Joyous News From Palestine

Please do read the full text of Security Council Resolution 2334, passed yesterday:

The Security Council,
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008),

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice,

Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,

Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines,

Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,

Recalling also the obligation under the Quartet roadmap for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,

Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

Stressing that the status quo is not sustainable and that significant steps, consistent with the transition contemplated by prior agreements, are urgently needed in order to (i) stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality, and (ii) to create the conditions for successful final status negotiations and for advancing the two-State solution through those negotiations and on the ground,

1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;

3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution;

5. Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;

6. Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and calls for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;

7. Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;

8. Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interest of the promotion of peace and security, to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process and within the time frame specified by the Quartet in its statement of 21 September 2010;

9. Urges in this regard the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;

10. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;

11. Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions;

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution;

13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Given the difficulties of negotiating such resolutions between 15 states, the language is remarkably forthright. The relief of the UN Secretariat itself at the UN acting after eight years of US veto impasse, shines through the accurate but stark headline of the official UN press release on the resolution:

Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law, Security Council Reaffirms

In one sense the Resolution is a statement of the blindingly obvious. But it has had such a political impact because Israel, with its politics switched radically to the right by Eastern European immigration, had really come under Netanyahu to believe it could simply strangle the Palestinians acre by acre, and the neo-con political hegemony in the West was so unshakeable there could never be any comeback.

Trump’s apparent hardline Zionism since his election has been a disappointment and was not really prefigured by the balance of his past pronouncements, although as usual with him they are all over the place. But of course he now has no ability to revoke or undermine this resolution; there is no retrospective veto. I retain a hope that Trump will come to regard the US$34 billion a year the USA gives in military assistance to Israel a very strange way to spend the taxpayers’ money.

It might be argued that Obama’s decision not to veto the Resolution shows his true decent instincts once political machination is no longer a factor. I have been undecided whether he is a decent but timid man prepared to go along with the machinations of hard power without any fights that would make his own life less comfortable, or a total charlatan who was always just a puppet of the powerful. It took eight years for me to tend towards the slightly less appalling option. Certainly Hillary, an uncompromising Zionist who refused to condemn illegal settlements when Bernie Sanders did so, would have vetoed the resolution. In a strange way, Trump’s victory allowed it to pass; if Clinton had won, Obama would have very probably felt bound to defer to her wish to veto it.

My own view is that it is too late for a two state solution. I wrote recently of my work on apartheid South Africa, and I find the two state model proposed for Israel/Palestine irresistibly reminiscent of the Bantustan proposals of the apartheid South African government. There is no economically and politically viable state to be constructed out of the overcrowded and cut off territories of the West Bank and Palestine, even without the massive seizures of land and water resources that have occurred within them. To reverse enough of 1967 settlements for a viable Palestinian state in a two state solution wpuld involve an unacceptable further uprooting of people.

This next bit of my opinion angers some – but only some – of my Palestinian friends. I see a single, secular state as the only viable long term solution, but to negotiate this would entail accepting that a large number of post 1967 settlers should stay where they are. Not all, but it is very difficult to see how any agreement could ever be negotiated that does not accept most of the facts on the ground. I see a read across here from the Cyprus negotiations, where Greek Cypriots have a great difficulty in accepting that Turkish settlers must remain. And I believe that like Cyprus, a federal political solution which does not attempt to move populations around further, seems to me the best basis to move forward.

For me, the Security Council’s observation that Israeli settlements “are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality” and the “cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution”, are accurate descriptions of a process which in fact has already gone beyond the point of no return. The irony is, of course, that it is the Israeli government who are horrified by the idea of a single state solution; yet they have made a two state solution impossible. That leaves them the choice of sharing the land with the Palestinians, and a settlement involving massive financial compensation, or continuing complicity in the slow genocide of the Palestinians herded into their ever shrinking territories.

The Security Council has shown Israel that the whole world is horrified by what they are doing to the Palestinians. It will take further time for the Security Council to acknowledge that their own proposed solution really is no longer viable.

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The blog is now essentially closing down for the festive period. I am travelling off to where I shall lie shipwrecked and comatose, drinking fresh mango juice. Barring imminent nuclear war, I am unlikely to post again before the New Year. On the grounds that I am already entirely unfashionable, let me say I saw Status Quo live at the Glasgow Apollo in about 1983, and in Katowice about 1996, and I loved every moment. RIP Rick Parfitt. Merry Christmas everyone!

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High Time for Scottish Independence!

There appears no avoiding a second Scottish Independence Referendum, unless either Nicola Sturgeon or Theresa May backs down to a humiliating degree. I have been studying in detail the Scottish government’s proposals for Scotland’s future relationship with the EU within the UK after Brexit. Their aim is for Scotland to remain in the European Economic Area as the rest of the UK leaves it (a key marker of hard Brexit). It is worth noting that if the UK went for continued single market membership (soft Brexit) almost all the Scottish government paper would fall.

Theresa May has now rejected these proposals out of hand. This is scarcely surprising, as the Scottish government’s proposals would have involved giving Scotland new powers which are normal attributes of a nation state. In particular, treaty making is a sovereign power – even in proper Federal systems, California or Ontario do not make trade agreements with foreign states as the Scottish government proposal specifically states that Scotland must be able to do (para 187). The paper lists powers currently held in Brussels which fall within devolved competence and should come back to Holyrood, and then others in the category of “citizens rights” which are currently reserved but the Scottish government wish to have devolved to Holyrood. Then there is a third list of powers which would be required by the Scottish parliament to enable Scotland to meet the obligations of remaining within the European Economic Area if the rest of the UK is not in it.

These new powers are, in addition to trade treaty making:

a) import and export control
b) immigration
c) competition, product standards and international property
d) company law and insolvency
e) social security, including to enable reciprocal arrangements with other states
f) professional regulation
g) energy regulation
h) financial services, communications, postal services and currently reserved areas of transport

Simply put, Scotland would need to be able to function as though it were a full sovereign state in every area covered by the European Economic Area agreements, so that there would be no difference to the other members than if they were dealing with another fully sovereign state.

Personally I do not believe the Sturgeon proposals are diplomatically achievable. The argument is made at para 136 that the pending Faroe Islands discussions with the EU on joining EFTA are a precedent for the EU reaching agreement with an entity which is not a sovereign state, with a state as its sponsor. But the difference is of course that the Faroes is an autonomous dependency of an EU member state – Denmark – not of a non EU member state. As in the “Greenland option”, there is no precedent for a territory being in either the EU, EEA or EFTA while the metropolitan is out. Treaties are between states, and while there are plenty of examples of treaties which exclude dependencies of varying status, I cannot think of a single one in the economic sphere which includes the minor and excludes the metropolitan. I do not think it could be done.

At para 123 the Scottish Government acknowledges that its proposals will require other EU states to be “flexible and innovative”. That is an understatement. What the Scottish government seeks to achieve is incredibly difficult, I would say impossible.

To give just one example of the difficulties that would arise, look at the practical shipment of goods, from the Scottish government proposal:

Imports from the European Single Market
153. Goods entering the UK from the European Single Market would be subject to the import regulations appropriate to either jurisdiction (Scotland or the remainder of the UK). The appropriate regulations would be determined by the point at which the goods are to be sold.
154. If the point of sale is Scotland, then there will be no tariff payable due to our EEA membership. If the goods are to be sold in the remainder of the UK they will be subject to whatever regulations apply and tariff is payable under the remainder of the UK’s arrangements with the single market and/or EFTA states. To the extent that any import from the single market is not covered by Scotland’s EEA membership then the relevant regulations and tariff under Scottish and/or rUK law (depending on the devolution settlement in place) will apply.
155. When a consignment contains goods bound for sale in both Scotland and the remainder of the UK, if there is no difference in the treatment of that good (for example, if it is tariff-free) between Scotland and the remainder of the UK, then no additional process is required. Where there is a difference, on entering the UK the point of sale for the relevant proportion of the goods will need to be declared and the relevant tariff paid and regulations followed. If the point of sale is in the remainder of the UK, then the UK-wide regulations and any UK tariff would apply.
Exports to the European Single Market
156. Goods and services could also continue to be exported from Scotland and the UK under different conditions when accessing the European Single Market. Goods and services produced in Scotland, and complying with all relevant EU regulations, would be exported freely to the European Single Market, whilst those from elsewhere in the UK would be required to comply with the terms of the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU.

Agreeing this with the UK government is going to be difficult enough, when it gives firms an obvious incentive to relocate to Scotland. There are all sorts of workarounds which companies will try, such as partial assembling or packaging in Scotland. We might find those Nissans have their wheels and wing mirrors put on here. But then not only have the arrangements to be agreed with the UK, all the other EEA members have to agree to set up and run a system to differentiate between Scottish (still overwhelmingly through English ports) and English exports, and ensure themselves no corporate cheating is involved.

CONCLUSION

I warned from the start that this exercise was not in the realms of practical possibility. If Nicola’s aim was to prove that Scotland is viewed with contempt by Westminster, and has no choice except hard Brexit or Independence, then that has now been resoundingly achieved and we can move quickly on to another referendum in 2017.

But I do not like this approach. Rather than a joyous uphill march to the fantastic possibilities of unlocking the potential to construct a new state for this wonderful nation, it paints Independence as a dire necessity because nothing else works and everything is going to pieces. Independence as a little lifeboat in freezing mountainous seas as the UK Titanic plummets beneath the waves.

My criticism of the last official referendum campaign was that it was exceptionally cautious. The motto seemed to be “Vote for Independence and Nothing will Change!”. You will keep the Queen, keep the Pound, keep NATO, nothing will be any different. That is hardly a rallying cry. This time the motto seems to be “Vote for Independence and We May Be Slightly Less Doomed”.

Frankly I have had enough of this havering. Impossible proposals for Scotland to remain first in the EU, and then a fallback to the EEA, as the UK exits. A “national conversation” as a blatant ploy to keep the SNP troops quiet and believing they are doing something. It is time to re-invoke the energy that burst through from the people in the last referendum campaign and moved us up from 32% to 46% support. The demand for a more egalitarian society that rejects neo-liberalism at home and neo-conservatism abroad. For an open, outward looking country, harnessing its extraordinary resources of renewable energy and an amazingly talented and educated population. A chance to ditch the baggage of the UK’s past and build on our dreams.

Let’s get back to that. Some of us never stopped campaigning for Independence. It is time for the SNP to make the leap of faith and come back into the fray of a full on Independence campaign. Enough of the EU related sophistry. Let’s free this country.

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Signed First Editions of Sikunder Burnes are now available direct from this blog! You can leave a message naming the dedication you want. Sold at cover price of £25 including p&p for UK delivery or £29 for overseas delivery. Ideal Christmas presents!!

sikunder-burnes-3245635-1-2


Delivery
Signing Instructions




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2016: The Year the Media Broke

Rupert Murdoch’s bid for a full takeover of Sky TV demonstrates graphically that the extreme concentration of media ownership has not yet run its course. It also yet again underlines the extent to which the Leveson Inquiry was barking entirely up the wrong tree. There is no question to which the correct answer is increased government control over free speech. Any inquiry into the media should look first and foremost at its highly concentrated ownership and how to instil more pluralism. It is probably now too late to expect that a vibrant, diverse traditional media is achievable. We can however be cheered by the continuing decline of the political influence of the mainstream media, as illustrated by its “Fake News” panic.

Even five years ago, if the mainstream media carried a meme that was fundamentally untrue, the chances of persuading public opinion of its untruth were almost minimal. Similarly if they wished to ignore an inconvenient truth, it would be very hard indeed to get it out to a significant number.

Four years ago, when the official version of the Adam Werritty affair was front page news for days, causing the resignation of the Defence Secretary, I discovered that in fact the real scandal ran much deeper. Werritty – who had an official pass but no official position – had held at least eight meetings with Matthew Gould, now Cabinet Office anti-WikiLeaks supremo. Gould had at the time of some of the meetings been ambassador to Israel, at the time of others Private Secretary to two different Foreign Secretaries, David Miliband and William Hague. On at least one occasion it was acknowledged by the FCO that Mossad were also present. For the three meetings which occurred while Gould was Private Secretary, I requested the diary entries under the Freedom of Information Act. The meetings were held on 8 Sept 2009, 27 Sept 2010 and 6 Feb 2011. The FCO sent me, in reply to my Freedom of Information request, the diary entries for those three days with only the dates – the rest was 100% redacted, in the interests of national security.

The Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, in presenting his report to parliament into Werritty’s activities, blatantly lied and listed only three of Werritty’s eight meetings with Gould. Yet, even though the Werritty scandal was a front page story, I could not interest the mainstream media in publishing the truth. I believe that was because it touched on security links with Israel. To be plain, I was offering officially verified information at no charge to all the mainstream newspapers and broadcasters, and the only outlet which would touch it was the Independent. Tellingly, this paper, not controlled by the big news corporations, has since gone bust.

The reason I revisit this all now is to point out that when I published the true facts about Werritty on this blog, it was read here by tens of thousands. But four years later, when similarly I wrote about the story behind the mainstream media version of the Panama Papers, it was read by hundreds of thousands on this site alone. I had simply pointed out that the leaker had erred in giving the Panama Papers to the mainstream media and not to WikiLeaks, and therefore we were not getting the full picture. Media attention was focused on extremely tenuous links to Russia (ring any bells lately?), and remarkably no major British or American corporations or prominent individuals were named. In the event the full papers never were published by their mainstream media guardians, only a redacted “database”. No major British or US corporations ever were named. Unlike on Fox/Werritty, I was able to reach many millions of people with my writings on the Panama papers through the increasing power of social media.

These are homely examples from my own blog. But the real effect was seen in the WikiLeaks releases of the Podesta and DNC emails. The mainstream media contrived to ignore the damning content of those emails almost completely, but they were shared by many, many millions through social media. We now have the hilarious situation where the mainstream media is still hiding the content and denying the influence, while at the same time promoting a meme that the leaks were crucial and all the fault of Putin. What the mainstream media cannot squarely face is that 2016 became the tipping point, the year when they no longer control the narrative, the year the traditional means of population control by the 1% stopped working properly.

2017 will see the Establishment reaction to this. Control of “Fake” news by social media, and “ghost banning” are two of the weapons which will be used. The obvious weakness of the people’s social media revolution is its heavy reliance on the corporations Twitter and Facebook. There is every evidence that their fellow billionaires are working hard and with success to ensure that the new billionaire controllers of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Wikipedia become properly committed to the corporate news management agenda. We have already seen governments move across the Western world to increase powers of internet censorship “to counter radicalisation”, and expect these to be both strengthened and deployed against non-official news.

The 1% have all the money and we don’t because they are powerful, unscrupulous, sociopathic and very resilient. 2017 I suspect will be the year it becomes plain that new social networking media beyond corporate control are required, but I am confident the internet will work that one out by its collective genius. 2016 will be seen as a turning point. But there are still a great many hard battles ahead.

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Keeping Cheerful in a Difficult World

It has been a difficult couple of days at the end of a difficult year. Individual lone wolf terrorism is impossible to stop completely. Fortunately, although it commands the headlines when it occurs, it is quite incredibly rare. Terrorism remains almost the least likely of freak deaths you could suffer, and everywhere in Europe is thousands of times less likely than the comparatively mundane event of dying in an ordinary traffic accident. Yet the perception of the terrorism risk is entirely wrong – for precisely the same reason that recent surveys show that people massively overestimate the number of Muslims in the population. Relentless media propaganda takes its toll.

Just as in the case of Anders Breivik, the media have jumped to the conclusion that the Berlin Christmas market terror was an act of Islamic terrorism, with no evidence whatsoever at this point. It is indeed very likely, probably most likely. But it could also have been a right wing group seeking to exacerbate anti-immigrant feeling. The disappearance of the killer makes this more likely. Perhaps people weren’t looking for a Breivik type slinking away because they were too busy in a racially motivated vigilante chase after a perfectly innocent Baloch muslim? I do not say it was not a Muslim – I don’t know – but the arrest of that young Baloch shows the problem of false assumptions. Amidst the terrible sorrow and anguish in Berlin – and let us not forget in Poland – I hope Germans find the grace to apologise properly and humbly to that racially stigmatised young man.

Even if the attacker was motivated by Islamic terrorism, the ISIS claim of control and organisation is very probably false. Let us await real progress in identifying what kind of attack this was before we start to address conclusions.

The murder of Ambassador Andrey Karlov was awful. Again, it is very hard to understand the precise situation. I remain sceptical that the Gulenists were really behind the coup attempt in Turkey. I am therefore reluctant to address theories about the policeman murderer’s links to the coup or Gulen, both of which seem improbable.

The Turkish/Russian relationship is extremely complex. There is no doubt that Erdogan remains strongly sympathetic to elements of the Sunni insurgency in Syria, and the profit-making of his family members from relationships with the jihadists was very real. So there is real conflict beneath the attempts at détente. But I cannot conceive Erdogan sanctioning the murder of an Ambassador, nor see how it benefits him. Russian bombing has hit ethnic Turkish communities on Syria’s northern border, and this seems the assassin’s most probable motivation, perhaps from family loss. I do not have high expectations we will get the truth, particularly from the official Russo/Turkish investigation.

Finally. the government has now at last admitted that British cluster bombs have been raining down on civilians in Yemen, a full two years after evidence should have made it undeniable. But there is still no chance that the hobbling of British foreign policy by its strange thraldom to Saudi Arabia is going to change. So long as the arms manufacturers, security industry and owners of high end London property control the British establishment, unquestioning support for Saudi Arabia remains the fulcrum around which the FCO revolves.

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Right and Wrong in the South China Sea

The Chinese are in the wrong in seizing an American hydrographic survey drone. It is worth noting that whether it was genuinely engaged in scientific research or whether it was engaged in some sort of defence surveillance activity is irrelevant. It was operating entirely lawfully on the high seas and the Chinese had no right to seize it.

John Pilger’s tremendous new documentary The Coming War With China explains Chinese motivations. China is ringed by 200 US military bases and installations, far from any State of the USA, in an unabashed display of American Imperial power. China by contrast has very few military outposts outside China at all and shows remarkably little interest in territorial ambition, given China’s current economic power. The stories of US exploitation and duplicity recounted in the Pilger documentary are overwhelming, and of course the entire venture is a massive transfer of money from struggling US taxpayers to the arms industry. One is left with a feeling of surprise that the Chinese reaction to naked US threat is so calm and not paranoid.

But while this may make Chinese behaviour understandable, it is none the less wrong in law. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea makes absolutely clear that artificial islands cannot make a maritime claim – articles 60 and 80 refer. This law is both right and necessary. If we accept that artificial islands can generate a maritime claim, then the great powers will be racing all over the globe to build them and claim the oceans, to the detriment of the rest of the world, and especially developing countries.

US behaviour is aggressive on a global scale. The Chinese reaction represents blowback. But that does not make it either right or legal.

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Opposing Apartheid, or When I Was Clever

If you live long enough, your past catches up with you and this year for the first time highly classified papers I wrote in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are starting to be released under the 30 year declassification rule.

My first FCO job was in the South Africa Section as the South Africa (political) officer, at a time when Apartheid was in full sway in South Africa. It was the official policy of Her Majesty’s Government to oppose international sanctions efforts, and the Thatcher government’s official line was that Mandela was a terrorist properly in jail after a fair trial. There was a huge tension between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and 10 Downing Street.

The government looks to control the historical narrative as papers are released by official histories. The FCO official historian, Professor Patrick Salmon, has produced a selection in a volume entitled The Challenge of Apartheid.

He frames the political situation in the introduction:

focusing on the period after 1979 and the respective attitudes of Mrs Thatcher and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It then discusses some of the key themes of the 1985-86 period, including the formulation of policy towards South Africa at the FCO, the debate over sanctions and the Commonwealth dimension. Within this framework, there were particular difficulties for relations between the FCO and No. 10, including the establishment of formal contacts between the British Government and the ANC, and the merits of quiet personal diplomacy (through Mrs Thatcher‘s confidential correspondence with President P.W. Botha) versus the managing and gradual stepping up of international pressure favoured by the FCO.

Salmon acquits Thatcher of actually supporting apartheid. I would dispute this. I was only a Second Secretary but the South Africa (Political) desk was just me, and I knew exactly what was happening. My own view was that Thatcher was a strong believer in apartheid, but reluctantly accepted that in the face of international opposition, especially from the United States, it would have to be dismantled. Her hatred of Mandela and of the ANC was absolute. It is an undeniable statement that Thatcher hated the ANC and was highly sympathetic towards the apartheid regime.

By contrast the Tory FCO junior ministers at the time, including Malcolm Rifkind and Lynda Chalker, shared the absolute disgust at apartheid that is felt by any decent human being. The Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe was somewhere between these two positions, but very anxious indeed not to anger Thatcher. South Africa was an issue in which Thatcher took an extreme interest and was very, very committed. Not in a good way.

British diplomats were almost banned from speaking to any black people at all. Thatcher favoured the Bantustan or Homelands policy, so an exception was made for Gatsha Buthelezi, the Zulu chief who was regarded as anti-ANC and prepared to oppose sanctions and be satisfied with a separate Zulu “homeland” for his Inkatha movement and essentially accept apartheid exclusions. That may be unfair on him, but it was the policy of the UK government to steer in that direction. Our Consulate General in Johannesburg was permitted to talk to black trades unionists, and that was our main angle in to the black resistance movement. These contacts were made by the excellent Tony Gooch and Stuart Gregson, and before them the equally excellent Terry Curran, then my immediate boss in London. Neither Terry nor Tony were “fast-track” public school diplomats. None of them talked to black South Africans at all.

I flew off the handle when I discovered, when dealing with the accounts of the Embassy in Pretoria/Capetown (a migrator capital), that the British Ambassador, Patrick Moberly, had entertained very few black people indeed in the Residence and the vast majority of Embassy social functions were whites only. In 1985 most of the black people who got in to the British Ambassador’s residence in South Africa were the servants. I recall distinctly the astonishment in the FCO that the quiet and mild-mannered young man at the side desk had suddenly lost his rag and got excited about something that seemed to them axiomatic. Black people as guests in the Residence in Pretoria? No, Craig, I was told, we speak with black people in Johannesburg. Different culture there.

It was my fury at this that led me to write a policy submission advocating a fundamental change in our approach. And this is where we can see that I was much cleverer at age 26 than I am now.

There was no point in advocating that we make contact with the ANC. The entire submission would have been instantly binned and I would have been transferred to the paperclips department. But in South Africa there was a group which, though massively persecuted and its leaders frequently jailed, was not actually illegal. The United Democratic Front was a coalition of community groups and trades unions which opposed apartheid but was not officially connected to the ANC. I proposed we open contact with the UDF.

To make this palatable to the Tories, I proposed this argument. It was very possible that in a decade or two black Africans would rule South Africa. Our current policy had demonstrably led to a position where we were in danger of being hated by black South Africans because of the mistaken perception (God help me, I knowingly wrote mistaken without believing it) that the British government supported the apartheid regime. Therefore in the future interest of the British investments and British business, we should aim for a closer relationship with the black opposition for the sake of our corporate interests.

That may sound obvious to you, but it was an argument in 1985 that had not been previously heard in the FCO, and which it turned out many colleagues were itching to pitch in and support once I had stuck my neck out. And it emboldened the anti-apartheid element of the Conservative Party to stand up to Thatcher on the issue. But it did not make any change in one particular policy that infuriated me – the Tory insistence that anti-apartheid activists who were sentenced had received a fair trial in a legitimate justice system and were rightly criminals.

This policy minute of mine faced Professor Patrick Salmon with a dilemma in writing his official history. As a whistleblower, I am persona non grata in the Foreign and Office, a non-person who has been airbrushed from history as comprehensively as an executed Central Committee member. But at the same time I played a pivotal role at a key moment in the precise subject of the book. Salmon gets round this by the really weird device of publishing extracts of minutes from various people commenting on my minute, without giving the minute on which they were commenting.

Minute from Mr Curran to Mr Humfrey, 22 August 1985

Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Contacts with South African Blacks
1. Mr Murray has lucidly argued the case for tackling a perennial problem, one that was debated at length throughout my time in South Africa. The Embassy must deal with two increasingly divided societies. But the shifting balance of power if nothing else requires us to pay more attention to explaining our case and improving our image with Blacks. Our brief for the Inspectors, to which they paid scant attention, emphasised the importance of this work.
2. Contact with radical, influential Blacks is not easy. In my experience they are highly critical of our policies, suspicious of our motives and too often see us as the willing partners of the US in ‘constructive engagement‘. The depth of our trade and investment interest is known to Blacks. An apparently unsympathetic British Government attitude will, as Mr Murray suggests, serve to strengthen the perception that the private enterprise system supports the apartheid system.
3. Reporting from the Embassy confirms how radical Black opinions are becoming. Recent developments and our perceived reluctance to do anything to bring such pressure to bear on the South African Government make it essential that we make a greater effort to cultivate Black contacts. Our continuing opposition to any sanctions, in defiance of world opinion will make this task increasingly difficult.
4. I agree with Mr Murray that we need to examine ways of improving our credibility with Blacks. We should, for instance, take every opportunity to give tangible evidence in South Africa of our rejection of apartheid. We could have made much of our intervention on the Moloise case and the Embassy should have authority to react quickly and critically to any publicised case involving an abuse of human rights. We cannot afford to be over-sensitive to the attitudes of the South African Government.
5. A co-ordinated attempt should be made to develop contacts with a wider range of urban Blacks. The UDF has 600 affiliates: it might be worth looking at the organisations as well as the few high-profile leaders. We could consider expanding our contact with the trade unions; the community committees such as the Soweto Civic Association and the committees at Winterveldt, Cradock, etc. which will become the only credible local organisations; various Church groups particularly in Cape Town and around Johannesburg, and white action groups such as Black Sash and the Legal Resource Centres which enjoy high credibility with Blacks.
6. We have little to offer in material terms for these contacts. The Heads of Mission Gift Scheme and British Council scholarships do not give us much scope for largesse. But what is really required by South African Blacks is evidence that Britain is genuinely concerned about their future. We must take every opportunity to show that we are genuinely committed to peaceful but early and fundamental change. We need to discuss this matter with Mr Moberly and obtain the Embassy‘s views as soon as possible.
T. D. CURRAN

From Prof Salmon’s footnotes

Mr Craig Murray, a desk officer in SAfD, had argued in a submission of 6 August, ‘Anti-British
Feeling among Blacks‘, that it was ‘essential that to protect British interests in South Africa in the
medium to long-term we should cultivate better relations with the black opposition groupings, other
than the ANC/PAC whom I believe have been ruled out of bounds‘. Mr Murray was concerned in
particular ‘at evidence of genuine and growing anti-British hostility in the Black Community and
particularly from the UDF, a body which can, with some justice, claim to represent the majority in
South Africa‘. This, he felt, represented a long-term danger since there was ‘a real possibility that
the leadership of South Africa in fifteen years’ time will include many present UDF activists‘. He
urged that the presentation of British policy should be slanted to appeal to blacks by focusing less
on opposition to sanctions and more on condemning apartheid and human rights, and that there
should be ‘more regular formal and informal contact with the UDF‘ (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16).
See also No. 110.

Benjamin Moloise, a poet and ANC activist, was condemned to death in 1982 for the alleged
murder of a policeman. He was executed on 18 October 1985.

Mr Humfrey minuted on 22 August: ‘We mentioned this to Mr Moberly who has copies of this
minute and the submission from Mr Murray which he intends to reflect on.‘

Letter from Mr Moberly (Pretoria) to Mr Reeve, 11 November 1985
Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Dear Tony,
Contacts with South African Blacks
1. When I was in London in August I undertook to let you have my comments on various papers prepared in the Department on the subject of contacts with South African blacks. We have subsequently considered the minuting forwarded to me with Terry Curran‘s letter of 6 September. We asked Richard Thomas to let us have his views before he left Johannesburg at the end of his tour in view of his own special responsibilities in this area, and he agreed generally with the remarks which follow.
2. Let me say straightaway that this whole subject is one of our constant pre-occupations here. We put a lot of time and effort into maintaining contacts with blacks. As you will realise, however, it is far easier said than done. I will say more of this in a moment; but the point to establish at the outset is that we cannot take it for granted that leading blacks want to see much of us, let alone that they will pay attention to the message we bring. I am certainly not suggesting that British policy should be changed. Yet so long as we are seen as less willing than others to put pressure on the South African Government our standing with blacks is bound to be diminished. We have to live with that fact.
3. As I say, contact with blacks is already a high priority for posts in South Africa and we have regular contact with a wide spectrum of black political personalities more or less continuously. Particularly on a personal level individual members of the staff of the Embassy and consular posts are on good and easy terms with many leading blacks. I myself make a point of seeing people such as Buthelezi, Motlana, Tutu and others. Our staff in Johannesburg have wide ranging contacts with blacks in their consular area, Tony Gooch has useful contacts among black trade unionists, Simon Davey in Durban sees blacks in the UDF as well as the leaders of Inkatha on a day to day basis. Our staff in Cape Town and particularly Ian Marsh have developed useful contacts particularly among the Cape coloured community. This pattern of contacts is supplemented by relationships built-up by other members of the Embassy including Derek Tonkin, Graham
Archer and David White. Tony Gooch is well placed to get an insight into the attitude of black trade unionists and others, and I am proposing that he should try to make maximum use of this as a contribution to our political reporting. During the last twelve months members of the Embassy have also visited various regions, and reports have been sent to the department of the useful black contacts made in the Eastern Cape, Northern Transvaal etc. Nor should we overlook the continuing and important work carried out by the British Council here. The staff of the Council collectively certainly see as many blacks in the professional field as the Embassy and I know that their work is held in high esteem in the black community. I do not think, therefore, that there is any question of our not having the need to keep in touch with the black community constantly before us and I believe that our performance in meeting this objective is reasonable.
4. At the best of times it has not always been easy to establish close contact. Practical difficulties are considerably greater in present circumstances. Unrest in the townships has tended to make them no-go areas at least for regular visits. Our staff in Johannesburg have been strongly advised by their black contacts not to try to continue with the regular visits to Soweto that they had conducted until earlier this year. Similarly we have been cautioned by blacks in the Pretoria area to be careful before visiting the local townships, and violence in the Cape Town area in recent weeks has also somewhat curtailed Ian Marsh‘s programme of visits. Fortunately many of our contacts work in central business areas and are still prepared to spare time during the day to meet us. Evening functions are more difficult though not wholly out of the question (half the blacks whom we invited to the Residence for a farewell dinner party for the Thomas‘s cried off at the last minute) and the Soweto curfew does not help. Tony Gooch was unable to see members of the FOSATU group of unions in Durban recently because of a decision that they would boycott contact with representatives of the British Government following what they consider to be insufficient support in a FOSATU union dispute with the British-owned company in Howick. There is a strong possibility that this decision to end contact will spread and may hamper official contact with the largest group of black trade unions. Although we are still seeing members of the UDF our contacts with them have been curtailed by the detention of many UDF leaders. For instance Graham Archer was unable to see contacts in the UDF whom he knows personally and who have always been ready to talk to him during his recent visit to Cape Town because those in question had either been detained or had temporarily gone underground. The practical difficulties are of course compounded by a widely-held feeling among township blacks, and especially among the more radical of them, that HMG are not doing all they might to support the black cause at the minute. So why should blacks go out of their way to be in touch with the Embassy? Not a boycott, more an impediment to our doing as much as we would like with contacts.
5. Individual attitudes however are sometimes misrepresented to us. An example was a recent claim by the Mandela family lawyer, Ismail Ayob, who is a difficult and sometimes misleading individual, that Winnie Mandela had decided to have nothing to do with the British. It was gratifying that she subsequently saw Richard Thomas before he left the country, greeted him warmly, listened
attentively to Richard‘s defence of our sanctions policy and was by no means critical of all the reasons behind our policy. Significantly she also spoke very favourably of our scholarship scheme, seemed to have a much higher regard for HMG‘s policies than those of the United States and said that Britain had always had a better understanding of the struggle of blacks in South Africa against apartheid than the United States. She spoke warmly of the British Government‘s policy in allowing the ANC to have an office in London and in allowing anti-apartheid exiles to remain in the United Kingdom.
6. In short, although we see blacks and can continue to have discussions with them, the fact of contact will yield little unless there is a feeling on their part that our policies are designed to help them. In this respect our efforts will be largely in vain if the general attitude is that the British Government are unsympathetic to black demands and we are unable to quote chapter and verse when this is not the case. Our individual contacts are certainly useful and enable us to assess black attitudes. But they cannot be a substitute for public statements and in this respect I think we need to keep two questions regularly in front of us:
(a) what more can we say that will be reassuring to blacks about our real concern to provide effective support for their demands?
(b) how should we be seeking to get our views across to blacks in a way which will have some impact?
7. There are a number of practical suggestions that I would wish to make in response to these two questions. The point was made in the minuting in London that our public utterances and statements in South Africa appear to be largely confined to explanations of our appreciation of our relationship with South Africa and of the importance we attach to trade. Of course this comes into it, but it is not the whole picture. For the record I attach a copy of the speech which I gave to SABRITA in September which was deliberately designed to give a balanced picture of our policies including a strong condemnation of apartheid and the reasons why we want to see it abolished. I have had a number of reactions suggesting that my message was noted. The trouble is that this kind of speech is apt only to reach a restricted audience with little notice being taken by the press. I am at present planning to try to get a similar message more prominently reported in the South African press including papers that will be read by blacks.
8. Much that emerges in the press here on British Government policy is, in fact, in the form of reporting on British Government statements made in London which naturally count for more than anything I may say here. Statements in London which emphasise our sympathy for blacks are therefore helpful. In particular there
may be a case for saying more about our concern for human rights. We are planning to let you have a further report on the current situation on human rights shortly with comments on how we might respond to the present situation.
9. Another area in which we can hope to influence black attitudes is through our programme of sponsored visits to the United Kingdom. We have in recent years been able to get a number of good black visitors to Britain. It has been helpful that the programme this year has included visits by Dr Motlana and Bishop Tutu as well as Chief Buthelezi. We also approached a number of UDF leaders including the secretary in the Western Cape and an Eastern Cape clergyman but for various reasons they were not free to come to the United Kingdom at present. I am sure we should continue our efforts to get the right type of blacks to Britain. We have two further slots available in the visiting programme before next April and we are currently trying to interest two widely respected black clergymen in visits. It may be that any eye-catching joint visit by four or five leading blacks within the next year would be as good a way as any of using the scheme. We shall be giving further thought to this, and may want to ask for extra places on the Category 1 visiting programme.
10. Finally there is the whole question of our aid programme. I think that we have on the whole made good use of the resources allocated for use in South Africa. I believe that we have been right to concentrate on specific areas such as English language teaching and science education and to take the view that we can most usefully assist here by making an input to the improvement of black education standards. The numbers applying for British scholarships and bursaries have been rising year after year and we have ample testimony that study places in Britain are widely regarded and sought after. I shall be discussing the whole question of our future aid programme with the British Council staff later this month and will be reporting to London on our conclusions. At this stage I do not expect that we shall wish to recommend any radical change in present approach, only to keep up the good work.
11. May I suggest that you show this letter to Tessa Solesby? I hope she will be able to take a particular interest in co-ordinating our efforts to keep in touch with the black community as part of her job here.
Yours ever,
PATRICK

PS There is one additional dilemma for us which I should mention: how far to go in cultivating people who are regarded with suspicion or downright hostility by the authorities and in some cases have actually been charged before a court of law (e.g.Boesak). I think we should err on the side of courage rather than caution. But it sometimes calls for quite a tricky judgement on our part.

No. 110

Letter from Mr Gregson (Johannesburg) to Mr Archer (Pretoria),
3 December 1985

Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Dear Graham,
Black Perceptions of United Kingdom Policy towards South Africa
1. I read with interest Tony Gooch‘s minute of 22 November about black opinion on our policy towards South Africa.
2. The views expressed by the trade unionists to whom he has spoken are identical to the views of a wide range of my contacts in the black community. There is no doubt whatsoever that British policy towards South Africa is widely condemned by my contacts, including the more moderate ones. The one single item which is criticised most is our policy on economic sanctions. The majority of my black contacts are for total sanctions against South Africa, with a minority favouring much stronger (but necessarily total) sanctions. Of the lines which we use to defend our policy on actions, the one which comes in for the most criticism is that the black population would be the hardest hit. To many blacks to whom I have spoken this smacks of the Afrikaner attitude towards blacks, that they (Afrikaners) know what is best for them (the blacks). They consider our comments to be similarly paternalistic. The standard line in this regard is that blacks cannot really suffer much more than they are at present, but if sanctions do impose more suffering, they are prepared to accept it, particularly as they believe whites will also suffer greatly from sanctions. In fact, the only argument in support of our sanctions policy which the black community is prepared to accept is the economic damage and the resulting increase in unemployment in the United Kingdom which would result from economic sanctions. In effect, they believe that there is a certain amount of dishonesty in our trying to find other reasons against sanctions than our own self-interest.
3. This message was also brought home fairly strongly to Andy Tucker of the Assessment Staff during his recent visit to South Africa. The best example of this was from a group of three fairly prominent and fairly moderate blacks whom he met over lunch: they were Sam Molebatse (an executive with Barclays National Bank Limited), Harry Mashabela (a journalist with the Financial Mail), and Vusi Khanyile (the Secretary of the Soweto Civic Association, and spokesman for the Soweto Parents‘ Crisis Committee). Their view—and I believe they meant it very sincerely—was that the British Government should be taking a much tougher stance on South Africa. Their principal line of reason was that the more South African blacks and the more the ANC were critical of the policies of Britain and
the United States, the more they would be pushed towards an eventual Marxist state. All three believe in a free-enterprise economy and their comments sounded like a plea that we should be changing our policy in order to prevent a drift further towards the Left. They believe that South African Communist Party (SACP) influence in the ANC would benefit from a weakening of our influence with the black community.
4. At the same time that I received Tony Gooch‘s minute I received two letters from Terry Curran, one dated 18 November to Graham Archer (about the Rev David Nkwe), and the other dated 22 November to Tony Gooch (about Rubin Denge). Paragraph 3 of the letter about Denge is a good example of the views being expressed in London by visiting black South Africans, and is similar to the
comments which I hear from my contacts. Furthermore, David Nkwe, whom I would consider very moderate, made it quite clear to Terry how deeply disappointed blacks were with HMG‘s policy towards South Africa.
5. The Consul-General has also drawn my attention to an article which appeared in Beeld on 28 November (which I have not seen referred to in any of the English-language newspapers) concerning a report by The British Council of Churches (BCC) following a visit to South Africa in September. Their report is highly critical of HMG‘s policy and suggests that HMG is out of touch with black opinion in South Africa. My black contacts frequently express a similar opinion.
6. I would also like to refer to the minute by Craig Murray dated 6 August which was sent to the Ambassador under cover of Terry Curran‘s letter of 6 September about contacts with South African blacks. I completely agree with paragraph 7 of Craig‘s minute, in which he warns of the long-term danger of the trend of anti-HMG feeling within the black community. The parallel with the collapse of the Shah in Iran is also mentioned in Craig‘s minute, and although the circumstances are very different, it is true that we must appreciate and take account of the feeling of the masses at grass-roots level.
7. One further point which has been expressed by several of my black contacts concerns Chief Buthelezi and HMG‘s contacts with him. We all know the dislike and distrust which non-Inkatha-supporting blacks have for Buthelezi, and certainly outside Natal his following is fairly small. Although the recent meeting between the Prime Minister and Bishop Tutu has helped in this regard, they resent the fact that Buthelezi‘s views appear to be given greater weight (particularly on sanctions) than the views held by most blacks in South Africa. Although I agree that Buthelezi is considered by many people outside South Africa to be a moderate and influential leader, I just add these comments as a warning of how some blacks regard our contacts with him.
8. In summing up, I would like to support Richard Thomas‘s comments in his letter of 23 September to you suggesting some solutions towards a better relationship between HMG and the black community. However, I think that unless we are seen to be taking a tougher line against South Africa on economic sanctions, Richard‘s suggestions and the remedial steps suggested in Craig
Murray‘s minute may have little effect on black opinion, and the black community will continue to see HMG as one of the few supporters of the South African Government.
9. As you will see, I have copied this letter to Terry Curran and Ian Marsh. May I suggest that Tony Gooch‘s minute and some of the August minuting enclosed with Terry Curran‘s letter of 6 September also be copied to Ian Marsh in Cape Town?
Yours ever,
STUART

But the most senior Foreign Office official involved, Deputy Under Secretary Euan Fergusson, believed we should continue to shun activists who were the wrong side of the law. As the laws were apartheid laws this was an appalling fault in our policy. He also felt senior officials should have an excellent relationship with the “white” South African government and only junior ones have contact with blacks.

Minute from Mr Fergusson to Mr Cary, 4 December 1985

Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Contacts with South African Blacks
1. No one serving in South Africa at any time in recent decades has been under any illusion about the importance for the Embassy and Consulates of having a wide spread of contact. This applies particularly to Black, Coloured and Indian people but also to the Afrikaners. It is all too easy in a society like South Africa‘s for British officials to slide into the agreeable liberal English-speaking environment.
2. In the last 5 years or so, it has become more not less difficult for British officials to have contact with Black people; that is because South African society has become more polarised and ordinary social contact between Black and White generally more difficult. The English-speaking liberal has become a less effective channel to the educated Black than he was.
3. One must remember the small number of people involved on our side. In the Embassy and Consulates, including the Ambassador, Consul-General and Consuls, perhaps 10 British officials are brought into contact with Black, Coloured and Indian people as part of their work. For the 6 months of the year when Parliament is in session in Cape Town the Ambassador and Embassy staff with him are perforce cut off from more than irregular contact with Black people or even from the opportunity to keep existing contacts warm.
4. On the whole, I should say that British officials have reasonable contact with the top echelons of non-White people, in politics, trades unions, the academic world, business etc. That pool is relatively small and is grossly over-fished by those from inside and outside South Africa wanting to have contact with them. Below that level there is what I can only call a class problem. Most Black, Coloured and Indian people form the mass of the working class of urban and rural South Africa. It is exceptionally difficult, in the conditions of South African society, to discover with whom among them it would be worth having contact. Our work in education, through the British Council/ODA, is a particularly valuable means of making contact. So too is the small Ambassador‘s Fund which is an excuse for forays into the Black community.
5. It would be wrong to under-estimate the sensitivity of contacts between foreign missions and radicals whose activities may barely be on the right side of the law. I firmly believe that the better the relationship at the very top between the UK and South Africa the more protection the Embassy and Consulates are afforded for being courageous in their lower-level contacts.
6. It is disappointing but not surprising to find that the impression of our policy towards South Africa held by Black people is becoming a negative factor for the contact work of the Embassy/Consulates. This is a very difficult problem, not least given the nature of the South African media. I am not entirely convinced that more rhetoric about apartheid and human rights would offset the reality of our policy of continuing economic involvement.
E.A.J. FERGUSSON

Finally I was delighted to find this little snippet in Salmon’s book:

Sometimes junior members of the Department could make a difference. Craig Murray recalled: ‘I spent the first two years of my FCO career trying to push the FCO to pressure South Africa to release Oscar Mpetha.‘ Document No. 60 shows that his efforts on behalf of the severely disabled anti-apartheid activist did bear some fruit.

This has been an emotionally difficult trip down memory lane for me. I do think it is a fascinating glimpse inside policy making. It is astonishing to me that the question of whether we should oppose the evil of apartheid was tackled in such a shifty fashion, not as history, but in my own working lifetime.

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Jack Straw Follows Boris Johnson in Truth Telling

Jack Straw has been surprisingly truthful about Israel, following on from Boris Johnson’s welcome moment of candour about Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately I cannot recall Straw saying anything anywhere near this honest when he was Foreign Secretary. Yesterday he told Parliament’s International Relations Committee

@ 11:55:03
Lord Howell: “Even if by some miracle there was a different government in Israel and President Trump’s aspirations could go forward and there were some kind of settlement…. even if that happened, would that actually make more than a pimple of difference to the vast storms of the ethnic and religious wars and civil war in Syria, in Iraq?
Jack Straw: I think it would. Because I think to people not just in the Arab world but in the Muslim world the obvious injustices carried out, I’m afraid, by the Israelis against the Palestinians speak to them as of a world which is unfair and which doesn’t recognise justice for everybody, at all. And I don’t know how many of you and your colleagues have been to Israel and Palestine in recent years, I was last there three years ago, at this time of year, but the situation is terrible, and humiliating for Palestinians just going about their daily lives, constant gratuitous humiliations. I understand the security concerns of the Israelis, I do understand and I don’t dismiss them for a second, but much of what the Israelis have been doing is unnecessary, and their continuing flouting of international law and the building of these settlements and the incredible discrimination which they then go in for, so piping water to a settlement, for example, which I went to, in South Hebron, which is on top of a hill, so the Israelis have got water and electricity at relatively cheap prices, but denying water, piped water, just a couple of hundred meters down the hill to a Palestinian village, and then wrecking their cisterns, is an illustration of the problems the Palestinians face, and the difficulty of there being any kind of resolution. The other thing that I’d say is that were there to be a change of government in Israel, the chances are it would be a more right-wing government rather than a more left-wing government, because of the very profound demographic changes which have taken place in the last 25 years in the make-up of Israel’s population.”

I have never understood why it is almost universally accepted that diplomacy is the one area of government where dissembling, dishonesty and disguising what you really think is the best way to achieve results. We wouldn’t accept that approach as the best way for example to run the motorway network. I have never found misrepresentation and concealment to be any more effective in dealing with other governments than it is in dealing with other people in daily life. When I myself practised diplomacy I did so on the basis of being normally straightforward and saying what I believed the government I represented really to think. I would argue that over twenty years this approach worked perfectly well as regards successful dealings with representatives of other governments. It did not work well with Jack Straw, who sacked me. Assuming the above are his genuine views on Palestine, I still persist in the belief it would have been better had he acted on them as Foreign Secretary.

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The Russian Bear Uses a Keyboard

I am about twenty four hours behind on debunking the “evidence” of Russian hacking of the DNC because I have only just stopped laughing. I was sent last night the “crowdstrike” report, paid for by the Democratic National Committee, which is supposed to convince us. The New York Times today made this “evidence” its front page story.

It appears from this document that, despite himself being a former extremely competent KGB chief, Vladimir Putin has put Inspector Clouseau in charge of Russian security and left him to get on with it. The Russian Bear has been the symbol of the country since the 16th century. So we have to believe that the Russian security services set up top secret hacking groups identifying themselves as “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear”. Whereas no doubt the NSA fronts its hacking operations by a group brilliantly disguised as “The Flaming Bald Eagles”, GCHQ doubtless hides behind “Three Lions on a Keyboard” and the French use “Marianne Snoops”.

What is more, the Russian disguised hackers work Moscow hours and are directly traceable to Moscow IP addresses. This is plain and obvious nonsense. If crowdstrike were tracing me just now they would think I am in Denmark. Yesterday it was the Netherlands. I use Tunnel Bear, one of scores of easily available VPN’s and believe me, the Russian FSB have much better resources. We are also supposed to believe that Russia’s hidden hacking operation uses the name of the famous founder of the Communist Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, as a marker and an identify of “Guccifer2” (get the references – Russian oligarchs and their Gucci bling and Lucifer) – to post pointless and vainglorious boasts about its hacking operations, and in doing so accidentally leave bits of Russian language script to be found.

The Keystone Cops portrayal of one of the world’s most clinically efficient intelligence services is of a piece with the anti-Russian racism which has permeated the Democratic Party rhetoric for quite some time. Frankly nobody in what is vaguely their right mind would believe this narrative.

It is not that “Cozy Bear”, “Fancy Bear” and “Guccifer2” do not exist. It is that they are not agents of the Russian government and not the source of the DNC documents. Guccifer2 is understood in London to be the fairly well known amusing bearded Serbian who turns up at parties around Camden under the (assumed) name of Gavrilo Princip.

Of course there were hacking and phishing attacks on the DNC. Such attacks happen every day to pretty well all of us. There were over 1,050 attacks on my own server two days ago, and many of them often appear to originate in Russia – though more appear to originate in the USA. I attach a cloudfare threat map. It happens to be from a while ago as I don’t have a more up to date one to hand from my technical people. Of course in many cases the computers attacking have been activated as proxies by computers in another country entirely. Crowdstrike apparently expect us to believe that Putin’s security services have not heard of this or of the idea of disguising which time zone you operate from.


One Day’s Attempts to Hack My Own Server – Happens Every Single Day

Pretty well all of us get phishing emails pretty routinely. Last year my bank phoned me up to check if I was really trying to buy a car with my credit card in St Petersburg. I don’t know what the DNC paid “Crowdstrike” for their narrative but they got a very poor return for their effort indeed. That the New York Times promotes it as any kind of evidence is a truly damning indictment of the mainstream media.

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Aleppo 342

The Morning Star has today come under massive criticism for hailing the near total recapture of Aleppo by pro-Government forces as a “liberation.” I would agree that the situation calls for more nuance. However a feeling of relief that the fighting that has ravaged Aleppo for four years is coming to a close, must form part of any sane reaction. If we are not allowed to feel relief at that, presumably it means that we must have wanted al-Nusra and various other jihadist militias to win the hot war. What do we think Syria would look like after that?

I am no fan of the Assad regime. It is not a genuine democracy and it has a very poor human rights record. If Assad had been toppled by his own people in the Arab spring and replaced by something more akin to a liberal democracy, which kept the Assad regime’s religious toleration, protection of minorities and comparatively good record on women’s rights, and added to it political freedom, a functioning justice system and end to human rights abuse, nobody would have been happier than I. Indeed I strongly suspect I have in the past done much more to campaign against human rights abuse in Syria than the mainstream media stenographers who all decry the fall of rebel Aleppo now.

But sadly liberal democracy, human rights and women’s rights are not in any sense what the jihadist militias the West is backing are fighting for.

Of course it is essential that human rights are now respected in Aleppo by the government, that civilians are looked after, and that rebel fighters once identified are incarcerated in decent conditions. I add my voice to those calls. It should be noted that the threat to life and limb, and the violations and war crimes, have been on all sides, and the oppression of the government is most unlikely to be worse than the oppression of the rebels. The jhadists impounded relief supplies from the civilian population, shot those attempting to flee, and raped on a grand scale. That is not in any way to minimise the potential for mirror abuse from government supporting troops. But it is nonetheless true and must be stated.

The freedom from rebel mortar bombardment of civilian areas of Western Aleppo will also be an added mercy.

But it is not only the western media which has been hopelessly one-sided in its coverage of events. I have been deeply shocked by the heavily politicised role played by western charities and relief agencies. And sure enough, reports reaching me today from an independent source in Syria indicate that now the Syrian government has taken over most of the ex-jihadist held areas of Aleppo, those western agencies and charities that were screaming for a ceasefire so they could get aid in to the communities, have lost all interest now that it is safe to do so and the Syrian government is begging them to go in. They appear interested only in servicing rebel-held areas.

Last week saw a rare moment of truth in western diplomacy as Boris Johnson accused Saudi Arabia of financing proxy wars in the Middle East and spreading the ideology of terrorism. It is a strange world when it comes as a shock when a government minister for once says something which is true. But it was a rare moment. Boris is now in Saudi Arabia touting for more arms sales. In fact the anti-democratic regimes in the Gulf loom extremely large in the affections of the current Conservative government. Both Hammond and May have recently been to Bahrain. As I said, the Assad regime does have a poor human rights record, but the Bahraini government beyond argument has a much worse one, with torture a widespread and everyday measure of oppression. The Sunni “royal family” was only maintained in its despotic rule over its majority Shia population during the Arab spring by the invasion of the Saudi army. Torture and repression has been stepped up ever since even beyond its normal appalling standards.

To repeat, Bahrain beyond doubt has an even worse human rights record than Assad. It is also even less democratic. Yet this is the UK’s close ally, and in a stunningly stupid flourish of neo-imperialism, Britain has just opened a new military base in Bahrain, indicating our desire to indulge in further disastrous military intervention in the Middle East for decades to come.

I don’t think I have ever been more ashamed of my country than when reading Theresa May’s speech last week to the assorted despots, torturers and head-choppers of the Gulf Co-operation Council. A plea for our relationship with “old friends” that nowhere at all gives even a passing reference to democracy or human rights, to the extent that it even references the East India Company as a good thing in our history! A litany of begging for their cash, while at the same time focusing on the “security” and “terrorist” threats they face, the “terrorists” in question being their own disenfranchised populations.

Shameful, shameful stuff. yet where is the condemnation from those mainstream media journalists waxing lyrical today on the evils of Assad?

The game goes on. With financing and ideological underpinning from these Gulf states, and covert intelligence aid from the West, ISIS forces are allowed to slip out of Iraq, regroup and retake Palmyra as “retaliation” against Russian/Syrian success in Aleppo, and as a propaganda counter to ensure the West’s jihadist “allies” are not demoralised. The cynicism of it all is sickening. The Morning Star may indeed have not been sufficiently nuanced; but compared to the lies and elisions of mainstream media it is a beacon of truth.

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Obama Loses His War on Whistleblowers

Obama has waged a vicious War on Whistleblowers, the details of which are insufficiently known to the public. High level security officials, true American patriots like Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou have been handcuffed, dragged through the courts and jailed. William Binney had guns pointed at himself and his wife in their home. Chelsea Manning endures constant persecution and humiliation which meets the bar of cruel and degrading punishment. Edward Snowden pines in exile. These are just the highest profile examples. Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind Obama’s hard line attacks on whistleblowers.

Under Obama, whistleblowers face a total of 751 months behind bars — compared to 24 months for all other whistleblowers combined since the American Revolution. The protection of free speech and truth-telling has been wrenched away under Obama.

I am proud to be a whistleblower myself, and like Drake, Kiriakou, Binney, Manning and Snowden a recipient of the annual Sam Adams award. We have another recipient – Julian Assange – who is a most useful ally indeed.

Whistleblowers seemed a soft target. Indeed seven years into his Presidency Obama seemed to be winning the War on Whistleblowers hands down, leaving them serving time or marginalised and cast out from society.

But Obama/Clinton miscalculated massively. If you set up the super surveillance state, hoovering up all the internet traffic of pretty well everybody, that is not just going to affect the ordinary people whom the elite despise. There is also going to be an awful lot of traffic intercepted from sleazy members of the elite connected to even the most senior politicians, revealing all their corruption and idiosyncracies. From people like John Podesta, to take an entirely random example. And once the super surveillance state has intercepted and stored all that highly incriminating material, you never know if some decent human being, some genuine patriot, from within the security services is going to feel compelled to turn whistleblower.

Then they might turn for help to, to take another entirely random example, Julian Assange.

Obama/Clinton have perished politically as an example of the ultimate in political hubris. Downed by their own surveillance super state. Obama/Clinton’s War on Whistleblowers resulted in the most humiliating of defeats, and now they are political history. This is karma for their persecution of some of the best people in their nation. Good riddance.

All nothing to do with any Russians.

Disclaimer – though I reference fellow holders of the Sam Adams award, this does not indicate a joint effort or that individual award holders or the Sam Adamas Associates necessarily agree with actions taken.

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Facebook Suppresses Truth

So far 564 people believe they have shared on Facebook my article conclusively refuting the CIA’s invention of lies about Russia hacking the DNC, using the share button on this site. Another 78 have tried to share it from my Facebook page. Between them those 650 people will have. according to the Facebook average, about 200,000 friends. The total amount of incoming traffic from these 200,000 friends? 22 people. Almost nobody can currently reach this site through Facebook, as the “came from” interface on my statcounter below shows. Nothing from Facebook. Facebook are actively colluding in preventing social media from contradicting the mainstream media lies about Russian involvement in the US election campaign.

Don’t believe me? If you think you shared the article on Facebook, phone one of your Facebook friends and ask if it appeared for them.

The only way to defeat this is to republish the article yourself. I waive any copyright. If you have access to a blog, copy and paste it there and post a link to that blog on Facebook. Or simply cut and paste my whole article and copy it to your Facebook page, in sections if required.

I am similarly ghost banned on twitter. The work round to this, which plenty of people have found, is to create a new tweet yourself with a link to my site, rather than retweet one of my tweets. As with the Facebook share, if you do retweet you will be unaware it doesn’t work.

There are profound implications for society in the compliance of the major social media corporations with establishment demands to prevent social media from effectively challenging the mainstream media narrative – and I cannot think of a more classic example than this case. I do urge you to take action as described above, to show that the people will not stand for it.

UPDATE

Calling Facebook out worked, we have just been unblocked! If you contrast this new came from log with the above, you will immediately see the difference – and just how important social media is to a dissident website like this one.

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The CIA’s Absence of Conviction

I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

A little simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims. The CIA claim they “know the individuals” involved. Yet under Obama the USA has been absolutely ruthless in its persecution of whistleblowers, and its pursuit of foreign hackers through extradition. We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two. And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not accepted massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from some very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.

The continued ability of the mainstream media to claim the leaks lost Clinton the election because of “Russia”, while still never acknowledging the truths the leaks reveal, is Kafkaesque.

I had a call from a Guardian journalist this afternoon. The astonishing result was that for three hours, an article was accessible through the Guardian front page which actually included the truth among the CIA hype:

The Kremlin has rejected the hacking accusations, while the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has previously said the DNC leaks were not linked to Russia. A second senior official cited by the Washington Post conceded that intelligence agencies did not have specific proof that the Kremlin was “directing” the hackers, who were said to be one step removed from the Russian government.
Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”
“I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.
“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.
“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”

But only three hours. While the article was not taken down, the home page links to it vanished and it was replaced by a ludicrous one repeating the mad CIA allegations against Russia and now claiming – incredibly – that the CIA believe the FBI is deliberately blocking the information on Russian collusion. Presumably this totally nutty theory, that Putin is somehow now controlling the FBI, is meant to answer my obvious objection that, if the CIA know who it is, why haven’t they arrested somebody. That bit of course would be the job of the FBI, who those desperate to annul the election now wish us to believe are the KGB.

It is terrible that the prime conduit for this paranoid nonsense is a once great newspaper, the Washington Post, which far from investigating executive power, now is a sounding board for totally evidence free anonymous source briefing of utter bullshit from the executive.

In the UK, one single article sums up the total abnegation of all journalistic standards. The truly execrable Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian writes “Few credible sources doubt that Russia was behind the hacking of internal Democratic party emails, whose release by Julian Assange was timed to cause maximum pain to Hillary Clinton and pleasure for Trump.” Does he produce any evidence at all for this assertion? No, none whatsoever. What does a journalist mean by a “credible source”? Well, any journalist worth their salt in considering the credibility of a source will first consider access. Do they credibly have access to the information they claim to have?

Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.

Contrast this to the “credible sources” Freedland relies on. What access do they have to the whistleblower? Zero. They have not the faintest idea who the whistleblower is. Otherwise they would have arrested them. What reputation do they have for truthfulness? It’s the Clinton gang and the US government, for goodness sake.

In fact, the sources any serious journalist would view as “credible” give the opposite answer to the one Freedland wants. But in what passes for Freedland’s mind, “credible” is 100% synonymous with “establishment”. When he says “credible sources” he means “establishment sources”. That is the truth of the “fake news” meme. You are not to read anything unless it is officially approved by the elite and their disgusting, crawling whores of stenographers like Freedland.

The worst thing about all this is that it is aimed at promoting further conflict with Russia. This puts everyone in danger for the sake of more profits for the arms and security industries – including of course bigger budgets for the CIA. As thankfully the four year agony of Aleppo comes swiftly to a close today, the Saudi and US armed and trained ISIS forces counter by moving to retake Palmyra. This game kills people, on a massive scale, and goes on and on.

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BBC Bias

I am delighted that “London Calling”, the documentary on BBC bias during the referendum campaign, has now been released on YouTube. I very much enjoyed my own little contribution to it. May I just take time here to note again what a contemptible little lickspittle Gavin Esler of the BBC really is?

There is a fundraiser for DVDs and flyers to get this over to the wider public in Scotland. You can find it here.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am just the good-looking one in the film, I am not one of the producers. We are however still doing the very effective communal screenings and discussions, and I have dates in January for Perth and Berwickshire already booked. It is not that the documentary tells you much that you did not already know, it is the film’s relentless building up of the evidence and the indignation that is ultimately very moving.

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Nana Akuffo Addo Elected President of Ghana

With 185 out of 275 constituency results in, I am calling the election for President Elect Nana Akuffo Addo. There is a surprisingly uniform swing to Nana across every region of the country, and he cannot lose from this position.

This is the swing to Nana region by region, based on my constituency by constituency analysis of the results. There is a swing to the NPP in every single region.

Swing to Nana Akuffo Addo

Ashanti Region 6.1%
Brong Ahafo 6.3%
Central 7.6%
Eastern 5.1%
Greater Accra 4.2%
Northern 4.7%
Upper East 5.6%
Upper West 6.2%
Volta 3.2%
Western 9.2%

Ultimately I predict Nana Akuffo Addo will get a strong mandate with 53.1% of the vote once counting has finished.

I believe this result is a popular reaction against levels of corruption in Ghana that had become terrifying. I am very happy indeed that Ghana has yet again shown it is a mature democracy, and for the third time this millennium the ruling party has been democratically replaced by the opposition.

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Twitter and Facebook Censorship and Mainstream Media Denial

I had never heard of ghost banning until I was ghost banned by twitter. That of course is the idea – they censor you without realising you are censored. People no longer get notifications when I post, and the tweet only turns up in the twitter line of followers who happen to be logged in at the time my tweet goes out. Those logging in later will no longer see tweets I issued while they were away. Most of my tweets no longer show up on twitter searches, and further restrictions are applied when people retweet my tweets.

Since ghost banning, traffic to this website from twitter has fallen 90%.

As twitter do not inform you that you have been ghost banned, it is hard to know exactly what prompted it, but I believe it immediately followed this tweet.

For anyone who gets their news through the mainstream media, the spirit cooking scandal referred to performance art by Marina Abramovic, to an intimate domestic display of which Clinton campaign chairman and paid Saudi lobbyist John Podesta was invited. The performance draws upon occult references and imagery – as an “artist” her inspiration appears to be early Hammer horror films. It involves painting with blood, milk and semen, presumably from animals. To add a frisson, Ms Abramovic has claimed it is art when performed in a gallery, but real when performed in a private home.

Personally, I view it as rubbish as art, and the sort of thing idiots with too much money pay for. I think the occult references give a frisson to the idle rich, like students playing with a Ouija board. Personally I believe that kind of thing is better avoided, but each to his own. What the Podesta emails undoubtedly show is that the rich are not like us. Just as David Cameron sticking his todger in the mouth of a dead pig was an upper class bonding ritual and not actual bestiality, I don’t actually think the Podestas are Satanists. Just weird.

But what is beyond doubt is that the #spiritcooking sensation on social media had a real effect on the US election, and in an election where the margins were so very close potentially an extremely important one. Tens of millions of people saw the images on social media. It galvanised evangelical Christians to vote for Trump and, perhaps much more crucially, it contributed materially to a massive depression of the African American vote for Hillary as millions of African American Christians, disgusted by seeing apparent endorsement of Abramovic’s voodoo and satanic references by the Clinton camp, sat at home and did not turn out to vote. That 2 million black Americans who voted for Obama did not vote for Hillary was not because they are racist – it was because they disliked Hillary for a number of reasons, and spirit cooking was a factor, especially as the famed Democratic machine is heavily reliant upon African American churches for the ground war. I should love to see the influence of the spirit cooking scandal measured, but given that the mainstream media who commission the polls are desperate to deny the effect of WikiLeaks on the election, they are not likely to measure it.

Instead what we have is the “post-truth” narrative. This holds that something is only true if the mainstream media says that it is. It is an easy trick to conflate a dozen ludicrous untrue stories released on social media, and then leap from there to saying everything on social media not endorsed by mainstream media is untrue. It is but a further step to argue that therefore social media must be censored. This is where we came in, with Twitter already doing this to me. Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that Facebook will take further action to prevent dissemination of “untrue” political information. Of course, they already do this, and again I am afraid to say in particular they do this to me. All my blog posts are posted to Facebook as well as twitter. Did you know when you share my post on Facebook, Facebook limits the number of your friends who can see it? In my case the limit is set to ensure that the percentage of incoming traffic to my site that comes through Facebook, is always precisely 5%. To do that, of course, they have to know precisely how much traffic is coming in to this site. Worrying, isn’t it? Before Facebook set the limitation -around the same time as twitter – the amount of incoming traffic from Facebook was around 30% of my traffic.

As with any grossly illiberal cause it is the Guardian which has led the charge for internet censorship in the UK. One hilarious recent Guardian article listed media bias towards Clinton as an example of a post-truth claim. The article did not mention the fact that senior CNN commentator Donna Brazile had been sacked by CNN after WikiLeaks revealed she had been feeding debate questions to Hillary Clinton in advance, nor Wikileaks’ numerous releases of emails detailing partisan collusion with the media to promote Hillary. It did not mention the deliberate and planned timing of primary elections and debates to disadvantage Sanders. In fact, it did nt mention any of the inconvenient facts WikiLeaks had revealed. In that, it was absolutely typical mainstream media.

Mainstream media is not post-truth. It never had any connection to the truth.

To complete the chain of dishonesty, the trope of Russian interference in the election is getting a new airing. In a painfully obvious charade, Obama is being “pushed” by his own party to reveal security service information on “Russian interference” in the US election. The focus is particularly on the allegation that the Russian state hacked the Podesta and DNC emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.

The problem is there is no such evidence. There can’t be because both the DNC and Podesta emails were leaked by Washington insiders, to my certain knowledge. I repeat that, to my certain knowledge. Hillary’s pathetic election claim that the security services had information it was the Russians, depended on a statement that the leak was “consistent with Russian methods and objectives”. Look at that statement very carefully. It says “we have no evidence whatsoever, but the President has asked us to blame the Russians”. As I say, I know it wasn’t the Russians. The only “evidence” ever shown to me by those blaming the Russians is that an alleged hacker calling himself “Guccifer” sometimes uses Cyrillic. Which may or may not be true, but as “Guccifer” was neither the source of, nor a conduit for, the leaks it is utterly irrelevant.

Fear not. The truth is out there. People are trying to make it more difficult for you to find, but they will not succeed. In my own humble case, while visits from Facebook and Twitter are radically down, overall numbers are up. The internet somehow always finds a way to work around.

Update: You couldn’t make it up!


You couldn’t make it up!

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Ken Clarke

I am a long term fan of Ken Clarke, who walked today with the SNP and Caroline Lucas through the lobby to oppose the racist motivated disaster that is Brexit. Personally I dislike referenda in the extreme, those of us who genuinely are of the common clay know better than to romantically ennoble our peers. I strongly suggest you spend a couple of hours talking with ordinary punters on Ramsgate High Street before you decide they should determine the detail of high policy. I am decidedly with Edmund Burke on this issue.

The same goes for Scottish Independence. The majority of countries in the entire world achieved independence in my lifetime, and the vast majority of those without a referendum. At least seven member states of the EU obtained their current form and boundaries in the last three decades, without referenda.

If the elected representatives of the Scottish people – the MPs, MSP’s or both – were to come together as a national assembly and declare independence, that would precisely meet the process by which the large majority of countries in the world, including many EU members, achieved independence. The actual confirmation of that independence is by recognition at the UN, and nothing to do with internal process. The UN does not prescribe a referendum, which is very much the exception not the rule.

To return to Ken Clarke. A few years ago I debated against him at the Cambridge Union. After the post-debate reception, I returned with Malcolm Rifkind and Ken Clarke by the last train to London. Clarke came from first class to standard to find me and insisted I join them. He had a most expensive looking substantial pigskin briefcase. He opened it to produce, encased in foam moulding like a professional camera case, a bottle of perfectly chilled champagne and four flutes. A great man.
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Julian Assange’s Defence Statement

Julian Assange has published his statement given to the Swedish prosecutor. I give it in full below. I do implore you to read it. This is the first time his defence has been made public, although the media have been delighted to report the leaked allegations against him in detail.
His defence will not be given in the same detail in the media.

It is worth noting that under Swedish law the identity of both the accuser and the accused ought to be protected, but that did not prevent Swedish police and prosecutors leaking details to a complicit media, or the women concerned selling their story to the tabloids.

You really do owe it to yourself, to justice and to personal honesty to read Julian’s side of the story.

14/15 NOVEMBER 2016 QUESTIONING AT THE ECUADORIAN EMBASSY LEGALLY PRIVILEGED

You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four and a half years at this embassy. You should have asked me this question six years ago. Your actions in refusing to take my statement for the last six years have been found to be unlawful by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and by the Swedish Court of Appeal. You have been found to have subjected me to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. You have denied me effective legal representation in this process. Despite this, I feel compelled to cooperate even though you are not safeguarding my rights.

I. THE SWEDISH PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

I, Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, have had my passport taken by British authorities and so cannot provide formal identification, am in a situation of arbitrary detention according to the decision of the United Nations Working Group of Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) of 4 December 2015; a political refugee since 19 June 2012 at the Embassy of Ecuador with asylum which was granted by Ecuador on 16 August 2012, and hereby appear before the authorities of Sweden and Ecuador in the framework of a rogatory commission that has been entered between these two states, requested by the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, and declare that:
1. I ratify what has been expressed by my Ecuadorian lawyer, both in relation to this procedure today and the concerns about the procedure pursued against me in Sweden, including the failure to allow my Swedish lawyer to be present and the failure to provide me with exculpatory and other discovery material, which I have, to date, not been given proper access to, including in the preparation for this statement today.
2. Today, 14 November 2016, after having made myself available to the Swedish authorities since the start of this outrageous process six years ago, I am finally given the opportunity to give my statement to the Swedish preliminary investigation. I am grateful to Ecuador for attempting to facilitate this process in the circumstances where the Swedish prosecutor has declined, since 2010, to accept this, my first statement on the allegation against me.
3. I went to Sweden on 11 August 2010. During my stay, I met a woman (hereinafter called ”SW”). On the evening of 16 August, 2010 she invited me to her home. During the night and in the morning we had consensual sexual intercourse on several occasions.
4. I therefore could not believe my eyes when five days later I saw a headline in a Swedish tabloid that I was suspected of a crime and arrested in my absence. I immediately made myself available to the Swedish authorities to clarify any questions that might exist, although I had no obligation to do so.
5. That same day (21 August 2010), the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm, Eva Finné, dropped the arrest warrant against me and within days would close the preliminary investigation with the finding that no crime whatsoever had been committed against the woman “SW” (who is the subject of this procedure). I drew the conclusion that, other than the worldwide damage to my reputation caused by millions of web pages saying that I was “wanted for rape”, my life, in this respect, would return to normal.
6. On 23 August 2010, the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm, Eva Finné stated she “made the assessment that the evidence did not disclose any offence of rape”.
7. On 25 August, the Chief Prosecutor found that “The conduct alleged disclosed no crime at all and that file (K246314-10) would be closed”.
8. A week later, I learned to my surprise that a different prosecutor by the name of “Marianne Ny” had reopened the preliminary investigation without any consultation or opportunity for me to be heard – after I had already been cleared and the case had been closed.
9. That prosecutor eventually issued an extradition warrant against me, supposedly to take my statement, even though I left Sweden with her permission and in good faith, and had repeatedly tried to see if the prosecutor was ready to accept my statement. I had not and have still not been charged with a crime.
10. It has taken more than six years for the prosecutor to now obtain my statement. The delay is entirely caused by the prosecutor who re-opened the closed preliminary investigation. A prosecutor is, according to Swedish law (Chapter 23, Section 4 of the Procedural Code), obligated to conduct the preliminary investigation as expeditiously as possible and when there is no longer reason for pursuing the investigation, it shall be discontinued. At the preliminary investigation phase, the prosecutor is obligated to take into account all the circumstances: those against the suspect as well as those circumstances in favour of the suspect, and any evidence favourable to the suspect shall be preserved. The investigation shall be conducted so that no person is unnecessarily exposed to suspicion, or put to unnecessary cost or inconvenience.
11. Instead of following the law, prosecutor Marianne Ny has kept the preliminary investigation open without justification for over six years. She deliberately suspended her work to progress and bring to a conclusion the preliminary investigation. She has for more than six years refused to take my statement during which time she has done nothing to pursue the preliminary investigation. The preliminary investigation entered into a stasis more than six years ago. I have always demonstrated my willingness to cooperate in order to speed up the process – although there is no obligation whatsoever for me to do so. All the obligation is on the prosecutor to progress the preliminary investigation. This attitude of the prosecutor has clearly breached mandatory rules in Swedish law.
12. I reiterate that over the past six years, I have continued to call for this prosecutor to accept my statement, including by:
— Willingly attending a questioning on 30 August 2010 in Stockholm, where no questions were asked about the allegation, as I had already been cleared. — Staying in Sweden for more than five weeks longer than planned, repeatedly asking if or when I could give a statement, despite pressing commitments elsewhere. — Gaining the prosecutor’s consent to leave Sweden before doing so on 27 September 2010 in good faith, understanding that I was not required to provide a further statement for the time being. On the day I left the country three of my encrypted laptops were seized from me at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. The laptops contained evidence of war crimes pending publication and protected legal correspondence. — Offering to return to Sweden to give a statement in October 2010.
— Offering to give my statement from London via numerous methods including telephone or videolink or in writing from London between October 2010 and up to and through the prosecutor unnecessarily issuing a European Arrest Warrant. The European Arrest Warrant attempted to extradite me, without charge, from the UK to Sweden, to take my statement. I was actively offering the testimony she claimed she wanted when she sought my arrest. — Providing a DNA sample six years ago in December 2010 when I was first arrested at Sweden’s request and which has been available to the prosecutor for the last six years. She has never bothered to even attempt to use it. — Offering to give a statement in London via Mutual Legal Assistance, among other suggestions, during my time of house arrest (7 December 2010 – 19 June 2012). — Offering to give a statement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London as from 19 June 2012, for instance via email from my Swedish lawyers on 24 July 2012 and during a meeting between my lawyers and the prosecutors in Stockholm 7 May 2013 – over four years ago and over three years ago respectively. — Offering to come to Sweden provided Sweden would give a guarantee that I am not extradited to another state over my publishing work. This offer was also requested by Ecuador through diplomatic channels and publicly in 2012, as I am a refugee in its jurisdiction.
13. As this demonstrates, although I have no obligation to do so, I have done everything within my power to offer my testimony to the prosecutor while protecting my right to asylum and protecting myself against the risk of extradition to the United States, where there is an open national security case against me. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, WikiLeaks’ alleged source in that matter, Chelsea Manning, has been subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in US detention, and has since been convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
14. The state of Sweden has refused to provide me the necessary assurances against extradition or other transport to the United States since 2010 when such was asked by my lawyers and since 2012 when requested to do so by the state of Ecuador. Sweden has also refused to accept that the asylum Ecuador has granted me requires it to protect me from onwards extradition to the United States, despite this being the recognized norm in asylum cases, thus making it impossible for me to go to Sweden without giving up my fundamental right as a political refugee. This refusal to recognize my rights as a political refugee has been the sole impediment to my presence in Sweden. I explicitly offered to accept extradition to Sweden provided it simply guarantee that it will not transfer me to another state. This was declined.
15. Nevertheless, I have continued to offer the prosecutor my statement through mechanisms which can be employed to achieve her stated purpose without putting at risk my fundamental rights, which she has, until recently, rejected.
16. Two years ago the Svea Court of Appeal on 20 November 2014 severely criticized the prosecutor for her negligence:
“The Court of Appeal notes, however, that the investigation into the suspected crimes has come to a halt and considers that the failure of the prosecutors to examine alternative avenues is not in line with their obligation – in the interests of everyone concerned – to move the preliminary investigation forward.”
17. It was not until March 2015 that Marianne Ny finally – after she had been found in breach of her duties by Sweden’s Court of Appeal and my case was before the Supreme Court and it became apparent that she might lose – claimed that she would, under certain restrictive conditions, accept my statement after all.
18. Since that time, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) released its ruling on 5 February 2016 that my situation in the embassy amounts to an unlawful and arbitrary detention, in breach of Sweden’s binding legal obligations under international law. UNWGAD found that Sweden and the UK have disregarded the asylum that I have been granted by Ecuador, forcing me to choose between deprivation of liberty and the risk of losing Ecuador’s protection and being extradited to the United States.
19. It then took Marianne Ny more than 18 months after her claimed change of position at the Supreme Court to arrange this meeting. I have not been responsible for a single day of delay in this process. All the delay has been caused by prosecutor Marianne Ny and the state authorities. Again note that all the obligation is on the prosecutor.
20. Furthermore, the UNWGAD concluded that the Swedish prosecutor has breached my due process rights in the conduct of this preliminary investigation and that seeking my extradition to Sweden as the only option in these circumstances was ”excessive and unnecessary” [para 97]. In particular, it found:
“…after more than five years’ time lapse, he is still left at the stage of preliminary investigation with no predictability as to whether and when a formal process of any judicial dealing would commence…” [para. 97] “…Mr Assange has been denied the opportunity to provide a statement, which is a fundamental aspect of the audi alteram partem principle, the access to exculpatory evidence, and thus the opportunity to defend himself against the allegations…” [para. 98] “…the duration of such detention is ipso facto incompatible with the presumption of innocence.” [para. 98]

21. As a result of the Swedish prosecutor’s actions, UNWGAD found my circumstances to be of an increasingly serious deprivation of liberty which is of an indefinite nature and is already far longer than the maximum penalty I could ever theoretically face in Sweden. For these reasons UNWGAD found that the severe and indefinite nature of these deprivations amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Sweden’s obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 7. The severity of this treatment is further confirmed by the expert opinion of Fernando Mariño, the former President of the UN Committee Against Torture, which is entered into the official record of this proceeding.
22. Ten months after the UNWGAD determination the harshness of the situation continues to affect my physical and psychological health. My lawyers have informed the Swedish authorities of the ongoing deterioration of my health through the medical certificates and expert opinions of Dr. Michael Korzinski and Dr. Fluxman, from 11 November 2015; of Dr. Ladbrooke from 8 December 2015; of Dr. Michael Korzinski from 15 June 2016; and of Dr. Ladbrooke from 9 November 2016.
23. And so, finally, here we are today, under the jurisdiction of Ecuador, with my rights ever increasingly limited, as my Ecuadorian defence counsel has expressed. After more than six
years, I am finally being given the “opportunity” to give my statement but with my Swedish counsel having been excluded and under a clear situation of legal defencelessness, resulting from years of negligence and intentional and unlawful delays by the Swedish authorities.
24. All the irregularities that have occurred through the acts or omissions of the prosecution authority and the six-year delay to date of this disproportionate, inhumane and unlawful preliminary investigation have permanently destroyed all possibilities for me to properly defend myself – which is no doubt their intention.
25. Following the above, I wish to express in the strongest terms, that, in addition to the breaches of my due process rights in the investigation to date, the procedure to be adopted today in taking my statement further breaches those rights:
— My Swedish defence lawyer was not permitted to be present today, despite the fact that these proceedings concern a Swedish criminal preliminary investigation. — In the opinion of my general practitioner, I am unfit to prepare and participate in these proceedings (after having been denied hospital treatment and sunlight for 4.5 years). — My Ecuadorian defence counsel has had no access to the case file, let alone in Spanish, the language he understands, nor has he had adequate time to prepare my defence. — My lawyers and I have not been permitted access to the case file. — I have been denied my request to read the text messages that my Swedish defence lawyers have read, which are a key element to my defence because they clearly show that I am innocent.
26. Due to all the shortcomings stated above, prosecutor Marianne Ny should have drawn the obvious conclusion that she discontinue the preliminary investigation.
27. In this context I once again remind you that I have already been cleared and that the preliminary investigation was closed by Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné in August 2010.
28. Given this history I have good reason to have concern about whether this “preliminary investigation” is being conducted in good faith and whether honest and impartial consideration will be given to my statement. I suspect that the real purpose of the Swedish prosecutor coming here today is not to obtain my statement but is simply a ruse to tick a box to ensure the technical possibility to indict me, irrespective of how I answer any questions.
29. I do not believe that prosecutor Marianne Ny is acting in good faith or with the objectivity and impartiality required of her office. For example, after circumventing the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm’s decision to close this case, prosecutor Ny has made at least 40 press releases and press conferences about me where my name has been published, even though there is no charge against me and I have been previously cleared, subjecting me to endless needless suspicion, in clear violation of her duty to not do so under Chapter 23, Section 4 of the Swedish Procedural Code.
30. My overall conclusion is that the prosecutor’s conduct of the preliminary investigation, for all the reasons above has continued to deprive me of the right to defend myself.
31. I have no obligation to cooperate with this abuse, but I find myself in a coercive situation. I am meant to be protected by the decision of the UNWGAD which makes it clear that this “preliminary investigation” has violated my human rights and that its attempts to arrest me should be discontinued immediately. That decision was issued almost a year ago, but my situation remains unchanged. Despite the many violations already described I feel compelled to give my statement today so that there can be no more excuses for the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny to continue my indefinite unlawful detention, which is a threat to my health and even to my life. I have been pushing and indeed litigating for this prosecutor to take my statement for more than six years. The prosecutor has made excuse after excuse to not take my statement. I will not grant this prosecutor any excuse to continue to avoid taking my statement as I fear she would use it as a means to indefinitely prolong my cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

II. REASONS WHY I TRAVELLED TO STOCKHOLM IN AUGUST 2010

32. I am the editor-in-chief and publisher of WikiLeaks, a publishing organisation specializing in the analysis of records under risk of censorship that are of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical importance. Among other countries, WikiLeaks publishes and analyses documents that concern the United States, Sweden and the United Kingdom, including millions of documents relating to actions of military, intelligence and foreign services. I have received numerous awards in relation to my publishing work, including the 2008 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award, The Economist New Media Award (USA) 2008, the 2009 Amnesty International UK Media Award (New Media), the 2010 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (USA) award, the 2011 Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal (Australia), the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (UK), the 2011 Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism (Australia), the 2011 Blanquerna Award for Best Communicator (Spain), the 2011 International Piero Passetti Journalism Prize of the National Union of Italian Journalists, the 2011 Jose Couso Press Freedom Award (Spain), the 2012 Privacy International Award, the 2013 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award, and the 2013 Global Exchange Human Rights Awards, as well as formal nominations for the United Nations’ Mandela Prize (2014) and for the past six consecutive years for the Nobel Peace Prize.
33. The US launched an investigation against me in early 2010 under the Obama administration, while Hillary Clinton was the US Secretary of State. This administration has expended very substantial resources on attempting to prosecute me and attempting to spy on my publishing work despite its constitutionally protected status. The US government’s WikiLeaks investigation is described in official diplomatic correspondence as being “unprecedented in scale and nature”.
34. All the citations I mention are in my affidavit from 2 September 2013, which I am entering into the official record of this proceeding.
35. The US government has periodically confirmed in public that the national security case against WikiLeaks remains open and ongoing, including in proceedings from this year. Numerous human rights and freedom of speech organizations such as Human Rights Watch have criticized the Obama administration for pursuing a criminal case against WikiLeaks and me.
36. The investigation against Wikileaks is led by the FBI and has involved a dozen other agencies, including the CIA, the NSA, and the Defence Intelligence Agency. The US government has described the investigation as a “whole of government” investigation. In Alexandria, Virginia, a Grand Jury has been meeting behind closed doors for the past six years under case number 10GJ3793 to explore ways to imprison me and seven others who they have identified as “founders, owners or managers of WikiLeaks”. The prosecution in the Chelsea Manning case attempted to establish that Private Manning acted as an agent under my control rather than as a journalistic source of mine, even though in Private Manning’s own statement to the court, she said this was not the case. The US military charged Private Manning with twenty-two counts in connection with the release of more than 700,000 classified or confidential documents to WikiLeaks. On 30 July 2013 private Manning was convicted of twenty of these counts and sentenced to thirty-five years in prison on 20 August 2013.
37. Private Manning was detained for more than 1,000 days before the trial commenced. During this time she remained for 258 days in solitary confinement. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture found that the conditions and length of private Private Manning’s confinement at Quantico, Virginia, amounted to “inhuman and degrading treatmen t”. Private Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, said that the treatment of Private Manning was an attempt at breaking her so that Manning would implicate me. The US military court system eventually found that Private Manning was unlawfully punished as a result of this treatment while in US custody. Private Manning was convicted of espionage; the first whistleblower ever so convicted. Private Manning was acquitted of the “aiding the enemy” charge, but the US government could still seek to employ this charge against me. Private Manning is serving a 35 year prison sentence.
38. According to the respected UK newspaper The Independent, the US and Sweden entered informal talks regarding my extradition from Sweden to the United States in early December 2010. These talks of my extradition concerned the US Grand Jury and FBI investigation against WikiLeaks, which is also the reason that Ecuador granted me asylum.
39. The aggressive calls to stop WikiLeaks from publishing were the reason for my travel to Stockholm. US officials’ rhetoric grew increasingly aggressive in the period immediately prior to my visit to Sweden on 11 August 2010. In June, a Daily Beast news report entitled ‘The State Department’s Worst Nightmare’ revealed that the Pentagon was “conducting an aggressive investigation” into whether WikiLeaks had 260,000 US diplomatic cables and the material’s whereabouts.
40. Two days later, an article titled ‘Pentagon Manhunt’ appeared, describing Pentagon investigators desperately trying to track me down in relation to the impending publication of Cablegate:
“Anxious that Wikileaks may be on the verge of publishing a batch of secret State Department cables, investigators are desperately searching for founder Julian Assange”.
41. On 17 June 2010 US Department of Defense spokesman Geoff Morrell stated there was an
“ongoing criminal investigation [concerning WikiLeaks], involving the Army Criminal Investigation Division, as well as, I believe, some other law enforcement agencies.”
42. The Pentagon officials “would not discuss the methods being used to find Assange, nor would they say if they had information to suggest where he is now.” On reading this, I realised WikiLeaks’ continued ability to publish effectively and my own personal safety were at serious risk.
43. During the month of July I worked with a team of journalists in the United Kingdom to publish the Afghan War Diaries: 75,000 secret Pentagon documents about the war in Afghanistan, which included the detailed records about the deaths of nearly 20,000 people. The day after WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Diaries, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated that WikiLeaks “poses a very real and potential threat”.
44. I published the Afghan War Diaries approximately two weeks before I travelled to Sweden. In the aftermath of the publication, US government officials made efforts to influence the way in which the media reported on our publications. The purpose was to delegitimise WikiLeaks protections as a publisher under the US First Amendment. For example, it attempted to falsely cast WikiLeaks as an adversary, opposed to US national interests, a false claim that I would later see echoed in Swedish media.
45. The New York Times reported that the White House had emailed its reporters with suggested “reporting tacks to take” on WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks’ disclosures, in an attempt to induce news outlets into referring to WikiLeaks in these terms.
46. The White House sent an e-mail with the subject heading “Thoughts on Wikileaks” containing a memo in which the White House
“advised journalists on possible reporting tacks to take on the [Afghan War Diaries] documents […] As you report on this issue, it’s worth noting that wikileaks is not an objective news outlet but rather an organization that opposes US policy in Afghanistan.”
47. I also learned from news reports that security authorities from my home country Australia were assisting the US intelligence investigation into WikiLeaks and me:
“Australian security authorities are assisting a United States intelligence probe into the whistleblower website Wikileaks and its Australian founder and editor, Julian Assange. The US request for support in what Australian national security sources described as ‘a counter-espionage investigation’ preceded Wikileaks’ dramatic publication yesterday of a leaked US military operations log, described as an ”extraordinary compendium” of 91,000 reports by United States and allied soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.”
48. On July 28th, just three days after publishing the Afghan War Diaries and two weeks before I travelled to Sweden, US Department of Defense Secretary Gates “called FBI Director Robert Mueller and asked for the FBI’s assistance in [the WikiLeaks] investigation as a partner.” The US Defence Department declared:
“Calling on the FBI to aid the investigation ensures that the department will have all the resources needed to investigate… noting that use of the bureau ensures the investigation can go wherever it needs to go.”
49. The New York Times reported that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
“declined to comment about the investigation beyond noting that he had enlisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist Army investigators, a move that is seen as a precursor to potentially charging people who are not uniformed service members […] A person familiar with the investigation has said that Justice Department lawyers are exploring whether Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks could be charged with inducing, or conspiring in, violations of the Espionage Act, a 1917 law that prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of national security information.”
50. On 1 August 2010, the press reported that the FBI and British police were carrying out searches and interrogations in the UK, where I found myself at the time, in connection with WikiLeaks’ publications.
51. Over the next days, US rhetoric and actions against WikiLeaks intensified. Prominent commentators and former White House officials championed extraterritorial measures and the violation of international law “if necessary”.
52. One of these commentators was former presidential speech writer Marc Thiessen, who published a Washington Post article entitled ‘WikiLeaks Must be Stopped’:
“…the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice.”
53. Thiessen argued that the US should put pressure on any state in which I was located and that the US should, if necessary, arrest me even without the consent of that state. He cited legal advice from the Department of Justice regarding FBI operations abroad:
“The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country — and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland — providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk. With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval.”
54. Thiessen further asserted that the FBI could violate international law in order to stop me and apprehend other people associated with WikiLeaks’ publishing activities. Thiessen cited a Department of Justice memo:
“the FBI may use its statutory authority to investigate and arrest individuals for violating United States law, even if the FBI’s actions contravene customary international law” and that an “arrest that is inconsistent with international or foreign law does not violate the Fourth Amendment.” In other words, we do not need permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere in the world.
Arresting Assange would be a major blow to his organization. But taking him off the streets is not enough; we must also recover the documents he unlawfully possesses
and disable the system he has built to illegally disseminate classified information.
This should be done, ideally, through international law enforcement cooperation. But if such cooperation is not forthcoming, the United States can and should act alone.”
55. Seven days before I travelled to Sweden I was acutely aware that my personal safety was at risk. Scott Horton, legal affairs and national security contributor at Harper’s, wrote the article ‘WikiLeaks: The National-Security State Strikes Back’:
“[Assange] will certainly be targeted for petty harassment and subject to steady surveillance, and efforts to kidnap him are almost certainly being spun at this very moment.”
56. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell announced an anti-WikiLeaks task force comprised of 80 people was operating 24 hours a day. One month later, it had grown to 120 people. The “distinct responsibility” of the Information Review Task Force – dubbed by some occupants as the “WikiLeaks War Room” – was
“…to gather evidence about the workings of WikiLeaks that might someday be used by the Justice Department to prosecute Assange and others on espionage charges.”
57. The article “’The General Gunning for WikiLeaks” described the task force:
“In a nondescript suite of government offices not far from the Pentagon, nearly 120 intelligence analysts, FBI agents, and others are at work—24 hours a day, seven days a week—on the frontlines of the government’s secret war against WikiLeaks. Dubbed the WikiLeaks War Room by some of its occupants, the round-the-clock operation is on high alert this month …”
58. The same article states that Brig. General Robert A. Carr, who runs “the Pentagon’s equivalent to the CIA”, the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), was “handpicked” by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to head the team because he “is highly respected …and a fitting adversary to Assange”.
59. General Carr’s “central assignment” was reportedly “to try to determine exactly what classified information might have been leaked to WikiLeaks”. General Carr testified at the Chelsea Manning sentencing hearing on 31 July 2013.
60. I followed closely how pressure mounted on US allies to track my movements and to stop our publications. Official sources within the administration revealed to the press that the US was not only considering how to prosecute me in relation to WikiLeaks’ publications in the US, but was also requesting their allies to prosecute me under their own national security laws:
“American officials confirmed last month that the Justice Department was weighing a range of criminal charges against Assange and others […]
Now, the officials say, they want other foreign governments to consider the same sorts of criminal charges.”
An article published the day before I went to Sweden stated that “The Obama administration is pressing Britain, Germany, Australia, and other allied Western governments to consider opening criminal investigations of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and to severely limit his nomadic travels across international borders, American officials say.”
61. In addition to the stated intention to restrict my freedom of movement, the US government attempted to convince its allies not to allow me entry into their territory as a warning to me, to those working with me and WikiLeaks, and to our supporters:
“Through diplomatic and military channels, the Obama administration is hoping to convince Britain, Germany, and Australia, among other allied governments, that Assange should not be welcome on their shores either, given the danger that his group poses to their troops stationed in Afghanistan, American officials say. They say severe limitations on Assange’s travels might serve as a useful warning to his followers that their own freedom is now at risk.”
62. The Australian government publicly entertained the possibility of canceling my passport, reportedly as a result of pressure placed on Australia by the United States. Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland assured the United States that the Australian government would “provide every assistance to United States law-enforcement authorities”, including by exploring the possibility of canceling my passport.
63. US pressure even resulted in public attempts to influence decisions based on human rights considerations where I and WikiLeaks were concerned. Through US ambassador to Switzerland Donald Beyer, the Obama administration pressured Switzerland not to grant me political asylum while I participated at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the United States. US ambassador Beyer gave an interview to Swiss newspaper Sonntag:
“The United States ambassador to Switzerland, Donald Beyer, has also entered the Wikileaks debate. He has warned the Swiss government against granting Assange asylum, which the Australian founder of Wikileaks has said he was considering requesting. “Switzerland should very carefully consider whether to provide shelter to someone who is on the run from the law”.
64. The Daily Beast reported that Washington was prepared to review its diplomatic relations with Iceland because parts of WikiLeaks operations had been conducted in that country:
“An American military official tells The Daily Beast that Washington may also want to closely review its relations with Iceland in the wake of the release of the Afghan war logs.”
65. In the context of my heightened concerns about US activities in the United Kingdom in relation to the WikiLeaks investigation, I decided to leave the country. When I travelled to Sweden on 11 August 2010, the aggressive rhetoric against me had reached new heights.
Former CIA general counsel Jeffrey Smith told National Public Radio:
“I think it is entirely appropriate for us to be very aggressive […] If I were the US government, I would be trying to make it as difficult as possible for the WikiLeaks founder to continue to do business… To the extent we can persuade our allies to consider prosecution, I think that’s all to the good.”
66. On the same day I arrived in Sweden, 11 August 2010, I received information from an Australian intelligence source that extra-legal actions might be taken against me by the US or its allies. This was later reported in the Australian newspaper The Age:
“An Australian intelligence official privately warned Wikileaks on August 11 last year that Assange was the subject of inquiries by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and that information relating to him and others associated with Wikileaks had been provided to the US in response to requests through intelligence liaison channels. The Australian intelligence official is also claimed to have specifically warned that Assange could be at risk of ‘dirty tricks’ from the US intelligence community.”
67. Friends and associates of mine and volunteers for WikiLeaks were regularly targeted at borders from this moment on. Border searches and interrogations have affected security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, who had given the keynote speech in my place at the HOPE conference on 16 July 2010. In an interview for Democracy Now, Appelbaum described the targeting he experiences at airports:
In the period of time since [the HOPE conference on 16 July 2010] they’ve started detaining me, around a dozen-plus times… I was put into a special room, where they frisked me, put me up against the wall… they took my laptop… then they interrogated me, denied me access to a lawyer. And when they did the interrogation, they have a member of the U.S. Army, on American soil. And they refused to let me go. They … implied that if I didn’t make a deal with them, that I’d be sexually assaulted in prison.
68. Within days of arriving in Sweden I became concerned about my safety and security there, in particular because of the pressure being brought to bear on US allies, including Sweden.
69. I was aware of the publicly stated attempts to track my movements. I used a number of risk minimisation procedures, including relying on the goodwill of friends and their circles for my safety and to protect the confidentiality of my whereabouts and communications.
70. My contacts in Sweden had arranged for me to stay in two safe houses during the few days I had intended to stay in Sweden. One of the safe houses belonged to a journalist who I knew and another to a Social Democrat party figure unknown to me who had lent her apartment while she was away, or so I had been told. However, because these two original safe houses arranged prior to my arrival became known very soon, I stayed in three additional safe houses between 11 and 20 August 2010.
71. I travelled to Sweden to put in place a legal strategy to try to protect our publishing servers, some of which were in Sweden. I believed these assets were at risk as a result of the intense
political pressure from the US described above. I met with the Swedish Pirate Party, which was represented at the European Parliament at the time, who agreed to host copies of WikiLeaks servers under their party name in order to further protect our publishing work. I also felt it was best to leave the United Kingdom at that time because the FBI was known to be carrying out operations in connection with the investigation into our publications. I intended to stay in Sweden for less than a week.
72. My dependency on other people while in Sweden was aggravated when, shortly after my arrival in Stockholm, my personal bank cards were blocked. On 13 August 2010, the WikiLeaks organization’s Moneybookers account could no longer be accessed. That same day, I contacted the company, who replied: “following recent publicity and the subsequently (sic) addition of the Wikileaks entity to blacklists in Australia and watch lists in the USA, we have terminated the business relationship”. I requested further information from MoneyBookers on 13 August and 16 August regarding the closure, including which blacklists and watchlists my accounts and/or WikiLeaks’ account had been added to, but I was refused this information.
73. The freezing of WikiLeaks’ Moneybookers account was an early example of what in December 2010 would become a concerted extra-judicial global economic blockade against WikiLeaks by US financial service companies, including VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America, Western Union and American Express. The blockade was the subject of several court actions, a European Commission investigation, a resolution by the European Parliament, and condemnation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. On 24 April 2013 the Supreme Court of Iceland found the blockade against WikiLeaks to be unlawful.
74. As a result of being suddenly cut off from personal and organizational funds upon arriving in Sweden, I had to rely on others not only for shelter, but also for food, safety and telephone credit. Unfortunately, I knew very few people in Sweden and those I did were only sporadically in the country.
75. On 13 August 2010 one of the main Swedish newspapers, Svenska Dagbladet, published an article entitled ‘Defence ministry prepared for the next leak’, which reported that the Swedish Ministry of Defence had a dedicated group ‘preparing for WikiLeaks next publication’ and had analysed 76,000 previous publications from WikiLeaks in relation to Swedish troops in Afghanistan.
76. Five days later, Swedish state television (SVT) published a segment entitled ‘We risk United States relationship deteriorating’, which argued that the presence of WikiLeaks in Sweden would negatively affect the strategic relationship between Sweden and the United States.

III. THE PERIOD 14-20 AUGUST 2010

77. I met “SW” during my visit to Stockholm. The first time I met her was on the morning of 14 August 2010 when she came to a speech I gave on what my work revealed about the war in Afghanistan, in which Sweden has troops under US command. She sat in the front row and
photographed me. She came to the small private lunch after my talk where one of the organizers stated that she was a volunteer for their organization although they would later claim that this was not true. Due to the security threats against me as a result of my work, I was in a precarious situation. I relied on the kindness of strangers and the safety and discretion they were willing to offer me. I was in a foreign northern country, where I did not speak the language. I had no access to cash because the bank cards I was travelling with had been frozen due to the extra-judicial political measures taken by financial service companies against my organization and me (which are well-documented and the subject of extensive litigation).
78. Prominent “pro-war” personalities were calling for my assassination and capture, and the US administration had stated publicly that my movements were being tracked. “SW” appeared to be sympathetic to my plight and also appeared to be romantically interested in me. She was not close to people I was close to, so it seemed that those who meant me harm would be unlikely to try to find me by monitoring her movements. She said she worked at the National Museum so I asked her to show me, to try to establish her bonafides. At the Museum an IMAX film was playing, where she kissed me and placed my hands on her breasts. She asked whether I was staying with woman “AA”, a Swedish politician, and seemed concerned by it in a manner which I found strange.
79. At her initiative we met again on the evening of 16 August 2010 and she suggested we go to a hotel in Stockholm. For security reasons, I said I would prefer to go to her house even though it was outside of Stockholm. She then invited me to her home. We went by train and she paid for my ticket since my bank cards had been frozen.
80. “SW” made it very clear that she wanted to have sexual intercourse with me. I felt concerned about the intensity of “SW”’s interest and I also deeply loved another woman, which played on my mind and left me emotionally distracted. “SW” knew an unusual amount of detail about me, and appeared annoyed with me when I was on my phone searching for news related to the US official government statements against me. I perceived she was irritated when I wasn’t giving her my full attention.
81. I felt there was a risk my location would be revealed and that she might act unpredictably if she believed I was rejecting her. During that night and again in the morning we had consensual sexual intercourse on four or five occasions. Her words, her expressions and her physical reactions made it clear to me that she encouraged and enjoyed our interactions.
82. I would later discover that she had collected dozens of photos of me in the weeks before we even met. Her recent FLIKR photo account was filled with pages and pages of photos of me and no other person.
83. In the morning she went out to pick up breakfast for us. After enjoying breakfast together, I left her home on good terms. At no stage when I was with her did she express that I had disrespected her in any way or acted contrary to her wishes other than to not be interested in her enough to pay her attention above my security situation or attempts to sleep. She accompanied me to the train station on her bicycle and we kissed each other goodbye. She asked that I call her so we could see each other again and I said I would. She called the next day or the day after. We made friendly small talk but we were quickly disconnected due to a failing mobile connection. I did not call her back due to problems obtaining telephone credit (as a result of my bank cards being blocked) and the pressing security situation.
84. I spoke to her next on Friday 20 August, after a Swedish friend said that he had heard that “SW” was at the hospital and that she wanted to talk to me. As I had not called her back, and she had previously gone through considerable effort to attract my attention, I was initially concerned that she may have attempted self-harm in order to force me to pay attention to her. So I called her. She said she was at a hospital and asked me to come down to meet her to test myself for sexually transmitted diseases so she would not have to worry while she was waiting for her own test results (HIV, for instance, needs months to show up).
85. But I was busy that day attempting to deal with the escalating political and legal threats against me from the Pentagon. I said I couldn’t do anything until the next day (a Saturday). She said that it was normal in Sweden to go to the police to get advice about STDs and that if I didn’t come down to the hospital she would go to the police to ask whether I could be forced to get tested. I told her I found her mention of police strange and threatening. She stated that she was only concerned about the tests and that it had no concealed meaning. I agreed to take the test out of goodwill and to reassure her, although I told her I could not do it until the following day, Saturday.
86. We were in agreement and arranged to meet the following day in the nearby park around lunchtime when I would have time to get tested. She said she was fine and seemed at ease.
87. You can imagine my disbelief when I woke the next morning to the news that I had been arrested in my absence for ”rape” and that police were ”hunting” all over Stockholm for me.
88. Her behaviour towards me on the night in question and in the morning made it clear that she actively and enthusiastically wanted me to have sex with her. This is also shown by text messages “SW” sent to her friends during the course of the evening I was at her home and during that week, which the Swedish police collected from her phone. Although the prosecutor has fought for years to prevent me, the public and the courts from seeing them, my lawyers were permitted to see them at the police station and were able to note down a number of them, including:
— On 14August 2010 “SW” sent the following text to a friend: I want him. I want him. Followed by several more of similar content (all referring to me) in the lead-up to the events in question (13:05); — On 17 August “SW” wrote that we had long foreplay, but nothing happened (01:14); then it got better (05:15); — On 17 August, after all sex had occurred, “SW” wrote to a friend that it ”turned out all right” other than STD/pregnancy risk (10:29); — On 20 August “SW”, while at the police station, wrote that she “did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange” but that “the police were keen on getting their hands on him” (14:26); and that she was “chocked (sic shocked) when they arrested him” because she “only wanted him to take a test” (17:06); — On 21 August “SW” wrote that she “did not want to accuse” Julian Assange “for anything”, (07:27); and that it was the “police who made up the charges (sic)” (22:25); — On 23 August “AA” (the other woman whose case was dropped in August 2015) wrote to “SW” that it was important that she went public with her story so that they could form public opinion for their case (06:43);
— On 23 August “SW” wrote that it was the police, not herself, who started the whole thing (16:02); — On 26 August “AA” wrote to “SW” that they ought to sell their stories for money to a newspaper (13:38); — On 28 August “AA” wrote that they had a contact on the biggest Swedish tabloid (12:53); and “SW” wrote that their lawyer negotiated with the tabloid (15:59);
89. These text messages clearly show what really happened between “SW” and me. It is clearly consensual sex between adults. The communication between “AA” and “SW” later sadly speaks for itself.
90. The prosecutor’s allegation in the extradition proceeding was reported to be that one of these sexual interactions started the next morning while “SW” was asleep (in the same bed after a night of consensual intercourse) and that when she woke up she consented to the intercourse in question, but for the first few moments was not theoretically capable of consent due to sleep.
91. This is false. I was certain “SW” was not asleep. I was also certain she expressly consented to unprotected sex before such intercourse started. This is also evidenced by “SW”’s own text messages. For example, my lawyers refer me to the following text message to her friend:
— 17 August, 08:42 am: JA did not want to use a condom.
92. Then a day later she explicitly texts her friend that she had not, in fact, been asleep.
— 18 August, 06:59 am: I was half asleep.

IV. SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENTS

93. Although the police initially opened an investigation into ‘rape’ in relation to woman AA, there was no allegation in her testimony that she had been raped. She expressed in her statement to the police that she consented to sex and subsequently tweeted on 22 April in 2013 “ I have not been raped”.
94. The press was immediately and unlawfully informed that there was a warrant for my arrest for what was reported as the “rape of two” women. The prosecutor unlawfully, and without any subsequent explanation or remedy, immediately confirmed to the press that there was a live warrant for my arrest. The prosecutor’s breach triggered an avalanche of news reports. Within days there were millions of references online which associated my name with the word ‘rape’.
95. Immediately the police accusations were used to attack WikiLeaks’ work and my reputation as its publisher. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates celebrated the news of my ‘rape’ arrest warrant with a smile, telling reporters that the arrest “sounds like good news to me”. Various twitter accounts officially associated with the Pentagon spread descriptions of me as a “rapist” and a “fugitive”. This slander was then used as a means to attack my organization’s reputation.
96. I canceled my other appointments and remained in Sweden. I gave an interview to the police on 30 August 2010 in relation to the only remaining allegation. The Agreed Statement of Facts and Issues submitted to the Supreme Court of the UK states:
“On 30th August 2010, the Appellant, who had voluntarily remained in Sweden to cooperate with the investigation,attended for police interview in respect of the ongoing Preliminary Investigation in respect of AA’s report. Heanswered all questions asked of him.”
97. I was highly concerned for my personal safety and the safety of WikiLeaks’ operations while I remained in Sweden, but I stayed for another five weeks after the ‘preliminary investigation’ was initiated in order to clear my name and to cooperate with the police investigation. Only after I had obtained an assurance from the prosecutor Marianne Ny that I could leave the jurisdiction did I prepare to leave the country
98. Less than 24 hours after the warrant for my arrest was issued, the chief prosecutor of Stockholm was appointed to take over the investigation and canceled the arrest warrant, stating “I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape”.
99. Shortly after prosecutor Marianne Ny had resurrected the “SW” allegation, the head of the Swedish military intelligence service (“MUST”) published an article ‘WikiLeaks is a threat to our soldiers’. I became increasingly concerned about Sweden’s close relationship to the US government in military and intelligence matters.
100. Through the diplomatic cables I also learned of secret, informal arrangements between Sweden and the United States. The cables revealed that Swedish intelligence services have a pattern of lawless conduct where US government interests are concerned. The US diplomatic cables revealed that the Swedish Justice Department had deliberately hidden particular intelligence information exchanges with the United States from the Parliament of Sweden because they believed the exchanges were likely unlawful.
101. The US diplomatic cables, reports by major human rights organizations, and the UN’s own findings made me aware that Sweden had been complicit in torture as a result of its participation in secret CIA renditions from 2001 through to at least 2006 (which I would subsequently reveal). The rendition of the Swedish political refugees Agiza and Alzery resulted in strong condemnation by the UN Committee Against Torture, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others. There is still complete impunity for the officers of the Swedish state involved and their US counterparts. No charges have been laid although the complicity of the Swedish state has been well established in successful civil litigation. I subsequently learned that Sweden was partly implicated in CIA renditions of its own citizens from Djibouti in 2013. My Swedish lawyer Thomas Olsson represents one of the rendered.
102. Through an intelligence source, I became aware that on 19 August 2010, the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) had requested information about me from an Australian intelligence organization. The Australian intelligence organization (ASIO) responded to the request with information about me on 21 August 2010.
103. On 29 November 2010 WikiLeaks commenced publishing Cablegate, 251,287 US State Department diplomatic cables. The classified diplomatic dispatches related to every country
in the world. In terms of content, it was the largest set of classified documents ever to be published.
104. The next day State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley stated that “we are investigating aggressively” into WikiLeaks and that a State Department “War Room”, which is different from the Pentagon “War Room”, had been set up.
105. On 30 November 2010, two days after WikiLeaks started publishing Cablegate, Interpol, at the request of Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, issued a Red Notice to 188 countries for my arrest in relation to the Swedish “preliminary investigation” (for which no charges or indictment existed). At the request of the Swedish prosecutor Interpol also made the notice public.
106. The Swedish prosecutor issued a European Arrest Warrant on 2 December 2010 to the UK which was processed by the UK Serious Organised Crimes Agency (SOCA).
107. I lost my freedom on 7 December 2010, the day after UK authorities certified the Swedish extradition warrant. I appeared at the police station, having made a prior appointment. I was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in the highest security unit of Wandsworth prison, the CSU.
108. The day after I was imprisoned, the UK newspaper The Independent reported that US and Swedish officials had entered informal talks regarding my extradition from Sweden to the United States in connection with the US Grand Jury and FBI investigation against WikiLeaks.
109. After ten days, the UK courts found that I should be released on bail. In response the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny instructed her representatives in the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), to appeal to keep me in prison, but the UK courts found her request to be excessive.
110. I was moved to house arrest after providing UK authorities with £340,000 (nearly half a million dollars) and having an electronic monitoring device fitted to my ankle.
111. On 13 January 2011 the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) wrote to Marianne Ny, assuring her “Please do not think that the case is being dealt with as just another extradition request”.
112. I was forced to meet with police for 551 days in a row. I continued publishing regardless.
113. I applied for asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy on 19 June 2012. The embassy was then surrounded by police at an admitted cost to the UK taxpayer of £12.6 million by October 2015.
114. On 28 October 2014, the UK Minister of State of Hugo Swire, told Parliament that “if she [Marianne Ny] wishes to travel here to question Mr. Assange in the embassy in London, we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that, indeed, we would actively welcome it.”
115. On 14 November 2014 I submitted my case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD).
116. On 20 November 2014 Sweden’s Court of Appeal (Svea) found that the Swedish prosecutor had breached her duty by failing to accept my statement.
117. On 12 October 2015 the UK announced that it was removing the overt police around the embassy as it was “no longer proportionate”.
118. On 14 October 2015 London police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe told the Standard that the visible police were being removed from the embassy encirclement as “it seems a disproportionate response” and “we think the public are not necessarily supportive of it.”
119. Subsequently (6 Feb 2016) the London Times would report that the removal of overt police was also due to “fears that officers of the diplomatic protection group standing guard were thought to resemble jailers” during the UNWGAD determination. However the 12 October statement reveals that the “overt” police had in fact been replaced with a “strengthened” “covert plan”.
120. On 5 February 2016 UNWGAD found that I have been unlawfully deprived of my liberty since 7 December 2010 as a result of the actions of the Swedish prosecutor.
Answer to subsequent questions:
You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four and a half years at this embassy. You should have asked me this question six years ago. Your actions in refusing to take my statement for the last six years have been found to be unlawful by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and by the Swedish Court of Appeal. You have been found to have subjected me to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. You have denied me effective legal representation in this process. Despite this, I feel compelled to cooperate even though you are not safeguarding my rights. I refer you to my statement where all these questions were answered.

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Back Up and Running

Many thanks to all the staff, medical and otherwise, at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary who hauled my carcase out of the ambulance and restored it to an appearance of intelligent life over the last five days. A timely reminder that we never know when disaster will strike, and need to make progress all the time. I am now thinking how to intensify my campaigning for Scottish Independence.

Profound apologies to those who submitted orders for signed copies of Sikunder Burnes and have not received them yet. By a happy coincidence I am restored home and this same day the new print run has arrived at the warehouse, so I will get on to it right away. Hopefully the book will now get into the shops well before Christmas. Very few have actually ever appeared in a shop, largely because to date almost all stocks have been hoovered up by online suppliers. Promotion has also been patchy, particularly in England, and I am very grateful to the efforts of blog readers in that respect on my behalf with bookshops. Continuing feedback is still very welcome.

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Signed First Editions are now available direct from this blog! You can leave a message naming the dedication you want. Sold at cover price of £25 including p&p for UK delivery, £29 for European delivery or £34 everywhere else. Ideal Christmas presents!!


Delivery
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