Tag Archives: Julian Assange

UN Ruling On Assange Exposes UK Lawlessness

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

For any student of modern propaganda techniques, the ruling announced last week in favor of WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) has provided fertile ground for research. Indeed, the level of media frenzy sparked by the ruling can be regarded as a barometer of the power and extent of establishment forces ranged against him and his organization.

UNWGAD found that the predicament of Assange amounts to ‘arbitrary detention’, a legal term that is clearly defined, deriving from Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that both the United Kingdom and Sweden are signatories to. Article 9 states that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’. Arbitrary arrest or detention ‘are the arrest or detention of an individual in a case in which there is no likelihood or evidence that they committed a crime against legal statute, or in which there has been no proper due process of law’. ‘Due process’ is defined as ‘the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person’.

Dr. Roslyn Fuller, a lecturer in International Law based in Ireland, has this to say about the ruling:

The Working Group stated they considered Assange’s case to fall under Category III, which covers cases where a trial does not comply with international human rights norms. The Working Group found that Sweden and the UK have pursued Assange in a disproportionate manner, given that the Swedish prosecutors could have questioned Assange at any point and he had declared himself willing to cooperate.

The two claims against Assange that were ‘dropped’ by the prosecutor last year were dropped because they were about to become time-barred. The prosecutor chose to allow this rather than to question Assange. One would think that if the prosecution had the interests of the alleged victims at heart, they may have chosen to pursue questioning in the UK – a common enough activity – rather than let the investigation lapse.

So while Assange may be holding out, so is Sweden, and nations have obligations to move the wheels of justice along as swiftly as practicable. The Working Group’s assessment is basically, “how hard can it be to conduct a preliminary investigation?” with the implication that if the prosecutor were serious, they would have gotten this wrapped up by now.

Furthermore, the Working Group found that “the grant itself and the fear of persecution on the part of Mr Assange based on the possibility of extradition, should have been given fuller consideration in the determination and the exercise of criminal administration, instead of being subjected to a sweeping judgment as defining either merely hypothetical or irrelevant”.

In other words, British and Swedish authorities should have considered that Assange’s fear of persecution might be founded and questioned him in the embassy, something it was perfectly possible to do with minimal effort in the interests of pushing their case forward. Questioning Assange at the embassy would not have jeopardized their case, whereas coming out of the embassy could have jeopardized Assange’s life. Thus, it would be disproportional to force him to do so when there was nothing to be gained by it. Assange’s interest in being protected from extradition to the United States outweighed the Swedish prosecution’s interest that he only be questioned in Sweden. Dismissing these concerns out-of-hand was arbitrary.

Even before UNWGAD’s announcement, serious pressure will have been felt by members of the group not to rule for Assange, according to the former chair, Norwegian lawyer Mads Andenas, as he explains in this short radio interview. Although reluctant to provide specifics, he makes it clear that any ruling against ‘big’ nations like the UK or the US face considerable institutional resistance.

The media reported the ruling before its announcement, allowing the headlines to get the digs in early. This BBC article stated: ‘Julian Assange is being “arbitrarily held”, UN panel to say’. In casual speech, ‘arbitrarily’ is often used in a roughly synonymous manner to ‘randomly’, implying that the UK is randomly detaining Assange. Cue an avalanche of outrage and indignation on social media and elsewhere from casual news readers deeply offended at the suggestion that the UK is somehow behaving like a dictatorship and randomly applying justice, given that Assange is of course free to leave the embassy at any time and further given that through relentless media disinformation and misinformation for years, the average news consumer now believes that Assange must ‘face justice’.

A Downing Street spokesman was on hand to supply fuel for the fire: “We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy.”

This statement also employs the non-legal use of the term ‘arbitrary’. Readers, the vast majority of whom have little or no knowledge of or concern about the details of the Assange case, are therefore given validation of an already misleading statement by an authority figure: classic psychological manipulation.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond rejected the UN group ruling, condemning it as ‘ridiculous’. Mr. Hammond, who has no legal expertise or background, further made the false claim that the group is made up of ‘lay people, not lawyers’ and that the ruling is ‘flawed in law’. [Note: Former Guardian journalist Jonathon Cook expands on this point expertly here]

The corporate media was also on hand to deride and condemn the ruling. The Guardian’s Marina Hyde, who has form smearing Julian Assange, wrote a rambling, vindictive, error-strewn article that has to be read to be believed. She then engaged in a smug, arrogant and self-congratulatory round of ‘banter’ [here and here] with like-minded journalist mates on Twitter, displaying a staggering level of contempt for a man described by the United Nations as deprived of liberty (add sunlight to that) for years as well as an embarrassing lack of awareness of her own gatekeeper role. It raises serious questions about editorial integrity at the Guardian, a newspaper of record, that a journalist with such obvious dislike for the subject of her article (with precedent) was permitted to write an analysis of a major story like this, particularly in light of the fact that Hyde usually covers showbiz and, by her own admission, has no detailed familiarity with the Assange case.

Social media lit up as soon everyone became an expert on international law and the qualifications and credentials of the members of UNWGAD. Comments below the line of articles all over the world slammed Assange with the usual tired and long discredited arguments.

The first wave of attack generally concerns the allegations of rape. It takes only a short period of research to find out the facts. [Note: anyone who believes they know what they are talking about with regard to the Assange case should read this FAQ here]

From the FAQ [emphasis (bold) mine]:

[] new information has emerged that both women explicitly deny having been raped by Mr. Assange. In a statement to the UK Supreme Court, the prosecutor acknowledged that the complainants wished only to ask the police for advice about HIV tests, having discovered they’d had both had sex with Mr. Assange. (There has never been an allegation Mr. Assange has HIV.) Neither of the women wished to lodge a formal complaint.

The woman of whom Mr. Assange is accused of the offence of “lesser rape” (a technical term in Swedish law) sent an SMS to a friend saying that she “did not want to accuse JA [of] anything” and “it was the police who made up the charges”. The other woman tweeted in 2013 that she had never been raped. Both women’s testimonies say that they consented to the sex. A senior prosecutor already dismissed the ’rape’ accusation, saying that there were no grounds for accusing Mr. Assange on this basis. But a third prosecutor, lobbied by a politician who was running for attorney general, took over the investigation and resurrected the accusations against Mr. Assange. Due to the great number of incorrect reports [], it is best to rely on primary source documents in this matter, which are on the internet and the UK Supreme Court “Agreed Statements of Facts” agreed to by the UK, the Swedish authoritiesm and Mr. Assange’s legal team. (See here and here.)

The women themselves in their own words explicitly say they were not raped. The women themselves in their own words said they had no wish to lodge a complaint. Yet to the experts in the corporate media and on social media or below the line, Assange is apparently a ‘cowardly rapist’ who is ‘holed up’ in an embassy ‘evading justice’. They occasionally even remember to write ‘alleged’ before ‘rapist’.

The next line of attack concerns Assange’s alleged evasion of justice. Yet Assange left Sweden on 27th September 2010 without impediment from prosecutor Marianne Ny, who had been assigned to the case from September 1st. It is worth noting that if this case was so serious that it became an international incident leading to the (very unusual) issuance of an Interpol Red Notice, and if the well-being of the alleged rape victims was such a priority for the prosecutor, the fact that Ny did nothing to question Assange before he left as a matter of urgency is highly suspicious.

It is also notable that Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, made some very disturbing claims with regard to the two women involved:

Julian Assange’s Swedish lawyer was shown scores of text messages sent by the two women who accuse him of rape and sexual assault, in which they speak of “revenge” and extracting money from him, an extradition hearing was told.

Björn Hurtig, who represents the WikiLeaks founder in Sweden, told Belmarsh magistrates court that he had been shown “about 100” messages sent between the women and their friends while supervised by a Swedish police officer, but had not been permitted to make notes or share the contents with his client.

“I consider this to be contrary to the rules of a fair trial,” he said. A number of the messages “go against what the claimants have said”, he told the court.

One message referred to one of the women being “half asleep” while having sex with Assange, Hurtig said, as opposed to fully asleep. “That to my mind is the same as saying ‘half awake’.” One of the women alleges that Assange had sex with her while she was sleeping.

Before destroying a man’s reputation an objective, honorable or honest person would first look into the details and circumstances surrounding the case. Such considerations obviously do not apply to Assange.

One final line of attack is the idea that Assange is ‘voluntarily’ hiding in the embassy. It is insulting to the intelligence and legal abilities of the UNWGAD lawyers to think that they are incapable of correctly interpreting this unusual situation in legal terms. Anyone believing that they are in danger of political persecution, as Assange does, has the legal right under international law to seek protection on humanitarian grounds. From the FAQ:

International law says that a sovereign country has decided to recognise Mr. Assange as needing protection from political persecution on humanitarian grounds. Mr. Assange has a right to meaningfully exercise that protection through passage to Ecuador. Ecuador invoked a number of applicable conventions, including the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. The United Kingdom and Sweden are also parties to the 1951 Convention and are obligated to recognise the asylum decision of Ecuador. While both states have been careful to avoid saying that they do not recognise the asylum, their actions can only be interpreted as a wilful violation of Mr. Assange’s right to ’seek, receive and enjoy’ his asylum. In international law, the obligation to protect persons from persecution under the 1951 Refugee Convention prevails over extradition agreements between states.

The United Kingdom says it has a treaty obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden even though he has not been charged with an offense. There is a conflict between the United Kingdom’s obligations to the 1951 UN refugee convention and its obligations under the European Arrest Warrant system. It is established law that these conflicts are to be resolved in favour of the higher obligation which is to the 1951 convention.

Rather than follow[] international law, the United Kingdom has chosen to interpret the conflict in favor of its geopolitical alliances. The United Kingdom has a history of breaking international law in this manner, for example, in its invasion of Iraq, its cooperation with US rendition operations, and its facilitation of global mass spying via its intelligence service GCHQ. Sweden is also a party to these last two violations.

Assange has reason to be concerned. A secret, long-running US investigation has been mounted against him, according to US Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd. “The grand jury is a serious business,” said Michael Ratner, a human rights lawyer advising Assange. “They’re all over this,” he added. [Sources here]

Reason for concern indeed given the US approach to whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, who was tortured while awaiting trial, as well as the US’s clear contempt for international laws and conventions, highlighted dramatically when it forced down the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales in the mistaken belief that Edward Snowden was aboard. That case also highlighted the powerful influence the US wields over European nations: France, Italy and Spain all denied airspace to Morales forcing the plane to land in Austria.

The UN ruling puts the UK and Sweden in a very sticky position as they recklessly try to play it both ways. In the past both nations have welcomed rulings by the same group when they benefited their geopolitical priorities, as this Crikey article explains:

What happens when the UN panel that you previously thought was excellent produces a verdict that you don’t like?

That was the problem facing UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (little-known outside the Tory Party and best known for having been a Goth in his younger days, not that there’s anything wrong with that) when the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in favour of Julian Assange’s complaint that he had been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden.

But Hammond’s problem is the Cameron government had a very different view of the WGAD when it ruled that the Burmese regime’s ongoing detention of Aung San Suu Kyi was a breach of international human rights law. “As in its previous five ‘opinions’, the Working Group has found that the continuous deprivation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberty is arbitrary, and has requested the government of Myanmar to implement its previous recommendations and to remedy the situation,” Hammond’s predecessor William Hague said in calling for her release. Indeed, it’s been only a few months since the British government was happy to quote the WGAD in its guidance on handling particular types of protection and human rights claims about China.

China is a constant target of the WGAD. Unlike other UN bodies that might be criticised for obsessing about Western governments while ignoring the human rights abuses of dictatorships, WGAD focuses almost entirely on non-Western countries. In the years while Assange has been detained, the Working Group has ruled against China 14 times — with most rulings dealing with multiple detainees — and against Iran nine times, as well as ruling against Cuba and North Korea (again, often covering multiple cases) four times each. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the Palestinian Authority have also been among its targets. It’s in such company the UK and Sweden now find themselves.

The United States was also happy to cite the WGAD in the case of Alan Gross, who spent several years in a Cuban jail after travelling to the country to provide Cuba’s Jewish community with internet access. US politicians and the State Department were happy to cite WGAD’s finding that Gross was arbitrarily detained. The US Justice Department also cites WGAD decisions in its criticisms of the human rights records of other countries. And the WGAD ruled last August that Iran was holding US journalist Jason Rezaian arbitrarily as well; the State Department also invokes the WGAD’s decision about other imprisoned journalists.

In short, the WGAD is usually a reliable source for Western countries eager to criticise the human rights records of countries like China, Iran and Cuba. But the moment it looks askance at Western practices, it’s “ludicrous” and dismissed.

This episode teaches some lessons. Essential among them is the fact that analysis in the corporate media is now crippled beyond repair, its credibility a smoking wreck. If one desired an analysis of an aspect of astronomy or cosmology, would one read the opinions of a writer who still advocates the Ptolemaic Model of the solar system? The same applies to an analysis of the complicated legal case of Assange by obviously biased and prejudiced non-experts who are given a platform to speak to millions nonetheless. This further applies to much of foreign policy and other areas that require ‘nuance’ in the corporate media because advertisers are so touchy about what reaches the general public. The only meaningful analyses now come from independent journalists and writers who are free from corporate or government/lobby-group influence.

We also learn that corporate journalists not only act as gatekeepers in their day job, but even in their free time, gleefully towing the establishment line and seemingly oblivious to the deadly consequences of their obfuscations as they help to bring liberal, anti-war opinion over to the ‘humanitarian interventionist’ camp of the imperialist ‘right to protect’ doctrine.

Disturbingly we can also acquire a sense of the enormous power wielded behind the scenes by those who want Assange. If the UK and Sweden are willing to reject the findings of a United Nations panel of legal experts, a panel they never had complaints with in the past when they were condemning China etc., then we know that the stakes are as high as they get. The recklessness of this rejection is staggering, as explained by the Center for Constitutional Rights [Emphasis (bold) mine]:

In our briefs to the WGAD, we argued that someone is effectively detained when they are forced to choose between confinement and running the risk of persecution. That is the precise dilemma faced by Mr. Assange, who would lose the protection of his asylum if he stepped out of the embassy. The risk of extradition is the ‘fourth wall’ for the now repudiated claim that he is free to leave the embassy. As a result, it has been years since Mr. Assange has had access to proper medical care, sunlight, or the ability to see his family.

The WGAD’s decision in Mr. Assange’s case sets an important precedent for refugees. In our submissions we analogized the situation faced by Mr. Assange to that of asylum-seekers in detention facilities. States may claim that asylum-seekers held in subhuman conditions are not ‘detained’ because they are technically free to leave for their home country, but this is a non-choice, since the home country would persecute the asylum seeker.

In choosing to reject the UN ruling, not only are Sweden and the UK failing to live up to their treaty obligations because they do not suit their agendas – a working definition of an action of what Western nations traditionally call ‘rogue nations’ – but they are also putting their own citizens at risk by setting a dangerous precedent that will allow any evil dictator anywhere to also reject the findings of the UN in the future.

It is profoundly telling – a shocking demonstration of the power of media propaganda – that millions of people automatically side with governments who have lied time and time again on every issue imaginable, that have committed some of the most terrible crimes in history, against one man who has risked his freedom and life to expose some of those crimes. The idea that he might have been set up or has been persecuted is summarily dismissed despite the obvious motive for Western governments to do such a thing and despite the enormous amount of documented evidence demonstrating that this is precisely the case.

The Assange situation has long been a farce but now a ruling of the United Nations has been permitted to become a political football. This way utter lawlessness lies. The UK must immediately release and compensate Julian Assange as the UN ruling dictates. Failure to do this will only serve to confirm its status as a rogue nation and US lapdog.

Written by Simon Wood

Twitter: @simonwood11
Official Website: The Daily 99.99998271%

In Plain Sight: Why WikiLeaks Is Clearly Not In Bed With Russia

With Glenn Greenwald debating General Keith Alexander live on stage as I write this, it is rather convenient timing for this insipid hit piece to emerge claiming definitively that Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and anyone who supports them are “in bed with the Russians”.

wlr2

John Schindler’s tweet is just plain irresponsible and dangerous as well as untrue. The smear is an old one; the tactic timeless; the source/author dubious but several angles are worth addressing that I don’t think have been properly before.

The Primary Lie: That WikiLeaks Censors Itself For Russia

The biggest lie is the easiest to disprove. Heard so many times it’s impossible to count – that WikiLeaks doesn’t print documents on/about Russia or that aren’t in its interests… that they somehow exclude Russia from their databases or only print approved messages.

Using the most basic investigative method available, let’s see whether this is true: by going to WikiLeaks official website and typing “Russia” into the search bar.

wlr

In case you can’t see that writing at the bottom – there are 647,208 results for ‘Russia’ in WikiLeaks’ database.

Let’s look a little closer.

wl1

So. Just in the first few results alone we have:

  • an article exposing Russian investigations into Tor users – from the Edward Snowden files no less
  • an article describing a Russian government decision as ‘foolish’
  • a report on Russian attempts to regulate the blogsophere/new media
  • a report on Russian censorship of a BBC interview

I think it’s safe to say we won’t have to analyse the entire 647k docs to find more that are critical of Kremlin political views and positions.

WikiLeaks’ Solidarity With Russian Activists

The Russian activists and performance artists known as “Pussy Riot” aren’t just friendly to the cause – they even sit on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation.

None of the detractors explain why, if WikiLeaks is so far “in bed with the Russians”, they work with Russian dissidents who have been targeted for arrest and prosecuted by the State.

Stuck In The Airport For 39 Days

In the pro-NSA anti-Snowden “counterintelligence” fantasy-land of John Schindler, WikiLeaks sent one lone woman to take Snowden ‘from Hawaii to Moscow’ to “defect” only so that he could be… stuck in a Moscow airport with no valid passport for 39 days, desperately applying for asylum, to a whole host of countries?

No, if he was defecting, he’d be welcomed with a parade. Not stuck in civil and physical limbo for over a month. He would have had entire teams of security guys flying him around in military or private jets – instead his entire transit was on civilian airliners.

What makes far more sense is that Edward and Sarah Harrison’s lack of co-operation is what effected their circumstance, leaving them stranded in the airport.

Even after asylum was granted, Sarah stayed on with Edward for several months… this too, indicates that WikiLeaks provided aftercare for him; he was not simply abandoned or left to fend for himself.

A Long Look In The Mirror

Central to the claims that Snowden is colluding with the Russians is the suggestion that intelligence agencies are just so badass that non-cooperation with them is not an option.

This may be true for those without public visibility and a high profile, but as Sarah herself pointed out, Russian authorities were aware that she had access to a platform with millions of followers able to rally in defense of their rights at a moment’s notice.

I can’t help but wonder – who is Julian Assange supposed to hire for bodyguards? Americans? Why is the mere presence of people of Russian origin in one’s life basis for a conspiracy theory?

But any smear will do and smear they have. If the constant boasting of Schindler’s “counterintelligence” / “counterterrorism” background isn’t enough of a clue, a quick look through the author’s past posts exposes his agenda.

He entreats;

Ever since the Snowden saga broke a few weeks back I’ve defended the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) against the most scurrilous charges in the media..

Like clockwork, derisive, salacious and defamatory posts date from June 2013 to the present day, making wild accusations. That Snowden is working with the Chinese – that he is working with the Russians – that WikiLeaks is working for the Russians – with the grave nature of what Snowden actually leaked ignored in an attempt to deflect blame away from the elites in control of the intelligence agencies.

One of the author’s smear pieces claims Snowden did no damage and is irrelevant – the next that he did vast, lasting and unforgivable damage. Snowden’s position and access is minimised to him being “just an IT guy”; the next minute it is complained that he took over a million documents. The story is ever-changing and in aggregate, discredits itself.

Snowden’s True Significance

Edward Snowden did many remarkable things – countless things. That he managed to extricate so much information, get it out to the public, and make his “escape” is in itself incredible.

But his greatest achievements are the least talked about.

Snowden is solution-focused. Rather than merely inform the public, he presents them with an array of tools and resources with which to protect themselves.

It is this engagement that is next level. Not just standing on a stage and giving a speech but taking steps to implement actual change. Not merely educating his audience, but changing their practical behaviours, impacting their decision-making.

As much as his critics downplay him as “just an I.T. guy” Snowden’s words and actions are reminiscent of every individual role in a development team. He is the tester – testing the safety and suitability of open source products for public use. He is the analyst… mapping and understanding systems and making recommendations. He is the database administrator… the networker… the technical writer… the architect… the development manager… the delivery manager… the CTO.

Yet it is not these roles he is recognised for so much as his less tangible qualities. Truth-telling. Bravery. Valour, in its truest sense – ‘great courage in the face of extreme danger‘.

Snowden has brought back a time when celebrity meant more than vain idolatry. When statues were carved, or buildings were named, not for those of elite birthright, great wealth or superficial beauty but for those of daring, heroic deeds undertaken for a greater good.

False promises of corrupted political systems aside – when our children aspire to be more like Edward Snowden than Justin Bieber; or Jesselyn Radack than Britney Spears; there is hope and there will be change.

The World Grows Weary

While humans bicker and slander, steal, oppress, tax and incite, the Earth grows weary. There is ecological devastation wherever we look. Apocalyptic weather patterns, extinctions of multiple species and constant natural disasters.

Refugees are fleeing war-torn countries in their millions while financial systems inflict poverty upon billions.

Pretty soon there will be no amount of anti-Snowden op-eds sufficient to bedazzle us in the face of our reality: humankind is in big fucking trouble and it will take more than words to get us out of it.

Critical thought, research and dissemination of information are the foundations to change but we are now past the point where action is required. Our support for whistleblowers needs to be more material than effortlessly debunking the libel of the status quo’s talking heads. To that end, this article is going to be about more than just the critics.

WikiLeaks is doing a brilliant job of directly confronting the system by holding a mirror up to it. Now we need to show our solidarity and not just declare it. Let our actions combine in beautiful, complex ways.

Effecting change where the State refuses to do so, creating new systems that bypass it entirely.

For we should not aspire just to slowing the pace of human destruction, but to creating new pathways of preservation, new avenues of possibility…

…to literally birth a new world. The evidence of the unsuitability and unsustainability of the old one is all around us.

No longer do we need to debate it.

We need to create it.

Successes

There have been three recent geographically-disparate and diverse political actions that have produced immediate results.

Glenn Greenwald and First Look Media co-ordinated a brilliant fundraising effort to raise contributions for the legal defense of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, resulting in over $100,000 being donated within the first 48 hours.

Aspects of Manning’s case are precedent-setting and will have ramifications for future whistle-blowers therefore empowering her to pursue her rights to their full extent now may become even more consequential later.

Berliners responded to a treason investigation into two journalists from Netzpolitik by taking to the streets, and launching an online solidarity statement signed by local and international journalists, publishers, academics and various luminaries in support.

The investigation was dropped and the investigating prosecutor fired.

  • Transsexual Kiwi Prisoner Wins Transfer To Female Prison

A group of activists in New Zealand who began a hunger strike and various online initiatives in protest at a transsexual woman being incarcerated in a men’s prison has achieved a resounding victory.

Prisoner Jade Follett has now been transferred to a womens prison and is to receive an apology from the Department of Corrections. The Twitter account of protest group No Pride In Prisons that organised the actions, is calling for more than an apology.

In their press release celebrating success, the group states:

‘The fact that the policy places trans women almost always in men’s prisons by default shows how much needs to be changed…

That it took a hunger strike to get Corrections’ attention to this urgent issue indicates just how little regard they have for prisoners’ safety…

‘If it emerges that other trans prisoners have been treated in a similar manner, we will not hesitate to take action’

In Conclusion

The above is proof that diversity of tactics is more than a catch-phrase; ends can be achieved by a variety of means.

It is also proof that people power is winning battles.

These victories are won when actions are organised and carried out speedily, loudly and on hot-button issues, where the State has insufficient time to prepare countermeasures and is forced to opt for ‘damage control’ tactics that can ultimately count in the favour of protesters and effect change.

With all the problems of the present and uncertainties of the future it is WikiLeaks, independent media and whistleblowers informing us; open-source technological initiatives protecting us; and real people opening their hearts, raising their voices and taking action on the streets, that are the difference between certain human self-destruction and social evolution.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

[Update/January 2018] This post is now available at my Steemit blog

The Farcical Case Against Julian Assange

“Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed – and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment – the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution – not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants’ – but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.” – John F. Kennedy

12 June 2014 marks the second anniversary of Julian Assange’s refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Mr. Assange has been detained in the United Kingdom against his will without charge for almost four years. This anniversary should serve as an opportunity to once again attempt to inform the many millions of people made ignorant or uncaring of the realities of this complex case thanks to a concerted media disinformation and smear campaign against both WikiLeaks and its founder.

Readers who are open to the possibility that they may have been misled on this issue should first follow these links and read/watch in full:

A FAQ here explains some of the general circumstances of the case.

This short animated video also provides a clear, informative summary.

Writing in USA Today, Michael Ratner also took the opportunity to raise points that highlight the farcical nature of this standoff:

Harassment, targeting and prosecution of whistle-blowers, journalists and publishers have become a dangerous new normal — one we should refuse to accept, especially in a time when governments are becoming more powerful and less accountable. It’s time to end this assault, starting with granting Snowden amnesty and withdrawing the threat of U.S. criminal prosecution of Assange.

In the two years Assange has spent cloistered in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the British extradition law under which he was ordered to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct has changed. With this change, the allegations that originally secured Assange’s extradition order to Sweden would no longer suffice. Now, a decision to charge Assange with a crime is necessary for extradition, but Sweden has never made that decision.

That hasn’t kept Britain from ignoring Assange’s right to asylum by clinging to the now-invalid law. Instead, British police and security forces keep watch on the entrance, windows and surroundings of the Ecuadorian Embassy around the clock, which has cost $10 million.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to investigate Assange and might have secretly charged him without his knowledge. A grand jury empaneled in 2010 remains open, keeping Assange in legal limbo. Under such conditions, leaving the embassy would mean a stop in Sweden before Assange is given a one-way ticket to a U.S. prison to likely face inhumane treatment and a sentence similar to Manning’s, including extended solitary confinement.

Similar harsh treatment and excessive punishments haven’t applied to the people in government who perpetrated the crimes exposed by these whistle-blowers and published by WikiLeaks. In fact, people such as national intelligence director James Clapper, who lied under oath to Congress, have avoided consequences altogether.

Britain should respect Assange’s asylum and allow him to leave the embassy unmolested. Whistle-blowers such as Snowden and Manning should not face the impossible decision between living in exile and spending decades imprisoned. We deserve a justice system that holds governments accountable and considers the public service done by whistle-blowers and the people who publish their information.

Sweden can end this standoff easily by questioning Assange by video or by sending investigators to the embassy. Both of these options are permissible under Swedish law, and indeed both have been utilized in the past. Meanwhile, the UK Foreign Office maintains it has a ‘legal duty’ to extradite Mr. Assange, despite, in a clear instance of double standards, resisting (and preventing) the extradition to Spain of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, arrested in 1998 in London under an international arrest warrant (issued by a Spanish judge) on multiple counts of murder, torture and war crimes.

Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the often hostile public reaction to the plight of Julian Assange is the assumption by so many of benign intent on the part of the US and its close allies, the UK and Sweden. Despite the mass intrusive surveillance apparatus exposed by Edward Snowden, under the umbrella of which strategies reminiscent of the East German Stasi have been laid out for the world to see; despite the long documented history of illegal, covert operations undertaken by agencies of the United States like COINTELPRO, Operation Mockingbird, Operation CHAOS and many others; despite dozens of illegal interventions and bombings of foreign sovereign nations; despite multiple CIA-sponsored coup d’etats that replaced democratically elected leaders with murderous dictators; despite the numerous fake FBI terror plots to justify the enormous dedication of resources to the ‘war on terror’; despite the quite insane double standards displayed in the ‘intelligence’ arena…despite all these documented realities, perplexing it is indeed that any serious person could assume any benign intent whatsoever. Indeed, given the above list, an intelligent person would surely assume the precise opposite.

The myth persists that Julian Assange is somehow the malign party (‘He ‘stole’ the documents’ etc.) for enabling the cables leaked by Bradley Manning and others to see the light of day, documents that contain thousands of accounts of mind-boggling criminality perpetrated by officials elected in our democratic systems and the people under their command.

Did you know, for example, that WikiLeaks informed the world’s people of the following (from an earlier article on this blog):

It was official government policy to ignore torture in Iraq.

U.S. officials were told to cover up evidence of child abuse by contractors in Afghanistan.

Guantanamo prison has held mostly innocent people and low-level operatives.

There IS (despite government claims to the opposite) an official tally of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

US Military officials withheld information about the indiscriminate killing of Reuters journalists and innocent Iraqi civilians.

The State Department backed corporate opposition to a Haitian minimum wage law.

The U.S. Government had long been faking its public support for Tunisian President Ben Ali.

Known Egyptian torturers received training from the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.

The State Department authorized the theft of the UN Secretary General’s DNA.

The Japanese and U.S. Governments had been warned about the seismic threat at Fukushima.

The Obama Administration allowed Yemen’s President to cover up a secret U.S. drone bombing campaign.

Also:

The U.S. Army considered WikiLeaks a national security threat as early as 2008, according to documents obtained and posted by WikiLeaks in March, 2010.

Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders repeatedly, knowingly lied to the American public about rising sectarian violence in Iraq beginning in 2006, according to the cross-referencing of WikiLeaks’ leaked Iraq war documents and former Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Ellen Knickmeyer’s recollections.

The Obama administration worked with Republicans during his first few months in office to protect Bush administration officials facing a criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies that some considered torture. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid obtained by WikiLeaks details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

A U.S. Army helicopter allegedly gunned down two journalists in Baghdad in 2007. WikiLeaks posted a 40-minute video on its website in April, showing the attack in gruesome detail, along with an audio recording of the pilots during the attack.

US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished..

US special-operations forces have targeted militants without trial in secret assassination missions, and many more Afghan civilians have been killed by accident than previously reported, according to the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war document dump.

Five years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross told U.S. diplomats in New Delhi that the Indian government “condones torture” and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir. The Red Cross told the officials that hundreds of detainees were subjected to beatings, electrocutions and acts of sexual humiliation, the Guardian newspaper of London reported Thursday evening.

The British government has trained a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organizations as a “government death squad”, leaked US embassy cables have revealed. Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement”.

Secret U.S. diplomatic cables reveal that BP suffered a blowout after a gas leak in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan in September 2008, a year and a half before another BP blowout killed 11 workers and started a leak that gushed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The United States was secretly given permission from Yemen’s president to attack the al Qaeda group in his country that later attempted to blow up planes in American air space. President Ali Abdullah Saleh told John Brennan, President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, in a leaked diplomatic cable from September 2009 that the U.S. had an “open door” on terrorism in Yemen.

Contrary to public statements, the Obama administration actually helped fuel conflict in Yemen. The U.S. was shipping arms to Saudi Arabia for use in northern Yemen even as it denied any role in the conflict.

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest origin points for funds supporting international terrorism, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged U.S. diplomats to do more to stop the flow of money to Islamist militant groups from donors in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, Clinton wrote, was reluctant to cut off money being sent to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Pakistan.

A storage facility housing Yemen’s radioactive material was unsecured for up to a week after its lone guard was removed and its surveillance camera was broken, a secret U.S. State Department cable released by WikiLeaks revealed Monday. “Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen’s nuclear material,” a Yemeni official said on January 9 in the cable.

Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, constructed with apparent help from North Korea, fearing it was built to make a bomb. In a leaked diplomatic cable obtained by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, then-US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice wrote the Israelis targeted and destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor just weeks before it was to be operational.

Diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks indicate authorities in the United Arab Emirates debated whether to keep quiet about the high-profile killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai in January. The documents also show the UAE sought U.S. help in tracking down details of credit cards Dubai police believe were used by a foreign hit squad involved in the killing. The spy novel-like slaying, complete with faked passports and assassins in disguise, is widely believed to be the work of Israeli secret agents.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Al Jazeera network that some of the unpublished cables show “top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency. These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries.”

Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Not only did Pope Benedict refuse to allow Vatican officials to testify in an investigation by an Irish commission into alleged child sex abuse by priests, he was also reportedly furious when Vatican officials were called upon in Rome.

Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness carried out negotiations for the Good Friday agreement with Irish then-prime minister Bertie Ahern while the two had explicit knowledge of a bank robbery that the Irish Republican Army was planning to carry out, according to a WikiLeaks cable. Ahern figured Adams and McGuinness knew about the 26.5 million pound Northern Bank robbery of 2004 because they were members of the “IRA military command.”

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria. A high-ranking executive for the international Shell oil company once bragged to U.S. diplomats, as reported in a leaked diplomatic cable, that the company’s employees had so well infiltrated the Nigerian government that officials had “forgotten” the level of the company’s access.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon told a U.S. official last year that Latin America “needs a visible U.S. presence” to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s growing influence in the region, according to a U.S. State Department cable leaked to WikiLeaks.

McDonald’s tried to delay the US government’s implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m lawsuit it was fighting in the country. The revelation of the McDonald’s strategy to ensure a fair hearing for a long-running legal battle against a former franchisee comes from a leaked US embassy cable dated 15 February 2006.

LIST ENDS

Much of the information in the cables had nothing to do with national security and was most definitely in the public interest – a seemingly endless litany of illegal behavior by the US and its proxies or allies. And yet, while the instigators of these acts walk free, many enjoying promotions, lucrative jobs and book tours, Julian Assange is denied freedom of movement, despite being granted political asylum by the respected sovereign nation of Ecuador over legitimate concerns of possible human rights violations and political persecution.

What, then, is the cause of this baffling hostility towards Mr. Assange, when, given the scope and depth of criminality he has uncovered, he would in a sane world be receiving with our deep gratitude the world’s most prestigious honors and awards for services to the public and democracy?

Culpability clearly lies with the corporate-owned media. Numerous articles have appeared throughout the mainstream press that have printed lies, inaccuracies, lazy reporting, smears and personal insults. [Note: one such article was analysed on this blog last year]. Comments below the line on these pieces published in major newspapers often mirror the incorrect factual statements made by the writers and the general confusion is added to by the input of obvious astroturfers drawn to the fray with every new assault.

Julian Assange, recognised by the UK high court as a journalist and a recipient of several prestigious journalism awards (including the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism and the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism), is the victim of an obvious fit-up, a crude, clumsy, clearly bogus attempt to force him into the clutches of those who want not only their revenge, but also – mafia-style – to ‘send a message’ to deter anyone else who might entertain the forbidden desire of informing the public of the secret evils carried out behind their backs in their name and with their taxes.

In the interests of law, of protecting press freedoms and the essential democratic ideal of holding those with great power accountable, not to mention the human rights and freedom of a man unjustly held against his will, right-thinking people of conscience must raise their voices and hands in defense of Julian Assange.

Written by Simon Wood

Twitter: @simonwood11