Monthly Archives: June 2021


FBI Fabrication Against Assange Falls Apart 306

On the final day of the Assange extradition hearing, magistrate Vanessa Baraitser refused to accept an affidavit from Assange’s solicitor Gareth Peirce, on the grounds it was out of time. The affidavit explained that the defence had been unable to respond to the new accusations in the United States government’s second superseding indictment, because these wholly new matters had been sprung on them just six weeks before the hearing resumed on 8 September 2020.

The defence had not only to gather evidence from Iceland, but had virtually no access to Assange to take his evidence and instructions, as he was effectively in solitary confinement in Belmarsh. The defence had requested an adjournment to give them time to address the new accusations, but this adjournment had been refused by Baraitser.

She now refused to accept Gareth Peirce’s affidavit setting out these facts.

What had happened was this. The hearings on the Assange extradition in January 2020 did not seem to be going well for the US government. The arguments that political extradition is specifically banned by the UK/US extradition treaty, and that the publisher was not responsible for Chelsea Manning’s whistleblowing on war crimes, appeared to be strong. The US Justice Department had decided that it therefore needed a new tack and to discover some “crimes” by Assange that seemed less noble than the Manning revelations.

To achieve this, the FBI turned to an informant in Iceland, Sigi Thordarson, who was willing to testify that Assange had been involved with him in, inter alia, hacking private banking information and tracking Icelandic police vehicles. This was of course much easier to portray as crime, as opposed to journalism, so the second superseding indictment was produced based on Thordarson’s story, which was elaborated with Thordarson by an FBI team.

The difficulty was that Thordarson was hardly a reliable witness. He had already been convicted in Iceland for stealing approximately $50,000 from Wikileaks and with impersonating Julian Assange online, not to mention the inconvenient fact he is a registered sex offender for online activities with under-age boys. The FBI team was in fact expelled from Iceland by the Icelandic government, who viewed what the FBI was doing with Thordarson as wholly illegitimate.

Notwithstanding all of that, in June 2020 we had the extraordinary position of the US government, 18 months since the start of extradition proceedings and six months after opening arguments had been heard by the court, being permitted completely to change the charges and alleged crimes which were the grounds for extradition, in the second superseding indictment.

On 8 September 2020 I was in court to report Mark Summers QC addressing the question of these new superseding charges:

The court resumed with a new defence application, led by Mark Summers QC, about the new charges from the US governments new superseding indictment. Summers took the court back over the history of this extradition hearing. The first indictment had been drawn up in March of 2018. In January 2019 a provisional request for extradition had been made, which had been implemented in April of 2019 on Assange’s removal from the Embassy. In June 2019 this was replaced by the full request with a new, second indictment which had been the basis of these proceedings before today. A whole series of hearings had taken place on the basis of that second indictment.

The new superseding indictment dated from 20 June 2020. In February and May 2020 the US government had allowed hearings to go ahead on the basis of the second indictment, giving no warning, even though they must by that stage have known the new superseding indictment was coming. They had given neither explanation nor apology for this.

The defence had not been properly informed of the superseding indictment, and indeed had learnt of its existence only through a US government press release on 20 June. It had not finally been officially served in these proceedings until 29 July, just six weeks ago. At first, it had not been clear how the superseding indictment would affect the charges, as the US government was briefing it made no difference but just gave additional detail. But on 21 August 2020, not before, it finally became clear in new US government submissions that the charges themselves had been changed.

There were now new charges that were standalone and did not depend on the earlier allegations. Even if the 18 Manning related charges were rejected, these new allegations could still form grounds for extradition. These new allegations included encouraging the stealing of data from a bank and from the government of Iceland, passing information on tracking police vehicles, and hacking the computers both of individuals and of a security company.

“How much of this newly alleged material is criminal is anybody’s guess”, stated Summers, going on to explain that it was not at all clear that an Australian giving advice from outwith Iceland to someone in Iceland on how to crack a code, was actually criminal if it occurred in the UK. This was even without considering the test of dual criminality in the US also, which had to be passed before the conduct was subject to extradition.

It was unthinkable that allegations of this magnitude would be the subject of a Part 2 extradition hearing within six weeks if they were submitted as a new case. Plainly that did not give the defence time to prepare, or to line up witnesses to these new charges. Among the issues relating to these new charges the defence would wish to address, were that some were not criminal, some were out of time limitation, some had already been charged in other fora (including Southwark Crown Court and courts in the USA).

There were also important questions to be asked about the origins of some of these charges and the dubious nature of the witnesses. In particular the witness identified as “teenager” was the same person identified as “Iceland 1” in the previous indictment. That indictment had contained a “health warning” over this witness given by the US Department of Justice. This new indictment removed that warning. But the fact was, this witness is Sigurdur Thordarson, who had been convicted in Iceland in relation to these events of fraud, theft, stealing Wikileaks money and material and impersonating Julian Assange.

The indictment did not state that the FBI had been “kicked out of Iceland for trying to use Thordarson to frame Assange”, stated Summers baldly.

Summers said all these matters should be ventilated in these hearings if the new charges were to be heard, but the defence simply did not have time to prepare its answers or its witnesses in the brief six weeks it had since receiving them, even setting aside the extreme problems of contact with Assange in the conditions in which he was being held in Belmarsh prison.

The defence would plainly need time to prepare answers to these new charges, but it would plainly be unfair to keep Assange in jail for the months that would take. The defence therefore suggested that these new charges should be excised from the conduct to be considered by the court, and they should go ahead with the evidence on criminal behaviour confined to what conduct had previously been alleged.

Summers argued it was “entirely unfair” to add what were in law new and separate criminal allegations, at short notice and “entirely without warning and not giving the defence time to respond to it. What is happening here is abnormal, unfair and liable to create real injustice if allowed to continue.”

The arguments submitted by the prosecution now rested on these brand new allegations. For example, the prosecution now countered the arguments on the rights of whistleblowers and the necessity of revealing war crimes by stating that there can have been no such necessity to hack into a bank in Iceland.

Summers concluded that the “case should be confined to that conduct which the American government had seen fit to allege in the eighteen months of the case” before their second new indictment.

Baraitser refused to rule out the new charges, and then did rule out the immediate defence request for an adjournment to give them time to respond to the new charges. At the end of the hearings she refused to accept the Peirce affidavit explaining why the defence was unable to respond. The court had by then spent nearly a month listening to witnesses refuting the first superseding indictment, as prepared by the defence, but nothing addressing the second superseding indictment.

Summers was absolutely furious when Baraitser refused to accept Peirce’s affidavit on the subject, to the extent he was still explosive in the street outside after the hearings had concluded.

While Baraitser’s eventual decision barred extradition on the grounds of Assange’s health and US inhumane prison conditions, the second superseding indictment and Thordarson’s accusations were accepted as a valid basis for extradition.

Thordarson has now told Icelandic magazine Stundin that his allegations against Assange contained in the indictment are untrue, and that Assange had not solicited the hacking of bank or police details. This is hardly a shock, though Thordarson’s motives for coming clean now are obscure; he is plainly a deeply troubled and often malicious individual.
Thordarson was always the most unreliable of witnesses, and I find it impossible to believe that the FBI cooperation with him was ever any more than deliberate fabrication of evidence by the FBI.

Edward Snowden has tweeted that Thordarson recanting will end the case against Julian Assange. Most certainly it should end it, but I fear it will not.

Many things should have ended the case against Assange. The First Amendment, the ban on political extradition in the US/UK Extradition Treaty, the CIA spying on the preparations of Assange’s defence counsel, all of these should have stopped the case dead in its tracks.

It is now five months since extradition was refused, no US government appeal against that decision has yet been accepted by the High Court, and yet Julian remains confined to the UK’s highest security prison. The revelation that Thordarson’s allegations are fabricated – which everyone knew already, Baraitser just pretended she didn’t – is just one more illegality that the Establishment will shimmy over in its continued persecution of Assange.

Assange democratised information and gave real power to the people for a while, worldwide. He revealed US war crimes. For that his life is destroyed. Neither law nor truth have anything to do with it.

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Warmongering British Actions in the Black Sea

The pre-positioning of the BBC correspondent on HMS Defender shatters the pretence that the BBC is something different to a state propaganda broadcaster. It also makes plain that this propaganda exercise to provoke the Russian military was calculated and deliberate. Indeed that was confirmed by that BBC correspondent’s TV news report last night when he broadcast that the Defender’s route “had been approved at the very highest levels of the British government.”

The Prime Minister does not normally look at the precise positions of British ships. This was a deliberate act of dangerous belligerence.

The presence of a BBC correspondent is more than a political point. In fact it has important legal consequences. One thing that is plain is that the Defender cannot possible claim it was engaged in “innocent passage” through territorial waters, between Odessa and Georgia. Let me for now leave aside the fact that there is absolutely no necessity to pass within 12 miles of Cape Fiolent on such passage, and the designated sea lane (originally designated by Ukraine) stays just out of the territorial sea. Look at the definition of innocent passage in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea:

Very plainly this was not innocent passage. It was certainly 2 (d) an act of propaganda, and equally certainly 2 (c), an exercise in collecting information on military defences. I would argue it is also 2 (a), a threat of force.

So far as I can establish, the British are not claiming they were engaged in innocent passage, which is plainly nonsense, but that they were entering territorial waters off Crimea at the invitation of the government of Ukraine, and that they regard Crimea as the territory of Ukraine and Crimean territorial waters as Ukrainian territorial waters.

I want to impress on you how mad this is. The whole point of “territorial sea” is that, legally, it is an integral part of the state and that the state’s full domestic law applies within the territorial sea. That is not the case with the much larger 200 mile exclusive economic zone or sometimes even larger continental shelf, where the coastal state’s legal jurisdiction only applies to specific marine or mineral resources rights.

Let me put it this way. If somebody is murdered on a ship within twelve nautical miles of the coast, the coastal state has jurisdiction and its law applies. If somebody is murdered on a ship more than twelve miles off the coast, the jurisdiction and law of the flag state of the ship applies, not the law of any coastal state in whose exclusive economic zone the ship is.

In international law, the twelve mile territorial sea is as much part of the state as its land. So to sail a warship into Crimean territorial seas is exactly the same act as to land a regiment of paratroops in the Crimea and declare you are doing so at the invitation of the Government of Ukraine.

There is no dispute that Russia is in de facto control of the Crimea, irrespective of British support for the government of Ukraine’s claim to the region. It is also true that Russian annexation of the Crimea was not carried out in an accordance with international law. However, it is not, in practice, likely to be reversed and the situation needs to be resolved by treaty or by the International Court of Justice. In the interim, the UK government legal position can only be that Russia is an “occupying power”. It is impossible that the UK government legal position is that Ukraine is in “effective control” of the territory.

We need to see the legal advice provided by FCO legal advisers. It is simply not the practice in international law to ignore the existence of an occupying power which is a recognised state, and act with armed forces on the authority of a government not in effective control. The difference in British attitude towards Russia as an occupying power and towards Israel is tellingly different.

The legality of the British action is, at very best, moot. In realpolitik, it is an act of brinkmanship with a nuclear power and further effort to ramp up the new Cold War with Russia, to the benefit of the military, security services and armaments companies and the disbenefit of those who need more socially useful government spending. It is further an act of jingoist populism for the neo-liberal elite to distract the masses, as the billionaires’ incredible wealth continues to boom.

NATO will shortly commence a naval exercise in the Black Sea. As not all the member states of NATO are quite as unhinged as Johnson, it is to be hoped it will refrain from this kind of extra layer of provocation. There is a large part of me that says they cannot possibly be mad enough to attempt to intervene in Ukraine with military force, or at least its threat. But then I look at Johnson and Biden, and worry. This can all go horribly wrong.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Black Ops in the Black Sea

Sometimes it is worth stating the obvious. The United Kingdom does not have a coast in the Black Sea. British warships are not infesting the Black Sea out of a peaceful intent, and there is no cause for them to be entering disputed waters close to anybody’s coast. This is not a question of freedom of navigation under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. There is nowhere that a British warship can be heading from the UK under the right of innocent passage that would require it to pass through coastal waters by Crimea. The Black Sea is famously a cul-de-sac.

There is certainly a right to pass to the Ukrainian port of Odessa – but that in now way requires passing close to Crimea. This is therefore not “innocent passage”. There is a right of passage through the Kerch strait, which Russia has to date respected. Russia has not just a right but a duty to enforce sea lanes for safe navigation through the strait, exactly as the UK does off Dover.

I expect we will now be in for a mad frenzy of Russophobia, yet again. I shall comment further once I have more details of why and exactly where Russia was firing warning shots. But just remember this, it was not Russian warships near the British coast, it was British warships in an area where they had no business other than ludicrous, British nationalist, sabre-rattling.

The UK needs to lose its imperial delusions. Sending gunboats to the Crimea is as mad as – well, sailing an aircraft carrier expressly to threaten the Chinese. There are those who see this activity as evidence of the UK’s continued great power status. I see it as evidence of lunacy.

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Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Assange Is Still in Jail

Julian Assange remains in a maximum security jail, despite never being sentenced for anything but a long ago served spell for bail-jumping, and despite the US Government’s request for extradition having been refused.

It is approaching six months since I was in court to hear the decision rejecting Julian’s extradition, and it was in the same week that Baraitser ordered Julian be kept in jail pending a US appeal. Since then the US has submitted its appeal, which is somewhat intemperate in its efforts to discredit a number of highly distinguished expert witnesses at the hearing. The defence has submitted its response, including notice of points, where Baraitser found for the US, that the defence intend to counter-appeal.

Then for over three months – nothing. The High Court has not only not set a date for the US appeal, it has not even indicated if the US appeal meets the bar to be heard – there is some thought that the appeal lacks any arguable points of law and may be simply rejected. But the seemingly leisurely approach of the High Court to looking at the matter is entirely inappropriate given that, in the meantime, an innocent man is suffering the most extreme form of incarceration available in the UK.

Assange’s status is that his extradition has been rejected. He ought not to be in jail at all, let alone in such harsh conditions.

By contrast, I am sitting in my study despite being sentenced to eight months in jail. I am at liberty while the Supreme Court decides whether to hear my appeal. My lawyers believe, from their contact with the court administrators, that it is entirely possible that the Supreme Court will decide on whether to take my appeal, within the four week suspension of my jail sentence granted by Lady Dorrian. This is because otherwise I might be imprisoned.

Why can the Supreme Court potentially decide whether to hear my appeal so quickly due to the threat of imprisonment, when the High Court is taking six times or more as long to decide whether to hear the US appeal, when an innocent man is already imprisoned? It makes no sense.

It is not due to complexity: while of course Julian’s case is more important, any points of law at issue in the US appeal are notably less complex than in my own appeal. To me, the only possible explanation is the determination of the state to keep Julian imprisoned at all costs.

It is now plain that Biden intends to press forward with the charging of Julian, a publisher and journalist, under the Espionage Act. This despite the opposition, however belated, of every major news organisation and every major civil liberties oriented NGO. Biden’s recent European trip was choreographed to establish his full credentials as a Cold War warrior and to ensure a western orthodoxy of hostility towards China. Biden is proving, as predicted, a perfect representative of the security and military state.

Having seen off the $15 minimum wage and proposals for meaningful “New Deal” expenditure, Biden can get down to the serious neo-liberal work of improving the fortunes of the ultra-wealthy.

In October 2020, I published a post specifically about the massive suppression on the internet of information about the corrupt dealings of Joe and Hunter Biden, particularly in Ukraine. On 10 February 2021 I published an article about the sacking of Nathan Robinson from the Guardian, which included his statement that the Guardian had spiked his column about Hunter Biden’s corruption.

Russell Brand caused a stir last week when he spoke about the suppression of information about Biden corruption, along precisely the lines of my article last October. He was of course immediately “othered”, as has been Glenn Greenwald.

There is a fascinating phenomenon in western democracies of fake liberal left political parties acting as enablers of the global billionaire elite. Biden, Starmer, Sturgeon, Macron, Trudeau, Sanchez, all pretend to be some kind of alternative to rampant neo-liberalism while acting as its most effective enablers. All are very willing advocates of not just neo-liberalism but the military and security complex and the NATO cold war stance, plus companions in the steady ratcheting down on civil liberties. None has the slightest intention of closing the gap between ordinary people and the super-wealthy.

The democracy of false choice appears to be a decent working title for the current state of western society.

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Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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The Mind of Lady Dorrian

By Kirsten MacDonald
Republished from Consortium News

This paragraph is from Lady Dorrian’s original judgement on Craig Murray. It oozes malice and prejudice in its very plain twist of both logic and fact. She seeks to make something obviously to Murray’s credit work to his detriment.

[68] A notable feature of the affidavits is the repeated focus by the respondent on the absence of a court order prior to 10 March 2020 as meaning that had he wished to identify the complainers he could have done so prior to that date, “knowing there was no general law or court order in place preventing me simply from publishing”. This however “would not have been responsible journalism”. That it would have been a clear contravention of the IPSO Editor’s Code of Practice and of the local convention are not matters which appear to have engaged him, although it is clear from para 40 of his main affidavit that he was aware of the convention.

In his affidavits Murray had stated that he could have simply published the names at any time before 10 March 2020 and that would have been legal. It was therefore, Murray argued, ridiculous to argue he was instead engaged in a sneak attempt to out the names by code.

Dorrian judges that Murray should be given no credit for not publishing the names, because he did so in the name of “responsible journalism” and not in the name of the IPSO Editor’s Code or of a “local convention”. The extraordinary thing here is that Murray was following both the code and convention. He just did not name them.

It is even weirder than that. He did in fact name the Editor’s Code, but did not do so in the same paragraph where he explained his determination to not out the accusers.

Lady Dorrian’s logic here is precisely the same as saying “You may have been under the 30mph speed limit, but you did not state specifically you were under the 30mph speed limit according to the Highway Code, so your good behaviour does not count.” Dorrian’s position is self-evidently ludicrous.

Dorrian’s twisting does not stop there. As a blogger, Murray had no obligation to follow the Editor’s Code. His point was he could have published the names prior to 10 March with no legal penalty, and the fact he did not shows that he had no wish to. That remains true – there would have been no penalties for Murray in breaking either the code or the local convention.

Dorrian dismissed this argument on grounds which are spurious in logic.

In her Opinion rejecting Murray’s application to appeal to the Supreme Court, Dorrian returns to this same point. She makes a distinction between bloggers and journalists, and argues that bloggers and new media should get harder sentences for contempt than legacy media journalists, because legacy media journalists are self-regulated.

[4] The applicant describes himself as a “journalist in new media”. Whatever that may
involve, it is relevant to distinguish his position from that of the mainstream press, which is
regulated, and subject to codes of practice and ethics in a way in which those writing as the
applicant does are not. To the extent that the submissions for the applicant make
comparisons with other press contempts, and the role of mainstream journalists, this is a
factor which should be recognised.

Dorrian needed to answer two points raised by the defence.

The first was why Murray is prosecuted when objective opinion poll evidence shows the “respectable” media – especially the BBC and the Scotsman newspaper – were responsible for far more jigsaw ID than Murray.

The second was why Murray has been jailed for contempt when no legacy media journalist has been jailed for contempt for at least forty years. There have been some extremely serious findings of contempt in those four decades, including full and open revealing of protected identities, with both names and photos. They have been punished by fines and not imprisonment.

It was simply impossible for Dorrian to argue that Murray is not being treated more harshly than other relevant cases. So she argues that bloggers ought to be treated more harshly. Murray’s legal team are pinning their hopes that this will catch the eye of the Supreme Court.

Disdain for new media in general and for Murray in particular permeates everything written by Dorrian on the case. The evidential basis on which Murray was convicted is entirely obscure. Murray used the same code letters as all other journalists to report the accusers in the trial. He repeated again and again in his affidavits his intention to keep identities secret. He gives details of how he went about this.

Murray states, as discussed above, he did not reveal the identities when he legally could.

Murray states he conducted google searches to make sure details he published did not reveal identities.

Murray states that he omitted important details – like who was present at the 29 February 2019 meeting between Geoff Aberdein and Nicola Sturgeon – to guard against jigsaw identification, even when the entire legacy media published those details.

Both the first and last of those points are true as plain fact. That Murray also conducted google searches was not contested by the Crown.

Here is the most important point of all.

No evidence of any kind was produced in court to contradict Murray’s sworn testimony that he tried to conceal identities. Yet Lady Dorrian decided to treat Murray’s affidavit as lies despite hearing no evidence to contradict it, and despite no claim from the Crown that it was lies. She did so entirely on the basis that her own reading of Murray’s articles revealed to her a deliberate “campaign” to reveal the names by “clues”.

The astonishing thing is this. Murray’s articles on the case had totaled hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of page views before Lady Dorrian read them. Yet nobody before Lady Dorrian had ever alleged – including not on any social media platform – that Murray was conducting a campaign to out witnesses.

Like all Murray’s journalism, there was a very great deal of comment from those hostile to him. Including on Facebook, Twitter and his blog. That includes paid trolling by both Sturgeon related SNP staff and by British Government influence programmes. But not even any of these had ever claimed to have discerned or alleged a campaign by Murray to reveal identities. Nor had the prosecution ever alleged it. The notion arose entirely in the mind of Lady Dorrian.

Nothing that would meet the bar of evidence was produced to the court that anybody was in fact identified from Murray’s writing.

Murray further testified, with evidence, that he believed it was for the courts to decide on anonymity.

After the acquittal Murray had instructed, at his own expense, Craig Sandison QC to draft an application to court to lift the anonymity of specific accusers shown in court to give false testimony.

The key point being Murray was going the legal route to this, had paid a QC and was prepared to accept a court decision on it. That is not consistent with a secret campaign to reveal identities.

There is one further pertinent point.

Lady Dorrian’s evident dislike of the modern world of new media makes her oblivious to who Craig Murray is. As I know from editing his collected works, Murray has been at the forefront of internet freedom campaigns since 2005. Murray has himself released secret classified documents on the net, mirrored thousands of times worldwide. Murray has been involved in notable Streisand effect campaigns with subjects including oligarch Alisher Usmanov and mercenary commander Tim Spicer.

Murray is a friend of Wikileaks, and with many from hacker communities, where he is well-regarded.

There is a plain truth that should be stated. Had Murray wished to reveal the names, he had the capacity and contacts to have them mirrored all over the internet in places where Scottish jurisdiction does not run. Murray has the knowledge, resource and access to initiate this in ways that could never be traced back to him. Anyone with a basic understanding of web activism can see that Murray has never wanted these names released. Or they would have been.

In my last report I recounted that an experienced journalist told me that they had never seen a judge so “emotionally invested”, as Dorrian against Craig Murray.

We now know that one reason Murray was kept waiting an agonising ten weeks for the verdict after the main hearing was that Dorrian was busy writing a report for the Scottish government. This tackles sexual assault trials and how to increase conviction rates.

Dorrian’s recommendations in that report include the abolition of juries in sexual assault trials, and the end of the right of the defendant’s lawyers to cross-examine the accuser in court proceedings.

Dorrian was clearly parti pris in all of this. In the United States and other jurisdictions she would have had to recuse herself.

Dorrian’s extraordinary decision on Murray’s guilt lacks a basis in evidence. But that is not a point that can be contested at the Supreme Court.

The original trial judge remains the sole judge of fact, which is a potentially disastrous situation for Murray. The UK Supreme Court can only intervene on points of law where the judgement is inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. Murray has only a narrow path to freedom.

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The Decline of Western Power

Boris Johnson sees himself as the heritor of a world bestriding Imperial mantle, but in truth he cannot bestride the Irish Sea. The overshadowing of the G7 summit by his peculiar concern that Irish sausages should not be eaten by those in Northern Ireland who do not believe in evolution, was a fascinating examplar of British impotence as he failed to persuade anybody else to support him. It looks like Danish bacon for the shops of Belfast and Derry will have to be imported through Dun Laoghaire and not through Larne. Ho hum.

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t. John Pilger pointed out the key fact. Twenty years ago the G7 constituted two thirds of the world economy. Now they constitute one third. They don’t even represent most of the world’s billionaires any longer, though those billionaires they do represent – and indeed some of the billionaires they don’t represent – were naturally pulling the strings of these rather sluggish puppets.

It used to be that any important sporting event in any developing country would feature hoardings for western multinationals, such as Pepsi Cola and Nestle baby milk. Nowadays I am watching the Euros football pitches surrounded by electronic hoardings in Chinese. The thing about power is this; it shifts with time.

None of the commitments made on covid or climate change constituted any new money, any real transfer of wealth or technology. It was a non-event. Nobody will ever look back at anything beyond the personal as having started last weekend in Cornwall.

From there, pretty well the same people moved on to pretend to bestride the world militarily at NATO, where the first job was to pretend they had not lost the long Afghan war they have just, err, lost.

At NATO, they stuck out their tongues at China, which has upset them a lot by becoming the world’s most powerful nation. China was accused of an aggressive military posture, which is amusing in its utter lack of truth. Other than some construction of tiny artificial islands (which China is in fact wrong to claim can generate maritime claims according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea), it is very difficult to understand on what this NATO accusation of aggression is based.

If China really is trying to outdo many centuries of western Imperial conquest – stretching up to the recent destructions of Libya and Syria – by building tiny artificial islands, it is a plan of extreme cunning and patience. NATO seem to have discovered their new enemy by reading Ian Fleming.

Let me tell you something that actually is true. I cannot think of any instance in world history of any power enjoying the level of economic dominance currently enjoyed by China, and yet showing such restraint and lack of interest in Imperial conquest. It is not China which is sailing aircraft carriers towards Boris Johnson, it is the other way round. In fact the restraint China shows in not carrying out the simple task of sinking Johnson’s silly aircraft carrier, undermines the propaganda of thousands of NATO press officers and social media operatives, including the UK’s very own 77th Brigade and Integrity Initiative.

It is even sillier to attempt to terrify us all with the thought that the Russians are coming. I know it upsets the Putin fans when I say it, but Russia’s share of the world economy has declined just as the G7 share has. As Russia was always, and still is, poorer than the poorest of the G7 nations, the NATO attempt to portray Russia as a great threat is really rather silly. If there is truth in the story of a couple of super military intelligence officers traveling widely but not killing many people, and of cunning Russian computer hackers engaging in cyber warfare while leaving cyrillic fingerprints behind, in a manner strangely identical to the CIA guidance on how to lay Russian false flags as shown in the Wikileaks vault 7 releases, then it is still difficult for me to understand why this would all require trillions of dollars in military hardware to stop it.

Interrupting hacking with Trident missiles seems neither cost effective nor proportionate. But then I am not an ace NATO military strategist.

Follow the money. Of course the NATO show is all about diverting simply incredible amounts of our money and resources into the military industrial complex, which is permanently profitable for politician backhanders; the arms industry remains the only “legitimate” industry more corrupt than banking, which is quite a feat.

I shall sleep safe in my bed at night knowing that the money NATO spends just this year to keep me safe from the Russian and Chinese tanks which are absolutely poised to roll up Princes Street, could have eliminated malaria forever. God bless our glorious leaders.

———————————————

 
 
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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Hating Peter Tatchell

I would dearly love to say that I am a friend of Peter Tatchell, but I can’t really claim to be more than an acquaintance and perhaps ally. We have shared a platform several times, always say hi to each other at demos and events where we see each other, but have never really had a personal conversation. Peter always appears to me somewhat withdrawn; a mutual friend described him to me as aloof. I think he is shy, which seems a strange thing to say about someone whose life has been, as the new Netflix documentary Hating Peter Tatchell makes plain, a series of spectacular and often individual performance protest events.

In the documentary you see Peter get brutally beaten by nationalist extremists in Russia, and by Mugabe henchmen in London. You see some remarkably un-Christian blows hit him as he is removed from the pulpit at Canterbury cathedral. You learn his mum was a religious bigot and he was very brutally beaten, as attested by his mother and sister, by an extremely violent stepfather, who looks in photos a caricature thug. There is a fragility and vulnerability about Peter that makes you want to protect him; but he still ventures into danger.

The documentary features almost exclusively Peter’s campaigning for gay rights, which is a weakness as his canvas is much broader than that. There are some interesting ironies along the way which are missed. It refrains from pointing out that the victor and beneficiary of the appalling homophobic campaign against Peter in the Bermondsey by-election was Simon Hughes, himself then firmly in the closet. Extracts from a Glasgow TV show, in which Tatchell is heavily criticised by young people for “outing” gays, very briefly show the show’s host John Nicholson – who I am pretty sure was himself in the closet at the time.

It is very good to be reminded by this documentary that widespread and open homophobia was a major force in British society right through the 1980’s. Peter Tatchell deserves a place in history as one of the leaders in changing that, and I am proud to know him. I strongly commend the documentary to you. However its weakness lies in trying to squeeze Peter through the Overton window. By focusing on gay rights alone, it can portray Peter as the victor, who is now in line with accepted attitudes.

The documentary explicitly states he became a “national treasure” when he took on Mugabe. The big set-piece is his taking on Putin’s Russia by traveling to the World Cup and demonstrating in Red Square against the killing and torture of gays in Chechnya. Any pro-gay demonstration in Russia takes enormous courage, but the police dealing with him on this occasion were polite and non-violent and he was released the next day. Peter is however quite right in outlining discrimination against gays in Russia and Putin’s tolerance or even encouragement of it. The accumulation of Overton-signaling soft targets towards the end of the documentary is completed by a brief clip of him interrupting Jeremy Corbyn to protest against human rights violations by Assad.

I don’t exactly blame the documentary makers, who had to sell the film and get at least some of their money back, but this mainstream media friendly Tatchell is just one corner of the picture. He does not just take on designated western enemies such as Putin, Mugabe and Assad.

Peter has been an extremely dedicated supporter of Julian Assange, turning up repeatedly for years outside the Ecuador Embassy and at subsequent demos, often alone and unannounced, and without pushing himself forward to speak (I have found a reluctance to integrate Peter into the Assange defence campaign, which puzzles me).

The documentary shows him trying to arrest Mugabe but there is no mention of his still more spectacular ambush of Blair’s motorcade and attempt to arrest the war criminal. His steadfast and active support for Palestine, his opposition to Trident and to the Iraq and Afghan wars, all this is shown only in the end credits by the banners he is holding. His long-running campaign against Saudi Arabian human rights violations, and those of other Gulf states, is ignored in favour of Western “enemies”.

This is my favourite Tatchell placard:

Peter Tatchell is, to me, a great hero and always will be. I probably do not agree with him on every single issue, but no sentient human being should ever agree with any other on absolutely everything – if you do, one of you is not actually thinking.

A final thought. I have repeatedly stated that the Westminster government will not voluntarily give up Scotland, and only agreed to the 2014 referendum because they thought it impossible to lose. They got a huge shock and will not go that route again. Winning Scottish Independence is almost certainly going to involve a measure of civil disobedience. This documentary is a profound lesson in how civil disobedience can bring about social and political change, and the sacrifices it entails, and I urge you to watch it with that perspective.

———————————————

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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State Suppression

Yesterday the House of Commons was debating “safety of journalists”. After reams of MP waffle about evil foreigners, the Alba Party was allocated 60 seconds and tried to use it to raise my case.

That is a completely unedited extract from Hansard. So much for the “mother of democracies”.

———————————–

There is of course a major difference in the finances of bloggers and mainstream media and it is an unfortunate truth that an appeal to the Supreme Court will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Details of how to contribute to Craig Murray’s Defence Fund are here:




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Official: Lady Dorrian Rules Courts Should Apply Different Standards to Bloggers and Mainstream Media

We are racing to lodge our application to the Supreme Court by Friday, so I am just going to post an email I just sent my legal team:

BEGINS

This is an extraordinary passage of the Opinion:

“(4) The applicant describes himself as a “journalist in new media”. Whatever that may involve, it is relevant to distinguish his position from that of the mainstream press, which is regulated, and subject to codes of practice and ethics in a way in which those writing as the applicant does are not. To the extent that the submissions for the applicant make comparisons with other press contempts, and the role of mainstream journalists, this is a factor which should be recognised”.

What does the last sentence mean in practice? Well, submissions for the applicant only made comparisons with other press contempts in two areas:

1) Disproportionate sentencing compared to other press contempts

2) Implicitly, that the opinion poll showing mainstream media responsible for far more jigsaw identification demonstrates selective prosecution.

It seems to me much more likely she is referring to 1). In which case she can ONLY mean there should be a different sentencing tariff for bloggers than mainstream media. IN PRACTICE SHE IS ARGUING THAT BLOGGERS SHOULD BE JAILED AND MAINSTREAM MEDIA NOT.

If she did mean 2), she can only be arguing that a different bar for contempt? jigsaw identification? should be applied to mainstream media journalists as opposed to bloggers, and it is OK selectively to prosecute bloggers but not mainstream media for doing the same thing.

Either way, this seems to me a screaming red flag Article 10 AND due process area that ought to grab the attention of the Supreme Court.

It seems to me quite incredible to argue that an employee of Murdoch or other tabloids has intrinsically higher ethical standards than a former senior diplomat, British Ambassador and University Rector, and therefore the tabloid hack must be, openly and acknowledged, treated by more favorable standards by the courts.

Frankly, that is nuts. I find it hard to believe she wrote that paragraph – but I am very glad she did. It shows a very great deal indeed.

———————————–

There is of course a major difference in the finances of bloggers and mainstream media and it is an unfortunate truth that an appeal to the Supreme Court will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Details of how to contribute to Craig Murray’s Defence Fund are here:




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An Open Letter to Lady Dorrian

My name is Nadira Murray, wife of Craig Murray. On the 7th of June Craig will be sent to prison per your decision under the law of contempt of court.

I understand and fully support your decision of protecting sexual assault victims however I do not feel Craig has been judged fairly. Craig even wouldn’t tell me the women’s names or identities, or ever foul mouth them during the trial when I asked about it.

Craig does protect and previously had directly helped many women who suffered abuse including a few women’s asylum seekers’ cases, without any payment.

In my country Uzbekistan, he sourced British government funding as well as giving his own money for victims of domestic abuse in a hospital refuge in Samarkand. These were women who had attempted to burn themselves to death with kerosine this is a local culture for abused women.

I have been living with Craig for almost two decades now, and I know him as a gentle soul, a helpful human being, a kind partner and a loving dad to his four children.

Having come from an abused background and then police state, I know exactly what trauma is, and your unfair decision is a form of power abuse, which brings back my own PTSD trauma from my own country from authorities.

I gave birth recently, with a 3 months old baby now, and have a 12 year old son, and my work from home – Craig has been a helpful hand and the main income in the household. My children need their daddy, I need my partner.

Him being under my watch (as his doctors stated his conditions are pulmonary hypertension, APS and atrial fibrillation, among other illnesses) I worry his health is not suitable for the prison which you ignored and took away his basic human rights. Prison hospitals are not suitable for his type of serious illness!

I believe you are sending him to a deliberate death sentence knowing and ignoring his health conditions.

I urge you to reconsider the sentence and allow Craig to be at home with his children who need him.

Yours sincerely,

Nadira Murray
4 June 2021

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Craig Murray’s Trial: What Happens Next

Post By Kirsten MacDonald

On Monday morning, Lady Dorrian and two supporting judges will hear the application from Roddy Dunlop QC for Craig Murray to be allowed to appeal to the UK Supreme Court against both their verdict of contempt of court for jigsaw identification, and against the disproportionate sentence.

It is widely expected, given the obvious animus against Murray she has shown throughout the proceedings, that leave to appeal will be refused and Lady Dorrian will commit Craig Murray to jail, probably from Wednesday 9 June. At that stage, Murray’s legal team will have to apply direct to the UK Supreme Court to grant him an appeal, but his eight month sentence will likely be served before the Supreme Court even looks at whether to consider it.

For comparison, the English High Court has not yet decided whether to hear the United States appeal against the decision to refuse extradition of Julian Assange, even though Assange remains in Belmarsh prison while they decide whether to take their case. Murray languishing in Saughton or Barlinnie is unlikely to be a consideration for the Supreme Court.

There is no precedent for an appeal against conviction for contempt of court in Scotland to be heard by the UK Supreme Court; we are in uncharted waters. It is possible for Lady Dorrian to grant interim liberation so that Murray is not jailed pending a decision on taking his case by the UK Supreme Court, and then further until they had decided the case. The UK Supreme Court does not itself have power to grant liberation.

But anybody who heard Lady Dorrian interrupt Roddy Dunlop QC six times in the opening four minutes of his mitigation plea, and heard her tone of voice in the sentencing remarks, would view it as very unlikely she will delay imprisonment. One experienced reporter said to me that they had never heard any judge so “emotionally invested”.

There was one moment at the end of the sentencing hearing when there was consternation among the judges, noted by those with videolink access. When Roddy Dunlop QC stated that they would seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Lady Dorrian’s air of stern control dissipated momentarily and there was a moment where all three judges were visibly, physically shifting around uncomfortably.

Lady Dorrian replied that any appeal would be to the nobile officium, an ad hoc court peculiar to the Scottish system which is brought into being where no other appeal route exists. That appeal would in effect be to Lord Carloway, Chief Justice of Scotland and an extremely close friend as well as colleague of Lady Dorrian, supported by a panel of judges all of whom work under Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk.

The Murray team had decided such an appeal would be utterly pointless. There is very serious concern that the system of justice in Scotland has been corrupted, as expounded this week in the House of Commons by no less than Scotland’s former Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill MP:

Since the days of learning about the Gordon Airs case, HM Advocate v. Airs, I always assumed that those who were seeking to put forward information that was appropriate and fair would be protected. Yet in Scotland, in the fallout from the Alex Salmond affair, we have seen Mark Hirst, a journalist, prosecuted. The case, in which he was supported by the NUJ, was rightly rejected by the presiding sheriff in the borders. We have seen Craig Murray, a blogger and former British senior civil servant, now facing a prison sentence of eight months. That is not only shocking, but drives a coach and horses through a position brought in by the Scottish Government that there be a presumption against a sentence of imprisonment for less than a year. Their absence of criticism and their failure to comment has been quite shocking.

It is not simply cases brought by the Crown. It is the cases that have been pursued by the police, where people so much as tweeting anything that might be seen as possibly identifying a witness have faced a knock on the door from the police. That is fundamentally damaging to Scottish democracy. It is not what I expect and it has not come about by happenchance. It has been deliberate. It has been targeted. It is being driven by the Crown Office. If we are to have a free press, there has to be free reporting. That has to apply to bloggers as much as it applies to the mainstream press.

That people have been charged in Scottish courts and have faced possible terms of imprisonment for simply doing exactly the same as the mainstream press has done but not faced prosecution is simply unacceptable. There is also a reason that I am required to raise it here: it is that the position of the Lord Advocate of Scotland is no longer tenable. There has to be a separation of powers of having one individual who is both a legal adviser to the Scottish Government and also the head of the prosecution service in Scotland. That is no longer appropriate

Murray’s legal team effectively decided to break for the border and get the case out of corrupt Edinburgh. Roddy Dunlop QC argued that, by statute, the appeal against any ruling of a panel of two or more Scottish High Court judges is to the UK Supreme Court. There had been some legal consternation as to why Murray’s contempt case was heard by a panel of three judges in the first instance, which is unusual. It was perhaps intended to increase the thin veneer of respectability of these highly political proceedings, but it seems they may have shot themselves in the foot by providing an escape route away from the nobile officium, which plainly caught Dorrian completely off guard when Dunlop first raised it. Lord Turnbull looked around as if an answer to this development might be lurking somewhere behind him in his study. It was the most bizarre moment in these entirely bizarre virtual proceedings.

So Monday will be about the denial to Murray of the right to appeal. That a blogger might be jailed with no jury and no right of appeal, for a jigsaw identification which few other than Lady Dorrian were able to perceive, is a stain on the reputation of Scotland.

But not necessarily a black mark for Lady Dorrian. Many believe her ambition is to replace Lord Carloway, who retires shortly, as Lord President – Scotland’s top judge. The appointment will be made by the Queen on the recommendation of Nicola Sturgeon.

Lady Dorrian, while the Murray case was engaged in its painfully slow process, produced a report for the Scottish Government suggesting the abolition of juries in cases of sexual assault, and that accusers should not attend court or be cross-examined by defence lawyers. Dorrian’s public advocacy of this on the BBC alongside the Scottish Government funded Rape Crisis Scotland, will, to say the least, do her no harm with Nicola Sturgeon.

Murray is of course one of Sturgeon’s fiercest critics and opposes both the abolition of juries and the abolition of the right of defence lawyers to cross-examine accusers. The prime thrust of the reporting for which he is being jailed was that Nicola Sturgeon was behind the false accusations that were made against Alex Salmond.

There is a real possibility that aspects of Dorrian’s handling of the Murray case could come in for serious criticism by the Supreme Court. These include her acceptance of a handful of anonymous tweets claiming to have learnt identities from Murray’s blog (with zero evidence they actually knew identities) as having important evidential weight, her effective dismissal of his entire affidavits as lies despite hearing no evidence that contradicted them, her making no reference at any stage to Salmond’s acquittal (indeed both her judgement and sentencing remarks on Murray refer to Salmond’s “victims” and “offences” with no “purported”, “alleged” or other qualifier, even after the acquittal), her extremely low bar for jigsaw identification (to any individual who already had specialist knowledge), the breathtakingly draconian sentence, and the curt and offhand dismissal of all Article X ECHR freedom of speech arguments.

If Dorrian grants the appeal to the Supreme Court, she is opening herself up to criticism at a crucial time in her career. As one lawyer put it to me, to grant the appeal would be “asking for a kicking”. If she refuses permission to appeal, she is putting back any Supreme Court decision probably for two years, and giving herself the ability to imprison and silence Murray in the interim.

Murray’s team have very little hope for Monday.

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Not Forgetting Palestine

Once you have been active in politics for a few decades, you get used to the popular convulsions of support for Palestine every few years when Israel military action against Gaza becomes particularly intense. Then follows a ceasefire, the media move on and Israel resumes the daily routine of low level evictions, destruction of tree crops, imprisonments and murders that accomplishes the gradual extinction of the territories that the Western powers pretended to intend for a Palestinian state.

For the media, 50 Palestinian children killed in a week has been a story. The regular killing of 50 a year is not; and anybody who thinks it is must be labeled an anti-semite and hounded from political life.

As a young man, the two great injustices we campaigned on were South Africa and Palestine. I never dreamt the latter abuse would possibly outlast me. These two issues resonated so much because they were both remnants of European colonial arrogance, founded on racism and a sense of cultural superiority. Nowadays I cannot even think myself into a mindset that says that for the greater good of the United Kingdom, it is OK to deport the entire population of the Chagos Islands to make way for a military base. But that was the view not just of governments, but of Labour governments, inside my own lifetime.

I should like to think that the undeniable openness of Israeli apartheid rule has made a fundamental shift in thinking towards Palestine, but I do not think much has in fact changed, and the media and political class remain bought and paid for on the issue.

The general British population may return to slumber until the next major bombings, but one man who will not forget is Richard Barnard of Palestine Action. Incredibly, Barnard has been charged by police and the Crown Prosecution Service with blackmail for proposing to hunger strike until the Israeli Elbit weapons factories in the UK are closed down.

That is not a mistake; he really is charged with blackmail for a proposed hunger strike. I have been trying to find precedent for this and while I can find examples of the argument being made that hunger strike is emotional extortion, I certainly cannot find any example, anywhere in the world, of actual prosecution. The International Committee of the Red Cross has considered the ethical argument with relation to prisoners:

Hunger strikers are often criticized for using their physical welfare as an instrument of protest, the (debatable) argument being that this constitutes a form of blackmail. It is inappropriate to assert, however, that hunger strikers should be placed in the same category as persons intending to commit suicide. This is a simplistic approach to the issue which wrongly reduces it to purely medical terms: namely, that since any doctor would come to the assistance of someone who attempts suicide, so hunger strikers should be „assisted“ (i e force-fed) to prevent them from „killing themselves“.

This is certainly a misconception. Someone who attempts suicide is either appealing for help, as in the majority of cases, or he truly wants to end his life. (The “black-and-white case” often cited here is that of a general, found guilty of treason, who prefers to blow his brains out rather than face a shameful court-martial. Although some doctors would even argue for a case of acute and severe depression, it can be claimed that not all suicides are necessarily to be “medicalized”.) The clear-cut case of a politically motivated hunger striker is different. The striker does not want to die: on the contrary, he wants to „live better“, by obtaining something for himself, his group or his country. If necessary, he is willing to sacrifice his life for his cause, but the aim is certainly not suicide. (Soldiers charging a heavily defended enemy position also run the risk of dying. Are the suicidal too?} All too often hunger strikers who fast up to or beyond the limits of irreversible physiological consequences are labelled as suicidal. This naturally gives any prison or judicial authority the perfect excuse for ordering doctors to intervene forcibly.

As I am shortly likely to become the first person in the UK – and so far as I can tell, the first person in the world – to be jailed for supposed “jigsaw identification” of witnesses, I accept I have a jaundiced view of the novel abuse of law against dissenters. Having witnessed and reported day after day after day of abuse of process in the extradition hearing of Julian Assange, I have entirely lost any faith in the justice system where it collides with the wishes of government. But the persecution of Richard Barnard for his calling out the UK’s role in the manufacture of instruments for the death and maiming of Palestinians takes things to a whole new level. The law is twisted by power to make all dissent criminal.

———————————————

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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