WIKILEAKS/ASSANGE NEWSLETTER #14,
October 6, 2020
US PERSECUTION OF JOURNALIST ASSANGE
Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology
(#9 July 21, 2011; #10, Jan. 30, 2012, #11, May 25, 2018; #12, April 14, 2019; #13, Feb. 20, 2020).
See separate OMNI Manning Newsletters, OMNI Investigative Journalism Newsletters, OMNI Whistleblower Newsletters, OMNI Constitution Newsletters, and more.
Special connection to the University of Arkansas is its Journalism Department and UAF’s motto “Veritate Duce Progredi”: To advance with truth as our leader.
Actions: ask UAF’s Journalism Dept. to speak up for Wikipedia and Assange. Ask the UAF to make its actions match its central principle. And let us join together to abolish the vicious, tyrannous Espionage Act.
TEXTS (in chronological order March to October, 2020)
Julian Assange must be supported
authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts
and making governments more accountable … [But] technologies with the potential
to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked
by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights … Some countries have …
violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech.
These actions contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which tells
us that all people have the right ‘to seek, receive and impart information and
ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’. With the spread of these
restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of
the world. And beyond this partition, viral videos and blog posts are becoming
the samizdat of our day. As in the dictatorships of the past, governments are
targeting independent thinkers who use these tools. —U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton
speaking at the
Newseum, Washington, DC, January 2010
Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart
attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of
classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public. —U.S. Army specialist Chelsea Manning in an
encrypted message to a confidant, Iraq, May 2010
On the first day of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London, lawyers for the U.S. government accused the WikiLeaks founder of putting lives at risk by publishing unredacted documents that identified U.S. military informants in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most extraordinary, yet all too predictable, thing about the allegation was that it didn’t generate a wave of ridicule and derision in the court or among Western media.
The accuser is the same United States that killed an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children through punitive sanctions in the 1990s–a human toll that secretary of state Madeline Albright, responding to ’ Lesley Stahl in 1996, described as “worth it”. It’s the same United States that killed countless civilians in its 2001-02 invasion and ongoing occupation of Afghanistan–countless because, as the head of U.S. Central Command, general Tommy Franks, told a reporter in 2002: “You know, we don’t do body counts”. It is the same United States that then obliterated Iraq in an invasion and occupation estimated to have resulted in the deaths of at least several hundred thousand–all on the false pretence of the country having a “weapons of mass destruction” stockpile that at any moment could be directed against Western cities.
The architects of those war crimes faced not so much as a slap on the wrist. In fact, George Bush in the U.S., Tony Blair in the UK and John Howard in Australia continue to be rolled out as venerated statesmen. The hired guns who cheered them on in the press have shown not an ounce of contrition and continue to receive princely salaries to churn out hit pieces in defence of empire. And the lawyers tut-tut that the people who helped them in the criminal enterprise may have been at risk of exposure because WikiLeaks let the world know what the U.S. was doing.
For the record, the prosecution admits that it cannot prove that anyone was killed as a result of the leaks. The U.S. government indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of hacking into a government computer. While the indictments were released by the Trump administration only in 2018, the campaign against WikiLeaks began many years earlier…Continued: https://mronline.org/2020/03/12/julian-assange-must-be-supported/
David Keyton. (AP). “Sweden Drops Assange Rape Case.” NADG (11-20-19). https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/nov/20/assange-rape-case-dropped-by-sweden-201/
“Assange to Claim Trump Offer.” (AP). NADG (February 20, 2020).
Deal was to clear Russia in email leak for pardon, lawyer says, Associated Press, at 4:09 a.m.
LONDON -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange plans to claim during an extradition hearing that the Trump administration offered him a pardon if he agreed to say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, a lawyer for Assange said Wednesday.
Assange is being held at a British prison while fighting extradition to the United States on spying charges. His full court hearing is due to begin next week.
At a preliminary hearing held Wednesday in London, lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said that now-former Republican U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2017.
Fitzgerald said a statement from another Assange lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, recounted "Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr. Assange ... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks."..continued: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/feb/20/assange-to-claim-offer-by-trump-2020022/
Feb 20, 2020 - "At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange. ... way out, if Mr Assange... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.". [I googled the subject and found nothing later than Feb. 20. [This needs follow-up and checking out. –D]
“London protesters stand by Assange: Extradition hearing to start Monday” by JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press, NADG February 23, 2020. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/feb/23/london-protesters-stand-by-assange-2020/
Demonstrators gather outside Australia House to protest against the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in London, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Assange is fighting extradition to the United States on spying charges.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) (photo deleted)
LONDON -- Hundreds of supporters of Julian Assange marched through London on Saturday to pressure the U.K. government into refusing to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face spying charges.
Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood joined the crowd protesting the U.S. espionage charges against the founder of the secret-spilling website. An extradition hearing for Assange is due to begin in a London court Monday.
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told a rally outside Parliament that the prosecution of Assange represented "a dark force against [those] who want justice, transparency and truth."
U.S. prosecutors have charged the 48-year-old Australian computer expert with espionage over WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison…continued: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/feb/23/london-protesters-stand-by-assange-2020/
“Assange faces extradition hearing today”
by JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press, 3:18 a.m. NADG, February 24, 2020.
LONDON -- The U.S. government and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will face off today in a high-security London courthouse, a decade after WikiLeaks published a trove of classified military documents.
A judge at Woolwich Crown Court will begin hearing arguments from lawyers for U.S. authorities, who want to try Assange on espionage charges that carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
The extradition hearing follows years of subterfuge, diplomatic dispute and legal drama that have led the 48-year-old Australian from fame as an international secret-spiller through self-imposed exile inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to incarceration in a maximum-security British prison.
Assange has been indicted in the U.S. on 18 charges over the publication of classified documents. Prosecutors say he conspired with U.S. army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer and release hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables and military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. authorities say WikiLeaks' activities put American lives in danger. Assange argues he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection, and says the leaked documents exposed U.S. military wrongdoing. Among the files published by WikiLeaks was video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.
Journalism organizations and civil liberties groups, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, say the charges against Assange set a chilling precedent for freedom of the press.
"What we have is an assault on journalism," left-wing Greek lawmaker Yanis Varoufakis said at an Assange support march in London on Saturday. "The only charge against Julian, hiding behind the nonsense of espionage, is a charge of journalism."
Assange's legal saga began in 2010, when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He refused to go to Stockholm, saying he feared extradition or illegal rendition to the United States or the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In 2012, Assange sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he was beyond the reach of U.K. and Swedish authorities.
For seven years, Assange led an isolated and increasingly surreal existence in the tiny embassy, which occupies an apartment in an upscale block near the ritzy Harrod's department store. Confined to the building, he occasionally emerged onto a small balcony to address supporters, and received visits from celebrity allies including Lady Gaga and Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson.
The relationship between Assange and his hosts eventually soured, and he was evicted in April. British police immediately arrested him for jumping bail in 2012.
Sweden dropped the sex-crimes investigations in November because so much time had elapsed, but Assange remains in London's Belmarsh Prison as he awaits a decision on the U.S. extradition request.
Supporters say the ordeal has harmed Assange's physical and mental health, leaving him with depression, dental problems and a serious shoulder ailment.
For his supporters around the world, Assange remains a hero. But many others are critical of the way WikiLeaks has published classified documents without redacting details that could endanger individuals. WikiLeaks has also been accused of serving as a conduit for Russian misinformation, and Assange has alienated some supporters by dallying with populist politicians including Brexit-promoter Nigel Farage.
Assange's legal team insists the American case against him is politically motivated. His lawyers say they will present evidence that the Australian was offered a pardon by the Trump administration if he agreed to say Russia wasn't involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails that were published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.
Assange's lawyers say the offer was made in August 2017 by then-Republican U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who claimed to be acting on behalf of President Donald Trump.
The White House has called the claim "a complete fabrication and a total lie." Rohrabacher acknowledges discussing the Democratic leak with Assange, but denies offering a pardon from the president.
An end to the saga could still be years away. After a week of opening arguments, the extradition case is due to break until May, when the two sides will lay out their evidence. The judge is not expected to rule until several months after that, with the losing side likely to appeal.
If the courts approve extradition, the British government will have the final say.
Jill Lawless (AP). “Portrayals of Assange Clash as Extradition Case Starts.” NADG (February 25, 2020). https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2020/feb/25/assange-portrayals-clash-as-case-opens-/
Jill Lawless (AP). “Attorney Criticizes Assange’s Treatment.” NADG (Feb. 26, 2020). https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2020/feb/26/attorney-criticizes-assange-s-treatment/
The NADG’s six articles in seven days mainly in defense of Assange seem extraordinary, particularly for an editorially Republican newspaper. It must be that the newspaper sees Assange as a FOI cause, a journalist persecuted for providing crucial information to the public for a functional democracy. –Dick
Julian Assange must be supported. Mronline.org (3-13-20).
If the U.S. government succeeds in extraditing Julian Assange, it will be a major victory for U.S. imperialism–a promise that anyone getting in its way will ultimately pay the price.
International Lawyers Make Urgent Appeal To British Government. Popular Resistance.org (8-18-20)
By Lawyers for Assange, Consortium News. We write to you as legal practitioners and legal academics to express our collective concerns about the violations of Mr. Julian Assange’s fundamental human, civil and political rights and the precedent his persecution is setting. We call on you to act in accordance with national and international law, human rights and the rule of law by bringing an end to the ongoing extradition proceedings and granting Mr. Assange his long overdue freedom – freedom from torture, arbitrary detention and deprivation of liberty, and political persecution. We remind the UK government that the right... -more-
Discussion Of Wikileaks Or 'Hacked Information' Banned Under New YouTube Rules. Popular Resistance.org (8-18-20).
By Alan Macleod, Mintpress News. Social media giant YouTube announced yesterday a host of new measures it says are aimed at preventing any interference in the upcoming presidential elections. Chief among the list it wrote on its blog, is “removing content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.” An example it gives would-be deleting “videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate.” It also promised to “raise up authoritative voices” when it comes to
current events and politics by changing its algorithm to show... -more-
By Alan Jones, The Irish Examiner. Julian Assange’s partner has visited him in prison for the first time in almost six months, and said he looked much thinner than last time she saw him. Stella Moris took the couple’s two young children to meet their father, who is being held in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London, awaiting an extradition hearing on behalf of the United States government. Ms Moris and the WikiLeaks founder had to wear face masks and visors for the 20-minute meeting and were not allowed to touch each other. “We had to keep social distancing and Julian was told he would have to self-isolate for two weeks if he... -more-
Wikileaks helped end secret U.S. killings, Assange extradition hearing is told
REVELATIONS published by Wikileaks helped to end a secret U.S. assassination programme and freed unlawfully detained prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, the Julian Assange extradition hearing was told today.
Giving evidence during the second day of the Wikileaks founder’s hearing at the Old Bailey, human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith also said that the site’s content had helped to stop drone strikes in Pakistan and provided evidence currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court.
The lawyer, who has represented numerous Guantanamo Bay prisoners, said that the leaked documents had enabled him to win legal actions on behalf of “a number of innocent people in detention” at the U.S.-run detention camp.
He said the leaks had opened his eyes to “torture, rendition and murder” carried out by the U.S. government.
Mr Stafford Smith went on to argue that the scale of new information released by Wikileaks was partly as a result of U.S. authorities’ “obsession with classifying information.”
“When I first went to see a British man in Guantanamo he gave me 30 pages on the torture that he had suffered,” the lawyer said.
“All of this material was immediately classified on the basis that revealing torture was a threat to national security.”
At one point during Mr Stafford Smith’s testimony, Mr Assange tried to intervene from the dock.
The judge warned Mr Assange that this was not permitted and allowed a short adjournment for him to brief his lawyers.
Another expert witness, University of Maryland journalism professor Mark Feldstein, told the court that soliciting leaks was part of a journalist’s “standard operating procedure” and that he had taught related techniques as an academic.
The hearing is being held in line with COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Before the proceedings commenced, 40 civic society groups were promised remote access to the court’s proceedings via a video link.
But presiding judge Venessa Baraitser revoked that permission on Monday, citing fears that the “integrity of the court” could be compromised if the feed was streamed elsewhere.
Reporters Without Borders campaigns director Rebecca Vincent said: “We have never faced such extensive barriers in attempting to monitor any other case in any other country as we have with the proceedings in the UK in respect of Julian Assange.
“This is extremely worrying in a case of such tremendous public interest.”
Breaking News - Julian Assange Show Trial Resumes: Why the U.S. Government Wants Him Silenced 9-7-20
by Lisa Newcomb, staff
writer. Common Dreams (9-7-20)
The WikiLeaks founder, who exposed U.S. war crimes, faces up to 175 years in prison if the U.K. agrees to extradite Assange.
By Consortium News. Popular Resistance.org (9-9-20). The dramatic first day of the resumption of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has ended, with technical problems cutting short the testimony of the first defense witness, Broadcast Journalism Professor Mark Feldstein. Feldstein’s written testimony has been released to the public. On the virtual “stand”–online because of the pandemic–Feldstein was questioned by the defense. He testified that it was a daily occurrence for the press to publish classified information; that he did not expect publishers to be prosecuted for this because the First Amendment protects publishers, allowing them to expose the... -more-
3 Messages via Popular Resistance.org (9-10-20I)
Wikileaks. Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of
Peace Studies at Bradford University, took the stand by video link to testify
about Julian Assange’s political views and how they factor into the Trump
administration’s prosecution of Assange for publishing. Rogers reviewed
Assange’s speeches, including an anti-war speech in 2011 in London and a speech
to the UN following the release of Iraq and Afghan war logs, as well as Mairead
Maguire’s nomination of Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. LINKs.
Rogers concluded that Assange’s views don’t fall into traditional liberal or
conservative belief systems but are rather more... -more-
By John Pilger,
Mintpress News. When I first
met Julian Assange more than ten years ago, I asked him why he had started
WikiLeaks. He replied: “Transparency and accountability are moral issues that
must be the essence of public life and journalism.” I had never heard a
publisher or an editor invoke morality in this way. Assange believes that
journalists are the agents of people, not power: that we, the people, have a
right to know about the darkest secrets of those who claim to act in our name.
If the powerful lie to us, we have the right to know. -more-
By Vijay Prashad, News Clickin. Musician Roger Waters told NewsClick that , "In 2010 Julian Assange along with Chelsea Manning played a pivotal role in releasing classified documents on US military activity in Iraq and Iran. I displayed the video for three years. If Julian is guilty so am. I am ready to give my arrest and may be in the coming time they can arrest me too. '' -more-
Assange Would Not Have Fair US Trial, Witness Tells Old Bailey. Popular Resistance.org (9-17-20)
Scripps, WSWS. Julian Assange’s
extradition hearing resumed yesterday morning after a coronavirus test for a
member of the prosecution’s legal team came back negative. Mark Summers QC, one
of Assange’s lawyers, asked District Judge Vanessa Baraitser to give a
direction mandating the use of masks for the remainder of the hearing. She
responded that government guidance on wearing masks in public places in the Old
Bailey “does not include the well of the court,” before saying, “those that
wish to wear masks in the well of the court are welcome to do so” but “there is
no obligation to do so, and I make no direction.” -more-[This epitome
doesn’t relate to the title. –Dick]
Day Nine: Julian Assange Extradition Hearing. Popular Resistance.org (9-17-20)
By Craig Murray. Things became not merely dramatic in the Assange courtroom today, but spiteful and nasty. There were two real issues, the evidence and the procedure. On the evidence, there were stark details of the dreadful regime Assange will face in US jails if extradited. On the procedure, we saw behaviour from the prosecution QC that went well beyond normal cross examination and was a real attempt to denigrate and even humiliate the witness. I hope to prove that to you by a straightforward exposition of what happened today in court, after which I shall add further comment. -more-
I thought you may be interested in this article on the crucially important case of press freedom case that is Assange’s ongoing extradition hearings. Ellsberg has testified. Please forward this to your friends that may be interested in press freedom.
Kevin Gosztola. Good Ellsberg, Bad Assange: At Extradition Trial, Pentagon Papers Whistleblower Dismantles False Narrative. 9-16-20
Ellsberg also said "Julian Assange could not get a remotely fair trial" in the United States.
"Opponents of WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange often hold up Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg as
an example of someone who was responsible for a good leak. They insist
WikiLeaks is not like the Pentagon Papers because supposedly Assange was
reckless with sensitive documents.
On the seventh day of an extradition trial against Assange, Ellsberg dismantled this false narrative and outlined for a British magistrate court why Assange would not receive a fair trial in the United States.
Assange is accused of 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime that, as alleged in the indictment, is written like an Espionage Act offense.
The charges criminalize the act of merely receiving classified information, as well as the publication of state secrets from the United States government. It targets common practices in news gathering, which is why the case is widely opposed by press freedom organizations throughout the world....continued here:
As Major Outlets Ignore Assange
Extradition Hearing, Ai Weiwei Demands Freedom for WikiLeaks Founder.
by Lisa Newcomb, staff writer. Common Dreams (9-29-20).
"He truly represents a core value of why we are free—because we have freedom of the press," Weiwei said.
By Srećko Horvat, Open Democracy. Popular Resistance.org (10-6-20).
November 13, 1966 – at the height of the resistance war in Vietnam – Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre convened a people's tribunal to hold the US government accountable for its escalating war crimes. “The tribunal has no clear historical precedent”, Russell said. It represented no state power; it had no capacity to sentence the accused. “I believe that these apparent limitations are, in fact, virtues. We are free to conduct a solemn and historic investigation”, said Russell, “presented to the conscience of mankind.” -more-
TABLE OF CONTENTS WIKILEAKS, ASSANGE #13, 2-20-20
Miriam Schneir, 1917 Espionage Act vs. Truth
Bipartisan Attacks: Democratic Party Conspiracy
Psychological Torture of Assange
Oscar Grenfell. Conference at European Parliament Defends Julian Assange.
Google Searches 2019 and 2020
OMNI Wikileaks/Assange Newsletter #12
END WIKILEAKS, ASSANGE NEWSLETTER #14