Australian news, and some related international items

Is US extradition inevitable for Julian Assange? | The Stream

Aljazeera English, 14 January 2022, It’s been more than a decade since the website WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos – some of which revealed possible US war crimes. Now WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has one more chance to appeal a UK ruling that would allow him to be extradited to the US.

Last month, a UK High Court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking and violating the US Espionage Act. The ruling goes against a lower court that previously said harsh US prison conditions would endanger Assange given his worsening mental and physical health.

Assange’s legal team has since filed an appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court, but in order for the appeal to be considered, it must be deemed of “general public importance”.

n 2019, the Trump administration indicted Assange for violating the US Espionage Act on counts related to the WikiLeaks release of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables. The US argues the release of classified information put the lives of American allies in danger.

Twenty-four civil liberties and press freedom groups, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders have called on the Biden administration to stop its prosecution against Assange. In a joint letter to the US Justice Department, they argue that Assange’s prosecution could set a precedent that would harm press freedom and the safety of journalists reporting on national security issues.

Assange spent seven years in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and was eventually arrested in 2019. Last week, Assange’s supporters marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment at London’s Belmarsh high security prison.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss the outlook for Assange’s case and its broader implications for press freedom worldwide.

January 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

The disgraceful case mounted against Assange by a corrupt U.S. Department of Justice and their hired guns in Britain.

It is this institutional lying and duplicity that Julian Assange brought into the open and in so doing performed perhaps the greatest public service of any journalist in modern times.

JOHN PILGER: U.S. wins extradition appeal against Julian Assange, Independent Australia, By John Pilger | 11 December 2021,  ”…….. Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on Earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh Prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial FBI informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a CIA front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) — that, too, was ignored.

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defence counsel before the High Court in October, that the CIA had planned to murder Julian in London — even that was ignored.

Each of these “matters”, as lawyers like to say, was enough on its own for a judge upholding the law to throw out the disgraceful case mounted against Assange by a corrupt U.S. Department of Justice and their hired guns in Britain. Julian’s state of mind, bellowed James Lewis, QC, America’s man at the Old Bailey last year, was no more than malingering — an archaic Victorian term used to deny the very existence of mental illness. 

To Lewis, almost every defence witness, including those who described from the depth of their experience and knowledge the barbaric American prison system, was to be interrupted, abused, discredited. Sitting behind him, passing him notes, was his American conductor: young, short-haired, clearly an Ivy League man on the rise.

In their nine minutes of dismissal of the fate of journalist Assange, two of the most senior judges in Britain, including the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett (a lifelong buddy of Sir Alan Duncan, Boris Johnson’s former Foreign Minister who arranged the brutal police kidnapping of Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy) referred to not one of a litany of truths aired at previous hearings in the District Court.

These were truths that had struggled to be heard in a lower court presided over by a weirdly hostile judge, Vanessa Baraitser. Her insulting behaviour towards a clearly stricken Assange, struggling through a fog of prison-dispensed medication to remember his name, is unforgettable.

What was truly shocking on Friday was that the High Court Judges – Lord Burnett and Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde, who read out their words – showed no hesitation in sending Julian to his death, living or otherwise. They offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality.

Their ruling in favour, if not on behalf of the United States, is based squarely on transparently fraudulent “assurances” scrabbled together by the Biden Administration when it looked in January like justice might prevail.

These “assurances” are that once in American custody, Assange will not be subject to the Orwellian SAMs – Special Administrative Measures – which would make him an un-person; that he will not be imprisoned at ADX Florence, a prison in Colorado long condemned by jurists and human rights groups as illegal: “a pit of punishment and disappearance”; that he can be transferred to an Australian prison to finish his sentence there.

The absurdity lies in what the Judges omitted to say. In offering its “assurances”, the U.S. reserves the right not to guarantee anything should Assange do something that displeases his gaolers. In other words, as Amnesty International has pointed out, it reserves the right to break any promise.

There are abundant examples of the U.S. doing just that. As investigative journalist Richard Medhurst revealed last month, David Mendoza Herrarte was extradited from Spain to the U.S. on the “promise” that he would serve his sentence in Spain. The Spanish courts regarded this as a binding condition.

Medhurst wrote:

‘Classified documents reveal the diplomatic assurances given by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and how the U.S. violated the conditions of the extradition. Mendoza spent over six years in the U.S. trying to return to Spain. Court documents show the United States denied his transfer application multiple times.’

The High Court Judges – who were aware of the Mendoza case and of Washington’s habitual duplicity – describe the “assurances” not to be beastly to Julian Assange as a “solemn undertaking offered by one government to another”. This article would stretch into infinity if I listed the times the rapacious United States has broken “solemn undertakings” to governments, such as treaties that are summarily torn up and civil wars that are fuelled. It is the way Washington has ruled the world, and before it Britain — the way of imperial power, as history teaches us.

It is this institutional lying and duplicity that Julian Assange brought into the open and in so doing performed perhaps the greatest public service of any journalist in modern times.

Julian himself has been a prisoner of lying governments for more than a decade now. During these long years, I have sat in many courts as the United States has sought to manipulate the law to silence him and WikiLeaks…………..,15842

December 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Classified Documents Invalidate United States’ Appeal Against Assange — Richard Medhurst

‘I’m scared that will be Assange. They will make him go nuts.”

“I’m a nobody. If they’re capable of doing this to me, just imagine what they can do to Assange.

The United States Broke Diplomatic Assurances for David Mendoza, It Will Do the Same with Julian Assange Richard Medhurst’s Newsletter 

Richard MedhurstNov 29
Richard Medhurst Nov 29 In 2009, David Mendoza Herrarte was extradited from Spain to the United States, on condition he be allowed to serve his sentence in SpainClassified documents reveal the diplomatic assurances given by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and how the U.S. violated the conditions of his extraditionMendoza spent over 6 years in the United States trying to return to Spain. Court documents show how the United States denied his transfer application multiple timesWhile in prison, Mendoza sued the United States, and Spain for failing to uphold the conditions of his extradition and violating his human rights. His case was recently taken up by the United Nations
  • Mendoza’s case was raised last month in the English High Court, where the United States is attempting to extradite Julian Assange to the U.S.
  • The United States has offered similar diplomatic assurances that Assange could serve a sentence in Australia
  • Assange’s lawyers cite Mendoza’s case as evidence that these assurances cannot be trusted
  • James Lewis, the lead U.S. prosecutor, said that these assurances are bulletproof. He told the High Court that, “The United States have never broken a diplomatic assurance, ever”. Court documents and diplomatic assurances obtained by Richard Medhurst show this to be untrue

  • David Mendoza Herrarte was born and raised in the United States. His mother being from Spain, he would go there every summer, describing it to me as his second home. He is both an American and Spanish national.

    Mendoza was wanted by the United States for drug trafficking. In the early 2000s, he used helicopters to transport marijuana, known commonly as BC Bud, from Canada across the U.S. border into Seattle. Today, marijuana is legal in Seattle………………………………………………
  • The diplomatic assurance did not specifically state that Mendoza would be sent to Spain to serve his sentence. It only said that the United States “does not object to Mendoza making an application to serve his sentence in Spain”– something the United States cannot object to anyway, as it is every prisoner’s right to apply for a treaty transfer.

Mendoza tells me, “This shows the deviance of these people. They use this ambiguous language on purpose. There’s precedent in federal court that if they don’t specifically agree to the transfer, it’s not valid”.

Recently, the United States offered similar diplomatic assurances to the United Kingdom, namely that Assange could could serve a sentence in his home country of Australia.

Mendoza says for this to be valid, the diplomatic assurances from the U.S. must explicitly state in advance that the U.S. Department of Justice and Australia accept Assange’s transfer— otherwise it’s meaningless.

 “With the Assange thing, I can see it black and white. They [Australia] are not going to do a thing. Under the treaty, all three parties must agree: Julian, Australia, and the United States. But the U.S. can tell Australia behind the scenes: ‘screw this guy, don’t do anything’.”

  • The Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons specifically states under Article 3 (f) that a sentenced person may be transferred “if the sentencing and administering States agree to the transfer.” (The administering state meaning Australia)Being one of the few journalists to cover Assange’s extradition, I can confirm that as of now Australia has not given any indication that it would accept Julian Assange’s request to serve a sentence there, should he apply……….
  • April 2009: David Mendoza Herrarte is extradited to the United States

After signing the Acta de Entrega, Mendoza was officially under U.S. jurisdiction. He recalls being handed over to U.S. authorities: “The first thing they do when they get you, is they strip you naked. The marshals look in your mouth, your ass, your ears, every orifice. They attempt to humiliate you in every fashion: ‘Squat! Now do this…’. They tell you: you’re under US jurisdiction now, and our law is what is going to apply to you.”

June 2009: Once in the United States, Mendoza took part in what is known as an arbitration hearing or settlement conference. This is where plea bargains are hashed out in the presence of the judge, between prosecutors and defendant……………………………………………

  • It now became clear that the United States never intended to send Mendoza back to Spain. They had squeezed him for every last penny, then violated the diplomatic assurances given to Spain………….
  • Mendoza expects the United States government will play the same trick on Assange if they refuse to send him to Australia and he contests it in court.“Within that note, it must specifically state that Julian has a right to contest non-compliance of the United States, even as a non-signatory to the treaty. Because the US will start playing games.”…………….
  • Instead of being sent to Spain immediately to carry out his sentence, Mendoza was told to apply for a treaty transfer. He applied, and the answer from the United States was ‘no’……………

In total, Mendoza applied three times for treaty transfer to Spain. All three applications were denied, violating the conditions of his extradition. Each time he applied, he had to wait 8 months for a decision, and even longer to apply again. The denial states: “There is no administrative appeal from this decision. Unless otherwise noted above, the prisoner may reapply two years after this denial.”
Mendoza told me: “That’s when I realized I’m in the wrong court. I’m going to get nothing here. ……………………..

The other assurance offered by the United States appears to state that Assange would not be jailed at ADX Florence or placed under oppressive prison conditions known as Special Administrative Measures (SAMs).

Similiar to those offered for Mendoza, the assurances for Assange are ambiguous and vaguely-worded. The United States says he will not be subject to SAMs or imprisoned at ADX unless “in the event that, after entry of this assurance, he was to commit any future act that met the test for the imposition of a SAM pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 501.2 or § 501.3”

Once in U.S. custody, the United States could simply allege that Assange did something that “met the test for the imposition of a SAM”, place him in isolation, and then claim that it never violated its assurances, because it already gave itself a backdoor to do so.

This is why Mendoza told me that assurances must be explicitly spelled out, with no room for derogation.

Assange’s extradition was blocked by a UK judge in January 2021, on grounds that U.S. prison conditions would be too oppressive, leading him to commit suicide.

While in the U.S., Mendoza was imprisoned at a medium-high security facility in Englewood, Colorado. This is near ADX Florence, where Assange is likely to be sent.

“Believe me, European prisons aren’t nice. But U.S. prisons are much worse. I was in Colorado, one of the biggest s–tholes I’ve ever been to. It was dirty; they let you out of your cell one hour a day– when they decided, not when I wanted.”…….. It’s 3am, for example, they would buzz you and say: do you want your hour of recreation?”. Prisoners who declined would not be able to leave their cell until the next day.

Mendoza explained to me the process of dehumanization and sleep deprivation in prison: “You don’t have a name; you have a number, and you have to repeat it during every count. Counts are every three hours in higher security federal prisons. Another thing guards would do is instead of pointing their flashlight up to the ceiling, they would flash it right in your face.”

“I’m scared that will be Assange. They will make him go nuts. The only thing that kept me sane is this legal work; writing to the judges and the press, going after the United States in civil court.”

What Mendoza went through is a step down from what Assange would be in. Not only is ADX Florence a federal super-maximum prison, but Assange would also be placed under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), in extreme isolation.

Mendoza tells me that visitation had to be approved by specific people. ……………………

Mendoza’s case is an incredible story on its own merits.

Nevertheless, it must be examined in the context of Assange’s extradition. When James Lewis told High Court judges that “the United States have never broken a diplomatic assurance, ever”— this is simply untrue.

The above documents [on original] make it clear that the United States violated its agreement and broke diplomatic assurances to Spain. Mendoza was to be returned to Spain to carry out his sentence, instead he spent six years and nine months in various U.S. prisons. Only after suing both the United States and Spain— his own countries— for failing to enforce the conditions of his extradition, was he allowed to return. Only after the Spanish Supreme Court ruled in his favor, threatening the U.S.-Spain Extradition Treaty itself, could he compel the United States to enforce the conditions of his extradition and return him to Spain.

Mendoza was fortunate enough to have the Spanish Supreme Court, senior judges and public on his side. Were the United States to violate the assurances of Assange’s extradition, it is extremely unlikely given the “Special Relationship” between the U.K. and U.S., that Assange would be able to successfully lobby the British government into compelling the U.S. to uphold the conditions of his extradition.

James Lewis told the English High Court that diplomatic assurances are “solemn undertakings, given out at the highest order; they are not dished out like smarties”. He is correct. It is therefore incumbent on the Court to consider what happened to Mendoza, for whom the United States did offer diplomatic assurances, and assess whether those offered for Assange are adequate, but more importantly, whether they can be enforced once he is no longer under British jurisdiction.

Mendoza’s experience shows that for Assange, any diplomatic assurances or agreements must be written in explicit language and signed by all parties, including Assange, so that in the eventuality of non-compliance, he may be afforded the opportunity to contest this in court, despite his status as a non-signatory of the United Kingdom-United States Extradition Treaty.

Mendoza’s case offers the Court extraordinary insight into the innerworkings of American diplomacy, legal proceedings, and extradition to the United States. It is a serious warning which High Court Justices should heed, who at their discretion, have the power to prevent gross miscarriages of justice which gravely imperil the respondent, before they arise.

“I’m a nobody. If they’re capable of doing this to me, just imagine what they can do to Assange.”

December 15, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie implores the Prime Minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution of Julian Assange.

MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange, Giannini   

MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange,

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has implored the prime minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution of Julian Assange.

The former intelligence analyst said the prosecution of Mr Assange has always been political which meant it could be solved politically by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“The reality is this has always been an intensively political matter and it can be solved politically by Scott Morrison picking up the phone to Joe Biden and Boris Johnson,” Mr Wilkie told the ABC.

It comes after reports the 50-year-old WikiLeaks founder suffered a stroke in prison in October.

“Jail is killing Julian Assange,” Mr Wilkie said.

“There is no way he will survive continued incarceration in the UK.”

Mr Assange has just suffered a legal blow after the UK High Court ruled he could be extradited to face charges in the US.

Mr Assange’s lawyers say they intend to appeal the decision in the UK’s highest court.

December 12, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Appeal to UK’s Supreme Court will just lengthen Julian Assange’s legal torment – of course Australia doesn’t care.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Assange, previously told the High Court that Australia had not indicated whether it would accept Assange, who “will most likely be dead before it can have any purchase, if it ever could”……..

Assange lawyers eye UK Supreme Court, The North West Star.Jess Glass and Tom Pilgrim, PA  

11 Dec 21, Julian Assange’s lawyers intend to take his case to the Supreme Court, his fiancee says, after the High Court allowed the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the United States.

Assange, 50, is wanted in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified information following WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars

US authorities brought a High Court challenge against a January ruling by then-district judge Vanessa Baraitser that Assange should not be sent to the US, in which she cited a real and “oppressive” risk of suicide.

After a two-day hearing in October, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, ruled in favour of the US on Friday………..

The judges ordered that the case must return to Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a district judge to formally send it to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris called the ruling “dangerous and misguided” and said his lawyers intended to seek an appeal at the Supreme Court……..

The legal wrangling will go to the Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s final court of appeal.

“It is highly disturbing that a UK court has overturned a decision not to extradite Julian Assange, accepting vague assurances by the United States government,” Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack said.

“Mr Assange will seek review of this decision by the UK Supreme Court.”

Supporters of Assange gathered outside of the court after the ruling, chanting “free Julian Assange” and “no extradition”.

They tied hundreds of yellow ribbons to the court’s gates and held up placards saying “journalism is not a crime”.

If Assange’s lawyers do take his case to the Supreme Court, justices will first decide whether to hear the case before any appeal is heard.

During October’s hearing, James Lewis QC for the US said that the “binding” diplomatic assurances made were a “solemn matter” and “are not dished out like Smarties”.

The assurances included that Assange would not be held in a so-called “ADX” maximum security prison in Colorado or submitted to special administrative measures (SAMs) and that he could be transferred to Australia to serve his sentence if convicted.

But lawyers representing Assange had argued that the assurances over the WikiLeaks founder’s potential treatment were “meaningless” and “vague”.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Assange, previously told the High Court that Australia had not indicated whether it would accept Assange, who “will most likely be dead before it can have any purchase, if it ever could”……..

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer sharply criticised the verdict.

“This is a shortcoming for the British judiciary,” Melzer told the DPA news agency on Friday.

“You can think what you want about Assange but he is not in a condition to be extradited,” he said, referring to a “politically motivated verdict”.

with reporting from Reuters and DPA

December 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

The latest court case for Australian Julian Assange – and the death of democracy

Assange is too important to the establishment to let get away. No matter that the C.I.A. wanted to kill him; no matter that the C.I.A. spied on his privileged conversations with his lawyers; no matter that the chief witness in the computer conspiracy charge admitted he made it all up.

The Old Boy Network of trust between the rulers of the Anglo-Saxon powers was enough.

To save their hides from more exposure about how they try to violently and deceptively dominate the world, they are willing to sacrifice the last vestiges of their pretend democracy.

Julian Assange is that important to them.

Democracy Dying in the Darkness of the Assange Case December 10, 2021  The establishment figures on the bench took American promises as “solemn undertakings from one government to another” because Assange is too important to let go,   By Joe Lauria.

  It is a very dark day indeed for the future of press freedom. If Julian Assange does not find relief at the U.K. Supreme Court, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that democracy, already on life support, is done for. The U.S., and its best ally Britain, have behaved in this affair no better than any tinpot dictator tossing a critical reporter into a dungeon.

This judgement by the High Court today to allow Assange’s extradition to the U.S. comes on U.N. Human Rights Day; the day that Washington concluded its so-called Democracy Summit and the day when the Nobel Prize was awarded to two journalists, one of whom dismissed Julian Assange and said the purpose of journalism is to support national security.

That’s exactly what the national security state wants from its journalists. And they reward them with the highest honors. Assange did the opposite. He fulfilled journalism’s supreme purpose and he may be about to pay for it with his life. 

The Choices Available

The High Court could have denied extradition to a country whose intelligence service plotted to kill or kidnap him. It could have sent the case back to magistrate’s court to be reheard.

Instead Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde found an extremely narrow way to overturn the lower court’s decision not to extradite Assange.

Continue reading

December 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Traditional owners apply for judicial review to stop South Australia nuclear waste dump

Traditional owners apply for judicial review to stop South Australia nuclear waste dump

Barngarla people say they were never consulted over the project which ‘should never be built’ Guardian,   Tory Shepherd, Tue 7 Dec 2021 .

Traditional owners say they will keep fighting to stop a nuclear waste dump planned for South Australia.

Late last month, the federal government confirmed a facility will be built at Napandee, 24km from Kimba, and it is beginning the regulatory and design processes.

However, the Barngarla people say they’ve been excluded from consultation and will now lodge an application for a judicial review of the entire project.

The first hearing is expected to be in March – the month the SA election is due and the federal election could be held. That could then be appealed and the case could end up in the high court, and in a different political context.

Plans to build a nuclear waste facility in South Australia have been thwarted for more than two decades. After a series of governments, inquiries, and a state royal commission, one was meant to be operational in 2020. Now it is planned for 2030.

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation chair Jason Bilney said if they win the legal challenge, it opens the way for the government to nominate other sites.

They didn’t include us from the start,” he said. “What we’ve always hoped for and fought for is to stop the nuclear waste dump because it should never be built on Napandee. It didn’t have our support,” he said.

A ballot of ratepayers found more than 60% supported the facility. The traditional owners say they were excluded because they do not live in the council area. They held a separate ballot, in which they unanimously rejected the proposal.

Bilney said if you added those two ballots together, the support would have been less than half.

“This [judicial review] will delay it,” he said.

“Everyone has the right to question this government and the processes they go through.”

Bilney also said the site was just a “Band-Aid solution” and echoed conservationists who are pushing for the low and intermediate level waste to be stored at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s facility at Lucas Heights………..

The Australian Conservation Foundation said it was a “long way from a done deal”.

“This plan will face scrutiny in the federal court, but it also needs to face the court of public opinion. The government needs to give Australians, particularly South Australians and the Barngarla people, a genuine say about this plan and its inter-generational risks and impacts,” campaigner Dave Sweeney, said.

December 9, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

In the next extradition court case for Julian Assange, we can expect the judge there to be very biased against Assange

Now the most powerful judge in England and Wales, Burnett will soon rule on Assange’s extradition case. The founder of WikiLeaks faces life imprisonment in the US. ……………………

As minister, Duncan did not hide his opposition to Julian Assange, calling him a “miserable little worm” in parliament in March 2018

Duncan watched UK police pulling the WikiLeaks publisher from the Ecuadorian embassy via a live-feed in the Operations Room at the top of the Foreign Office. 

He later admitted he was “trying to keep the smirk off [his] face”, and hosted drinks at his parliamentary office for the team involved in the eviction.


Julian Assange’s fate lies in the hands of an appeal judge who is a close friend of Sir Alan Duncan – the former foreign minister who called Assange a “miserable little worm” in parliament. DECLASSIFIED UK


The two have known each other since their student days at Oxford in the 1970s, when Duncan called Burnett “the Judge”. Burnett and his wife attended Duncan’s birthday dinner at a members-only London club in 2017, when Burnett was a judge at the court of appeal.

Now the most powerful judge in England and Wales, Burnett will soon rule on Assange’s extradition case. The founder of WikiLeaks faces life imprisonment in the US. ……………………

As minister, Duncan did not hide his opposition to Julian Assange, calling him a “miserable little worm” in parliament in March 2018. 

In his diaries, Duncan refers to the “supposed human rights of Julian Assange”. He admits to arranging a Daily Mail hit piece on Assange that was published the day after the journalist’s arrest in April 2019. 

Duncan watched UK police pulling the WikiLeaks publisher from the Ecuadorian embassy via a live-feed in the Operations Room at the top of the Foreign Office. 

He later admitted he was “trying to keep the smirk off [his] face”, and hosted drinks at his parliamentary office for the team involved in the eviction.

Duncan then flew to Ecuador to meet President Lenín Moreno in order to “say thank you” for handing over Assange. Duncan reported he gave Moreno “a beautiful porcelain plate from the Buckingham Palace gift shop.” 

“Job done,” he added……………………………….

December 6, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Traditional owners expected to challenge nuclear waste facility in South Australia

Traditional owners expected to challenge nuclear waste facility in South Australia
The Barngarla people have unanimously rejected the federal government’s controversial plan to store radioactive medical waste on their land, and may take their case to the state’s supreme court,  Guardian, Tory Shepherd 29 Nov 21

The federal government has confirmed that a controversial nuclear waste facility will be built near Kimba, in South Australia – but the traditional owners are expected to mount a legal challenge.

Resources minister Keith Pitt announced two months ago that a 211-hectare site at Napandee, 24km out of Kimba, had been chosen from three potential sites to store Australia’s radioactive waste. After 60 days of further consultation, he confirmed that decision on Monday morning.

An Australian Electoral Commission ballot found more than 60% of local residents supported the facility. However, the traditional owners, the Barngarla people, say many of them missed out on the vote because they were not living in the Kimba council area.

When surveyed separately, the Barngarla voters unanimously rejected the proposal.

At the time, Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation chair Jason Bilney said he planned to launch a judicial review, challenging in the supreme court the selection of Kimba over other sites.

Guardian Australia has contacted the corporation for comment.

Pitt said the government would now acquire the land to build a new facility that would store low- and medium-level medical waste that is scattered across more than 100 locations in Australia……….

The new facility will house low-level waste permanently, and medium-level waste temporarily, until a permanent solution is found for that.

Conservationists have told a parliamentary inquiry into the future of the Lucas Heights nuclear facility that the Sydney site should be expanded to take the nation’s waste until that long-term decision is made, rather than having a new facility built.

November 29, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, wastes | Leave a comment

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) must be required to fully inform the Kimba community of the safety and financial risks of the nuclear dump

[importance of] the community at Kimba getting their own full and independent assessment and report on the government’s intentions for Napandee assisted by both government funding and by access to all records and information for that purposeAnother issue forThe Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

It is the intention of ANSTO to store intermediate level nuclear waste at the proposed nuclear waste management facility at Napandee near Kimba in South Australia for an indefinite period but suggested to be 30 years

Since it is merely the storage of the intermediate level waste ANSTO is suggesting that it is not necessary to obtain any licences from ARPANSA for that purpose and consequently will not be making any application to ARPANSA in that regard

This is clearly against the concept of the enabling legislation and irrespective of this suggestion ARPANSA as the statutory regulator must insist on ANSTO having an appropriate licences for both the storage of the intermediate waste at Napandee and for the construction of the required facility for the increased storage capacity at Lucas Heights

Should there be any reluctance by ARPANSA in enforcing the licensing compliance by ANSTO then legal action will need to be taken by way of mandamus by interested parties which would be the Kimba community to make certain that the required licences will be sought by ANSTO

In order to ensure that the community position is fully protected ARPANSA should provide adequate funding either directly or by
government grant to the community to enable them to obtain proper and detailed legal advice and to undertake any appropriate actions that may be required or necessary to protect their position

This should be coupled with the community at Kimba getting their own full and independent assessment and report on the government’s intentions for Napandee assisted by both government funding and by access to all records and information for that purpose

This is an essential requirement for enabling the community at Kimba to understand and negotiate with full knowledge of the safety case required for the Napandee facility as the independent assessment will no doubt be critical of the inappropriate and unsuitable site selection and nature of the facility by way of above the ground storage

The special rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the sound management and disposal of hazardous substances including nuclear wastes and for the rights of indigenous peoples are aware of the Kimba community concerns and will monitor the situation and if necessary take appropriate action to ensure protection of their human rights

November 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal, reference | Leave a comment

UK High Court Should Deny Extradition Because CIA Planned to Assassinate Assange

UK High Court Should Deny Extradition Because CIA Planned to Assassinate Assange,  BYMarjorie CohnTruthout October 24, 2021  

Why is Joe Biden’s Department of Justice continuing Donald Trump’s persecution of WikiLeaks founder, publisher and journalist Julian Assange?

Barack Obama, concerned about threats to the First Amendment freedom of the press, decided against indicting Assange for exposing U.S. war crimes. Trump did indict Assange, under Espionage Act charges that could garner him 175 years in prison. A district judge denied Trump’s request for Assange’s extradition from the U.K. to the United States because of the extremely high likelihood that it would lead Assange to commit suicide. Trump appealed the denial of extradition.

Instead of dropping Trump’s extradition request, Biden is vigorously pursuing his predecessor’s appeal against Assange, which the U.K. High Court will hear on October 27 and 28. At that hearing, the High Court should determine what effect the CIA’s recently revealed plan to kidnap and assassinate Assange will have on his fragile mental state in the event he is extradited to the United States.

Judge Baraitser’s Denial of Extradition

On January 6, U.K. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser issued a 132-page decision denying extradition. “Faced with conditions of near total isolation and without the protective factors which moderate his risk at HMP Belmarsh [where Assange is currently imprisoned],” she wrote, “I am satisfied that the procedures described by Dr. [Leukefeld] will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide.”…………………………..

The United States will be allowed to present “assurances” that if Assange is extradited, tried, convicted and imprisoned, he will not be subject to special administrative measures (SAMs) — onerous conditions that would keep him in virtual isolation — or be held at the ADX maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado. The U.S. intends to provide an additional assurance that it would not object to

Assange serving any custodial sentence he may receive in Australia. These so-called assurances, however, are conditional. The U.S. reserves the right to impose SAMs or hold Assange at ADX if his future behavior warrants it. Moreover, the U.S. cannot guarantee that Australia would consent to hosting Assange’s incarceration.

The High Court should give considerable weight to the way in which explosive new revelations of the Trump administration’s plot to kidnap and assassinate Assange will affect his mental health if he is extradited.

High Court Should Consider U.S. Plans to Kidnap and Assassinate Assange

The indictment against Assange stems from WikiLeaks’ 2010-2011 revelations of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo. They included 400,000 field reports about the Iraq War, 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians, and evidence of systematic torture, rape and murder after U.S. forces “handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad,” the documents reveal. They included the Afghan War Logs, 90,000 reports revealing more civilian casualties by coalition forces than the U.S. military had reported. And the Guantánamo Files contained 779 secret reports revealing that 150 innocent people had been imprisoned there for years and documenting the torture and abuse of 800 men and boys, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Perhaps the most notable release by WikiLeaks was the 2007 “Collateral Murder” video, in which a U.S. Army Apache helicopter gunship in Baghdad targets and fires on unarmed civilians. At least 18 civilians were killed, including two Reuters journalists and a man trying to rescue the wounded. Two children were injured. A U.S. Army tank then drives over one of the bodies, cutting it in half. The video depicts three separate war crimes prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Army Field Manual.

It was WikiLeaks’ publication of CIA hacking tools known as “Vault 7,” which the agency called “the largest data loss in CIA history,” that incurred the wrath of Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Vault 7 materials revealed electronic surveillance and cyber-warfare by the CIA.

In 2017, Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and CIA and government officials hatched “secret war plans” to abduct and kill Assange, according to a stunning Yahoo! News report. Some senior CIA and Trump administration officials requested “sketches” or “options” for ways to assassinate Assange. Trump “asked whether the CIA could assassinate Assange and provide him ‘options’ for how to do so,” according to the report.

Pompeo advocated “extraordinary rendition,” which the CIA used in the “war on terror” to illegally seize suspects and send them to its “black sites” where they were tortured. The scenario was that the CIA would break into the Ecuadorian Embassy in which Assange was staying under a grant of asylum and clandestinely fly him to the United States to stand trial. Others in the agency wanted to assassinate Assange outright by poisoning or shooting him to avoid the hassle of kidnapping him.

The CIA spied on WikiLeaks, and it aimed to sow discord among the group’s members and steal their electronic devices, according to the Yahoo! News report. The CIA also conducted illegal surveillance inside the Ecuadorian Embassy and spied on privileged attorney-client communications between Assange and his lawyers.

Concerned that the CIA might kidnap or kill Assange, which could jeopardize a potential criminal prosecution, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a secret indictment against him in 2018. To bolster the DOJ’s case for extradition, the FBI collaborated with informant Siggi Thordarson to paint Assange as a hacker instead of a journalist. Thordarson later admitted to the Icelandic newspaper Stundin that he lied about Assange being a hacker in return for immunity from prosecution by the FBI.

In 2019, after a new pro-U.S. president came to power in Ecuador, in order to facilitate the U.S.’s attempted extradition, London police dragged Assange from the embassy and arrested him for violating bail conditions. Assange remains in custody in London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison pending Biden’s appeal of the extradition denial.

The High Court should give great weight to the U.S. plans to kidnap and assassinate Assange. The knowledge of those revelations will put even more mental stress on Assange, whom former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer described as having suffered “prolonged exposure to psychological torture” during his confinement. The High Court should affirm the district court’s denial of extradition.

A Window Into U.S. War Crimes and Threats to Investigative Journalism

“When Assange published hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the public was given an unprecedented window into the lack of justification and the futility of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Assange Defense co-chairs Daniel Ellsberg, Alice Walker and Noam Chomsky wrote at Newsweek. “The truth was hidden by a generation of governmental lies. Assange’s efforts helped show the American public what their government was doing in their name.”

Recent revelations of Pompeo’s threats against Assange that appeared in Yahoo! News have shed light on the dangers the national security state poses to investigative journalism and the public’s right to know. In light of these new disclosures, a coalition of 25 press freedom, civil liberties and international human rights organizations have intensified their call for dismissal of the DOJ’s charges against Assange.

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said his committee has asked the CIA for information about plans to kidnap or assassinate Assange.

The High Court will decide whether to affirm or overturn district judge Baraitser’s decision denying extradition. If they affirm Baraitser’s ruling, the Biden administration could ask the U.K. Supreme Court to review the case. If the High Court overturns Baraitser’s decision, Assange could appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court and then to the European Court of Human Rights if the Supreme Court ruling goes against him.

Biden’s appeal of the denial of extradition should be dismissed. Julian Assange should be released and celebrated for his courage.

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

BHP’s legal privileges overOlympic Dam copper-uranium mine have had devastating consequences for traditional Aboriginal owners

David Noonan  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch, 20 Oct 21

 · “A Way Forward” Juukan Caves Inquiry Final Report…/Nort…/CavesatJuukanGorge/Report Inquiry Report conveys a striking critique of BHP legal privileges over Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine, see Legislative exemptions from cultural heritage protections p.147-148:

“Acts such as these have had devastating consequences for traditional owners as rights to protect cultural heritage are intentionally disrupted and prevented … these Acts remain in force and even when they are repealed their associated histories of injustices will remain … States and territories as well as companies involved in such acts should seek to fast-track transitions and recompense traditional owners for injustices that have occurred.”

October 21, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Morrison government moves to strengthen secrecy around energy ministers meetings

Details of key energy policy decisions could remain secret, as the Morrison government moves to protect National Cabinet deliberations from transparency laws. The post Morrison government moves to strengthen secrecy around energy ministers meetings appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Morrison government moves to strengthen secrecy around energy ministers meetings — RenewEconomy Michael Mazengarb 2 September 2021 The Morrison government has moved to strengthen the level of secrecy around the proceedings of National Cabinet – including the meetings of energy ministers – proposing new legislative amendments that will ensure the National Cabinet is exempt from a range of transparency measures, including freedom of information laws.

The move will extend to the ‘sub-committees’ of the National Cabinet, including the Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee chaired by federal energy minister Angus Taylor.

The new legislation, which will define the National Cabinet as a committee of the federal cabinet under a range of transparency laws, including the Freedom of Information Act, is designed to ensure the National Cabinet is protected from public disclosure obligations.

The legislation comes as a response to a landmark ruling of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on a freedom of information request lodged by independent senator Rex Patrick, which ruled the National Cabinet was not covered by freedom of information exceptions, and documents relating to National Cabinet meetings should be disclosed publicly.

But the Morrison government has sought to effectively overturn this decision through the legislative amendments, ensuring the proceedings of National Cabinet, and its sub-committees, remain secret.

“Like the Commonwealth cabinet and its committees, all proceedings and documentation of the National Cabinet and its committees are confidential,” federal education minister Alan Tudge said when presenting the legislation.

In response, Patrick described prime minister Scott Morrison as a ‘sore loser’.

“Having acted outside and contrary to the law with regard to National Cabinet secrecy, the Prime Minister now wants to change the law,” Patrick said.

“He’s a sore loser who does not accept long-established conventions of Cabinet responsibility and democratic accountability. He hates scrutiny and is allergic to transparency.”

The creation of the Nation Cabinet came at the same time as the abolition of the COAG system, including the COAG Energy Council meeting of energy ministers. The change has allowed the Morrison government to take greater control of the National Cabinet process – and in the case of energy reforms – as meant that little detail of what is discussed amongst energy ministers is known publicly.

While state and territory ministers often publicly vented their frustration about the lack of national action on climate and energy policy around meetings of the former COAG Energy Council, the new National Cabinet regime means ministers are bound by cabinet confidentiality rules and have since been largely mute about any dissatisfaction they may harbour about the proceedings of the new committee.

The Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee has taken oversight for the work of the Energy Security Board. Its secrecy requirements have resulted in key information about energy market reforms being proposed by the Energy Security Board being withheld from the broader energy market for weeks after reform recommendations were delivered to ministers.

Much of the energy market was reliant on leaked information as their main source of knowledge about the Energy Security Board’s post-2025 re-design of the National Electricity Market – which will amount to the most significant shake-up of the market’s design since its formation.

The control that Taylor wields over the energy committee also meant that the first official public release of information about landmark energy market reforms was first released to news outlet

sympathetic to the Morrison government before it was released to the wider public.

The added protections being sought by the Morrison government will further prevent the release of information about meetings of the Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee – with the public left in the dark about even the agendas of meetings.

RenewEconomy has sought access to documents relating to meetings of the Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee on several occasions – as well as a wide range of documents relating to other government decisions through freedom of information laws, but access has been denied in most cases.

A recent review of freedom of information requests completed by the Grata Fund found that the Morrison government has often unlawfully blocked access to documents, undermining laws intended to support public transparency and accountability of government decisions.

The latest legislation looks set to be opposed by both Labor and the Greens. The Morrison government will likely be reliant on One Nation senators to pass the laws through the senate.

September 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, legal, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Canberra Extinction Rebellion members convicted by ACT Magistrates Court for crimes during protests

Canberra Extinction Rebellion members convicted by ACT Magistrates Court for crimes during protests

Climate activists who admitted to offending during various protests earlier this month said they did so after exhausting legal avenues to avert the “already looming” threat of climate change that if not addressed would “kill the future of our children”.

August 26, 2021 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

A Day in the Death of British Justice – the case of Julian Assange

 WikiLeaks has given us real news about those who govern us and take us to war, not the preordained, repetitive spin that fills newspapers and television screens. This is real journalism; and for the crime of real journalism, Assange has spent most of the past decade in one form of incarceration or another, including Belmarsh prison, a horrific place.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, he is a gentle, intellectual visionary driven by his belief that a democracy is not a democracy unless it is transparent, and accountable.

JOHN PILGER: A Day in the Death of British Justice, Consortium News, August 12, 2021 The reputation of British justice now rests on the shoulders of the High Court in the life or death case of Julian Assange.

I sat in Court 4 in the Royal Courts of Justice in London Wednesday with Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner. I have known Stella for as long as I have known Julian. She, too, is a voice of freedom, coming from a family that fought the fascism of Apartheid. Today, her name was uttered in court by a barrister and a judge, forgettable people were it not for the power of their endowed privilege.

The barrister, Clair Dobbin, is in the pay of the regime in Washington, first Trump’s then Biden’s. She is America’s hired gun, or “silk”, as she would prefer. Her target is Julian Assange, who has committed no crime and has performed an historic public service by exposing the criminal actions and secrets on which governments, especially those claiming to be democracies, base their authority. 

For those who may have forgotten, WikiLeaks, of which Assange is founder and publisher, exposed the secrets and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the murderous role of the Pentagon in dozens of countries, the blueprint for the 20-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, the attempts by Washington to overthrow elected governments, such as Venezuela’s, the collusion between nominal political opponents (Bush and Obama) to stifle a torture investigation and the CIA’s Vault 7 campaign that turned your mobile phone, even your TV set, into a spy in your midst.

WikiLeaks released almost a million documents from Russia which allowed Russian citizens to stand up for their rights. It revealed the Australian government had colluded with the U.S. against its own citizen, Assange. It named those Australian politicians who have “informed” for the U.S. It made the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the rise of jihadism in American-armed states in the Gulf.

Continue reading

August 14, 2021 Posted by | - incidents, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment