Julian Assange

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First They Came For Julian

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/11/2020 - 5:01pm in

The Trump administrations indictment of Julian Assange in April 2019, the accompanying extradition request and subsequent arrest by UK police, seeks to criminalize the ethical requirements of journalists to bring power to account.

The post First They Came For Julian appeared first on Renegade Inc.

First They Came For Julian

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/11/2020 - 5:01pm in

The Trump administrations indictment of Julian Assange in April 2019, the accompanying extradition request and subsequent arrest by UK police, seeks to criminalize the ethical requirements of journalists to bring power to account.

The post First They Came For Julian appeared first on Renegade Inc.

RT America’s Lee Camp Raises Questions about Starmer’s Connection to British Deep State

Mike’s put up a number of pieces discussing and criticising Starmer’s demand that Labour MPs abstain on the wretched ‘Spycops’ bill. If passed, this would allow members of the police and security services to commit serious offences while undercover. Twenty Labour MPs initially defied him and voted against it, with several resigning in protest from the shadow cabinet. The Labour whips’ office has also broken party protocol to issue written reprimands to the rebels. If they defy party discipline, they will face a reprimand period of six months, which will be extended to twelve if they continue to break the whip. These letters have also been shared with the parliamentary committee, a group of backbench MPs elected by the parliamentary Labour party and currently dominated by the right. This committee will decide whether or not to inform the rebel MPs’ constituency parties and the NEC. The information could then be considered if an MP seeks reselection in preparation for a general election. As one MP has said, it’s intimidation, pure and simple. And a number of those MPs, who received the letters, are talking to union officials.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/10/17/starmers-tory-supporting-crackdown-on-his-own-party-makes-him-a-danger-to-people-with-disabilities/

Starmer’s conduct shouldn’t really be a surprise. He’s a Blairite, and Blair’s tenure of the Labour leadership was marked by control freakery as he centralised power around himself and his faction away from the party’s ordinary members and grassroots. But Starmer is also very much an establishment figure. He was, after all, the director of public prosecutions. In this video below, comedian and presenter Lee Camp raises important and very provocative questions about Starmer’s connections to the British establishment and the deep state. Camp’s the presenter of a number of shows on RT America, which are deeply critical of the corporate establishment, and American militarism and imperialism. The video’s from their programme, Moment of Clarity. The questions asked about Starmer are those posed by Mac Kennard in an article in The Gray Zone. RT is owned by the Russian state, as it points out on the blurbs for its videos on YouTube. Putin is an authoritarian thug and kleptocrat, who has opposition journalists, politicos, activists and businessmen beaten and killed. But that doesn’t mean that RT’s programmes exposing and criticising western capitalism and imperialism and the corrupt activities and policies of our governments aren’t accurate and justified.

Camp begins the video by explaining how there was a comparable battle in the Labour party over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership as there was in the American Democrat party over Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the presidency. Just as Sanders was opposed by the Democrats’ corporate leadership and smeared as a Communist in a neo-McCarthyite witch hunt, so Jeremy Corbyn – a real progressive – was opposed by the corporatists in the Labour party. He was subjected to the same smears, as well as accusations of anti-Semitism because he supported Palestine. Camp states that there are leaked texts showing that leading figures in the Labour party were actively working to undermine him. Jeremy Corbyn has now gone and been replaced by Keir Starmer, about whom Kennard asks the following questions:

1. why did he meet the head of MI5 for drinks a year after his decision not to prosecute the intelligence agency for its role in torture?

Camp uses the term ‘deep state’ for the secret services, and realises that some of his viewers may be uncomfortable with the term because of its use by Trump. He tries to reassure them that the deep state, and the term itself, existed long before Trump. It’s just something the Orange Generalissimo has latched onto. Camp’s not wrong – the term was used for the network of covert intelligence and state law enforcement and security services long before Trump was elected. Lobster has been using the term for years in its articles exposing their grubby activities. More controversially, Camp believes that the deep state was responsible for the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK. JFK was supposedly assassinated because he was about to divulge publicly the deep state’s nefarious activities. This is obviously controversial because the JFK assassination is one of the classic conspiracy theories, and one that many critics of the British and American secret states don’t believe in. It may actually be that JFK really was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone gunman. But Camp’s belief in this conspiracy theory doesn’t on its own disqualify his other allegations and criticisms about the secret state.

2. When and why did Starmer join the Trilateral Commission?

The Trilateral Commission was set up in 1973 by elite banker David Rockefeller as a discussion group to foster greater cooperation between Japan, the US and western Europe. According to Camp, it was really founded to roll back the advances of the hippy era as the corporate elite were horrified that ordinary people were being heard by governments instead of big businessmen. They looked back to the days when President Truman could listen to a couple of businessmen and no-one else. The Commission published a paper, ‘The Crisis of Democracy’, which claimed that democracy was in crisis because too many people were being heard. Ordinary people were making demands and getting them acted upon. This, the Commission decided, was anti-business. They made a series of recommendations themselves, which have since been implemented. These included the demand that the media should be aligned with business interests. Camp states that this doesn’t mean that there is uniformity of opinion amongst the mainstream media. The various media outlets do disagree with each other over policies and politicians. But it does mean that if the media decides that a story doesn’t fit with business interests, it doesn’t get published. The Commission also wanted the universities purged of left-wing progressives. The Commission’s members including such shining examples of humanity and decency as Henry Kissinger and the former director general of US National Intelligence, John Negroponte.

3. What did Starmer discuss with US attorney general Eric Holder when he met him on November 9th, 2011 in Washington D.C.?

Starmer was the director of public prosecutions at the time, and met not just Holder, but also five others from the Department of Justice. This was at the same time the Swedes were trying to extradite Julian Assange of Wikileaks infamy. Except that further leaked documents have shown that the Swedes were prepared to drop the case. But Britain wanted him extradited and tried, and successfully put pressure on the Swedes to do just that.

4. Why did Starmer develop such a close relationship with the Times newspaper?

Starmer held social gatherings with the Times’ staff, which is remarkable, as Camp points out, because it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch like Fox News in America.

Camp goes on to conclude that, at the very least, this all shows that Starmer is very much a member of the corporate establishment, and that the deep state has been working to assure that same corporate elite that he’s safe, just as they worked to reassure Wall Street about Obama. At the time Obama had only been senator for a couple of years, but nevertheless he succeeded in getting a meeting with a former treasury secretary. But now the corporate establishment in the Democrats and the Labour party has won. Jeremy Corbyn has been ousted and replaced with Starmer, while Sanders can’t even get a platform with the Democrats. This is because the Democrats have surrendered the platform to the Republicans because Trump contradicts himself so much they just can’t follow him.

While these are just questions and speculation, they do strongly indicate that Starmer is very much part of the establishment and has their interests at heart, not those of the traditional Labour party. His closeness to the Times shows just why he was willing to write articles for the Tory press behind paywalls. His role in the British state’s attempt to extradite Julian Assange and meetings with Holder also show why Starmer’s so determined not to oppose the ‘spycops’ bill. He is very much part of the British state establishment, and sees it has his role and duty to protect it and its secrets, and not the British public from the secret state.

As for the Trilateral Commission, they’re at the heart of any number of dodgy conspiracy theories, including those claiming that the American government has made covert pacts with evil aliens from Zeta Reticuli. However, as Camp says, his membership of the Commission does indeed show that he is very much a member of the global corporate elite. An elite that wanted to reduce democracy in order to promote the interests of big business.

As a corporate, establishment figure, Starmer very definitely should not be the head of a party founded to represent and defend ordinary people against exploitation and deprivation by business and the state. Dissatisfaction with his leadership inside the Labour party is growing. Hopefully it won’t be too long before he’s ousted in his turn, and the leadership taken by someone who genuinely represents the party, its history and its real mission to work for Britain’s working people.

Kafka on Steroids: Summarising the Extradition Hearing of Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 3:03am in

[This is the second in a trilogy. The first, ‘‘Kafka on Acid’, covered the opening of Assange’s evidentiary hearing. The title of the third piece might be ‘Kafka on Amphetamines’ or maybe ‘Kafka Goes to Rehab’, depending on the final judgment handed down on 4 January 2021.] 

Who doesn’t miss hearing the news from Mary Kostakidis? For the last four weeks, from seven at night until three in the morning in Australia, she has reported up-to-the-minute news of the Assange extradition hearing via Twitter. On 7 September, the first day of this resumed COVID-delayed hearing that commenced in February, district judge Vanessa Baraitser revoked the approval given to forty political and human rights organisations to follow proceedings. The interested public were forced instead to rely on the furious typing of a handful of journalists granted access to a video stream, among them @MaryKostakidis, @kgosztola @jamesdoleman, @richimedhurst, @jlpassarelli and @tareqhaddad, and the blogs of former UK ambassador Craig Murray, the Courage Foundation and Bridges for Media Freedom, each of which summarises all witnesses and describes the mood of the court.

Books will be written about the last four weeks; in fact, one could emerge from each of the detailed and substantive witness statements. Books will need to be written, both because open justice was prevented but so much was revealed, and because the fate of press freedom and national-security journalism hangs in the balance. If a precedent is set that allows the United States to assert its laws (but none of its legal protections) over non-citizens publishing outside the United States, press freedom and national-security journalism will never be the same again.

What also hangs in the balance is Julian Assange’s life. Will he walk free into the arms of his partner, family and friends? Or will his life end in Belmarsh prison in the United Kingdom, where a second wave of COVID-19 threatens prisoners and staff alike, or in ADX Florence, the cruellest of US supermax prisons, the architecture of which was designed to isolate and destroy human beings, as described in chilling detail in the testimony of a former prison warden and several lawyers who visit prisoners there. 

The case is extremely complex—politically, technically, legally—and with so much at stake the defence team packed in a great many powerful and moving witnesses. Prominent people such as Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg provided political testimony, computer and forensic experts provided technical evidence, and many lawyers and journalists explained the grounds for why Assange should not be extradited for publishing and journalistic activity.

The four-week evidentiary hearing finally set the historical record straight, with so many elements of the story now officially on the record. Here is what the court heard:

  • The prosecution of Assange and WikiLeaks is political. The significance of the Obama administration ruling out prosecution of Assange and WikiLeaks due to the press-freedom implications was again underlined. The testimony of human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson reinforced the political nature of the prosecution: the Trump administration offered Assange a pardon if he would reveal his sources for the DNC leak. Soon after Assange refused to reveal sources and reminded the emissary of First Amendment principles, the Trump administration prosecution was stepped up, with the testimony of Cassandra Fairbanks revealing that Trump himself was giving orders to proceed. In addition, the judge stated an intention on 26 September to issue a decision after the US election: ‘I agree that one way or the other my decision will come after an election in the United States’. Could it get more political? This is significant because the United Kingdom–United States Extradition Treaty prohibits extradition for political offences.
  • The conduct of US government agencies in surveilling Assange’s meetings with lawyers, and the seizure of legally privileged material from the embassy by the FBI is illegal. To protect their security, the judge allowed anonymous testimony from two members of UC Global, the firm initially hired by Ecuador and then engaged by US intelligence to spy on Assange, with particular emphasis on his meetings with lawyers, doctors and Ecuadorian officials. Seizing Assange’s property has fatally undermined his defence because the documents in the embassy contained his defence. It’s important to recall that the case against Ellsberg for releasing the Pentagon Papers was thrown out with prejudice due to the abuse of process entailed in the bugging of his phone, the raiding of his psychiatrist, and offering the judge directorship of the FBI. The judge deemed the case so blighted that there was no possibility to appeal.
  • The health of Assange is gravely compromised and would be broken in the US system under Special Administrative Measures (SAMS). While Assange has proven resilient and remarkably focused, the attempts to grind him down through lawfare and endless delay are having an effect. Material admitted into evidence on his failing health and how it would be further eroded in the US prison and justice system was deeply disturbing. In one of few sympathetic rulings, the judge refused to release those statements to the press. Recognising the private and personal nature of physical and psychological health evidence provided to the court, many journalists refused to amplify the details, but it is known that Assange has Asperger’s syndrome and is on the autism spectrum. And who wouldn’t be depressed? This softly spoken intellectual has been in a maximum-security prison built to house murderers and terrorists for over a year for daring to combine technology with journalistic practice and honouring the trust of whistle-blowers who relied on his platform to publish their material in order to bring about reform. His tiny children are growing up without him and his older children have missed their father for a decade. He hasn’t seen a sunset or experienced a moment unwatched for over a decade. The health material is significant to the legal decision in the United Kingdom, given the precedents of both Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon that saw their extradition to the United States from the United Kingdom prevented on health grounds.
  • Assange and WikiLeaks engaged in journalistic activity, including meticulous redaction processes. – This was recounted over three days of evidence by senior, award-winning journalists, underlining the enormous journalistic value, insight and public-policy change brought about because of WikiLeaks publishing. Partners and eyewitnesses to WikiLeaks publishing practice and the security preoccupations of Assange (at the time viewed as excessive and paranoid) overturned years of myth making about WikiLeaks ‘dumping’ materials online and Assange taking no care. There can now be no doubt that it was the cavalier approach of two Guardian journalists—Luke Harding and David Leigh—that undid nine months of redaction when they published the password of the diplomatic cables. In addition, hard forensic evidence was provided that WikiLeaks published the cables after other outlets (Cryptome and Pirate Bay) had already done so.
  • No harm was done by WikiLeaks, but enormous harm was revealed. Testimony after testimony shone light on how WikiLeaks published information on countless thousands of dead, droned and maimed in war, the renditioned and tortured, rather than revealing the identity of US government informants, about which the US government is still unable to provide any evidence. WikiLeaks publishing has revealed war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity, and corruption. Embarrassing the powerful is the harm for which the publisher is on trial, while those who have committed the crimes revealed are free to strike again, to profit again and to continue killing in cold blood. This is not hyperbole, but rather a summary of harrowing detail provided to the court of war, death, atrocity and murder, including the 15,000 dead Iraqi people unaccounted for among the one million Iraqis known to have died from the 2003 war based on lies. The court heard about a family killed there in cold blood, with an air strike called in to level the house and erase evidence. The court heard from a torture victim, Khalid El Masri, a German citizen plucked off the street while on holiday, renditioned to a black site and tortured by the CIA. He was then dumped in Albania when the US government realised a mistake had been made. When this was confirmed through WikiLeaks publications, the suffering and torture of this man was recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. Had it not been revealed, no one would have cared. We heard about the reform brought about when cynical statements by the Prime Minister of Pakistan on US drone strikes were revealed: ‘We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it’. This wasn’t possible after Pakistani citizens knew that their lives were seen as so expendable. These are just some of the examples provided on the horrors of the Afghan and Iraq wars that show that WikiLeaks revealed rather than did harm.
  • Computer forensic evidence was among the most significant in demolishing the hacking allegations. Evidence provided by Patrick Eller, a digital forensics expert employed for two decades by the US army, reminded the court that Chelsea Manning’s prosecution failed to find any proof of Assange’s involvement. While Manning has admitted to her identity in the chat logs, it has never been proven that the Nathaniel Frank of the chat logs was indeed Assange. This demolishes one of the central accusations in the indictment: that Assange was aiding or conspiring to procure documents and anonymising the source.

The four weeks of the hearing were very emotionally and psychologically draining, and not only for those of us up all night in the Antipodes screaming in frustration at yet another technical bungle. Assange has waited a decade for his day in court, only to be confronted by a shambles. To instruct his lawyers, Assange had to wave to get attention and then get on his knees and whisper through a crack in a glass box at the back of the courtroom at the Old Bailey. That he was kept from sitting with his lawyers was an indignity and a basic violation of due process. Even murderers and terrorists get to privately instruct their lawyers, but not this publisher. 

That the prosecution derided and insulted every witness was probably par for the course, but it also provoked much anger and distress. Such behaviour indicated desperation and duly backfired; James Lewis, appearing for the prosecution, apologised more than once to the judge for intemperate language and losing his temper. The fact that witnesses were, over and over, provided with hundreds of pages by the prosecution to digest only hours before the witness appeared was an obvious abuse of process.

Assange’s voice was heard only in protest. For example, when El Masri was prevented from providing his own testimony Assange loudly stated, ‘I will not accept you censoring a torture victim’s statement to this court’. I found it very moving that El Masri was willing to risk further intimidation and exposure to testify for Assange, and that Assange risked the ire of the judge in continuing to stand up for El Masri.

Blinder and greyer than I was a month ago, I’m also bursting with admiration for journalists like Mary Kostakidis, and for Assange’s magnificent legal team, who mounted steep obstacles to combine evidence and testimony that should see Assange walk free. Great admiration is also owed to the small core of courageous people who have stuck by Assange for a decade at some peril, and the loud supporters who have gathered, rain, hail or shine, at every court hearing, including hundreds of events that were held around the world during the last four weeks. Each and every action, from the hanging of a banner on the Puffing Billy railway trestle bridge, to the yellow ribbons tied on trees, to the street theatre outside the Sydney Town Hall, to the courage of Stella Moris, cumulatively loads. The circle of support is growing by the day, even among former adversaries, a consensus from the mainstream to the fringe press and broader public that must keep growing to Free Julian Assange.

Reporters Claim Facebook is Censoring Information on Julian Assange Case

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/10/2020 - 6:46am in

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and longtime confidant of Julian Assange, has been fastidiously reporting on the Australian publisher’s extradition hearing to the United States. Yet few people have been reading it. This, according to Murray, is because of a deliberate decision by online media giants to downplay or suppress discussion of the case. On his blog, Murray wrote that he usually receives around 50 percent of his readers from Twitter and 40 percent from Facebook links, but that has dropped to 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively during the hearing. While the February hearings sent around 200,000 readers to his site daily, now that figure is only 3,000.

To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline,” he added.

Asked about the situation by former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, Murray explained that

Anybody who is at all radical or takes any view of anything that is outwith the official establishment view gets used to occasional shadow banning, but I have never seen anything on this scale before.”

“90% of my traffic has just been cut off by what seems to be a general algorithm command of some kind to downplay Assange,” he added. “I think it is as simple as that.”

 
There has been considerable public interest in the court proceedings, but very little mainstream attention given to them. To be fair, British authorities have made it inordinately difficult to cover the case, allowing only a small handful of journalists into the Old Bailey court system, where they can watch a live television link up but cannot bring in recording devices. An online stream can only be watched if one registers and signs in between exactly 9:30 and 9:40 a.m., and if they suffer even a momentary lapse in wifi connection, they are shut out of the session. The court system has also blocked human rights groups, including Amnesty International, from monitoring proceedings.

Still, considering the implications for the future of journalism, the lack of coverage might surprise some. The New York Times, the flagship outlet of American print media (and a Wikileaks partner) printed only two articles on the subject and has not mentioned Assange in over two weeks. Its broadcast journalism equivalent CNN, meanwhile, has not touched the issue at all.

Online media creators have, for many years, lived with the threat of algorithmic suppression or demonetization of content on sensitive or controversial issues. YouTube regularly cuts all advertising on videos on the Syrian Civil War, fracking, or other topics on which advertisers might not wish to promote scrutiny. Even airsoft and paintball enthusiasts have learned not to use words like “shoot” and “gun” in their titles, lest the platform demonetizes their content.

Perhaps more alarmingly, however, Silicon Valley tech giants are becoming increasingly closely intertwined with the state department, to the point where it is often difficult to tell where one ends, and another begins. “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first,” wrote Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen in their book, “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business.” For example, Facebook is now in a close partnership with the Atlantic Council, who essentially decides for them what content to promote in people’s news feeds and what content is discarded as fake news, misinformation, or low quality. The problem is that the Atlantic Council is a NATO cutout, and a government-funded organization whose board of directors is a who’s who of deep state officials, including virtually every living ex-C.I.A. director, Bush-era cabinet members like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and military generals like Wesley Clark and David Petraeus. Thus, an organization like this deciding what the world sees on their screens is barely one step removed from total government control of the flow of information.

The U.S. government also frequently directly interferes with content appearing on prominent social media. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would remove all comments or posts in praise of recently-slain Iranian General Qassem Soleimani from all its platforms. This was done to comply with the Trump administration’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (which Soleimani led) as a terrorist organization. The problem is that Soleimani was Iran’s most popular political figure, with an over 80 percent approval rating, and that Instagram is used by around one-third of the entire Iranian population. Thus, Iranians speaking in their local language were barred from sharing a majority opinion with their country folk because of a decision by Donald Trump.

The Middle East is a particularly contentious area of the world. Yet when news broke that the British Army’s online psychological operations brigade had managed to become a senior Twitter executive, responsible for Middle Eastern content, media largely ignored it, raising even more questions. Algorithm changes have also hammered independent alternative media outlets — often precisely the ones most likely to cover the Assange case — drastically reducing their search engine traffic flow.

Former C.I.A. chief Leon Panetta (an honorary director of the Atlantic Council) recently admitted that Assange is being prosecuted as a warning to journalists. “All you can do is hope that you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing,” he told a German documentary crew. While the message is being heard loud and clear by journalists, the public is far less aware that anything is going on, thanks, in part, to online suppression of news about the case. Judge Vanessa Baraitser is scheduled to pronounce judgment on the media “trial of the century” on January 4, after the U.S. presidential election. Murray will doubtless be there. But will anyone read what he has to say?

Feature photo | Stella Moris, partner of Julian Assange gives a statement outside the Old Bailey in London, Oct. 1, 2020, as the Assange extradition hearing to the US ended, with a result expected later in the year. Kirsty Wigglesworth | AP<

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Reporters Claim Facebook is Censoring Information on Julian Assange Case appeared first on MintPress News.

It is time to prosecute Julian’s persecutors – The Belmarsh Tribunal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/10/2020 - 7:56pm in

This is the time to change tack. We have spent too long defending an innocent man for leaking power’s guilty secrets. We have protested too long against their right to destroy Julian’s body so as to silence his voice. We have pleaded for too long for them to stop torturing a man who dared reveal to us crimes our governments are perpetrating , on our behalf, behind our backs. We have spent too long warning the good people out there who can’t be bothered that first they came for Assange, then they will come for others that reveal their dirty secrets, and that eventually there will be no one to defend them – no one to defend those who, today, can’t be bothered about Julian. We have used too much energy trying to impress journalists who fail so spectacularly to support Julian today that, in so failing, they are jeopardising their own profession, they are neutering themselves, they are allowing themselves to be added to the hit list, that they are consenting to their own emasculation.

ENOUGH!

If we are truly in the business of allowing unalloyed truth to prevail, to have the final word, we must make the transition from defending Julian, from warning against the dire consequences of his extradition for him, for us, for the world, from explaining to the apathetic that their apathy equals their powerlessness, to turning the tables on the criminals that are behind his persecution.

We must turn the current court case into a trial of those who ordered young soldiers to kill civilians, to maim and to murder journalists, to shroud whole communities in tears and in pain.

We must turn Julian’s prosecutors into defendants and allow the grandest of juries out there, a well-informed Demos, to pass fair judgment on them

This is not hard to do: Thanks to Wikileaks, the evidence is at out fingertips, at everyone’s disposal.

Is this not why the guilty are demanding Julian’s extradition? Is this not why the murderers are plotting to entomb Julian in a supermax coffin for 175 years?

Friends, we can do it!

If Dimitrov in his trial, that took place in Nazi Germany itself, could turn the tables against Goring and Goebbels, surely, we can turn the current court case into a trial of the military-industrial-national-security complex. Noting that even the Nazi courts gave Dimitrov greater opportunity to speak in his defence than Julian has inside his glass box, we can nevertheless use what is left of liberal democracy’s instruments to take the fight to his accusers with a Glorious, a Magnificent, a Righteous, a Collective WE ACCUSE YOU!

For this reason, I salute the Belmarsh Tribunal. I salute today’s event. I salute all of you who are part of it either as speakers or as active observers. Above all, I salute Julian – for having sacrificed so much so that we can ACCUSE THOSE WHO TRULY DESERVE TO BE ACCUSED, as is our duty.

John Pilger: Eyewitness to the Agony of Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/10/2020 - 12:44am in

John Pilger has watched Julian Assange’s extradition trial from the public gallery at London’s Old Bailey. He spoke with Timothy Erik Ström of Arena magazine, Australia:

Q: Having watched Julian Assange’s trial firsthand, can you describe the prevailing atmosphere in the court?

The prevailing atmosphere has been shocking. I say that without hesitation; I have sat in many courts and seldom known such a corruption of due process; this is due revenge. Putting aside the ritual associated with ‘British justice’, at times it has been evocative of a Stalinist show trial. One difference is that in the show trials, the defendant stood in the court proper. In the Assange trial, the defendant was caged behind thick glass, and had to crawl on his knees to a slit in the glass, overseen by his guard, to make contact with his lawyers. His message, whispered barely audibly through face masks, WAS then passed by post-it the length of the court to where his barristers were arguing the case against his extradition to an American hellhole.

Consider this daily routine of Julian Assange, an Australian on trial for truth-telling journalism. He was woken at five o’clock in his cell at Belmarsh prison in the bleak southern sprawl of London. The first time I saw Julian in Belmarsh, having passed through half an hour of ‘security’ checks, including a dog’s snout in my rear, I found a painfully thin figure sitting alone wearing a yellow armband. He had lost more than 10 kilos in a matter of months; his arms had no muscle. His first words were: ‘I think I am losing my mind’.

I tried to assure him he wasn’t. His resilience and courage are formidable, but there is a limit. That was more than a year ago. In the past three weeks, in the pre-dawn, he was strip-searched, shackled, and prepared for transport to the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in a truck that his partner, Stella Moris, described as an upended coffin. It  had one small window; he had to stand precariously to look out. The truck and its guards were operated by Serco, one of many politically connected companies that run much of Boris Johnson’s Britain.

The journey to the Old Bailey took at least an hour and a half. That’s a minimum of three hours being jolted through snail-like traffic every day. He was led into his narrow cage at the back of the court, then look up, blinking, trying to make out faces in the public gallery through the reflection of the glass. He saw the courtly figure of his dad, John Shipton, and me, and our fists went up. Through the glass, he reached out to touch fingers with Stella, who is a lawyer and seated in the body of the court.

We were here for the ultimate of what the philosopher Guy Debord called The Society of the Spectacle: a man fighting for his life. Yet his crime is to have performed an epic public service: revealing that which we have a right to know: the lies of our governments and the crimes they commit in our name. His creation of WikiLeaks and its failsafe protection of sources revolutionised journalism, restoring it to the vision of its idealists. Edmund Burke’s notion of free journalism as a fourth estate is now a fifth estate that shines a light on those who diminish the very meaning of democracy with their criminal secrecy. That’s why his punishment is so extreme.

The sheer bias in the courts I have sat in this year and last year, with Julian in the dock, blight any notion of British justice. When thuggish police dragged him from his asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy—look closely at the photo and you’ll see he is clutching a Gore Vidal book; Assange has a political humour similar to Vidal’s—a judge gave him an outrageous 50-week sentence in a maximum-security prison for mere bail infringement.

For months, he was denied exercise and held in solitary confinement disguised as ‘heath care’. He once told me he strode the length of his cell, back and forth, back and forth, for his own half-marathon. In the next cell, the occupant screamed through the night. At first he was denied his reading glasses, left behind in the embassy brutality. He was denied the legal documents with which to prepare his case, and access to the prison library and the use of a basic laptop. Books sent to him by a friend, the journalist Charles Glass, himself a survivor of hostage-taking in Beirut, were returned. He could not call his American lawyers. He has been constantly medicated by the prison authorities. When I asked him what they were giving him, he couldn’t say. The governor of Belmarsh has been awarded the Order of the British Empire.

At the Old Bailey, one of the expert medical witnesses, Dr Kate Humphrey, a clinical neuropsychologist at Imperial College, London, described the damage: Julian’s intellect had gone from ‘in the superior, or more likely very superior range’ to ‘significantly below’ this optimal level, to the point where he was struggling to absorb information and ‘perform in the low average range’.

This is what the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Nils Melzer, calls ‘psychological torture’, the result of a gang-like ‘mobbing’ by governments and their media shills. Some of the expert medical evidence is so shocking I have no intention of repeating it here. Suffice to say that Assange is diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s syndrome and, according to Professor Michael Kopelman, one of the world’s leading neuropsychiatrists, he suffers from ‘suicidal preoccupations’ and is likely to find a way to take his life if he is extradited to America.

James Lewis QC, America’s British prosecutor, spent the best part of his cross-examination of Professor Kopelman dismissing mental illness and its dangers as ‘malingering’. I have never heard in a modern setting such a primitive view of human frailty and vulnerability.

My own view is that if Assange is freed, he is likely to recover a substantial part of his life. He has a loving partner, devoted friends and allies and the innate strength of a principled political prisoner. He also has a wicked sense of humour.

But that is a long way off. The moments of collusion between the judge— a Gothic-looking magistrate called Vanessa Baraitser, about whom little is known—and the prosecution acting for the Trump regime have been brazen. Until the last few days, defence arguments have been routinely dismissed. The lead prosecutor, James Lewis QC, ex SAS and currently Chief Justice of the Falklands, by and large gets what he wants, notably up to four hours to denigrate expert witnesses, while the defence’s examination is guillotined at half an hour. I have no doubt, had there been a jury, his freedom would be assured.

The dissident artist Ai Weiwei came to join us one morning in the public gallery. He noted that in China the judge’s decision would already have been made. This caused some dark ironic amusement. My companion in the gallery, the astute diarist and former British ambassador Craig Murray wrote:

I fear that all over London a very hard rain is now falling on those who for a lifetime have worked within institutions of liberal democracy that at least broadly and usually used to operate within the governance of their own professed principles. It has been clear to me from Day 1 that I am watching a charade unfold. It is not in the least a shock to me that Baraitser does not think anything beyond the written opening arguments has any effect. I have again and again reported to you that, where rulings have to be made, she has brought them into court pre-written, before hearing the arguments before her.

I strongly expect the final decision was made in this case even before opening arguments were received.

The plan of the US Government throughout has been to limit the information available to the public and limit the effective access to a wider public of what information is available. Thus we have seen the extreme restrictions on both physical and video access. A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population.

There are few records of the proceedings. They are Craig Murray’s personal blog, Joe Lauria’s live reporting on Consortium News, and the World Socialist Website. American journalist Kevin Gosztola’s blog, Shadowproof, funded mostly by himself, has reported more of the trial than the major US press and TV, including CNN, combined.

In Australia, Assange’s homeland, the ‘coverage’ follows a familiar formula set overseas. The London correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, Latika Bourke, wrote this recently:

The court heard Assange became depressed during the seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought political asylum to escape extradition to Sweden to answer rape and sexual assault charges.

There were no ‘rape and sexual assault charges’ in Sweden. Bourke’s lazy falsehood is not uncommon. If the Assange trial is the political trial of the century, as I believe it is, its outcome will not only seal the fate of a journalist for doing his job but intimidate the very principles of free journalism and free speech. The absence of serious mainstream reporting of the proceedings is, at the very least, self-destructive. Journalists should ask: who is next?

How shaming it all is. A decade ago, the Guardian exploited Assange’s work, claimed its profit and prizes as well as a lucrative Hollywood deal, then turned on him with venom. Throughout the Old Bailey trial, two names have been cited by the prosecution, the Guardian’s David Leigh, now retired as ‘investigations editor’ and Luke Harding, the Russiaphobe and author of a fictional Guardian ‘scoop’ that claimed Trump adviser Paul Manafort and a group of Russians visited Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. This never happened, and the Guardian has yet to apologise. The Harding and Leigh book on Assange—written behind their subject’s back—disclosed a secret password to a WikiLeaks file that Assange had entrusted to Leigh during the Guardian’s ‘partnership’. Why the defence has not called this pair is difficult to understand.

Assange is quoted in their book declaring during a dinner at a London restaurant that he didn’t care if informants named in the leaks were harmed. Neither Harding nor Leigh was at the dinner. John Goetz, an investigations reporter with Der Spiegel, was at the dinner and testified that Assange said nothing of the kind. Incredibly, Judge Baraitser stopped Goetz actually saying this in court.

However, the defence has succeeded in demonstrating the extent to which Assange sought to protect and redact names in the files released by WikiLeaks and that no credible evidence existed of individuals harmed by the leaks. The great whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg said that Assange had personally redacted 15,000 files. The renowned New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager, who worked with Assange on the Afghanistan and Iraq war leaks, described how Assange took ‘extraordinary precautions in redacting names of informants’.

Q: What are the implications of this trial’s verdict for journalism more broadly—is it an omen of things to come?

The ‘Assange effect’ is already being felt across the world. If they displease the regime in Washington, investigative journalists are liable to prosecution under the 1917 US Espionage Act; the precedent is stark. It doesn’t matter where you are. For Washington, other people’s nationality and sovereignty rarely mattered; now it does not exist. Britain has effectively surrendered its jurisdiction to Trump’s corrupt Department of Justice. In Australia, a National Security Information Act promises Kafkaesque trials for transgressors. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has been raided by police and journalists’ computers taken away. The government has given unprecedented powers to intelligence officials, making journalistic whistle-blowing almost impossible. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Assange ‘must face the music’. The perfidious cruelty of his statement is reinforced by its banality.

‘Evil’, wrote Hannah Arendt, ‘comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil’.

Q: Having followed the story of WikiLeaks closely for a decade, how has this eyewitness experience shifted your understanding of what’s at stake with Assange’s trial?

I have long been a critic of journalism as an echo of unaccountable power and a champion of those who are beacons. So, for me, the arrival of WikiLeaks was exciting; I admired the way Assange regarded the public with respect, that he was prepared to share his work with the ‘mainstream’ but not join their collusive club. This, and naked jealousy, made him enemies among the overpaid and undertalented, insecure in their pretensions of independence and impartiality.

I admired the moral dimension to WikiLeaks. Assange was rarely asked about this, yet much of his remarkable energy comes from a powerful moral sense that governments and other vested interests should not operate behind walls of secrecy. He is a democrat. He explained this in one of our first interviews at my home in 2010.

 
What is at stake for the rest of us has long been at stake: freedom to call authority to account, freedom to challenge, to call out hypocrisy, to dissent. The difference today is that the world’s imperial power, the United States, has never been as unsure of its metastatic authority as it is today. Like a flailing rogue, it is spinning us towards a world war if we allow it. Little of this menace is reflected in the media.

WikiLeaks, on the other hand, has allowed us to glimpse a rampant imperial march through whole societies—think of the carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, to name a few, the dispossession of 37 million people and the deaths of 12 million men, women and children in the ‘war on terror’—most of it behind a façade of deception. 

Julian Assange is a threat to these recurring horrors—that’s why he is being persecuted, why a court of law has become an instrument of oppression, why he ought to be our collective conscience: why we all should be the threat.

The judge’s decision will be known on the 4th of January. 

Feature photo | John Pilger, a writer, journalist and supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to people as he arrives at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in London, Sept. 14, 2020. Matt Dunham | AP

John Pilger, journalist, author and film director, has won many distinctions for his work, including Britain’s highest award for journalism twice, an American ‘Emmy’ and a British Academy Award. His complete archive is held at the British Library. He lives in London and Sydney.

www.johnpilger.com

The post John Pilger: Eyewitness to the Agony of Julian Assange appeared first on MintPress News.

Eyewitness to the Agony of Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 8:56pm in

Journalist John Pilger has spent the last three weeks watching Julian Assange’s extradition trial at London’s Old Bailey. He spoke with Arena Online’s editor, Timothy Erik Ström:

Q:  Having watched Julian Assange’s trial firsthand, can you describe the prevailing atmosphere in the court?

The prevailing atmosphere has been shocking. I say that without hesitation; I have sat in many courts and seldom known such a corruption of due process; this is due revenge. Putting aside the ritual associated with ‘British justice’, at times it has been evocative of a Stalinist show trial. One difference is that in the show trials, the defendant stood in the court proper. In the Assange trial, the defendant was caged behind thick glass, and had to crawl on his knees to a slit in the glass, overseen by his guard, to make contact with his lawyers. His message, whispered barely audibly through face masks, was then passed by post-it the length of the court to where his barristers were arguing the case against his extradition to an American hellhole.

Consider this daily routine of Julian Assange, an Australian on trial for truth-telling journalism. He was woken at five o’clock in his cell at Belmarsh prison in the bleak southern sprawl of London. The first time I saw Julian in Belmarsh, having passed through half an hour of ‘security’ checks, including a dog’s snout in my rear, I found a painfully thin figure sitting alone wearing a yellow armband. He had lost more than 10 kilos in a matter of months; his arms had no muscle. His first words were: ‘I think I am losing my mind’.

I tried to assure him he wasn’t. His resilience and courage are formidable, but there is a limit. That was more than a year ago. In the past three weeks, in the pre-dawn, he was strip-searched, shackled, and prepared for transport to the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in a truck that his partner, Stella Moris, described as an upended coffin. It  had one small window; he had to stand precariously to look out. The truck and its guards were operated by Serco, one of many politically connected companies that run much of Boris Johnson’s Britain.

The journey to the Old Bailey took at least an hour and a half. That’s a minimum of three hours being jolted through snail-like traffic every day. He was led into his narrow cage at the back of the court, then look up, blinking, trying to make out faces in the public gallery through the reflection of the glass. He saw the courtly figure of his dad, John Shipton, and me, and our fists went up. Through the glass, he reached out to touch fingers with Stella, who is a lawyer and seated in the body of the court.

We were here for the ultimate of what the philosopher Guy Debord called The Society of the Spectacle: a man fighting for his life. Yet his crime is to have performed an epic public service: revealing that which we have a right to know: the lies of our governments and the crimes they commit in our name. His creation of WikiLeaks and its failsafe protection of sources revolutionised journalism, restoring it to the vision of its idealists. Edmund Burke’s notion of free journalism as a fourth estate is now a fifth estate that shines a light on those who diminish the very meaning of democracy with their criminal secrecy. That’s why his punishment is so extreme.

The sheer bias in the courts I have sat in this year and last year, with Julian in the dock, blight any notion of British justice. When thuggish police dragged him from his asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy—look closely at the photo and you’ll see he is clutching a Gore Vidal book; Assange has a political humour similar to Vidal’s—a judge gave him an outrageous 50-week sentence in a maximum-security prison for mere bail infringement.

For months, he was denied exercise and held in solitary confinement disguised as ‘heath care’. He once told me he strode the length of his cell, back and forth, back and forth, for his own half-marathon. In the next cell, the occupant screamed through the night. At first he was denied his reading glasses, left behind in the embassy brutality. He was denied the legal documents with which to prepare his case, and access to the prison library and the use of a basic laptop. Books sent to him by a friend, the journalist Charles Glass, himself a survivor of hostage-taking in Beirut, were returned. He could not call his American lawyers. He has been constantly medicated by the prison authorities. When I asked him what they were giving him, he couldn’t say. The governor of Belmarsh has been awarded the Order of the British Empire.

At the Old Bailey, one of the expert medical witnesses, Dr Kate Humphrey, a clinical neuropsychologist at Imperial College, London, described the damage: Julian’s intellect had gone from ‘in the superior, or more likely very superior range’ to ‘significantly below’ this optimal level, to the point where he was struggling to absorb information and ‘perform in the low average range’.

This is what the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Nils Melzer, calls ‘psychological torture’, the result of a gang-like ‘mobbing’ by governments and their media shills. Some of the expert medical evidence is so shocking I have no intention of repeating it here. Suffice to say that Assange is diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s syndrome and, according to Professor Michael Kopelman, one of the world’s leading neuropsychiatrists, he suffers from ‘suicidal preoccupations’ and is likely to find a way to take his life if he is extradited to America.

James Lewis QC, America’s British prosecutor, spent the best part of his cross-examination of Professor Kopelman dismissing mental illness and its dangers as ‘malingering’. I have never heard in a modern setting such a primitive view of human frailty and vulnerability.

My own view is that if Assange is freed, he is likely to recover a substantial part of his life. He has a loving partner, devoted friends and allies and the innate strength of a principled political prisoner. He also has a wicked sense of humour.

But that is a long way off. The moments of collusion between the judge—or magistrate, a Gothic-looking Vanessa Baraitser, about whom little is known—and the prosecution acting for the Trump regime have been brazen. Until the last few days, defence arguments have been routinely dismissed. The lead prosecutor, James Lewis QC, ex SAS and currently Chief Justice of the Falklands, by and large gets what he wants, notably up to four hours to denigrate expert witnesses, while the defence’s examination is guillotined at half an hour. I have no doubt, had there been a jury, his freedom would be assured.

The dissident artist Ai Weiwei came to join us one morning in the public gallery. He noted that in China the judge’s decision would already have been made. This caused some dark ironic amusement. My companion in the gallery, the astute diarist and former British ambassador Craig Murray wrote:

I fear that all over London a very hard rain is now falling on those who for a lifetime have worked within institutions of liberal democracy that at least broadly and usually used to operate within the governance of their own professed principles. It has been clear to me from Day 1 that I am watching a charade unfold. It is not in the least a shock to me that Baraitser does not think anything beyond the written opening arguments has any effect. I have again and again reported to you that, where rulings have to be made, she has brought them into court pre-written, before hearing the arguments before her.

I strongly expect the final decision was made in this case even before opening arguments were received.

The plan of the US Government throughout has been to limit the information available to the public and limit the effective access to a wider public of what information is available. Thus we have seen the extreme restrictions on both physical and video access. A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population.

There are few records of the proceedings. They are: Craig Murray’s personal blog, Joe Lauria’s live reporting on Consortium News and the World Socialist Website. American journalist Kevin Gosztola’s blog, Shadowproof, funded mostly by himself, has reported more of the trial than the major US press and TV, including CNN, combined.

In Australia, Assange’s homeland, the ‘coverage’ follows a familiar formula set overseas. The London correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, Latika Bourke, wrote this recently:

The court heard Assange became depressed during the seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought political asylum to escape extradition to Sweden to answer rape and sexual assault charges.

There were no ‘rape and sexual assault charges’ in Sweden.Bourke’s lazy falsehood is not uncommon. If the Assange trial is the political trial of the century, as I believe it is, its outcome will not only seal the fate of a journalist for doing his job but intimidate the very principles of free journalism and free speech. The absence of serious mainstream reporting of the proceedings is, at the very least, self-destructive. Journalists should ask: who is next?

Check out the most recent edition of our flagship publication Arena.

How shaming it all is. A decade ago, the Guardian exploited Assange’s work, claimed its profit and prizes as well as a lucrative Hollywood deal, then turned on him with venom. Throughout the Old Bailey trial, two names have been cited by the prosecution, the Guardian’s David Leigh, now retired as ‘investigations editor’ and Luke Harding, the Russiaphobe and author of a fictional Guardianscoop’ that claimed Trump adviser Paul Manafort and a group of Russians visited Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. This never happened, and the Guardian has yet to apologise. The Harding and Leigh book on Assange—written behind their subject’s back—disclosed a secret password to a WikiLeaks file that Assange had entrusted to Leigh during the Guardian’s ‘partnership’. Why the defence has not called this pair is difficult to understand. 

Assange is quoted in their book declaring during a dinner at a London restaurant that he didn’t care if informants named in the leaks were harmed. Neither Harding nor Leigh was at the dinner. John Goetz, an investigations reporter with Der Spiegel, was at the dinner and testified that Assange said nothing of the kind. Incredibly, Judge Baraitser stopped Goetz actually saying this in court.

However, the defence has succeeded in demonstrating the extent to which Assange sought to protect and redact names in the files released by WikiLeaks and that no credible evidence existed of individuals harmed by the leaks. The great whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg said that Assange had personally redacted 15,000 files. The renowned New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager, who worked with Assange on the Afghanistan and Iraq war leaks, described how Assange took ‘extraordinary precautions in redacting names of informants’.

Q: What are the implications of this trial’s verdict for journalism more broadly—is it an omen of things to come?

The ‘Assange effect’ is already being felt across the world. If they displease the regime in Washington, investigative journalists are liable to prosecution under the 1917 US Espionage Act; the precedent is stark. It doesn’t matter where you are. For Washington, other people’s nationality and sovereignty rarely mattered; now it does not exist. Britain has effectively surrendered its jurisdiction to Trump’s corrupt Department of Justice. In Australia, a National Security Information Act promises Kafkaesque trials for transgressors. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has been raided by police and journalists’ computers taken away. The government has given unprecedented powers to intelligence officials, making journalistic whistle-blowing almost impossible. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Assange ‘must face the music’. The perfidious cruelty of his statement is reinforced by its banality.

‘Evil’, wrote Hannah Arendt, ‘comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil’.

Q: Having followed the story of WikiLeaks closely for a decade, how has this eyewitness experience shifted your understanding of what’s at stake with Assange’s trial?

I have long been a critic of journalism as an echo of unaccountable power and a champion of those who are beacons. So, for me, the arrival of WikiLeaks was exciting; I admired the way Assange regarded the public with respect, that he was prepared to share his work with the ‘mainstream’ but not join their collusive club. This, and naked jealousy, made him enemies among the overpaid and undertalented, insecure in their pretensions of independence and impartiality.

I admired the moral dimension to WikiLeaks. Assange was rarely asked about this, yet much of his remarkable energy comes from a powerful moral sense that governments and other vested interests should not operate behind walls of secrecy. He is a democrat. He explained this in one of our first interviews at my home in 2010.  

What is at stake for the rest of us has long been at stake: freedom to call authority to account, freedom to challenge, to call out hypocrisy, to dissent. The difference today is that the world’s imperial power, the United States, has never been as unsure of its metastatic authority as it is today. Like a flailing rogue, it is spinning us towards a world war if we allow it. Little of this menace is reflected in the media.

WikiLeaks, on the other hand, has allowed us to glimpse a rampant imperial march through whole societies—think of the carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, to name a few, the dispossession of 37 million people and the deaths of 12 million men, women and children in the ‘war on terror’—most of it behind a façade of deception. 

Julian Assange is a threat to these recurring horrors—that’s why he is being persecuted, why a court of law has become an instrument of oppression, why he ought to be our collective conscience: why we all should be the threat.

The judge’s decision will be known on the 4th of January.

As His Extradition Trial Drags on, Media and Rights Groups Are Still Ignoring Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/09/2020 - 4:21am in

The extradition case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues in London. The U.S. government is indicting the Australian living on the other side of the world under its own Espionage Act, with the case widely seen as setting an important precedent for freedom of speech and of the media worldwide.

Yet as the case reaches its pinnacle, a number of press freedom groups have gone silent on the matter. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has not mentioned Assange in months, on either its website or its Twitter account. London-based PEN International has only one article this year on the Australian and appears to have gone quiet since July. The CPJ has also refused to include him among its list of jailed journalists, arguing that Wikileaks’ role is more that of a publisher. While this could be debatable, the omission of by far the most famous and influential of the world’s 248 imprisoned media figures could be seen as a politically calculated decision.

Big media outlets seem just as uninterested in the U.S. government’s attempts to capture the man who released hundreds of thousands of documents detailing American war crimes, including the deliberate killing of two Reuters journalists. The New York Times, for instance, has published only two articles on the subject, and nothing in eleven days. But the Times’ coverage is better than most outlets, with nothing whatsoever in CNN, and MSNBC’s entire coverage amounting to one sentence, which discussed the DNC hacks, but not the hearing.

To be fair to the media, the conditions the U.K. government has set for the case make it absurdly difficult for journalists to follow. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that public access is highly restricted, while only a small handful of journalists are allowed into the courtroom every day. Journalists wishing to watch live proceedings must register as journalists and log in between exactly 9:30 and 9:40 a.m. If they miss the time, they cannot access the session, and if they disconnect at any time, even because of a momentary lapse in wifi, they are shut out of the system. Journalists have complained throughout Assange’s cases of poor connections and an inability to hear anything during proceedings. That has not stopped the committed, however, with smaller organizations continuing to report the proceedings live.

In recent days the argument between the prosecution and the defense has revolved around Assange’s mental state. A psychiatrist on the U.S.’ government’s side told the Old Bailey yesterday that he believes Assange to be a “resilient” character with only “mild clinical depression” and would therefore be able to “resist any suicidal impulse” were he to be sent to the U.S. Assange is facing up to 175 years in a Colorado supermax jail, sometimes described as one of the few blacksites on American soil. Inmates at the center are regularly force fed and are barred from sharing their stories.

On the other hand, a doctor who treated him while he was forced to live in the Ecuadorian embassy in London stressed her dismay at his deterioration while being held in Belmarsh Prison. “I think Mr. Assange is at very high risk of completing a suicide if he were to be extradited,” she told the judge.

Julian Assange Ecaudor

Assange, left, with Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, June 16, 2013. Frank Augstein | AP

The Assange case has enormous ramifications for the future of press freedom. The government has included a great many standard journalistic procedures — such as protecting sources’ names, using encrypted files, and encouraging sources to leak more to them — among its reasons for indictment. This, many have argued, would essentially criminalize investigative journalism. Trevor Timm, a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told the courtroom that if Assange is prosecuted, then every journalist who has possessed a secret or leaked file — the lifeblood of the industry — could be charged.

Speaking to German filmmakers, ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta was remarkably blunt about the U.S.’ goal: “All you can do is hope you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing,” he said, strongly implying that the indictment is politically motivated and a warning to others who might challenge the empire.

Unfortunately, many of the mainstream rights groups that the world relies on to lead on matters of importance have a mixed history when it comes to directly opposing Washington’s agenda. Human Rights Watch (HRW), for instance, carried water for the U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia last year, its director, Kenneth Roth, describing it as a “transitional moment” and an “uprising,” rather than the manifestly more appropriate word, “coup.” HRW also described the new military government’s law giving all security forces complete immunity from prosecution merely a “problematic decree,” rather than a license to massacre, which is exactly what they did immediately.

HRW has not discussed Assange for nearly 18 months, the most recent result on its website dated May 2019 (although this was a clear defense of his rights). Amnesty International, on the other hand, has forcefully condemned the U.S. attempt and has been repeatedly blocked in its attempts to have its fair trial monitors enter the courtroom. “This hearing is the latest worrying salvo in a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression,” said Amnesty’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.

Feature photo | People queue at the entrance of the Old Bailey court in London, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, as the Julian Assange extradition hearing to the US continues. Frank Augstein | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post As His Extradition Trial Drags on, Media and Rights Groups Are Still Ignoring Julian Assange appeared first on MintPress News.

Lee Camp: Woodward Accidentally Reveals He’s No Different Than “Super Villain” Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/09/2020 - 12:40am in

The completely fair super awesome trial of Julian Assange continues in the U.K. as I write this. It’s a beautiful blend of the works of Kafka, Stalin and Joseph Heller.

Seeing as Julian is kept in a glass container in the courtroom, like a captured cockroach, maybe Kafka wins the day.

The court clearly must keep Julian in that giant Tic-Tac container because he’s undoubtedly as dangerous as Hannibal Lecter. If he weren’t in there, no one would know when he might lurch forward and PUBLISH SOMETHING THAT’S TOTALLY TRUE!

What they’re deciding in this trial is whether Assange should be extradited to the United States, or “kidnapped” as the kids call it these days.

If he is lovingly black-bagged by our government, they have promised he will face 175 years in prison if convicted by another super rad show trial presided over by an American government puppet judge. (A puppet judge is just like a real judge but they’ve got the government so far up their backside they can taste the Cheetos.)

Countless excitable activists out there say this persecution of Julian Assange is unheard of. They’re acting like no journalist has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act. They’re acting like it’s unprecedented for the U.S. to go after a journalist who’s not even a U.S. citizen and has never operated his organization from the U.S. They’re acting like it’s ridiculous to add on new superseding indictments days before the trial begins.

But all the people saying that are… um… correct. Yeah, they nailed it. (Sorry for the buildup – I thought that paragraph would come out differently.)

 

Two journalists

Right now, one journalist, Julian Assange, is on trial while being held in a maximum-security prison in London. Another journalist, Bob Woodward, is in a very different situation. The liberal Establishment is preparing to chisel his likeness out of a small boulder and display it next to the Lincoln Memorial. They love him because he got President Donald Trump to do interviews wherein Trump, as always, sounds like a lying buffoon. Among other things the president admits he knew Covid-19 was “deadly stuff” back in at least February, but played it down anyway.

But this is nothing new. Every time Bob Woodward puts out a book, the mainstream media fan-girls all over him. Myriad kings and queens of televised logorrhea describe him as a “veteran reporter,” a “famed reporter,” or “synonymous with investigative journalism!”

So what’s the difference between liberal-hero journalist Bob Woodward and dastardly evil villain cannibal-pedophile Julian Assange (who Hillary Clinton famously said we should drone bomb)?

Well, Julian is on trial for obtaining and disclosing classified information from the U.S. government. Liberal superhero Bob Woodward would never do such a thing like that! …Oh, that’s right. He actually said in his own online journalism class — “I have rarely found a significant story where there isn’t a document. …Often you can’t get it because it’s classified but… it’s there, and if you can get somebody to assist you, it will indeed help you with your story. …The hardest documents [to get] are intelligence documents. …And I’ve had them and printed them.”

Hmm, so the icon of investigative journalism actually brags about printing classified information. Well, maybe the difference between Assange (currently being fed to the lions) and Woodward (currently being lionized) is that Assange supposedly pressured people into giving him classified information whereas Woodward would never do that. For Bob the information just arrives at his door unsolicited.

…Oh, wait a second. On video Woodward recently said, “Documents rarely just arrive in the mail out of the blue. …You have to go to human beings and say, ‘Will you give it to me?’ You say, ‘Come on, let’s talk. Let’s, uh, not be chickenshit about this.’”

Soooo, the guy that has the entire mainstream media licking his shoes has been involved in obtaining and publishing classified information, and in fact pressuring sources into supplying him those documents? Wow. Bob Woodward and Julian Assange are exactly the same except Assange has actually not been proven to have pressured sources into giving him documents.

And there’s one other difference between the Almighty Bob Woodward and the so-called servant of Lucifer, Julian Assange.

Nothing WikiLeaks has ever published has been proven false. Not one sentence. Whereas, the outlets Woodward works with like The Washington Post and The New York Times publish false information all the time.

They said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; they said Kim Jung-Un killed his girlfriend while she was still alive; they published 16 anti-Bernie Sanders stories in the span of 16 hours while trying to sink his candidacy. They said China imprisoned millions of Uighurs based on extrapolating from the accounts of EIGHT PEOPLE! They are utter garbage when compared to the unassailable record of WikiLeaks. But when needed, legacy media like The Washington Post and The New York Times bend over for the national security state. That’s the real difference.

Julian Assange actually stood up to the U.S. and U.K. empires by publishing their war crimes. Woodward hasn’t really done that since President Richard Nixon was in office. Most big-time American journalists back down to the State Department when push comes to shove. Those who don’t — like Seymour Hersh, Robert Scheer, Chris Hedges, and a few others — are never allowed in the pages of the mainstream media again.

The next time you see a mainstream media talking-head fawn over Bob Woodward, just remember that if they had any backbone, any moral core, they would be fawning over Julian Assange instead.

The jaw-dropping video clips of Bob Woodward were discovered and put together by Matt Orfalea. You can watch his work here:

 
Feature photo | Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward arrives at Trump Tower in New York. Andrew Harnik | AP

Lee Camp is the host of the hit comedy news show Redacted Tonight. His new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at LeeCampBook.com and his stand-up comedy special can be streamed for free at LeeCampAmerican.com.

This article was published with special permission from the author. It originally appeared at Consortium News.

The post Lee Camp: Woodward Accidentally Reveals He’s No Different Than “Super Villain” Julian Assange appeared first on MintPress News.

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