Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

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

Injustice of UK court process regarding Julian Assange. Assange too sick to attend

Monica Del Mestre 3 June 20
1. It is extremely concerning that Assange has not been well enough to attend the past several hearings, even remotely. Yet proceedings continue as if this has nothing to do with him – not dissimilar to when he couldn’t follow properly from the glass dock in Woolwich Crown Court.

2. In addition to other ongoing health concerns, Assange faces the serious risk of exposure to Covid in Belmarsh prison, and has been advised that even going to the video room to take part in hearings is unsafe. This is another reason he should be immediately released.

3. Assange’s lawyers have long complained they have had insufficient access to him in prison. Under lockdown conditions, they have had no access to him at all. They have repeatedly flagged that this lack of access seriously impacts their ability to prepare his defence.

4. One of the next steps agreed today is that psychiatric reports on Assange from the prosecution and defence will be due to the court on 31 July. Remember that UN Special Rapporteur @NilsMelzer has expressed alarm many times that Assange shows symptoms of psychological torture.

5. It is a welcome step that the continuation of the full extradition hearing was adjourned, as lockdown conditions present clear barriers to open justice – but 7 September may not be late enough to make a meaningful difference. Also the court is still struggling to find a venue.

6. It remains extremely frustrating that the court does not adequately accommodate NGO observers. I have never experienced so much difficulty accessing a trial in any country as at Woolwich Crown Court in February, and the teleconference option we now have is far from sufficient.

7. The press are also facing severe restrictions. Only 6 journalists have been allowed to attend in person the past 2 hearings, with others limited to the awful phone line. This case is of high public interest and a better solution must be found before the full hearing resumes.

8. Assange’s next callover hearing has been scheduled for 29 June at 10 am. We urge the court to find workable solutions to enable his safe attendance and ensure the press and observers are able to properly monitor proceedings. /END

June 4, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

The torture that awaits Julian Assange in the US.

From the frying pan into the fire. The torture that awaits Julian Assange in the US.https://www.thecanary.co/uk/analysis/2020/05/10/from-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire-the-torture-that-awaits-julian-assange-in-the-us/   
Tom Coburg
 10th May 2020    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently held in Belmarsh prison awaiting hearings that could see him extradited to the US to face prosecution for alleged espionage-related offences.

Award-winning US journalist Chris Hedges described the torture that would await Assange in the US prison system, adding “they will attempt to psychologically destroy him”. If extradited, Assange would likely be detained in accordance with ‘Special Administrative Measures’ (SAMs). One report equates this to a regime of sensory deprivation and social isolation that may amount to torture.

Journalists speak out

US journalist Chris Hedges spoke about the treatment Assange is likely to receive in the US. He argues that the US authorities will “psychologically destroy him” and that conditions imposed could see him turned into a ‘zombie’ to face life without parole:

Australian journalist John Pilger agrees:

If Julian is extradited to the US, a darkness awaits him. He’ll be subjected to a prison regime called special administrative measures… He will be placed in a cage in the bowels of a supermax prison, a hellhole. He will be cut off from all contact with the rest of humanity.

From the frying pan…

Assange is already in a precarious position, alongside all other UK prisoners. Belmarsh is a high-security Category A facility and, as with all other prisons in the UK, inmates there are at risk to infection from coronavirus (Covid-19).

On 28 April, the BBC reported that there were “1,783 “possible/probable” cases of coronavirus – on top of 304 confirmed infections across jails in England and Wales”. Also that there were “75 different “custodial institutions”, with 35 inmates treated in hospital and 15 deaths”.

Vaughan Smith, who stood bail for Assange, reported that the virus was “ripping through” Belmarsh:

We know of two Covid-19 deaths in Belmarsh so far, though the Department of Justice have admitted to only one death. Julian told me that there have been more and that the virus is ripping through the prison.

Assange has a known chronic lung condition, which could lead to death should he become infected with coronavirus. Assange’s lawyers requested he is released on bail to avoid succumbing to the virus, but that request was rejected.

As for the psychological effects of segregation, a European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment report argued that it can “can have an extremely damaging effect on the mental, somatic and social health of those concerned”.

…and into the fire

It’s likely that Assange will be placed under SAMs if he is extradited to the US. The Darkest Corner, a report authored by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and The Center for Constitutional Rights, describes how SAMs work.

In its summary, the report explains that:

SAMs are the darkest corner of the U.S. federal prison system, combining the brutality and isolation of maximum security units with additional restrictions that deny individuals almost any connection to the human world. Those restrictions include gag orders on prisoners, their family members, and their attorneys, effectively shielding this extreme use of government power from public view.

It continues:

SAMs deny prisoners the narrow avenues of indirect communication – through sink drains or air vents – available to prisoners in solitary confinement. They prohibit social contact with anyone except for a few immediate family members, and heavily regulate even those contacts. And they further prohibit prisoners from connecting to the social world via current media and news, limiting prisoners’ access to information to outdated, government-approved materials. Even a prisoner’s communications with his lawyer – which are supposed to be protected by attorney-client privilege – can be subject to monitoring by the FBI.

It ominously adds that: “Many prisoners remain under these conditions indefinitely, for years or in some cases even decades”. Moreover, these conditions can be used as a weapon to force a prisoner to plead guilty:

In numerous cases, the Attorney General recommends lifting SAMs after the defendant pleads guilty. This practice erodes defendants’ presumption of innocence and serves as a tool to coerce them into cooperating with the government and pleading guilty.

The report provides further details on how SAMs incorporate sensory deprivation and social isolation measures that “may amount to torture”. Also, it argues that the SAMs regime contravenes both US and international laws.

ECHR article 3

Should the UK courts agree to extradite Assange, he could face months, if not decades, of psychological torture. However, Article 3 of the European Court of Human Rights states clearly: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Under that article, the US extradition request should be rejected by the UK courts.

For a publisher to be subjected to such a nightmare scenario would be intolerable.

May 14, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Assange unwell, stuck in solitary confinement while court hearing delayed till September

In his fight against extradition to the US, where he faces 175 years in prison and being subjected to harsh conditions under “Special Administrative Measures”, Assange is rendered defenseless. He is in effective solitary confinement, being psychologically tortured inside London’s maximum-security prison. With the British government’s refusal to release him temporarily into home detention, despite his deteriorating health and weak lung condition developed as consequences of long detention, Assange is now put at risk of contracting coronavirus. This threatens his life.

Now, as the world stands still and becomes silent in our collective self-quarantine, Assange’s words spoken years ago in defense of a free internet call for our attention from behind the walls of Belmarsh prison:

“Nuclear war, climate change or global pandemics are existential threats that we can work through with discussion and thought. Discourse is humanity’s immune system for existential threats. Diseases that infect the immune system are usually fatal. In this case, at a planetary scale.”

Assange’s US extradition, Threat to Future of Internet and Democracy, CounterPunch by NOZOMI HAYASE 8 May 20 On Monday May 4, the British Court decided that the extradition hearing for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, scheduled for May 18, would be moved to September. This four month delay was made after Assange’s defense lawyer argued the difficulty of his receiving a fair hearing due to restrictions posed by the Covid-19 lockdown. Monday’s hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court proceeded without enabling the phone link for press and observers waiting on the line, and without Assange who was not well enough to appear via videolink.

Sunday May 3rd marked World Press Freedom Day. As people around the globe celebrated with online debates and workshops, Assange was being held on remand in London’s Belmarsh prison for publishing classified documents which exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. On this day, annually observed by the United Nations to remind the governments of the importance of free press, Amnesty International renewed its call for the US to drop the charges against this imprisoned journalist.

The US case to extradite Assange is one of the most important press freedom cases of this century. The indictment against him under the Espionage Act is an unprecedented attack on journalism. This is a war on free speech that has escalated in recent years turning the Internet into a battleground.

Privatized censorship Continue reading

May 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, secrets and lies | Leave a comment