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Law? What Law? There is no Law only the politics of oppression! Julian Assange heads back to Kangaroo Court this week, facing the lengthy arm of US overreach to enforce total suppression of the truth by intimidation, subjugation and torture, with our lawless Tory Government fully complicit in facilitating these crimes. In stark contrast the Johnson/Cummings “rule of six” will constrain and criminalize those who dare to protest the injustices that are being implemented to stifle free speech in the UK. The imposition of lopsided regulations still force all children to attend school to enable the working poor to risk going back to work on crammed public transport, encouraged to spread infection wherever it drives the economy, but at the same time curtailing family life and friendships with crack-downs and threat of fines. As if these demands were not audacious enough, given the disgraceful exclusions offered to protect the elite, the PM announced his intention to break the law and violate an international treaty he signed only months ago!
The Assange case is not an isolated aberration it will firmly establish the ‘new normal’ for extinguishing all scrutiny of Governments around the world, eliminating accountability for war crime, torture and the persecution of civilians to maintain dictatorships and keep tyrants in power. This precedent will be veraciously seized by authoritarian despots; indeed Bolsonaro is already seeking to use this rogue power to silence critics of Brazil. If Assange, an Australian/Ecuadorian citizen, can be seized and extradited from a third country, the UK, for alleged espionage against the US, this would open up a wider world of possibilities for the global reach of persecution of the press. The Assange verdict could have a terrifyingly chilling effect on investigative journalism by criminalizing all controversial content damaging not just to the US and its allies, but to all national Governments prepared to abandon democratic principals of freedom of the press, free speech and the protection of human rights through robust scrutiny and accountability.
In an Amnesty International Article entitled, “Julian Assange extradition hearing: Punishing the publisher,” the lay out the stark reality of what lies ahead and the implications of loosing the fight to free Julian Assange. Announcing his return to Court, “for the resumption of proceedings that will ultimately decide on the Trump administration’s request for his extradition to the US,” but they warn that, “it is not just Julian Assange that will be in the dock. Beside him will sit the fundamental tenets of media freedom that underpin the rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right to access to information.” According to Amnesty, the world’s premier authority on political imprisonment, “Silence this one man, and the US and its accomplices will gag others, spreading fear of persecution and prosecution over a global media community already under assault in the US and in many other countries worldwide.”
Amnesty report that, “The stakes really are that high. If the UK extradites Assange, he would face posecution in the USA on espionage charges that could send him to prison for decades – possibly in a facility reserved for the highest security detainees and subjected to the strictest of daily regimes, including prolonged solitary confinement. All for doing something news editors do the world over – publishing public interest information provided by sources . Indeed, President Donald Trump has called Wikileaks ‘disgraceful’ and said that its actions in publishing classified information should carry the death penalty The chilling effect on other publishers, investigative journalists and any person who would dare to facilitate the publication of classified information of government wrongdoing would be immediate and severe. And the US would boldly go beyond its own borders with a long arm to reach non-citizens, like Assange, who is Australian.”
Amnesty report that, “The US government’s relentless pursuit of Assange – and the UK’s willing participation in his hunt and capture – has now landed him in a prison typically reserved for seasoned criminals. It has diminished him both physically and emotionally – often to the point of disorientation. Breaking him by isolating Assange from family, friends and his legal team, seems part and parcel of the US’s strategy – and it seems to be working. The 17 charges levelled by the US under the 1918 Espionage Act could bring 175 years in prison; add a conviction on the single computer fraud charge (said to complement the Espionage Act by dragging it into the computer era), and you get another gratuitous five years. Assange is the only publisher ever to bear the brun t of such espionage charges.”
Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on human rights in Europe, insists that, “You don’t need to know the vagaries of extradition law to understand that the charges against Assange are not only classic ‘political offences’ and thus barred under extradition law, but more crucially, the charges are politically-motivated.” Amnesty has said that, “There is no doubt that the charges are politically-motivated under this US administration, which has all but convicted Assange in the public arena. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed that Wikileaks is a ‘hostile intelligence service’ whose activities must be ‘mitigated and managed.’ The flagrantly unfair prosecution of Assange is an example of how far the US will go to ‘manage’ the flow of information about government wrongdoing and thus undermine the public’s right to know.”
Amnesty report that, “Assange was on Barack Obama’s radar, too, but the Obama administration declined to prosecute Assange. Current US Attorney General William Barr, however, has turned out not one, but two indictments since 2019, the latest at the end of June. That second indictment was a surprise not only to Assange’s defence team, but to the Crown lawyer and the judge who were also taken unawares by the new indictment.” In his 7th of September Post, Craig Murray, who went to heroic lengths to finagle a place in Court in order to truthfully report on the reality of this political trial to railroad Assange and abolish freedom of the press, accurately described the lengths the Judge was going to in order to subvert justice. After dumping a huge volume of additional charges on the defence team when it was too late to review the content and contact witnesses, it was grotesquely unfair for the Judge, despite this insurmountable challenge to refuse to grant the defence a reasonable postponement.
Amnesty International’s Julia Hall describes her well-founded concern over Assange’s deteriorating condition following months of inhumane confinement in Belmarsh that has been condemned by the UN Rapporteur as psychological torture. Hall recounts how, “Earlier this year, sitting 20 feet away from Julian Assange, I was struck by how much of a shadow of his former self he had become. He did spontaneously stand up several times during that week of hearings to address the judge. He told her he was confused. He told her he could not properly hear the proceedings. He said that barriers in the prison and in court meant that he had not been able to consult with his lawyers. He was not technically permitted to address the judge directly, but he did repeatedly, flashes of the aggressive tactics used in the past to advocate for himself and the principles he has espoused.”
Speaking for Amnesty, Hall warned that, “If Julian Assange is extradited it will have far reaching human rights implications, setting a chilling precedent for the protection of those who publish leaked or classified information that is in the public interest. Publishing such information is a cornerstone of media freedom and the public’s right to access information. It must be protected, not criminalized.” What this will mean is that Trump, the US Government, as well as other dangerous and deceitful global tyrants including our rapidly evolving dictatorship, will be able to spew their propaganda lies unchallenged, gagging the press to subvert the truth, effectively dodging scrutiny, exposure and accountability in a frightening new world order. Socialist Governments intent on equitably serving the fundamental needs of their population will be demonized and unjustly sanctioned and their leaders driven out to install puppet dictators willing to exclusively serve US interests. The Assange trial outcome heralds another major global crisis.
In the Canary Article entitled, “Assange extradition hearings see the defence expose the real reasons for his prosecution,” they elaborate on the underlying motivation driving the case. Reporting on the commencement of, “Formal hearings for the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday 7 September 2020,” they say, “Over three days, the defence fielded witnesses and presented legal arguments that cumulatively reveal some of the real reasons why Assange is being prosecuted.”
The Canary report that on, “Day one of the hearings saw the defence argue that “conduct from a fresh extradition request” [superseding indictment] recently submitted by the US should not be allowed to stand. The judge, however, disagreed. Former vice chairman of the New York Times James C Goodale and lawyer Timothy Cuffman referred to the possible reason why this indictment was presented: US prosecutors packed the newest indictment with paragraph after paragraph of allegedly conspiratorial activities of Assange and his Wikileaks associates that happened as recently as 2015 and are therefore timely. However, they added: But the supposedly conspiratorial “recruitment” activities on which the indictment depends are indistinguishable from standard journalistic practices and political expression, and they are thus not criminal at all.”
The Canary then report that, “On day two Professor Mark Feldstein told the court that soliciting information is the “lifeblood” of journalistic practice: Feldstein provided details of over 20 examples of published leaks from 1844 to 2018: here the Canary included excerpts from Feldman’s written testimony. Also on day two Reprieve human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith provided details of war crimes committed by the US that WikiLeaks helped expose. His testimony was accompanied by a written statement. In the statement he referred to how a court in Pakistan ruled that US drone strikes were a ‘blatant violation of basic human rights’.” He added that “evidence provided by WikiLeaks was key in the submission to that court. Moreover, he quoted US cables, published by WikiLeaks, regarding extraordinary renditions. Smith also mentioned how Trump announced an Executive Order that threatens sanctions against anyone who helps the I.C.C. [International Criminal Court] investigate American crimes”.
Continuing on day three the Canary say, “On the matter of whistleblowers and soliciting leaks, Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) executive director Trevor Timm explained that SecureDrop, a ‘secure submission system’ developed by FPF, is used by 70 media outlets globally. These include: ‘the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, USA Today, Bloomberg News, CBC, and the Toronto Globe and Mail’. In other words, each of these media outlets encourage and facilitate leaks. Again from Goodale and Cuffman: In order to perform their core function, journalists of all sorts must have the latitude and flexibility to undertake the types of actions that the government now alleges amount to criminal conspiracy, at least in combination.”
Elaborating on what is being falsely portrayed as conspiratorial they say that, “These actions include associating with sources, communicating with sources, issuing broad invitations for sources to provide newsworthy information (including and especially classified information), telling potential sources what types of information would likely be newsworthy, promising to publish newsworthy content, receiving newsworthy information from sources, and publishing such information.” The Canary then report on testimony from, “Paul Rogers, emeritus professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, testified about the Iraq war and the conflict in Afghanistan. He pointed out the importance of the Iraq War Logs (aka War Diaries), published by WikiLeaks and the additional civilian deaths found.” Here the Canary include references to the organization known as “Iraq Body Count” who did a phenomenal job of bringing the brutal reality of the carnage callously dismissed as ‘collateral damage’ to public attention.
The Canary article includes a troubling film from Juan Passarelli which the say, “provides an overview of Assange’s prosecution. First, there is an ominous comment by journalist John Pilger on Assange: ‘what happens to him can happen to any journalist who does his or her job’.” The film highlights other quotes, “with regard to the soliciting of information, investigative journalist Barton Gellman comments: I solicit and I receive information. I ask questions and I hope to obtain answers.” They say that, “The video also provides examples of top officials in US, including Trump, who want to see Assange dead. Assange himself comments on the flawed charge of conspiracy he is facing: If I am a conspirator to commit espionage, then all these other media organisations, and the principled journalists in them, are also conspirators to commit espionage.”
Also included in this video presentation, “Journalist Matt Kennard provides an example as to why the prosecution case should be thrown out citing a historical precedent. When Daniel Ellsberg was on trial for the Pentagon Papers [leak] during the Vietnam War, his case was thrown out because it come up that Nixon had ordered a raid on his psychologist’s office to try and get information which was embarrassing to Ellsberg… Assange has been surveilled by the CIA. That by itself should mean the case is thrown out. Journalist and former intelligence officer John Kiriakou further explains how if the extradition of Assange proceeds, his trial will take place in the eastern district of Virginia, where the jury would consist of people: from the CIA, FBI, the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and intelligence community contractors or their family members.” The Canary also highlight other reasons the case appears to have been corrupted by bias to the point where the legitimacy of the Judge’s verdict is in question.
The Canary say that, “As well as claims of US political interference in the case, there’s also the claim of bias by judge Emma Arbuthnot, who has overseen the hearings and sealed Assange’s fate in her 2018 ruling: On 6 February 2018, Lady Arbuthnot dismissed the request by Assange’s lawyers to have his arrest warrant for skipping bail withdrawn, after the Swedish investigation into sexual assault allegations was dropped. If this request had been granted, Assange may have been able to negotiate safe passage to Ecuador to prevent his persecution by the US government. A week later, in a second ruling, Lady Arbuthnot said: “I accept that Mr Assange had expressed fears of being returned to the United States from a very early stage in the Swedish extradition proceedings but… I do not find that Mr Assange’s fears were reasonable’.” Another irregularity is that “Arbuthnot’s husband has close connections with the Henry Jackson Society (HSJ), which was the subject of exposes by WikiLeaks.”
The Canary warn, “there’s the matter of extraterritorial overreach. Assange is an Australian who is currently in the UK. Yet if the US extradition goes ahead, this will have two major consequences. One: the US will find it a lot easier to seek the extradition of other journalists who publish information it considers secret. Two: other countries will also regard journalists, whether domestic or foreign based, as fair game. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet believes if the extradition goes ahead it means journalists and publishers will be at greater risk: If this extradition is allowed, it will send a clear signal that journalists and publishers are at risk whenever their work discomforts the United States government. Media freedom the world over will take a significant backward step if Assange is forced to face these charges at the behest of a US president. In short, the wider reason for the prosecution of Assange is about making it easier for governments to conceal their criminal behaviour, including war crimes such as massacres, outright murder, and torture.”
The Canary article expresses concerns over “concealing government crimes;” they note that, “Home Secretary Priti Patel, who signs off on extradition cases, was a member of the Henry Jackson Society Council. But there are major flaws in the prosecution case that could form the basis for legal challenge.” However, Assange could remain incarcerated at Belmarsh for more than a year awaiting an appeal hearing which is further punishment for his ‘crime’ of exposing the truth. Meanwhile the Tor-Ment are trying to regularize their own lawlessness at the same time they bear down their heavy boot of authority on our necks. They used to say that, “An Englishman’s word is his bond,” but Boris’s word is Bogus and Cumming’s word is catastrophic; Tories dictate to the masses and break the law with impunity! We must demand proper scrutiny and a full Investigation into the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, because the only way to derail the deadly Tory Government agenda is to force them out of office.” DO NOT MOVE ON!