always thought that there is much more to the story of Julian Assange, than has been reported. But so what, even if he is a spy, working for some Intelligence Agency, that is no reason to effectively keep him in jail for years (if in fact he has been kept in jail in the Ecudaorian Embassy for years – as nearly everyone believes)

        I merely question, why he was wearing a motorcycle jacket, on a hot day, unless he had just arrived back at the Ecuadorian Embassy on a motorcycle, and if he had then my appreciation of him is even higher.

        He has said and done very little of which I disagree with, and John Goss knows what that is, because he is not only clever, but also an honest man.


        • giyane


          C’mon man. Get real. If Assange has got a clean coat and a rumpled T shirt, even on a hot day he’s going to pull on the coat to appear in public. that’s what I’d do. Of course he isn’t free to wander round London. He’s being threatened with years of madness-inducing solitary isolation, without views or fresh air, and being poisoned with every mouthful, he’s not going to lark around London on a motorbike.

          I sometimes wonder if any of you were brought up in an institution. Tony, you managed to escape the shackles of the Irish Catholic church? I suspect that Julian Assange’s upbringing in tightly closed circle has somehow conditioned him to feel comfortable isolated in an embassy with only Embassy staff and an internet connection. Solitary confinement would be a massive worsening of that isolation. Nobody knows how they would cope in that situation but the rightness of his cause and knowing the world’s support would probably help him survive this social torture.

        • AS

          You mean like this bit:

          “When Ecuador first gave asylum to Assange, he was still a hero to many on the liberal left, and to many opponents of ‘US imperialism’. Today, most of those who still support Assange are hard-right nationalists – with many seeing him as a supporter of the style of politics of both Trump and Vladimir Putin. Assange is not the political icon he used to be.”

          • Macky

            Yes exactly, but knowing where you’re coming from, you cite this as a bit of truth, instead of the smear that it is.

            After the frenzied feminist line of attack over the alleged broken condom “rape” attacks, Assange is now attracting the raging fury of still upset Clinton supporters, and even more deluded self-righteous anti-Trump hypocrites (hypocrites because they attack Trump for things that pale into insignificance against the crimes of Obama & Clinton).

            The failure of the Democrats to stop “Neo-Nazi, Russian Stooge, Mentally Ill” Trump renewing the Surveillance/Spying authorization against Americans, is a perfect example of pro-Clinton & anti-Trump irrationality & hypocrisy.

            As usual Caitlin Johnstone expresses this well;


          • AS

            Where’s the smear in the above? The author is registering a perception that became widespread in the 2016 US election. Last year (2017) Assange was revealed to have secretly communicated with the Trump campaign in an attempt to coordinate a fake leak of Trump’s tax returns on WikiLeaks to alter the public impression of WikiLeaks as pro-Trump (and Russia-backed) and thus increase the effectiveness of the DNC email leaks. No amount of acrobatics is going to convince a sane person that this action *wasn’t* partisan and pro-Trump. It also revealed an intention to manipulate information and the political process that was inherently covert, anti-transparent and deceptive in intent. Fine maybe for a typical politician, but not for an institution like WikiLeaks set up to increase transparency and accountability.

            The article is written by someone who used to work for WikiLeaks. Useful context you also omitted. I agree it begins with a pointless slur on Assange’s personal hygiene and the whole tone seems personally negative. Although that may beg the question why (given the aforementioned context) I’m not really interested in hearing that personal dimension. It’s irrelevant to the issues.

            The rest of your response is the same desperate attempt to label any critic of Assange – or Trump now! – as Clintonite. You don’t see how that merely cements the impression that pro-Assange now equates with pro-altright?

            Still, as you’ll see below, I disagree with the basic point of the text you linked to, namely that Assange is merely remaining in the Ecuadorian embassy out of pride. That strikes me as deeply unfair and disingeuous. But – and this was the point of highlighting that section of the text – sympathy for him among the ‘liberal left’ seems extremely low. I think that’s wrong because these are separate issues. Setting aside the Swedish prosecution, which indeed appeared politically motivated and smeared Assange’s name as a sex offender or ‘rapist’ among much of the political centre and left, as intended, there’s a basic need to defend WikiLeaks as a reliable source of otherwise improperly concealed state information that the public has the right and need to know. Especially at the time of the leaks for which Assange would presumably be prosecuted by the US if it ever came to it.

            But with one caveat. Assange’s apparent attempt to get the Trump campaign to help fake a leak of tax returns via WikiLeaks compromised the latter. The fact that the fake leak didn’t happen is to some extent irrelevant. There was an intent to deceive the public built into the proposal.

          • Clark

            Why a “fake leak”? Assange encouraged Trump’s son to actually leak his father’s tax returns – a document that is much in demand by the US public.

            Assange should be credited for this, for acting against the Trump campaign and for the interests of disclosure. The Trumps could leak, and thereby satisfy disclosure, or conceal, suggesting they had things to hide. But they couldn’t do well out of it either way.

          • Clark

            Of course the ‘liberal left’ pro-Clinton wing of the corporate media have spun Assange’s intervention as ‘pro-Trump’, and embarrasingly, swathes of the liberal-left have fallen for it, just as they have fallen for the ‘smelly rapist’ smears.

          • AS

            Are you seriously suggesting Trump junior would leak his father’s tax returns without the latter’s permission?! If that permission was granted, it wouldn’t be a leak, It would be a consensual release of information *feigned* as a leak in order – as the DM messages from WikiLeaks made clear – to give the perception of impartiality. You’re in denial I’m afraid.

          • AS

            @Clark, second post
            Actually, no. The weird direction being taken by the WikiLeaks twitter feed was picked up by left-wing twitters, many non-Clintonites, well before the mainstream media started running the story. Personally I’ve absolutely no idea where Assange’s political philosophy sits right now. The fact that WikiLeaks helped defeat Clinton was lauded after the election, though, including on this blog. What conclusion would you expect to be drawn from that?

          • Macky

            “most of those who still support Assange are hard-right nationalists ”

            And you ask where’s the smear ?!!

            We have already, twice now, gone through your allegation, regarding the communications between Wikileakes & the Trump team, and the fact you cannot see that your case rests on your inability to understand the effect of the edited copy of a key email, means that only those with the same inability would agree with you, as opposed those with the perception to be able to recognise exactly what the point of that deliberate & malicious editing was all about.

            Assange has made no pretense of his understandable antipathy towards HRC, indeed his “either forgive or forget” balcony statement, more than made that clear, and for sure he must have preferred a Trump victory than Clinton victory, but so did many, many people on the Left did; it doesn’t make them or him Trump fans, just people who took a chance on preferring the unknown & possibly Lesser Evil, than the known & certain Large Evil that Clinton represented.

          • Clark

            “Are you seriously suggesting Trump junior would leak his father’s tax returns without the latter’s permission?”

            I think it was worth a try – who knows what internal family rivalries there might be? And Assange tried.

            “Personally I’ve absolutely no idea where Assange’s political philosophy sits right now”

            Same as ever I should think – disclosure; then let the people decide.

            “The fact that WikiLeaks helped defeat Clinton was lauded after the election, though, including on this blog”

            Sort of; this is a confusion about priorities. Democracy is dysfunctional without accurate information, which makes the mass media / PR corporations etc. greater powers than governments, in some senses. Therefore, government can’t be properly repaired until the media has been sorted. If you look at Craig’s blog post, you’ll see he was lauding the power of the new Internet media rather than Clinton’s defeat.

            Humanity’s problem is a hydra – multiple heads. Personally, I don’t see any clean solutions.

          • AS

            As stated in earlier exchanges:
            a) I agree that the Altantic, which disclosed the secret WikiLeaks DMs to the Trump campaign, should have included all the DM in question yes. Including because,
            b) contrary to the apologists like yourself, it makes no difference to the rest of the DM content. WikiLeaks (Assange) claiming that the Clinton campaign was smearing him as pro-Trump while secretly communicating to assist the Trump campaign – if we are to take the DMs at their own word – is simply nonsensical.

            I can understand why you don’t want to see that, though, as seeing it would immediately destroy the fable you’ve concocted about the intent behind those DMs.

          • Clark

            AS: – “WikiLeaks (Assange) claiming that the Clinton campaign was smearing him as pro-Trump while secretly communicating to assist the Trump campaign”

            I see that as Assange’s (unsuccessful) attempt to manipulate the Trumps.

          • AS


            I’m sympathetic to your argument about a confusion of priorities. It is a valid point. As I remember, I also recall Craig Murrary endorsing Jill Stein as a third option. As someone who typically votes and sometimes campaigns for ‘third option’ green or green-left parties, I think there’s indeed a latent anti-democratic streak to the mainsteam ‘left’ party (Democrats in the US, Labour in the UK) blaming third party supporters for losing them elections. So although people like Chomsky and Sanders were urging a Clinton vote, I respect the decision not to vote for her. But that ‘confusion’ is very different from actively boosting a nativist and racist figurehead. The ambiguity surrounding the WikiLeaks/Assange intervention – whetther this was for some ulterior democratic purpose or an actual shift towards the alt-right and tacit support for nativism (reflected too in incidental support for nationalist independence movements) – disturbs me greatly. Put it this way: if Assange has shifted to an alt-right nativist philosophy, would his actions up to now look any different?

          • AS

            Unfortunately I see it as an attempt to assist the Trump campaign (against Clinton) and simultaneously boost WikiLeaks’ credibility through deception (pretending to leak freely volunteered information). Assange obviously knew they wouldn’t release truly damaging information willingly, so the argument that it was a ruse to cause real damage to Trump just doesn’t seem remotely probable.

          • Clark

            AS, I don’t see a problem with Wikileaks soliciting leaks. Obviously, Wikileaks would have kept the source anonymous. Wikileaks placed the matter in Trump Junior’s hands – leak despite Dad (which empowers the electorate), persuade Dad to disclose (which also empowers the electorate), blackmail Dad (which at least somewhat spreads and thereby dilutes Trump Senior’s power), or decline entirely (nothing lost). Having had the idea, the cost-benefit calculation is obvious, unless you have faith in democracy in a corrupted media environment, which Assange obviously doesn’t or he wouldn’t have set up Wikileaks. That Assange pitched his request as an (indirect) advantage to the Trump campaign seems to me just the bait.

            “if Assange has shifted to an alt-right nativist philosophy, would his actions up to now look any different?”

            I don’t know. I expect they’d look rather different if Assange wasn’t so threatened by the US, if the US lived up to its constitutional declaration of freedom of speech and protection of publishers. I expect they’d look different if Assange could get out more, or even at all.

            Yes, the two-party dominance is a massive problem. I have frequently voted Green, but now I’m supporting Corbyn. I wish Corbyn would be more supportive of Scottish independence, and it pains me to see the independence supporters anger at Corbyn because in England he’s the best chance we’ve had for a very long time.

          • Clark

            “pretending to leak freely volunteered information”

            By definition, leaks are freely donated information, by a party with access but without authority. That’s exactly the situation regarding Trumps Junior’s access to Trump senior’s tax return.

          • AS

            The less convoluted alternative is to take WikiLeaks at its word. The proposal was also made to Trump Junior that WikiLeaks could be the source of any damaging leaked material on Trump, not just the tax returns – material that the Trump campaign feared might be leaked anyhow – so that the material could be presented by WikiLeaks ‘neutrally’ without negative packaging or spin (unlike say in the NYTimes) and thus increase the impact of the WikiLeaks site, its perceived impartiality, and (as WikiLeaks stressed) the impact of the Podesta emails. All this is stated clearly as motives in the DMs and there seems little reason to doubt they were the real immediate, strategic motives.

            Note that WikiLeaks (Assange) presumed Trump would lose even up to election day and urged Trump to contest the result:

            WikiLeaks Twitter DM to Trump Junior, November 8, 2016 (day of the US election):
            “Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do.”

            Given the amount of electoral rigging done to disenfranchise marginal (mostly black and Latino) populations in the United States, by Republicans, that is quite staggering. Here WikiLeaks isn’t fishing for material to publish, it’s attempting to encourage a right-wing insurgency against a democratic election result. Let that sink in, I suggest.

          • Macky

            @AS, “apologists” like me ? No wonder you can’t recognise a giant neon flashing smear , when you like to indulge in the same.

            Your case against Wikileaks is a mix of bizarre notions & an inability to see a deliberate misrepresentation for what it is.

            Here’s again Johnstone’s exposure of the Atlantic’s sly editing, for others unfamiliar which what we keep referring to:


          • AS

            The ‘substance’ to that article is that the Atlantic edited the DMs and specifically the bit where WikiLeaks says to Trump Junior that WikiLeaks is being slandered for being pro-Trump and pro-Russian, While offering to assist Trump’s campaign with a cunning plan. You do at least accept that a proposal to assist the Trump campaign was made? The author’s quaint/bizarre/disingenuous assertion seems to be that if WikiLeaks claims its being slandered as pro-Trump, that’s evidence that it isn’t or wasn’t, even when it’s expressing its desire to be pro-Trump directly to the Trump campaign. No wonder fake news works when this argument can gain any traction in anyone’s head.

            Personally I’d like to see ALL the DM communications published, unredacted. The only place I can find them is on Donald Trump juniors twitter feed, as images, so they’d have to be typed up. Maybe I’ll do it and post here if I’ve time.

          • Clark

            AS, regarding your first paragraph, I don’t see anything wrong with those Wikileaks’ tactics. Wikileaks seems again to have been offering the advantage of leaking through Wikileaks, thereby benefiting Wikileaks and the electorate, but not the Trump campaign particularly, seeing as the New York Times etc. would have then got the material and spun it anyway. Wikileaks’ offer increased the chances of dirt on Trump being made public; a shame it didn’t work, but you can’t win’em all. All the more justified since, as per your second paragraph, Wikileaks believed Trump would lose anyway.

            Regarding your last paragraph, by ‘insurgency’, do you really mean ‘media storm’? I don’t think Wikileaks were hoping the gun nuts might march on Washington! But if you’re Wikileaks, a media storm is a very good outcome; it’d draw attention to your material, ramp up the mud-slinging disgracing both parties, and hopefully it’d shake some more material loose.

          • Clark

            AS, I hope I’m right, too! But if I’m wrong, Assange has no physical power anyway; he’s not in command of an air force or a nuclear arsenal. Trump is, God help us, but no one was expecting that! Echoes of Brexit…

            The Democrats lost, so it’s no surprise that their wing of the media are trying to portray Assange as a dangerous right-winger and an agent of Russia.

            Incidentally, part of Trump’s popularity accrued from his exploitation of conspiracy theories; a shame people didn’t listen to Assange about those…

        • J

          Platitudes. Almost sentimental in the best sense, and unutterably recursive, an argument which only makes sense by successfully re-creating the conditions for it’s own existence. As war profiteers tend to argue for peace through war,

          But also dishonest in the worst possible sense. It’s on record that among America’s military intentions was to destroy the government of Yemen, as early as four weeks after 9/11 so presumably for a considerable time before. Judging by the examples of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria it must be assumed that this meant completely destroying the fabric of their societies. D Murray appears to be blaming wikileaks for American policy on Yemen, although also, among other things, for revealing accurate information about how a democracy really works.

          What if people begin to wonder why so much time, energy and money is squandered attempting to destroy the messenger? Because the message is wrong? Good luck crafting that particular argument because the message itself is ‘informed consent.’

          Anyone working against informed consent is actively destroying the social and cultural ecology. Whether they do it through greed, corruption, lies, ‘public relations,’ collusion, censorship, character assassination, land theft, material theft, mineral theft and ultimately war, their complicity could not be simpler. They’re either participants in writing our final chapter or they are the authors of another tomorrow for everyone. Humans or ‘traitors to our species’ as Caitlin Johnstone memorably phrased it.

          Perhaps even traitors to life itself, the ultimate and fatal perversity.

  • reel guid

    Ruth Davidson and some of the Scottish Tory MPs and MSPs are getting nervous about the May government’s failure to introduce any safeguards for devolution in the Brexit Bill. This isn’t an administrative delay by the UK government. It’s a deliberate campaign to trash devolution and the more sensible unionists of the different parties are going to have to decide. To either stand aside and allow the rabid Westminster Britnats to trash Scotland or to do the right thing by yer ain folk and jump over to the indy ship.

  • nevermind

    o/t but of Interest to a European island dweller. An Interview with Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister on the future of Europe and of Germany’s position within.

    “DER SPIEGEL: This political toughness is something Germany still hasn’t learned.”

    “Gabriel: In the past, we could rely on the French, the British and, especially, the Americans, to assert our interests in the world. We have always criticized the U.S. for being the global police, and it was often appropriate to do so. But we are now seeing what happens when the U.S. pulls back. There is no such thing as a vacuum in international politics. If the U.S. leaves the room, other powers immediately walk in. In Syria, it’s Russia and Iran. In trade policy, it’s China. These examples show that, ultimately, we are no longer achieving either — neither the dissemination of our European values nor the advancement of our interests.”

  • John Goss

    It is a very well-argued post. Unfortunately we have seen it time and again that the US and UK ignores International and European Law when it chooses and adheres to it when it chooses.

    The Assange case is a point in question. The Supreme Court of this land took away Julian Assange’s right to stay in this country on a decision that has subsequently been overturned. Yet he has no right to appeal his case because the Supreme Court is the highest in the land and the decision to extradite him to Sweden to face a US Supreme Court injunction for his extradition there had already been made. It was the final decision.

    Compare that with Assange being “arbitrarily detained” the findings of a UN working group on arbitrary detention. Hammond dismissed the findings. I wrote at the time:

    “The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention after due consideration reached the conclusion that Julian Assange was being ‘arbitrarily detained’, that he should be released, compensated and given back his passport. Our Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, did not agree with the decision – though when earlier given an opportunity to appeal against the courts findings declined. Instead he waited for their conclusion and lambasted the international lawyers who had made the advice. This is most improper and childish of someone without a legal background yet so high-ranking in the UK government.”

    Then there was Blair’s dismissal of international law when he took us into an illegal war with Iraq. Some people still want Blair and Bush and their cronies to face trial in the same way other war-criminals did at Nuremberg.

    The Tory plan post-Brexit (if that ever happens) is to introduce a Bill of Rights potentially giving us all less rights at home and abroad with more decisions overturned by the likes of Hammond. But they did not need more stringent domestic laws to ignore the findings of a UN working group. Our rights diminish by the hour. Soon many of us will be waiting for a knock on the door in the middle of the night as in Kafka’s “Trial” as though we were Jewish in Nazi-occupied countries. If they can get away with it. Here are the more palliative proposals.

    • Martinned

      the US and UK ignores International and European Law when it chooses and adheres to it when it chooses

      Like when?

      The Supreme Court of this land took away Julian Assange’s right to stay in this country on a decision that has subsequently been overturned.

      When? How?

      It was the final decision.</i.

      Yes, that's pretty common for the Supreme Court of any country, and not generally understood to be an injustice.

      Compare that with Assange being “arbitrarily detained” the findings of a UN working group on arbitrary detention. Hammond dismissed the findings.

      As did international law scholars across the board (geographically and ideologically). I have yet to see an expert in the field who has endorsed the working group’s conclusions.

      • John Goss

        “Yes, that’s pretty common for the Supreme Court of any country, and not generally understood to be an injustice.”

        It is an injustice when later it is found the basis for the Supreme Court decision was wrong.

        ‘November 2013

        UK Supreme Court decides in the Bucnys case that it had reached its decision erroneously in the Assange case the year before: the basis of the decision was flawed because Framework Decision was not a treaty and therefore the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was not applicable.’ (Source: Justice For Assange)

        You won’t find the above in the Wikipedia timeline for the Julian Assange case.

        “Compare that with Assange being “arbitrarily detained” the findings of a UN working group on arbitrary detention. Hammond dismissed the findings.

        As did international law scholars across the board (geographically and ideologically). I have yet to see an expert in the field who has endorsed the working group’s conclusions.”

        Very funny. 😀 I thought you pretended to have some knowledge of law. All members of the working group were law scholars.

        Perhaps you look to the wrong sources for your information Martinned!

          • John Goss

            “Still not sure what the injustice is.”

            You would know if it was you in his position, stitched up by a honey-trap, unwell and under threat from a US alleged supreme court injunction and all for tellung the truth about the way the US military mercilessly killed unarmed civilians, laughed and bragged about it in an illegal war to steal oil.

            Just what is your idea of justice?

        • Martinned

          In fact, in relation to the Chagos Islanders there is a much more egregious example of the House of Lords (as it then was) getting it wrong. In 2008 they lost before the House of Lords as a result of an arguable breach of the duty of candour by HM Government. In 2016, the Supreme Court refused to set aside the House of Lords’ judgement, which is why the claimants had to go the wrong way around. (They are now back before the Supreme Court in Bancoult (No. 3). The hearings were last year June but we’re still waiting for the judgment.)

        • Martinned

          All members of the working group were law scholars.

          No, I didn’t forget that. I just think that no one who signs their name under that laughable text should be allowed to call themselves an international law scholar. (Or indeed any kind of law scholar.)

          • John Spencer-Davis

            Oh – of course. Martinned doesn’t like the conclusion of the international law scholars who reached it, so therefore they aren’t really international law scholars.

          • Martinned

            There’s a difference between publishing an opinion I disagree with and publishing something that is considered risible by the entirety of the (academic) international law community.

          • John Spencer-Davis

            What is the difference between the international law community and the (academic) international law community?

            Mads Andenas; Jose Bermudez; Zeid bin Ra’ad; Seong-Phil Hong; Christophe Peschoux; Roland Setondji.

            I’d like you to acknowledge, please, that I have just named six (6) members of the international law community who do agree with the Working Group’s opinion and who do not regard it as risible. Would you mind just doing that? Thanks.

          • Clark

            As I understand it, a major part of the occupation of lawyers is to make cases, ie. to be as partisan as possible, on some party’s behalf. So of course, any given lawyer is quite likely to say that an opposing lawyer’s interpretation of of a contested law is utter baloney.

            So maybe we’re asking the wrong questions here. Maybe more insightful questions are more along the lines of: whose case are the WGAD promoting, and whose case is Martined promoting? And why? As I understand it, the “why” of such questions usually comes down to lawyers being paid to make particular cases.

  • Republicofscotland

    So then what is the next step for Julian Assange?

    He is legally a Ecuadorian diplomat having met the appropriate criteria, therefore he should be able to enjoy all the benefits that come with the status.

    Can and will, Assange be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy? Or can he use his diplomatic status to avoid being arrested whilst attempting to depart to Ecuador?

    • Martinned

      I think Craig is right that the UK’s only option here is to declare Assange persona non grata and ask him to leave the country. But I predict it would create a serious riot, diplomatically, if he tried that. (But that would be more of a problem for the Ecuadoreans than for Assange himself.)

      • Republicofscotland

        Yes but will he be detained on leaving the embassy? Or will his diplomatic status afford him the protection to leave the UK unhindered?

        • Martinned

          I can’t imagine that the British would detain him. (Assuming that the Ecuadorians have confirmed that they really wish for him to have diplomatic status.)

      • nevermind

        Can you just give us an idea of a ‘diplomatic riot’ from your legal history, well, history as it stands, please Martinned.

        I have seen a riot in 1968 and one in London, but not by diplomats, who by their interest and training in diplomacy, not a..e licker y, have an active interest to achieve an accommodating outcome, in any situation, ideally one that can be revisited and adjusted as time goes on.

        Impunity and vanity can’t possibly sideline the law, can it? have these ueber ego’s decided to declare war on their subjects, supposedly guided by them?

    • John Goss

      Typical of somebody who is free to roam at will mocking somebody who is incarcerated and arbitrarily detained. What kind of a lawyer do you claim to be?

      • Martinned

        I don’t claim to be a lawyer (= solicitor or barrister) at all.

        Also, for the umpteenth time, Assange is not incarcerated in any remotely plausible meaning of the word. He’s free to leave the building he is in at any time.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    This is very interesting, with regards to President Trump, and Julian Assange…

    This is also very interesting re the death of Seth Rich

    from the comments

    Off-Guardian has been in fine form recently. Sometimes the comments are more interesting than the article.


  • Tony_0pmoc

    Roger Moore faked it, but maybe Julian Assange has been doing it for real, during his spare time when not in jail in The Ecuadorian Embassy. Don’t knock it, my wife has done this (admittedly she was wearing a parachute). My son has been to Ecudador on a 6 weeks school trip, just after his “A” Levels. He much preferred it to The USA.

    Come on Julian, come out and tell The Truth, about what happened in New York. Even President Trump, knows that, and said it the same day.

    “Moonraker (1/10) Movie CLIP – Enjoy Your Flight (1979) HD”


  • Ano

    “ I am again left wondering whether mainstream media journalists are simply entirely incompetent, or deeply corrupt.”
    I’d say – both

  • Sharp Ears

    RT tell us something we know already.

    US sees UK as obedient poodles in Assange case’
    12 Jan, 2018 13:52

    Britain’s rejection of the Ecuadorian request to grant Julian Assange diplomatic status confirms the extent to which the US is prepared to go to get their hands on him, former US diplomat Jim Jatras said.
    [.. . ]
    Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said Thursday the country is looking for other “dignified solutions for all parties” in the dialogue with Britain.

    The UK emerges as ignoble and lacking in all principles of justice and fairness.

  • Republicofscotland

    So China is furious, that US Delta airways advertised Tibet and Taiwan, as independent countries.

    Taiwan aside for now, Tibet was seized, under the pretences that it was a Chineses suzerainty, the Battle of Chamdo, saw many Tibetan’s killed as China’s Red army seized Tibet and it was declared part of China.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I would like to point out a few little factoids, about the attitude of Ordinary British people to American Presidents who visit The UK, on State visits.

    You see this video here

    My daughter was there. She skipped school, went by herself. She wore a Ben & Jerry’s (Ice Cream) “Press badge”

    She photographed it – right at the front…She was just 18.

    The next day, she went back with her school friends, and The British police escorted these kids right to the front to photograph The Obama Cavalcade.

    You get the message?

    The kids didn’t get kettled.

    Us British are not too keen on American Presidents.

    Do you want to see The Photographs?

    Can you Americans just please go home to the USA and take your Weapons of Mass Destruction with You.

    You are not welcome here. We don’t like you. Get Out of Our Country.

    Go Home.


    • Tony_0pmoc


      I am English (of French origin), but there is some evidence that my wife is a direct descendent of King Henry VIII (he used to shagalot in Lancashire according to both her Grandmother and her Great Aunt) I have taken them around all the relevant castles in Southern England, and studied the Family Portraits.

      So, although of French origin, I would like to Knight him, cos I just love the stuff he writes.

      The Greatest living American who does the best to tell the Truth is now

      Sir Paul Craig Roberts (born April 3, 1939)

      What a nice man.

      I will ask The Queen.


    • AS

      Personally I think Assange’s recently disclosed actions of liaising with the Trump campaign to help win the presidency for them deserving of condemnation. They confirm the sense many people on the left had that WikiLeaks (Assange) was intervening through its twitter feed to intensify the impact of the leaked DNC and Podesta emails at key moments (such as when the Trump ‘pussy grabbing’ audio was gaining real traction). Assange made an active political choice and used WikiLeaks (party) politically. I have no problem, though, in separating that fact of wilful political alliance with the far right from the irrelevance of who obtained the leaked Democrat emails (Trump’s connections to Russia undoubtedly go by other channels unconnected to WikiLeaks). Similarly WikiLeaks should be treated as a media outlet and there should be no prosecution of Assange or anyone else working for the organization. Craig Murray’s analysis seems right, presumably Ecuador know much the same and simply want to avoid a diplomatic fallout by making Assange a member of their diplomatic staff and getting him out of the country. I hope it can happen. For all the poor choices he’s made, his current confinement is unjustified and persecutory, and it’s entirely disingenuous to claim he could just walk out freely without being arrested for breaching bail and the UK being presented with an extradition request by the US the next day.

      • Habbabkuk


        ” it’s entirely disingenuous to claim he could just walk out freely without being arrested for breaching bail and the UK being presented with an extradition request by the US the next day.”

        No one has claimed that Mr Assange will not be arrested for breachng bail – the charge exists and is not speculative. Conversely, the suggestion that the UK will be presented with an extradition request is purely speculative.

        • Macky

          As “speculative” as this unprecedented effort to apprehended somebody for skipping bail ?

          Or do you contend that this is normal procedure for people who skip bail ?! 😀

        • AS

          The point I’m making is the sequence: the US relying on the UK to apprehend Assange for skipping bail, thus stopping him from immediately travelling to another country, presumably Ecuador, and then issuing both the indictment (in the US) and extradition request to the UK.

          • Habbabkuk


            I understand your point, but the fact remains that this business of the US sending an extradition request is speculative (in contrast to Mr Assange facing charges for breaking his bail, which is a fact).

          • AS

            Undoubtedly both an indictment and an extradition request are drafted. The question is would the US issue them? Personally I’ve always thought it fairly probable they’d want to charge Assange, but also madly counterproductive (but since when has that stopped governments?) Were Assange to be put on public trial, the PR damage to the US, not to say the number of potentially damaging new revelations, could be huge. The state’s misdemeanours would be back in focus over a long trial. The issue of journalistic freedom and the US constitution would come under severe scrutiny. They couldn’t close off the media the way in which Chelsea Manning was court-martialed. Of course, still, by the end of it, Assange could be in prison for a long time. That said, I’d have thought the sane option for the US, and its UK minion government, would be let him escape to Ecuador or somewhere.

  • Habbabkuk

    I wonder how many people would agree with me when I say that the longer this saga continues, the shiftier Mr Assange appears.

  • lysias

    How does the U.S. have any jurisdiction over Australian (and now Ecuadorian) national Assange for the alleged crime of revealing U.S. secrets outside U.S. territory? Does this mean that Iran acted lawfully in issuing a fatwa against Pakistani national Rushdie for violating Islamic law in publishing his Satanic Verses in the UK?

    • Martinned

      A fatwa is not a government act, but a scholarly interpretation of islamic law issued by an islamic scholar, e.g. an ayatollah.

      And yes, states have jurisdiction over things that are published in their territory, including publications online.

      As for Assange, I would imagine that the legal logic is that he is an accessory to crimes committed in the US, such as by Chelsea Manning. That is conceptually unproblematic. (If I mail you a gun from abroad so that you can shoot your wife, it’s fine if your state of residency wants to try me as an accessory to murder.)

      • Republicofscotland

        “As for Assange, I would imagine that the legal logic is that he is an accessory to crimes committed in the US, such as by Chelsea Manning. That is conceptually unproblematic. ”

        It is interesting to note though that Manning was a US government employee, and citizen whereas, Assange is not a US citizens and a publisher to boot.

        Are non US publishers obliged not to publish classified documents?

        What of the 1971 Pentagon Papers, that Richard Nixon tried, and failed to stop being published by the New York Times.

        Or the 2009 case against two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of passing on classified information to Israel.

        After a long legal battle, prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.

        Or what about the First Amendment, which protects free speech and the freedoms of the press, under the Bill of Rights, surely Assange is seen as a publisher.

        The question surrounding the US Espionage Act, is did Assange by publishing, intend to harm the US, or aid a foreign power?

        • lysias

          Even if Assange did intend to harm the U.S., what obligated this non-U.S. citizen not to so intend? Why does U.S. law bind the rest of the world?

        • Martinned

          Are non US publishers obliged not to publish classified documents?

          They are as far as US law is concerned. As usual, having a law is one thing, enforcing it is something different…

          What of the 1971 Pentagon Papers, that Richard Nixon tried, and failed to stop being published by the New York Times.

          What about them? The Supreme Court held that they could be published, but only after weighing the competing constitutional values involved.

          Or the 2009 case against two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of passing on classified information to Israel.

          I’m not familiar with that case.

          Or what about the First Amendment, which protects free speech and the freedoms of the press, under the Bill of Rights, surely Assange is seen as a publisher.

          Absolutely, although “publishers” have no special rights under the first amendment, even though they are specifically mentioned. But the first amendment is not without limits. It doesn’t give you the right to publish slanders, obscenities, or classified documents.

          The question surrounding the US Espionage Act, is did Assange by publishing, intend to harm the US, or aid a foreign power?

          Intend it, maybe. Do it knowing that it would so harm the US? Probably. Either way, that’s for a jury to decide.

          • AS

            Intend it, maybe. Do it knowing that it would so harm the US? Probably.
            That really depends on your definition of harm. If governments and state agencies are abusing their powers, then revealing such malpractice is very clearly undoing harm. Obviously that may be counterbalanced by harm to particular, strategic US interests and relations, and harm (danger) to specific personnel. But that’s what any trial would have to evaluate, presumably (presuming it was fair).

      • giyane

        Some fatwas are not intended to be interpretations of Islamic Law, but rather misinterpretations of Islamic Law. Hence Philip Hammond telling us that what the Saudis do to their citizens is legal. There is no Divine right of kings in Saudi Arabia and there is no Henry VIII powers in the UK parliament.

        A terrorist cannot ascribe to himself authority over others because USUKIS has armed him and given him diplomatic cover. The Saudi monarchy are terrorists and like terrorists they break each and every Islamic Law. Then they disseminate their wrong fatwas of terror to others, USUKIS nodding wisely that this in accordance with Islamic Law.

        This is why we have USUKIS, because US and UK are not particularly clever at misinterpreting Islamic Law, while IS, which used to be the custodian of Islamic Monotheism before Jesus pbuh, knows every dodgy fake fatwa to circumvent the intention of Islamic Law.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I think we need to be Serious about This, and Ask The Question.

    What Exactly has Julian Assange Done Wrong?

    Number 1

    I did not really approve of him releasing the full pdf of that book. I had already read a large section of it for free, and I had also investigated the shiit that he had written it

    O.K. – some of it was true..but if you are sat in the whitehouse for a couple of days amongst the mayhem, some people will tell you a bit of the truth,,,but it is completely outrageous journalism to make over 95% of it up..That is even worse than Johann Hari..All he was accused of was Plagiuism and he admited his guilt – He still made my Journalist of The Year (about 10 years ago) (Monbiot – never got close)

    At least Micheal Woolf admitted he had made most of it up, and so I checked up – and he has a history of this..I think he is still in love with Hillary Clinton..Even Donald Trump is asking why?

    Number 2

    I want to post, the extremely high definition photo that John Goss posted a couple of weeks ago from above of The Devastation of New York…

    It seems as fast as it is posted – it gets deleted…

    How can anyone try and explain the devastation in New York on The 9th of September 2001, on the basis of The Official Story That The US Government Has tried to promote..since the day they did it.????

    It Is Now on My Computer.

    The image is completely phenomenal in its detail

    Thank You John Goss

    I don’t know who You Are, but I know You are a Good Man.

    I have never met Craig Murray nor any of them (though nearly did a few times)

    I might be boring, but I don’t lie.

    I am still in love with my wife (we met in 1981), and I will still be in love with my wife, the day I die.

    Never, Ever, could I betray my Wife – She is an Angel from Paradise – and she makes me so happy with her childish enthusiasm, laughter, happy shrieks and everything – Playing with the Children – Fun and Learning (All The Children Love Her – She’s a Natural)

    Despite Everything That Has Happened (She got Run Over By a Car – a Year Ago – very Seriously injured)

    My Wife is a Happy Girl, and We Have Been Dancing Together T & Wifeonight

    We got the bus together tonight – both there and back.

    If Julian Assange hasn’t been able to do this kind of thing since 2010, well he’s going to be past it soon..

    Let the bugger out. He hasn’t done that much wrong. In fact We rather like him.

    Tony & Wife (circa Free bus pass) xx

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