Archive for the ‘civil liberties’ Category

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment

December 26, 2021

The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit. 

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment https://thegrayzone.com/2021/11/17/files-australian-julian-assange-prison/ KIT KLARENBERG· NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Documents provided exclusively to The Grayzone detail Canberra’s abandonment of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, and provide shocking details of his prison suffering

Was the government of Australia aware of the US Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist arrested and now imprisoned under unrelentingly bleak, harsh conditions in the UK? 

Why have the country’s elected leaders refused to publicly advocate for one of its citizens, who has been held on dubious charges and subjected to torture by a foreign power, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer? What does Canberra know about Julian’s fate and when did it know it?

The Grayzone has obtained documents revealing that the Australian government has since day one been well-aware of Julian’s cruel treatment inside London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, and has done little to nothing about it. It has, in fact, turned a cold shoulder to the jailed journalist despite hearing his testimony of conditions “so bad that his mind was shutting down.”

Not only has Canberra failed to effectively challenge the US and UK governments overseeing Assange’s imprisonment and prosecution; as these documents expose in stark detail, it appears to have colluded with them in the flagrant violation of an Australian citizen’s human rights, while doing its best to obscure the reality of his situation from the public. 

(more…)

The reasons for the USA’s persecution of Julian Assange : Glenn Greenwald spells it out

December 26, 2021

“much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do.”


Julian Assange Loses Appeal: British High Court Accepts U.S. Request to Extradite Him for Trial

Press freedom groups have warned Assange’s prosecution is a grave threat. The Biden DOJ ignored them, and today won a major victory toward permanently silencing the pioneering transparency activist.

Glenn Greenwald  11 December   In a London courtroom on Friday morning, Julian Assange suffered a devastating blow to his quest for freedom. A two-judge appellate panel of the United Kingdom’s High Court ruled that the U.S.’s request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to stand trial on espionage charges is legally valid.

As a result, that extradition request will now be sent to British Home Secretary Prita Patel, who technically must approve all extradition requests but, given the U.K. Government’s long-time subservience to the U.S. security state, is all but certain to rubber-stamp it. Assange’s representatives, including his fiancee Stella Morris, have vowed to appeal the ruling, but today’s victory for the U.S. means that Assange’s freedom, if it ever comes, is further away than ever: not months but years even under the best of circumstances…………

In response to that January victory for Assange, the Biden DOJ appealed the ruling and convinced Judge Baraitser to deny Assange bail and ordered him imprisoned pending appeal. The U.S. then offered multiple assurances that Assange would be treated “humanely” in U.S. prison once he was extradited and convicted. They guaranteed that he would not be held in the most repressive “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado — whose conditions are so repressive that it has been condemned and declared illegal by numerous human rights groups around the world — nor, vowed U.S. prosecutors, would he be subjected to the most extreme regimen of restrictions and isolation called Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”) unless subsequent behavior by Assange justified it. American prosecutors also agreed that they would consent to any request from Assange that, once convicted, he could serve his prison term in his home country of Australia rather than the U.S. Those guarantees, ruled the High Court this morning, rendered the U.S. extradition request legal under British law.

What makes the High Court’s faith in these guarantees from the U.S. Government particularly striking is that it comes less than two months after Yahoo News reported that the CIA and other U.S. security state agencies hate Assange so much that they plotted to kidnap or even assassinate him during the time he had asylum protection from Ecuador. Despite all that, Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde announced today that “the court is satisfied that these assurances” will serve to protect Assange’s physical and mental health.

The effective detention by the U.S. and British governments of Assange is just months shy of a full decade. ……………………….. Assange has been imprisoned in the high-security Belmarsh prison, described in the BBC in 2004 as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay.” He has thus spent close to seven years inside the embassy and two years and eight months inside Belmarsh: just five months shy of a decade with no freedom………..

……….  In May 2019,the British government  unveiled an 18-count felony indictment against him for espionage charges, based on the role he played in WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs and diplomatic cables, which revealed multiple war crimes by the U.S. and U.K. as well as rampant corruption by numerous U.S. allies throughout the world. Even though major newspapers around the world published the same documents in partnership with WikiLeaks — including The New York TimesThe GuardianEl Pais and others — the DOJ claimed that Assange went further than those newspapers by encouraging WikiLeaks’ source, Chelsea Manning, to obtain more documents and by trying to help her evade detection: something all journalists have not only the right but the duty to their sources to do.

Because the acts of Assange that serve as the basis of the U.S. indictment are acts in which investigative journalists routinely engage with their sources, press freedom and civil liberties groups throughout the West vehemently condemned the Assange indictment as one of the gravest threats to press freedoms in years. In February, following Assange’s victory in court, “a coalition of civil liberties and human rights groups urged the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite” Assange, as The New York Times put it.

That coalition — which includes the ACLU, Amnesty International, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Committee to Protect Journalists — warned that the Biden DOJ’s ongoing attempt to extradite and prosecute Assange is “a grave threat to press freedom,” adding that “much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do.” Kenneth Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times that “most of the charges against Assange concern activities that are no different from those used by investigative journalists around the world every day.” ………………

But the Biden administration — led by officials who, during the Trump years, flamboyantly trumpeted the vital importance of press freedoms — ignored those pleas from this coalition of groups and instead aggressively pressed ahead with the prosecution of Assange. The Obama DOJ had spent years trying to concoct charges against Assange using a Grand Jury investigation, but ultimately concluded back in 2013 that prosecuting him would pose too great a threat to press freedom. But the Biden administration appears to have no such qualms, and The New York Times made clear exactly why they are so eager to see Assange in prison:

Democrats like the new Biden team are no fan of Mr. Assange, whose publication in 2016 of Democratic emails stolen by Russia aided Donald J. Trump’s narrow victory over Hillary Clinton.

In other words, the Biden administration is eager to see Assange punished and silenced for life not out of any national security concerns but instead due to a thirst for vengeance over the role he played in publishing documents during the 2016 election that reflected poorly on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Those documents published by WikiLeaks revealed widespread corruption at the DNC, specifically revealing how they cheated in order to help Clinton stave off a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). WikiLeaks’ reporting led to the resignation of the top five DNC officials, including its then-Chair, Rep. Debbie Wassserman Schultz (D-FL). Democratic luminaries such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Al Gore’s 2000 campaign chair Donna Brazile both said, in the wake of WikiLeak’s reporting, that the DNC cheated to help Clinton……………………………

It is difficult at this point to avoid the conclusion that Julian Assange is not only imprisoned for the crime of journalism which exposed serious crimes and lies by the west’s most powerful security state agencies, but he is also a classic political prisoner. When the Obama DOJ was first pursuing the possibility of prosecution, media outlets and liberal advocacy groups were vocal in their opposition. One thing and only one thing has changed since then: in the interim, Assange published documents that were incriminating of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, and Democrats, as part of their long list of villains who they blamed for Clinton’s defeat (essentially everyone in the world except Clinton and the Democratic Party itself), viewed WikiLeaks’ reporting as a major factor in Trump’s victory.

That is why they and their liberal allies in corporate media harbor so much bloodlust to see Assange imprisoned. Julian Assange is a pioneer of modern journalism, a visionary who was the first to see that a major vulnerability of corrupt power centers in the digital age was mass data leaks that could expose their misconduct. Based on that prescient recognition, he created a technological and journalistic system to enable noble sources to safely blow the whistle on corrupt institutions by protecting their anonymity: a system now copied and implemented by major news organizations around the world.

Assange, over the last fifteen years, has broken more major stories and done more consequential journalism than all the corporate journalists who hate him combined. He is not being imprisoned despite his pioneering journalism and dissent from the hegemony of the U.S. security state. He is imprisoned precisely because of that. The accumulated hostility toward Assange from employees of media corporations who hate him due to professional jealousy and the belief that he undermined the Democratic Party, and from the U.S. security state apparatus which hates him for exposing its crimes and refusing to bow to its dictates, has created a climate where the Biden administration and their British servants feel perfectly comfortable imprisoning arguably the most consequential journalist of his generation even as they continue to lecture the rest of the world about the importance of press freedoms and democratic values.

No matter the outcome of further proceedings in this case, today’s ruling means that the U.S. has succeeded in ensuring that Assange remains imprisoned, hidden and silenced into the foreseeable future. If they have not yet permanently broken him, they are undoubtedly close to doing so. His own physicians and family members have warned of this repeatedly. Citizens of the U.S. and subjects of the British Crown are inculcated from birth to believe that we are blessed to live under a benevolent and freedom-protecting government, and that tyranny only resides in enemy states. Today’s judicial approval by the U.K. High Court of the U.S.’s attack on core press freedom demonstrates yet again the fundamental lie at the heart of this mythology. https://greenwald.substack.com/p/julian-assange-loses-appeal-british

Chris Hedges on the Execution of Julian Assange

December 25, 2021

Hedges: The Execution of Julian Assange, SCHEERPOST, By Chris Hedges 14 Dec 21, He committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. And empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds.

Let us name Julian Assange’s executioners. Joe Biden. Boris Johnson. Scott Morrison. Theresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis, Clair Dobbin and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK Security Service or MI5.

Let us acknowledge that the goal of these executioners, who discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange, has always been his annihilation. That Assange, who is in precarious physical and psychological health and who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, has been condemned to death should not come as a surprise. The ten years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high security Belmarsh prison, were accompanied with a lack of sunlight and exercise and unrelenting threats, pressure, anxiety and stress.  “His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry,” his fiancé Stella Morris said of the stroke. 

His steady physical and psychological deterioration has led to hallucinations and depression. He takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. He has been observed pacing his cell until he collapses, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall. He has spent weeks in the medical wing of Belmarsh. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.” The executioners have not yet completed their grim work. Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the Haitian independence movement, the only successful slave revolt in human history, was physically destroyed in the same manner, locked by the French in an unheated and cramped prison cell and left to die of exhaustion, malnutrition, apoplexy, pneumonia and probably tuberculosis.  

Assange committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Labour. Trump or Biden. It does not matter. The goons who oversee the empire sing from the same Satanic songbook. Empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds. Rome’s long persecution of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, forcing him in the end to commit suicide, and the razing of Carthage repeats itself in epic after epic. Crazy Horse. Patrice Lumumba. Malcolm X. Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Sukarno. Ngo Dinh Diem. Fred Hampton. Salvador Allende. If you cannot be bought off, if you will not be intimidated into silence, you will be killed. 

The obsessive CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, which because none succeeded have a Keystone Cop incompetence to them, included contracting Momo Salvatore Giancana, Al Capone’s successor in Chicago, along with Miami mobster Santo Trafficante to kill the Cuban leader, attempting to poison Castro’s cigars with a botulinum toxin, providing Castro with a tubercle bacilli-infected scuba-diving suit, booby-trapping a conch shell on the sea floor where he often dived, slipping botulism-toxin pills in one of Castro’s drinks and using a pen outfitted with a hypodermic needle to poison him. 

The current cabal of assassins hide behind a judicial burlesque overseen in London by portly judges in gowns and white horse-hair wigs mouthing legal Alice-in-Wonderland absurdities. It is a dark reprise of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado with the Lord High Executioner drawing up lists of people “who would not be missed.”

I watched the latest installment of the Assange show trial via video link on Friday. I listened to the reading of the ruling granting the appeal by the United States to extradite Assange. Assange’s lawyers have two weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court, which they are expected to do. I am not optimistic. 

Friday’s ruling was devoid of legal analysis. It fully accepted the conclusions of the lower court judge about increased risk of suicide and inhumane prison conditions in the United States. But the ruling argued that US Diplomatic Note no. 74, given to the court on February 5, 2021, which offered “assurances” that Assange would be well treated, overrode the lower court’s conclusions. It was a remarkable legal non sequitur. The ruling would not have gotten a passing grade in a first-semester law school course. But legal erudition is not the point. The judicial railroading of Assange, which has eviscerated one legal norm after another, has turned, as Franz Kafka wrote, “lying into a universal principle.” 

The decision to grant the extradition was based on four “assurances” given to the court by the US government.  The two-judge appellate panel ruled that the “assurances” “entirely answer the concerns which caused the judge [in the lower court] to discharge Mr. Assange.” The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there;  will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. 

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the judges wrote. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”

And with these rhetorical feints the judges signed Assange’s death warrant. 

None of the “assurances” offered by Biden’s Department of Justice are worth the paper they are written on.  All come with escape clauses. None are legally binding. Should Assange do “something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX” he will be subject to these coercive measures. And you can be assured that any incident, no matter how trivial, will be used, if Assange is extradited, as an excuse to toss him into the mouth of the dragon. 

The decision to grant the extradition was based on four “assurances” given to the court by the US government.  The two-judge appellate panel ruled that the “assurances” “entirely answer the concerns which caused the judge [in the lower court] to discharge Mr. Assange.” The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there;  will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. 

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the judges wrote. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”

And with these rhetorical feints the judges signed Assange’s death warrant. 

None of the “assurances” offered by Biden’s Department of Justice are worth the paper they are written on.  All come with escape clauses. None are legally binding. Should Assange do “something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX” he will be subject to these coercive measures. And you can be assured that any incident, no matter how trivial, will be used, if Assange is extradited, as an excuse to toss him into the mouth of the dragon. 

Should Australia, which has marched in lockstep with the US in the persecution of their citizen not agree to his transfer, he will remain for the rest of his life in a US prison. But so what. If Australia does not request a transfer it “cannot be a cause for criticism of the USA, or a reason for regarding the assurances as inadequate to meet the judge’s concerns,” the ruling read. And even if that were not the case, it would take Assange ten to fifteen years to appeal his sentence up to the Supreme Court, more than enough time for the state assassins to finish him off. I am not sure how to respond to assurance number four, stating that Assange will not be held pre-trial in the ADX in Florence. No one is held pre-trail in ADX Florence. But it sounds reassuring, so I guess those in the Biden DOJ who crafted the diplomatic note added it. ADX Florence, of course, is not the only supermax prison in the United States that might house Assange. Assange can be shipped out to one of our other Guantanamo-like facilities. Daniel Hale, the former US Air Force intelligence analyst currently imprisoned for releasing top-secret documents that exposed widespread civilian casualties caused by US drone strikes, has been held at USP Marion, a federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, in a Communications Management Unit (CMU) since October. CMUs are highly restrictive units that replicate the near total isolation imposed by SAMs. 

There is no legal basis to hold Julian in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, a  a foreign national, under the Espionage Act.  The CIA spied on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers. This fact alone invalidates any future trial. Assange, who after seven years in a cramped room without sunlight in the embassy, has been held for nearly three years in a high-security prison in London so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the unrelenting abuse and torture it knows will lead to his psychological and physical disintegration.


By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

Let us name Julian Assange’s executioners. Joe Biden. Boris Johnson. Scott Morrison. Theresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis, Clair Dobbin and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK Security Service or MI5.

Let us acknowledge that the goal of these executioners, who discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange, has always been his annihilation. That Assange, who is in precarious physical and psychological health and who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, has been condemned to death should not come as a surprise. The ten years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high security Belmarsh prison, were accompanied with a lack of sunlight and exercise and unrelenting threats, pressure, anxiety and stress.  “His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry,” his fiancé Stella Morris said of the stroke. 

His steady physical and psychological deterioration has led to hallucinations and depression. He takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. He has been observed pacing his cell until he collapses, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall. He has spent weeks in the medical wing of Belmarsh. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.” The executioners have not yet completed their grim work. Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the Haitian independence movement, the only successful slave revolt in human history, was physically destroyed in the same manner, locked by the French in an unheated and cramped prison cell and left to die of exhaustion, malnutrition, apoplexy, pneumonia and probably tuberculosis.  

Assange committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Labour. Trump or Biden. It does not matter. The goons who oversee the empire sing from the same Satanic songbook. Empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds. Rome’s long persecution of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, forcing him in the end to commit suicide, and the razing of Carthage repeats itself in epic after epic. Crazy Horse. Patrice Lumumba. Malcolm X. Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Sukarno. Ngo Dinh Diem. Fred Hampton. Salvador Allende. If you cannot be bought off, if you will not be intimidated into silence, you will be killed. 

The obsessive CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, which because none succeeded have a Keystone Cop incompetence to them, included contracting Momo Salvatore Giancana, Al Capone’s successor in Chicago, along with Miami mobster Santo Trafficante to kill the Cuban leader, attempting to poison Castro’s cigars with a botulinum toxin, providing Castro with a tubercle bacilli-infected scuba-diving suit, booby-trapping a conch shell on the sea floor where he often dived, slipping botulism-toxin pills in one of Castro’s drinks and using a pen outfitted with a hypodermic needle to poison him. 

The current cabal of assassins hide behind a judicial burlesque overseen in London by portly judges in gowns and white horse-hair wigs mouthing legal Alice-in-Wonderland absurdities. It is a dark reprise of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado with the Lord High Executioner drawing up lists of people “who would not be missed.”

I watched the latest installment of the Assange show trial via video link on Friday. I listened to the reading of the ruling granting the appeal by the United States to extradite Assange. Assange’s lawyers have two weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court, which they are expected to do. I am not optimistic. 

Friday’s ruling was devoid of legal analysis. It fully accepted the conclusions of the lower court judge about increased risk of suicide and inhumane prison conditions in the United States. But the ruling argued that US Diplomatic Note no. 74, given to the court on February 5, 2021, which offered “assurances” that Assange would be well treated, overrode the lower court’s conclusions. It was a remarkable legal non sequitur. The ruling would not have gotten a passing grade in a first-semester law school course. But legal erudition is not the point. The judicial railroading of Assange, which has eviscerated one legal norm after another, has turned, as Franz Kafka wrote, “lying into a universal principle.” 

The decision to grant the extradition was based on four “assurances” given to the court by the US government.  The two-judge appellate panel ruled that the “assurances” “entirely answer the concerns which caused the judge [in the lower court] to discharge Mr. Assange.” The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there;  will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. 

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the judges wrote. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”

And with these rhetorical feints the judges signed Assange’s death warrant. 

None of the “assurances” offered by Biden’s Department of Justice are worth the paper they are written on.  All come with escape clauses. None are legally binding. Should Assange do “something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX” he will be subject to these coercive measures. And you can be assured that any incident, no matter how trivial, will be used, if Assange is extradited, as an excuse to toss him into the mouth of the dragon. 

Should Australia, which has marched in lockstep with the US in the persecution of their citizen not agree to his transfer, he will remain for the rest of his life in a US prison. But so what. If Australia does not request a transfer it “cannot be a cause for criticism of the USA, or a reason for regarding the assurances as inadequate to meet the judge’s concerns,” the ruling read. And even if that were not the case, it would take Assange ten to fifteen years to appeal his sentence up to the Supreme Court, more than enough time for the state assassins to finish him off. I am not sure how to respond to assurance number four, stating that Assange will not be held pre-trial in the ADX in Florence. No one is held pre-trail in ADX Florence. But it sounds reassuring, so I guess those in the Biden DOJ who crafted the diplomatic note added it. ADX Florence, of course, is not the only supermax prison in the United States that might house Assange. Assange can be shipped out to one of our other Guantanamo-like facilities. Daniel Hale, the former US Air Force intelligence analyst currently imprisoned for releasing top-secret documents that exposed widespread civilian casualties caused by US drone strikes, has been held at USP Marion, a federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, in a Communications Management Unit (CMU) since October. CMUs are highly restrictive units that replicate the near total isolation imposed by SAMs. 

The High Court ruling ironically came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced at the virtual Summit for Democracy that the Biden administration will provide new funding to protect reporters targeted because of their work and support independent international journalism. Blinken’s “assurances” that the Biden administration will defend a free press, at the very moment the administration was demanding Assange’s extradition, is a glaring example of the rank hypocrisy and mendacity that makes the Democrats, as Glen Ford used to say, “not the lesser evil, but the more effective evil.” 

Assange is charged in the US under 17 counts of the Espionage Act and one count of hacking into a government computer. The charges could see him sentenced to 175 years in prison, even though he is not a US citizen and WikiLeaks is not a US-based publication. If found guilty it will effectively criminalize the investigative work of all journalists and publishers, anywhere in the world and of any nationality, who possess classified documents to shine a light on the inner workings of power. This mortal assault on the press will have been orchestrated, we must not forget, by a Democratic administration. It will set a legal precedent that will delight other totalitarian regimes and autocrats who, emboldened by the United States, will gleefully seize journalists and publishers, no matter where they are located, who publish inconvenient truths. 

There is no legal basis to hold Julian in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, a  a foreign national, under the Espionage Act.  The CIA spied on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers. This fact alone invalidates any future trial. Assange, who after seven years in a cramped room without sunlight in the embassy, has been held for nearly three years in a high-security prison in London so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the unrelenting abuse and torture it knows will lead to his psychological and physical disintegration.

The persecution of Assange is designed to send a message to anyone who might consider exposing the corruption, dishonesty and depravity that defines the black heart of our global elites. 

Dean Yates can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. He was the Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad on the morning of July 12, 2007 when his Iraqi colleagues Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed, along with nine other men, by US Army Apache gunships. Two children were seriously wounded. The US government spent three years lying to Yates, Reuters and the rest of the world about the killings, although the army had video evidence of the massacre taken by the Apaches during the attack. The video, known as the Collateral Murder video, was leaked in 2010 by Chelsea Manning to Assange. It, for the first time, proved that those killed were not engaged, as the army had repeatedly insisted, in a firefight. It exposed the lies spun by the US that it could not locate the video footage and had never attempted to cover up the killings. 

Watch the full interview I did with Yates

The Spanish courts can tell you what US “assurances” are worth…………….

The people in Afghanistan can tell you what U.S “assurances” are worth………..

The people in Iraq can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. ……..

The people of Iran can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. ………

The thousands of people tortured in US global black sites can tell you what US “assurances” are worth……..

Assange, at tremendous personal cost, warned us. He gave us the truth. The ruling class is crucifying him for this truth. With his crucifixion, the dim lights of our democracy go dark.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VzFJ9csons&t=130s      https://scheerpost.com/2021/12/13/hedges-the-execution-of-julian-assange/?fbclid=IwAR1dILpTE-VKbcdBa_gFy3vKLPMvddoBhPf6MKJ1cmuDMf0HrFUyungV-vo

Courts threaten freedom of Russian nature protector

February 18, 2021

Courts threaten freedom of Russian nature protector, 10 Jan 2021, 

An act of love — Beyond Nuclear International 

Lyubov Kudryashova loves nature. Now she may be jailed for defending it

By Jack Cohen-Joppa

In Russian, her name means love. And it’s true. Lyubov Kudryashova loves the broad valley of Russia’s Tobol River, where it meanders out of Kazakhstan into the Kurgan Oblast. Her grandfather is buried there, she was born there, and she’s raised three sons there. As far as she knows, her ancestors have always lived there.

There, below the southern Urals, frigid continental winters give way to spring floods that inundate a landscape of oxbow lakes, wetlands, forests and fields. The waters sustain a large aquifer that Russia recognizes as a strategic reserve of fresh water.

“We, native people of the land, are against a barbaric attitude towards nature,” she says. “But our voices are too low.”

Which is why the passion of this campaigning environmentalist and entrepreneur has been met with fabricated charges of encouraging terrorism via the internet. She’s now on trial in a military court in Yekaterinburg, six hours away from her small town.

But Lyubov Kudryashova will not be spurned. “My ecological activity is going to continue. Well, I guess till the day the unjust court could takes away my freedom.”

In 2017, the government awarded an operating license for borehole leeching of uranium to Dalur, a uranium mining subsidiary of the Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom. The license to tap the Dobrovolnoye deposit around the village of Zverinogolovskoye condemned the very farmland Kudryashova’s father managed when she would accompany him as a child.

Dalur has two other leaky in-situ uranium projects in the Kurgan.

Many Tobol Valley residents feared environmental disaster when they learned that hundreds of exploratory wells would be drilled through the aquifer into the mineral deposit lying beneath it, without any public environmental review. Borehole leeching would eventually involve drilling thousands of wells and the injection of a million tons of sulfuric acid over 20-30 years, then withdrawing the dissolved minerals and chemically extracting the uranium.

Several times, activists tried to start a referendum and demand an independent environmental review, but met only refusals from the local officials.

Last fall, environmentalists surveyed some of Dalur’s other boreholes in Kurgan and documented much higher radiation levels than permitted. Despite the concerns, construction began on an in-situ leaching pilot plant and the huge clay-lined “mud pits” needed to receive the massive volume of toxic, acidified sludge produced in the process.

Beginning in 2017, Kudryashova was involved in the legal case against the Russian Federation over its refusal to conduct an environmental impact assessment before awarding the license to develop the mine.

That year, she also co-founded the Public Monitoring Fund for the Environmental Condition and the Population Welfare with the regional branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. One month later, a judge of the Kurgan Regional Court issued an order giving the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) authority to wiretap her telephone.

The Fund publishes information on the environmental impact of Dalur’s mining activity. Kudryashova writes, “Shortly after the completion of the case in the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the registration of the environmental fund, a hidden judgment of another court was rendered that allowed the FSB to begin wiretapping my phone and, I believe, begin to look for fictitious crimes in order to stop my work.

“I guess money is more important than the radioactive contamination of land,” she observed.

So it was that on January 29, 2019, armed men led by an FSB captain broke into her family’s home and spent the day searching it. That summer the FSB got a local court to involuntarily commit Kudryashova to the Kurgan District Psychiatric Hospital for most of the month of July. She was kept from speaking with family or others outside without permission of the agency.

Then in March 2020, the FSB charged Kudryashova with 12 counts of “public justification of terrorism using the Internet” based on a specious forensic analysis of posts on the social network VKontakte, which, according to Kudryashova, never belonged to her page. The actual source of those posts remains unknown because the protocol and the DVD-R capturing those posts show evidence of fabrication and forgery.  And at the most recent session of her trial in late December, a CD-R the defense had presented to the court for evidence was found to have been erased by an FSB operative.

Prosecutors say she advocated for violent overthrow of the constitutional order by re-posting memes with such seditious phrases as, “The fate of Russia is determined by each of us, what you personally or I do, then Russia will. A correct position can only be revolutionary” and “If the nation is convinced that the ruling power in the state is directed not at the development of its cultural, economic and other needs, but, on the contrary, at trampling them, then it is not only the right, but also the duty of the nation to overthrow that power and establish one corresponding to the national interests of the people.”

Kudryashova writes, “Nonviolent ecological activism, in the understanding of the rulers of my country, is a crime. That’s why prisons are full of people who wanted to protect nature, but those who harmed it are free… Ecological crimes against present and future generations are not subject to the judgement of a military court.

“I’m 55 years old and my life is not as important as the preservation of nature. My duty and responsibility are to make a small contribution in a great cause — to stop violence against nature and people. The price of atomic energy is the life of future generations.”

Her trial is in the Central District Military Court of Yekaterinburg, where the next hearing is scheduled for 28-29 January, 2021. Agora International Human Rights Group and the Memorial civil rights society in Russia have provided an attorney and other support for Kudryashova.

Letters in support of Lyubov Kudryashova and seeking dismissal of the charges against her should be addressed to the chair of the court collegium examining the case, Judge Sergei Gladkih, st. Bazhova 85, Yekaterinburg, Russia 62005, or by email to opo.covs.svd@sudrf.ru. Refer to Case №: 2-42/2020, Lyubov Kudryashova.

Jack Cohen-Joppa is the co-editor of The Nuclear Resister, the co-founder of the eponymous organization and co-winner with Felice Cohen-Joppa of the 2020 Nuclear Free Future Award in the category of Education.

 

 

Legacy of Maralinga bomb tests -a reminder of need for safety in matters nuclear

November 28, 2020
Sixty years on, the Maralinga bomb tests remind us not to put security over safety, The Conversation    Liz Tynan, Senior Lecturer and Co-ordinator Research Student Academic Support, James Cook University September 26, 2016   It is September 27, 1956. At a dusty site called One Tree, in the northern reaches of the 3,200-square-kilometre Maralinga atomic weapons test range in outback South Australia, the winds have finally died down and the countdown begins……….
And so, at 5pm, Operation Buffalo begins. The 15-kilotonne atomic device, the same explosive strength as the weapon dropped on Hiroshima 11 years earlier (although totally different in design), is bolted to a 30-metre steel tower. The device is a plutonium warhead that will test Britain’s “Red Beard” tactical nuclear weapon.

The count reaches its finale – three… two… one… FLASH! – and all present turn their backs. When given the order to turn back again, they see an awesome, rising fireball. Then Maralinga’s first mushroom cloud begins to bloom over the plain – by October the following year, there will have been six more.

RAF and RAAF aircraft prepare to fly through the billowing cloud to gather samples. The cloud rises much higher than predicted and, despite the delay, the winds are still unsuitable for atmospheric nuclear testing. The radioactive cloud heads due east, towards populated areas on Australia’s east coast.

Power struggle

So began the most damaging chapter in the history of British nuclear weapons testing in Australia. The UK had carried out atomic tests in 1952 and 1956 at the Monte Bello Islands off Western Australia, and in 1953 at Emu Field north of Maralinga.
The British had requested and were granted a huge chunk of South Australia to create a “permanent” atomic weapons test site, after finding the conditions at Monte Bello and Emu Field too remote and unworkable. Australia’s then prime minister, Robert Menzies, was all too happy to oblige. Back in September 1950 in a phone call with his British counterpart, Clement Attlee, he had said yes to nuclear testing without even referring the issue to his cabinet……….
He was also exploring ways to power civilian Australia with atomic energy and – whisper it – even to buy an atomic bomb with an Australian flag on it (for more background, see here). While Australia had not been involved in developing either atomic weaponry or nuclear energy, she wanted in now. Menzies’ ambitions were such that he authorised offering more to the British than they requested.

While Australia was preparing to sign the Maralinga agreement, the supply minister, Howard Beale, wrote in a top-secret 1954 cabinet document:

Although [the] UK had intimated that she was prepared to meet the full costs, Australia proposed that the principles of apportioning the expenses of the trial should be agreed whereby the cost of Australian personnel engaged on the preparation of the site, and of materials and equipment which could be recovered after the tests, should fall to Australia’s account..…..
Britain’s nuclear and military elite trashed a swathe of Australia’s landscape and then, in the mid-1960s, promptly left. Britain carried out a total of 12 major weapons tests in Australia: three at Monte Bello, two at Emu Field and seven at Maralinga. The British also conducted hundreds of so-called “minor trials”, including the highly damaging Vixen B radiological experiments, which scattered long-lived plutonium over a large area at Maralinga.

The British carried out two clean-up operations – Operation Hercules in 1964 and Operation Brumby in 1967 – both of which made the contamination problems worse.

Legacy of damage

The damage done to Indigenous people in the vicinity of all three test sites is immeasurable and included displacement, injury and death. Service personnel from several countries, but particularly Britain and Australia, also suffered – not least because of their continuing fight for the slightest recognition of the dangers they faced. Many of the injuries and deaths allegedly caused by the British tests have not been formally linked to the operation, a source of ongoing distress for those involved.

The cost of the clean-up exceeded A$100 million in the late 1990s. Britain paid less than half, and only after protracted pressure and negotiations.

Decades later, we still don’t know the full extent of the effects suffered by service personnel and local communities. Despite years of legal wrangling, those communities’ suffering has never been properly recognised or compensated.

Why did Australia allow it to happen? The answer is that Britain asserted its nuclear colonialism just as an anglophile prime minister took power in Australia, and after the United States made nuclear weapons research collaboration with other nations illegal, barring further joint weapons development with the UK. …..Six decades later, those atomic weapons tests still cast their shadow across Australia’s landscape. They stand as testament to the dangers of government decisions made without close scrutiny, and as a reminder – at a time when leaders are once again preoccupied with international security – not to let it happen again.  https://theconversation.com/sixty-years-on-the-maralinga-bomb-tests-remind-us-not-to-put-security-over-safety-62441?fbclid=IwAR3-AXJA_-RZTlr1AW6qxgcFRPuOX5IIi163L75vLWXFyIOcZGKxbet5DDE

A tiny percentage of South Australian people coerced into the decision on nuclear waste dump

February 13, 2020

This is a decision which will affect all South Australians, not just a tiny percentage of people who have experienced four years of federal government promises and pressure to acquiesce.

the Minister failed to mention the main component of the project — long lived intermediate level waste from the Lucas Heights reactor  

Farmers and Traditional Owners decry SA nuclear more  https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/farmers-and-traditional-owners-decry-sa-nuclear-vote, Michele Madigan,20 November 2019 

    • On 12 November, Senator Canavan, federal Minister for Resources, took a question from the rather more junior Senator Alex Antic. The questioner wondered whether there was any recent progress on the federal nuclear facility proposed for Antic’s own state of South Australia.
The Minister was delighted to have the chance to announce that in the district area of Kimba the long awaited vote to host both a permanent facility for national low level radiactive waste and storage for intermediate level radioactive waste had concluded. The result: 61.17 per cent voted in favour.
Unsurprisingly, Canavan failed to mention that voting rights in the poll were severely restricted. The Barngarla Traditional Owners, native title holders of the area, were given no voice. Farmers whose land is actually closer to the site were also excluded as their properties are outside the allocated narrow boundary. 
 
Surprising however, even to four year battle-weary opponents of the scheme, was the fact that even on the second and third questions offered him by the willing SA Senator, the Minister failed to mention the main component of the project — long lived intermediate level waste from the Lucas Heights reactor  
 
With the total vote consisting of only 734 ballot papers, the yes vote represented just 452 people. My letter to the Advertiser of 11 November 2019 pointed out that on these figures we have .027 per cent of South Australians speaking for us all. In her response on 15 November, task force manager of the project, Sam Chard, wrote to the Advertiser that ‘the transport of waste will be conducted safely’ — a careful phrase. Unfortunately not even a federal government can prevent accidents from happening as they surely will — and already have.
South Australian filmmaker Kim Mavromatis’ just released video of an historic 1980 road accident involving nuclear waste from Lucas Heights graphically demonstrates the severe effects on former NSW police officers Bob Deards and Terry Clifford, who were tasked with cleanup. While there is no doubt that modern transport containers will be of better quality than in the past, the men’s warning is obvious: ‘The more they transport, the more accidents will happen.’
A later South Australian example was highlighted by the Advertiser‘s front-page headline of 9 December 1994: ‘Radioactive drum spills on SA road’. ‘A drum carrying low grade radioactive waste from New South Wales to Woomera has leaked contaminated material on to South Australian outback roads … Port Augusta police confirmed last night they were conducting an emergency clean-up of the site about 2km north of Port Augusta …’
Coober Pedy Aboriginal women Emily Austin and Lois Brown’s alarmed response was published a few days later: ‘When they were washing the truck after the leakage, they even took the water away. Why? if it was low-grade toxic waste. It must have been dangerous.’ Their warning: ‘Also that accident might have been low grade but what about the next time?’
Long-term Friends of the Earth environmentalist Dr Jim Green reiterates that nuclear transport accidents are commonplace. ‘Indeed the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) acknowledges that a small number of nuclear transport accidents occur each year. If the industry is expanded, there will inevitably be more transport accidents. A British government database documents an average of 19 nuclear transport incidents each year. Countless thousands of Australians who live along potential nuclear waste transport corridors are being ignored and disenfranchised by the Morrison Government ”.

Union spokespeople are under no illusion that accidents are inevitable and about who will be automatically called for the cleanup. As Jamie Newlyn, South Australian Branch Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, warns: ‘MUA members work in critical points of the logistics cycle and therefore the safe handling and above ground storage for decades is of great concern to the MUA … ‘

A day of high temperatures and strong winds last month did nothing to deter opponents of the federal government’s nuclear plans from the latest Port Augusta Rally. Terry Schmucker, who owns a farm in nearby Poochera, had no vote in the recent poll. He was scathing about the inability of the nuclear industry to guarantee project safety when ANSTO has been unable to prevent radioactive leaks even on site.

After the rally, Aboriginal Co-Chairs of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA), Dwayne Coulthard and Vicki Abdulla, led a strong contingent to present ANFA’s petition to the office of South Australia’s Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan: ‘South Australia has legislation that makes such waste facilities illegal: The Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000 … We ask you to act now and protect South Australia and its people from Minister Canavan’s site selection process that has caused so much distress to South Australian communities … ‘

No, Senator Canavan, South Australians don’t believe that 452 people in one small town have the right to agree to burden us with all the nation’s nuclear waste — and forever.

In fact the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation has just set another challenge. With the results of their own Australian Electoral Company internal members vote showing 83 No and zero Yes votes, the Barngala have issued a statement which reads in part: ‘BDAC has written to Minister Canavan advising him of the result. BDAC has requested that given the first people for the area unanimously have voted against the proposed facility that the Minister should immediately determine that there is not broad community support for the project. ‘

With the arrival of the voting papers for the proposed alternative Flinders Ranges site on 14 November, the intensity of the division between potential yes and no voters in the small towns and hinterlands of Hawker and Quorn seems to have hit fever pitch. The potential yes voters welcoming of a new ‘industry’ to the area seem to disregard the effect a nuclear facility will have on the major tourism industry and Adnyamathanha heritage; not to mention the threats to groundwaters in an area subject to seismic activity and floods.

This is a decision which will affect all South Australians, not just a tiny percentage of people who have experienced four years of federal government promises and pressure to acquiesce.

“The Guardian” co-opted by UK security services?

February 13, 2020

Getting Julian Assange   The Guardian also appears to have been engaged in a campaign against the WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who had been a collaborator during the early WikiLeaks revelations in 2010.

It seems likely this was innuendo being fed to The Observer by an intelligence-linked individual to promote disinformation to undermine Assange.

In 2018, however, The Guardian’s attempted vilification of Assange was significantly stepped up. A new string of articles began on 18 May 2018 with one alleging Assange’s “long-standing relationship with RT”, the Russian state broadcaster. The series, which has been closely documented elsewhere, lasted for several months, consistently alleging with little or the most minimal circumstantial evidence that Assange had ties to Russia or the Kremlin.

How the UK Security Services neutralised the country’s leading liberal newspaper.   https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-09-11-how-the-uk-security-services-neutralised-the-countrys-leading-liberal-newspaper/ By Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis• 11 September 2019, The Guardian, Britain’s leading liberal newspaper with a global reputation for independent and critical journalism, has been successfully targeted by security agencies to neutralise its adversarial reporting of the ‘security state’, according to newly released documents and evidence from former and current Guardian journalists.

The UK security services targeted The Guardian after the newspaper started publishing the contents of secret US government documents leaked by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013.

Snowden’s bombshell revelations continued for months and were the largest-ever leak of classified material covering the NSA and its UK equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters. They revealed programmes of mass surveillance operated by both agencies.

According to minutes of meetings of the UK’s Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee, the revelations caused alarm in the British security services and Ministry of Defence. (more…)

TThe Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story – on Julian Assange

August 18, 2019

This prospect prompted the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 33 EU parliamentarians to issue strongly worded statements to both the UK and Ecuadorian governments in December last year, warning against facilitating the prosecution of a journalist, editor and publisher for “publishing the truth”. The statements demanded Assange’s “immediate release, together with his safe passage to a safe country”, and reminded the UK of its “binding” legal obligations to secure freedom for Assange.

A critical task for propagandists such as those waging a psychological war on Wilkileaks, then, is to feed audiences material that supports official narratives and exclude that which does not. Since its inception, the smear campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks has been remarkably concerted and consistent in that regard.

With the new year, however, news broke that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had offered Ecuador a $10 billion bailout in return for handing Julian Assange over to the United States. This bounty came on top of earlier US pressures and inducements, reportedly including increased oil exportsmilitary co-operation and another $1.1 billion in IMF loans, with the US representative of the IMF instructing Ecuador that it must “resolve” its relationship with Julian Assange in order to receive the IMF money.

Australian Barrister Greg Barns has called it the blackmailing of a nation. News website 21st Century Wirecalled it “one of the biggest international bribery (or extortion) cases in history.”

While there is “not a single shred of evidence that any of [Wikileaks’] disclosures caused anyone harm”, writes journalist and author Nozomi Hayase, what Wikileaks did do in 2010 was expose thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. These deaths included the nonchalant gunning down of children, journalists and their rescuers, and other “indiscriminate violence… torture, lies [and]bribery”, writes Chris Hedges. According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the leaks exposed “a massive cover-up over a number of years by the American authorities”.

Julian in ‘critical danger’, new rules ‘torture’ – Assange mother *AUDIO*

The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 2: The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story, New Matilda, By Dr Lissa Johnson February 25, 2019  In her ongoing special investigation into the detention of Julian Assange, Dr Lissa Johnson turns to the art of smear, and how to corrupt a judicial system.

On Friday 14th February, the Editor in Chief of news website Consortium News, Joe Lauria, visited Sydney to host a ‘Politics in the Pub’ event: Whistleblowing, Wikileaks and the Future of Democracy. The event took place in anticipation of upcoming rallies to free Assange…….

. It is imperative that we pressure the Australian government to make sure its citizen, Julian Assange, is protected from the lawlessness of the American Empire.” (more…)

Australian investigative journalist Mark Davis explodes the myths around Julian Assange

August 18, 2019

CN LIVE! Mark Davis Wikileaks Revelations

While the Internet was meant to democratise the transmission of information we see a few giant technology companies, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have near total control of what is seen and shared.

The situation is even worse in Australia with two or three media companies and the same technology giants having control. And the Government of Australia has granted them ever wider market access to extend their monopolies.

Slowly, instance by instance, the malicious and deceitful smears of Julian Assange’s character have been exposed for what they are; an effort to destroy trust in a system of anonymous leaking that will educate everyone.

WikiLeaks’ threat to the powerful was recognised and every effort was, and is, being made to criminalise anonymous leaking, which would be akin to criminalising Gutenberg’s printing press, but there is not much chance this criminalisation will succeed.

It’s time to bring Julian Assange home. Torturing and punishing him has never been legitimate and serves absolutely no purpose.

Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange, Michael West, by Greg Bean — 16 August 2019 – It is the journalists from The Guardian and New York Times who should be in jail, not Julian Assange, said Mark Davis last week. The veteran Australian investigative journalist, who has been intimately involved in the Wikileaks drama, has turned the Assange narrative on its head. The smears are falling away. The mainstream media, which has so ruthlessly made Julian Assange a scapegoat, is silent in response.

 

Julian Assange – the untold story

May 12, 2019

This prospect prompted the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 33 EU parliamentarians to issue strongly worded statements to both the UK and Ecuadorian governments in December last year, warning against facilitating the prosecution of a journalist, editor and publisher for “publishing the truth”. The statements demanded Assange’s “immediate release, together with his safe passage to a safe country”, and reminded the UK of its “binding” legal obligations to secure freedom for Assange.

A critical task for propagandists such as those waging a psychological war on Wilkileaks, then, is to feed audiences material that supports official narratives and exclude that which does not. Since its inception, the smear campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks has been remarkably concerted and consistent in that regard.

With the new year, however, news broke that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had offered Ecuador a $10 billion bailout in return for handing Julian Assange over to the United States. This bounty came on top of earlier US pressures and inducements, reportedly including increased oil exportsmilitary co-operation and another $1.1 billion in IMF loans, with the US representative of the IMF instructing Ecuador that it must “resolve” its relationship with Julian Assange in order to receive the IMF money.

Australian Barrister Greg Barns has called it the blackmailing of a nation. News website 21st Century Wirecalled it “one of the biggest international bribery (or extortion) cases in history.”

While there is “not a single shred of evidence that any of [Wikileaks’] disclosures caused anyone harm”, writes journalist and author Nozomi Hayase, what Wikileaks did do in 2010 was expose thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. These deaths included the nonchalant gunning down of children, journalists and their rescuers, and other “indiscriminate violence… torture, lies [and]bribery”, writes Chris Hedges. According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the leaks exposed “a massive cover-up over a number of years by the American authorities”.

Julian in ‘critical danger’, new rules ‘torture’ – Assange mother *AUDIO*

The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 2: The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story, New Matilda, By Dr Lissa Johnson February 25, 2019  In her ongoing special investigation into the detention of Julian Assange, Dr Lissa Johnson turns to the art of smear, and how to corrupt a judicial system.

On Friday 14th February, the Editor in Chief of news website Consortium News, Joe Lauria, visited Sydney to host a ‘Politics in the Pub’ event: Whistleblowing, Wikileaks and the Future of Democracy. The event took place in anticipation of upcoming rallies to free Assange…….

. It is imperative that we pressure the Australian government to make sure its citizen, Julian Assange, is protected from the lawlessness of the American Empire.”

Opening the Politics in the Pub evening, Lauria described the fight to defend Julian Asssange as an “historic press freedom case. This is how I became more involved”.

Lauria has been hosting weekly Unity4J online vigils in support of Julian Assange since December last year, taking over from Suzie Dawson, as part of the Unity4J platform. Guests have included Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, CIA Whistleblower John KiriakouChris HedgesJohn Pilger and many others.

Joe Lauria’s career in journalism has spanned mainstream and independent media, including 25 years as a UN correspondent, where he covered every major world crisis that came before the UN. During his career, Lauria has experienced journalistic suppression and enforcement of official narratives first-hand, including leading up to the Iraq war. As a result, he is particularly well-placed to host discussions on the importance of Wikileaks and Julian Assange………

Lauria went on to describe some of the specific acts of suppression he himself had experienced during his own career. They included being fired after reporting on dissent within the UN in the lead-up to the Iraq War; burial of the fact that 130 nations at the UN recognised Palestine during a vote on Palestine’s status; and suppression of a story “on a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document that predicted the rise of ISIS back in 2012 but was ignored in Washington ……..

Suppressed. For the good of the country.

“The omission of such news day after day in newspapers and on television,” said Lauria, “over the decades… gives the American people a distorted view of their country, an almost cartoonish sense of America’s supposed morality in international affairs”.

On the importance of Wikileaks in such a media landscape, during an interview with Chris Hedges, who also lost his mainstream career after critiquing the Iraq War, Lauria said, “We’ve seen over the years… the decline of American journalism… this taking of official statements and positions, and just reporting them without question.”

Hedges, formerly a foreign correspondent and Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times, added during an online vigil for Assange, “I still have colleagues that are there [at the New York Times], and they are quite blunt about the fact that investigative journalism into the inner workings of power has been frozen completely, because of wholesale surveillance. Government officials, because they know they’re monitored, journalists, because they know they’re monitored, can no longer shine a light into the inner workings of power.

“The only mechanism left by which we can understand, frankly, the crimes that are being committed by the powerful, by the elites, are through leaks… Take that mechanism away and tyranny, corruption runs rampant.”

What you don’t know can hurt you

When Lauria took over the Unity4J vigils for Assange in December last year, it was an eventful time in the fight to defend Julian Assange.

As 2018 drew to a close, fears mounted that Assange’s extradition to the US may be imminent. Increasingly strict protocols had been imposed upon his presence in the Ecuadorian embassy, possibly creating pretexts for his expulsion, the Ecuadorian ambassador and foreign minister had advised Assange to leave the embassy and hand himself over to British authorities, and six leading Democrats had written a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, recommending that he urge Ecuador to “resolve” the “situation” with Julian Assange.

Should efforts to expel Assange from the embassy succeed, he is expected to be extradited to the United States to face charges for his publishing activities.

This prospect prompted the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 33 EU parliamentarians to issue strongly worded statements to both the UK and Ecuadorian governments in December last year, warning against facilitating the prosecution of a journalist, editor and publisher for “publishing the truth”. The statements demanded Assange’s “immediate release, together with his safe passage to a safe country”, and reminded the UK of its “binding” legal obligations to secure freedom for Assange.

With the new year, however, news broke that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had offered Ecuador a $10 billion bailout in return for handing Julian Assange over to the United States. This bounty came on top of earlier US pressures and inducements, reportedly including increased oil exportsmilitary co-operation and another $1.1 billion in IMF loans, with the US representative of the IMF instructing Ecuador that it must “resolve” its relationship with Julian Assange in order to receive the IMF money.

Australian Barrister Greg Barns has called it the blackmailing of a nation. News website 21st Century Wirecalled it “one of the biggest international bribery (or extortion) cases in history.”

The mainstream media called it no big deal. Like the facts that got in the way of the Iraq war, details such as a $10 billion IMF bounty on Julian Assange’s head have been placed out of bounds for Western publics, and omitted from the mainstream narrative on Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

In fact, from the outset, the official narrative on Assange and Wikileaks has been woven as much from omission as from smear.

On the subject of smear, speaking at the Sydney rally to free Assange last year, John Pilger said, “I know Julian well. I regard him as a close friend: a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I have watched a tsunami of lies and smear engulf him, endlessly, vindictively, perfidiously, and I know why they smear him.

“In 2008, a plan to destroy both Wikileaks and Julian was laid out in a secret document dated 8th of March 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessment Branch of the US Defense Department (DoD). They described in detail how important it was to destroy, and I quote, ‘the feeling of trust’ that is Wikileaks’ ‘centre of gravity’”.

In the decade that followed, as discussed in Part 1, true to the modus operandi of counterintelligence, which seeks to “leverage insights” into adversary “vulnerabilities”, every major vulnerability in the human reality-processing system has been leveraged and exploited in order to smear Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

In this case, the adversary in the US crosshairs has been not only Julian Assange and Wikileaks, but the global populations that Wikileaks seeks to inform. It is our own vulnerabilities – the vulnerabilities in the information processing systems of all human beings – that have been leveraged and exploited in order to undermine and discredit Wikileaks……..

As Professor Piers Robinson, chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at the University of Sheffield, has said in an interview on modern day propaganda, “omission – what is not spoken about – is one of the biggest parts of propaganda and manipulating people’s opinions”.

A critical task for propagandists such as those waging a psychological war on Wilkileaks, then, is to feed audiences material that supports official narratives and exclude that which does not. Since its inception, the smear campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks has been remarkably concerted and consistent in that regard.

The material omitted in Assange’s case has been not only that which factually undermines anointed narratives (such as narratives on the Swedish investigation and Russiagate), but material that gives Western publics cause to care what happens to Julian Assange.

Should such material be admitted to the official story, the possibility emerges that publics may identify with Assange. He may be viewed as a protagonist with a plight, worthy of our concern. Which is bad for smear campaigns. Protagonists are difficult to smear.

The fact is, however, that whether or not you care what happens to Julian Assange, there are very important reasons to care what happens to Julian Assange. Which is why mainstream narratives on Assange have worked hard to see to it that we don’t. Care, that is.

Blood-curdling

Once upon a time the official narrative was that Assange had brought his asylum upon himself, by evading Swedish questioning over sexual assault allegations. He doesn’t deserve your sympathy was the subtext. He only has himself to blame.

Once the Swedish case had been closed in 2017, the ‘evading Swedish justice’ narrative gave way to the ‘evading British Justice’ narrative. Julian Assange was now said to be ‘holed up’ in the Ecuadorian Embassy to escape a British arrest warrant over the pseudo-legal concoction of a defunct bail infringement attached to the closed Swedish investigation.

The underlying implication remained: that Julian Assange had brought his imprisonment upon himself. In this narrative he was still a fugitive from justice, not a publisher seeking asylum from US persecution.

Despite their factual inaccuracy, these tales survived in many people’s minds for years, thanks largely to the concerted campaign of omission, as I shall explain.

However, late last year the Department of Justice (DoJ) accidentally confirmed what Wikileaks had been saying since at least 2012: that secret charges await Julian Assange in the United States should he leave the Ecuadorian embassy, most likely for 2010 publications regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Accordingly, the ‘fugitive from British justice’ narrative has now been dropped. It is out in the open that the US is gunning for Julian Assange, and gunning hard. Mike Pompeo admitted as much in his first speech as CIA director last year.

For its part, Ecuador is doing its best to force Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy, having cut him off from the outside world since March 2018, imposing effective solitary confinement, in an effort to “break him psychologically” according to former Ecuadorian President Raffael Correa.

The conditions being imposed upon Assange are “basically the kind of torture techniques [used]in the black sites, Gitmo, and prisons in Iraq” says former NSA technical director William Binney. “It’s a technique that psychologists developed with the CIA as to how to treat people to make them feel very isolated, and make them psychologically turn on themselves.”

Assange’s physical as well as mental health, as reported in the British Medical Journal Opinion, is under sustained attack, amounting to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, possibly endangering his life according to the UN.

His treatment has been denounced not only by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and EU parliamentarians , but by HRWAmnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, has called his treatment “a slow and cruel assassination”.

Still, the official narratives incite Western publics not to care. Although no-one is denying that the US is out to get Julian Assange now, something else is being omitted to keep public care and concern at bay.

Yes, there is Russiagate, causing anger over perceived ‘collusion’, which I shall examine as collective delusion in Part 4. But Russiagate itself relies on a critical omission, without which its claims to ‘defending democracy’ would unravel.

What omission? What is being kept out of the official narrative now?

An omission central to keeping publics disengaged from Julian Assange (and engaged with Russiagate) concerns the wider legal implications should Assange be extradited and prosecuted in the United States.

What wider legal implications?

If US prosecution does take place, Assange is expected to be tried either as a conspirator in procuring leaks, or under the draconian Espionage Act of 1917, passed during WWI in the context of the First Red Scare, when “people were literally being thrown in prison just for writing letters to the editor”, writes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

So although the Trump administration appears game to blaze this authoritarian legal trail, previous US administrations have stopped short, for fear of criminalising journalism.

The Obama DoJ, for instance, as keen as any to shut down Wikileaks, looked closely at prosecuting Assange for publishing classified documents in this way, but concluded that doing so was impossiblewithout opening other publishers, such as The New York Times, to the same fate. The Obama administration called this their ‘New York Times problem’.

Former chief counsel for The New York Times, James Goodale, of Pentagon Papers famenow adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, describes the legal implications of prosecuting Julian Assange as “blood-curdling”.

Goodale told the Columbia Journalism Review that “the biggest challenge to the press today is the threatened prosecution of WikiLeaks, and it’s absolutely frightening… If you go after WikiLeaks criminally, you go after the Times. That’s the criminalization of the whole process.”

The current deputy general counsel for The New York Times made much the same point when speaking to a group of judges in July last year. He said that “the prosecution of [Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers… From everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”

Similarly, executive Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Kenneth Roth tweeted in 2018, “Deeply troubling if the Trump administration, which has shown little regard for media freedom, would charge Assange for receiving from a government official and publishing classified information — exactly what journalists do all the time.”

In short, should Assange be prosecuted in this cross-border, extra-territorial, precedent-setting way, the legal upshot would be that anyone, anywhere in the world, could be arrested for publishing material that angered US elites, no matter how accurate or factual.

n spite of this, or because of it, in 2017 as Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions declared Assange’s arrest a “priority”. When asked about the implications for journalism in general, Sessions declined to rule out prosecuting other media outlets in Wikileaks’ wake.

Former judge and attorney Bill Blum writes, “No publication would be safe from the administration’s vengeance and overreach. Small independent news organizations — think, Truthdig, The Intercept, The Nation and others on the left — would be especially vulnerable.”

Just to make US intentions crystal clear, in his first speech as CIA director, Mike Pompeo vowed to go after Wikileaks’ “free speech values”, describing the publisher as a “hostile non-state intelligence service”. Pompeo further confirmed that the US is “working to take down” Wikileaks, lumping it together with Al Qaeda.

Pompeo added that his CIA’s “enemies” included not only Wikileaks but “those who grant a platform” to (factual) leaked material. In other words, publishers: public interest journalists, independent media, websites, bloggers. The groups in Pompeo’s sights “may be small” Pompeo said, but they pose a “new threat… and I’m confident this administration will pursue them with great vigour.”

And pursue them the administration has, with the help of a bipartisan, borderless, military-intelligence-media complex. Orwellian Ministry of Truth censorship and smear-campaign cut-outs such as PropOrNothave been deployed, for instance, along with the Institute for Statecraft’s “political smear unit” Integrity Initiative and, more recently, the censorship tool NewsGuard, a browser plugin to filter out non-mainstream news.

Newsguard is working to make its ranking system involuntary for all internet use in the United States, and has partnered with Microsoft, which is reportedly planning to integrate NewsGuard into all its products.

The censorship tool’s “advisory board reads like the fellowships list of a neocon think tank”, writes self-described rogue journalist Caitlyn Johnstone. One of its board members, for instance, a former State Department Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, can be seen here advocating the use of propaganda against domestic populations. (The video  [on original] is truly telling if you watch it to 1m 50s).

NewsGuard has emerged against a political backdrop in which top officials for Google, Facebook and Twitter appeared before a Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017, at which they were admonished to “act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions”. The tech leaders were advised to develop “mission statements” on preventing internet users from “fomenting discord” online.

US Government investigators even asked Facebook and Twitter to hand over profile information, possibly including names, phone numbers and email addresses, of social media users posting “divisive” content.

We want names.

Yes this really happened,” writes Caitlin Johnstone………….

other independent and dissenting voices and “platforms”, to use Pompeo’s words, no matter how “small” will be missing in the future should the US win its legal and psychological war on Wikileaks.

The psychological end-game of that war is not simply shutting down Wikileaks. It is gaining public consent to treat public interest journalism as public enemy number one. Russiagate, with its army of online enforcers, functions as a psychological tool in that war to brand independent voices enemy combatants.

As Chris Hedges warns, the mission is to “criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state” and “turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason”. He notes that “the persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news organizations [making]journalists, writers, dissidents and intellectuals…prime targets.”

Political observer and wordsmith CJ Hopkins of Consent Factory counsels, “strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.”

Peaceniks, cat food, and a toilet bowl at Gitmo

If the impending criminalisation of journalism is being omitted from the mainstream narrative on Julian Assange and Wikileaks, what else has been omitted along the way? What evidence has been excluded from the court of public opinion in order to weave a guilty narrative around Julian Assange, cast him as the antagonist, prevent us from caring, and pave the psychological way for the war on independent media unfolding now?………

While there is “not a single shred of evidence that any of [Wikileaks’] disclosures caused anyone harm”, writes journalist and author Nozomi Hayase, what Wikileaks did do in 2010 was expose thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. These deaths included the nonchalant gunning down of children, journalists and their rescuers, and other “indiscriminate violence… torture, lies [and]bribery”, writes Chris Hedges. According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the leaks exposed “a massive cover-up over a number of years by the American authorities”.

Someone had to pay. And it certainly wasn’t going to be the war criminals.

After these releases the “terrorist” smears against Assange began to flow. Vice President Joe Biden called him a “high tech terrorist” despite saying a few days earlier that the Iraq and Afghanistan releases had done “no substantive damage” other than to be “embarrassing”.

Now, all these years of embarrassing releases later, the secret charges that have surfaced against Assange are in the same location as the 2010 Grand Jury: the Eastern District of Virginia. Accordingly, the charges are expected to relate to the 2010 exposures of US war crimes, not to the 2016 US election.

The Eastern District of Virginia is known as the ‘espionage court’ according to CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou. It is “the home of the CIA, of the Pentagon, and of almost every intelligence-related private contractor in the Washington area” Kirakou explains. No national security defendant has ever won a case there, he says.

Should Assange be extradited to face prosecution in the US, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled that his risk of “political persecution and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” and “physical harm” is “well founded”………..

back in the court of public opinion, after a decade of narrative by omission during trial by media, Julian Assange is on the verge of ending up in US hands. Should that come to pass, “The CIA and the FBI are both going to be on that plane”, warns John Kiriakou. “They will bring him back to the United States in chains.”

The movement to free Assange, as Joe Lauria stressed during his Sydney visit, is of historic significance. At this juncture, expressing public opposition to treating public interest journalism as public enemy number one may be one of the few things standing between free speech and a toilet bowl at Gitmo.

Next, before delving in earnest into the arsenal of psychological tactics deployed in the psychological war on Wikileaks, I will explore the phenomenon whereby ostensibly progressive, liberal Russiagate #Resistance™ warriors have fallen in line behind the Trump administration as it wages its repressive crackdown on journalism via Wikileaks, an authoritarian dream notes Glenn Greenwald.

In the process, I will ask why anyone – left, right or indifferent – would place their faith in US intelligence agencies, even as some of the same individuals who led us into the Iraq war lead the way on Russiagate and Wikileaks, crying “trust us”.

READ THE WHOLE ASSANGE SERIES
PART 1: The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange: What’s Torture Got To Do With It?
PART 2: The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange: The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story
PART 3: The Psychology of Getting Julian Assange – Wikileaks and Russiagate: Trust Us, We’re The CIA
PART 4: The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange: Why Even Some Lefties Want To See Him Hang
PART 5: The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange: War Propaganda 101      https://newmatilda.com/2019/02/25/psychology-getting-julian-assange-part-2-court-public-opinion-blood-curdling-untold-story/