Damage to the Soul 123

The imprisonment of Julian Assange has been a catalogue of gross injustice heaped upon gross injustice, while a complicit media and indoctrinated population looks the other way. In a truly extraordinary twist, Assange is now being extradited on the basis of an indictment served in the UK, which is substantially different to the actual indictment he now faces in Virginia if extradited.

The Assange hearing was adjourned after its first full week, and its resumption has since been delayed by coronavirus. In that first full week, both the prosecution and the defence outlined their legal arguments over the indictment. As I reported in detail to an audience of millions, Assange’s legal team fairly well demolished the key arguments of the prosecution during that hearing.

This extract from my report of the Defence case is of particular relevance to what has since happened:

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.

Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:

a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs

Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.

Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.

Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…

Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.

Now while there is no evidence that judge Baraitser is giving any serious consideration to the defence case, what this has done is show the prosecutors the holes in their argument which would cause them serious problems should they get Julian to trial in the United States. In particular, they are wary of the strong freedom of speech protections in the US constitution and so are desperate to portray Julian as a hacker, and not a journalist. But, as you can see above, their case for this is not looking strong.

So the prosecution needed a different case. They have therefore entirely changed the indictment against Julian in Virginia, and brought in a superseding indictment.

As you can see, this is about switching to charges firmly grounded in “hacking”, rather than in publishing leaks about appalling American war crimes. The new indictment is based on the evidence of a “supergrass”, Sigurdur Thordarson, who was acting a a paid informant to the FBI during his contact with Wikileaks.

Thordarson is fond of money and is a serial criminal. He was convicted on 22 December 2014 by Reykjanes District Court in Iceland of stealing over US $40,000 and over 13,000 euro from Wikileaks “Sunshine Press” accounts by forging documents in the name of Julian Assange, and given a two year jail sentence. Thordarson is also a convicted sex offender, and was convicted after being turned in to the police by Julian Assange, who found the evidence – including of offences involving a minor – on Thordarson’s computer.
[Updated 13.45 to add detail of Thordarson’s convictions].

There appears scope to doubt the motives and credentials of the FBI’s supergrass.

The FBI have had Thordarson’s “Evidence” against Assange since long before the closing date for submissions in the extradition hearing, which was June 19th 2019. That they now feel the need to deploy this rather desperate stuff is a good sign of how they feel the extradition hearing has gone so far, as an indicator of the prospects of a successful prosecution in the USA.

This leaves the UK extradition in a state of absolute farce. I was involved in discussion with Wikileaks about what would happen when the superseding indictment was introduced at the procedural hearing last month. It ought not to have been accepted – it is over a year since the closing date, and a week of opening arguments on the old indictment have already been heard. The new indictment is plainly designed to redress flaws in the old one exposed at the hearing.

The superseding indictment also is designed to counter defence witness affidavits which have been disclosed to the prosecution, including expert witness testimony which refutes the indictment on Assange’s alleged hacking assistance to Manning – until now the sole ground of the “hacking” accusation. This switch, we averred, was an outrageous proposition. Was the whole hearing to start again on the basis of the new indictment?

Then, to our amazement, the prosecution did not put forward the new indictment at the procedural hearing at all. To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous. The prosecution will argue that the actual espionage charges themselves have not changed. But it is the indictment which forms the basis of the extradition hearing and the different indictment which would form the basis of any US prosecution.

To have extradition decided on the merits of one indictment when the accused actually faces another is an outrage. To change the indictment long after the hearing is underway and defence evidence has been seen is an outrage. The lack of media outrage is an outrage.

None of which will come as any shock to those of us who have been paying attention. We have to continue to build public consciousness of the fact that the annihilation of a journalist for exposing war crimes, based on a catalogue of state lies and dodgy procedure, is not an act that the state can undertake without damage to the very soul of the nation.


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123 thoughts on “Damage to the Soul

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  • Republicofscotland

    So it’s an attempt to beef up and portray Assange not as a journalist but as a hacker, especially during his conference in the Netherlands, and that Assange sought to recruit hackers that could obtain classified information, when there’s only one dubious charge of computer intrusion involved, besides the other charges under the US Espionage act, its definitely an attempt to stretch and further blacken Assange’s character, to draw him away from the legitimacy of journalism.

    Besides Thordarson, Hector Xavier Monsegur , is also lined up by the DOJ to give evidence against Assange, Monsegur, has previously tried to entrap Assange and Wikileaks in a cash for leaks scheme but failed to do so.

  • Tatyana

    if justice existed, the very fact that the US were video surveilling the Embassy of Ecuador would have neutralized any US requests for the extradition of Assange and would have been sufficient grounds for refusal.

    • Tatyana

      To the problem of justice and double standards – there is an excellent fantastic story on this subject by Maxim Shapiro “Respect for cultural traditions”. I leave the link in respect of copyright, the story is in russian

      The main character comes from the world of belligerence and aggression. He travels to another planet, there he behaves as he considers normal – he steals, beats up a man and goes to jail. He expects he will not receive a tangible rebuff in that world of tolerance and humanism.
      The sentence of the jailer was a surprise for him. The jailer said:
      “We believe that all nations are equal and equally reasonable, therefore we respect their right to consciously establish the best laws for themselves. And therefore, being tolerant and respective of your culture, we will punish you in accordance with your laws. Your hands, nose and ears will be cut off, as punishment for theft, beating of a person and causing harm to the police officer.”

      In my opinion, after Assange published the dirty secrets of the US government, they have no moral right to suspect the Manning’s information was obtained legally, at all. That’s double standard.

      • Giyane


        Exactly. So somebody who has no claims whatsoever to moral superiority, and no credibility in the world, and very little respect from even their own citizens, and no respect at all from a powerful lobby group that has taken over their foreign policy , somebody like that can only play little games like changing the rules or closing down hostile comment.

        Our leader is now wearing the Islamic Burqa which he previously described as post boxes, and Donald Trump who keeps two plates spinning on his nose and chin , red-necked racists and a religious apartheid , serves as a waiter for hungry customers expecting immediate service.

        If America had wanted to get to be a superpower, it wouldn’t have started by murdering the indigenous peoples. Or continued to murder anyone and everyone outside its borders that were not exactly the same as them.

        Assange is the victim of a deep psychological disorder called projection, which tells it that all of it’s own violence and ruthlessness really belongs to the goldfish, swimming in its bowl.
        It is completely incapable of seeing the monster it self has become. A toxic psychosis that picks on everyone

    • Rhys Jaggar


      Legal due process for the US now means fitting up your enemies with false charges and refusing to let your friends face justice when they deserve to.

      Have you noticed that no US or Israeli has been summoned to trial at the International Criminal Court? Because that is only to serve US interests, they can never be tried for war crimes themselves.

      Do you see how they conflate ‘human rights in Hong Kong’ as a worse outrage than them leaving depleted uranium all over Fallujah to destroy foetuses for generations to come? That is seriously off with the fairies mentally subnormal cretinism right there….

      See how putting nukes all around Russia is ‘defensive’ but you defending yourselves is ‘offensive’?

      If I ever came across an American standing up for their nation without saying ‘My Deep State needs to be overthrown right now’, I would simply spit in their face. They might well punch me in the face, but it would not change my attitude. I would get up and spit in their face again.

      Nearly twenty years ago, I told Americans travelling in the UK during ‘Operation Shock N Awe’ that I could distinguish between ‘the actions of the US State and the fundamental decency of ordinary Americans’. It has got us nowhere, that tolerance. So a bit of in your face gratuitous vileness is the next required step……impugned dignity is not mass murder, is it?

      The world has to decide whether it is for America or against America. You can be against America without becoming a Chinese slave, you know. I am against Mike Pompeo, Anthony Fauci and plenty of others. I am against Trump if he kowtows to Pompeo, for him if he fires him if he wins in November. Trump is not at war with the world, it is the MIC and the Deep State parasites who are doing that. Operating through their bought patsies on Capitol Hill…..

      • Republicofscotland

        “Have you noticed that no US or Israeli has been summoned to trial at the International Criminal Court? Because that is only to serve US interests, they can never be tried for war crimes themselves.”


        Actually Rhys, the above is probably more to do with the American Service Members Protection act, the act contains within it, the Hague Invasion act, which authorises the US military to use armed force to extricate any US or allied nationals detained by the (ICC).

        Very recently, June the 11th to be precise, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order declaring a national emergency due to any attempt by the (ICC) to arrest, detain or prosecute any personnel of the United Sates or its allies (Israel) without consent from US court jurisdiction constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of America.

        There’s a interesting case going on now within the (ICC), in which the Appeals court has overruled the Pretrial court, with regards to American and Israeli war crimes, that’s probably why Trump issued the Executive Order last month.

        • Tatyana

          Dear Mod, thanks for you response. I think I should put it in other words, like “if I had to choose a business partner, then I would exclude those who are protected from the Russian judicial system by their national law and by current international practice”.
          In case it is again bad wording, then I kindly ask you for a favour. Is it possible to delete all my comments here mentioning Jews and Israel, because I feel it pictures me pretty anti-Semite without explaining my point in the wholeness.

    • Gill

      What Americans? What about goddam Judge Baraitser who has had this actual human being placed in limbo till she can make a rational decision? Hope she is not one of my miserable spiteful Pommy relatives. Oops. Me thinks this is a planned slow motion demise? Anyhow Julian has got some bigtime monsters pretty rattled I suspect. And Shame on those monsters that killed as war criminals in the Middle East!

      • N_

        There will certainly be a connection between goings-on in the Julian Assange case and the US presidential election – specifically, competing efforts to remove or retain Donald Trump in the White House.

        Remember that right after the release of the “grab ’em by the pussy” Access Hollywood tape in October 2016 that was meant to damage Donald Trump, Wikileaks “leaked” emails in an attempt to damage Hillary Clinton.

        I hope Julian Assange has learnt his lesson. Here it is: don’t help Trump. This time it might not be “merely” another four years in confinement; it could be the death penalty. Repeat: don’t help Trump.

  • SA

    I hope that everyone has now realised what Brexit and the sudden incredible rise of Boris and Cummings is all about, and especially those who voted ‘to get our sovereignty back’. This maneuver highlighted by Craig here shows how British Law is now worth nothing and is secondary to US political decisions by an extremely right wing President.

    • Squeeth

      Now? Do behave, it’s been like this since 1941 when Britain agreed that US servicemen in Britain would remain under US law.

        • Bramble

          It was never subtle. It was plain to me as a child in the 1950s. (I lived near Chicksands.) Back then, though, it was permissible to mention the matter on the BBC etc. I remember watching series, even on the BBC, where the characters were open about resenting US pretensions to world dominance.

  • N_

    To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous.

    It is. I would argue that by using the phrase “superseding indictment” the US DoJ has ipso facto already withdrawn the old indictment. That is what what the word “supersede” means. If a document or state of affairs has been “superseded” then it is no longer extant. And this word is not someone’s commentary. It is specifically used by the DoJ.

    If Baraitser disagrees, is it possible for the defence to apply to a higher court for a writ of mandamus on this point?

  • Brianfujisan

    Heart Tugging moments at the start of this Grayzone interview with Julian’s dad, Talking about his Son being Murdered before our Eyes.

    John Shipton
    calls oppression of WikiLeaks founder a “great crime of 21st century”

    important Video Here –

    AustraliansForAssange: Interview with John Shipton, conducted by Denis RogartyUK – YouTube (30m 35s)

    • glenn_uk

      Good to see you, Brian – I’ve been wondering where you’ve been lately. Hope all is as well as it could be these days.

    • Mary

      Cheers Brian.

      Yes it is a heart rending interview. Imagine if this was our flesh and blood being destroyed as is happening to Julian whilst the world’s eyes are averted.

    • Carolyn Zaremba

      I just finished watching this interview. John Shipton is a very compassionate and passionate man. His eloquence is devastating. I recommend it to everyone to watch this.

    • nevermind

      Thanks for the link Brian, good to hear from you. Juliand torture by English stooges, you cant call them lawyers or judges who have an iota of emphacy, is an attack on the law and judicial system by immigrants to America whose ruthless persecution of natives has never stopped, degrading their land, exploiting their resources and killing them slowly with alcohol.

      I fear the times when there are no more Julians or Craigs, when critical thinkets will be purged and denigrated by the establishment gatekeepers.

      There should be no trial, by their own mistakes and reckless following of a polarised America their petards have been lifted on to schaffot. Declare a mistrial and set Julian free.

  • N_

    On-topic: whereas in 2016 the key second country in the Assange-USA drama was Russia, in 2020 it will probably be China.

    Just look at the ongoing Twitter and Bitcoin hack, not just against Elon “Isn’t he Bankrupt Yet” Musk and Kanye West, but also against Apple. Working hypothesis: might it be a Chinese state response to the US pressure on Britain which forcing the British government to kick Huawei?

    It seems so long ago that Bitcoin, a huge criminal Ponzi scam if ever there has been a huge criminal Ponzi scam, had its exchange rates quoted against the world’s major currencies in the mainstream western financial media as if it were oh so clean and honest, as if a substantial holding of Bitcoins were a part of any sensible gentleman’s portfolio. (Which is called advertising.)

    • glenn_uk

      Bitcoin is not a Ponzi scheme. Do you actually know what a Ponzi scheme is, because I see the term tossed around a lot by people who want to slander something they don’t understand and don’t like, and you certainly appear to fit the bill here.

      • Giyane

        A Ponzi scheme is like an air conditioning machine which continues to leak toxic fluorocarbons into the atmosphere but can be kept running by constant re-filling.

        It cools down a small number of people while heating up the entire world with the result that no nation on earth can survive without it’s own currency to QE and cool it down. Spain wants it’s own leaky currency like Britain, which is cool as a cucumber growing on a magic money tree bean that reaches giant land on top of the clouds.

        You might not like my comparison Glenn but please feel free to generate more hot air clouds for the fairy’tale billionaire giants to live on. Bitcoin is a mixed metaphor in itself, describing itself as having financial value when it has none, so no apologies for my mixed metaphors .

        The US legal system is a Ponzi scheme because it claims exceptionalist jurisdiction over a fictional morality that it is illegal for anybody to report on US war crimes. But the reality of the bully boy United States is that it is a giant living on clouds in fairy land propped up by printing dollars.

        What’s your description?

      • N_

        Yes, Glenn, I do know what a Ponzi scheme is, and it appears that you don’t. You probably think you’re a real techie and future-directed guy for buying some bitcoins and perhaps you even made a profit by selling them. If you did, where do you think the profit came from? It came from the schmucks who bought them after you. What do you think’s going to happen next? That’s how all Ponzi schemes work, that’s how the South Sea Bubble worked, and that’s how bitcoins work. If you still hold any, sell them as soon as possible (assuming there are still some idiots about who are buying them), and thank me afterwards.

        • N_

          Beware any investment where the sellers tell you you’re really clever to be making it, not like the fools and old-fashioned types who “don’t understand it”, and where all you have to do to invest is to click a button. Frankly your parents should have told you that.

        • glenn_uk

          No, N – as usual, you condescend and waffle but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          A Ponzi scheme is one whereby returns are promised, say double your money in 90 days, 25% returns every year or whatever. These returns are all paid from incoming investors.

          Cryptocurrencies are more akin to commodities. You can speculate on whether that commodity will increase in value, but there’s nobody telling you to give them money and expect a return. That’s just down to the individual punter to gamble on.

          Sorry you’re so sore about missing out, but you needn’t be quite so enraged against individuals who spotted the possibility and acted long before you’d even heard about it. Better luck next time and all that. Pip pip old chap!

    • Stewart

      “a huge criminal Ponzi scam”
      nope – bitcoin worked, which is to say it was a way of transacting business anonymously and outside of government control. If governments can’t collect tax they’re finished.
      The simplest solution to this large problem was to buy all the bitcoin they couldn’t steal – the price went from $300 to nearly $20,000 for 1 btc – and everybody sold. The majority of btc is now in the hands of the elites so you’re right, a substantial holding of bitcoin IS part of any sensible “gentleman’s” portfolio.

      • N_

        Business outside of government control? What, like the Krays? Save me from such right wing muck.

      • Natasha

        Stewart, “If governments can’t collect tax they’re finished” were true, then why has the Japanese government not gone ‘bust’ despite the BoJ holding its ever increasing massive so called fiscal deficits since the 1990’s?

        Suggesting that bitcoin is an alternative to the false ‘taxes are needed first before governments can spend’ is an own goal, as it promotes the mainstream neo-liberal paradigm. Governments don’t need to collect taxes to spend, central banks simply expand their balance sheets when treasury spends i.e. loans create deposits. And QE isn’t funded by taxes either, (see Modern Monetary Theory).

        Further, to claim “bitcoin worked” ignores that bitcoin is a subset, not an alternative, to government money, on account of the fact that government money is required to pay for electricity / generating equipment, digital hardware, land & buildings for bitcoin creation, global transmission and storage. There are no infinite externalities you can wave a stick at and make pretend are invisible. As such, bitcoin is a volatile unregulated commodity, whereby the unwary are fooled into a ponzi like scheme by paying today for its creation with government backed numbers (effectively liquid bearer bonds), with a false promise of highly illiquid volatile unregulated commodity gains tomorrow.

        Another solid reason to not own bitcoin ‘numbers’ is precisely that they are *not* subject to publicly funded legal systems. If you’re defrauded by a third party using government protected ‘numbers’, i.e. held on private banks’ double entry spread sheets, at least you have the possibility of recovery of losses if needed through the public courts.

      • Fredi

        Gold is the real viable alternative to ‘Government money’.
        Bitcoin however is an anomaly, brought into existence with much fraud and theft, it might well be a ponzi scheme, but at close to $10 000 ‘value’ presently, it’s real enough, with it’s extremely volatile trading range ($4.5 k to $13k) it’s a ponzi scheme with some life left in it. Viable for short term traders and many kinds of crooks, it has little place for anyone else.

    • David

      Any $B bitcoin is a number along the number line, similar in intrinsic value to the number “7”, just a bit more obscure, and sadly secured by weak passwords.

      I do like the blockchain technology, much wider applications, thanks NSA.

      Back to Julian and “hacker”, he wasn’t a hacker, more of a cracker – or to put it modern terms a technological expert for data security, following (mostly) the rules in force at the time, and demonstrating where the weak infrastructural systems needed to be improved (a judge ruled that “Mendax” was performing mostly harmless explorations) Tho’ the US CFAA is very vaguely worded, many experts in the US consider this new superseding indictment as an assault on Press Freedom, First Amendment, bye bye.

      He ran (legally) a TOR exit server in the early days of wikileaks, but this annoyed the/our Intelligence Community as this was one of their own ‘trough’ backdoors. Others did this previously, and since, yet have not been as persecuted as Julian Assange.

      We are seeing a UKUSA показательный процесс , a 1930’s Stalinist “demonstrative trial”, and our media is Walter Duranty….

      • N_

        a number along the number line, similar in intrinsic value to the number “7”

        So is a pound in a bank account. It’s just where the number is stored that’s different.

  • Mark Golding

    Nothing shows the true mendacity, indeed blatant evil, of the UK and US national security state-corporate oligarchies as clearly as the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange. Such tyrannical governments truly should and must be supplanted by new institutions which repudiate entirely the use of extra-judicial means to punish anyone who exposes their numerous horrific crimes around the world.

    Dr. William Fusfield – thank you.

  • N_

    A Ponzi scheme is an investment scheme offering large profits which are principally dependent on new money being invested, some of which is paid back to the first “investors”, whose rapid enrichment by receiving part of the new investment is used as propaganda to entice new investors in. Bitcoin is an absolutely classic example of a Ponzi scheme.

    Obviously an investment will usually have another “selling point”. For example the investor can be told he is modern, or highly knowledgeable about cryptography, or a clued-up “early adopter”, or that he benefits from inside knowledge about shipping or tulips or whatever. He can be told that whereas his mater and pater invested in antiques, he’s a real slick whizzkid go-getter for investing in Bitcoin. In the case of Bitcoin it was the idea that every investor could be some kind of Jesse James figure,, buying their porn or whatever crap they buy on the internet without their parents or the Gubmint finding out. How many of them could actually state the Chinese Remainder Theorem as they explained to non-believers that blockchains were Really Cool and impenetrable to the minds of squares. Probably very few. How many could prove it? Even fewer.

    Someone might tell the boxroom cowboys that dodging tax and obscuring the beneficial ownership of assets, or even the legal ownership of assets, aren’t new practices. They are literally several centuries old. The encouragement of certain large markets to believe that the mafia is cooler than the government isn’t new either. It dates back to about the middle of the last century.

    Whether the withdrawal of your money requires a secret warrior-type cell network wherein everyone knows only the person in front of them and the person behind them in the chain, or whether 1000 people have to get together in a secret forest that the NSA knows nothing about, in order to show each other numbers they’ve got tattooed in hexadecimal on their buttocks, without showing their face or flashing any ID, is totally irrelevant to Ponziness. It doesn’t matter WHAT you have to do (or don’t have to do) to get your money out, nor how the information about your investment is stored, nor whether long numbers kept in digital storage devices are used or whether pictures or handsignals or interpretive squeaking noises are used instead. All of those features may be interesting, but nothing whatsoever to do with verification, storage, cryptography, or secrecy matters when determining whether a venture is a Ponzi scheme. What makes it a Ponzi scheme is what I said.

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