Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Medical experts testify to court on Julian Assange’s precarious mental health

Assange faces “very high risk of suicide,” medical expert tells court, WSWS, By Thomas Scripps and Laura Tiernan, 23 September 2020

Medical evidence was produced in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing yesterday detailing the terrible harm done to the heroic journalist by a decade of state-orchestrated persecution.

The day was given over to the examination of Professor Michael Kopelman who testified to Assange’s mental health. Kopelman is a psychiatrist and Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry at Kings College London. He has given expert evidence in multiple extradition cases on behalf of both the defence and the prosecution. In assessing Assange, he conducted seventeen visits in 2019 and additional visits in 2020, constructed a “full family history” and a “full personal psychiatric history,” and carried out “interviews with his family and lifelong friends.”

His findings constitute a clear bar to Assange’s extradition to the United States. Under Section 91 of the UK Extradition Act (2003), extradition is prohibited if “the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.”

Under Section 87, extradition is prohibited if it is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Article 3 of the ECHR states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Medical evidence speaking to these bars has played a critical role in previous US-UK extradition hearings, for example in the case of Lauri Love. The risk of notoriously poor conditions in US prisons exacerbating mental illness is an important factor.

Assange’s case meets these criteria. The details in today’s WSWS coverage are being reported consistent with the “sensitivity” called for by defence lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC, on behalf of his client. Nonetheless they make overwhelmingly clear the “unjust and oppressive” treatment to which Assange has already been subjected.

Assange, Kopelman told the court, has experienced periods of serious mental illness in his earlier life. Since being confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy and then Belmarsh maximum security prison, these issues have resurfaced and worsened. Assange has suffered symptoms of severe and recurrent depression. Those symptoms have included “loss of sleep, loss of weight, a sense of pre-occupation and helplessness” and auditory hallucinations which Kopelman summarised as “derogatory and persecutory.”

They have also included “suicidal preoccupations.” Kopelman told the court, “There are… an abundance of known risk factors in Mr Assange’s case” and that Assange has “made various plans and undergone various preparations.” He gave his opinion that there was a “very high risk of suicide.”

These symptoms and risks, Kopelman explained, are exacerbated by an anxiety disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and by a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Kopelman cited a paper by world-leading autism expert Dr Simon Baron-Cohen which found that the lifetime experience of suicidal thoughts in those with Asperger’s “was more than nine times higher than in the general population in England.”

Explaining the impact of the US government’s persecution, Kopelman said, “The risk of suicide arises out of the clinical factors of depression and the other diagnoses, but it is the imminence of extradition and/or an actual extradition that will trigger the attempt, in my opinion.”

If Assange were to be incarcerated in the US and segregated from other prisoners, Kopelman gave his opinion that the WikiLeaks founder would “deteriorate substantially” and see an “exacerbation” of his “suicidal ideas.” This would “amount to psychological harm and severe psychological suffering.”

Kopelman’s evidence confirms the warnings made since November 2019 by Doctors for Assange, representing hundreds of medical professionals from around the world, that Assange is suffering “psychological torture” and “could die in prison.” It underlines in distressing detail UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer’s comment regarding Assange’s treatment that “psychological torture is not torture-lite. Psychological torture aims to wreck and destroy the person’s personality and identity… to make them break.”

Assange’s year-and-a-half long incarceration at Belmarsh has been designed to achieve this objective. It has profoundly undermined, in numerous ways, his legal right to prepare his defence against extradition. Kopelman reported yesterday that Assange has repeatedly complained that the medication taken for his mental health has caused him “difficulty in thinking, in memorising [and] in concentration.”

During the morning’s cross examination, Kopelman forcefully rebuffed prosecution lawyer James Lewis QC’s challenge to his credentials. He said solicitors had called him several times in recent years saying that Lewis himself was “keen to have your services” in an extradition case.

In the afternoon, cross-examination continued, with Lewis challenging the veracity of Kopelman’s diagnosis, and claiming that Assange’s appearance was “wholly inconsistent with someone who is severely or moderately-severely depressed and with psychotic symptoms.”

Kopelman replied, “Could we go back a step?” Having seen Assange between May 30 and December [2019], “I thought he was severely depressed, suicidal and was experiencing hallucinations.”………….. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/09/23/assa-s23.html

September 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australian scientists censored on speaking about climate change

 Censored: Australian scientists say suppression of environment research is getting worse
Survey finds that many researchers are banned from speaking about their work or have had their research altered to downplay risks.  Nature ,
Dyani Lewis, 22 Sept 20,   Environmental scientists in Australia say that they are under increasing pressure from their employers to downplay research findings or avoid communicating them at all. More than half of the respondents to an online survey thought that constraints on speaking publicly on issues such as threatened species, urban development, mining, logging and climate change had become worse in recent years1.

The findings, published this month in Conservation Letters, reflect how politicized debates about environmental policy in Australia have become, says Saul Cunningham, an environmental scientist at the Australian National University in Canberra. “We need our publicly funded institutions to be more vocal in defending the importance of an independent voice based on research,” he says.

Australian scientists aren’t the only ones who have reported interference in science or pressure — particularly from government employers — to downplay research findings. Scientists in the United StatesCanada and Brazil have also

Scale of the problem

Two hundred and twenty scientists in Australia responded to the survey, which was organized by the Ecological Society of Australia and ran from October 2018 until February 2019. Some of the respondents worked in government; others worked in universities or in industry, such as environmental consultancies or non-governmental organizations.

The results show that government and industry scientists experienced greater constraints from their employers than did university staff. Among government employees, about half were prohibited from speaking publicly about their research, compared with 38% employed in industry and 9% of university staff. Three-quarters of those surveyed also reported self-censoring their work (see ‘Scientists silenced’)……….

One-third of government respondents and 30% of industry employees also reported that their employers or managers had modified their work to downplay or mislead the public on the environmental impacts of activities such as logging and mining. ………. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02669-8

September 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Julian Assange dragged from embassy “on the orders of the president”

Explosive evidence from Trump insider,Assange dragged from embassy “on the orders of the president”, WSWS, By Laura Tiernan and Thomas Scripps, 22 September 2020

Alt-right media personality Cassandra Fairbanks’ witness testimony was read out in court yesterday, providing evidence that Julian Assange’s April 2019 arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was politically motivated and directed by United States President Donald Trump.

Fairbanks testified that Arthur Schwartz, a wealthy Republican Party donor and key Trump ally, had told her that Assange was taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy “on orders from the president.” The conversation between Schwartz and Fairbanks occurred in September 2019 and was recorded by Fairbanks.

Schwartz, a frequent visitor to the White House and “informal adviser” or “fixer” to Donald Trump Jr., told Fairbanks the president’s orders were conveyed via US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who brokered a deal with the Ecuadorian government for Assange’s removal. Grenell was appointed acting director of national intelligence by Trump in February this year, holding the position until May.

Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, spelled out the significance of Fairbanks’ disclosures, telling Judge Vanessa Baraitser they were, “evidence of the declared intentions of those at the top who planned the prosecution and the eviction from the embassy.”

Fairbanks, who writes for the pro-Trump Gateway Pundit, is a prominent Assange supporter who visited the WikiLeaks founder at the Embassy on two key occasions. Her evidence was read into proceedings yesterday afternoon unopposed, with Fitzgerald explaining, “My learned friend [James Lewis QC for the prosecution] reserves the right to say ‘because she’s a supporter of Julian Assange you must take that into account in weighing her evidence.’ But we say [her evidence] is true.”

Given her close connections to leading figures in the Trump administration’s fascistic entourage, Fairbanks is uniquely positioned to expose key aspects of the politically motivated vendetta against the WikiLeaks founder. Throughout the extradition hearing, lawyers for the US government have repeatedly claimed the charges against Assange under the Espionage Act are motivated by “criminal justice concerns” and are “not political.”

Fairbanks’ evidence shreds the official narrative of the Department of Justice (DoJ) that Assange was arrested on April 11, 2019 in relation to “hacking.” In a phone call with Schwartz on October 30, 2018, he made clear that Assange would be arrested as political payback for his role in “the Manning case,” i.e., the disclosure by US Army whistle-blower Chelsea Manning of US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq……………

Speaking outside the court, Assange’s father, John Shipton, said, “Today we had the prosecution trying to prove that water runs uphill and up is down. … The defence replied and conclusively demonstrated that it was David Leigh [who caused the unredacted cables to be released]. We can only conclude from the amount of time that the prosecution spent defending David Leigh that David Leigh is a state asset.”

At the end of the hearing’s morning session, an exchange between District Judge Vanessa Baraitser and the legal teams pointed to further restrictions being imposed on the defence’s ability to present its case.

Seizing on the delays caused by a potential COVID-19 outbreak in the first week of the hearing, Baraitser insisted that the defence prepare a timetable that allowed the hearing to “finish within two weeks.” When the defence replied that this would leave no time for closing submissions, she reacted enthusiastically to the suggestion of prosecution lawyer James Lewis QC that these could be submitted in written form and summarised in just half a day each for the prosecution and the defence. A final decision is forthcoming.

The hearing continues today……… https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/09/22/assa-s22.html

September 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

Following the UK court hearing on the extradition of Julian Assange

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 8, Craig Murray  September 10, 2020  The great question after yesterday’s hearing was whether prosecution counsel James Lewis QC would continue to charge at defence witnesses like a deranged berserker (spoiler – he would), and more importantly, why?

QC’s representing governments usually seek to radiate calm control, and treat defence arguments as almost beneath their notice, certainly as no conceivable threat to the majestic thinking of the state. Lewis instead resembled a starving terrier kept away from a prime sausage by a steel fence whose manufacture and appearance was far beyond his comprehension.

Perhaps he has toothache.

PROFESSOR PAUL ROGERS

The first defence witness this morning was Professor Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. He has written 9 books on the War on Terror, and has been for 15 years responsible for MOD contracts on training of armed forces in law and ethics of conflict. Rogers appeared by videolink from Bradford.

Prof Rogers’ full witness statement is here.

Edward Fitzgerald QC asked Prof Rogers whether Julian Assange’s views are political (this goes to article 4 in the UK/US extradition treaty against political extradition). Prof Rogers replied that “Assange is very clearly a person of strong political opinions.”

Fitzgerald then asked Prof Rogers to expound on the significance of the revelations from Chelsea Manning on Afghanistan. Prof Rogers responded that in 2001 there had been a very strong commitment in the United States to going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Easy initial military victories led to a feeling the nation had “got back on track”. George W Bush’s first state of the union address had the atmosphere of a victory rally. But Wikileaks’ revelations in the leaked war logs reinforced the view of some analysts that this was not a true picture, that the war in Afghanistan had gone wrong from the start. It contradicted the government line that Afghanistan was a success. Similarly the Wikileaks evidence published in 2011 had confirmed very strongly that the Iraq War had gone badly wrong, when the US official narrative had been one of success.

Wikileaks had for example proven from the war logs that there were a minimum of 15,000 more civilian deaths than had been reckoned by Iraq Body Count. These Wikileaks exposures of the failures of these wars had contributed in large part to a much greater subsequent reluctance of western powers to go to war at an early stage.

Fitzgerald said that para 8 of Rogers’ report suggests that Assange was motivated by his political views and referenced his speech to the United Nations. Was his intention to influence political actions by the USA?

Rogers replied yes. Assange had stated that he was not against the USA and there were good people in the USA who held differing views. He plainly hoped to influence US policy. Rogers also referenced the statement by Mairead Maguire in nominating Julian for the Nobel Peace Prize:

Julian Assange and his colleagues in Wikileaks have shown on numerous occasions that they are one of the last outlets of true democracy and their work for our freedom and speech. Their work for true peace by making public our governments’ actions at home and abroad has enlightened us to their atrocities carried out in the name of so-called democracy around the world.

Rogers stated that Assange had a clear and coherent political philosophy. He had set it out in particular in the campaign of the Wikileaks Party for a Senate seat in Australia. It was based on human rights and a belief in transparency and accountability of organisations. It was essentially libertarian in nature. It embraced not just government transparency, but also transparency in corporations, trade unions and NGOs. It amounted to a very clear political philosophy. Assange adopted a clear political stance that did not align with conventional party politics but incorporated coherent beliefs that had attracted growing support in recent years.

Fitzgerald asked how this related to the Trump administration. Rogers said that Trump was a threat to Wikileaks because he comes from a position of quite extreme hostility to transparency and accountability in his administration. Fitzgerald suggested the incoming Trump administration had demonstrated this hostility to Assange and desire to prosecute. Rogers replied that yes, the hostility had been evidenced in a series of statements right across the senior members of the Trump administration. It was motivated by Trump’s characterisation of any adverse information as “fake news”.

Fitzgerald asked whether the motivation for the current prosecution was criminal or political? Rogers replied “the latter”. This was a part of the atypical behaviour of the Trump administration; it prosecutes on political motivation. They see openness as a particular threat to this administration. This also related to Trump’s obsessive dislike of his predecessor. His administration would prosecute Assange precisely because Obama did not prosecute Assange. Also the incoming Trump administration had been extremely annoyed by the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence, a decision they had no power to revoke. For that the prosecution of Assange could be vicarious revenge.

Several senior administration members had advocated extremely long jail sentences for Assange and some had even mooted the death penalty, although Rogers realised that was technically impossible through this process.

Fitzgerald asked whether Assange’s political opinions were of a type protected by the Refugee Convention. Rogers replied yes. Persecution for political opinion is a solid reason to ask for refugee status. Assange’s actions are motivated by his political stance. Finally Fitzgerald then asked whether Rogers saw political significance in the fact that Assange was not prosecuted under Obama. Rogers replied yes, he did. This case is plainly affected by fundamental political motivation emanating from Trump himself.

James Lewis QC then rose to cross-examine for the prosecution. His first question was “what is a political opinion?” Rogers replied that a political opinion takes a particular stance on the political process and does so openly. It relates to the governance of communities, from nations down to smaller units……….  https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?fbclid=IwAR1SSVvRVbh8_y-5pargeR-U2E6JHQDcGUq_752VyejbktpjIbMY-g-MdnA

September 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

Professor Paul Rogers – a witness explaining how Julian Assange is to be extradited for POLITICAL REASONS

Julian Assange clearly political, says extradition trial witness, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/julian-assange-clearly-political-says-extradition-trial-witness/news-story/735ef7d40551d52f4f7f12d9d6c318d7      JACQUELIN MAGNAY, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT@jacquelinmagnay, THE TIMES, SEPTEMBER 10, 2020

Julian Assange’s nomination for the Senate during the 2013 federal­ election campaign and the establishment of the WikiLeaks political party the year before­ “clearly shows’’ the WikiLeaks founder has a political view and a libertarian standpoint, a witness has told the Old Bailey.

Professor Paul Rogers, the emeritus professor of peace studies at Bradford University, was called as a witness by Assange’s team to persuade the judge that Assange is being targeted for ­political means, and thus an extraditio­n to the US should not be permitted under the Anglo-US extradition treaty.

In day three of the court hearing where Assange, 49, is objecting to extradition to the US, Professor Rogers said in written testimony that Assange’s expresse­d views, opinions and activities demonstrate very clearly “political opinions”. He cited how Assange had formed the political party to contest­ the Australian general election and “central of this is his view to put far greater attention to human rights’’.

He added: “The clash of those opinions with those of successive US administrations, but in particular­ the present administration which has moved to prosecute him for publications made almost a decade ago, suggest that he is regarded primarily as a polit­ical opponent who must exper­ience the full wrath of government, even with suggestions of punishment by death made by senior officials including the current­ President.’’

But US prosecutor James Lewis QC said: “Assistant US Attorney­ Gordon D. Kromberg explicitly refutes that this is a political prosecution but rather an evidence-based prosecution.’’

In documents to the court, the prosecution says the inves­t­ig­ation into Assange had been ongoing before the Trump admin­istration came into office.

“Assange’s arguments are contradicted by judicial findings, made in the US District Court of the District of Columbia, that the investigation into the unauthorised disclosure of classified information on the WikiLeaks website remained ongoing when the present administration came into office,” the prosecution says.

Mr Lewis added: “If this was a political prosecution, wouldn’t you expect him to be prosecuted for publishing the collateral murder video?’’https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/julian-assange-clearly-political-says-extradition-trial-witness/news-story/735ef7d40551d52f4f7f12d9d6c318d7

He said Assange was being extradited to face charges relating to complicity in illegal acts to obtain or receive voluminous databases­ of classified inform­ation, his agreement and attempt­ to obtain classified information­ through computer hacking; and publishing certain classified documents that contained the unredacted names of innocent people who risked their safety and freedom to provide information to the United States and its allies, including local Afghan­s and Iraqis, journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents from repressive regimes.

Professor Rogers told the court the motivation of Assange and WikiLeaks was to achieve greater transparency and was political. The trial continues.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London. What can we expect?

What’s at stake at Julian Assange’s long-awaited extradition hearing?,    ABC 8 Sept 20, Julian Assange is fighting an attempt by the United States to extradite him to face charges on what it says was “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”.

It marks the culmination of a nearly decade-long pursuit by US authorities of the Australian-born WikiLeaks founder over the publication of secret documents and files in 2010 and 2011.

Assange’s extradition hearing had initially begun in February but was delayed for several months, and the coronavirus pandemic added additional delays, meaning Assange has been kept on remand in Belmarsh prison in south-east London since last September.

As reported by Background Briefing, Assange’s defence team will attempt to persuade the court he is unfit to travel to the US to face trial, and that the attempt to send him there is essentially an abuse of process.

How did he get to this point?

WikiLeaks made international headlines in April 2010 when it published a classified US military video showing an Apache attack helicopter gunning down 11 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, on a street in Baghdad in 2007.

Later that year, WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of US military messages and cables, a leak that saw former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning jailed……..

Assange, 49, has always denied the allegations, saying they were part of a US plot to discredit him and eventually extradite him to the US, and the investigation was eventually dropped in 2017.

He remained holed up in the embassy for seven years until April 2019, when the Ecuadorian government withdrew his asylum and Metropolitan Police officers arrested him for failing to surrender to the court over an arrest warrant issued in 2012……..

In May 2019, Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching bail conditions, and during that time the US Justice Department brought 18 charges against him.

What is Assange accused of?

Assange is facing 17 charges relating to obtaining and disclosing classified information, and one charge concerning an alleged conspiracy to crack passwords on government servers.

The US alleges he conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack into US military computers to acquire the classified information published by WikiLeaks.

…… Assange maintains the information exposed abuses by the US military and that he was acting as a journalist and is therefore entitled to protection by the US’s First Amendment.

What can we expect from this hearing?

The court must examine a series of factors before any extradition can be granted, such as if the alleged crimes have equivalent offences in the UK and could lead to trial.

“It’s what’s called double criminality, in other words, whether the offences for which Assange is being sought in under US law are broadly being recognised under UK law,” Professor Don Rothwell, from the Australian National University, told Background Briefing.

Prosecutors have argued there is no doubt his actions would amount to offences under the UK’s Official Secrets Act.

If the court agrees, it must then consider how extradition would affect Assange’s health.

Previous court appearances this year have been delayed due to health issues, and his lawyers say his efforts to protect himself from US extradition and being stuck inside the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years had taken its toll.

If the court accepted it would be detrimental to his health, it could open up the possibility of protecting Assange in the UK under European human rights law.

The magistrate may also take issue with how the prosecutors are seeking to impose American law on what Mr Assange is alleged to have done outside of US territory.

“In this matter, US law is seeking to extend all the way, not only from the United States, but into the United Kingdom and into parts of Europe and basically impact upon the activities that Assange has undertaken associated with WikiLeaks over 10 years ago,” Professor Rothwell said…….

Assange’s legal team contends the US is seeking to prosecute Assange for political offences and that he is thereby exempt from extradition under the terms of the UK-US extradition treaty…….

What happens next?

The hearing is expected to last between three and four weeks, with any decision made likely to be appealed and go to a higher court, meaning the legal battle would likely drag into next year and possibly beyond that.

If Assange is eventually extradited to the United States and found guilty, he faces a maximum 175 years imprisonment for the 18 offences listed in the indictment.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-09/julian-assange-what-does-extradition-hearing-mean/12642972

September 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australian government helps two journalists escape Chinese oppression, but no help for Julian Assange to escape American oppression

DOUBLE STANDARDS!     What a glaring example of kowtowing to USA!

Julian Assange is not getting fair treatment at the Old Bailey (London) hearing about whether or not he should be extradited to the USA, to face 175 years of gaol, on “espionage” charges.   Independent journalists, people from Amnesty, or anyone else likely to give Assange’s side of the story, in reporting this bizarre hearing, is excluded from the courtroom.  That’s despite the OLd Bailey’s tradition of an open courtroom.

As far as I can ascertain, they’re now charging Julian with publicising the names of USA agents.   But in fact, Assange gave the documents to newspapers, I think it was the Guardian and the New York Times, with an express request to NOT publish those names. And the papers went ahead and published them. Julian didn’t.    I also understand that, even then no harm came to any of those agents.

It’s all a trumped up thing.  Assange revealed evidence of USA military atrocities.  So, like Wilfred Burchett, decades ago, he must be punished by almighty America, and Australia must dutifully follow suit.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, civil liberties | Leave a comment

INJUSTICE at work? The extradition trial of Julian Assange

September 8, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

The travesty of justice that is the UK extradition hearing about Julian Assange

August 31, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

International Lawyers Make Urgent Appeal to British Government- not to extradite Julian Assange

August 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s fight for freedom

Julian Assange’s fight for freedom   https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/julian-assanges-fight-for-freedom/12409182?fbclid=IwAR2rdBdg8aKbjWtITDgh-0EYRgJ_jqGuHL2HhlBxZe6cWz_Jwtt5HxUXl9k

By Phillip Adams on Late Night Live  n a revised edition of his book ‘The Most Dangerous Man in the World’, Investigative reporter Andrew Fowler reports on a tangled tale regarding the negotiations between Julian Assange and the US Department of Justice, to strike a deal with the incoming Trump Administration.  At that time, Wikileaks was in a strong bargaining position with its Vault 7 CIA disclosures, but a lack of trust and mounting pressure from various sources saw Assange decide to publish the CIA secrets.

Duration: 18min 48sec

Broadcast: Wed 1 Jul 2020,

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s father in tireless fight to free his son, calls on Scott Morrison to help Australian citizen Julian

Assange’s father calls extradition process ‘disgrace’  https://telanganatoday.com/assanges-father-calls-extradition-process-disgrace?fbclid=IwAR1a7bQ0W_Xcgc9EIeGaAHVP7Zmm2cM6nNV65ZXtkhCwNUlarqIYTJVw6xo1 July 20, The 80-year-old is organizing public events in Australia despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and hopes to travel to London in August to support Assange during his extradition trial.  

Sydney: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, is fighting tirelessly for the release and return of his son, who is facing an extradition trial in London for publishing classified information, a process he described as abuse.

“We maintain that the extradition request is a fraud in the English court… It’s a fraud in the English legal system, it’s a case of abuse of process, it is a disgrace,” Shipton, who travelled from Melbourne to Sydney to campaign for his son’s release, told Efe news in an interview.
The 80-year-old is organizing public events in Australia despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and hopes to travel to London in August to support Assange during his extradition trial which, he says, is being carried out under “dire” circumstances.

In May 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, said, after visiting Assange in the Belmarsh prison along with two medical experts, that he showed “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma”.

Assange has spent almost a decade in confinement, first under house arrest in a British town and then at the Ecuadorian embassy in London between 2012 until 2019, when Ecuador withdrew his political asylum status.

Shipton has urged the Australian government to mediate with the UK administration for the release of his son, who is wanted in the US on 18 charges of espionage and computer intrusion, for which he could be sentenced to prison for up to 175 years.

“I believe the government can, if it wishes to, assist us in bringing Julian home. I believe that (it) is very simple for the Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) to pick up the phone and ring (his UK counterpart) Boris Johnson and say Julian Assange is an Australian citizen in dire circumstances.

“This will resolve this immediately and that’s easily possible,” he told Efe news during the interview.

July 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

USA adds a new indictment to its charges against Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Assange faces new indictment in US, By ERIC TUCKER, 29 June 20,  WASHINGTON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sought to recruit hackers at conferences in Europe and Asia who could provide his anti-secrecy website with classified information, and conspired with members of hacking organizations, according to a new Justice Department indictment announced Wednesday.

The superseding indictment does not contain additional charges beyond the 18 counts the Justice Department unsealed last year. But prosecutors say it underscores Assange’s efforts to procure and release classified information, allegations that form the basis of criminal charges he already faces.

Beyond recruiting hackers at conferences, the indictment accuses Assange of conspiring with members of hacking groups known as LulzSec and Anonymous. He also worked with a 17-year-old hacker who gave him information stolen from a bank and directed the teenager to steal additional material, including audio recordings of high-ranking government officials, prosecutors say.

Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, said in a statement that “the government’s relentless pursuit of Julian Assange poses a grave threat to journalists everywhere and to the public’s right to know.”

“While today’s superseding indictment is yet another chapter in the U.S. Government’s effort to persuade the public that its pursuit of Julian Assange is based on something other than his publication of newsworthy truthful information,” he added, “the indictment continues to charge him with violating the Espionage Act based on WikiLeaks publications exposing war crimes committed by the U.S. Government.”

Assange was arrested last year after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had sought refuge to avoid being sent to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault, and is at the center of an extradition tussle over whether he should be sent to the United States.

The Justice Department has already charged him with conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history by working together to crack a password to a government computer.

Prosecutors say the WikiLeaks founder damaged national security by publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including diplomatic cables and military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that harmed the U.S. and its allies and aided its adversaries.

Assange maintains he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection. His lawyers have argued the U.S. charges of espionage and computer misuse were politically motivated and an abuse of power.

Assange generated substantial attention during the 2016 presidential election, and in investigations that followed, after WikiLeaks published stolen Democratic emails that U.S. authorities say were hacked by Russian military intelligence officials. An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller revealed how Trump campaign associates eagerly anticipated the email disclosures. One Trump ally, Roger Stone, was found guilty last year of lying about his efforts to gain inside information about the emails. Assange, however, was never charged in Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The allegations in the new indictment center on conferences, in locations including the Netherlands and Malaysia in 2009, at which prosecutors say he and a WikiLeaks associate sought to recruit hackers who could locate classified information, including material on a “Most Wanted Leaks” list posted on WikiLeaks’ website.

According to the new indictment, he told would-be recruits that unless they were a member of the U.S. military, they faced no legal liability for stealing classified information and giving it to WikiLeaks “because ‘TOP SECRET’ meant nothing as a matter of law.”

At one conference in Malaysia, called the “Hack in the Box Security Conference,” Assange told the audience, “I was a famous teenage hacker in Australia, and I’ve been reading generals’ emails since I was 17.”

June 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Trump’s Justice department doubles down on USA allegations against Julian Assange

ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Assange Hit With New Superseding Indictment, Reflecting Possible FBI Sting Operation The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday unveiled the new superseding indictment against the WikiLeaks publisher, adding to existing computer intrusion charges. By Joe Lauria, Consortium News June 24, 2020  The Justice Department on Wednesday said it had filed a second superseding indictment against imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, adding to existing computer intrusion charges.“The new indictment does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019,” the DOJ said in a press release.

“It does, however, broaden the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged,” the release said. “According to the charging document, Assange and others at WikiLeaks recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions to benefit WikiLeaks.”…….

The indictment quotes Assange at hacking conferences encouraging hackers to obtain a “Most Wanted Leaks” list of classified materials that WikiLeaks sought to publish.

It provides new allegations that Assange instructed a “teenager” from an unnamed NATO country to conduct various hacks “including audio recordings of phone conversations between high-ranking officials” of the NATO nation as well as members of parliament from that country. The indictment claims Manning “downloaded classified State Department materials” about this country.

WikiLeaks has identified the “teenager” as Sigurdur Thordarson, “a diagnosed sociopath, a convicted conman, and sex criminal” who had impersonated Assange to embezzle money from WikiLeaks………..

Thordarson, an Icelander, became an FBI informant, and was flown to Washington in May 2019 for an interview with the FBI.

The superseding indictment says Assange was allegedly able to learn from “unauthorized access” to a website of this government that police from that country were monitoring him. The indictment says the source of this information was a former member of Anonymous who worked with WikiLeaks named Sabu, identified in the press as Hector Monsegur, who became an FBI informant after being arrested in June 2011.

In the same month, Iceland’s Interior Minister Ögmundur Jonasson prevented FBI agents from entering Iceland, testifying that “FBI dirty-tricks operations were afoot against WikiLeaks.” He said the agents had been sent to seek “our cooperation in what I understood as an operation to set up, to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.”  The possibility remains that the new evidence against Assange was obtained in an FBI sting operation.

Jeremy Hammond, a hacker arrested for obtaining the Stratfor files, is named in the new indictment has having revealed information about his activities with Assange to Sabu in December 2011. Last September, Hammond, who was serving a 10-year sentence in Memphis, TN, was brought by prosecutors investigating Assange to Alexandria, VA to compel him to give testimony against Assange. Hammond has refused.

Reiterates Original Charges

The new indictment repeats the existing espionage and computer intrusion charges………

In 2010, Robert Parry, one of the best investigative reporters of his era, and the founder of this website, wrote that the then pending plans of the Obama administration to indict Assange “for conspiring with Army Pvt. Bradley Manning to obtain U.S. secrets strikes at the heart of investigative journalism on national security scandals.”

Parry added:

“That’s because the process for reporters obtaining classified information about crimes of state most often involves a journalist persuading some government official to break the law either by turning over classified documents or at least by talking about the secret information. There is almost always some level of ‘conspiracy’ between reporter and source.” [Emphasis added.]

Parry thus admitted to encouraging his sources to turn over classified information even if it meant committing the lesser crime of leaking classified information if it could help prevent a larger crime from being committed. In this way Assange encouraged Manning to turn over material such as the “Collateral Murder” video in the hope that it could end the illegal war in Iraq…….

The New York Times reported at the time that “federal prosecutors were reviewing the possibility of indicting Assange on conspiracy charges for allegedly encouraging or assisting Manning in extracting ‘classified military and State Department files from a government computer system,’” Parry wrote.

“The Times article by Charlie Savage notes that if prosecutors determine that Assange provided some help in the process, ‘they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them,” wrote Parry.

This is precisely what the Trump Justice Department has done in the first computer intrusion indictment against Assange and now with this superseding one. https://consortiumnews.com/2020/06/24/assange-extradition-assange-hit-with-new-superseding-indictment-broadening-computer-intrusion-charges/?fbclid=IwAR3uZdqQkMLxeheGyUVLpkUYPIo0ywUZwFiQcu6pD9woYSYyPhZtyh3kiw4

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Doctors accuse UK and US of Assange ‘psychological torture’ amid new indictment

Doctors accuse UK and US of Assange ‘psychological torture’ amid new indictment, UK News : Jun 25, 2020

US prosecutors are seeking the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition on grounds that he damaged national security by publishing classified documents.  More than 200 doctors from 33 countries have signed a letter saying British public officials could be held accountable for the “psychological torture” of Julian Assange.

It came as the WikiLeaks founder faced a new indictment in the US, which alleges that he sought to recruit hackers at conferences to train in obtaining official secrets.

In their letter, printed in The Lancet, the Doctors for Assange group accuse UK and American officials of “intensifying Julian Assange’s psychological torture” and call for his immediate release.

They add in the letter, which has also been sent to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, that Assange is at medical risk because of increasing abuse of his “fundamental human and legal rights at the hands of judicial, prison and contracted security authorities”.

Earlier this month, the 48-year-old was said to be too ill to attend the latest court hearing in his extradition case.

He is wanted in the US to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act as well as conspiracy to commit computer intrusion after the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011……

US prosecutors are seeking his extradition on the grounds that he damaged national security by publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but Assange maintains he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.

His full extradition hearing is set to take place on September 7, having originally been scheduled for May 18, although a crown court has not yet been found to take the case.

A further administrative hearing is due to take place on June 29.https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2020/06/25/doctors-accuse-uk-and-us-of-assange-psychological-torture-amid-new-indictment/?fbclid=IwAR28IW4pqkYDsqMW-GxrZ3kGC7l0xE4aVan58Ppt34RhTCQpP5hJebTbAvw

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment