Tag Archives: Julian Assange

Doctors for Assange Say UK May be Liable for His Torture, from Consortium News

The British and US governments want to kill Julian Assange as quickly as possible, without it looking like murder. From consortiumnews.com:

In a new letter to the British medical journal The Lancet, Doctors for Assange say that the British government may be held legally responsible for the torture of the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher.

Here is the doctors’ statement followed by the letter to The Lancet and the doctors’ letter to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland.

UK officials may be legally culpable in the torture of Julian Assange

Doctors have warned that UK officials could be held accountable for the torture of Julian Assange in an open letter published in The Lancet on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The 216 undersigned physicians and psychologists from 33 countries have accused UK and U.S. government officials of intensifying Julian Assange’s psychological torture in spite of the world’s leading authorities on human rights and international law calling for his immediate release from prison.

Clinical Psychologist and Australian co-author of the publication, ‘The ongoing torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange’, Dr Lissa Johnson said the failure to properly treat Mr Assange may amount to an act of torture in which state officials, from parliament to court to prison, risk being judged complicit.

“Our letter is published just two days after the US Department of Justice announced a new superseding indictment against Assange representing yet another escalation in psychological torture tactics,” said Dr Johnson.

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ASSANGE EXTRADITION: ’60 Minutes’ Gives Assange Fair Shake, from Consortium News

How sad. It’s now news when the mainstream gives someone like Julian Assange a “fair shake.” From consortiumnews.com:

The Australian version of the CBS News program ’60 Minutes’ presented a segment on Julian Assange Sunday night that was missing the usual mainstream media smears and distortions about his case.

Australia’s 60 Minutes newsmagazine Sunday night aired an extensive interview with Stella Morris, Julian Assange’s partner, and featured the two boys the couple have had together.  While the promos for the segment during the week indicated it would focus on salacious questions such as, “How does one get pregnant in an embassy?” and “Did Pamela Anderson give your relationship cover?,” the 24-minute spot ditched the usual smears against the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher and instead humanized him to a large national audience.

The segment made clear Assange was never charged with rape in Sweden, was only wanted for questioning, and that that inquiry has been closed. It reports that the CIA surveilled Assange 24/7 in the embassy, including on privileged conversations with his lawyers; that the CIA plotted to kidnap Assange, poison him and steal one of his boy’s diapers for DNA to prove it was his child. The interview with Australian MP Andrew Wilkie makes clear why the U.S. espionage charges against Assange are really an assault on journalism.

The program ends with an appeal from Morris to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison to apply pressure on the British government to release Assange from high-security Belmarsh prison where he is isolated 23-hours a day on remand waiting a decision on a U.S. extradition request.

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Why Julian Assange must urgently be freed, by Stella Moris

Stella Moris is Julian Assange’s partner and they have two children. From Moris at english.elpais.com:

I want my children to believe that inequitable treatment is not tolerated in mature democracies

The life of my partner, Julian Assange, is at severe risk. He is on remand at HMP Belmarsh, and Covid-19 is spreading within its walls.

Julian and I have two little boys. Since becoming a mother, I have been reflecting on my own childhood.

My parents are European, but when I was little we lived in Botswana, five miles from the border with Apartheid South Africa. Many of my parents’ friends came from across the border: writers, painters, conscientious objectors. It was an unlikely centre for artistic creativity and intellectual exchange.

The history books describe Apartheid as institutional segregation, but it was much more than that. Segregation occurred in broad daylight. The abductions, torture and killings occurred at night.

The foundations of the Apartheid system were precarious, so the regime met ideas of political reform with live ammunition. In June 1985, South African assassination squads crossed the border armed with machine guns, mortars and grenades. As soon as gunfire burst into the night, my parents wrapped me in a blanket. I slept as my parents raced the car to safety. The sound of explosions carried through the capital for the hour and a half that it took to kill twelve people.

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ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition, by Joe Lauria

Governments have long used sedition laws to go after their critics. From Joe Lauria at consortiumnews.com:

The U.S. is trying to extradite Julian Assange to stand trial for espionage, but even though sedition is no longer on the books, that’s what the U.S. is really charging him with, says Joe Lauria.

The United States has had two sedition laws in its history. Both were repealed within three years. Britain repealed its 17th Century sedition law in 2009. Though this crime is no longer on the books, the crime of sedition is really what both governments are accusing Julian Assange of.

The campaign of smears, the weakness of the case and the language of his indictment proves it.

The imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher has been indicted on 17 counts of espionage under the 1917 U.S. Espionage Act on a technicality: the unauthorized possession and dissemination of classified material—something that has been performed by countless journalists and publishers over the decades. It conflicts head on with the First Amendment.

But espionage isn’t really what the government is after. Assange did not pass state secrets to an enemy of the United States, as in a classic espionage case, but rather to the public, which the government might well consider the enemy.

Deep Roots

Assange revealed crimes and corruption by the state. Punishing such legitimate criticism of government as sedition has deep roots in British and American history.

Tybun Tree, place of execution near where Marble Arch now stands in London.

Sedition was seen in the Elizabethan era as the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority.” Punishment included beheading and dismemberment.

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Assange Extradition: The Deadly Magistrate, by Craig Murray

The British are going to kill Assange before he ever makes it to America. From Craig Murray at antiwar.com:

Mark Sommers QC, the extremely erudite and bookish second counsel for Julian Assange in his extradition hearing, trembled with anger in court. Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser had just made a ruling that the names of Julian Assange’s partner and young children could be published, which she stated was in the interests of “open justice”. His partner had submitted a letter in support of his Covid-19 related bail application (which Baraitser had summarily dismissed) to state he had a family to live with in London. Baraitser said that it was therefore in the interests of open justice that the family’s names be made public, and said that the defense had not convincingly shown this would cause any threat to their security or well-being. It was at this point Sommers barely kept control. He leapt to his feet and gave notice of an appeal to the High Court, asking for a 14 day stay. Baraitser granted four days, until 4 pm on Friday.

I am in lockdown in Edinburgh, but received three separate eye witness reports. They are unanimous that yet again Baraitser entered the court carrying pre-written judgments before hearing oral argument; pre-written judgments she gave no appearance of amending.

There have been two Covid-19 deaths in Belmarsh prison so far. For obvious reasons the disease is ripping through the jail like wildfire. The Department of Justice is admitting to one death, and refuses to give statistics for the number of cases. As even very sick prisoners are not being tested, the figures would arguably not mean much anyway. As the court heard at the bail application, over 150 Belmarsh prison staff are off work self-isolating and the prison is scarcely functioning. It is the most complete definition of lockdown.

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Assange’s Extradition: Covid-19 Brings Death Sentence to Free Speech, by Nozomi Hayase

There are 800 inmates at Britain’s Belmarsh maximum security prison. Only two are being held for violating bail conditions. One of them is Julian Assange. Although many low risk prisoners across England and Wales will be released as a preventative measure against the coronavirus outbreak, Assange will not be one of them. From Nozomi Hayase at antiwar.com:

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the world screeched to a halt, the prosecution of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange continues. At the case management court hearing on Tuesday, April 7, Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Julian Assange’s extradition hearing would resume in May as previously planned despite the global spread of coronavirus and that, if needed, there would possibly be a further hearing in July.

The effect of the COVID-19 outbreak was notable in the unusually empty courtroom. There were reportedly five journalists spaced along the counsel benches and five supporters in the gallery, with all lawyers dialing in. Assange – who is being held solely for the US extradition request in southeast London’s high-security Belmarsh prison – was not present in person or via videolink.

Deepa Govindarajan Driver, one of the five members of the public in the courthouse, later shared her account: that she and several others heard a court official say that Assange was “unwell” and therefore not able to attend the hearing.

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ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Assange Won’t Be Released Amid Virus Crisis, Australian Newswire Reports, from Consortium News

If anyone is suffering from a compromised immune system and should receive a high degree of care amidst the coronavirus outbreak it’s Julian Assange. From consortiumnews.com:

The British Ministry of Justice has told the Australian Associated Press that Julian Assange is not eligible for early release from prison in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is not eligible for an early Covid-19 release from prison with other inmates because he is not serving a criminal sentence, the Australian Associated Press has reported.

British Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said Saturday that some low-risk inmates, weeks from release, will be let go with monitoring devices to help avoid a further outbreak of Covid-19 in the nations’ prisons.

Robert Buckland (Wikipedia)

So far 88 prisoners and 15 staff have tested positive for the virus in British prisons. More than 25 percent of the nations’ prison staff are quarantining themselves.

“This government is committed to ensuring that justice is served to those who break the law,” Buckland said in a statement. “But this is an unprecedented situation because if coronavirus takes hold in our prisons, the NHS could be overwhelmed and more lives put at risk.”

The Ministry of Justice told the AAP that Assange won’t be among those released because he isn’t serving a custodial sentence. In other words, because he has not been convicted of a crime, and is instead only being held on remand pending the outcome of the U.S. extradition request, he must remain in Belmarsh prison with high-risk inmates–the most serious and hardened criminals.

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Chelsea Manning Is Free From Jail, Faces Exorbitant Fines, by Kevin B. Zeese and Margaret Flowers

Chelsea Manning recently tried to kill herself. She has been released from jail, but not from $256,000 in fines. From Kevin B. Zeese and Margaret Flowers at antiwar.com:

Alexandria – Yesterday, March 12, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia ended the grand jury of Julian Assange and Wikileaks in which Chelsea Manning refused to testify. As a result, US District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered the immediate release of Chelsea Manning.

Manning has been incarcerated since May 2019. Judge Trenga had tried to coerce Manning into testifying by imposing a fine for every day she resisted even though she said repeatedly that she would not violate her principles, which include opposition to the secret grand jury system, and would never testify.

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Espionage Act Reform Bill Would Protect Journalists Like Julian Assange, by Kevin Gosztola

A new bill, which probably has little chance of becoming law, would make only government employees with security clearances criminally liable for revealing classified information. From Kevin Gosztola at mintpressnews.com:

Shadowproof — Under legislation proposed in Congress, the United States government would not be able to prosecute journalists like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who publish classified information.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Ro Khanna introduced the Espionage Act Reform Act to reaffirm “First Amendment protections for journalists” and ensure “whistleblowers can effectively report waste, fraud, and abuse to Congress.”

Wyden declared in a press statement, “The Espionage Act currently provides sweeping powers for a rogue attorney general like Bill Barr or unscrupulous president like Donald Trump to target journalists and whistleblowers who reveal information they’d rather keep secret. This bill ensures only personnel with security clearances can be prosecuted for improperly revealing classified information.”

It would protect the rights of members of the press that “solicit, obtain, or publish government secrets” from prosecution.

The legislation would also protect disclosures of classified information related to signals intelligence to any member of Congress.

Whistleblower protections would be able to provide classified information to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and inspector generals to help them investigate privacy abuses. The government would not be able to invoke secrecy laws to shut down reviews of their conduct.

Additionally, a summary [PDF] indicates it would shield “cybersecurity experts from prosecution when they publish research showing discoveries of government backdoors in encryption algorithms.”

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Humanity Is Making A Very Important Decision When It Comes To Assange, by Caitlin Johnstone

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?” Caitlin Johnstone asks the only questions that matter. From Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The propagandists have all gone dead silent on the WikiLeaks founder they previously were smearing with relentless viciousness, because they no longer have an argument. The facts are all in, and yes, it turns out the US government is certainly and undeniably working to exploit legal loopholes to imprison a journalist for exposing its war crimes. That is happening, and there is no justifying it.

So the narrative managers, by and large, have gone silent.

Which is good. Because it gives us an opening to seize control of the narrative.

It’s time to go on the offensive with this. Assange supporters have gotten so used to playing defense that it hasn’t fully occurred to us to go on a full-blown charge. I’ve been guilty of this as well; I’ll be letting myself get bogged down in some old, obsolete debate with someone about some obscure aspect of the Swedish case or something, not realizing that none of that matters anymore. All the narrative manipulations that were used to get Assange to this point are impotent, irrelevant expenditures of energy compared to the fact that we now have undeniable evidence that the US government is working to set a precedent which will allow it to jail any journalist who exposes its misdeeds, and we can now force Assange’s smearers to confront this reality.

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

That’s the debate now. Not Russia. Not Sweden. Not whether he followed proper bail protocol or washed his dishes at the embassy. That’s old stuff. That’s obsolete. That’s playing defense.

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