Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Adani’s search for scientists’ names – pressure on scientists to shut up about climate change, water scarcity?

Adani has set a dangerous precedent in requesting scientists’ names, The Conversation     Samantha Hepburn, Director of the Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Law, Deakin Law School, Deakin University
July 17, 2019  A freedom of information request has revealed Adani sought the names of CSIRO and Geoscience Australia scientists involved in reviewing groundwater management plans related to its proposed Carmichael mine.

Adani argued it required a list of people involved in the review so as to have “peace of mind” that it was being treated fairly and impartially on a scientific rather than a political basis.

Ten days before Adani’s request, Geoscience Australia’s acting director of groundwater advice and data reportedly raised concerns that Adani had “actively searched/viewed” his LinkedIn profile and that of a colleague.

Significantly, Adani’s request to the government was made before CSIRO and Geoscience Australia had reported their review findings back to the Queensland government.

While the federal Department of the Environment and Energy reportedly declined to hand over the names, the fact the letter was sent in the first place is concerning. It fundamentally interferes with the capacity of individual scientists to provide clear and informed evaluation………..

The letter sent by Adani requesting the names of scientists was allegedly grounded in concerns about the possibility of anti-Adani activism by expert reviewers. Despite this, Adani made it clear that it was not explicitly alleging bias. Its objective, the letter said, was a desire to be “treated fairly and in a manner consistent with other industry participants”.

The real purpose of the letter

If Adani was seriously concerned about a breach of procedural fairness in the review of their groundwater management plan, it would have sought a judicial review. It did not – because there was no breach.

The scientists working at CSIRO and Geoscience Australia are all experts in their disciplines. They were engaged in the important process of determining whether Adani’s plan for managing groundwater around their mine would meet the environmental conditions of their mining licence. In other words, the scientists were doing their job…….

As Adani has not brought an action for judicial review, the substantive purpose of the letter appears to be, as suggested by CSIRO representatives, to pressure scientists and potentially seek to discredit their work. The potentially chilling effect is clear.

Concern about climate change is not bias

The profound concerns raised by climate change and fossil fuel emissions are shared by many scientists around the world. The reports prepared for the International Panel on Climate Change make it clear that coal fired electricity must drop to nearly zero by 2050 to keep warming within 1.5℃.

This shared concern does not make scientists political activists. Nor does it prevent scientists from acting fairly and impartially when reviewing a groundwater management plan.

An acceptance of climate science and even a belief that coal-fired energy should be decommissioned does not constitute bias. A reasonable bystander would expect most environmental scientists to be concerned about climate change…….

The letter, sent before the review was handed down, sets a dangerous precedent. Not because it suggests the scientists were impartial or there was any procedural unfairness involved in the process. But rather, because it jeopardises the independence of our scientists who, in seeking to ensure the longevity of our water, food and energy resources, carry a heavy responsibility to the public interest.  https://theconversation.com/adani-has-set-a-dangerous-precedent-in-requesting-scientists-names-120487?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201363812812&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201363812812+CID_b76b199d2a9f41a0b97b5b71ad372c57&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Adani%20has%20set%20a%20dangerous%20precedent%20in%20requesting%20scientists%20name

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July 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Warning on the likely police surveillance of young climate protestors

July 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Adani demands names of CSIRO scientists reviewing groundwater plans

July 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s police raids on the media will silence whistleblowers

It sends shockwaves through your life’: how the media raids will silence whistleblowers, Guardian  Christopher Knaus @knausc 9 Jun 2019

Those forces have already exacted a crippling toll.

“[My ex-wife] would probably say – and I think there’s an element of truth in it – it killed David McBride,” he says. “The man that she married was killed by the defence force, and I’m someone who’s different.

“Doing something like this, taking on the whole government, it sends shockwaves through your life, and not much survives, really.”

Wednesday’s raid on the ABC prompted outrage among civil rights groups, transparency campaigners, journalists and unions. It came just a day after federal police searched the home of the News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst, searching for documents related to her coverage of proposed new surveillance powers for the Australian Signals Directorate. 2GB host Ben Fordham’s revelation about asylum seeker boats attempting to reach Australia from Sri Lanka is also the subject of a home affairs investigation, as the department attempts to identify his source.

The raids have not occurred in isolation. Multiple whistleblowers who revealed government wrongdoing are currently being pursued through the courts with alarming vigour.

The government is prosecuting Witness K and Bernard Collaery, who revealed an unlawful spy operation against Timor-Leste during oil negotiations. Richard Boyle, the tax office worker who revealed the government’s heavy-handed approach to recovering debts, faces a long stint in jail if convicted.

Assoc Prof Joseph Fernandez, a journalism lecturer at Curtin University, has spent years studying source protection and the Australian media. He says the consequences of this week’s raids are clear, regardless of whether journalists are charged.

“Such raids, regardless of what happens here to journalists or to others, will have an immeasurable censoring effect on contact people have with journalists,” Fernandez says.

“In my research in this area over the years, it was clear that even senior public servants are apprehensive about having contact with journalists, even about mundane things, in the wake of laws that enable the authorities to track down sources.”

The McBride matter had been bubbling away for some time before Wednesday’s raid. Guardian Australia understands police have been talking to the ABC since at least September, trying to find a way to access the documents without resorting to a very public raid. …….

Denis Muller, from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, says arguments about the police operating at arm’s length from government miss the point.    “The point is that the politicians have constructed a repressive legal regime designed to protect the executive branch of government, impede accountability to the public and exert a chilling effect on the press,” Muller wrote in the Conversation……….    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jun/08/it-sends-shockwaves-through-your-life-how-the-media-raids-will-silence-whistleblowers

June 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Statement by Ita Buttrose, ABC Chair, on the public’s right to know

 http://about.abc.net.au/statements/statement-by-ita-buttrose-abc-chair-on-the-publics-right-to-know/

An untrammelled media is important to the public discourse and to democracy. It is the way in which Australian citizens are kept informed about the world and its impact on their daily lives.

Observance of this basic tenet of the community’s right to know has driven my involvement in public life and my career in journalism for almost five decades.

The raid is unprecedented – both to the ABC and to me.

In a frank conversation with the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, yesterday, I said the raid, in its very public form and in the sweeping nature of the information sought, was clearly designed to intimidate.

It is impossible to ignore the seismic nature of this week’s events: raids on two separate media outfits on consecutive days is a blunt signal of adverse consequences for news organisations who make life uncomfortable for policy makers and regulators by shining lights in dark corners and holding the powerful to account.

I also asked for assurances that the ABC not be subject to future raids of this sort. Mr Fletcher declined to provide such assurances, while noting the “substantial concern” registered by the Corporation.

There has been much reference in recent days to the need to observe the rule of law.

While there are legitimate matters of national security that the ABC will always respect, the ABC Act and Charter are explicit about the importance of an independent public broadcaster to Australian culture and democracy.

Public interest is best served by the ABC doing its job, asking difficult questions and dealing with genuine whistle-blowers who risk their livelihoods and reputations to bring matters of grave import to the surface. Neither the journalists nor their sources should be treated as criminals.

In my view, legitimate journalistic endeavours that expose flawed decision-making or matters that policy makers and public servants would simply prefer were secret, should not automatically and conveniently be classed as issues of national security.

The onus must always be on the public’s right to know. If that is not reflected sufficiently in current law, then it must be corrected.

As ABC Chair, I will fight any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster or interfere with its obligations to the Australian public. Independence is not exercised by degrees. It is absolute.

___________________________________________________________

For further information contact:
Peter Munro, ABC Communications
munro.peter@abc.net.au

June 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Australia heads for authoritarian rule, as Federal Police under government control, threatens press freedom

The AFP media raids aim to suppress the truth. Without it we head into the darkness of oppression   https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jun/05/the-afp-media-raids-aim-to-suppress-the-truth-without-it-we-head-into-the-darkness-of-oppression

According to the Australian Federal Police Association’s president, Angela Smith, there was a widely shared feeling across the AFP that the body had “lost autonomy”. “It’s an embarrassing situation,” Smith was quoted as saying. “We look the least independent police force in Australia.”

In the wake of the AFP’s raids on a leading News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst on Tuesday and the ABC on Wednesday, the position of the AFP has gone from embarrassing to deeply disturbing.

Even Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the cheerleaders of the re-election of the Morrison government, seemed in no doubt as to the political purpose of the raid on Smethurst two weeks after a federal election. It was, News Corp said in an official statement, a “dangerous act of intimidation”.

Implicit in News Corp’s statement is that this is not an act of policing, but an act of politics.

What are we to make of two raids in two days as anything other than a symptom of deeply disturbing developments at the heart of our democracy?Smethurst’s story was over a year old. It was about a plan to allow the National Signals Directorate, for the first time, to directly spy on Australians by “hacking into critical infrastructure”.

In a statement the AFP attempted to justify its raid on Smethurst by arguing the disclosure of “these specific documents undermines Australia’s national security”. But how can our knowing about a possible major change to our freedoms as citizens in any way threaten our national security? The AFP doesn’t tell us because there is no argument they can make, only an unfounded assertion that they can repeat, mantra-like.

If mass surveillance is brought in, how will we know about it? Is national security best served by the inevitable abuses of such a scheme about which we are never told and which would go unpunished? Would national security be enhanced or weakened were Mr Dutton to use such powers for political advantage or to enable political persecution without our knowledge?

And if we cannot know the truth of such fundamental matters, what security as a democracy do we have?

If one raid was “a dangerous act of intimidation” what are we to make of two raids in two days – the second of our national broadcaster – as anything other than a symptom of deeply disturbing developments at the heart of our democracy?

The story in this case was not one but two years old, a major exposé of how Australian special forces soldiers had killed unarmed men and children in Afghanistan. On what possible grounds is it a good thing to not know atrocities have been committed by our nation?

How is our national security threatened by revealing crimes done in our name? Surely we are best served as a nation by a military that we can be confident acts within certain boundaries that are deemed acceptable in war and does not go beyond them?

In all this we cannot pretend to be surprised. The repression and culture of lying, deceit and evasion of public accountability that cloaked previous Liberal governments’ refugees policy is now coming home to haunt us all.

It was after all under Scott Morrison’s stewardship of the immigration portfolio that the notorious section 42 of the Border Force Act was enacted, allowing for the jailing for two years of any doctors or social workers who bore public witness to children beaten or sexually abused, to acts of rape or cruelty. The new crime was not crime, but the reporting of state-sanctioned violence on the innocent.

National security was invoked then to justify the enforcement of a national silence over what were no more or less than crimes.

And so it is again.

The consecutive timing of these acts represents not just a moment when a government crackdown on journalism began. The method may be to intimidate any whistleblower or journalist who would wish to reveal crimes committed by our government or in the name of our government.

But the aim is to suppress the truth.

And without the light of truth shining on what happens in public life we head into the darkness of oppression.

The Morrison government will soon seek to assume the high moral ground by diverting public discussion to the need for religious freedoms. But until I see Hillsong being raided by Dutton’s stooges, with the feds occupying their offices, accessing all their phone and computer records, I am not buying any of it.

This is a new government uninhibited, and it would now seem, unhinged. It does seem extraordinary that two cases, each of long standing, would immediately after an election, suddenly be activated to this level of public attention without ministerial knowledge. And yet, we have Dutton’s word it is not so. And were a news organisation subsequently to report, based on government documents, that the truth is otherwise, who knows who might come knocking on their door in the interest of national security?

Under his home affairs super ministry, Peter Dutton has more overt and covert power than any minister in our history. And this week officers of his ministry have been willing to use their powers recklessly against those practices that make us a democracy.

After the raids of the last two days, Australians would be justified in feeling fearful about their future. The politicians who might speak for us have long ceased to do so. And the journalists who still can, now risk everything if they publish political secrets that may be in our interests to know but are in our political masters’ to keep hidden.

Tweeting live from the ABC boardroom in which he was sitting with the AFP officers as they were going through the ABC’s files, John Lyons, the ABC’s executive news editor, wrote: “I have to say, sitting here watching police using a media organisation’s computers to track everything to do with a legitimate story I can’t help but think: this is a bad, sad and dangerous day for a country where we have for so long valued – and taken for granted – a free press.”

The Morrison government could not have signalled its turn to the new authoritarianism that is poisoning so many other democracies with any clearer message. Get ready for the future, because it may already be here.

June 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Swedish court rules in favour of Julian Assange: he will not be extradited to Sweden

4 June 19

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court has found in favour of Assange: the court ruled NOT to detain Assange in absentia. The preliminary investigation can proceed without Assange’s extradition to Sweden. This was always the case as Assange has always cooperated with the investigation.

Suzie Dawson on Julian Assange’s mistreatment #FreeAssange

June 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

Julian Assange will now not face Espionage Act charges.  

Assange won’t face charges over role in devastating CIA leak   The decision surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to go after the WikiLeaks founder on Espionage Act charges.  

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not face charges for publishing Vault 7, a series of documents detailing the CIA’s arsenal of digital code used to hack devices  Politico, By 6/2/19

The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to charge Julian Assange for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools, according to a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.

It’s a move that has surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to aggressively go after the WikiLeaks founder on more controversial Espionage Act charges that some legal experts said would not hold up in court. ……

Prosecutors were stymied by several factors. First, the government is facing a ticking clock in its efforts to extradite Assange to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he is being held. Extradition laws require the U.S. to bring any additional charges against Assange within 60 days of the first indictment, which prosecutors filed in March, accusing Assange of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into military computers.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not face charges for publishing Vault 7, a series of documents detailing the CIA’s arsenal of digital code used to hack devices | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to charge Julian Assange for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools, according to a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.

It’s a move that has surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to aggressively go after the WikiLeaks founder on more controversial Espionage Act charges that some legal experts said would not hold up in court. The decision also means that Assange will not face punishment for publishing one of the CIA’s most potent arsenals of digital code used to hack devices, dubbed Vault 7. The leak — one of the most devastating in CIA history — not only essentially rendered those tools useless for the CIA, it gave foreign spies and rogue hackers access to them.

Prosecutors were stymied by several factors.

First, the government is facing a ticking clock in its efforts to extradite Assange to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he is being held. Extradition laws require the U.S. to bring any additional charges against Assange within 60 days of the first indictment, which prosecutors filed in March, accusing Assange of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into military computers.

Second, prosecutors were worried about the sensitivity of the Vault 7 materials, according to an official familiar with the deliberations over whether to charge Assange. Broaching such a classified subject in court risks exposing even more CIA secrets, legal experts said. The CIA has never officially confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents, even though analysts widely believe them to be authentic……

So instead, the Justice Department will go after Assange on the one count for allegedly assisting Manning and the 17-count Espionage Act indictment. There are no plans to bring any additional indictments prior to his extradition.  https://www.politico.eu/article/julian-assange-wont-face-charges-over-cia-leak-whistleblower-spy-tools-national-security/

June 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange a victim of torture: Australian government just let it happen

UN rapporteur on torture: Julian Assange subjected to psychological torture

Assange a victim of torture and Australia shares blame, says UN expert, The Age, By Nick Miller
May 31, 2019 London: Julian Assange has been subjected to intense psychological torture comparable to some of the gravest cases from “interrogation prisons” around the world, a United Nations expert says.He accuses the UK, US and Sweden of a “consistent failure” to protect Assange’s human rights – and Australia of a “glaring absence” where it should be helping one of its citizens…..

Nils Melzer, a Geneva-based former Red Cross lawyer and human rights expert who is now the UN special rapporteur on torture, spent four hours with Assange in Belmarsh in early May, assessing his psychological and mental state along with two medical specialists.

In a currently confidential report submitted to the British government on Monday, along with letters to the US, Swedish and Ecuadorian governments, Melzer concluded Assange “shows all the symptoms of someone exposed to prolonged psychological ill-treatment”.

“The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” Melzer said. “Mr Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the deliberate, concerted and sustained nature of the abuse inflicted on Mr Assange and seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity.”

Melzer said the ill treatment was a combination of the way Assange was confined, isolated and persecuted while inside the Ecuadorean embassy, especially in his last year there, along with death threats and public accusations, the prosecutions pursued against him and the public statements made by US government officials as to how he should be dealt with.

Torture did not just include active efforts, but also covers a situation where a State is “aware your behaviour will have these consequences and not doing anything about it”, Melzer said.

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

Melzer told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that in his work with the UN and before in the field with the Red Cross he had seen people in rendition for interrogation after 9/11, and prisoners of war who had been ill-treated on a daily basis.

“But [Assange] is really something I’ve never seen in 20 years,” Melzer said. “I’ve seen atrocities in war areas that were physically more horrible but I’ve never seen a single person pursued so relentlessly and with so little foundation.

“[When I saw him] I immediately compared him to some of the graver cases in interrogation prisons in terms of his psychological reaction patterns. That’s what alarmed me so much.”

He said Assange’s treatment was “very close to the intentional, purposeful infliction of coercive measures to try to break him”.

Melzer said his visit on May 9 involved a three-hour psychological and physical assessment based on the “Istanbul Protocol”, a standard manual for assessing torture victims around the world.

The assessment took place before WikiLeaks revealed, on Wednesday, that Assange had been moved to a prison hospital having “dramatically lost weight” and in such a state that “it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him”…….

Assange, unlike other prisoners, was exposed to multiple major pending legal proceedings with “so much political commotion”, and was not being given enough time to talk to his lawyers and get updates on his case. ……

Melzer said he had seen no sign of Australian assistance for Assange.

“Australia is a glaring absence in this case. They’re just not around, as if Assange was not an Australian citizen. That is not the correct way of dealing with that.”…..

After it was reported Assange had been taken to the hospital prison this week, the Australian government again got in contact with the prison to check on him.

“We are confident that Mr Assange is being treated appropriately in Belmarsh Prison. Mr Assange has advised us that he is being treated the same as other prisoners in Belmarsh,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to visit Mr Assange in prison, monitor and advocate for his health, welfare and equitable treatment, and closely follow his legal proceedings.”  https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/assange-a-victim-of-torture-and-australia-shares-blame-says-un-expert-20190531-p51t1v.html

June 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Free media now under grave threat, as USA aims to gaol Julian Assange for life

May 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Gross injustice! Ecuador to hand over Assange’s entire legal defense to the United States 

Ecuador to hand over Assange’s entire legal defense to the United States  20 May 2019  https://wikileaks.org/Ecuador-to-hand-over.html

Three weeks before the U.S. deadline to file its final extradition request for Assange, Ecuadorian officials are travelling to London to allow U.S. prosecutors to help themselves to Assange’s belongings.

Neither Julian Assange nor U.N. officials have been permitted to be present when Ecuadorian officials arrive to Ecuador’s embassy in London on Monday morning.

The chain of custody has already been broken. Assange’s lawyers will not be present at the illegal seizure of his property, which has been “requested by the authorities of the United States of America”.

The material includes two of his manuscripts, as well as his legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment. The seizure of his belongings violates laws that protect medical and legal confidentiality and press protections.

The seizure is formally listed as “International Assistance in Criminal matters 376-2018-WTT requested by the authorities of the United States of America”. The reference number of the legal papers indicates that Ecuador’s formal cooperation with the United States was initiated in 2018.

Since the day of his arrest on 11 April 2019, Mr. Assange’s lawyers and the Australian consul have made dozens of documented demands to the embassy of Ecuador for the release and return of his belongings, without response. Continue reading

May 23, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Sweden wants Detention of Assange, meanwhile USA seizes his property. DOES AUSTRALIA CARE?

May 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Extradition of Julian Assange Threatens Us All 

May 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

More evidence that US may seek to prosecute Julian Asssange under the Espionage Act 

    https://www.thecanary.co/global/world-analysis/2019/04/28/more-evidence-that-us-may-seek-to-prosecute-julian-asssnge-under-the-espionage-act/  Tom Coburg , 28th April 2019  More evidence has emerged that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be prosecuted for offences under the US Espionage Act. Although testimony provided by a digital forensics expert raises questions about the prosecution.

Threat to former WikiLeaks staff/volunteers

A copy of a letter has been released, indicating that charges relating to the US Espionage Act maybe under consideration against one former WikiLeaks staffer, if not more. The letter is from the US Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice (DoJ), to former WikiLeaks employee and spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

Here is a translation by Netzpolitik.

In the letter, the DoJ admits it is also investigating WikiLeaks for the “unauthorized receipt and dissemination of secret information“, which reportedly can be charged under the Espionage Act. The letter offers Domscheit-Berg immunity from prosecution, providing he fully co-operates. However, when Domscheit-Berg’s lawyers requested access to the proceedings, the DoJ prosecutors responded by withdrawing their offer of immunity.

WikiLeaks staffer Jacob Appelbaum was also requested to testify, but he reportedly refused. David House, a computer programmer and campaigner for Chelsea Manning ,was subpoenaed by the Grand Jury in May 2018. According to one media outlet, he’s reportedly co-operating with the DoJ in exchange for immunity.

Faulty indictment

So far, Assange has been formally indicted for offences relating to computer misuse. Basically, he is charged with assisting Manning in the hacking of US government computers. A guilty verdict could mean up to five years imprisonment.

deconstruction of that indictment indicates the validity of the charges listed can be challenged. Indeed, the so-called offences merely equate to practices conducted by journalists worldwide (communicating with a source, respecting a source’s anonymity, etc), though the technologies have changed.

But with regard to the alleged cracking of a password, in an affidavit provided to the WikiLeaks Grand Jury, an FBI agent admitted:

there is no other evidence as to what Assange did, if anything, with respect to the password”.

Espionage charge

There has long been suspicion that once in the US, Assange could face more serious charges under the Espionage Act. That act carries the death penalty. However, under UK law an extradition request can be rejected if the destination country (e.g. the US) uses such a penalty, and offers no assurance it will not be applied. An extradition request can also be rejected if charges raised are seen as ‘political’.

But that means life inside the US gulag would still be on the cards:

23 hour daily confinement in a concrete box cell with one window four inches wide, six bed checks a day with a seventh at weekends, one hour of exercise in an outdoor cage, showers spraying water in one-minute spurts and “shakedowns” at the discretion of prison staff..

The late Michael Ratner, Assange’s US lawyer, was certain such a charge was planned all along:

[T]he Grand Jury’s number is 10, standing for the year it began, GJ which is Grand Jury and then 3793. Three is the Conspiracy Statute in the United States. 793 is the Espionage Statute. So what they’re investigating is 3793: conspiracy to commit espionage.

A December 2010 New York Times article argued that Assange could be prosecuted with offences beyond those under the Espionage Act, if it’s shown he provided technical assistance to Manning.

And journalist Chris Hedges believes that the theft of classified documents may end up as a charge:

f Manning, a former Army private, admits she was instructed by WikiLeaks and Assange in how to obtain and pass on the leaked material, which exposed US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the publisher could be tried for the theft of classified documents.

Evidence in doubt

However, not all is cut and dry.

At the trial of whistleblower Chelsea ManningMark Johnson, a digital forensics contractor for ManTech International and who also works for the Army’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit, was called to provide testimony. Reportedly, Johnson testified he had not seen any evidence that Nathaniel Frank, also known as ‘@pressassociation’ – both of whom the US authorities believe was Assange – encouraged Manning to seek or provide documents.

The prosecution then reportedly argued that evidence was likely deleted by Manning. That might partly explain why she has been subpoenaed to testify to the WikiLeaks Grand Jury.

And, again, this is why Manning is key to what happens next in the US prosecution of Assange.

April 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Journalist Glenn Greenwald defends Assange

Journalist Glenn Greenwald defends Assange: The Hill,  Julia Manchester 24 Apr 19   ‘Things that journalists do every single day’ Journalist Glenn Greenwald on Monday defended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was charged by the Justice Department earlier this month for allegedly conspiring to hack a government computer in connection with the organization’s release of sensitive government files in 2010.

“So much of what’s in the indictment, encouraging a source to get more documents, helping a source cover her tracks in order not to be detected, are things that journalists do every single day,” Greenwald, co-founding editor at The Intercept, told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton in an appearance on Hill.TV.

“You can say journalists don’t typically help a source hack into a password in order to get you know, a better way of hiding her identity, but helping a source avoid detection is definitely something journalists are not just entitled to do, but obligated to do,” he continued. ……https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/439992-greenwald-defends-assange-these-are-things-that-journalists-do-every-single-day

April 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment