The US case against Julian Assange now rests on a weak allegation of conspiracy to commit computer hacking. From Catherine Vogan at consortiumnews.com:
Since the U.S. is on shaky constitutional ground with the espionage indictment, the computer intrusion charge has served as a hook to try to get Assange, by portraying him not as a journalist, but as a hacker, writes Cathy Vogan.
While most of the talk about the Julian Assange case is about the espionage charges, which are political in nature, the U.S. case hangs by a thread for the second time on the non-political charge: conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
There is a reason why the computer charge is so vital to the U.S. case. Charging a journalist with espionage for unauthorized possession and dissemination of defense information has been possible since 1917, but it runs the risk of violating the First Amendment.
The tradition has been instead to charge leakers and hackers for breach of an oath, contract or firewall. The legal and public perception of hacking is that it is much like burglary; something generally feared and whose punishment by the state is not subject to political debate or opposing laws; but rather welcomed. The intrusion charge shifts public and legal perception.
Since the U.S. is on shaky constitutional ground with the espionage indictment, the computer intrusion charge has served as a hook to try to get Assange, by portraying him not as a journalist, but as a hacker. Underscoring the difference between the two is fundamental to the U.S. case.
That’s why the U.S. prosecutor, James Lewis QC, on the opening day of Assange’s extradition hearing in February 2020 turned to the press in the courtroom and told them journalism was not the target of the U.S. prosecution. He said Assange was not a journalist and instead had participated in the theft of government documents. In other words: he’s not a journalist like you, but a hacker.
While the world’s attention is directed elsewhere, Julian Assange is dying at the hands of the British and US governments. From Mac Slavo at shtfplan.com:
A very “sedated” Julian Assange told a friend that he’s dying on Christmas Eve. Because of Assange’s condition during the phone call, concerns about his health have mounted. His suffering amounts to torture at the hands of government.
Assange’s “crime” was publishing the truth. He gathered information, none of which was fabricated or fake and published what the government is doing to other countries and the lengths that they’ll go to enslave the masses. For that “crime”, Assange is being tortured in what can be summed up as a Gulag. The powers that shouldn’t be don’t want someone who knows the truth to live to tell it, and that’s become painfully obvious.
Somebody’s speaking up now that Julian Assange has one foot in the grave. From Andrea Germanos at commondreams.org:
“That we, as doctors, feel ethically compelled to hold governments to account on medical grounds speaks volumes about the gravity of the medical, ethical, and human rights travesties that are taking place.”
Placards and messages in support of Julian Assange sit outside Ecuadorian Embassy stands in South Kensington on April 5, 2019 in London. (Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
A group of over 100 doctors on Monday urged the Australian government to end its “refusal to act” in the case of Julian Assange and insist the British government release the WikiLeaks founder from prison so he can be safely sent to an Australian hospital before “it is too late.”
In an open letter addressed to Foreign Minister Marise Payne, the doctors say that “the most fundamental human rights of an Australian citizen are being denied by the British government.”
The international medical experts, who hail from countries including the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, called upon Payne to abide by his “undeniable legal obligation to protect your citizen against the abuse of his fundamental human rights, stemming from U.S. efforts to extradite Mr. Assange for journalism and publishing that exposed U.S. war crimes.”
Assange has been in London’s Belmarsh prison since April for skipping bail seven years ago when he first took refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He’s facing possible extradition to the United States for alleged violations of the Espionage Act. His time at the embassy and at Belmarsh had led to “medical neglect and fragile health,” the doctors said, adding that Assange continues to suffer psychological torture at the London jail.
It’s not the first time the medical group has sounded alarm on Assange’s deteriorating health conditions.
Many of the organs of the mainstream media have heaped scorn on Julian Assange. Some of them are awakening to the dangers of the US and British governments persecution of Assange and are sounding warnings, but their efforts are hypocritical and too little, too late. From John Pilger at consortiumnews.com:
If Julian Assange were to succumb to the cruelties heaped upon him, week after week, month after month, year upon year, as doctors warn, newspapers like TheGuardianwill share the responsibility, writes John Pilger.
Newspapers and other media in the United States and Britain have recently declared a passion for freedom of speech, especially their right to publish freely. They are worried by the “Assange effect”.
It is as if the struggle of truth-tellers like Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning is now a warning to them: that the thugs who dragged Assange out of the Ecuadorean embassy in April may one day come for them.
A common refrain was echoed by TheGuardian last week. The extradition of Assange, said the paper, “is not a question of how wise Mr. Assange is, still less how likable. It’s not about his character, nor his judgement. It’s a matter of press freedom and the public’s right to know.”
What TheGuardian is trying to do is separate Assange from his landmark achievements, which have both profited TheGuardian and exposed its own vulnerability, along with its propensity to suck up to rapacious power and smear those who reveal its double standards.
After relentlessly trashing Julian Assange for years the UK’s Guardian now believes he shouldn’t be extradited to the US. It’s too little, too late. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
The Guardian has published an editorial titled “The Guardian view on extraditing Julian Assange: don’t do it”, subtitled “The US case against the WikiLeaks founder is an assault on press freedom and the public’s right to know”. Thepublication’s editorial board argues that since the Swedish investigation has once again been dropped, the time is now to oppose US extradition for the WikiLeaks founder.
“Sweden’s decision to drop an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange has both illuminated the situation of the WikiLeaks founder and made it more pressing,” the editorial board writes.
The governments trying to convict Julian Assange of breaking the law and locking him away forever (if they don’t kill him first), have repeated broke their own laws. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:
On October 21 2019, Brexit became an entirely irrelevant issue. Or perhaps we should say it had already become that, but on that date it was exposed for all to see that it was. The parading into a courtroom of Julian Assange in London was all the evidence one could need that the UK government breaks its own laws as well as numerous international laws, with impunity. But that is not how the media reported on it, if it did at all.
And so, the core issue behind Brexit, i.e. who makes Britain’s laws, turned to nothing. If your government breaks its own laws all the time, what does it matter where those laws are made? They are meaningless anyway. Whether they come from Brussels or London make no difference if the government and judicial system don’t abide by them. Those million men marches for a Final Say look totally ridiculous once that reality sinks in.
Julian Assange will not have the attorney-client that is standard for criminal defendants under Anglo-American law. Of course, it’s the Anglos and the Americans who are trying to railroad Assange. From the Editors at consortiumnews.com:
The WikiLeaks legal team have a strong case to have Assange’s extradition request thrown out after the government that wants him extradited got hold of surveillance video of his privileged attorney-client conversations.
If this were a normal legal case, WikiLeaks’ lawyers would almost certainly be able to get the extradition request by the United States for their client Julian Assange thrown out on the grounds that his privileged conversations with his lawyers at Ecuador’s London embassy were secretly videotaped, and that the very nation that wants him extradited to stand trial in Virginia has obtained access to those videos. In a normal extradition case it would be hard to imagine Britain sending a suspect to a country whose government has already eavesdropped on that suspect’s defense preparations.
This is what happens to true whistleblowers. From Felicity Ruby at arena.org.au:
A visit to Belmarsh maximum-security prison
have only ever known Julian Assange in detention. For nine years now, I have visited him in England bearing Australian news and solidarity. To Ellingham Hall I brought music and chocolate, to the Ecuadorian embassy I brought flannel shirts, Rake, Wizz Fizz and eucalyptus leaves, but to Belmarsh prison you can bring nothing—not a gift, not a book, not a piece of paper. Then I returned to Australia, a country so far away that has abandoned him in almost every respect.
Over the years I have learned to not ask, ‘How are you?’, because it’s bloody obvious how he is: detained, smeared, maligned, unfree, stuck—in ever-narrower, colder, darker and damper tunnels—pursued and punished for publishing. Over the years I’ve learned to not complain of the rain or remark on what a beautiful day it is, because he’s been inside for so long that a blizzard would be a blessing. I’ve also learned that it is not comforting but cruel to speak of sunsets, kookaburras, road trips; it’s not helpful to assure him that, like me and my dog, he will find animal tracks in the bush when he comes home, even though I think it almost every day.
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