Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

CIA spying on Assange “illegally” swept up US lawyers, journalists: Lawsuit

 Newsweek SHAUN WATERMAN ON 8/15/22 CIA surveillance of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange while he was sheltering in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London included recording his conversations with American lawyers, journalists and doctors, and copying private data from visitors’ phones and other devices, violating constitutional protections, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

The suit – filed on behalf of four Americans who visited Assange – seeks damages personally from then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo for violating the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The suit also seeks damages against a Spanish security firm contracted to protect the embassy, and its CEO, alleging that they abused their position to illegally spy on visitors and passed on the surveillance data they collected to the CIA, which is also named a defendant in the suit.

Legal experts, including a former senior intelligence official, told Newsweek that the allegations in the lawsuit, if proven, show the CIA crossed lines drawn to protect American citizens from surveillance by overzealous intelligence agencies………………………………………………..

The suit cites evidence gathered in a preliminary criminal inquiry by the Spanish High Court, launched after whistleblowers came forward from the Spanish firm hired to provide physical security for the embassy. The firm and its CEO are under investigation for alleged violations of Assange’s privacy and the confidentiality of communications with his lawyers – both of which are guaranteed by EU law.

The plaintiffs in the U.S. suit – filed in federal District Court in New York – are two New York attorneys on the Assange international legal team and two American journalists who interviewed him. A U.S. doctor who conducted medical interviews with Assange about his mental state chose not to join the lawsuit but told Newsweek he was subjected to the same surveillance. The surveillance also swept up visits from a U.S congressman and celebrities such as model and activist Pamela Anderson.

“As a criminal attorney, I don’t think that there’s anything worse than your opposition listening in on what your plans are, what you intend to do, on your conversations. It’s a terrible thing,” said the lead plaintiff, attorney Margaret Kunstler, a member of Assange’s U.S. legal team. “It’s gross misconduct,” she added, “I don’t understand how the CIA … could think that they could do this. It’s so outrageous that it’s beyond my comprehension.”

New York-based attorney Richard Roth, who filed the suit, said, “This was outrageous and inappropriate conduct by the government. It violated the most profound privacy rights” of the plaintiffs and others who visited Assange in the embassy.

And the violation is worse, Roth added, because it included “conversations of an absolutely privileged and confidential nature,” such as those with his lawyers, and the “theft of data” from devices owned by people such as journalists and doctors who rely on confidential relationships with their sources and patients.

“All my conversations with Julian Assange were covered by doctor-patient confidentiality,” said Sean Love, a physician and faculty member at Johns Hopkins, who visited Assange twice in 2017 to conduct a study of the effects of his confinement on his physical and mental health………………………………

The privacy of other American visitors not party to the lawsuit was also violated, according to copies of surveillance material turned over to the Spanish court and reviewed by Newsweek. Every visitor had their passport photocopied and most seem to have their phones photographed. Among the visitors subject to surveillance was then-California GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who was trying to negotiate a deal for a presidential pardon for Assange. .Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima’s phone was photographed and a detailed written account of her visit (revealing that she removed the battery from her phone before handing it over) was prepared by embassy security guards. Anderson’s passwords for her email and other accounts were included in surveillance photographs allegedly sent to the CIA, according to disclosures by Spanish whistleblowers.

Email messages sent to Anderson’s foundation requesting comment were not returned.

Apart from the constitutional violations against Americans swept up in the surveillance, the sheer magnitude and sensitivity of the material obtained by U.S. authorities may make it impossible for Assange to get a fair trial, Roth said. In addition to the surveillance, after the Ecuadorian government allowed British police to enter the embassy and arrest Assange, it publicly turned over all his legal papers and computer equipment to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“When a federal prosecutor comes after a lawyer with a search warrant and seizes their devices, there are multiple layers of review and protection for privileged lawyer-client communications,” Roth said. The court might appoint a special master – typically a retired judge or a senior attorney independent of the government – to oversee the process and ensure that privileged communications were segregated from those collected for the prosecution.

“None of that happened here. They just grabbed everything.”

…………………………………………………………………………………. Anyone who visited was required to leave their phones and other electronic devices with security guards at the embassy, according to the lawsuit.

“Julian’s visitors weren’t allowed to bring their devices into the embassy, nothing that could photograph or record or connect to the Internet,” WikiLeaks media attorney Deborah Hrbek, the other attorney suing, told Newsweek. “We turned them over to the security guards. We thought they were embassy personnel. We believed it was a measure to protect Julian.”

In fact, the guards were contractors, working for the Spanish private security firm UnderCover Global. Engaged by the Ecuadorian government to provide security for the embassy and its long term houseguest, UC Global in 2017 began secretly also working for U.S. intelligence, according to the lawsuit, citing evidence compiled by the Audiencia National, the Spanish High Court.

UC Global CEO David Morales returned from a Las Vegas security convention in early 2017, telling colleagues they were now working “in the big leagues,” “for the dark side,” and with “our American friends,” according to whistleblower testimony from former UC Global employees. The testimony says it became clear over the subsequent weeks and months that he was being paid substantial sums of money to share surveillance data with the CIA…………………………………………………………………………………….

The suit is directed against Pompeo personally because U.S. law and the Constitution make it difficult to sue executive branch agencies for damages, said Robert Boyle, a constitutional law attorney who consulted with Roth on the suit.

A 1971 Supreme Court judgment “made it possible to personally sue government officials for violations of certain constitutional rights,” he said……………………………………………

The surveillance revealed by the Spanish courts was likely “the tip of the iceberg,” said lead plaintiff Kunstler. “We happen to have discovered that. Who knows what else they were up to?”

 https://www.newsweek.com/cia-spying-assange-illegally-swept-us-lawyers-journalists-lawsuit-1731570

August 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Traditional owners seek documents in nuclear dump case

The Transcontinental. By Tim Dornin, August 15 2022 ,

Traditional owners have asked for wide-ranging access to federal government documents as part of their efforts to block the construction of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation is engaged in Federal Court action seeking to stop the proposed dump at Napandee, near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.

On Monday their lawyers outlined the reasons why the government should hand over a considerable volume of material it relied on in choosing the site and in preparing supportive legislation.

Some of the most contentious material related to correspondence the applicants contend must have taken place between then resources minister Keith Pitt and his department.

Others related to commitments the previous government made not to impose the dump on an unwilling community.

But the Commonwealth argued the Barngarla had been given a “complete record of the decision-making process” and what was being asked for went far beyond an orthodox judicial review.

“They should focus their efforts upon minister Pitt’s conduct rather than essentially seeking to have a royal commission into the cacophony that surrounds the drafting of legislation and the announcement of particular political decisions,” the court was told.

Justice Natalie Charlesworth indicated she was mindful to allow discovery of some of the material, regarding it relevant to the case.

However, she asked the parties to negotiate further to potentially narrow the scope of the documents being sought, particularly in two of the seven categories outlined.

Justice Charlesworth also cautioned that while production of the documents might be ordered, whether or not they proved admissible in the substantive case, now likely to be heard in March next year, was yet to be determined.

The case will return to court next week.

The Barngarla launched their action last year seeking to overturn the coalition government’s decision to develop the dump by quashing the ministerial declaration.

The corporation also recently wrote to new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to scrap plans for the dump.

It said the previous federal government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

Ahead of Monday’s hearing, Barngarla chairman Jason Bilney said it was hoped the new federal government would quickly realise how badly the former government handled the project.

“We fought 21 years to win our native title and if we have to fight 21 years to stop this nuclear waste dump damaging our country, then we will have to do it,” he said…… more https://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/7861791/traditional-owners-seek-docs-in-dump-case/

August 16, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Earthworks approved for nuclear waste dump despite opposition from traditional owners, court hears

Barngarla traditional owners vie to overturn federal government’s decision to develop site near Kimba in South Australia

Australian Associated Press, Wed 15 Jun 2022 

Traditional owners attempting to block the construction of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia have told a court the federal government has already approved plans to begin earthworks, despite an active legal challenge.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation applied for a judicial review of the project in December, and a directions hearing was held in the federal court in Adelaide on Wednesday.

Legal argument will be heard in July ahead of a substantive hearing, most likely before the end of this year. The court was told that there were plans to begin earthworks at the Napandee site, near Kimba on SA’s Eyre Peninsula, before September…….

Justice Natalie Charlesworth asked that sufficient notice be provided to allow time for the court to hear applications to halt the works. Charlesworth said such notice would avoid the need for an urgent hearing.

“What I would like to avoid is what I might call a pyjama hearing where it’s called at midnight and we all come in here in our pyjamas and we have an unnecessarily urgent argument,” she said.

The Barngarla are seeking to overturn the Coalition government’s decision to develop the site by quashing the declaration of former resources minister Keith Pitt.

The corporation also wrote to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the resources minister, Madeleine King, a week after the federal election, urging them to scrap plans for the dump.

It said the previous federal government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the Coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

“Although we appreciate all that Labor have done in opposition, the Barngarla people unequivocally make it clear that we request that the new Labor minister revoke the declaration or consent to the orders quashing the declaration,” it wrote in its letter to Albanese.

The Labor government has given no indication that it would take a different view on the matter than the previous administration.  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jun/15/earthworks-approved-for-nuclear-waste-dump-despite-opposition-from-traditional-owners-court-hears

June 16, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear Waste Dispute in Court Wednesday 15 June 

Kimba Radioactive Waste Facility Judicial Review in Federal Court. Wednesday 15 June 2022:
initial directions hearing and hearing on discovery

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC ICN 8603 
• The first directions hearing will occur in the Federal Court of Australia this Wednesday at
9:00am in Adelaide, with some solicitors and counsel attending by MS Teams.
• The directions hearing will start off the long process of judicial review on the facility.
• An immediate issue is that the former Minister Pitt would not provide the Barngarla
documents Barngarla needed for the judicial review. It is not clear what the new Labor
Minister’s position is now that they have won Government.
• The dispute on discovery includes records of all of the commitments Minister Pitt and
Minister Canavan made that a facility would not be placed on an unwilling community.
Minister Pitt abandoned this requirement in his reasons when he made the declaration to
select Napandee.

The Government is refusing to provide these records and the matter may now need to be
argued as a contested discovery application.
• Any dispute on discovery is likely to take several months.
• Barngarla, Indigenous leaders around Australia, and the environmental movement have all
called for the declaration to be withdrawn now that Labor has won Government.
Barngarla spokesperson quote:
“There were serious failings when the National Party selected Napandee, too many to outline of the area, trying to legislate away judicial review, breaching UNDRIP and abandoning the test ofbroad community support at the last minute without any warning to anyone. The former Ministerwouldn’t provide us the material we need to run our case. Leaving aside these tricks and theseefforts to exhaust us, we remain confident that we will win this if we have to go to Court. However,because of the terrible mishandling by the National Party, we again call upon the new Labor Ministerto quash the declaration. We do not want to spend the next two years in Court against the LaborGovernment. They know what the National Party did and they should do the right thing andwithdraw the declaration.”
For further comment, please contact: barngarlamedia@gmail.comhere.They included, denying the First Peoples the right to vote, not conducting a proper heritage survey

June 14, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Another episode in the unlawful spying and harassment of Julian Assange and his legal team, by the UK and USA governments

Julian Assange’s Australian lawyer who counts Amal Clooney and Amber Heard as friends says she has reached settlement with government ‘over breach of her human rights after it admitted she was likely put under covert surveillance’

  • Jennifer Robinson has reached settlement with Government over surveillance 
  • She said it accepted covert surveillance of her ‘likely breached her human rights’
  • She was one of the three lead claimants in a complaint against the Government 
  • She said it raises ‘grave concerns’ over interference with ‘journalistic material

By JESSICA WARREN FOR MAILONLINE, DAILY MAIL, 10 June 2022

One of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange‘s lawyers has reached a settlement with the Government after it accepted it was likely she was the subject of ‘covert surveillance which breached her human rights’, she said.

Jennifer Robinson welcomed a statement by the European Court of Human Rights which she said meant the UK Government has ‘accepted her rights were breached by surveillance’.

She was one of the three lead claimants in a complaint against the UK Government which went to the court.

Ms Robinson said the UK Government has reached a ‘friendly settlement’, admitting there was reasonable cause to believe she was the subject of surveillance.

She said: ‘The UK Government has now admitted that its surveillance and information-sharing arrangements with the US violated my rights. That includes in relation to the protection of confidential journalistic material.

‘This follows a pattern of unlawful spying on Julian Assange and his legal team, and it raises grave concerns about government interference with journalistic material and privilege.

‘It also raises serious questions about what information the UK and US governments have been sharing about Mr Assange’s case against extradition to the US.’

The development came as Mr Assange awaits a decision by Home Secretary Priti Patel on whether he should be extradited to the United States. 

Ms Robinson, who works from the respected Doughty Chambers in London, has represented Assange for some 12 years.

She is the go-to barrister for the rich and famous, and counts the Hollywood elite among her inner circle, travelling to George and Amal Clooney’s wedding on a speedboat with actor Bill Murray.

In 2019, she was named international pro bono barrister of the year and prior to lockdown, was pictured at events with Prince Charles and Cherie Blair.

She has also appeared on BBC Question Time and supported Amber Heard during the Johnny Depp’s libel case against The Sun newspaper in 2020…………………. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10901023/Julian-Assanges-lawyer-reached-settlement-government-breach-human-rights.html

June 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Sydney University radiation case shows the need for stronger environmental laws, with wider scope

The fallout of the University’s radiation case,  To see real environmental progress, it is not enough to rely on corporate responsibility; we need a body of enforceable restrictions on corporate and institutional consumption. Honi Soit   by Bella Gerardi, May 2, 2022,  

Last week, the University of Sydney was fined $61,000 for failing to properly dispose of a radioactive source belonging to a decommissioned medical imaging machine. For an institution that claims to have a strong commitment to the environment, conviction of a criminal environmental offence appears at odds with its sustainability strategy.

The source, which contained a sealed radioactive isotope, was found when a truck delivering scrap metals to a recycling yard set off alarms during a routine radiation check. 

Identified as belonging to a PET scanner owned by the University, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged the University with four individual breaches of the Radiation Control Act. The case didn’t go to court as the University pled guilty, and in exchange the EPA dropped two of the four charges. 

………. Last week, the University of Sydney was fined $61,000 for failing to properly dispose of a radioactive source belonging to a decommissioned medical imaging machine. For an institution that claims to have a strong commitment to the environment, conviction of a criminal environmental offence appears at odds with its sustainability strategy.

The source, which contained a sealed radioactive isotope, was found when a truck delivering scrap metals to a recycling yard set off alarms during a routine radiation check. 

Identified as belonging to a PET scanner owned by the University, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged the University with four individual breaches of the Radiation Control Act. The case didn’t go to court as the University pled guilty, and in exchange the EPA dropped two of the four charges. 

……………   It is disappointing, but not surprising, that it took a criminal conviction to reach the safeguards imposed today. Unfortunately, the University’s prior lack of clear procedure is indicative of the broader attitude institutions and corporations hold toward environmental crimes. Environmental crimes are often entangled with accidents, negligence, or oversight, and are often not viewed as holding the same gravity as other offences.

Corporations and institutions are responsible for the majority of environmental harm, yet complex corporate hierarchies make it uncommon for individuals to face repercussions for offences, which in turn promotes a lax attitude toward environmental damage.

Is anything changing?

The NSW Government passed the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2022 (NSW) last month, which broadened the personal liability that executives face if their corporation breaches environmental legislation. If directors financially benefit from a breach of environmental law, they can be criminally prosecuted for that offence, regardless of whether they were personally aware of or involved in the breach.

In bringing a greater threat of personal liability, the new laws will hopefully incentivise directors to take greater care in ensuring company policies uphold environmental laws.

Despite all this, the scope of environmental law as it stands is limited, as most environmental offences relate to waste management or water and air pollution. ………. https://honisoit.com/2022/05/the-fallout-of-the-universitys-radiation-case/

May 30, 2022 Posted by | legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Sydney University fined for carelessness with a radioactive device

The fallout of the University’s radiation case, by Bella Gerardi, May 2, 2022,

Last week, the University of Sydney was fined $61,000 for failing to properly dispose of a radioactive source belonging to a decommissioned medical imaging machine. For an institution that claims to have a strong commitment to the environment, conviction of a criminal environmental offence appears at odds with its sustainability strategy.

The source, which contained a sealed radioactive isotope, was found when a truck delivering scrap metals to a recycling yard set off alarms during a routine radiation check. 

Identified as belonging to a PET scanner owned by the University, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged the University with four individual breaches of the Radiation Control Act. The case didn’t go to court as the University pled guilty, and in exchange the EPA dropped two of the four charges. 

So, how did this happen? 

By accident, the court ruled. 

…………… the court noted that if the source had not been detected before entry to the second metal recycling yard, environmental contamination would have been “very likely”. In this scenario, the source would have gone on to be reprocessed, a procedure that would involve breaking the seal of the source and dispersing the material into usable metal. It would have ultimately ended up in consumer material, which the court noted has occurred overseas.

………… It is disappointing, but not surprising, that it took a criminal conviction to reach the safeguards imposed today. Unfortunately, the University’s prior lack of clear procedure is indicative of the broader attitude institutions and corporations hold toward environmental crimes. Environmental crimes are often entangled with accidents, negligence, or oversight, and are often not viewed as holding the same gravity as other offences.

Corporations and institutions are responsible for the majority of environmental harm, yet complex corporate hierarchies make it uncommon for individuals to face repercussions for offences, which in turn promotes a lax attitude toward environmental damage. ………………………………….. more https://honisoit.com/2022/05/the-fallout-of-the-universitys-radiation-case/

May 5, 2022 Posted by | legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

UNEXPLAINED ORDNANCE: A MISSILE ON ABORIGINAL LAND AND A BREAKTHROUGH LEGAL COMPLAINT

ARENA ONLINE, MICHELLE FAHY, 21 APR 2022

A ground-breaking legal complaint has arisen after First Nation’s elders Andrew and Robert Starkey discovered an unexploded missile on their country. The brothers discovered the missile, manufactured by arms multinational Saab, in Lake Hart West, a registered Indigenous heritage site within the vast Woomera Prohibited Area. The Starkeys are Kokatha Badu (respected senior figures, or lore men) from the Western Desert region of South Australia who have devoted decades to protecting heritage sites on their land.

In a complaint to the OECD, the Starkeys alleged that Saab had breached OECD guidelines by failing to undertake or maintain ‘adequate human rights due diligence which could prevent their product from being used in human rights violations’, and which also resulted in a failure to ‘protect and preserve the integrity of [those] heritage sites’ for which the Starkeys have custodial responsibilities

Michelle Fahy, 4 Feb 2022

Australia hasn’t seen anything like this case before. In fact, in the world of OECD complaints, it’s a first.

The Starkey complaint has resulted in a precedent-setting initial assessment from the OECD that could have ramifications for multinational weapons companies. The OECD’s Australian contact point has decided that arms export permits granted by national governments do not provide weapons companies with immunity from responsibility for human rights violations resulting from the use of their products or services.

This decision overturns earlier OECD precedents set by other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, which allowed weapons companies  to shelter behind  arms export permits. The initial assessment in the Starkey complaint says that government-issued arms export permits on their own are insufficient protection, and that the OECD guidelines require global arms manufacturers to conduct ongoing due diligence on human rights issues. Manufacturers of weaponry used to commit war crimes against civilians in Yemen, for example, could now be exposed to similar complaints.

The Defence Department, which has long fobbed off the Starkeys’ heritage concerns, took a year to remove the missile. Andrew says they next tried to approach Saab—whose marketing tagline is ‘It’s a human right to feel safe’—but were again brushed off and referred back to Defence. The Starkeys then lodged their complaint with the OECD’s Australian National Contact Point (AusNCP) in September 2021.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a comprehensive code of responsible business conduct that governments have committed to promoting. Each country that chooses to adhere to the guidelines must establish a national contact point to promote and implement the guidelines. The complaints procedure is intended to provide a non-adversarial ‘forum for discussion’ to examine and resolve complaints against multinationals.

The OECD covers most of the world’s weapons makers— 80 of the top 100 arms corporations, according to an analysis of data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. These companies represented 80 per cent (US$425 billion) of the US$531 billion in sales by the top 100 in 2020. Saab, ranked thirty-sixth, had US$3.4 billion in sales in 2020.

Saab responded to the Starkeys’ complaint saying, amongst other things, that its supply of weaponry to Defence was subject to ‘strict export control laws’ aimed at preventing their use in harmful ways and that Swedish export controls ‘require human rights issues to be considered’. This rote argument is parroted across the arms industry and is one that Australia’s Defence Exports Controls Office relies on to justify its continued arms exports to nations engaged in serial human rights abuses, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab EmiratesIsrael and Indonesia.

‘No nation gets to pick and choose which laws to comply with, nor do they get to choose who will or will not be held accountable’, says the Starkeys’ international human rights lawyer John Podgorelec. ‘The international law has to be applied as evenly to the Saudi Yemen conflict as it would to the Russia Ukraine conflict.’

Weapons companies have long benefited from a myopic reliance on one-off export permit approvals. However, the extensive evidence of war crimes and the resultant catastrophe still unfolding in Yemen, fuelled in large part by US– and UK­ supplied weaponry, shows that the so-called strict permit approval system is an abject failure in protecting human rights.

The AusNCP’s initial assessment sounds a warning to the arms industry worldwide. The AusNCP has now offered its ‘good offices’ to facilitate a negotiated resolution between the Starkeys and Saab. The Starkeys are ready to negotiate. Whether the ‘good offices’ phase proceeds depends on Saab, which has so far said it will ‘review the findings, and continue to engage with the AusNCP, to determine any further required actions’.

Andrew Starkey is pleased with the result so far, but his relief is tempered with discontent. ‘The situation is so bad in Australia. The legislation is so weak that we needed to rely on international law to get justice.’

Dr John Pace, who is also advising the Starkeys, is a globally recognised expert in human rights law with more than fifty years’ experience, including at the United Nations. Pace says that the obligation for due diligence on human rights grounds never abandons the equipment. ‘It is an ongoing, responsive and changing process, not a one-off rubber stamp.’

Amnesty International has noted, in Human rights policies in the defence sector, that, ‘There is now a clear global consensus that companies have a responsibility to respect all human rights wherever they operate’. There is also increasing acceptance that good business practices in one area do not offset harm in another. Corporate behaviour must be globally consistent.

A significant factor influencing the handling of the Starkeys’ complaint is the web of conflicting interests in which Saab features strongly. Such conflicts were not disclosed to the Starkeys during the complaint process. It is this inconsistency in its corporate behaviour that has brought Saab undone. As Andrew says, ‘Defence seems more interested in protecting a Swedish company than in protecting Australian culture’………………………………………………………………

The due diligence guidelines are clear about avoiding adverse impacts on human rights and, in particular, the importance of engaging with Indigenous peoples who might be affected by the activities of the business. One adverse impact noted by the OECD in relation to human rights is ‘Failing to identify and appropriately engage with indigenous peoples where they are present and potentially impacted by the enterprise’s activities’.

The Starkeys are concerned that similar problems will recur. Says Andrew, ‘For us this is the same as the British atomic tests. We are the ones left to deal with the mess. They are erasing us one site at a time up there’.

Christina Macpherson <christinamacpherson@gmail.com>Apr 22, 2022, 9:02 PM (11 hours ago)
to me

April 22, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Lies leave the Assange case exposed – this is a political persecution

Lies leave the Assange case exposed – this is a political persecution,  https://www.counterfire.org/articles/opinion/22480-lies-leave-the-assange-case-exposed-this-is-a-political-persecution

John Rees on how a false testimony has further confirmed that the Assange case is a political attack against critical journalists

Watching the US government’s case against Julian Assange is like watching a levitation act at the music hall. You can see that the object floats, but you’ve no idea how. If normal gravitational laws applied, the Assange case would have crashed to the ground already.

After all, a leading prosecution witness has admitted lying in his evidence to the court and the defendant and his lawyers have been spied on by the intelligence agency of the government attempting to extradite him. In any other case, the mere facts of these revelations would be enough to halt court proceedings, but the detail makes the case for abandonment of the extradition even more compelling.

The most recent bombshell is that Sigurdur ‘Siggi’ Thordarson has admitted to Icelandic journalists at Stundin that he lied when he gave evidence alleging that Julian Assange had instructed him to hack US government accounts. Thordarson’s evidence is not marginal to the US case: it’s woven all through the prosecution’s argument, and it is specifically referred to by the judge in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in those parts of her judgement which are hostile to Assange.

Indeed, when the Trump administration realised that their case was weak, they specifically sought out Thordarson in Iceland and reissued their charges against Assange so that it would be, they imagined, strengthened by his evidence. They should have known better.

To say that Thordarson is an unreliable witness is a very considerable understatement. His allegations had been reviewed by the Obama administration and found too problematic to be taken seriously. Trump’s administration re-animated Thordarson in an attempt to breathe life into their flagging case.

Thordason had been a volunteer for WikiLeaks, working to raise funds. He stole some $50,000 from WikiLeaks and he misrepresented himself to the outside world in order to embezzle money. He was also convicted of sexual abuse of children. On both counts, Julian Assange helped put him in jail. His motive for lying once again for the Trump administration is plain: revenge. And his false evidence is meant to bolster a central contention of the US case: that Julian Assange is a hacker, not a journalist.

Quite what has now convinced this serial liar to admit that he invented the material on which the US case so heavily relies we cannot know. But his decision to do so blows a hole through the centre of the case for extradition.

Thordarson admitted to the Stundin investigative team that Assange never asked him to hack anything. In fact, he now says that his previous claim that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers is false.

Yet this is precisely the evidence on which the US prosecution relies. Indeed, it was so important to them that they tore up their original indictment of Assange on the very eve of the extradition hearing so that they could reissue a second indictment specifically including Thordarson’s evidence – evidence now admitted to be a total fiction.

At this point most cases which had been exposed as relying on perjured testimony would collapse. Not so the Assange case, which is now heading to the Appeal Court where the US will try to overturn the decision of the Magistrates’ Court at the start of this year, which found that the US prison system is so ‘oppressive’ that Assange would be a suicide risk were he committed to it.

It’s not even as if the Thordarson revelations are the first time that evidence has emerged which would normally halt court proceedings in their tracks. It is already a matter of record that Assange and his legal team were spied on by a Spanish security firm reporting to the CIA. The firm, UC Global, were employed by the Ecuadorean embassy to protect Assange when he was granted asylum. They were suborned by the CIA and then supplied them with both audio and video recordings of Assange and his legal team in the embassy. All this has been revealed in an ongoing court case in Spain.

Again, in any normal trial, the revelation that attorney-client privilege had been abused in this way would have been grounds for dismissal. But not in the Assange case. The court seems content to accept the US government’s argument that the CIA would respect departmental boundaries and never tell the Department of Justice any information obtained from the spying operation on Assange. This excuse beggars belief, since the exact function of the CIA is to tell the US government about the threats to national security, as they see it.

And there is the whole core of the problem: the US government under Trump allowed the fiction to develop that the fundamental business of investigative journalism is a threat to national security. Accordingly, Julian Assange became reclassified as a ‘cyber-terrorist’, not a journalist.

In pursuit of this dangerous fantasy, the US government is keeping a multiple award-winning journalist banged-up in a high security jail specifically used for terrorists, in spite of the Magistrates’ Court decision against them.

It’s time that both the US government and the British government brought this embarrassing farce to an end. Every major human rights organisation on the planet has said it is wrong. Journalists’ unions across the globe say its wrong. Parliamentarians in Italy are protesting in their legislature to says its wrong. German MPs are demanding Angela Merkel tells Joe Biden its wrong. Australian MPs are campaigning for Assange’s release in unprecedented numbers. British MPs have been protesting outside Belmarsh because they are not even being allowed a briefing with Assange.

As the Assange case goes to the High Court, we are reaching a critical moment. This is the crucial freedom of the press case of the twenty-first century. If it is lost, the shadow of authoritarian government will be cast longer and darker over the body politic. We should not allow that to happen.

March 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Julian Assange appeals to the Supreme Court,


Julian Assange appeals to the Supreme Court, https://www.bindmans.com/insight/updates/julian-assange-appeals-to-the-supreme-court, Kate Goold, 03 FEBRUARY 2022.

In December 2021, the High Court ruled that Julian Assange could be extradited to the USA, reversing a previous decision of Westminster Magistrates’ Court that extradition would be unjust or oppressive due to Mr Assange’s mental condition.

The ruling of the High Court was based on a package of diplomatic assurances provided by the US government about how and where Mr Assange would be detained if extradited and/or convicted. The assurances had been provided after the Magistrates’ Court found that Mr Assange was at a high risk of suicide if imprisoned in the very harsh regime that can be imposed on prisoners, who are considered a threat to national security, by the US. These fresh assurances were said by the USA to be sufficient to meet that concern, and the High Court agreed.

Among the assurances were undertakings that Mr Assange would not, at this time, be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), restricting his correspondence, visits and use of the telephone, nor detained at USP Florence ADMAX (ADX), a maximum-security prison in Colorado.

Crucially, however, these assurances were subject to the caveat that the US retained the power to impose such conditions if Mr Assange were to commit any future act that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX.

Application to the Supreme Court

As anticipated, Mr Assange sought permission to appeal the High Court judgment to the Supreme Court on the basis that there is a point of law of general public importance involved in the decision. He argued that the Supreme Court’s guidance was required on three questions of law regarding the assurances.

Firstly, he submitted that the Supreme Court ought to consider the question of whether a court can consider assurances that are introduced for the first time on appeal.

The second and third questions related to the caveat in the assurances concerning future acts. Mr Assange questioned whether it could be lawful to allow for potential exposure to conditions under SAMs or in ADX if the imposition of those prison regimes was judged by the US authorities to be justified by his own conduct. In Mr Assange’s case, this was said to be particularly important because conduct could involve speech, and also because it was accepted that he suffers from a severe mental condition.

On 24 January 2022, only the first question was certified by the High Court as an issue of general public importance:

In what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings.

In the view of the High Court, this point of law is settled, but the High Court has certified a point of law of general public importance with regards to the provision of assurances at a later stage in proceedings, as the Supreme Court has not yet considered this specific question. The High Court concluded that the Supreme Court should have an opportunity to do so, since assurances are at the heart of many extradition proceedings and are increasingly relied on.

In extradition proceedings, assurances are not currently classed as ‘evidence’, but as ‘issues’, and therefore do not necessarily attract the same scrutiny. This also means they can be introduced after all evidence has been heard and tested.

The Supreme Court itself will now decide whether or not it should hear the appeal on this point.

Extradition practitioners largely welcome Supreme Court guidance on this point as late assurances designed to alleviate the court’s concerns about human rights violations following extradition have become a highly contentious issue, especially when provided by States with a poor record in human rights themselves.

It is of note that the High Court refused to certify the point of law with regards to future acts and did not appear to be overly concerned regarding the conditional nature of the diplomatic assurances provided. Mr Assange’s lawyers argued that the principle of absolute protection against inhuman or degrading treatment, contrary to Article 3, should also apply in cases where an individual’s mental condition is such that even if they are moved to a severe regime due to their behaviour (including speech), extradition should still be barred as oppressive (s91 Extradition Act) because the severity of the regime will cause such a deterioration in their mental health. The assurances provided do not rule out this possibility. This would have been an interesting issue for the Supreme Court to have considered, but that opportunity is no longer available.

Wider issues

Meanwhile, Mr Assange is likely to appeal to the High Court those grounds where he was unsuccessful before the District Judge at Westminster, as he was unable to cross appeal while the US appealed the District Judge decision. These grounds will largely focus on political motivation, freedom of speech and fair trial issues. If leave to appeal on the certified point is refused by the Supreme Court, Mr Assange still therefore has an opportunity to appeal to the High Court and his fight continues.

February 15, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

$53 million raised to help Julian Assange’s legal fight for freedom

AssangeDAO concludes raise with $53M to help Julian fight for freedom COINTELEGRAPH, BRIAN QUARMBY, 9 Feb 22, 

The AssangeDAO pulled in 17,422 Ether from 10,000 people to be used to win the NFT auction that is supporting Assange’s legal battles.  The Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) supporting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s legal plight has concluded its raise, generating a whopping 17,422 Ether (ETH), worth roughly $53.7 million.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the AssangeDAO intends to use the fund to bid on a one-of-one NFT from a drop called “Censored” by digital artist Pak in collaboration with Assange. The proceeds of the sale will go towards Assange’s defense fund and additional awareness campaigns as he fights extradition to the United States this month.

Assange has been languishing in a United Kingdom jail for the past three years, with U.S. prosecutors seeking to try him on espionage charges. Supporters say that Assange is a whistleblower, journalist and publisher……………………  https://cointelegraph.com/news/assangedao-concludes-raise-with-53m-to-help-julian-fight-for-freedom

February 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

UK court should slap down the US Justice Department in the Assange case

UK court should slap down the US Justice Department in the Assange case  https://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/591776-uk-court-should-slap-down-the-us-justice-department-in-the-assange-case?fbclid=IwAR1FwC11pSY_hGdiCvIdBqIj6mttfTheEDtcNR3EUpQG38xWS3-ZRC6TLhw

BY JAMES C. GOODALE, 6 Feb 22,   As the lead attorney for the New York Times in the “Pentagon Papers” case in 1971, I’ve been doing a slow burn ever since over the government’s behavior in that instance: lies, disregard of court rules, arrogance, destruction of documents. All of this was brought to mind earlier this week when a British court hinted in the Julian Assange case that the U.S. government has acted in the same way once again.

It asked Britain’s supreme court to determine the appropriateness of a late filing by the government that completely undercut a ruling that Assange could NOT be extradited to the U.S. This followed British trial court Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who was hearing Assange’s extradition case, ruling that Assange might commit suicide if held in a U.S. prison in solitary confinement under what is called Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) and, so, he could not be extradited. 

As soon as she announced her decision, the U.S. government filed assurances that Assange would not be held in that kind of detention, although it reserved the right to revoke the assurance if circumstances changed.

The judge was unmoved by this assurance, but she was reversed on appeal. The U.K.’s supreme court has now asked to consider the timeliness of this filing.

I do not believe the U.S. government’s assurances are worth the paper on which they have been written. Its behavior in this case has been rampant. Most outrageously, the CIA discussed a plot to kidnap Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was holed up, and to kill him. The CIA also tapped into conversations in the Ecuadorian Embassy, including those with Assange’s lawyers.

There is not much question whether all of this is true. There was testimony about it in open court, and Mike Pompeo, the CIA director at the time and later secretary of State during the Trump administration, has conceded that there is “some truth” in the foregoing.

I do not pretend to be particularly familiar with the extradition laws of the U.K. But common sense tells me that you deliver highly important documents about a case — such as government assurances — before the case begins, not after it has been decided. U.K. counsel representing the U.S. disagrees, saying he can deliver documents when he wants and if he loses the appeal, he will start the extradition proceedings all over again.

This is the very same arrogance that was on display in the Pentagon Papers case, in which then-U.S. Solicitor General Erwin Griswold said the usual rules of evidence did not apply. His view of the law manifested itself in his introduction of new evidence in the case anytime the government was so moved. The claims were always extravagant: Publication of the new evidence would be a disaster for the country’s national security, etc., etc. They never were. Indeed, most of them turned out to be previously published.

The other principal fallacious claim made by the government back then was that the Times had revealed that the United States had broken the Vietnamese code. This also proved to be so much hogwash.

The government also destroyed — or, in its words, “lost” — New York Times briefs in the case. It prevailed upon me to give them these briefs to protect national security and to be returned if the government indicted the Times. A later research request evoked the response “they were lost.”

We do not know if the U.K.’s supreme court will take the Assange case to determine the issue of the timing of the U.S. government’s filing. Let’s hope that it does and then decides the U.S. government should not get away with the latest example of its less than appropriate behavior in a national security case.

James C. Goodale is the former general counsel and vice chairman of the New York Times and the author of “Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles.”

February 7, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

UK High Court gives very little chance for Julian Assange

UK: HIGH COURT DECISION WELCOME IN ASSANGE CASE BUT CONCERNS REMAIN OVER LIMITATIONS ON APPEAL , Amnesty UK 26 Jan 22, Following today’s High Court decision to certify one issue in the Assange appeal as of ‘general public importance’, Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Research Director for Europe, said:

“While we welcome the High Court’s decision to certify one narrow issue related to the US’s assurances as being of ‘general public importance’, and so to allow the Supreme Court to consider granting an appeal on this issue, we are concerned the High Court has dodged its responsibility to ensure that matters of public importance are fully examined by the judiciary. The courts must ensure that people are not at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. This was at the heart of the two other issues the High Court has now effectively vetoed.

“Torture and other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement, are key features of life for many people in US federal prisons, including those imprisoned on charges similar to Assange’s.

“The ban on torture and other ill-treatment is absolute and cannot be upheld by simple promises from a state that it won’t abuse people.

“The Supreme Court should have had the opportunity to deliberate and rule on all of the points of law raised by Assange at this crucially important point but the High Court has limited its scope to do so. If the question of torture and other ill-treatment is not of general public importance, what is?”

“We now hope that the Supreme Court will grant leave to appeal on the certified issue concerning at what stage in extradition proceedings should such assurances be submitted and considered.”

Background…………………….    https://www.amnesty.ie/uk-high-court-decision-welcome-in-assange-case-but-concerns-remain-over-limitations-on-appeal/?fbclid=IwAR1qLMwpprPNIBDeueJOJ1cD947fofk8FoizshEC2cPdRhtxsTBzUUsSR84

January 27, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention

Although the threat of imminent extradition has been stayed, Assange stands on thin ice. What began as a case on the most fundamental rights of journalists to expose war crimes and torturehas been whittled away by the British judiciary to the single question of how “assurances” of Assange’s safety should be given by one criminal state to another.

Whatever the outcome, the US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention, even though he has been convicted of no crime.

Assange granted leave to appeal to UK Supreme Court against extradition,  https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/01/24/assa-j24.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws Oscar GrenfellThomas Scripps, 24January 2022

The UK High Court has provided WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a route to appeal to the Supreme Court in his extradition case against the United States government.

Assange is seeking to overturn the High Court’s direction last December that he be extradited, against the earlier ruling of the lower Magistrates’ Court that to do so would be “oppressive” on health grounds.

The High Court upheld a US appeal against the Magistrates’ Court ruling despite accepting evidence of Assange’s intense physical and psychological ill-health. It also did not contest the likelihood that the conditions he would be subjected to in the US, as discussed throughout the entire preceding court process, would likely result in his death by suicide.

The December ruling was overwhelmingly based upon supposed US assurances, issued months after deadlines had elapsed, that Assange’s conditions in an American prison would not be as bad as previously accepted.

With numerous caveats and loopholes, the US assurances asserted that Assange would not be held under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), a regime of total isolation, to which those convicted of terrorism offenses, along with drug lords and major serial killers, are sometimes subjected in federal prison.

The High Court found that the Magistrates Court should have solicited such assurances prior to its ruling.

In response to Assange’s request for leave to appeal this decision yesterday, the judges certified a single point of law of public importance, the requirement for an issue to be heard in the Supreme Court. This was: “In what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings [in this case, the magistrates’ court].”

Assange’s lawyers had argued that “profound issues of natural justice arise where assurances are introduced by the Requesting State for the first time at the High Court stage… These issues have never been addressed by the Supreme Court.”

As his solicitors elaborated in an explanatory note, “There has long been a general approach by the courts that requires that all relevant matters are raised before the District Judge appointed to consider the case in the Magistrates’ Court,” but this has been undermined by the treating of assurances as “issues” rather than “evidence”, allowing them to be introduced at a later stage in proceedings.

“The defence argument is that despite being as demanding of close evidential scrutiny as the evidence already heard, and despite the content of the assurances being applicable to the testimony of witnesses already heard but not to be heard again, assurances have been afforded a different procedural position.”

The assurances in question, accepted in “good faith” by the High Court, are given by a state with a decades-long history of lies and dirty tricks whose record in the Assange case was exposed a month before the High Court ruling as including plans to kidnap and assassinate the heroic journalist.

Based on the statements of 30 former US officials, Yahoo! News revealed that the Trump administration and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had discussed kidnapping or assassinating Assange when he was a political refugee in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2017. The US indictment was first conceived of as a pseudo-legal cover for a possible CIA rendition.

The character of that indictment, as a concoction from spies and criminals, had been proven in June 2021. Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, whose testimony still forms a crucial part of the indictment, admitted that all his substantive allegations against Assange were lies proffered in exchange for immunity from US prosecution. The star US witness is reportedly facing prosecution in Iceland on fraud charges, having been convicted of child molestation and embezzlement offenses prior to his latest collaboration with the American government.

Although the threat of imminent extradition has been stayed, Assange stands on thin ice. What began as a case on the most fundamental rights of journalists to expose war crimes and torturehas been whittled away by the British judiciary to the single question of how “assurances” of Assange’s safety should be given by one criminal state to another.

The Magistrates’ Court upheld the sweeping US attacks on democratic rights contained in the attempt by a state to prosecute a journalist for publishing true information about its unlawful activities. This forced Assange to defend the US appeal on the grounds of the threat to his mental health posed by extradition and imprisonment in the US. The High Court’s acceptance of the US appeal means Assange’s defence is now limited to the question of when assurances should have been provided.

In keeping with the UK’s courts’ trashing of democratic rights throughout this case, the High Court rejected out of hand the point of appeal that the assurances are worthless because the US asserts the right to withdraw them if Assange violates, or is alleged to have violated, certain conditions.

Assange’s lawyers argued “oppressive treatment” is barred, “whether or not the requesting state justifies its imposition by reference to conduct.”The High Court replied that it did not consider these arguments to “raise certifiable points” for the Supreme Court’s consideration.

It is now technically down to the Supreme Court to agree to hear Assange’s case; it would be highly unusual, though not impossible, for it to refuse to consider an issue certified by the High Court.

If Assange’s appeal is unsuccessful and his case is sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel to rubber-stamp his extradition, then his lawyers can seek to cross appeal the Magistrates’ Court’s original decision on the substantive issues of the case—press freedom, the espionage act and the bar on extradition for political offences. But leave to do so is not assured and would mean years more incarceration as the new appeal works its way through the courts.

Whatever the outcome, the US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention, even though he has been convicted of no crime.

He remains in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison, dubbed the UK’s Guantanamo Bay. With the British government allowing the mass spread of Omicron, in the latest stage of its homicidal “herd immunity” policy, the prison has reportedly been hit by COVID outbreaks. Assange, because of his fragile health, is at intense risk of succumbing to the virus. The repeated prison lockdowns intensify his isolation.

January 27, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

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