Julian Assange clearly understands the threat to freedom of expression from the Big Tech-government alliance. From Nozomi Hayase at antiwar.com:
On Monday May 4, the British Court decided that the extradition hearing for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, scheduled for May 18, would be moved to September. This four month delay was made after Assange’s defense lawyer argued the difficulty of his receiving a fair hearing due to restrictions posed by the Covid-19 lockdown. Monday’s hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court proceeded without enabling the phone link for press and observers waiting on the line, and without Assange who was not well enough to appear via videolink.
Sunday May 3rdmarked World Press Freedom Day. As people around the globe celebrated with online debates and workshops, Assange was being held on remand in London’s Belmarsh prison for publishing classified documents which exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. On this day, annually observed by the United Nations to remind the governments of the importance of free press, Amnesty International renewed its call for the US to drop the charges against this imprisoned journalist.
The US case to extradite Assange is one of the most important press freedom cases of this century. The indictment against him under the Espionage Act is an unprecedented attack on journalism. This is a war on free speech that has escalated in recent years turning the Internet into a battleground.
Ray McGovern speculates on alternative history if WikiLeaks had made its trademark disclosures. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:
The British court system continues to mock the Magna Carta. Bowing vassal-like to U.S. pressure it persists with Star Chamber proceedings against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange until he is either extradited to the US or winds up dead.
The judicial pantomime under way in London, under the guise of an extradition hearing, would make the English nobles who wrested precious civil rights from King John eight centuries ago sob in anger and shame. But nary a whimper is heard from the heirs to those rights. One searches in vain for English nobles today.
Yet the process stumbles along, as awkward as it is inexorable, toward extradition and life in prison for Assange, if he lasts that long.
The banal barristers bashing Assange now seem to harbor hope that, unlike the case of Henry II and Thomas More, the swords of royal knights will be unneeded to “deliver the Crown from this troublesome priest” – or publisher. Those barristers may be spared the embarrassment of losing what residual self-respect they may still claim. In short, they may not need to bow and scrape much longer to surrender Assange to life in a US prison. He may die first.
If you’re an American locked in your home because of coronavirus, you’re getting a small taste of what it’s been like for Julian Assange the last eight years. Assange has been a profile in courage, the coronavirus nonsense is a study in panic and cowardice. From Nozomi Hayese at antiwar.com:
Last week the US District Judge Anthony Trenga released Chelsea Manning from detainment after concluding that the grand jury that she had been subpoenaed to testify before no longer needed her, since it was being disbanded. Manning was incarcerated because of her principled stance against the secrecy of the grand jury and her refusal to cooperate in its coercive procedure.
The release of Manning came after the US government tried to break her to the point of suicide. Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, wrotea letter to the US government late last year indicating that Manning’s imprisonment amounted to torture. Her resistance is a part of the US government’s war on the free press, going after WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.
Assange has been charged under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents which exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This indictment is recognized by free speech groups as an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment. In February, the first week of the UK hearing of the US request for Assange’s extradition revealed a scale of this “war” that goes well beyond press freedom. What took place inside the Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London was a sign of a dangerous slippery slide towards fascism.
Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has been a combination kangaroo court and show trial. From Israel Shamir at unz.com:
Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has had very little media coverage. Even The Guardian and The New York Times barely mentioned it, though these newspapers made a fortune publishing Assange-provided cables. Unless you had been looking for it, you wouldn’t even know that on February 24 to 27, the first stage of Assange’s extradition hearing was being adjudicated in the secretive Woolwich Crown Court embedded within the huge Belmarsh Prison nicknamed “British Gitmo”. Luckily for us, Ambassador Craig Murray, the indomitable truth fighter, went there, waited in line for hours in the rain, underwent searches and discomfort, and wrote an extensive report (12,000 words) on this travesty of justice that went under the name of a ‘trial’. His reports leave nothing out, from the threatening atmosphere to the sinister legal arguments. He captured the menace and the abuse bordering with public torture, and delivered it to the world, something that none of the journalists on the payroll of the mass media had been allowed to do. Here are some insights from his report in my free rendering augmented with other sources.
The Court is designed with no other purpose than to exclude the public, on an island accessible only through navigating a maze of dual carriageways, the entire location and architecture of the building is predicated on preventing public access. It is in truth just the sentencing wing of Belmarsh prison.
The latest of Craig Murray’s stories on the Julian Assange extradition proceeding, which he has attended every day. From Murray at craigmurray.org.uk:
In Thursday’s separate hearing on allowing Assange out of the armoured box to sit with his legal team, I witnessed directly that Baraitser’s ruling against Assange was brought by her into court BEFORE she heard defence counsel put the arguments, and delivered by her entirely unchanged.
I might start by explaining to you my position in the public gallery vis a vis the judge. All week I deliberately sat in the front, right hand seat. The gallery looks out through an armoured glass window at a height of about seven feet above the courtroom. It runs down one side of the court, and the extreme right hand end of the public gallery is above the judge’s bench, which sits below perpendicular to it. Remarkably therefore from the right hand seats of the public gallery you have an uninterrupted view of the top of the whole of the judge’s bench, and can see all the judge’s papers and computer screen.
Mark Summers QC outlined that in the case of Belousov vs Russia the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg ruled against the state of Russia because Belousov had been tried in a glass cage practically identical in construction and in position in court to that in which Assange now was. It hindered his participation in the trial and his free access to counsel, and deprived him of human dignity as a defendant.
Random but pertinent musings from Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:
Assange, verb. Use: To be assanged. Meaning: when the nationless alliance of elites imprison a dissident by using their power to manipulate vagaries in the laws of their respective nations. Eg “I have information on war crimes that I should leak but I don’t want to be assanged.”
Murderous governments who deceive their citizenry are not entitled to any degree of secrecy whatsoever.
A society is only as free as its most troublesome truth-teller.
The large and enthusiastic Assange demonstrations in the UK have filled me with gratitude and love, but they’ve also made me ashamed of Australia. Those crowds dwarf anything I’ve seen here in Melbourne, and he’s our man. The Brits are defending an Australian citizen better than Australia is.
This is what happens when you use the same mass media propaganda that’s used everywhere else on a population whose only cultural value is not getting worked up about things. Wake up, Australia! For fuck’s sake, now is the time to start caring about something!
Craig Murray reports on the fourth day of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing. From Murray at craigmurray.org.uk:
Please try this experiment for me.
Try asking this question out loud, in a tone of intellectual interest and engagement: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.
Now try asking this question out loud, in a tone of hostility and incredulity bordering on sarcasm: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.
Firstly, congratulations on your acting skills; you take direction very well. Secondly, is it not fascinating how precisely the same words can convey the opposite meaning dependent on modulation of stress, pitch, and volume?
Yesterday the prosecution continued its argument that the provision in the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty that bars extradition for political offences is a dead letter, and that Julian Assange’s objectives are not political in any event. James Lewis QC for the prosecution spoke for about an hour, and Edward Fitzgerald QC replied for the defence for about the same time. During Lewis’s presentation, he was interrupted by Judge Baraitser precisely once. During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjected seventeen times.
In the transcript, those interruptions will not look unreasonable:
“Could you clarify that for me Mr Fitzgerald…”
“So how do you cope with Mr Lewis’s point that…”
“But surely that’s a circular argument…”
“But it’s not incorporated, is it?…”
All these and the other dozen interruptions were designed to appear to show the judge attempting to clarify the defence’s argument in a spirit of intellectual testing. But if you heard the tone of Baraitser’s voice, saw her body language and facial expressions, it was anything but.
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