Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

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.  https://truthout.org/articles/uk-high-court-should-deny-extradition-because-cia-planned-to-assassinate-assange/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=d08c3b6b-b92d-4b47-92cb-3c964bf0bab4

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 https://www.aph.gov.au/…/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

UK High Court sides with US against Assange


UK High Court sides with US against Assange, WSW,Thomas Scripps11 August 2021 ,  The UK’s High Court has allowed the United States to appeal on two additional grounds the refusal of Julian Assange’s extradition by a lower court.Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks still held in Belmarsh maximum security prison, is threatened with extradition on charges under the Espionage Act with a potential life sentence for revealing state war crimes, torture, surveillance, corruption and coup plots.

On January 4, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser blocked extradition, ruling that it would be oppressive by virtue of his mental health and put him at substantial risk of suicide.Lawyers for the US government sought to appeal the decision on the five grounds:
  1. That Baraitser made errors of law in her application of the test under section 91 of the 2003 Extradition Act, which bars extradition if the person’s mental or physical condition would render it unjust or oppressive.
  2. That she ought to have notified the US ahead of time, to give the government the opportunity to provide assurances to the court that Assange’s health would be looked after.
  3. That the judge should not have accepted or at least given less weight to the evidence of the defence’s principal psychiatric expert, Professor Kopelman.
  4. That Baraitser erred in her overall assessment of the evidence on suicide risk.
  5. That the US has since provided the UK with a package of assurances about the conditions in which Assange would be held.

The US was initially granted leave to appeal on grounds one, two and five, but denied three and four. At a preliminary hearing yesterday in front of Lord Justice Holroyde and Mrs Justice Farbey, that decision was overturned and grounds three and four were granted as well.

Their decision confirms that the January 4 ruling against extradition was only a tactical pause in an ongoing pseudo-legal manhunt, which is again proceeding apace.

Baraitser’s original decision accepted every one of the prosecution’s anti-democratic, factually unsustainable arguments except on the single point of Assange’s mental health, leaving his fate hanging by a thread. Now the US is being given the opportunity to bulldoze this last remaining obstacle.As Assange’s legal team argue in their Notice of Objection, none of the points made in the appeal by the US stand up to scrutiny……………… 
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/08/11/assa-a11.html?fbclid=IwAR1KNVz7_kATvh53WeOYZ5iKOlCrE3-4Q9jGh9dv79DUkXxeezC91VXjmbU

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

British court ruling heightens danger of Assange extradition to the US

British court ruling heightens danger of Assange extradition to the US, WSWS,  Oscar Grenfell,  12 July 21, Last week’s ruling by the British High Court allowing prosecutors to appeal an earlier judgment blocking Julian Assange’s extradition, poses the very real danger that the WikiLeaks publisher will be dispatched to his American persecutors in the not-too-distant future.

The ruling is a microcosm of the Assange case as a whole. As they have for the past decade, the British courts have thrown aside the WikiLeaks founder’s legal and democratic rights. They have granted a US appeal that is both duplicitous and irregular under conditions in which the entire attempt by the American state to prosecute Assange has been exposed as an illegal frame-up.

The US appeal is a damning refutation of those, including among Assange’s own supporters, who have peddled dangerous illusions that the US administration of President Joe Biden may drop the prosecution if a sufficient number of moral pleas are addressed to the new occupant of the White House.

The appeal was first issued in the dying days of the Trump administration but it was continued, honed and argued for by Biden’s Justice Department. Assange remains in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison and faces the prospect of lifetime incarceration in the US because Biden is determined to press ahead with the prosecution of a journalist and publisher for exposing American war crimes, human rights violations and illegal spying operations.

That is because the Assange prosecution is viewed as a crucial precedent by the imperialist powers for the suppression of dissent and anti-war opposition amid a ratcheting up of the preparations for military conflict, including the Biden administration’s threats and provocations against China, and the first signs of a resurgence of working-class struggle.

The appeal also confirms the warnings made by the World Socialist Web Site about January’s British District Court decision that barred extradition.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser accepted all the substantive arguments of the US prosecutors, including their right to try a publisher under the Espionage Act. Her ruling, prohibiting extradition, was framed in the narrowest terms. Its purpose was to defuse a groundswell of opposition to the prospect of Assange’s extradition and to provide the US with ample scope for appeal.

Baraitser ruled that extradition would be “oppressive.” Assange’s compromised health and the conditions of his imprisonment in the US would likely result in his suicide.

The deliberate consequence of that judgment was that there was only a legal sliver between Assange and extradition.

The US has exploited this with its appeal claiming that the conditions of imprisonment would not be so oppressive. It has proposed worthless assurances that Assange would not be held under Special Administrative Measures (SAM), regulations that impose almost total isolation on a prisoner, and that he could serve out his sentence in Australia.

The extradition hearing had heard harrowing testimony about the dire psychological consequences of SAMs and conditions at the supermax ADX Florence prison where they are frequently imposed.

The US arguments, accepted as a legitimate basis of appeal by the British court, were demolished by Stella Moris, Assange’s partner and an international human rights lawyer.

In a statement issued on Friday, Moris wrote: “Reports about US undertakings are grossly misleading. On any given day 80,000 prisoners in US prisons are held in solitary confinement. Only a handful are in ADX/under special administrative measures. ADX is just one of dozens of self-described supermax prisons in the United States. The US government also says it may change its mind if the head of the CIA advises it to do so once Julian Assange is held in US custody.

“With regard to the supposed concession of allowing Julian to serve jail time in Australia, it was always his right to request a prisoner transfer to Australia to finish serving his sentence because he is an Australian. It is no concession at all. There are existing agreements between the US and Australian authorities. What is crucial to understand is that prisoner transfers are eligible only after all appeals have been exhausted. For the case to reach the US Supreme Court could easily take a decade, even two.

“What the US is proposing is a formula to keep Julian in prison effectively for the rest of his life. The only assurance that would be acceptable would be for the Biden Administration to drop this shameful case altogether, once and for all. He should not be in prison for a single day, not in the UK, not in the United States, not in Australia—because journalism is not a crime.”

As Moris noted, the US appeal itself reserved the “right” to impose SAMs once Assange is on US soil. Testimony at the extradition hearing, including from a former US prison warden, established that the imposition of SAMs is essentially extra-judicial, often being introduced at the say-so of the intelligence agencies, and with no genuine means of appeal.

“What the US is proposing is a formula to keep Julian in prison effectively for the rest of his life. The only assurance that would be acceptable would be for the Biden Administration to drop this shameful case altogether, once and for all. He should not be in prison for a single day, not in the UK, not in the United States, not in Australia—because journalism is not a crime.”

As Moris noted, the US appeal itself reserved the “right” to impose SAMs once Assange is on US soil. Testimony at the extradition hearing, including from a former US prison warden, established that the imposition of SAMs is essentially extra-judicial, often being introduced at the say-so of the intelligence agencies, and with no genuine means of appeal.

The hearings, moreover, heard evidence of a case in which similar assurances were immediately thrown out the door once extradition was secured……………

Thordarson has now admitted, however, that almost all his testimony consisted of lies proffered in exchange for immunity from US prosecution. The American government thus submitted a false indictment to the British courts……….https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/07/12/assa-j12.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

July 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

U.S. government offers meaningless assurances on Julian Assange’s well-being, as it gets right to appeal on UK court ruling against his extradition

UK High Court grants US government right to appeal on Assange extradition, World Socialist Website, Laura Tiernan7 July 2021  Stella Moris, the partner of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, spoke outside Britain’s High Court yesterday warning he is “still at risk of extradition” after a judge decided the US government can appeal an earlier court ruling that blocked his extradition on health grounds.


The judge also ruled that Assange must remain in prison until the appeal is heard, effectively extending his incarceration for at least many more months.The ruling underscores the Biden administration’s determination to ensure Assange’s removal to the US. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, based on excerpts of the judge’s ruling supplied by the UK Crown Prosecution Service, the US government offered “assurances” that Assange would not be imprisoned in oppressive conditions and could be permitted to serve any sentence in Australia.Such assurances are meaningless. Once Assange is in US custody, those pledges will be cast aside. The Wall Street Journal reported: “The US said it reserved the right to impose special measures on Mr. Assange, or hold him in a Supermax jail, if ‘he were to do something subsequent to the offering of these assurances’ that meets the test for applying them.”

Assange has been denied bail and remains detained in London’s Belmarsh Prison despite a January decision by District Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser denying his extradition to the US. Assange faces trumped-up charges under the Espionage Act over his exposure of war crimes, illegal mass surveillance and torture by the US and its allies. He has been held captive in the UK for a decade.

Baraitser ruled January 4 that Assange’s extradition to a US federal prison would be “oppressive” because of his compromised mental health and risk of suicide. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) under President Donald Trump immediately appealed Baraitser’s decision. Two days later, Trump mounted a fascist coup attempt in Washington D.C. The Democrats under Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris have seamlessly continued US imperialism’s political vendetta against Assange.The WikiLeaks publisher is being held in violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press and in breach of international human rights law.
Britain’s High Court has reportedly granted a right of appeal to the US on three grounds. The court will decide whether Baraitser applied the Extradition Act correctly; whether sufficient advance notice was given of the court’s decision, and whether “assurances” by the US over mitigating the risk of suicide were properly considered.A date for the appeal hearing has not been announced, but it will likely take place after the courts’ summer recess. This leaves Assange imprisoned at Belmarsh indefinitely in conditions long condemned by doctors and human rights lawyers as “psychological torture.”

In a letter sent yesterday to Biden and US Attorney General Merrick Garland by Doctors for Assange, 250 doctors from 35 countries demanded the dropping of all charges against the WikiLeaks publisher. They denounced his ongoing imprisonment due to the US appeal as “amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the UK.”……….. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/07/08/gnkp-j08.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

July 10, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Key witness in Julian Assange case admits to lies in indictment

A maj­or wit­n­ess in the United States’ Depart­ment of Justice ca­se against Ju­li­an Assange has admitted to fabricat­ing key accusati­ons in the indict­ment against the Wiki­leaks found­er. STUNDIN,  Bjartmar Oddur Þeyr Alexanderssonbjartmar@stundin.is, Gunnar Hrafn Jónssonritstjorn@stundin.is 26 June 21,

A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud, made the admission in a newly published interview in Stundin where he also confessed to having continued his crime spree whilst working with the Department of Justice and FBI and receiving a promise of immunity from prosecution.

The man in question, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, was recruited by US authorities to build a case against Assange after misleading them to believe he was previously a close associate of his. In fact he had volunteered on a limited basis to raise money for Wikileaks in 2010 but was found to have used that opportunity to embezzle more than $50,000 from the organization. Julian Assange was visiting Thordarson’s home country of Iceland around this time due to his work with Icelandic media and members of parliament in preparing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a press freedom project that produced a parliamentary resolution supporting whistleblowers and investigative journalism. 

The United States is currently seeking Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom in order to try him for espionage relating to the release of leaked classified documents. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison. The indictment has sparked fears for press freedoms in the United States and beyond and prompted strong statements in support of Assange from Amnesty International, Reporters without borders, the editorial staff of the Washington Post and many others. 

US officials presented an updated version of an indictment against him to a Magistrate court in London last summer. The veracity of the information contained therein is now directly contradicted by the main witness, whose testimony it is based on.

No instruction from Assange

The court documents refer to Mr Thordarson simply as “Teenager” (a reference to his youthful appearance rather than true age, he is 28 years old) and Iceland as “NATO Country 1” but make no real effort to hide the identity of either. They purport to show that Assange instructed Thordarson to commit computer intrusions or hacking in Iceland. 

The aim of this addition to the indictment was apparently to shore up and support the conspiracy charge against Assange in relation to his interactions with Chelsea Manning. Those occurred around the same time he resided in Iceland and the authors of the indictment felt they could strengthen their case by alleging he was involved in illegal activity there as well. This activity was said to include attempts to hack into the computers of members of parliament and record their conversations.

In fact, Thordarson now admits to Stundin that Assange never asked him to hack or access phone recordings of MPs. His new claim is that he had in fact received some files from a third party who claimed to have recorded MPs and had offered to share them with Assange without having any idea what they actually contained. He claims he never checked the contents of the files or even if they contained audio recordings as his third party source suggested. He further admits the claim, that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers in order to find any such recordings, is false.

Nonetheless, the tactics employed by US officials appear to have been successful as can be gleaned from the ruling of Magistrate Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser on January 4th of this year. Although she ruled against extradition, she did so purely on humanitarian grounds relating to Assange’s health concerns, suicide risk and the conditions he would face in confinement in US prisons. With regards to the actual accusations made in the indictment Baraitser sided with the arguments of the American legal team, including citing the specific samples from Iceland which are now seriously called into question.

Other misleading elements can be found in the indictment, and later reflected in the Magistrate’s judgement, based on Thordarson’s now admitted lies. One is a reference to Icelandic bank documents. The Magistrate court judgement reads: “It is alleged that Mr. Assange and Teenager failed a joint attempt to decrypt a file stolen from a “NATO country 1” bank”………..

On the FBI radar

Thordarson’s rogue acts were not limited to communications of that nature as he also admits to Stundin that he set up avenues of communication with journalists and had media pay for lavish trips abroad where he mispresented himself as an official representative of WikiLeaks……………………….  https://stundin.is/grein/13627/key-witness-in-assange-case-admits-to-lies-in-indictment/

July 8, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) will take legal action against nuclear dump plan if Resources Minister Keith Pitt names Napandee as the site

Barngarla will pursue judicial review if Napandee site named. https://www.portlincolntimes.com.au/story/7330119/barngarla-may-seek-legal-review/?fbclid=IwAR28Hj_22In6jE2Vd3s7ZrWBtOe0nHJxbyqdKk_xXF6hXv8Z-TNbEtBu5CEMembers of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) have said the outcome of the nuclear waste amendment bill was the result they were hoping for.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 was passed by the Australian Parliament on June 22.

The BDAC had previously raised concerns about the absence of a judicial review process by naming the Napandee site in the proposed legislation.

“The government sought to change the law to remove our democratic right to judicial review of their actions so that no court could ever assess what had been done,” they said in a previous statement.

However BDAC chair Jason Bilney said the bi-partisan support the bill received in parliament was what they were looking for, as changes were made to the bill to reinstate the ability to pursue a judicial review of the site selection process.

The bill was initially tabled in parliament in February 2020 with the intention to name the Napandee site near Kimba within the legislation.

Now federal resources minister Keith Pitt will be required to name the host site through ministerial decision, which will allow for a potential judicial review of the site selection process in future.

Mr Pitt is also not bound to name one of the three sites currently shortlisted.

Mr Bilney said it had been a “long, hard battle” for 15 months, and that he and others were in Canberra that week as the bill went through.

“It’s a good outcome for the Barngarla people, but also all Australians because it affects all Australians,” he said.

The BDAC have stated since the passing of the bill that if there is a declaration of the Napandee site, the BDAC will seek a judicial review.

“The Barngarla and farmers worked together and the senate did not agree to pass any bill which removed judicial review,” they said.

“We had certain demands, which amounted to removing site specification in the bill and removing Schedule 1.

“The government gave in to these demands and effectively amended their own bill to reflect what Barngarla, Labor and the cross bench had said we required.

“So, we have no issues with the new bill, as it is the bill that we demanded occur.

“Namely, it preserves judicial review.

“In simple terms, we won this battle in parliament and we are very grateful for Labor and the cross bench, including senator Hanson’s One Nation, the Greens, and senator Patrick.”

We even had the Explanatory Memorandum further amended to make it clear that the Minister was not limited to just the three sites in the Table and that the Table was purely a historical record.

July 8, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Barngarla people hold Native Title land close to planned nuclear waste dump, but were denied a vote on this.

The nuclear waste site is planned for Barngarla Country, but the amendments will allow Traditional Owners to take the matter to court, https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2021/06/23/traditional-owners-can-challenge-nuclear-waste-dump-country-1?fbclid=IwAR0ZYwZRYOUQn58LdV3A0X4L1AeERiDi8ylqkVFcjReI5KQj7_fl6VTXcaABy Keira Jenkins
Source: NITV News, 23 JUN 2021
 The Senate has passed legislation that would allow nuclear waste to be stored at a remote site in South Australia, replacing current city facilities.

The Morrison government was forced to abandon key features of the bill to gain opposition support, including a provision that would have locked in Kimba as the new storage location.

Instead, Minister for Resources Keith Pitt can issue an ‘intention to declare’ a preferred location.

The amended bill, which passed through the Senate this week, also allows for a judicial review of the location if there is a dispute.

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation welcomed the reinstatement of the right to a judicial review on the process.

“This is a great moment for democracy, and for those who appreciate the independent scrutiny of government action,” they said in a statement.

In 2019, the Australian Electoral Commission conducted a month-long community ballot, asking the question ‘Do you support the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility being located at one of the nominated sites in the community of Kimba?’

The ballot returned a 61.58 per cent ‘yes’ vote.

Barngarla conducted their own poll, saying they had been excluded from the AEC’s postal ballot.

100 per cent of the votes returned from Native Title holders said ‘no’ to the proposed nuclear facility.


Barngarla said the site selection process had been “completely and utterly miscarried”.

“No proper heritage assessment of the site was ever undertaken,” read the statement.

“… the most obvious and appalling example of this failed process was when the Government allowed the gerrymandering of the Kimba ‘community ballot’ in order to manipulate the vote.

“The simple fact remains that even though the Barngarla hold Native Title land closer to the proposed facility than the town of Kimba, the First Peoples for the area were not allowed to vote.

“…Mistakes have been made and the process needs to start again.”

June 24, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

The appalling mistreatment of Australian citizen, Julian Assange, – by USA, UK, and Australia

CHRIS HEDGES ON THE RULING CLASS’ REVENGE AGAINST JULIAN ASSANGE, May 31, 2021 · by Rise Up Times ·

Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges joins Robert Scheer to discuss the WikiLeaks founder’s plight as he languishes in a British prison. SCHEER INTELLIGENCE: A ROBERT SCHEER PODCAST
BY MODERATOR  SCHEERPOST  MAY 7, 2021 

The mistreatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the past decade has been defined as “psychological torture” by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. Yet, there is still no real end in sight to Assange’s promethean plight. Several months after a British judge blocked his extradition to the U.S.–citing that conditions in America’s inhumane prison system would be detrimental to his health–the WikiLeaks founder continues to be held in a maximum security prison in the U.K. The U.S. government, first under Donald Trump’s rule and now under Joe Biden’s, is appealing the extradition ruling. With a new decision in the case is due to be announced any day now, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and ScheerPost columnist Chris Hedges joins Robert Scheer on this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence” to discuss what Hedges has called Assange’s “martyrdom.”

Scheer and Hedges assert that Assange’s case is a clear threat to freedom of the press given that he acted in the capacity of a publisher in the same way the global media outlets that printed the content released by WikiLeaks did. Should the publishers of the Washington Post, New York Times and other media have been charged with a crime for publishing the content? Hedges and Scheer, who have both been staunch supporters  of the WikiLeaks founder, conclude that there can only be one reason for all recent Republican and Democratic administrations to doggedly persecute Assange: he is a major threat to the establishment’s most sinister interests.


“Your job [as a publisher] is not to be partisan,” says Hedges. “Your job is to expose the machinations of power, the crimes of power, the lies of power–whoever’s in power. And that’s precisely what Julian did. when he was going after Bush with the Iraq War Logs, the Democrats loved him. But as soon as his journalistic integrity led him to also expose the inner workings of the Democratic Party establishment, they turned on him as vociferously as the Republicans.

“I’ve been stunned at what an egregious assault [Assange’s persecution] is on press freedom and how the institutions that purport to care about freedom of the press have been complicit in the persecution of Julian.”

As Assange is tortured before our eyes, Hedges decries the silence of organizations such as PEN, which “are tasked with holding up the kind of liberties and press freedoms that we care about.” The award-winning journalist argues that PEN and others have not only sold out to their liberal donor base, but have been “taken over” by Democratic establishment figures such as Suzanne Nossel, the current head of PEN America and former member of the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Scheer also highlights the plight of another person who has become collateral damage in America’s tyrannical mission against Assange.

“The real hero of this whole thing is Chelsea Manning,” says Scheer. “The U.S. government has been tormenting Chelsea Manning because they basically want to get her to say: ‘Julian Assange put me up to this; he’s the really bad guy.’ It’s a horrible story of government torture and manipulation that you have this rare, exemplary citizen, Chelsea Manning, who does the right thing and says our government, in our name, is committing war crimes–killing innocent children and journalists and everything–and then they want to now break her so she’ll go against Julian Assange.”

Listen to the full conversation between Hedges and Scheer as they examine in detail the U.K.’s role in the Assange trial, as well as discuss the very real dangers the results of the case could pose to journalists and journalism the world over.

TRANSCRIPT

RS: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. And in this case, unquestionably; a very shrewd observer, Chris Hedges, longtime correspondent, bureau chief for the New York Times, and wrote for a lot of other publications.

But I want to get Chris on now with some urgency, because I’m really concerned about the fate of Julian Assange. I’ve turned 85; in my whole life I don’t think I’ve had, experienced a case of such splendid indifference to press freedom and the suffering of a brave journalist in this country, in the United States. He’s of course not from the U.S., which makes it even more appalling that he’s being held under terrible conditions in an English prison……………….. https://riseuptimes.org/2021/05/31/chris-hedges-on-the-ruling-class-revenge-against-julian-assange/

June 1, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Senator Rex Patrick challenges Scott Morrison’s special arrangement to protect his government from public scrutiny

Senator challenges cabinet secrecy,  The Saturday Paper 33 May 21,  Scott Morrison is using a special arrangement to keep the workings of his government secret, but independent senator Rex Patrick has launched a challenge to its legality. By Karen Middleton  Karen Middleton is The Saturday Paper’s chief political correspondent.

A special policy committee the prime minister uses to keep the workings of his government secret is being called into legal question as part of a challenge to the confidential status of national cabinet.

Independent senator Rex Patrick launched the challenge after the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet refused two freedom of information requests for access to national cabinet documents.

Appearing before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) this week, the Commonwealth argued that national cabinet’s workings must be secret because it is an offshoot of federal cabinet, which is governed by a confidentiality convention.

It argued that deciding how cabinet committees are formed and who joins them is in the prime minister’s “gift” alone.

The national cabinet arrangement relies on the controversial cabinet office policy committee that Morrison created upon becoming prime minister. He is its only permanent member. The one-man construct allows the prime minister to declare almost any gathering he attends to be a cabinet committee meeting, protecting it from public scrutiny.

When the tribunal’s Justice Richard White queried the mechanism purporting to give national cabinet confidential status, the government could provide no information.

“Is there anything else that tells me anything about the cabinet office policy committee?” Justice White asked counsel for the Commonwealth, Andrew Berger, QC, on Wednesday. “I’m not sure there is, Your Honour,” Berger replied.

Last year, Labor’s senate leader, Penny Wong, condemned the one-man committee as “an abuse” of process used to “cover up blatant political decision-making”.

Senator Patrick’s AAT challenge could also have implications for accessing information from other designated cabinet subcommittees and groups advising them.

The one-man construct allows the prime minister to declare almost any gathering he attends to be a cabinet committee meeting, protecting it from public scrutiny…………..

…………………………. After the hearing, Rex Patrick described national cabinet as “a last-minute idea dealt with at short notice, without its implementation or consequences being properly considered”.

“That’s apparent when looking back at the various media statements, the cobbling together of a new cabinet handbook and the evidence before the AAT,” he told The Saturday Paper.

Patrick said the legislated right to access information on intergovernmental communication had existed in Australia for almost 40 years, “subject only to a test of public harm”.

“Last year, Prime Minister Morrison took that right away,” he said. “He did not ask the parliament to change the law.”

Patrick said he was in a fight for transparency and responsible government. “And I’m in a fight to stop a prime minister unilaterally taking away a right that was given to me and all Australians, by the parliament.”

Whether Justice White agrees will be clear soon. He reserved his judgement and promised a quick decision.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 22, 2021 as “Cabinet of one”. https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2021/05/22/senator-challenges-cabinet-secrecy/162160560011709

May 22, 2021 Posted by | - incidents, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian Supreme Court rules that information on the Kimba nuclear waste dump can be made public.

Senator Rex Patrick · SA GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY FAILURE, 18 May 21,

Yesterday the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal overturned a decision by SA Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekann to keep information on the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) from the public. In August last year I made a Freedom of Information request to the Minister asking for access to correspondance between the SA and Federal Government relating to the establishment of a NRWMF facility at Kimba. In November he released four documents to me, with significant redaction on one of them.

When I challenged the redaction the Minister threatened me with legal costs. Yesterday Justice Hughes rejected the Minister’s arguments and found that the document he wished to keep secret was not exempt under FOI.People have a right to know what their Government is saying and doing so that they can properly participate in democracy. This is especially the case when there is a major issue being played out. Minister van Holst Pellekaan needs to rethink who he really owes a duty to. Ministers should serve the people, not their own narrow political interests. https://www.facebook.com/senator.rex.patrick/posts/924739811419769

May 18, 2021 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, legal, South Australia | Leave a comment

Biden administration presses for Julian Assange to be extradited to USA

Biden administration files appeal pressing for Assange extradition, Yahoo News, Sat, 13 February 2021  The administration of US President Joe Biden has appealed a British judge’s ruling against the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a Justice Department official said Friday.

A brief filed late Thursday declared Washington’s desire to have Assange stand trial on espionage and hacking-related charges over WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of US military and diplomatic documents beginning in 2009.

The Justice Department had until Friday to register its stance on Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s January 4 ruling that Assange suffered mental health problems that would raise the risk of suicide if he were sent to the United States for trial.

“Yes, we filed an appeal and we are continuing to pursue extradition,” Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi told AFP.

After Baraitser’s decision, which did not question the legal grounds for the US extradition request, Donald Trump’s administration moved to appeal.

But Biden’s stance was not clear, and he was pressured by rights groups to drop the case, which raises sensitive transparency and media freedom issues.

After WikiLeaks began publishing US secrets in 2009, then-president Barack Obama, whose vice president was Biden, declined to pursue the case.

Assange said WikiLeaks was no different than other media constitutionally protected to publish such materials.

Prosecuting him, too, could mean also prosecuting powerful US news organizations for publishing similar material — legal fights the government would likely lose.

But under Trump, whose 2016 election was helped by WikiLeaks publishing Russian-stolen materials damaging to his rival Hillary Clinton — the Justice Department built a national security case against Assange.

In 2019 the native Australian was charged under the US Espionage Act and computer crimes laws with multiple counts of conspiring with and directing others, from 2009 to 2019, to illegally obtain and release US secrets……….

Assange has remained under detention by British authorities pending the appeal.

Earlier this week 24 organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA and Reporters Without Borders, urged Biden to drop the case.

“Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret,” they said in an open letter.

“In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices.”

Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris said in a statement that Baraitser’s January decision that Assange was a high risk for suicide and that US prison facilities were not safe remained a strong reason to deny extradition.

Baraitser “was given clear advice by medical experts that ordering him to stand trial in the US would put his life at risk,” she said.

“Any assurances given by the Department of Justice about trial procedures or the prison regime that Julian might face in the US are not only irrelevant but meaningless because the US has a long history of breaking commitments to extraditing countries,” she said  https://au.news.yahoo.com/biden-administration-files-appeal-assange-171637702.html

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