It appears increasingly likely Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange will wind up in the clutches of the U.S. government.
It’s hardly surprising, given that in ten years’ time, Wikileaks published more classified information than all other media combined. It exposed human rights abuses, government spying, torture, and war crimes on an unprecedented scale.
WikiLeaks put government, corporations and even the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA and other intel agencies on notice that they could no longer count on operating in secret.
It created a trove of primary source material that serious journalists and researchers will mine for years to come. Its publications are accessible to readers who prefer primary sources to mostly mediated news.
Wikileaks so infuriates the USA’s most violent, corrupt, and criminal institutions that Hillary Clinton half-jokingly suggested drone-bombing Assange. Other U.S. politicians called for his execution by other means.
California’s 28th District Congressman Adam Schiff, who became the chair of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats reclaimed the House, said he would speak to Assange “when he is in U.S. custody, not before.”
Schiff is a vociferous and supremely self-righteous leader of the Democratic Party’s “Resistance,” which sullies the name of the underground movement formed in France during World War II to fight Nazi Germany’s occupying forces and the collaborationist Vichy government.
The “Resistance” tolerates only one truth and one loyalty: Russia is the enemy, interfering in Syria, the Ukraine and even U.S. elections. Russia elected Trump with Wikileaks’ help, it says. Russia dares to position missiles on its own borders, it says, to respond to NATO’s missiles on the other side. The U.S. must build more missiles, more drones, more nuclear weapons, and every other sort of weapon to defend the European world against Russia and its ally China.
Moral and Racial Superiority
Moral and racial superiority entitles the U.S. to occupy the world with military bases, ringing any nation that challenges its hegemony with military aircraft, battleships, assault vehicles, and military surveillance. Moral and racial superiority entitles its spy state agencies to shut down access to information deviating from its narratives and therefore to arrest and extradite Julian Assange.
The Republican Party shares the same supremely intolerant nature as the Democrats, but differentiates itself by insisting that, although Russia is the enemy, Donald Trump did not collude with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.
The Republicans also want to silence the founder of Wikileaks and find a way to shut the organization down. Trump’s former CIA director, and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has called Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” and vowed to hunt Assange down.
Has Time Run Out?
Assange has been an asylee in Ecuador’s London Embassy for more than six years—since August 2012. Ecuador and the UK, however, are no closer to an agreement that would allow him safe passage out of the embassy. In a recent video conference, #Unity4J organizer Suzie Dawson said she fears Assange and those working to free him are running out of time:
“Right now time is not on our side. And I had someone today complaining because they want us to do a big, big action day march. When you do those types of actions it takes two or three months to organize. You need to have an organizing committee, you need to wallpaper the town, you need to have one date that you do it on, you need to do a ton of advertising. You need to get all the unions and various other organizations to sign on board, and then you have this one action day.
“Well, there’s a couple of problems with that. First of all, I don’t think we have three months right now. If we schedule a February giant march in support of Julian, I honestly don’t think we have until February. I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the actions we take in the short term, in the next days and weeks, will buy us that much time for Julian, but I don’t see it.”
CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who spent two years in prison for exposing the agency’s official use of torture, said if Assange walks out of the embassy without a guarantee of safe passage, he will be extradited to the U.S. in chains:
“We all know why the British have that embassy ringed. It’s to snatch him and to turn him over to the United States. If that happens, the CIA and the FBI are both going to be on that plane and they’re both going to be at least attempting to interrogate him all the way back home. They will bring him back to the United States in chains because that’s what they do.“
Dawson feels the FBI and CIA will interrogate and torture Assange to try to obtain information that would allow them to bring Wikileaks down. She has no doubt he’s been preparing for this eventuality for years. She believes he will have made sure the organization has adopted security codes and measures he himself doesn’t know and therefore can’t reveal—even if he’s tortured.
“They want to know about security files for example. They want to know about the inner processes and workings of Wikileaks. They want access to the knowledge that’s inside Julian’s brain. And they will torture him. And they will interrogate him in order to attempt to get that.
“Now I trust Julian to be smart enough to have made sure that even he doesn’t possess a lot of that knowledge. In my personal opinion, Julian has spent years planning for these various eventualities, but it won’t stop them from trying.”
Dawson aded intelligence agencies are eager to punish him: “At the end of the day they want to punish him for outing their corruption and their crimes. They’ve been waiting eight years to do it, and they will be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of the UK detaining him and extraditing him to the USA.”
Crucifying Julian Assange
by Chris Hedges | NOV 12, 2018 OPINION
Julian Assange’s sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been transformed into a little shop of horrors. He has been largely cut off from communicating with the outside world for the last seven months. His Ecuadorian citizenship, granted to him as an asylum seeker, is in the process of being revoked. His health is failing. He is being denied medical care. His efforts for legal redress have been crippled by the gag rules, including Ecuadorian orders that he cannot make public his conditions inside the embassy in fighting revocation of his Ecuadorian citizenship.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to intercede on behalf of Assange, an Australian citizen, even though the new government in Ecuador, led by Lenín Moreno—who calls Assange an “inherited problem” and an impediment to better relations with Washington—is making the WikiLeaks founder’s life in the embassy unbearable. Almost daily, the embassy is imposing harsher conditions for Assange, including making him pay his medical bills, imposing arcane rules about how he must care for his cat and demanding that he perform a variety of demeaning housekeeping chores.
The Ecuadorians, reluctant to expel Assange after granting him political asylum and granting him citizenship, intend to make his existence so unpleasant he will agree to leave the embassy to be arrested by the British and extradited to the United States. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, whose government granted the publisher political asylum, describes Assange’s current living conditions as “torture.”
His mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent video appeal, “Despite Julian being a multi-award-winning journalist, much loved and respected for courageously exposing serious, high-level crimes and corruption in the public interest, he is right now alone, sick, in pain—silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact and being tortured in the heart of London. The modern-day cage of political prisoners is no longer the Tower of London. It’s the Ecuadorian Embassy.”
“Here are the facts,” she went on. “Julian has been detained nearly eight years without charge. That’s right. Without charge. For the past six years, the U.K. government has refused his request for access to basic health needs, fresh air, exercise, sunshine for vitamin D and access to proper dental and medical care. As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. His examining doctors warned his detention conditions are life-threatening. A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes in the embassy in London.”
“In 2016, after an in-depth investigation, the United Nations ruled that Julian’s legal and human rights have been violated on multiple occasions,” she said. “He’d been illegally detained since 2010. And they ordered his immediate release, safe passage and compensation. The U.K. government refused to abide by the U.N.’s decision. The U.S. government has made Julian’s arrest a priority. They want to get around a U.S. journalist’s protection under the First Amendment by charging him with espionage. They will stop at nothing to do it.”
“As a result of the U.S. bearing down on Ecuador, his asylum is now under immediate threat,” she said. “The U.S. pressure on Ecuador’s new president resulted in Julian being placed in a strict and severe solitary confinement for the last seven months, deprived of any contact with his family and friends. Only his lawyers could see him.
Two weeks ago, things became substantially worse. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who rightfully gave Julian political asylum from U.S. threats against his life and liberty, publicly warned when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S.
He stated that because of the political costs of expelling Julian from their embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally. A new, impossible, inhumane protocol was implemented at the embassy to torture him to such a point that he would break and be forced to leave.”
Assange was once feted and courted by some of the largest media organizations in the world, including The New York Times and The Guardian, for the information he possessed. But once his trove of material documenting U.S. war crimes, much of it provided by Chelsea Manning, was published by these media outlets he was pushed aside and demonized. A leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch dated March 8, 2008, exposed a black propaganda campaign to discredit WikiLeaks and Assange. The document said the smear campaign should seek to destroy the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and blacken Assange’s reputation. It largely has worked.
Assange is especially vilified for publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The Democrats and former FBI Director James Comey say the emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, by Russian government hackers. Comey has said the messages were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary. Assange has said the emails were not provided by “state actors.”
The Democratic Party—seeking to blame its election defeat on Russian “interference” rather than the grotesque income inequality, the betrayal of the working class, the loss of civil liberties, the deindustrialization and the corporate coup d’état that the party helped orchestrate—attacks Assange as a traitor, although he is not a U.S. citizen.
Nor is he a spy. He is not bound by any law I am aware of to keep U.S. government secrets. He has not committed a crime. Now, stories in newspapers that once published material from WikiLeaks focus on his allegedly slovenly behavior—not evident during my visits with him—and how he is, in the words of The Guardian, “an unwelcome guest” in the embassy. The vital issue of the rights of a publisher and a free press is ignored in favor of snarky character assassination.
Assange was granted asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense allegations that were eventually dropped. Assange feared that once he was in Swedish custody he would be extradited to the United States. The British government has said that, although he is no longer wanted for questioning in Sweden, Assange will be arrested and jailed for breaching his bail conditions if he leaves the embassy.
WikiLeaks and Assange have done more to expose the dark machinations and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. Assange, in addition to exposing atrocities and crimes committed by the United States military in our endless wars and revealing the inner workings of the Clinton campaign, made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency, their surveillance programs and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. He disclosed the conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. And WikiLeaks worked swiftly to save Edward Snowden, who exposed the wholesale surveillance of the American public by the government, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed, ominously, that Assange was on a U.S. “manhunt target list.”
What is happening to Assange should terrify the press. And yet his plight is met with indifference and sneering contempt. Once he is pushed out of the embassy, he will be put on trial in the United States for what he published. This will set a new and dangerous legal precedent that the Trump administration and future administrations will employ against other publishers, including those who are part of the mob trying to lynch Assange. The silence about the treatment of Assange is not only a betrayal of him but a betrayal of the freedom of the press itself. We will pay dearly for this complicity.
Even if the Russians provided the Podesta emails to Assange, he should have published them. I would have. They exposed practices of the Clinton political machine that she and the Democratic leadership sought to hide. In the two decades I worked overseas as a foreign correspondent I was routinely leaked stolen documents by organizations and governments. My only concern was whether the documents were forged or genuine. If they were genuine, I published them. Those who leaked material to me included the rebels of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN); the Salvadoran army, which once gave me blood-smeared FMLN documents found after an ambush; the Sandinista government of Nicaragua; the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Central Intelligence Agency; the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebel group; the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); the French intelligence service, Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, or DGSE; and the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosovic, who was later tried as a war criminal.
We learned from the emails published by WikiLeaks that the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton paid her donors back by approving $80 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, enabling the kingdom to carry out a devastating war in Yemen that has triggered a humanitarian crisis, including widespread food shortages and a cholera epidemic, and left close to 60,000 dead. We learned Clinton was paid $675,000 for speaking at Goldman Sachs, a sum so massive it can only be described as a bribe. We learned Clinton told the financial elites in her lucrative talks that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best-positioned to manage the economy, a statement that directly contradicted her campaign promises. We learned the Clinton campaign worked to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Donald Trump was the Republican nominee. We learned Clinton obtained advance information on primary-debate questions. We learned, because 1,700 of the 33,000 emails came from Hillary Clinton, she was the primary architect of the war in Libya. We learned she believed that the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. The war she sought has left Libya in chaos, seen the rise to power of radical jihadists in what is now a failed state, triggered a massive exodus of migrants to Europe, seen Libyan weapon stockpiles seized by rogue militias and Islamic radicals throughout the region, and resulted in 40,000 dead. Should this information have remained hidden from the American public? You can argue yes, but you can’t then call yourself a journalist.
“They are setting my son up to give them an excuse to hand him over to the U.S., where he would face a show trial,” Christine Assange warned. “Over the past eight years, he has had no proper legal process. It has been unfair at every single turn with much perversion of justice. There is no reason to consider that this would change in the future. The U.S. WikiLeaks grand jury, producing the extradition warrant, was held in secret by four prosecutors but no defense and no judge. The U.K.-U.S. extradition treaty allows for the U.K. to extradite Julian to the U.S. without a proper basic case. Once in the U.S., the National Defense Authorization Act allows for indefinite detention without trial. Julian could very well be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum-security prison, or face the death penalty. My son is in critical danger because of a brutal, political persecution by the bullies in power whose crimes and corruption he had courageously exposed when he was editor in chief of WikiLeaks.”
Assange is on his own. Each day is more difficult for him. This is by design. It is up to us to protest. We are his last hope, and the last hope, I fear, for a free press.
“We need to make our protest against this brutality deafening,” his mother said. “I call on all you journalists to stand up now because he’s your colleague and you are next. I call on all you politicians who say you entered politics to serve the people to stand up now. I call on all you activists who support human rights, refugees, the environment, and are against war, to stand up now because WikiLeaks has served the causes that you spoke for and Julian is now suffering for it alongside of you. I call on all citizens who value freedom, democracy and a fair legal process to put aside your political differences and unite, stand up now. Most of us don’t have the courage of our whistleblowers or journalists like Julian Assange who publish them, so that we may be informed and warned about the abuses of power.”
Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
RT Correspondent Caleb Maupin explains why Wikileaks is preparing to sue The Guardian after the newspaper published claims that Julian Assange secretly met with Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort in London’s Ecuadorean Embassy in the years 2013, 2015, and 2016.
Former UK MP George Galloway, and Investigative Journalist Gareth Porter, join host Anya Parampil to discuss the paper, specifically reporter Luke Harding’s, questionable record when it comes to reporting on Wikileaks, as well the UK and Ecuador’s conspiracy to “deliver Assange to US authorities” according to reporting by Gareth.
Assange-Manafort fabricated story is a plot to
extradite WikiLeaks founder – Max Blumenthal
Published time: 28 Nov, 2018 15:05
The apparently fabricated report by The Guardian linking Russiagate and Manafort to WikiLeaks is laying the case to arrest and extradite Julian Assange to the US, investigative journalist Max Blumenthal told RT.
WikiLeaks is ready to sue Britain's Guardian newspaper for a "fabricated Manafort story" that accused Julian Assange of secretly meeting Donald Trump's former election campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Manafort agreed to take part in the Mueller probe over Russia's alleged meddling into the 2016 US election but he denies co-operating with Russia or ever meeting Assange.
The author of the report, Luke Harding, based his claim on "sources" and a document "written by Ecuador's Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian," which the newspaper didn't publish.
Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal asks why they didn't provide actual "evidence from the visitor logs of the Ecuadorian Embassy which are closely watched."
"Why not show CCTV? London is the most heavily surveilled places on Earth. Why not show that? Why rely on a single Ecuadorian source who appears to be an Ecuadorian intelligence source with the MI6 on the other hand of the line and the US on the other?" he said in a comment to RT.
He believes that it is a fabrication of a story to lay the case for the arrest and extradition of Julian Assange "by tying him to a figure who is hatching out a plea deal with Robert Mueller, by tying him to the Russiagate scandal in the US."
Blumenthal noted that this story was being met with more skepticism than usual – "even in official circles in Washington" – and that "it might have failed."
However, he added, "once the allegation is made, the damage is done."
"Many people might have read this story and seen some commentary about it and news on CNN and judge that Assange did meet with Paul Manafort," he pointed out.
"It is a sad commentary on what The Guardian has become – basically a bulletin board for fabricated national security state propaganda," Blumenthal said.
According to the journalist, this story brings together the Russiagate scandal in Washington with the plot to extradite Assange.
"We know that there is an indictment of Julian Assange, it may be made public tomorrow," he said. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Ecuadorian foreign minister earlier in the week, which might be a sign that it could be made public, Blumenthal explained.
Recalling that Paul Manafort is working out a plea deal with Robert Mueller, Blumenthal argued that the report may have been "an attempt to put the squeeze on Manafort because he is not providing enough information."
"This apparently fabricated story was planted through Luke Harding... in order to lay the case for the arrest and extradition of Julian Assange," he said.
If arrested and extradited, Blumenthal explains, Assange would be the first journalist who published classified information in the US to be tried under the Espionage Act. That, he noted, would basically deprive the WikiLeaks founder of "any real legal defense or an ability to mount a defense and would see him put on trial in a district court in Northern Virginia where the conviction rate on national security prosecutions is close to 100 percent."
Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
Manafort's passport backs his denial of a meeting.
Didn't take long for the Guardian's propaganda Manafort Met Assange story to implode.
The dirty, stinking intelligence-operative-ridden rag.
Manafort Passports' Stamps Don't Match Accusations
By Rowan Scarborough - The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2018
Paul Manafort’s three passports show two visits to England in 2010 and 2012, aiding his denial of a Guardian newspaper story that claimed he met secretly with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2013, 2015 and 2016 in London.
A review of Manafort’s passports since 2008 shows he entered Heathrow Airport on two occasions. There are no other stamps for arriving in Great Britain.
It is conceivable that Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, could have entered from a European country and not received a stamp. But a Manafort representative told The Washington Times that Manafort has only made those two visits to England since 2008. The source said a libel suit against The Guardian is under discussion.
Two of his passports were entered as evidence at his tax evasion trial. The Times acquired a copy of his third passport on Thursday.
The liberal Guardian newspaper on Tuesday claimed that Manafort in 2013, 2015 and the spring of 2016 met with Mr. Assange, WikiLeaks chief, in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The story sited “sources.”
WikiLeaks immediately denounced The Guardian story as a hoax and said it planned to raise money to file a libel suit. Manafort, who was convicted of multiple charges including tax evasion and is in jail, also emphatically denied the story.
Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
Julian Assange has been arrested
at the Ecuadorian embassy in London,
where the WikiLeaks founder was
granted refuge in 2012.
Equador withdrew diplomatic cover and
invited the police into the embassy:
Following Following @wikileaks
Julian Assange did not "walk out of the embassy". The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.
5:40 AM - 11 Apr 2019
Spanish Police Probe Extortion Scheme
Involving Surveillance on Assange
April 10, 2019 •
UPDATED: Suspects are being investigated in Spain for having tried to extort €3 million from WikiLeaks in exchange for a huge cache of documents and surveillance videos of Assange inside Ecuador’s London embassy, including with his doctors and lawyers.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
A Spanish judge is investigating an alleged extortion scheme in which suspects in Madrid offered video and audio surveillance to the editor of WikiLeaks in exchange for €3 million, WikiLeaks said on Wednesday.
The surveillance was taken over the past year inside the Ecuador embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has legally been granted political asylum since 2012, said Kristinn Hrafnsson, the WikiLeaks editor, at a press conference in the British capital. Included in the “trove” of material was a copy of a legal document regarding Assange’s defense strategy that was briefly left behind in a conference room in the embassy, Hrafnsson said.
“It is a grave and serious concern when legal meetings are being spied upon and legal documents are stolen,” he said. “That is something that not even prisoners have to endure.”
Assange was also filmed being examined by his doctor in the embassy, Hrafnsson said. “Nobody expected that this was recorded and stored and found its way to some dubious individuals in Spain,” he said.
Material that originated from Ecuadorian
embassy was reportedly offered for sale
WikiLeaks has said it has uncovered a surveillance operation against Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy and that images, documents and videos gathered have been offered for sale.
Spanish police were said to have mounted a sting operation against unnamed individuals in Madrid who offered the material for sale in what lawyers and colleagues of Assange said on Wednesday was an attempt at extortion.
Some of the material came from video cameras with a capacity to record audio and which had been installed last year, a press conference organised by WikiLeaks was told.
WikiLeaks said material including video, audio, copies of private legal documents and a medical report had turned up in Spain, where a group was said to have threatened to start publishing unless they were paid €3m (£2.6m).
The Guardian reported last year that Ecuador had bankrolled a multimillion-dollar surveillance operation to protect and support Assange at the embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, said he had met four individuals, one of whom he was told was a ringleader and who had prior convictions. There was a possibility that at least one was not a Spanish national, he added. The matter is now in the hands of an investigating Spanish magistrate, according to the whistleblowing website.
Hrafnsson said the surveillance at the embassy – which had led to Assange living a “Truman Show existence” – was part of an escalation designed to result in Assange being extradited to the US.
“If you connect the dots it’s easy to draw that picture,” said Hrafnsson, who was appearing with the barrister Jennifer Robinson and Fidel Narváez, a former consul of Ecuador in London....
Initial warrant was for non-appearance in 2012.
Assange has now been further arrested on a
US warrant for extradition.
Raw footage audio: "UK Must resist," says Julian Assange.
Julian Assange will be taken to Westminster Magistrates court this
afternoon. He has been arrested under a US extradition warrant for
conspiracy with Chelsea Manning @xychelsea for publishing classified
information revealing war crimes in 2010.
Kim Dotcom Retweeted
@Suzi3D 1 hour ago
CONFIRMED: @KimDotcom, @unjoe, myself and others will be holding
an emergency #FreeJulian livestream event at 12pm Eastern, 9am Pacific,
2am Sydney to brainstorm urgent action plans in support of Julian Assange
and @wikileaks. Stay tuned for further details here --> @Unity4J
Assange is fucked even Republicans are lining up to hang him. If it was the other way around democrats would be making a hero out of him. I can only guess people in the republicans party fear they might be next.
The United States government is seeking to extradite and prosecute Julian Assange for one reason: to punish him for publishing true and embarrassing information about US crimes and intimidate every journalist in the world from doing so again.
If the US government succeeds in doing this, it will strike a devastating blow to the fundamental elements of democracy throughout the world—the freedom of the press and the related ability of citizens to know what their governments is doing.
I say “throughout the world” because It’s important to understand that the US government in this case is asserting its prosecutorial authority over someone who is not an American and whose journalistic activity took place outside the United States. The United States is demonstrating its ability to get a foreign government to arrest and extradite journalists who are neither Americans nor citizens of its own country and send them off to the United States to face charges under American law. It’s not only a brazen attempt to quash press freedoms; it’s a further extension of the United States’ arrogant assertion of extra-territorial—indeed, universal—jurisdiction of its laws.
As Jonathan Cook says, those who accept this have “signed off on the right of the US authorities to seize any foreign journalist, anywhere in the world, and lock him or her out of sight. They opened the door to a new, special form of rendition for journalists.”
Whether anybody says it out loud or thinks it explicitly, and no matter how slight it might be right now, the sight of Julian Assange being dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in handcuffs is already working in the minds of journalists throughout the world, engendering some pause or consideration about what’s worth the risk to report on. It cannot not be so. The consummation of his extradition and prosecution, the sight of him disappearing into the American prison system, will radically change that calculus of risk for every journalist in the world. The minute after sentence is pronounced, every journalist and citizen will open their eyes in a world where a lot of important things they could expect to reveal and see a minute ago will now stay hidden. And they will know it. At that moment, all the bullshit irrelevancies and avoidance mechanisms will instantly dissipate, and it will be clear to everyone what the only issue always was. Too late.
It’s incumbent on everyone who claims to value free speech and freedom of the press to do everything in their power to prevent the United States government from getting away with this. That requires focusing one’s own discourse and one’s interlocutors’ and audience’s attention on the core issue.
Unfortunately, for seven years, pundits throughout the political spectrum have been assiduously avoiding exactly that, and have instead been blowing smoke, insisting on diverting attention from the core issue of the USG’s attack on journalism via its attempt to imprison Assange. They have denied it was really happening and characterized it as an artifact of Assange’s paranoia, and/or they insisted that something else was the real issue, the thing we should really be focussed on and concerned about.
One would think that the actual fact of an indictment and extradition demand from the United States would put an end to that diversionary discourse, but unfortunately that smoke is still blowing, from all the same lips.
And most of that smoke is wafting out of the garbage fire fueled by one accelerant: “Assange is an asshole.”
At this point, there are two types of discourse about Julian Assange.
There’s A: “Assange may be an asshole, but that’s irrelevant. The USG is not going to drag him here, prosecute him, and put him in prison for a very long time for being an asshole. The USG is doing that to punish him for revealing embarrassing truths about its crimes, and to intimidate every other journalist who might think about doing that again. That’s the only relevant issue here, and we are obliged to focus our energies on it and on preventing that from happening.”
Then there’s B (a position roundly skewered by C. J. Hopkins): “Assange is a real asshole. He’s a dirty, smelly-cat, skateboarding, shit-smearing rapist and Russian agent. Yeah, it may not be such a good idea for the USG to be prosecuting him, though it’s such a minor charge and it’s about hacking and not publishing secrets and not all that dangerous. And did I tell you what an asshole he is?! In the context of what’s going on, I really want to make sure to detail for you day after day what an asshole he is. That’s the important thing that you should know. He’s such an asshole. And don’t forget Russian agent! Have I mentioned that he’s an asshole?”
These are two different discourses, which have, and are meant to have, opposite political effects. It’s clear that people spreading each of these discourses spend their energy on, care about, and are doing different things, and really want their audience to care about and do different things. One group of people is defending Assange and encouraging its audience to defend him from USG prosecution; the other, while ostensibly distancing itself from the USG position, is in fact acting as the USG’s amicus curiae, helping to prosecute Assange on “other” charges, and encouraging its audience not to be concerned about what happens to him. Let’s not be fooled about this. Assange may be an asshole, but the people spreading the latter discourse are definitely scumbags.
The lies and diversions will not stop. But I do want to deconstruct two of the favorite deceptive and irrelevant cinders that becloud the eyes of those hesitant to see themselves as accomplices of the USG’s and the Trump administration’s war on a free press.
The first is the denial that the charge the USG has brought against Assange poses any threat to press freedom. The New York Times (NYT) practically celebrates it: “The administration has begun well by charging Mr. Assange with an indisputable crime”—that is, “not with publishing classified government information, but with stealing it, skirting — for now — critical First Amendment questions.”
Hey, if the NYT, publisher of the Pentagon Papers, whose own lawyer warned that “the prosecution of [Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers,” says that the charge against Assange is “well begun” and not critical to “First Amendment questions”—well, that’s going to be good enough to calm the fears of most liberals.
Indeed, according to the Washington Post, [WaPo] not only is Julian Assange ”not a free-press hero,” and not only is his prosecution “not the defeat for civil liberties of which his defenders mistakenly warn,” but his case can be considered “a victory for the rule of law.” That’s because “the indictment does not charge Assange with violating the Espionage Act.” Besides, “he is long overdue for personal accountability.”
Thus, the other iconic liberal journal, recently idealized by iconic liberal Hollywood (Spielberg-Hanks-Steep!) for its iconic liberal courage in publishing iconic liberal hero Danial Ellsberg’s thousands of stolen (“an indisputable crime”) “Top Secret” national security documents, The Pentagon Papers, has issued its authoritative verdict. It has told its post-The Post, virtue-assured, iconic liberal audience that the prosecution of Julian Assange, who published Chelsea Manning’s stolen documents—not a single one of which was classified “Top Secret” and most of which, including the Collateral Murder video, were not classified at all—is, again, something to celebrate. No threat to civil liberties. Long overdue. Personal accountability and all. Well played, Mr. President.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ellsberg—the real one, not the one in the movie—expresses quite another opinion, in a voice that has earned its authority [with his emphasis]: “The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.” But what does Meryl think?
Two little things here.
One, contrary to the NYT assertion, Julian Assange did not commit the “indisputable crime” of “stealing” classified government information, and he is not charged with that. Chelsea Manning committed that crime, and was prosecuted and convicted for it. Chelsea Manning downloaded classified and unclassified government data without any help from Julian Assange. Manning did not get, and did not need, anyone’s help to get “unauthorized access” to and “steal” information.
Nobody “hacked” into anything. Chelsea Manning had authorized access, had her own password, and downloaded tons of data before Assange was even in the picture. In fact, Manning first tried to give the data to the NYT and WaPo—‘cause, you know, she, too, was still dreaming the iconic-liberal-hero-Pentagon-Papers dream. Only when they—out watching the movie, maybe—sent her to voicemail did she turn to Wikileaks, where the dream was not yet impossible.
So, contrary to the impression given by the iconic liberal papers of record, Julian Assange is not charged with “hacking” or helping Manning “hack” into a computer. He is not charged with doing anything that made it possible for Manning to get the information she gave to the American and the world public through Wikileaks.
The indictment charges Assange with trying (and failing) to help Manning decrypt (“crack”) another user’s password—not because Manning needed it to gain access, but because it might help conceal that it was she who was downloading data. Assange is accused of helping Manning cover her tracks. As Glenn Greenwald says, in his piece methodically making the point: “even if one accepts all of the indictment’s claims as true, Assange was not trying to hack into document files to which Manning had no access, but rather trying to help Manning avoid detection as a source.”
Of course, the government’s theory of the crime will be that Assange’s failed attempt to help Manning avoid detection in that way is an intrinsic and necessary part of Manning’s “theft” of data itself.
In the abstract, it’s not a ridiculous theory, because helping someone get away with it is undeniably abetting the commission of the crime. In the context of journalism, it is also a dangerous theory. Because every journalist who receives classified information is, undeniably, abetting that crime. (Just as every journalist of any worth is a “hostile, non-state intelligence agent.”)
If the iconic liberal press wants to cheer on the USG/Trump administration’s prosecution of that action, as part of a “conspiracy” to “knowingly access a computer without authorization,” it is cheering on an expansive definition of that charge to include, as Greenwald says, journalists’ “ethical obligation to take steps to protect their sources from retaliation, which sometimes includes granting them anonymity and employing technical measures to help ensure that their identity is not discovered.” It is cheering on the prosecution of any publisher in the future doing what the NYT and WaPo did with the Pentagon Papers.
It is also, we should all acknowledge, cheering on Donald Trump for undertaking precisely the criminalization of standard journalistic abetting of sources that, it is said, the Obama administration declined to pursue, on exactly the same evidence. If the NYT and WaPo are praising the Trump administration for it’s “well begun” and “long overdue” prosecution of Assange on this charge, they are implicitly, it should be pointed out explicitly, denouncing the Obama administration for its ill-advised failure to be as aggressively reactionary. That is how the iconic liberal media rolls.
Not to fear, I am sure the government will be successful in presenting its theory of this crime in the Eastern District of Virginia, known as the “Espionage Court.” Ask John Kiriakou about Assange’s chances there.
I am also sure that this will not be the only charge Julian Assange faces in that court. If you think that, after pursuing and demonizing him as a “terrorist” and “hostile non-state intelligence” agent (for Russia yet!) for 9 years, the US government is going to be satisfied with a maximum five-year (out-in-three) sentence for Julian Assange, I have a bridge to sell you.
The moment he sets foot on US soil, Julian Assange will be hit with other charges—charges, probably under the Espionage Act, that carry long prison sentences. I know that, anyone who is not a child knows that, and the editors of the NYT and WaPo know that. When the editors of the NYT write that the government is: “skirting — for now— critical First Amendment questions,” they are telling you they know that.
This is another round of that cowardly game where liberal pundits pretend to believe in the professed objectives of the government so they can claim to be abetting its actions in innocent good faith, and when it all turns to shit they can say: “We didn’t know that was gonna happen!” and be all liberal-outraged at the danger to the un-skirted First Amendment.
The mainstream media will cover is asses on that now by parading legal analysts who point out that the extradition treaty with the UK does not allow additional charges to be added after extradition.
First of all, I’m sure Theresa May and all sorts of UK pols and pundits will be really mad and stamp their feet if the US government somehow reneges on that. So Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo wouldn’t dare.
But here’s how I know, and know that the NYT and WaPo know, that the government will bring more charges against Assange: The lawyer who represented the NYT in the Pentagon Papers case, whom they all know very well, and who, we know, knows what he’s talking about, tells us so.
In his article entitled, “The Indictment of Assange is a Snare and a Delusion,” James Goodale, explains how the USG has written into the present indictment the legal justification for bringing new charges without violating the extradition treaty. The treaty—surprise, surprise—makes an exception for new charges “based on the same facts as the offense for which extradition was granted.” While the indictment does not charge Assange under the Espionage Act, it does lay out a set of facts that predicate a case for conspiracy under the Act, which it mentions explicitly—per Goodale, on Page 5 of the indictment, referring to Title 18 U.S. Code, Sections 793(c) and 793(e).
As Goodale says: “The indictment is…a snare and a delusion…Once [Assange] is here, he will be hit, no doubt, with multiple charges.”
No doubt. A done deal. And all on the legal up-and-up. Theresa won’t even have to stress her sensible shoes. Though I’m sure, along with the NYT and WaPo editorial boards, she’ll say something like “We didn’t foresee that. But it is within the law”
But there is not a chance, not a scintilla of a shred of a possibility, that the editors of the NYT and WaPo, and of the major television networks, do not know what James Goodale, and now you and I, know about the inevitability of the USG bringing more charges against Assange. They are deliberately deceiving you when they pretend that they don’t.
In fact, an ABC report suggests that other, “death penalty” charges were already made, or were at least “on the table” against Assange.
The Ecuadorian government has been working with the UK government for over a year, and with the US government for six months—through the two countries’ ambassadors in Germany—to craft a deal that would enable them to eject Assange without looking too villainous. And the single sticking point of that was the death penalty. U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell,“one of President Donald Trump’s closest envoys in Europe,” eventually got Rod Rosenstein to agree to take the death penalty “off the table,” and Grenell then made a verbal pledge to Ecuador.
The negotiation process and timing presented in this account indicate that death penalty charges was definitely on the table, and only taken off recently and reluctantly.
Furthermore, the telephone game of passing on an indirect, second-hand, “verbal pledge” through Trump’s pal, combined with the fact that the DOJ will “not confirm that the U.S. agreed to take any sentence off the table,” does not inspire confidence in the durability of this “pledge.” Lenin Moreno may be the one stamping his feet in disapproval, after depositing the $4 billion the US arranged for him to get from the IMF.
At any rate, everyone who is not a child knows that, if Julian Assange is extradited to the United States, different charges with stiffer penalties will be added, and he will spend at least twenty, and probably all the remaining, years of his life in prison. As John Kiriakou says, from experience: “No matter what happens, no matter what the charges, Julian cannot and will not get a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.”
Swedish Victims Unit
The other deliberately deceptive diversion, an especially alluring bait for liberals, is the infamous Swedish case. This is being resurrected in an oddly pernicious way in the UK, where the battle over what happens to Julian Assange and any possible independent media is being decided. There, a multi-party coterie of MPs and peers is leading a campaign, with an open letter to the present and shadow Home Secretaries, urging them to “do everything you can…to ensure” that Assange be extradited to Sweden, “in the event Sweden makes an extradition request.” This campaign has been a great success, and “extradition to Sweden” has become the main theme and demand of the British liberal commentariat regarding the Assange case.
It might strike one as a little odd that there should be a furious political campaign to pressure the British government to honor an extradition request that has not been made. The signatories of the letter express no concern—“we make no assessment”—about whether the UK should honor the extradition demand that has been made and is actually in process, that of the United States. But the signatories definitely assess, in its absence, that the non-existent Swedish extradition request is valid, and that, just in case it appears, the UK government must pledge in advance to “give every assistance to Sweden” in honoring it.
Why? Well, clearly the letter writers stand in a different relation, and assume their audience stands in a different relation, to the issues involved in the actual U.S. versus the hypothetical Swedish extradition request. Thus, they feel comfortable flatly expressing no interest at all in the inevitable and terrible consequences that would result from honoring the U.S. extradition, while insisting, regarding the presumptive issue of a Swedish extradition, that “We must send a strong message of the priority the UK has in tackling sexual violence and the seriousness with which such allegations are viewed.” On a 1-10 scale of what issues are worth assessing, Sweden’s imagined interrogation of Assange for sexual allegations gets a 10, the US’s actual drive to imprison Assange for revealing war crimes is set at a firm 0. It’s a discourse in which the concerns about US extradition disappear.
To be clear, about what’s being done behind the “sex crime allegation” smoke, they explicitly do not oppose extradition to the US, and do not urge anyone to do so. They are trying to replace “no extradition to the US” in the public discourse with “extradition to Sweden”—which ends up meaning extradition to the US anyway. The purpose of this rhetorical rigamarole is, by getting everyone to think or do nothing about it, to surreptitiously but effectively support extradition to the U.S, It permits politicians and the public to support it by allowing it, while thinking/telling themselves they are supporting something else.
Let’s not think and talk and do something about Julian Assange being extradited to and imprisoned in the United States, which is actually about to happen. That would require us to make a fight we really don’t want to wage against our government, based on our professed free-speech, free-press principles that we really don’t want to protect for a guy we’ve been trained come to loathe.
Let’s instead think and talk and do something about the imaginary alternative of Assange being extradited and questioned in Sweden. That will confirm our virtuous seriousness about sexual assault allegations and wash our hands us of the stains that would come—and we are implicitly admitting we know would come—from delivering him into the hands of the U.S. government/Trump administration’s prison system. Let Sweden do that! We make no assessment about it.
As Jonathan Cook demonstrates, the British Guardian-liberal commentariat is now firmly committed to promoting that diversionary discourse: “In other words, the public conversation in the U.K, …, is going to be about who has first dibs on Assange….So, the concern is not that Assange is facing rendition to the U.S. It is that the U.S. claim might ‘overshadow’ an outstanding legal case in Sweden.”
It’s the epitome of an avoidance mechanism; it substitutes in people’s minds a non-existent problematic, which they can be more comfortable thinking about and acting upon, for the actual problem and decision they face.
A principal target of this campaign by those in the UK is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn and his left Labourites. Corbyn, who may become Prime Minister and have the real power to stop Assange’s extradition, came out of the gate, on April 11th, with a very strong and clear statement:: “The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.”
This statement was reinforced by being embedded in a tweet that includes a clip of the Collateral Murder video, in which his shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbot reminds us that, in that incident, the US “killed 18 civilians and two Reuters journalists” and that “Julian Assange is not being pursued to protect US National Security. He is being pursued because he has exposed wrongdoing by US administrations and their military forces.”
For the many partners of US imperialism scattered across the spectrum of British politics, this kind of strong, simple, and direct refusal of the US’s extradition order—especially by a man and woman who may form a government—cannot be allowed to stand. On the other hand, it so powerfully echoes the disgust so many Britons feel about US imperialism that it makes it hard for the ostensibly leftist politicians and commentators to come out and say directly, “We must not oppose the US extradition.”
So, a “left” reason must be conjured up to steer Corbyn and Abbot away from their clear and explicit rejection of the US extradition request and into that murkier discourse where concerns about actual US extradition disappear, and “no extradition to the US” is replaced with “extradition to Sweden.” ‘Cause nobody wants to be soft on sex crimes.
And the pressure on Jeremy Corbyn has worked. He now says Julian Assange “must answer” sexual assault allegations if Sweden decides to re-open their investigation.
Corbyn may be playing a clever game, determined to avoid giving
the NWO media anything which could be used against him. The term
"must answer" is a very broad one. Corbyn did not say Assange must
be extradited to Sweden.)
This is Corbyn, on April 13, acceding to the demand of the letter that was sent on April 12thand reinforced by a tsunami of pressure from the British media, to change the subject: Yes, OK, the important thing to talk about is the hypothetical Swedish extradition over sex allegations, not the actual American extradition for exposing war crimes.
Repeating, again, the strange insistence that the hypothetical is more urgent than the actual, that everyone must take a position on what the UK must do if Sweden does something it hasn’t.
The point of this campaign, the reason the letter was put out the day after his tweet, was to get that statement from Jeremy Corbyn. The present volatility in British politics makes it quite possible that there will soon be a general election, and quite possible that Corbyn will win it—all before Assange’s extradition case plays out in British courts. It was very important to get Corby on record saying: “the British government must extradite Assange to Sweden.”
The British imperialist poodles are laying out the plan B in the case Corbyn becomes Prime Minister. It is very unlikely that Sweden will reopen their Assange investigation, but the message is being sent to Swedish poodles and the US big dog: If he does become PM, we’ve already arranged a way out. We’ve created a political frame which allows Corbyn to keep his word not to allow direct British extradition to the US, while forcing him to allow extradition to Sweden (from which Assange will immediately be passed on to the US). In that circumstance, Sweden, at the behest of the US and UK, will obediently play its assigned role, re-open the investigation and demand extradition. Corbyn has already complied. He has been played. In two days.
We might even see in this discourse the British liberal imperialists’ not-so-subtle plea to Sweden, whether or not Corbyn is elected: Please, reopen the damn investigation and demand that we extradite Assange to you! Knowing full well Sweden would onwardly extradite him to the US. It’s UK Guardian lefties, caught between the popular disgust with US imperialism and their own toadying commitment to it, sending a message to Sweden: Don’t make us be the bad guys here. You started this. You end it.
Of course, the real point here, which the advocates of this line are pretendingto miss and energetically trying to disappear from everyone’s line of sight, is that Sweden is no more interested in prosecuting Assange for his alleged sexual offense then the UK is for his bail jumping. The sex allegation from Sweden, like the bail jumping allegation in the UK, is just a doorway to his extradition to the United States.
It may make it easier for UK and US liberals to swallow the extradition of Assange if it’s slathered in “sex crime” rather than “bail jumping” dressing. But whatever pretext it’s done behind, that’s the endgame for the UK and Sweden. Either you accept that’s the case, as Assange and his legal team have been saying for years, or, in the face of the irrefutable fact of the American extradition request, you continue to deny it. Really, does anyone—does Jeremy Corbyn or a single one of the signatories of that British letter—think the USG/Trump administration would notdemand extradition from Sweden? Or that Sweden would not comply? What mental gymnastics does it take to make the inevitability of that disappear from your mind? “Let’s pretend!”
This is a desperate attempt by Assange-haters who want to maintain some leftist credibility to revive a specious smear that is irrefutably belied by the reality of the American indictment and extradition demand: that Assange sought Asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in order to “flee” sexual allegations, to “escape Swedish Justice.”
I will not attempt to judge the allegations that were made against Assange in Sweden. The specifics of those allegations, which have undergone a number of permutations, and the peculiarities of Swedish law, which can be misleading to Americans, make for a rat’s nest of sexual and political complications. The more you look into it, the more you are struck by how banal, confused, and sad the incidents in question are.
I share the opinion of Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape that “the pursuit of Assange is political” and “the allegations against him are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction.”You can find comprehensive accounts that will help you make up your mind here, here, here, here, here, here.
I’ll point out three crucial things to know in the present context, which are usually presented in deceptively fallacious ways.
First, of all, Assange is not, and never was. charged with a crime in Sweden. No decision to prosecute him was ever taken. The British letter itself recognizes this, speaking of the hope that “the formal investigation … can be concluded and, if appropriate, a charge can be made.” It was, in the prosecutor’s language, a “preliminary investigation.” Assange was wanted for questioning, and the Swedish government demanded his apprehension and extradition for that purpose, not to bring him to trial.
Second, Julian Assange was always available for questioning by Swedish prosecutors. He appeared voluntarily for questioning in Sweden, after which he was told he was free to leave the country. He and his lawyers always said he was available for questioning by Swedish prosecutors in London, via satellite (options that were standard practice), or in Sweden, if Sweden would assure him that he would not be extradited to the U.S. It was the British Crown Protection Service (CPS) that dissuaded the Swedes from coming to London to question Assange early on, in 2010 and 2011. And, when “Swedish authorities were eager to give up the case” and “drop extradition proceedings” in 2012-13, it was the British who pressured them to keep it going, with a CPS lawyer exclaiming: ““Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”
Third, the Swedish prosecutor did interview Assange about the last remaining allegation in 2016 in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, without any extradition, as she always could have. (The investigation into other allegations was dropped in 2015.) Assange submitted to the Swedish prosecutor’s insistence that the questioning take place without his lawyer present. After that questioning the investigation was dropped. No criminal charges were filed; no decision to prosecute him was ever made.
What’s quite clear in all this, although made to disappear from consideration and appear as its opposite, is that Julian Assange was never trying to “escape Swedish justice”; he was, as his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson says (in a Sky News interview with Sophy Ridge that I urge everyone to watch), “escaping American injustice.” As Robinson points out, if Assange had gone to the Ecuadorian embassy to flee the Swedish charges, he would have left the Ecuadorian embassy when they were dropped. But, of course, it wasn’t those charges he was trying to avoid. Assange’s one consistent concern in all this, his reason for seeking and being granted political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, was to avoid being extradited to the US, by Sweden or the UK. He had, and was right to have, a fear of that.
There is an obvious fault in the logic of people who continue to push the “Assange was fleeing sex crime allegations” line, which they somehow never see. They say Assange is responsible for not confronting sex crime allegations because he would not go to Sweden; they never say Swedish authorities are responsible for refusing to confront the sex crime allegations on their own terms because they wouldn’t give up on an irrelevant extradition to the US. The Swedes’ first priority was not questioning Assange; it was getting him to Sweden with the option of onward extradition to the US. Assange was saying, “Let’s get rid of an entirely irrelevant third-party that is preventing an investigation into the allegations on their own terms.” The Swedes were saying: “No, we insist on preserving the prerogatives and interests of that irrelevant third-party as a condition of our investigation into these sex crime allegations.” The Swedes weren’t taking that position for the sake of the women making the allegations. Who was centering and who was deprecating “the seriousness with which such allegations are viewed”?
Even under the worst interpretation for him, there is no conceivable logic here in which the Swedish prosecutors are not at least as responsible as Julian Assange for not doing what was necessary to deal with sexual assault allegations. Nobody who did not demand that the Swedes abjure American extradition can claim that their primary concern was the sexual allegations. If you say he’s bluffing, call it! Unless it’s you who doesn’t want to show your cards.
But in order to see that logic, you have to remain aware of the third party that’s in the game, and the pushers of that narrative construct it in such a way to make that third party disappear. Again, the purpose of this discourse is to hide the role of the U.S. in order to protect it.
These facts also show how hypocritical it is for the British to be now promoting this line of diversion. Never mind how utterly phony it is for the government that refused Spain’s extradition request for human-rights criminal Pinochet, despite its own highest court’s ruling, to be now proclaiming its sacred duty to obey the Swedish and American extradition demands. As we’ve seen, it was the British who prevented the Swedes from interviewing Assange early on in this whole affair. They, too, were more concerned about something else then they were about seriously investigating sex-crimes allegations. They, too, were more concerned about someone else than they were about the women making the accusations. Now, rather than accounting for what they did in that respect over the past seven years, British imperial poodles are hypocritically posing as defenders of sex-crime investigation in order to continue diverting attention from the real dealer at the table.
Sweden isn’t going to re-open the sex-crime investigation and take Julian Assange off their hands, and they know it. (Absent a post-Corbyn-victory Plan B above. And if the Swedes did, the investigation would be quickly concluded with no charges brought on the basis of the allegations, and whole case would disappear into the ether as Assange was quickly bundled on the plane to America.) The issue isn’t whether Julian Assange will be prosecuted for sex-crime allegations, for bail jumping, or for being an asshole. The only issue is whether he will be extradited to the US and sent to prison for decades for publishing true facts about US crimes around the world.
That fight is now taking place, and will be decided, in London. It is imperative that everyone in the UK and US keep constant pressure on that one point. It is imperative that everyone refuse to be drawn into a discourse that changes the subject and diverts attention on to some other issue. The only purpose of such a discourse is to protect the US extradition project by disappearing it behind something else.
There’s no avoiding it. We have to support Julian Assange. Period.
Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
During the first hearing in what’s expected to be a protracted legal battle over the US’s extradition request, Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange told a British judge that he wished to fight extradition, and the hearing was concluded with the next court date set for May 30.
Assange, whom the US has charged with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to break into a government computer, a charge that carries a maximum prison term of 5.5 years, appeared on screen wearing a sports jacket. He wasn’t handcuffed. And when asked if he would consent to surrender to the US, he replied that he did not wish to do so, according to CNN.
Assange, speaking from Belmarsh prison, was wearing a sports jacket and was not handcuffed.
Asked by Judge Michael Snow if he wished to consent to surrender himself for extradition, Assange said: “I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that’s won many, many awards and affected many people.”
His appearance came a day after another judge slapped him with a 50-week sentence for skipping bail back in 2012.
As we previewed last night, Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said Wednesday that the extradition process is where ‘the real battle begins’ for Assange.
Speaking to CNN after Assange’s bail violation sentencing on Wednesday, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said he was “shocked and appalled by this decision to sentence Julian to two weeks short of the maximum sentence for not showing up in court.”
He added that the US extradition claim is “where the real battle begins.”
Assange’s legal team has yet to publicize its defense strategy, but most expect them to argue that the request is politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Hrafnsson declared that it’s Wikileaks’ view that the charges cited by the US in the extradition request are merely a ruse, and that Assange will be charged with violating the 1970 Espionage Act once he’s safely on American soil – a charge that could carry the death penalty.
“Everything in this case seems to indicate that what is being established is a violation of the espionage act of 1970 which carries the death penalty,” Hrafnsson explained. “Although the extradition is based on a lower level of offenses, we think that is basically a snaring strategy to get him to the United States where additional charges will be added.”
Eighty people wearing yellow vests have arrived
at a London court to protest over Julian Assange
"We are protesting in France in order to have more democracy
and to have more transparency from the government.
And that’s what Julian Assange has been fighting for,"
a Yellow Vest protester, named Vincent, said.
"So for us it was obvious to come here and to support him to,
just tell him that he is not alone, that there are like hundred
thousands of people in France at least and I guess all [over]
the world, probably millions, that consider him as a hero for
doing what he has done, to sacrifice his own life and his own
freedom in order to put out in the public confidential
information that… yeah, release critical information
that is important for the public to know."
Speaking at the hearing on Thursday, Assange said that he would fight
extradition, adding that he was doing "journalism that has won many awards".
Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.