Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

China accuses the US and UK of hypocrisy on press freedom for calling out Beijing’s crackdowns while putting Australian Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on trial for espionage

  • China accuses US and UK of hypocrisy over extradition of Julian Assange 
  • Assange set to face charges in the US over leaking of classified US documents
  • Chinese say the ‘trumped up’ charges expose press freedom double standards
  • Australian government says it is quietly discussing the case with US authorities

By DAVID SOUTHWELL FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA 21 June 2022  China has branded US and UK hypocrites on press freedom over the looming extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges that could land the Australian in jail for life.

Assange’s extradition to the US to face charges over the leaking of thousands of official secrets has been approved by British Home Secretary Priti Patel after a protracted legal battle.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused the US of pursuing ‘trumped up’ charges against Assange for exposing secrets about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and about the CIA’s cyber attacks against other countries. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the US and UK were conspiring against Assange using ‘trumped up’ charges to punish him for exposing US wrongdoing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the US and UK were conspiring against Assange using ‘trumped up’ charges to punish him for exposing US wrongdoing.

‘The US and Britain are cooperating in cross-border crackdowns on certain individuals,’ he said.

The case of Assange is a mirror that shows how hypocritical the US and Britain’s claim to uphold press freedom is. 

‘People enjoy fully freedoms to expose other countries and will be regarded as heroes if they do so, but they will be severely punished and considered to be criminals if they expose their own country or its allies and partners.’

………  Mr Wenbin said all eyes would be on Mr Assange’s human rights and expressed the hope that ‘justice’ would prevail over ‘abuse and hegemony’.

…………..  His defenders argue he exposed US war crimes and human rights abuses in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as revealing the CIA’s covert activities against its own citizens…………………..

There have been calls for Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to make a public plea on behalf of Assange, which so far he has resisted.

Employment Minister Tony Burke said the government was making quiet ‘behind-the-scenes’ representations to the US over the case..……………. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10936875/China-calls-UK-press-freedom-hypocrites-Julian-Assange-trial.html

June 23, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Greg Barns: Julian Assange and the Albanese Government – Enough is enough!

 https://johnmenadue.com/julian-assange-albanese-government-enough-is-enough/, By Greg Barns, Jun 20, 2022,

Now is the time to end a dangerous threat to basic freedoms and the rule of law.  The Albanese government has a critical role to play in ensuring that outcome.

The decision on Friday of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to approve the extradition to the US of Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is not surprising in some ways.  Ms Patel has swallowed the ‘assurances’ of lawyers acting for the US that Assange would get a fair trial in an Eastern Virginia court on charges relating to his publication in 2010 and 2011 of shocking revelations about the war crimes and other serious misconduct perpetrated by the US and its allies in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  But Ms Patel’s decision drives home the need for the Albanese government to roll up its sleeves and ensure this Australian citizen does not face an effective death penalty of over 170 years in an US prison.

Unlike his Labor predecessor Julia Gillard and subsequent Liberal Prime Ministers Mr Albanese has rightly expressed genuine concern over the treatment of Assange.  He is on the record, on a number of occasions as saying that he does “not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange” and, as importantly, “enough is enough”. In a statement released by Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Friday night in response to the Patel decision, she also repeated the Prime Minister’s words.

More recently, in the context of a recent media conference, Mr Albanese indicated the Assange case was not one to be pursued by megaphone diplomacy.  An interesting comment clearly implying he is prepared to speak with US President Joe Biden about the matter, but in a closed door fashion.

The change in rhetoric and the sense that the Australian government might actually work assiduously to ensure that Assange, languishing with declining health in the notoriously harsh Belmarsh prison outside of London, is released and allowed to re-join his family, is a welcome development. Rome wasn’t built in a day and while there are many who understandably would like to see Mr Albanese dial the White House today, it is important to quickly get the approach right before that conversation, or conversations, are had.

The Assange case will drag on in the UK courts now given the inevitability of appeals against the Patel decision and a cross appeal against rulings in the original extradition case in 2021.  Meanwhile the threat to freedom of the press and the rule of law which this case poses remains potent.

Eminent Australian journalists such as the former Financial Times and Fairfax foreign correspondent Tony Walker, the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien and Andrew Fowler and the former SBS’ presenter Mary Kostakidis have been rightly warning about how serious a threat to journalists and publishers this case really is.  If the US is successful in prosecuting an Australian journalist and publisher for letting the world know the dirty secrets of the US military machine then this will have a chilling effect on press freedom.  And it will embolden other nations to follow suit.  If the US can seek the arrest of a journalist who is not a citizen of that country and who has not set foot in the US, then how can it, and nations such as Australia, criticise China for enacting a law last year which allows for critics of that regime to be hunted down irrespective of where they are in the world.

From the perspective of the rule of law the Assange case should trouble new Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.  Extra-territorial reach of laws is generally thought to be stretching the idea that the law of a nation only applies to those who are its citizens or who allegedly commit crimes in territory that is governed by that nation’s laws.  To seek to extend the reach of domestic laws to those who have no legal connection to it by way of citizenship, residence or other ties to the jurisdiction, is anathema to the rule of law.  That is the danger presented by the Assange case.

Of course, some say the Assange case must be allowed to take its course via the courts because extradition is a legal process.  While that is true in the vast majority of cases this is an exceptional set of circumstances.  In that sense it is like the case of David Hicks, the Australian who found himself in the torture chamber that is Guantanamo Bay facing trumped up terrorism charges.  Rightly that case was resolved via the political relationship  between the Howard government here and the Bush Administration because it too was a case infused with a political overlay.

Now is the time to end a dangerous threat to basic freedoms and the rule of law.  The Albanese government has a critical role to play in ensuring that outcome.

Greg Barns SC is an Adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign

June 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Predictable monstrosity: UK approves Assange extradition

 https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/predictable-monstrosity-uk-approves-assange-extradition,16482, By Binoy Kampmark | 20 June 2022,

The only shock about the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision regarding Julian Assange was that it did not come sooner. 

In April, Chief Magistrate Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring expressed the view that he was ‘duty-bound‘ to send the case to Priti Patel to decide on whether to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 grafted from the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

Patel, for her part, was never exercised by the more sordid details of the case. Her approach to matters of justice is one of premature adjudication: the guilty are everywhere and only multiply.  When it came to WikiLeaks, such fine points of law and fact as a shaky indictment based on fabricated evidence, meditations on assassination, and a genuine, diagnosed risk of self-harm were piffling distractions. 

The U.S. Department of Justice would not be denied.

Under the Extradition Act 2003,’ a nameless spokesman for the Home Office stated, ‘the Secretary of State must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prohibit the order being made. Extradition requests are only sent to the Home Secretary once a judge decides it can proceed after considering various aspects of the case.’

Evidently, overt politicisation, bad faith, and flimsy reassurances from the U.S. Department of Justice on how Assange will be detained, do not constitute sufficient grounds. 

But the cue came from the courts themselves, which have done a fabulous job of covering the U.S. justice system with tinsel in actually believing assurances that Assange would not be facing special administrative detention measures (SAMs) or permanent captivity in the ADX Florence supermax in Colorado. 

The statement read:

‘In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.’

In such a scatterbrained and amoral cosmos that marks decision-making in the Home Office, no mention has been made of the surveillance operation against the publisher in the Ecuadorian embassy, orchestrated at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). None, either, of contemplated abduction or assassination, or the frail mental health Assange finds himself.

As late as 10 June, a letter from the group Doctors for Assange, comprising 300 doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, noted that the Home Secretary’s ‘denial of the cruel, inhuman treatment inflicted upon Assange was then, and is even more so now, irreconcilable with the reality of the situation’.

In April, an umbrella grouping of 19 organisations dedicated to press freedom and free speech urged Patel, in reviewing the case, to appreciate that Assange would “highly likely” face isolation or solitary confinement in the U.S. ‘despite the U.S. Government’s assurances, which would severely exacerbate the risk of suicide’.

The co-chairs of the Courage Foundation’s Assange Defense Committee, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg and Alice Walker, reflected on the depravity of the order in a statement

They wrote:

‘It is a sad day for western democracy. The UK’s decision to extradite Julian Assange to the nation that plotted to assassinate him – the nation that wants to imprison him for 175 years for publishing truthful information in the public interest – is an abomination.’

As for the UK, it had:

‘… shown its complicity in this farce, by agreeing to extradite a foreigner based on politically motivated charges that collapse under the slightest scrutiny.’

Amnesty International expressed similar views, as did Reporters Without Borders. There was even concern from Conservative MP David Davis, who expressed his belief that Assange would not “get a fair trial.” The extradition law was, as matters stood, lopsided in favour of U.S. citizens.

Under the arrangement, individuals crossing the channel will receive one-way tickets to Rwanda to have their claims processed without the prospect of settling in the UK. The Rwandan Government, hostile to contrarians, the rule of law and refugees, will be subsidised for their pain and labour.

To this sadistic streak can be added her admiration for the Espionage Act being used to prosecute Assange. This fact should have disqualified her in any country operating under the rule of law. Even as Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a Conservative no-confidence vote this month, Patel’s National Security Bill passed its second reading in Parliament. 

The bill articulates an offence of ‘obtaining or disclosing protected information’ that includes ‘any information… which either is, or could reasonably be expected to be, subject to any type of restrictions of access for protecting the safety and interests of the UK’.

In a polite nod of deference to U.S. law, the proposed law states that an offence is committed when a person ‘obtains, copies, records or retains protected information, or discloses or provides access to protected information’ for a purpose ‘that they know, or ought reasonably to know, is prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom’ and if ‘the foreign power condition is met’

The requirement is that the act is ‘carried out for or on behalf of a foreign power’, including instances where ‘an indirect relationship’ exists.

Assange has 14 days to appeal this insidious rubber-stamping of judicially sanctioned brutality. His legal team are hoping to use the High Court as the route to highlight the political dimension of the case and draw attention back to the way the extradition law was read.

If the defence fails, Assange will be sent across the Atlantic, entrusted to officials, some of whom considered murdering him, to be made an example of. 

It will be the clarion call to regimes across the world that punishing a publisher is something supposed liberal democracies can do as well, and as deviously, as anybody else. 

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Federal government lobbying behind the scenes for Assange’s freedom.

  “in the end the Americans can’t say no [to his release], given that President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning for exposing the very war crime that Assange went on to publicise worldwide”.

“It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing,” she said in a statement. “Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.”

further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder. “There’s absolute validity to these matters .

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/federal-government-lobbying-behind-the-scenes-for-assange-s-freedom-20220618-p5auq3.html By James Massola and Latika Bourke, June 19, 2022

The federal government is lobbying US counterparts behind the scenes to secure the freedom of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, after the United Kingdom’s decision to approve his extradition to the United States.

The Trump administration brought charges against Assange under the Espionage Act relating to the leaking and publication of the WikiLeaks cables a decade ago.

The UK Home Office announced late on Friday (AEST) that “after consideration by both the Magistrates Court and High Court, the extradition of Julian Assange to the US was ordered”.

“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.

“Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

Assange’s legal team has 14 days to appeal the decision to the High Court and will do so while he remains in Belmarsh prison.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, while still opposition leader in December, said “enough is enough” and that it was time for Assange to be returned to Australia.

Asked about Assange’s extradition on Saturday, he told The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age that he stood by the comments he made in December.

At the time, Albanese said “he [Assange] has paid a big price for the publication of that information already. And I do not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange”.

Albanese met US President Joe Biden at the Quad meeting in Tokyo in late May, days after the federal election, but there has been no indication that he raised the Assange matter with him during their meeting.

A source in the federal government, who asked not to be named so they could discuss the matter, has confirmed to The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age that Assange’s case has been raised with senior US officials.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr said the discussions over Assange’s release would be “governed by sensitive, nuanced alliance diplomacy appropriate between partners”.

“I trust the judgment of Prime Minister Albanese on this, given his recent statement cautioning against megaphone diplomacy and his comments last December,” he said.

But Carr predicted that “in the end the Americans can’t say no [to his release], given that President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning for exposing the very war crime that Assange went on to publicise worldwide”.

“The Yank has had her sentence commuted; the Aussie faces an extradition and a cruel sentencing.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Friday that “Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close. We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and United States”.

Albanese is due to attend the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month, which US President Joe Biden will also attend, though it is not clear if he will raise the matter there.

Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, hit out at UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approving the extradition.

“It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing,” she said in a statement. “Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd tweeted that he disagreed with the decision to approve the extradition, even though he did not support Assange’s actions and “his reckless disregard for classified security information”.

“But if Assange is guilty, then so too are the dozens of newspaper editors who happily published his material.”

Labor MP Julian Hill said there could never be a legal solution to the case as it was inherently political and that “we should speak up for our fellow Australian and request that these charges be dropped and he not be extradited”.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John said the extradition to the United States would set a dangerous precedent for press freedom and called on the prime minister to pick up the phone to his British and American counterparts.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, the chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, has called Britain’s decision an outrageous betrayal of the rule of law, media freedom and human rights.

“This matter is so deeply wrong on so many levels … time’s up for the new federal government hinting at caring and then doing nothing,” he said.

“The new Australian government is now to be condemned for abandoning an Australian hero journalist facing the very real prospect of spending the rest of his life rotting in a US prison.”

Amnesty International is urging the UK to refrain from extradition and the US to drop all charges.
The secretary-general of the human rights organisation, Agnes Callamard, says allowing the Australian to be sent to the US for trial would put him at great risk.

“Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill treatment,” Callamard said.

“Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history.”

Adviser to the Australian campaign to free Mr Assange, Greg Barns SC, says Britain’s decision is unsurprising given past approaches.

“The UK does not regard the extradition as being political when it clearly is,” he told ABC News on Saturday.

He says further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder.

“There’s absolute validity to these matters … the real issue is do we let this matter go back into the court system for another couple of years or do we say there are important principles here.”

There had been a change in rhetoric on the matter from the new government and statements from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Ms Wong had heartened the campaign, Mr Barns said.

“We’re certainly urging and hoping that now is the time for Australia to get involved with its key allies in London and Washington and bring this matter to an end.”

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Assange Is Doing His Most Important Work Yet

 https://caityjohnstone.medium.com/assange-is-doing-his-most-important-work-yet-7b3ba4f3bea3 Caitlin Johnstone, 18 June 22, British Home Secretary Priti Patel has authorized the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to be tried under the Espionage Act in a case which seeks to set a legal precedent for the prosecution of any publisher or journalist, anywhere in the world, who reports inconvenient truths about the US empire.

Assange’s legal team will appeal the decision, reportedly with arguments that will include the fact that the CIA spied on him and plotted his assassination.

“It will likely be a few days before the (14-day appeal) deadline and the appeal will include new information that we weren’t able to bring before the courts previously. Information on how Julian lawyers were spied on, and how there were plots to kidnap and kill Julian from within the CIA,” Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton told Reuters on Friday.

And thank goodness. Assange’s willingness to resist Washington’s extradition attempts benefit us all, from his taking political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 until British police forcibly dragged him out in 2019, to his fighting US prosecutors in the courtroom tooth and claw during his incarceration in Belmarsh Prison.

Assange’s fight against US extradition benefits us not just because the empire’s war against truth harms our entire species and not just because he cannot receive a fair trial under the Espionage Act, but because his refusal to bow down and submit forces the empire to overextend itself into the light and show us all what it’s really made of.

Washington, London and Canberra are colluding to imprison a journalist for telling the truth: the first with its active extradition attempts, the second with its loyal facilitation of those attempts, and the third with its silent complicity in allowing an Australian journalist to be locked up and persecuted for engaging in the practice of journalism. By refusing to lie down and forcing them to come after him, Assange has exposed some harsh realities of which the public has largely been kept unaware.

The fact that London and Canberra are complying so obsequiously with Washington’s agendas, even while their own mainstream media outlets decry the extradition and even while all major human rights and press freedom watchdog groups in the western world say Assange must go free, shows that these are not separate sovereign nations but member states of a single globe-spanning empire centralized around the US government. Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, more attention is being brought to this reality.

By standing his ground and fighting them, Assange has also exposed the lie that the so-called free democracies of the western world support the free press and defend human rights. The US, UK and Australia are colluding to extradite a journalist for exposing the truth even as they claim to oppose tyranny and autocracy, even as they claim to support world press freedoms, and even as they loudly decry the dangers of government-sponsored disinformation.

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, it will always reek of hypocrisy when US presidents like Joe Biden say things like, “The free press is not the enemy of the people — far from it. At your best, you’re guardians of the truth.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, people will always know British prime ministers like Boris Johnson are lying when they say things like, “Media organisations should feel free to bring important facts into the public domain.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, more of us will understand that they are being deceived and manipulated when Australian prime ministers like Anthony Albanese say things like “We need to protect press freedom in law and ensure every Australian can have their voice heard,” and “Don’t prosecute journalists for just doing their jobs.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, US secretaries of state like Antony Blinken will have a much harder time selling their schtick when they say things like “On World Press Freedom Day, the United States continues to advocate for press freedom, the safety of journalists worldwide, and access to information on and offline. A free and independent press ensures the public has access to information. Knowledge is power.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, UK home secretaries like Priti Patel will be seen for the frauds they are when they say things like “The safety of journalists is fundamental to our democracy.”

Extraditing a foreign journalist for exposing your war crimes is as tyrannical an agenda as you could possibly come up with. The US, UK and Australia colluding toward this end shows us that these are member states of a single empire whose only values are domination and control, and that all its posturing about human rights is pure facade. Assange keeps exposing the true face of power.

There is in fact a strong argument to be made that even all these years after the 2010 leaks for which he is currently being prosecuted, Assange is doing his most important work yet. As important as his WikiLeaks publications were and are, none of them exposed the depravity of the empire as much as forcing them to look us in the eye and tell us they’ll extradite a journalist for telling the truth.

Assange accomplished this by planting his feet and saying “No,” even when every other possible option would have been easier and more pleasant. Even when it was hard. Even when it was terrifying. Even when it meant being locked away, silenced, smeared, hated, unable to fight back against his detractors, unable to live a normal life, unable to hold his children, unable even to feel sunlight on his face.

His very life casts light on all the areas where it is most sorely needed. We all owe this man a tremendous debt. The least we can do is try our best to get him free.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Julian Assange and family suffer as unjust detention continues.

Independent Australia By Binoy Kampmark | 16 June 2022,

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian………………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian…………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian……………………………….

Soft, a voice of reed and bird song, Shipton urged activists and citizens to join the fray, to save his son, to battle for a cause imperishably golden and pure. From this summit, power would be held accountable, institutions would function with sublime transparency, and citizens could be assured that their privacy would be protected. 

In the documentary Ithaka, directed by Ben Lawrence, we see Shipton, Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, the two children, the cat and glimpses of brother Gabriel, all pointing to the common cause that rises to the summit of purpose. The central figure, who only ever manifests in spectral form – on-screen via phone or fleeting footage – is one of moral reminder, the purpose that supplies blood for all these figures. 

Assange is being held at Belmarsh, Britain’s most secure and infamous of prisons, denied bail and being crushed by judicial procedure.  But in these supporters, he has some vestigial reminders of a life outside.

The film’s promotion site describes the subject as ‘the world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’ a figure who has ‘become an emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes’. ………..

 suffer he shall, if the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel decides to agree to the wishes of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 

The DOJ insists that their man face 17 charges framed, disgracefully and archaically, from a U.S. law passed during World War I and inimical to free press protections. The Espionage Act of 1917 has become the crutch and support for prosecutors who see, in Assange, less a journalist than an opportunistic hacker who outed informants and betrayed confidences. ……………………..

Through the film, the exhausting sense of media, that estate ever-present but not always listening, comes through. This point is significant enough; the media – at least in terms of the traditional fourth estate – put huge stock in the release of material from WikiLeaks in 2010, hailing the effort and praising the man behind it. 

But relations soured, and tabloid nastiness set in. The Left found tell-all information and tales of Hillary Clinton too much to handle while the Right, having initially revelled in the revelations of WikiLeaks in 2016, took to demonising the herald. Perversely, in the United States, accord was reached across a good number of political denizens: Assange had to go, and to go, he had to be prosecuted in the United Kingdom and extradited to the United States.

The documentary covers the usual highlights without overly pressing the viewer.  A decent run-up is given to the Ecuadorian stint lasting seven years, with Assange’s bundling out, and the Old Bailey proceedings covering extradition. But Shipton and Moris are the ones who provide the balancing acts in this mission to aid the man they both love……….

The film has faced, as with its subject, the usual problems of distribution and discussion. When Assange is mentioned, the dull-minded exit for fear of reputation, and the hysterical pronounce and pounce. 

In Gabriel Shipton’s words

“All of the negative propaganda and character assassination is so pervasive that many people in the sector and the traditional distribution outlets don’t want to be seen as engaging in advocacy for Julian.”

Where Assange goes, the power monopolies recoil. Distribution and the review of a documentary such as Ithaka is bound to face problems in the face of such a compromised, potted media terrain. Assange is a reminder of the plague in the patient of democracy, a pox on the body politic. ……….. https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/julian-assange-and-family-suffer-as-unjust-detention-continues,16470#.YqqqxM6TP0M.twitter

June 16, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s wife Stella Moris reveals how they raise children together while he is in jail waiting an extradition decision

In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-08/stella-moris-my-life-with-julian-assange-extradition/101132624, My Australian husband Julian Assange is fighting for his life from within the confines of a three-by-two-metre cell in Britain’s harshest prison, Belmarsh.

The US has accused him of espionage as a result of his work with WikiLeaks in 2010-2011 and wants to extradite him to face court.

If his extradition goes ahead, Julian faces a maximum 175-year prison sentence. As his wife, I fear he will be buried in the deepest, darkest corner of the US prison system until he dies.

During another extradition hearing last year a UK magistrate blocked Julian’s transfer to the US over fears of “oppressive” conditions that could drive him to take his life.

On July 3, Julian turns 51. It will be the fourth year he has spent his birthday alone in a cell, without conviction.

Is our time together running out?

When Julian is taken from his cell to the prison yard he tilts his head up so his eyes can focus on the distance. If he narrows his eyes, the double razor wire above becomes a blur. Beyond is the open sky.

Julian recently discovered a family of nesting magpies. He spotted their home subversively nestled between the razor wire. I think our family is like those magpies.

When we are together, we are always a few metres from their nest. Our children — Gabriel, who is five, and Max, three — only have memories of their father within the brutal surroundings of Belmarsh prison.

We don’t know how long our children have left with their father. We don’t know if we can visit him or even talk to him on the phone. If the extradition goes ahead, US authorities retain the right to put Julian in conditions so cruel that no one in his position is likely to survive.

It is impossible for Julian and me to escape a feeling that he is on death row. Our weekly visits may be the only time we have left together. But for how much longer? A few months more, a few weeks, a few days and then only a few hours? I fear in the end we will count the minutes and the seconds.

Guards search inside my children’s mouths

Were it not for our children, this approaching catastrophe would be all-consuming. But Julian and I know these may be the only memories that our children will have of their father. We make our visits as joyous as possible.

I don’t need to explain to Gabriel and Max the reality of this place where we go to visit their father. They live it. The children walk under razor wire and past layers and layers of security to reach their daddy.

Guards search inside their mouths, behind their ears and under their feet. The prison dogs sniff them head to toe, front and back.

Last week, Gabriel slipped some daisies he had picked by the prison walls into his pocket to give to his father. After he passed through the metal detector his daisies were confiscated during the pat-down search by one of the guards, albeit reluctantly.

During visits, our family is allowed to embrace at the beginning and end. We can hold each others’ hands across the table. Julian and I are not allowed to kiss. But Julian would rather kiss his wife and be penalised than have that taken away from him too. So, we kiss.

Precious moments for life lessons

The children love visiting their daddy. Julian reads them stories. Gabriel shares his father’s fascination with numbers. Julian teaches them nifty tricks: the best way to peel an orange, how to open chips without losing any of the contents.

These things may sound small to most people, but they are our precious moments together. A canteen selling chips and oranges and the prison’s collection of children’s books are all that is on offer in the visitor’s hall we share with 30-or-so prisoners and their families once or twice a week.

On March 23, we were married in Belmarsh. The prison – normally filled with tragedy and isolation – was turned on its head for a few hours to celebrate our love and commitment. Our nest in the razor wire.

The last time the media photographed Julian was in 2019, through the scratched windows of a prison van.  The UK Authorities insist that our wedding photos not be made public ‘on security grounds’. In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person.

June 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Assange is still in jail – what can the new government do?

 https://michaelwest.com.au/assange-is-still-in-jail-what-can-the-new-government-do/ by Greg Barns | Jun 7, 2022 

There are signs that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seems more interested in dealing with the plight of Julian Assange than was the Morrison government. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has to decide whether or not to sign off on Assange’s extradition to the US by the middle of this month. Albanese must act now, writes Greg Barns.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen facing over 170 years in a US prison for revealing the truth about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. His case is important for a number of reasons, including the inhumanity of keeping him locked up in the notorious Belmarsh prison in the UK as his mental and physical health declines. Assange’s case is an attack on freedom of speech. It also represents a dangerous development for citizens, journalists and publishers around the world because the United States is using its domestic laws to snare an individual who has no connection to the jurisdiction. This is the sort of law which Australia has condemned in the context of Beijing imposed laws on Hong Kong.

Tonight, the ABC broadcasts a documentary Ithaka, a film by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton which follows their father John Shipton across the world as he campaigns for his son. The broadcast is a milestone in the Australian campaign to free Assange from the shackles that the US and UK have bound him since 2012, when he sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, fearing, rightly, that he would extradited to the US.

Anthony Albanese is taking an interest in this case, in contrast to Scott Morrison’s government that showed little interest in pushing Washington on behalf of an Australian citizen facing cruel and unusual punishment in the US It was manifested in an answer he gave last week in a media conference and was  confirmed by his Foreign Minister Penny Wong in an interview on the ABC last Friday.

Asked whether he would intervene with the US to save Assange, Albanese replied that his “position is that not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer.” In other words, as one foreign affairs expert told this writer, Albanese is rightly respecting the US-Australia relationship by raising the Assange issue in private with the White House.

Wong’s comments last week should also be seen as a positive sign that, at last, some action will be taken to stand up for freedom of speech by ending the Assange case. Speaking on Radio National last Friday, Wong said:

The Prime Minister has expressed that it’s hard to see what is served by keeping Mr Assange incarcerated and expressed a view that it’s time for the case to be brought to an end.

As former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr has written, it is perfectly legitimate for Australia to ask the US to withdraw its case against Assange. Carr has also pointed to the dangerous precedent set by the case – the extraterritorial reach of the US to seize anyone anywhere in the world who exposes something which embarrasses Washington. On September 8, 2020 Carr told The Sydney Morning Herald:

If America can get away with this — that is digging up an Australian in London and putting him on trial for breaching their laws — why can’t another government do the same thing? For example, an Australian campaigning for human rights in Myanmar, that Australian in theory could be sought by the government of Myanmar and brought back to Myanmar from London and put on trial there for breach of their national security laws.

Ironically the Morrison government opposed the security law that China imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 in part because it includes a provision which catches foreign citizens who criticise Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong.

The case of Assange cannot be allowed to continue. It represents an affront to fundamental democratic values and it shows Washington to be no better than authoritarian regimes that hunt down critics the world over. The early signs are the Albanese government is uncomfortable about the case, which is a welcome development, but there is little time to do so.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Labor urged to act to prevent Julian Assange extradition

  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2022/05/28/labor-urged-act-prevent-julian-assange-extradition#mtr, 28 May 22, The legal case against Julian Assange is a game of luck and whim. Any day now, the British home secretary, Priti Patel, is expected to rubber stamp his extradition to the United States. What will happen to him there is uncertain.

The Westminster Magistrates’ Court formally approved his extradition on April 20 and Patel has until May 31 to announce whether it will happen. If convicted of espionage in the US, Assange could be sentenced to 175 years in prison. His legal team argue he would likely kill himself.

There is one glimmer of hope for the WikiLeaks founder, however, bound up in last weekend’s Australian election result. The victory of Anthony Albanese, a supporter of the journalist, has reignited calls to halt the extradition.

Albanese has said that while he didn’t sympathise with Assange for some of his actions, he could not see any purpose to keeping him in jail.“Assange’s appeal is like a game of extradition snakes and ladders. He managed to take his argument about US prison conditions all the way to the door of the Supreme Court, but they rejected it, so he slid back down to the magistrates’ court where he started.”

“The prime minister, Mr Albanese, has previously said ‘enough is enough’. [Then shadow] Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus issued a statement last year confirming that Labor wanted the matter ‘brought to an end’,” says lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter, who is a former WikiLeaks Party senate candidate. “So it remains to be seen whether such statements will result in the new government requesting that the US drop the case.”

She was “cautiously optimistic” about the case of Assange, who faces 17 charges under the US Espionage Act relating to the publication of classified documents and information related to US war crimes.

“It is helpful that the Greens – who have been calling for the Australian government to take action in the Assange case for some time – may hold the balance of power in the senate,” Tranter added.

Earlier this week, Albanese travelled to Japan for a meeting of the Quad leaders – from India, Japan, the US and Australia – to deliver a message about Australia’s policy changes.

Supporters including Tranter had urged the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to include the whistleblower on the agenda, and not just as a sideline issue.

The meeting was the “ideal opportunity” for Albanese to speak with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request that Assange be allowed to come home, said Greg Barns SC, an adviser to the Australian Assange campaign.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said they were unable to provide comment on Quad agenda items. Comment was being sought from DFAT.

Stella Assange, who married the WikiLeaks founder in Belmarsh prison this year and is the mother of their two children, told The Saturday Paper the case had become political. She insisted the government had a duty to protect its citizens.

“By failing to act, it’s not just negligent; it shows that whoever is in office that isn’t acting is not fit for office,” the human rights lawyer said. “This can end today if the Australian government decides to do something about it.”

Every human rights organisation in the world had said the extradition of the Townsville-born computer hacker, editor and publisher should be stopped, she said. The latest to speak out is the Council of Europe.

Earlier this month, then Foreign Affairs minister Marise Payne and her Labor shadow, Penny Wong, claimed Australia couldn’t intervene, as the matter was before the courts.

But former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking to The Saturday Paper, rubbished the claim. The MP pleaded to Australia to “speak up for your own”.

“Whilst in Britain there are – for good reason – constraints about raising [it] in parliament because it’s a sub judice matter, that does not apply in Australia,” Corbyn said.

“There is no legal case in Australia. So there’s nothing to stop every Australian politician speaking up with Julian Assange, and I think they should. Please do, because it will help the freedom for journalists everywhere.”

Barns said there was “plenty of political support” for Albanese to ensure the whistleblower does not face an effective death penalty in the US. He pointed out that the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group had 30 members from every party before the election. This is expected to increase, Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, said.

“Ultimately I don’t think Albo wants to become another Australian prime minister who is complicit in Julian’s persecution and more broadly the Western descent into barbarity that has been taking place ever since the Iraq invasion,” he said. “Whether he has the power to resist that is up to us.”

A spokesperson for DFAT said the government had “consistently raised the situation of Mr Assange with the United States and the United Kingdom”. The spokesperson said the government “conveyed our expectations that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to proper medical and other care, and access to his legal team”. However, “The extradition case regarding Julian Assange is between the United States and the United Kingdom; Australia is not a party to this case.”

US–Australian relations are one of many matters that will test Albanese’s leadership. According to Tranter, freedom of information requests show “that consecutive governments have long held the view that the Assange case has strategic implications for the alliance”. She says this is why no Australian government had spoken out in support of his human rights or provided diplomatic assistance to him.

“Mr Albanese should take a stand consistent with his stated ethos of protecting the persecuted and not forsake any Australian citizen to personal abuse for political purposes,” Tranter said.

As he awaits his fate, Assange is incarcerated in London’s maximum security Belmarsh prison. He was taken there after seven years in the Ecuador embassy in London, where he sought asylum to prevent extradition to Sweden over now-abandoned sexual assault charges.

“Assange’s appeal is like a game of extradition snakes and ladders,” says Nick Vamos, the former head of extradition at Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service. “He managed to take his argument about US prison conditions all the way to the door of the Supreme Court, but they rejected it, so he slid back down to the magistrates’ court where he started.”

Assange “can’t climb that particular ladder again”, Vamos says. “But he can still appeal on the other grounds that he lost originally, so there are likely to be a few more ups and downs before this process is finally over.”

The partner and head of business crime at London firm Peters & Peters said the attempts to persuade Home Secretary Patel not to order the extradition would not be successful – “not in a million years”.

Vamos says that if there is another appeal in Britain it could take another six months to be heard. If it is denied, another avenue is the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France, which could issue an order directing Britain not to extradite Assange until its case is heard.

Jennifer Robinson, part of Assange’s legal team, has confirmed this is a path being considered.

“This case is too important from a free speech point of view, but also from a humanitarian point of view,” she said.

“We know what the medical evidence is about Julian’s mental health, and that he will find a way to commit suicide if he’s extradited.”

In all, Vamos says, these appeals could take another two years. But once Assange’s extradition has been signed off, he says, US Marshals are free to fly to Britain to arrest Assange: “It will normally happen within a couple of weeks of Patel making the order.”

At an EU Free Assange rally in Brussels, on April 23, Assange’s wife wiped away tears as she spoke to the crowd. The event was aimed at targeting European leaders, with speeches by politicians from various countries. “In the end this will end up in Europe,” Stella Assange said. “Europe can free Julian. Europe must free Julian.”

She recalled that 15 years into his 27-year imprisonment, people thought Nelson Mandela would never be liberated. “But he was, because decent people in that case came out and they shouted for his freedom, even if they were the only person in the square to shout,” she said.

“The fact is, it takes a few decent people to show the way and what we stand for, because we create the reality around us.”

Activists were defending “not just decency and the memory” of all the tens of thousands of victims of the Iraq and Afghan war, caught up in the crimes that WikiLeaks exposed; they were also standing up for the right to a free future.

“What has been done to Julian is a crime,” Stella Assange said. “The law is being abused in order to keep him incarcerated, year after year, for doing the right thing … When will it end? Will it end?”

May 28, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s family says federal election result brings renewed hope for WikiLeaks founder’s release

 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-27/julian-assange-release-family-election-result-brings-hope/101100860, By Brendan Mounter and Adam Stephen, 27 May 22,

Key points:

  • The family and supporters of Julian Assange are hopeful of securing his release following a change of government
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has previously expressed support for efforts to secure the WikiLeaks founder’s return to Australia
  • Mr Assange has spent the past three years in the UK’s Belmarsh Prison

The family of Julian Assange is hopeful the election of a federal Labor government will pave the way for the WikiLeaks founder’s eventual release and a return to Australia. 

It has been almost a decade since Mr Assange, who originally hails from Townsville in north Queensland, has been a free man.

For the past three years, he has been in high security detention at Belmarsh Prison in the United Kingdom, after seven years of asylum within London’s Ecuadorian embassy in a bid to avoid arrest.

United States authorities have sought Mr Assange’s extradition from the UK so he can stand trial on charges of espionage and computer misuse relating to hundreds of thousands of leaked cables from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His brother, film producer Gabriel Shipton, said Mr Assange had been persecuted for publishing the ugly truths of war.

“Julian is accused of what investigative journalists do all the time, which is sourcing and publishing materials from a source, Chelsea Manning,” Mr Shipton said.

“Those releases exposed war crimes in Iraq, undocumented civilian deaths in Iraq, corruption, government malfeasance … all sorts of things.”

American prosecutors allege Mr Assange unlawfully helped US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk.

Family urges incoming government to act

Lawyers for Mr Assange fear he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is extradited to the US and convicted.

But the weekend’s election result has buoyed his supporters, with the hope that the new Labor government will intervene and help secure his release.

While in Opposition, newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is reported to have told a February 2021 caucus meeting that “enough was enough” and he “can’t see what’s served by keeping [Assange] incarcerated”. 

Mr Albanese is also a signatory to the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition.

Senior Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, who is expected to be appointed Attorney-General, has also expressed a need to “bring the matter to a close”.

Mr Shipton is calling on the new government to turn those words into action.

“That was the Labor position before the election so we’re very hopeful when there’s a new administration, a new government coming in there’s always a lot of hope that they will live up to their promises,” he said.

May 28, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Pressure Mounts on British Home Secretary Patel Over Assange Decision

New Australian Government 

The election on Friday of just the fourth Labor government in Australia since the Second World War may bode well for Assange. The new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has said publicly that Assange should be returned to his native Australia. 

Pressure Mounts on Patel Over Assange Decision,  https://consortiumnews.com/2022/05/22/pressure-mounts-on-patel-over-assange-decision/

The British home secretary is under pressure as she’s about to decide whether to extradite WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. By Joe Lauria
in London

Special to Consortium News
, 23 May 22,

At some point during the next nine days, British Home Secretary Priti Patel will decide whether or not to extradite imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to the United States to face espionage charges for publishing accurate information revealing U.S. war crimes.

Pressure is building from both sides on the home secretary.  Press freedom and human rights organizations, a Nobel laureate, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, journalists and Assange supporters have appealed to Patel to let Assange go. 

While it would be deemed improper for outside influence to be brought on judges, it would not be fanciful to imagine that behind the scenes Patel is getting the message from the U.S. Department of Justice and possibly from U.S. and U.K. intelligence services about what is expected of her.

The home secretary should know without prodding what the U.S. and British governments want her to do. Patel is a highly-ambitious politician who no doubt will calculate how her decision will impact her career. 

“Politicians think about their next election, they think about their voters … that’s what makes them tick,” Kristinn Hrafnnson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, told Consortium News at a protest outside the Home Office in London last Wednesday. “For the first time it’s in the hands of a politician, and Priti Patel, if she wants to think about her legacy … she should do the right thing.”

“Politics is a strange beast,” Hrafnsson said. “Anything can happen. I’m hoping this is something that will be taken up in the Cabinet here. Let’s not forget that Boris Johnson was a journalist. He was part of the media community and should have better understanding of this case than many others.”

Patel is acting after the U.K. Supreme Court refused to hear Assange’s appeal of a High Court decision to overturn a lower court ruling barring Assange’s extradition on health grounds and the danger of U.S. prisons. The High Court decided solely on conditional U.S. promises that Assange would be well treated in custody.

With the courts no longer involved and the decision solely in Patel’s hands, the case now is purely political, meaning political pressure can be brought to bear on the home secretary. 

“The home secretary has the discretion to block this extradition, and there is a lot of pressure from civil society and press freedom groups for her to do so,” said Stella Assange at a film screening on Thursday. 

She said the “heaviest” pressure had come from Dunja Mijatovic, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, “urging Patel to block it.” Mijatovic wrote to Patel on May 10, saying:

“I have been following the developments in Mr Assange’s case with great attention. In the judicial proceedings so far, the focus has mainly been on Mr Assange’s personal circumstances upon his possible extradition to the United States. While a very important matter, this also means, in my opinion, that the wider human rights implications of Mr Assange’s possible extradition, which reach far beyond his individual case, have not been adequately considered so far.

In particular, it is my view that the indictment by the United States against Mr Assange raises important questions about the protection of those that publish classified information in the public interest, including information that exposes human rights violations. The broad and vague nature of the allegations against Mr Assange, and of the offences listed in the indictment, are troubling as many of them concern activities at the core of investigative journalism in Europe and beyond.

Consequently, allowing Mr Assange’s extradition on this basis would have a chilling effect on media freedom, and could ultimately hamper the press in performing its task as purveyor of information and public watchdog in democratic societies.”

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquive has also written to Patel. “I join the growing collective concern about the violations of the human, civil and political rights of Mr. Julian Assange,” the Argentine wrote. He called the extradition request “illegal and abusive” and said it imperiled press freedom and could bring “potentially fatal consequences” to Assange. 

Amnesty International released a statement at the end of April calling on Patel to deny extradition. “If the Home Secretary certifies the US request to extradite Julian Assange it will violate the prohibition against torture and set an alarming precedent for publishers and journalists around the world,” Amnesty said. It went on:

“Prolonged solitary confinement is a regular occurrence in the USA’s maximum-security prisons. The practice amounts to torture or other ill-treatment, which is prohibited under international law. The assurances of fair treatment offered by the USA in Julian Assange’s case are deeply flawed and could be revoked at any time. Extradition to the USA would put Assange at risk of serious human rights violations, and hollow diplomatic assurances cannot protect him from such abuse.

If the UK government allows a foreign country to exercise extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction to prosecute a person publishing from the UK, other governments could use the same legal apparatus to imprison journalists and silence the press far beyond the borders of their own countries.” 

“There has been a huge mobilization all over Europe in many countries and 1,800 journalists have written an open letter to Priti Patel saying that this case should be blocked because it affects their safety because of the implications for global press freedom,” Stella Assange said.

Reporters Without Borders submitted a petition to Patel on Thursday with 65,000 signatures. It was delivered to British embassies in eight countries, Assange said.  More than  700,000 Australians have also signed a petition.

New Australian Government 

The election on Friday of just the fourth Labor government in Australia since the Second World War may bode well for Assange. The new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has said publicly that Assange should be returned to his native Australia. 

May 24, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Extraditing Julian Assange would be a gift to secretive, oppressive regimes

Handing over the WikiLeaks founder to the US will benefit those around the world who want to evade scrutiny

Peter Oborne 22 May 22, more https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/20/extradite-julian-assange-investigative-journalism-wikileaks

In the course of the next few days, Priti Patel will make the most important ruling on free speech made by any home secretary in recent memory. She must resolve whether to comply with a US request to extradite Julian Assange on espionage charges.

The consequences for Assange will be profound. Once in the US he will almost certainly be sent to a maximum-security prison for the rest of his life. He will die in jail.

The impact on British journalism will also be profound. It will become lethally dangerous to handle, let alone publish, documents from US government sources. Reporters who do so, and their editors, will risk the same fate as Assange and become subject to extradition followed by lifelong incarceration.

For this reason Daniel Ellsberg, the 91-year-old US whistleblower who was prosecuted for his role in the Pentagon Papers revelations, which exposed the covert bombing of Laos and Cambodia and thus helped end the Vietnam war, has given eloquent testimony in Assange’s defence.

He told an extradition hearing two years ago that he felt a “great identification” with Assange, adding that his revelations were among the most important in the history of the US.

The US government does not agree. It maintains that Assange was effectively a spy and not a reporter, and should be punished accordingly.

Up to a point this position is understandable. Assange was anything but an ordinary journalist. His deep understanding of computers and how they could be hacked singled him out from the professionally shambolic arts graduates who normally rise to eminence in newspapers.

The ultimate creature of the internet age, in 2006 he helped found WikiLeaks, an organisation that specialises in obtaining and releasing classified or secret documents, infuriating governments and corporations around the world.

The clash with the US came in 2010, when (in collaboration with the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, the New York Times and other international news organisations) WikiLeaks entered into one of the great partnerships of the modern era in any field. It started publishing documents supplied by the US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

Between them, WikiLeaks and Manning were responsible for a series of first-class scoops that any self-respecting reporter would die for. And these scoops were not the tittle-tattle that comprises the daily fodder of most journalism. They were of overwhelming global importance, reshaping our understanding of the Iraq war and the “war on terror”.

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To give one example among thousands, WikiLeaks published a video of soldiers in a US helicopter laughing as they shot and killed unarmed civilians in Iraq – including a Reuters photographer and his assistant. (The US military refused to discipline the perpetrators.)

To the intense embarrassment of the USWikiLeaks revealed that the total number of civilian casualties in Iraq was 66,000 – far more than the US had acknowledged.


It shone an appalling new light on the abuse meted out to the Muslim inmates at Guantánamo Bay, including the revelation that 150 innocent people were held for years without charge.

Clive Stafford Smith, the then chairman of the human rights charity Reprieve who represented 84 Guantánamo prisoners, praised the way WikiLeaks helped him to establish that charges against his clients were fabricated.

It’s easy to see why the US launched a criminal investigation. Then events took an unexpected turn in November 2010 when Sweden issued an arrest warrant against Assange following allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange refused to go to Sweden, apparently on the grounds that this was a pretext for his extradition to the United States and took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Sweden never charged Assange with an offence, and dropped its investigation in 2019.

This was an eventful year in the Assange story. Ecuador kicked him out of the embassy and he was promptly arrested for breaching bail: he’s languished for the past three years in Belmarsh prison. Meanwhile the US pursues him using the same 1917 Espionage Act under which Ellsberg was unsuccessfully prosecuted. Assange’s defence, led by the solicitor Gareth Peirce and Edward Fitzgerald QC, has argued that his only crime was the crime of investigative journalism.

They point out that the indictment charges Assange with actions, such as protecting sources, that are basic journalistic practice: the US alleges that “Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records”. Any journalist who failed to take this elementary precaution when supplied with information by a source would be sacked.

The US stated that Assange “actively encouraged Manning” to provide the information. How disgraceful! No wonder Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, has warned that: “It is dangerous to suggest that these actions are somehow criminal rather than steps routinely taken by investigative journalists who communicate with confidential sources to receive classified information of public importance.”

Despite all this, there’s no reason to suppose that Patel will come to Assange’s rescue – though there may yet be further legal ways to fight extradition.

Even if Patel wasn’t already on the way to winning the all-corners record as the most repressive home secretary in modern history, the Johnson government, already in Joe Biden’s bad books, has no incentive to further alienate the US president.

If and when Assange is put on a plane to the US, investigative journalism will suffer a permanent and deadening blow.

And the message will be sent to war criminals not just in the US but in every country round the globe that they can commit their crimes with impunity.

May 23, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

The US Cries About War Crimes While Imprisoning A Journalist For Exposing Its War Crimes

 https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-us-cries-about-war-crimes-while?s=w. 20 Apr 22, In what his lawyers have described as a “brief but significant moment in the case,” a British magistrates’ court has signed off on Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, bringing the WikiLeaks founder one step closer to a US trial under the Espionage Act which threatens press freedoms worldwide.

The extradition case now goes to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval, which will likely be forthcoming as Patel is a reliably loyal empire manager. After that point, Assange’s legal team will be able to launch an appeal. 

This is happening at the same time the United States and the United Kingdom are loudly demanding accountability for alleged war crimes by the Russian military in Ukraine, which is interesting because attempting to bring accountability for war crimes is precisely why Julian Assange is in prison.

“He is a war criminal,” President Biden said of Vladimir Putin following allegations of war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine earlier this month. “I think it is a war crime. … He should be held accountable.”

Biden: Putin should face war crimes trial for Bucha killings 4 April 2022

Wikileaks 5 April – 12 years ago today 5 Julian Assange published the Collateral Murder video detailing the gunning down of civilians, children & 2 Reuters journalists. Assange faces a 175 year sentence if extradited for revealing this and other war crimes

This is why the US government is trying to extradite Julian Assange: for revealing the US massacre of civilians, including two Reuters journalists in Iraq

And that’s all I’d like to say here today, really. That this discrepancy is very interesting.

I mean, can we take a moment to deeply appreciate the irony of this? Because it’s so obscene and outrageous it’s actually hard to take in unless you really let it absorb. The most powerful government in the world, which serves as the hub of the most powerful empire that has ever existed, is working to extradite a journalist for exposing its war crimes while simultaneously rending its garments over war crime allegations against another government.

I mean, damn. You would think a power structure that had recently been caught red-handed committing war crimes and is currently in the process of imprisoning a journalist for exposing those war crimes would at least have the sense not to yell too loudly about war crimes for a little while. But this is how confident the empire is in its ability to control the narrative.

Really take it in. Really digest it. The more you think about it, the freakier it gets. Not only is the empire persecuting a journalist for exposing its war crimes while at the same time demanding that others be held accountable for war crimes, it is also attacking the free press for reporting the truth about the powerful while at the very same time engaging in a massive propaganda operation which holds that it is involved in Ukraine to protect its freedom and democracy.

I mean, the gall. The absolute temerity. The balls on this empire, man.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Assange exposed many ugly realities about the powerful in his work with WikiLeaks, but everything that he has managed to expose thereafter simply by forcing them to prosecute him far surpasses the revelations in those publications.

If the highest form of journalism is exposing the darkest secrets of the most powerful people in the world, then Julian Assange is the highest form of journalist.

April 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s family tirelessly advocate for his freedom

 https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/julian-assanges-family-tirelessly-seek-his-freedom,16208 By John Jiggens | 31 March 2022,

The fight for Julian Assange’s freedom goes on in the face of Western intransigence, writes Dr John Jiggens.

FRESH FROM attending the marriage of his son Julian Assange to partner Stella Moris, Assange’s continent-hopping father, John Shipton, will address the Palm Sunday rally in Brisbane on 10 April and attend a Q&A at a preview screening of the film Ithaka.

Produced by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton, Ithaka was directed by multi-award-winning director Ben Lawrence. The yet-to-be-released documentary will be a special thank-you to Julian’s many Queensland supporters. 

Filmed over two years across the UK, Europe, the U.S. and Australia, Ithaka follows John Shipton’s punishing schedule to save his son. 

We witness John embark on a European odyssey to rally a global network of supporters, advocate to politicians and cautiously step into the media’s glare, where he is forced to confront the events that made Julian a global flashpoint. 

In marked contrast to the war in Ukraine, the Iraqi war was covered by journalists embedded with the invading forces.

Civilian deaths were dismissed as “collateral damage”.  

When WikiLeaks showed us what “collateral damage” looked like from the perspective of Iraqi civilians, releasing a video of a massacre by an Apache helicopter gun crew of Iraqi civilians and two Reuter journalists, Julian Assange called it Collateral Murder.  

This intervention played an important role in ending the illegal UK, U.S. and Australian invasion of a sovereign nation, and because of this, the war criminals he exposed are destroying Julian Assange with the consent of the Australian Government, claiming he is the criminal.

But Assange was a hero for peace. 

For the Apache helicopter crew, the civilians on the ground were dehumanised. Like boys playing a computer game, they exclaimed “light ‘em up!” as they blew apart their victims from their unseen platform a mile in the sky.  

When a good samaritan stopped to help those still living, he and his children were ruthlessly machine-gunned. The crew blamed their father, saying he shouldn’t have brought children to a war zone.

Ithaka tracks John Shipton’s journey alongside Julian’s then-fiancée, Stella Moris, as they join forces to advocate for Julian.  

Stella and Julian’s marriage was a rare joyful moment for this embattled family. The mainstream media, of course, presented it as a bizarro celebrity wedding. Knowing which details to ignore, they focussed on the bride and groom’s clothes, rather than the politics. 

We learned that Julian, his brother Gabriel, and Stella and Julian’s two sons, Gabriel and Max, wore tartan kilts in honour of their Scottish heritage.

Vivienne Westwood, a long-time supporter, designed and made Stella a full-length wedding dress, which was adorned with graffiti and one of Westwood’s signature corsets. 

The largest contingent of the wedding party were prison guards and one of them was given the task of being the official photographer. Before saying “I do”, Stella was searched multiple times and had to pass through security scanners and sniffer dogs.

She was patted down in her wedding gown and fingerprinted four times. 

Two of the couple’s six guests, U.S. journalist Chris Hedges and Scottish journalist Craig Murray (who was to be one of the witnesses) were denied entry. They stayed outside with 150 supporters.

Craig Murray, who was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was fired for exposing the CIA black sites and torture centres in that country, was told that he could not enter because he would “endanger the security of the prison”

As Stella admitted:

“It’s not the wedding we would have planned.”

She also said:

“But we’re choosing to take control of our lives. We’re doing it for love, for each other, for our sons and because Julian’s life has been put on hold for long enough, robbing him of years with his family.”

Belmarsh’s Governor Jenny Louis ordered the couple’s family out of the prison the minute the service was over and Julian was taken back to his cell, knowing he may never get to live with his family. 

As their own bizarro wedding present, the UK Supreme Court dismissed Assange’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to allow his extradition to the USA. 

With Julian facing a 175-year sentence if extradited to the U.S., his family members are confronting the prospect of losing Julian forever to the abyss of the U.S. justice system.

Dr John Jiggens is a writer and journalist currently working in the community newsroom at Bay-FM in Byron Bay.

You can book tickets to the screening of Ithaka in Brisbane here.

March 31, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

No chance of a fair trial for Julian Assange in America

Daniel Ellsberg: “It is outrageous that Biden has continued to pursue Julian Assange’s prosecution”, il Fatto Quotidiano, 23v Mar 22,

”……………………………………………..  Julian Assange was charged with Espionage Act violations. Did you expect that the United States, for the first time in its history, would charge a journalist for publishing truthful information in the public interest?

DANIEL ELLSBERG. The lawyers who were following this at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), were predicting that Donald Trump would prosecute journalists. No president had done that yet, it’s a blatant violation of the First Amendment. It’s obviously unconstitutional, which of course doesn’t slow down Trump, and it is outrageous that Biden has continued to pursue that prosecution. He should have withdrawn the appeal Trump made for extradition of Julian, for prosecution. Biden could just drop it any time, he could do it the next hour. It was very arguably unconstitutional even in my case: I was the first to be indicted under those charges, for leaking, but I had been a former official. I was a source, not a journalist – they don’t regard sources as journalists. You could argue either side in my case, as to whether it was constitutional. In Julian’s [case] there is no argument on the other side: it’s obviously unconstitutional, in America, under our First Amendment. Obama had considered indicting Julian, but had backed off for that very reason, that if they went after Julian on those grounds, they would have no excuse for not going after the New York Times. And they didn’t want to take that on, in part because the New York Times is extremely useful to them, to successive administrations. It basically supports the empire, and doesn’t object to endless amounts of money for so-called defense. It’s a very useful outlet for them, even though it occasionally prints things they would rather not have out.

Why do you think the Biden administration doesn’t drop the case?

ELLSBERG. Biden, when he was vice president, at the very beginning, in 2010, called Julian Assange a high-tech terrorist, which is absurd. He is very much against leaks, and actually all presidents get very angry at leaks that they don’t want out, but they recoil from the prospect of clearly unconstitutional action. Trump didn’t, and Biden should have, but he hasn’t so far. It’s still not too late for him to correct that, but I don’t expect that he will. He shows so much animus toward Julian, that I don’t expect it. I don’t know why entirely, by the way. In general, in foreign policy, he has not shown anything progressive or favorable. In domestic policy, in many ways he has acted better than almost anyone expected, but on foreign policy, there is nothing to be said for him: it’s the same as Obama’s, which was not good, and pretty much the same as Trump’s.

According to Yahoo! News, the CIA tried to poison Julian Assange or kidnap him. If the United States can extradite him, do you expect a fair trial?

ELLSBERG. A fair trial? Oh, there’s no chance for him to have a fair trial, any more than any of the other people charged and convicted under the Espionage Act, or even me. I am the only one who, in a way, ‘got away with it’, in the sense of not being put in prison for life or for a long time by the administration, and that was because of a very unusual set of events, but they’re the same as we’ve learned about Julian. Just as they were considering kidnapping him from the Ecuadorian embassy, possibly killing him, possibly poisoning, but also even considering shoot-outs of various kinds that would get him, I [too] had thirteen men, twelve or thirteen, brought from Miami, CIA assets, one of them at least a CIA agent right at that time, but they had all worked for the CIA in the Bay of Pigs. They were brought up with orders to ‘incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg, totally’. When I asked the prosecutor: ‘What did that mean? Kill me?’, he said: ‘Well, the words were ‘incapacitate you totally’, but you know, those who work for the CIA never use the word ‘kill’. But they were killers, those people had been involved in efforts to assassinate Castro, and even Trujillo. They didn’t [kill me]. Again, I escaped that fate, because at the last moment they thought they were being set up to be caught, so I was lucky, over and over again. None of the other people indicted have been lucky, they all have been convicted essentially, in many cases by plea bargains, because they have been threatened with much greater sentences. Life [sentences] for treason or espionage, and they have accepted smaller charges, but that still kept them in prison for years, in many cases……………

So you think there is no chance at all of a fair trial for Julian Assange…

ELLSBERG. Because under the Espionage Act, the defendant has no chance to tell the Jury why they did what they did, or what they were hoping to achieve, what the benefits to the public were hoped to be and in some cases were realised, and what harm there really was, which was usually nothing, to the national security. That is aside from the fact, as you mentioned, that in his case, as in mine, there were crimes against him: conspiracies to harm him, totally, criminally, as was true in my case. But in my case, when it came out, the case was dropped…………..

in the case of Julian Assange, the revelations that the CIA tried, had plans to kill him didn’t make the judge drop the case…

ELLSBERG. She didn’t really consider them, seriously, which seems shocking. I mean, British law is different from American, in the sense: they don’t have a First Amendment………………… in Britain – their Act is much tougher against free speech and against the press there. So maybe the judge couldn’t take that seriously, being British. But the idea of illegally overhearing a defendant’s discussions with his attorneys, and with his doctors, and everything he said with every visitor – I visited him twice in the Ecuadorian embassy, and I am sure it was recorded – that, obviously, even in Britain [he smiles], or anywhere else, should lead to the dropping of the case, except in a clear-cut police society, let’s say, like East Germany used to be, for example.

……………….. If Julian Assange is extradited and prosecuted in America, I would say, with the mood now, since 9/11, with these last twenty years, he might well be convicted, although he shouldn’t be. The First Amendment would then be eliminated. What that means is: not only sources, but journalists would then have to fear being prosecuted and convicted for doing their job in questioning the government, putting out information the top government doesn’t want. This is a government that we know conducts aggressive wars, criminal aggressive wars, as in Iraq, absolutely, clear-cut aggression, and has very, very little concern for the people of those areas, as they are showing in Afghanistan, right now…………..

 In short: it’s a government that needs to be exposed, and it won’t be very much if…if Julian’s case is a real turning point here, then we will essentially have a press like that of Stalin’s Russia.

March 24, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment