Julian Assange’s indictment might have opened the floodgates for global persecution of journalists by governments. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
The Australian Federal Police have conducted two raids on journalists and seized documents in purportedly unrelated incidents in the span of just two days.
Yesterday the AFP raided the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst, seeking information related to her investigative report last year which exposed the fact that the Australian government has been discussing the possibility of giving itself unprecedented powers to spy on its own citizens. Today they raided the Sydney headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corp, seizing information related to a 2017 investigative report on possible war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan.
In a third, also ostensibly unrelated incident, another Australian reporter disclosed yesterday that the Department of Home Affairs has initiated an investigation of his reporting on a story about asylum seeker boats which could lead to an AFP criminal case, saying he’s being pressured to disclose his source.
The Assange indictment may have opened the floodgates for persecution of journalists. From Joe Lauria at consortiumnews.com:
Less than two months after the arrest of journalist Julian Assange, and two weeks after his indictment under the Espionage Act, emboldened governments have sent the police after journalists who’ve challenged the state. Joe Lauria reports.
Following the arrest and Espionage Act indictment of Julian Assange a number of police actions against journalists for publishing classified information and other journalistic activity has heightened fears among mainstream journalists that they could be next.
Police in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday raided the offices of the taxpayer-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, copying thousands of files related to a 2017 ABC broadcast that revealedallegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
Three Australian Federal Police officers and three police technicians entered ABC’s Sydney headquarters with a search warrant that named two ABC investigative journalists and the network’s news director. The police demanded to look through the journalists’ emails, ABC reported.
David Anderson, the ABC managing director, said it was “highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way”.
Julian Assange’s Wikileaks indirectly aided President Trump’s election effort, but now Trump is going to let both Assange and Wikileaks twist in the wind. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:
Last week in an episode of my daily Ron Paul Liberty Report we discussed whether the US and British government were actually trying to kill jailed Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange. More than seven years ago Assange was granted asylum from the government of Ecuador over fears that espionage charges were being prepared against him by Washington. He spent those years in a small room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London without sunlight. Without fresh air. Without exercise. Without medical treatment.
Assange’s critics mocked him for entering the embassy, saying his fear that the US government would indict him was paranoia. Then the US-controlled International Monetary Fund dangled a four billion dollar loan in front of Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno (elected in 2017, replacing the president who granted him asylum), and Moreno eagerly handed Assange over to British authorities who the same day hauled him before the court to answer for skipping bail. No medical examination after what was seven years of house arrest. Straight to court. He was sentenced to 50 weeks – the maximum sentence.
And what happened while he was serving time in the notorious Belmarsh prison? The Trump Administration decided to go where the Obama Administration before him did not dare to tread: he was indicted on 17 counts under the US Espionage Act and now faces 170 years in prison – or worse – once the formality of his extradition hearing is over. He faces life in prison for acting as a journalist – publishing information about the US government that is clearly in the public interest.
You can cut the hypocrisy with a knife. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has just given a speech extolling the virtues of a free media, praising the journalists who’ve been brave enough to expose the truth about wicked governments in the face of tyrannical oppression. While he was preparing to give this speech, without any indication of any self-reflection at all, he defended the torture of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
After news broke that UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer had found that Julian Assange has been the victim of psychological torture for years, Hunt, who is gunning to become the UK’s next Prime Minister, accused him of interfering in British affairs and making “inflammatory statements”.
“This is wrong,” Hunt tweeted. “Assange chose to hide in the embassy and was always free to leave and face justice. The UN Special Rapporteur should allow British courts to make their judgements without his interference or inflammatory accusations.”
“With all due respect, Sir: Mr Assange was about as ‘free to leave’ as a someone sitting on a rubber boat in a shark pool,” Melzer replied. “As detailed in my formal letter to you, so far, UK courts have not shown the impartiality and objectivity required by the rule of law.”
Five nations have shredded the law in their vendetta against Julian Assange. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at the automaticearth.com:
With the news that Julian Assange is “wasting away” in Belmarsh prison hospital, and with UN rapporteur Professor Nils Melzer’s report detailing how this happens, I’m once again drawn towards the lawlessness that all “authorities” involved in his case have been displaying, and with impunity. They all apparently think they are literally above the law. Their own laws.
But they can’t be, nowhere, not above their respective national laws nor the international ones their countries have signed up to. They can’t, because that would instantly make any and all laws meaningless. So you tell me where we find ourselves today.
Australia not only refused Assange, a citizen, any help during his long ordeal, but prime minister Julia Gillard even threatened to strip Assange of his citizenship, until it was pointed out that it would be illegal for Australia to do so.
See, Cook is already skipping a step there. Gillard didn’t take Assange’s citizenship away, because that is against Australian law, but it’s just as much against Australian law for a government to let one of its citizens rot in some kind of hell. Still, they did let him rot, but as an Australian citizen. At that point, what difference does anything make anymore?
They’re killing Julian Assange. His death would be so convenient, and save everyone all that legal bother connected with rule of law, due process, and individual rights. From Caitlin Johnstone at ronpaulinstitute.org:
On the eighth of April, shortly before London police forcibly carried WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy, a doctor named Sondra S Crosby wrote a letter to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights requesting that the office look into Assange’s case. Today, following a scorching rebuke of multiple governments by UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer, mass media outlets around the world are reporting that Julian Assange has been found to be the victim of brutal psychological torture.
Melzer, who by his own admission began his investigation as someone who had “been affected by the same misguided smear campaign as everybody else” regarding Assange, speaks of Assange’s plight with the fresh-eyed ferocity of a man who has not been immersed in a soul-corroding career in establishment politics or mass media. A man has not been indoctrinated into accepting as normal the relentless, malicious character assassinations of the western political/media class against a publisher of inconvenient facts about the powerful. A man who, when looking deeply and objectively into the facts with uncorrupted vision, was able to see clearly just how unforgivably abusive Assange’s treatment has been.
“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” Melzer said. “The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”
The Espionage Act as applied to the Julian Assange indictment could set a precedent that destroys freedom of the press. From Matt Taibbi at rollingstone.com:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today sits in the Belmarsh High Security prison in southeast London. Not just for his sake but for everyone’s, we now have to hope he’s never moved from there to America.
The United States filed charges against Assange early last month. The case seemed to have been designed to assuage fears that speech freedoms or the press were being targeted.
That specific offense was “computer hacking conspiracy” from back in 2010. The “crime” was absurdly thin, a claim that Assange agreed (but failed, apparently) to try to help Chelsea Manning develop an administrative password that could have helped her conceal identity as she downloaded secrets. One typewritten phrase, “No luck so far,” was the damning piece of evidence.
The indictment of Julian Assange represents a direct assault on the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press. From Andrew Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:
“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
— First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
When James Madison agreed be the scrivener at the Constitutional Convention during the summer of 1787, he could not have known that just three years later he’d be the chair of the House of Representatives committee whose task it was to draft the Bill of Rights.
In doing so, he insisted that the word “the” precede the phrase “freedom of speech” in what was to become the First Amendment, so as to reflect its preexistence; meaning, the freedom of speech preexisted the United States. Madison believed that the pre-political rights, which he enumerated in the Bill of Rights, are natural to our humanity and he articulated as much in the Ninth Amendment, and in his speeches in support of the ratification of what would become the first 10 amendments.
A memory refresher on Wikileaks and Julian Assanges’ many valuable disclosures, from Lee Camp at mintpressnews.com:
Julian Assange is a dick. It’s important you understand that.
Assange and WikiLeaks revealed the American military’s war crimes, the American government’s corruption and the American corporate media’s pathetic servile flattery to the power elite. So, if you’re a member of our ruling class, you would view those as textbook examples of dickery.
In a moment I’m going to list all the ways Julian Assange changed the world by being a dick.
In an evolved and fully realized society, the oligarchy would see Assange as a dangerous criminal (which they do), and the average working men and women would view him as justice personified (which they don’t). We would celebrate him even as the mass media told us to hope for his downfall—like a Batman or a Robin Hood or an Ozzy Osbourne (the early years, not the cleaning-dog-turds-off-his-carpet years).
But we are not evolved and this is not Gotham City and average Americans don’t root for the truth. Many Americans cheer for Assange’s imprisonment. They believe the corporate plutocratic talking points and yearn for the days when we no longer have to hear about our country’s crimes against humanity or our bankers’ crimes against the economy. Subconsciously they must believe that a life in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains and know all about it thanks to the exhaustive efforts of an eccentric Australian is worse than one in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains yet know nothing about it.
There has been rampant misreporting of “facts” that are not facts concerning all aspects of the Julian Assange case. From Jonathan Cook at jonathan-cook.net:
It is astonishing how often one still hears well-informed, otherwise reasonable people say about Julian Assange: “But he ran away from Swedish rape charges by hiding in Ecuador’s embassy in London.”
That short sentence includes at least three factual errors. In fact, to repeat it, as so many people do, you would need to have been hiding under a rock for the past decade – or, amounting to much the same thing, been relying on the corporate media for your information about Assange, including from supposedly liberal outlets such as the Guardian and the BBC.
At the weekend, a Guardian editorial – the paper’s official voice and probably the segment most scrutinised by senior staff – made just such a false claim:
Then there is the rape charge that Mr Assange faced in Sweden and which led him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the first place.
The fact that the Guardian, supposedly the British media’s chief defender of liberal values, can make this error-strewn statement after nearly a decade of Assange-related coverage is simply astounding. And that it can make such a statement days after the US finally admittedthat it wants to lock up Assange for 175 years on bogus “espionage” charges – a hand anyone who wasn’t being wilfully blind always knew the US was preparing to play – is still more shocking.
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