Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Julian Assange’s future safety hangs in the balance

WikiLeaks Whistleblower Awaits Fate, American Free Press , September 7, 2018   The fate of gutsy WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange rests in the hands of the government of Ecuador, first reported here in AFP’s Issue 33&34. Assange has lived at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 and will be instantly arrested by the UK if he leaves the building. Just-released news that his health is deteriorating rapidly makes even more urgent Ecuadorian action’s even more urgent. 

By S.T. Patrick   As  the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange twists in the political winds, the United States, Great Britain, and Ecuador continue to negotiate over the life of the Australian computer programmer and hacker. Continue reading

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September 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

5 eyes – countries, including Australia,increasing surveillance of social media

Big Brother is keeping ‘Five Eyes’ on you, Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand-based legal and political analyst, currently specialising in immigration, refugee and humanitarian law.  Rt.com  7 Sep, 2018 Just last week, the world’s leading snooping powers quietly and without notice issued a disturbing warning to tech giants, telling them to surrender unprecedented backdoor access to their citizens’ data.

Not many people know this, but the United Kingdom has some of the most extreme spying powers in the developed world. At the end of 2016, passing what some people called the “Snooper’s Charter,” the UK put into law some of the most draconian anti-privacy laws that we have ever known, allowing its government to compel companies to break their own encryption.

The UK plays a pivotal part in the so-called Five Eyes alliance, which also includes the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Nobody knew it at the time, but the American military base which my family and I grew up next to has played a crucial role in delivering US drone strikes across the Middle East and beyond. America’s drone-strike regime, largely considered illegal for numerous reasons, is not something that countries should willingly participate in lightly and without public scrutiny.

Why am I mentioning this? Because it goes to the very heart of my point: the extent to which we know or do not know what our governments are doing behind closed doors is quite literally a matter of life and death.

Now, it has been revealed that the Five Eyes alliance, dedicated to a global “collect-it-all”surveillance task, has issued a memo calling on their governments to demand that tech companies build backdoor access for states to access users’ encrypted data or face measures that will force companies to comply.

The memo was released quietly with little media coverage last week by the Australian Department of Home Affairs, and essentially demanded that providers “create customized solutions, tailored to their individual system architectures that are capable of meeting lawful access requirements.” The memo was reportedly released after ministers for the intelligence agencies of the Five Eyes nations met on Australia’s Gold Coast last week……

Will those tech companies cave in to these government’s demands? You can bet your bottom dollar that eventually, yes, they very well might. ……

It is worth noting that there has been next to no criticism of these Five Eyes powers for delivering such a blatant attack on our right to privacy. Remember that, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to “wrest control of the internet,” as the Guardian wrote approximately three years ago. But these same Western media companies are awkwardly silent about what their own governments are proposing to do, something which other nations could only dream about achieving on such a global scale. …….https://www.rt.com/op-ed/437895-privacy-five-eyes-encryption/

September 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Coalition aims to clamp down on activist charities

Push to clamp down on activist charities

Senior Coalition government figures are pushing for politically ­active charities including Greenpeace and the Australian Conservation Foundation to lose their charity status in a pre-election crackdown… (subscribers only) 

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/treasury/push-to-clamp-down-on-activist-charities/news-story/8961a55d2d68a488018f8727bb2ea838

September 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Is BBC Spying on WikiLeaks Founder Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy?

Why has the Australian government, which supports convicted murderers overseas, not given any help to whistleblower Julian Assange?
 https://sputniknews.com/europe/201808091067081598-bbc-spy-assange/

On Thursday WikiLeaks Twitter account posted a screenshot of a letter received by some of the residents of no. 18 Hans Cres, London — an apartment building across from the Ecuadorian Embassy that serves as an asylum for Julian Assange. The letter, which has a BBC News logo in its top right corner, asks permission to install permanent cameras outside residents’ apartments so that they overlook the embassy.

The letter was motivated by a desire to better cover Julian Assange’s story and promised to compensate for any disturbances caused. The letter also contains Jonathan Whitney’s email as a contact for those interested in the offer. According to Whitney’s profile, he is a BBC News Deployment Editor.

WikiLeaks chief editor Julian Assange has been living in Ecuador’s UK Embassy since 2012 fearing the UK may extradite him to the US, where he could face prosecution over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked US military and diplomatic documents. Recently Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno touched upon the issue of expelling Assange from the embassy, but noted that the UK must first guarantee the activist’s safety.

His statements followed conflicting media reports that Ecuador might revoke Assange’s asylum and that the whistleblower might leave voluntarily to due increasing health issues.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange may have to leave the Ecuadorian embassy, due to his poor health

Assange may finally leave Ecuadorian embassy in London as health worsens – report https://tremontherald.com/world/assange-may-finally-leave-ecuadorian-embassy-in-london-as-health-worsens-report/116462/ 

Assange may finally leave Ecuadorian embassy in London as health worsens – report Julian Assange, who has spent more than 2,230 days in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is expected to leave the building soon with his health deteriorating, sources say.

This latest information about the WikiLeaks founder, who was already expected to leave the embassy “in the coming weeks,” was Wednesday by Bloomberg which cited “two people with knowledge of the matter.” The news agency reported that the whistleblower’s health “has declined recently.”

The news comes days after Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno announced that Assange must “eventually” leave the embassy. “Yes, indeed yes, but his departure should come about through dialogue,” the Ecuadorian president said in answer to a reporter’s question on whether he will eventually have to leave.

“For a person to stay confined like that for so long is tantamount to a human rights violation,” Moreno said, stressing that Ecuador wants to make sure that nothing “poses a danger” to the whistleblower‘s life.

The whistleblower’s health is deteriorating, according to the Courage Foundation, a group that fundraises for the legal defense of whistleblowers. Assange is in “a small space” and has “no access to sunlight,” the group , adding that this has a serious impact “on his physical and mental health.”

Rape allegations, stemming from Assange’s visit to Sweden in August 2010, were the main reason that he sought refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 when a warrant was issued for his arrest. Assange maintained that he could be extradited from Sweden to the US, where he would be prosecuted for his whistleblowing and would not receive a fair trial. Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation in 2017, but a British warrant for violating bail conditions still stands.

Washington simply “wants revenge” for the “embarrassment” WikiLeaks caused it, and wants it to serve “as a deterrent to others,” human rights activist Peter Tatchell told RT earlier in July. “Someone who’s published that information in the same way that the New York Times or the Guardian publish information, I don’t think they should face risk 30 or 40 years in jail in the United States,” Tatchell added.

Launched in 2006, the WikiLeaks project is aimed at exposing government and corporate secrets. It garnered global attention back in 2010 with its massive release of classified US military documents, which included those detailing how American military equipment was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Assange won thousands of admirers, with many applauding his willingness to speak the truth.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange should be assured of immunity before taking risk of testifying to Senate

Assange should secure immunity before taking risk of testifying to Senate – whistleblower    Kiriakou https://www.rt.com/usa/435543-assange-senate-testimony-kiriakou/

August 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to USA

 https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/19/uk-should-reject-extraditing-julian-assange-us  Faces Possible Indictment under Outdated Espionage Act  Dinah PoKempner General Counsel

It has been six years since Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to seek asylum from possible extradition to the United States to face indictment under the US Espionage Act.

At the time, Assange, an Australian national, was wanted by Sweden for questioning over sexual offense allegations. Assange had also broken the terms of his UK bail. Since then, he has become even more controversial, having published US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and internal emails from Democratic Party officials.

While some admire and others despise Assange, no one should be prosecuted under the antiquated Espionage Act for publishing leaked government documents. That 1917 statute was designed to punish people who leaked secrets to a foreign government, not to the media, and allows no defense or mitigation of punishment on the basis that public interest served by some leaks may outweigh any harm to national security.

The US grand jury investigation of Assange under the Espionage Act was apparently based on his publishing the leaks for which Chelsea Manning, a former US army soldier, was convicted. Her sentence was commuted.

The publication of leaks—particularly leaks that show potential government wrongdoing or human rights abuse—is a critical function of a free press in a democratic society. The vague and sweeping provisions of the Espionage Act remain ready to be used against other publishers and journalists, whether they be Wikileaks or the New York Times.

Assange has agreed to surrender himself to the British police – but only if he were granted assurances against extradition to the US, where he could face life in prison. He also offered to appear in Sweden if Sweden would offer similar assurances.

In 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found Assange’s stay in the Ecuadorean embassy, enforced by the alternative of his potential extradition to the US, to be an arbitrary deprivation of liberty.  Ecuador, offended by Assange’s political comments, this year has denied him internet access and visitors, other than occasional contact with his lawyers. Ecuador denied Human Rights Watch permission to visit him this May. Concern is growing over his access to medical care.  His asylum is growing more difficult to distinguish from detention.

The UK has the power to resolve concerns over his isolation, health, and confinement by removing the threat of extradition for publishing newsworthy leaks. It should do so before another year passes.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Chronicling Julian Assange’s 6 years of Confinement

2,192 Days of Confinement: Assange’s 6 Years in Ecuadorian Embassy in Numbers, https://sputniknews.com/europe/201806191065516777-assange-6-years-embassy-london/  

June 19 marks six years since the founder of WikiLeaks entered the building of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He hasn’t stepped foot outside it since.

Julian Assange has been residing at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, where he sought refuge while facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

981 days have passed since the Metropolitan police removed dedicated 24/7 guards from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy on October 12, 2015.

“Like all public services, MPS resources are finite. With so many different criminal, and other, threats to the city it protects, the current deployment of officers is no longer believed proportionate,” a statement by the Met police said.

865 days since the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) ruled in a majority decision that Assange was being detained inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London arbitrarily and was allowed to leave.

READ MORE: UN Ruling on Assange’s Illegal Detention Explained

396 days since the allegations were dropped by Swedish prosecutors, but the Wikileaks founder would still get arrested if he left the embassy’s premises — by the UK police — for failing to surrender to the court in 2012.

158 days since Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship and subsequently the UK was asked to recognize the whistleblower as a diplomatic agent. Had the British agreed — it would have given Assange immunity to finally leave the embassy.

However, the UK refused the request, meaning he remains confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy, which has been found “dangerous physically and mentally” and “a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.”

83 days since the whistleblower’s access to the Internet was cut off “in order to prevent any potential harm.”

“The government of Ecuador has suspended the systems that allows Julian Assange to communicate with the world outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London… The measure was adopted due to Assange not complying with a written promise which he made with the government in late 2017, whereby he was obliged not to send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states,” the government of Ecuador said in a statement.

Julian Assange fears extradition to the United States to be prosecuted for espionage after his website leaked classified US data.

June 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Michelle Grattan: expect more government bullying to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

The threat to the ABC is not sale but more bullying http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-18/threat-to-the-abc-is-not-sale-but-more-bullying/9879420  The Conversation By Michelle Grattan 

June 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

The Australian government at last giving Julian Assange some help?

Australian officials spotted in mysterious Assange visit https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/australian-officials-spotted-in-mysterious-assange-visit-20180608-p4zk7w.html, 8 June 18  London: Australian government officials have paid a mysterious visit to Julian Assange in his Ecuadorian embassy refuge in London, in a sign there may be a breakthrough in the stalemate that has lasted almost six years.

Two officials from Australia’s High Commission were spotted leaving the embassy in Knightsbridge in west London on Thursday.

It is the first time Australian consular officials have visited Assange at the embassy.

They were accompanied by Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson.

Robinson confirmed the meeting to Fairfax but said she could not say what the meeting was about “given the delicate diplomatic situation”.  “Julian Assange is in a very serious situation” she said. “He remains in the embassy because of the risk of extradition to the US. That risk is undeniable after numerous statements by Trump administration officials including the director of the CIA and the US attorney-general.”

Assange entered the embassy on June 19, 2012, after he had exhausted his appeals against an extradition order to go to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

Swedish authorities have since closed their investigation, saying it couldn’t continue without Assange’s presence in their country.

However Assange still faces arrest if he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy for breach of his bail conditions, after failing in a legal bid earlier this year to have the warrant cancelled by an English court.

His condition has recently become much worse, with his hosts repeatedly suggesting in public comments that they want the situation resolved and him out of the building. The court proceedings also revealed his worsening health, including serious tooth problems, respiratory infections, depression and a frozen shoulder.

His internet and phone connections were cut off by the Ecuadorian government six weeks ago and he was denied any visitors apart from lawyers, after Ecuador complained he had breached “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages [on social media] that might interfere with other states”.

A spokeswoman from the High Commission said she would have to refer any questions about the meeting to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra confirmed it is providing consular assistance to Assange through the Australian High Commission in London.

Citing privacy obligations, however, DFAT refused to offer further comment.

Assange has complained for years that the Australian government has not offered him consular assistance, despite his being an Australian citizen.

In May last year Assange’s mother Christine Assange called on the Australian Government to give her son a new passport so that he can leave Britain.

“His passport’s been confiscated, the Australian Government should immediately issue him another one and demand safe passage for him to take up legal asylum in Ecuador,” she told the ABC.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Senate Committee Says Further Regulatory Burden on Charities Unnecessary

A Senate committee report into the political influence of donations has stated there is “no justification” for imposing a further regulatory burden on charities, but Coalition Senators have expressed concerns that “politically-active charities” are seeking to influence elections.   Pro Bono Australia , 7th June 2018  Luke Michael, Journalist,  

The Select Committee into the Political Influence of Donations, chaired by Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale, released its report on Wednesday.

The committee extensively examined the regulation of third parties – which include charities and not for profits – and noted they were “integral to the political process, providing important context and commentary on the issues being decided on in an election”.

The report comes in the midst of a Turnbull government push to ban foreign donations through its Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill.

The charity sector has strongly argued that the legislation – which requires registration and disclosure requirements for a broader group of non-party political actors than is the case currently – would stifle advocacy and impose unnecessary red-tape on these organisations.

The Senate committee said much of the evidence it received noted that any further regulation of third parties should reflect their unique role in the political system, and not unfairly burden them.

“The committee received consistent evidence over the course of the inquiry that the recently amended legislation and current legislative proposals before Parliament carry the very real danger of stifling the voice of third parties in delivery of their core purpose to advocate on specific issues,” the report said.

“The committee is of the strong view that only activity by third parties that is seeking to directly influence elections should be regulated.

“The committee therefore recommends that a thorough consultation exercise be carried out by the federal government before any detailed regulatory mechanisms are put in place.”

The report said the committee had heard “almost universal views” that the extensive regulatory regime that governs charities effectively made any recent legislative proposals under electoral law redundant.

The committee therefore recommended that no further burden be placed on charities…….. https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/06/senate-committee-says-regulatory-burden-charities-unnecessary/

June 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

US activist Kevin Zeese calls for demonstrations against the persecution of Julian Assange

 https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/06/zees-j06.html 6 June 2018

Kevin Zeese, a prominent US activist and lawyer, issued the following statement this week endorsing action in defense of Julian Assange, including the June 17 rally in Sydney and vigils in London and around the world on June 19.

Zeese has spoken out against the escalating censorship of the Internet and the broader erosion of democratic rights. He is a co-director of the Popular Resistance organisation and is on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation which raises funds for the defence of persecuted journalists and whistleblowers.

Statement of Kevin Zeese endorsing protests and vigils in defense of Julian Assange  

Julian Assange through his work as editor of WikiLeaks has made major strides toward democratizing the media by creating a vehicle for whistleblowers to share the truth and correct the misinformation of the mass corporate media. Assange and WikiLeaks have given people a precious tool—access to the undeniable truth about what governments and big business are doing. This is a tool we can all use to educate each other about what is really going on around us.

Assange is being persecuted because a democratized media threatens the monopoly over media control of the elites. A democratized media makes it more difficult for them to misinform, mislead and propagandize.

Through WikiLeaks, Assange with whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have exposed war crimes, the truth about the Guantanamo Bay prison, the corporate domination of US policy and the actions of governments around the world and more. This has led to popular revolts around the world that have challenged those who abuse their power.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is being defined by the treatment of Julian Assange. Everyone who cares about these freedoms should speak out and take action on his behalf by joining the demonstration in Sydney, Australia on June 17 and the vigils being held in London and around the world on June 19—the anniversary of when Julian sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy six years ago. On June 19 at 11:00 a.m. we will be holding a protest in support of Julian Assange at the White House. Please join us to call for an end to his persecution.

Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, member of the advisory board of the Courage Foundation

June 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

South Australian Parliament Bill to protect whistleblowers

SA parliament to debate whistleblower laws https://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/sa-parliament-to-debate-whistleblower-laws/news-story/8f7d5ba0d9a0fba3619d027096423c6c

A law shielding South Australian journalists from liability for refusing to reveal their sources has passed state parliament’s lower house.

Laws to strengthen protection of whistleblowers have passed South Australia’s lower house of parliament.

The Liberal government on Wednesday passed legislation to shield journalists from criminal or civil liability if they do not disclose the identity of their sources when the information is in the public interest.

The proposed legislation would make the default rule that journalists cannot be compelled to answer a question or produce a document that may disclose the identity of an informant.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australian Parliament debating law to protect whistleblowers

SA parliament to debate whistleblower laws http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/sa-whistleblower-laws-to-be-debated/news-story/8185705eee839b9c9b9277c456641777

A law shielding South Australian journalists from liability for refusing to reveal their sources will be tabled in state parliament.

Whistleblowers may soon have stronger protections under a bill introduced to parliament in South Australia.

The Liberal government on Thursday introduced legislation to shield journalists from criminal or civil liability if they do not disclose the identity of their sources when the information is in the public interest.

“This legislation enhances the public’s right to know by encouraging whistleblowers to come forward on the understanding that journalists will not be forced to disclose their identity in a court of law,” Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.

The proposed legislation would make the default rule that journalists cannot be compelled to answer a question or produce a document that may disclose the identity of an informant.

“I anticipate it will be a very rare day that a court will deem revealing the identity of the informant is necessary to protect the public interest,” Ms Chapman said.

SA Law Society President Tim Mellor said the legislation was an important step in the protection of a free press.

“Like an independent judiciary, the fourth estate of a free press is an integral part of an open and transparent society,” Mr Mellor said

South Australian and Queensland are the only two states without shield laws.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

We should be outraged at the silencing of Julian Assange

Daniel Ellsberg’s decision to release the Pentagon Papers was an act of valor—his actions saved countless lives. He was a whistleblower who changed the course of history and curtailed an ongoing genocide which ended up preventing the needless dissolution of American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians alike. The publishing of the Pentagon Papers is a prime example of the critical part a free press plays in keeping governments in check and exposing the corrosive nature of consolidated power. This is why the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights enshrines the rights to free speech and of a free press in the United States Constitution. 

Tyrants throughout history have targeted journalists and reporters for a reason.

On Wednesday afternoon, Julian Assange, who has been forced into self-imprisonment at the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to ward off prosecution from the United Kingdom and the United States, had his internet access cut off. Assange is our generation’s Daniel Ellsberg; WikiLeaks—the online publication he started—has been invaluable in letting the public know about the malfeasance of their elected officials and highlighting the duplicity of governments throughout the world. In an era where mainstream journalists have been turned into a corporate-state propagandists, WikiLeaks stands out in their dogged pursuit of truth and exposing deep-seated corruption and graft.

Where Is the Outrage About Julian Assange’s Silencing? https://www.truthdig.com/articles/where-is-the-outrage-about-julian-assanges-silencing/ 3 April 18, Teodrose Fikre / The Ghion Journal 

On October 12, 1969, Daniel Ellsberg copied a secret dossier with the intention of disclosing the truth about the Vietnam War. The Pentagon Papers were a chronicle of events that recorded the scope of operations in Vietnam and beyond—details which were being withheld from the American public. The Vietnam War was built on the foundation of lies; we were rushed into the war using the Gulf of Tonkin as a false flag and defending freedom as a pretext to further the interests of the defense-financial complex. The truth eventually caught up to the lies of politicians and bureaucrats; Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later admitted the Gulf of Tonkin attack never took place. Continue reading

April 4, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment