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Will Julian Assange Die in Prison?

Will Julian Assange Die in Prison?

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on April 11, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is suffering significant “psychological torture” and abuse in the London prison where he is being held, and his life is now “at risk,” according to an independent UN rights expert. A senior member of his legal team believes Assange may not live until the end of the extradition process.

Assange mumbled, stuttered, and struggled to say his own name and date of birth when he appeared in court on October 21. The Wikileaks founder is being subjected to long drawn-out “psychological torture” as he battles to prevent his extradition to the United States where he faces a slew of espionage charges, warns Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

“Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr. Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life,” Melzer said in a statement on Friday.

“His physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration,” writes former British ambassador Craig Murray, who was present at the October hearing. “When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both… his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought… Until yesterday I had always been quietly skeptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture… and skeptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Propaganda Narratives Are Custom-Made For Each Ideological Echo Chamber

Propaganda Narratives Are Custom-Made For Each Ideological Echo Chamber

Yesterday I started a thread on Twitter lamenting the fact that support for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange has been eroded all across the political spectrum since 2016 by the establishment smear campaign.

I started the thread because I’d just been reflecting on how some of the first clumsy articles I ever wrote for this gig were basically just me marvelling at how support for Assange had united Berners, Trumpers, Greens, anarchists, libertarians and hackers against those who sought to silence him. Yet today I routinely see people from those factions smearing him because, at some point between then and now, an establishment propaganda narrative got through to them.

Almost immediately after I made the initial post, commenters started lining up to unintentionally prove me right. A Bernie supporter came in to proclaim that Assange is “a giant piece of shit”, and a liberal claimed Assange was “a de facto member of an election campaign to get a white nationalist elected president of the U.S.”

Multiple Trump supporters came forward arguing in support of their president’s persecution of Assange, arguing that his imprisonment and pending extradition is no big deal, claiming Assange is a CIA asset, saying Assange needs to be punished for publishing US military secrets, arguing that Trump is actually just trying to force Assange to give up his sources for the 2016 publications (as though a president coercing a journalist to give up a source with the threat of life in prison would be perfectly fine and constitutional), and claiming Assange’s persecution is coming exclusively from the UK and not the US (the US extradition request is the only reason for his continued imprisonment and US officials are openly giving instructions to British prosecutors in the courtroom).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Roger Waters Stunned At Assange’s Plight: “Orwell & Huxley Were Both Right”

Roger Waters Stunned At Assange’s Plight: “Orwell & Huxley Were Both Right”

Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters has been an outspoken advocate for Julian Assange, but the most recent sight of the reporter’s physical and mental health, at his recent court appearance, has Waters stepping up his criticism of the establishment’s slow-assassination of the exposer of US war crimes.

Referring to a UK judge’s decision on Monday to deny the WikiLeaks founder a delay in US extradition proceedings, Waters proclaimed:

“Orwell and Huxley were always arguing about who had the closest view of what dystopia might look like in the future… I think we got a lot of both.” 

As RT summarizes, the world described by George Orwell in ‘1984’ was one of mass surveillance and paranoia, where anyone could be snatched off the street by the state and made disappear for ‘wrongthink’. In ‘Brave New World’ Aldous Huxley, on the other hand, described a future where mass entertainment and the easy availability of pleasure-giving drugs made dissent virtually impossible.

“We have the ‘Big Brother’ Orwellian dystopian nightmare, it happened two days ago in that magistrate’s court,” he explained to RT.

And, exposing our ‘Brave New World’-isms, Waters points out that:

“You only have to look out in the street and see the people, the walking dead going by… and taking absolutely no notice of the fact that this journalist is being murdered by our government.”

“And we walk by with our earbuds in… clicking away on our iPhones as we walk unthinking, unfeeling, uncaring through our lives, and allow this bullshit to take place in our names, in our courts,” Waters concluded.

Together with veteran journalist John Pilger, the Pink Floyd frontman hosted a rally for Assange in front of the British Home Office in September, that went unreported by every single British newspaper.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Only Cowards And Sadists Support The Persecution Of Assange

Only Cowards And Sadists Support The Persecution Of Assange

Former British ambassador Craig Murray has published a very disturbing account of Julian Assange’s court appearance yesterday which I recommend reading in full. There have been many reports published about Assange’s case management hearing, but the combination of Murray’s prior experience with torture victims, his familiarity with British courts, his friendship with Assange, and his lack of reverence for western power structures allowed for a much more penetrating insight into what happened than anyone else has been able to provide so far.

Here is a small excerpt:

Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.

Until yesterday I had always been quietly sceptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – and sceptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Society Is Only As Free As Its Most Troublesome Political Dissident

A Society Is Only As Free As Its Most Troublesome Political Dissident

You wouldn’t know it from any western mass media reporting as of this writing, but musician Roger Waters is about to perform the iconic Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here” in front of the office of British Home Secretary Priti Patel in order to draw attention to the persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Earlier this year, billionaire Richard Branson staged a “Live Aid”-stye concert in Colombia near the Venezuela border with the purported goal of helping the Venezuelan people. In reality the stunt was nothing other than a ploy to advance the entirely false narratives that President Maduro was blockading bridges and turning away all foreign aid, and the funds raised ended up being embezzledby the Trump-backed regime change opposition group led by US puppet Juan Guaido. The British mass media, however, went absolutely bananas over the story. Each word in this sentence ishyperlinked to a different story about the concert from mass media outlets in the UK alone. And that was a concert on the other side of the planet, while the Assange event is happening right in London, in front of the office of a prominent British official, featuring one of the greatest British rock musicians of all time.

This discrepancy tells you everything you need to know about the so-called “free press” in western society, and indeed about western society itself.

This discrepancy tells you everything you need to know about the so-called “free press” in western society, and indeed about western society itself.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Breaking The Media Blackout on the Imprisonment of Julian Assange

Julian Assange feature photo

Breaking The Media Blackout on the Imprisonment of Julian Assange

The same media that has spent years dragging Assange’s name through the mud is now engaging in a blackout on his treatment. If you are waiting for corporate media pundits to defend freedom of the press, you’re going to be disappointed.

The role of journalism in a democracy is publishing information that holds the powerful to account — the kind of information that empowers the public to become more engaged citizens in their communities so that we can vote in representatives that work in the interest of “we the people.” 

There is perhaps no better example of watchdog journalism that holds the powerful to account and exposes their corruption than that of WikiLeaks, which exposed to the world evidence of widespread war crimes the U.S. military was committing in Iraq, including the killing of two Reuters journalists; showed that the U.S. government and large corporations were using private intelligence agencies to spy on activists and protesters; and revealed how the military hid tortured Guantanamo Bay prisoners from Red Cross inspectors. 

It’s this kind of real journalism that our First Amendment was meant to protect but engaging in it has instead made WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange the target of a massive smear campaign for the last several years — including false claims that Assange is working with Vladimir Putin and the Russians and hackers, as well as open calls by corporate media pundits for him to be assassinated. 

The allegations that Assange conspired with Putin to undermine the 2016 election and American democracy as a whole fell completely flat earlier this month when a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed this case as “factually implausible,” with the judge noting that at no point does the prosecution’s “threadbare” argument show “any facts” at all, and concluding that the idea that Assange conspired with Russia against the Democratic Party or America is “entirely divorced from the facts.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Just World Fallacy: Why People Bash Assange And Defend Power

The Just World Fallacy: Why People Bash Assange And Defend Power

write a lot about how important it is for political dissidents to research and understand cognitive biases, the large number of well-documented logical glitches in the way human brains process information. I do this because the science of modern propaganda has been in research and development for more than a century, so if public domain psychology is aware of these glitches we can be absolutely certain that the propagandists are as well, and that they are exploiting those glitches currently.

If you don’t cultivate a healthy respect for just how advanced modern propaganda has become, you won’t be able to understand what the propagandists are doing when observing the behaviors of the political/media class, and you’ll almost certainly wind up being fooled by the propaganda machine in various ways yourself.

The fact that people think of themselves as rational creatures, but in reality have many large cognitive vulnerabilities which can and will be exploited to cause them to interpret data in an irrational way, is not some amusing-yet-inconsequential bit of trivia. It’s an absolutely crucial piece of the puzzle in understanding why the world is as messed up as it is, and in figuring out how to fix it. The immense political consequences of this reality extend into every facet of civilization.

For example, have you ever wondered why ordinary people you know in real life often harbor highly negative opinions about Julian Assange, seemingly to no benefit for themselves, even while he’s being viciously persecuted for his truthful publications by some of the most corrupt political forces on the planet? You’ve probably correctly concluded that it’s because they’re propagandized, but have you ever wondered why that propaganda works? Even on some of the more intelligent people you know?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New CNN Assange Smear Piece Is Amazingly Dishonest, Even For CNN

New CNN Assange Smear Piece Is Amazingly Dishonest, Even For CNN

CNN has published an unbelievably brazen and dishonest smear piece on Julian Assange, easily the most egregious article of its kind since the notoriously bogus Assange-Manafort report by The Guardian last year. It contains none of the “exclusive” documents which it claims substantiate its smears, relying solely on vague unsubstantiated assertions and easily debunked lies to paint the WikiLeaks founder in a negative light.

And let’s be clear right off the bat, it is most certainly a smear piece. The article, titled “Exclusive: Security reports reveal how Assange turned an embassy into a command post for election meddling”, admits that it exists for the sole purpose of tarnishing Assange’s reputation when it reports, with no evidence whatsoever, that while at the Ecuadorian embassy Assange once “smeared feces on the walls out of anger.” Not “reportedly”. Not “the Ecuadorian government claims.” CNN reported it as a fact, as an event that is known to have happened. This is journalistic malpractice, and it isn’t an accident.

Whenever you see any “news” report citing this claim, you are witnessing a standard smear tactic of the plutocratic media. Whenever you see them citing this claim as a concrete, verified fact, you are witnessing an especially aggressive and deliberate psyop. The Ecuadorian embassy was easily the most-surveilled building in the world during Assange’s stay there, and the Ecuadorian government has leaked photos of Assange’s living quarters to the media in an attempt to paint him as a messy houseguest in need of eviction, so if the “feces on the walls” event had ever transpired you would have seen photos of it, whether you wanted to or not. It never happened.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Power Versus the Press: The Extradition Cases of Pinochet & Assange

Power Versus the Press: The Extradition Cases of Pinochet & Assange

With Julian Assange facing possible extradition from Britain to the U.S. for publishing classified secrets, Elizabeth Vos reflects on the parallel but divergent case of a notorious Chilean dictator.

Eight months from now one of the most consequential extradition hearings in recent history will take place in Great Britain when a British court and the home secretary will determine whether WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange will be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges for the crime of journalism.

Twenty-one years ago, in another historic extradition case, Britain had to decide whether to send former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to Spain for the crime of mass murder.

Pinochet in 1982 motorcade. (Ben2, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

In October 1998, Pinochet, whose regime became a byword for political killings, “disappearances” and torture, was arrested in London while there for medical treatment.

A judge in Madrid,  Baltasar Garzón, sought his extradition in connection with the deaths of Spanish citizens in Chile.

Citing the aging Pinochet’s inability to stand trial, the United Kingdom in 2000 ultimately prevented him from being extradited to Spain where he would have faced prosecution for human rights abuses.

At an early point in the proceedings, Pinochet’s lawyer, Clare Montgomery, made an argument in his defense that had nothing to do with age or poor health.   

“States and the organs of state, including heads of state and former heads of state, are entitled to absolute immunity from criminal proceedings in the national courts of other countries,” the  Guardianquoted Montgomery as saying. She argued that crimes against humanity should be narrowly defined within the context of international warfare, as the BBC reported.

Sa …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This Assange Supporter Excoriating The Press Is The Best Thing You’ll Watch All Day

This Assange Supporter Excoriating The Press Is The Best Thing You’ll Watch All Day

Julian Assange’s latest US extradition hearing was a brief affair which saw the WikiLeaks founder’s next hearing scheduled for sometime after the end of February, nearly at the end of his 50-week sentence for a bail conditions violation. According to Reuters Assange was lucid and spirited enough to argue with the prosecution a bit, telling the American lawyer via videolink, “I didn’t break any password whatsoever.”

So that’s somewhat encouraging. A short time earlier, on the other side of the Westminster Magistrates courthouse wall, a far more animated scene had just been live-streamed to the world.

During a lively pro-Assange demonstration outside, independent reporter and political commentator Gordon Dimmack took the bullhorn, pointed it at the press crew which had gathered awaiting news from the courthouse, and delivered a scathing rebuke to them which is about the most delightful and cathartic thing that an Assange supporter can possibly watch.

“Today’s the day that journalism gets put on trial,” Dimmack said. “And it’s interesting that behind me there are this many cameras. There haven’t been this many cameras for quite a while. It’s interesting that when Julian was dragged out and kidnapped from within that Ecuadorian embassy, all of you guys had actually gone home, and it was a Russian TV station that actually caught it, Ruptly. It’s almost as if you don’t care.”

“For seven years you have smeared and slandered that man who is going to appear on video in that court in about fifteen minutes,” Dimmack told the mainstream press, right to their fucking faces. “You are all responsible for what has happened today! All of you in the media! Every one of you. You have got blood on your hands.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Signs DOJ Request To Extradite Assange; Lengthy Legal Battle To Ensue

UK Signs DOJ Request To Extradite Assange; Lengthy Legal Battle To Ensue

Early on Thursday UK home secretary Sajid Javid revealed that he has signed a US extradition request for Julian Assange, putting the WikiLeaks founder a step closer to facing prosecution for espionage and hacking on American soil, where he’s almost assured life in prison or worse after the US justice department filed 17 new charges against him following the initial May count of conspiring with Chelsea Manning (totaling 18 counts).

But first a lengthy legal battle will likely ensue while he’s held at London’s maximum security Belmarsh prison on skipping bail. The extradition order, which was expected, is the first step in the process. The home secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today on Thursday:

He’s rightly behind bars. There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.

Among the 18 US counts include charges under the Espionage Act, which could potentially bring the death penalty; however, Assange’s lawyers can use the potential for a capital crimes case hanging over him in the US to argue British law prevents his extradition to American soil (according to the “Extradition Act 2003”).

The UK was expected to weigh the option of extraditing him to either Sweden or the US, but last week a court in Upssala declared he did not need to be detained by Swedish authorities

Javid further said

“It is a decision ultimately for the courts, but there is a very important part of it for the home secretary and I want to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request.” He added, “so I’ve signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Must Defend Assange to Save Democracy from American Despotism

We Must Defend Assange to Save Democracy from American Despotism

Photograph Source Elekhh – CC BY-SA 3.0

On Thursday, the Department of Justice made an unprecedented move to file 17 Espionage Act charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This indictment was what Assange and his legal team have been warning about since 2010 and the risk of extradition was the sole reason why Assange sought and was granted political asylum by Ecuador in 2012.

Free press defenders condemned this aggressive prosecution of Assange by the Trump administration as “the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century”. This attack on free press as a pillar of democracy was predicted long ago by a leading figure in America’s early development. Thomas Jefferson feared that there would come a time when the American system of government would degenerate into a form of “elective despotism”.

Assange echoed this warning from one of America’s founding fathers in his message to his supporters: “I told you so”, which he deliveredthrough his lawyer after he was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He was not only aware of this unaccounted power inside this nation, but also through his work with WikiLeaks, he shed light on its shadowy activities, and provided ordinary people means to counter this force that has now become tyrannical.

WikiLeaks by publishing truthful information about the US government, revealing its war crimes, corruption and human rights abuses, came head to head with the Pentagon and the US State Department. Long before Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, Assange alerted public about mass surveillance, informing people how the Internet “has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism”.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tide of Public Opinion is Turning in Assange’s Favor

Tide of Public Opinion is Turning in Assange’s Favor

Corporate media & some politicos who opposed Assange after the 2016 election have radically changed their tune, favorably influencing public opinion after the Espionage Act indictment of the WikiLeak‘s founder, reports Joe Lauria.

The indictment of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act has profoundly affected press coverage of the WikiLeaks founder, with much of the media turning suddenly and decisively in his favor after  years of vilifying him.

The sharp change has also come from some politicians, and significantly, from two Justice Department prosecutors who went public to express their dissent about using the Espionage Act to indict Assange.

To the extent that public opinion matters, the sea-change in coverage could have an effect on the British or Swedish governments’ decision to extradite Assange to the United States to face the charges. 

Used to Be a Russian Agent

Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election establishment media, fueled by the Mueller probe, has essentially branded Assange a Russian agent who worked to undermine American democracy. 

Focusing on his personality rather than his work, the media mostly cheered his arrest by British police on April 11 after his political asylum was illegally revoked by Ecuador in its London embassy.

Assange’s initial indictment for conspiracy to intrude into a government computer was portrayed by corporate media as the work of a “hacker” and not a journalist, who doesn’t merit First Amendment protection.

But the superseding indictment under the Espionage Act last Thursday has changed all that. 

Rather than criminal activity, the indictment actually describes routine journalistic work, such as encouraging sources to turn over sensitive information and hiding a source’s identity.  

Since the Trump administration has crossed the red line criminalizing  what establishment journalists do all the time, establishment journalists have come full-square against the indictment and behind Assange.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Professional Assange Smearers Finally Realize His Fate Is Tied To Theirs

Professional Assange Smearers Finally Realize His Fate Is Tied To Theirs

Rachel Maddow has aired a segment condemning the new indictment against Julian Assange for 17 alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

Yes, that Rachel Maddow.

MSNBC’s top host began the segment after it was introduced by Chris Hayes, agreeing with her colleague that it’s surprising that more news outlets aren’t giving this story more “wall to wall” coverage, given its immense significance. She recapped Assange’s various legal struggles up until this point, then accurately described Assange’s new Espionage Act charges for publishing secret documents.

“And these new charges are not about stealing classified information or outsmarting computer systems in order to illegally obtain classified information,” Maddow said. “It’s not about that. These new charges are trying to prosecute Assange for publishing that stolen, secret material which was obtained by somebody else. And that is a whole different kettle of fish then what he was initially charged with.”

“By charging Assange for publishing that stuff that was taken by Manning, by issuing these charges today, the Justice Department has just done something you might have otherwise thought was impossible,” Maddow added after explaining the unprecedented nature of this case. “The Justice Department today, the Trump administration today, just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange’s side of the ledger. On his side of the fight. Which, I know, is unimaginable. But that is because the government is now trying to assert this brand new right to criminally prosecute people for publishing secret stuff, and newspapers and magazines and investigative journalists and all sorts of different entities publish secret stuff all the time. That is the bread and butter of what we do.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

VIPS: Extradition of Julian Assange Threatens Us All

VIPS: Extradition of Julian Assange Threatens Us All

Retaliation against Julian Assange over the past decade plus replicates a pattern of ruthless political retaliation against whistleblowers, in particular those who reveal truths hidden by illegal secrecy, VIPS says.

DATE: April 30, 2019 

MEMORANDUM FOR: The governments and people of the United Kingdom and the United States

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Extradition of Julian Assange Threatens Us All

On April 11, London police forcibly removed WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange from the embassy of Ecuador after that country’s president, Lenin Moreno, abruptly revoked his predecessor’s grant of asylum. The United States government immediately requested Assange’s extradition for prosecution under a charge of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Former U.S. Government officials promptly appeared in popular media offering soothing assurances that Assange’s arrest threatens neither constitutional rights nor the practice of journalism, and major newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post fell into line.

Not So Fast

Others found reason for concern in the details of the indictment. Carie DeCel, a staff attorney for the Knight First Amendment Institute, noted that the indictment goes beyond simply stating the computer intrusion charge and “includes many more allegations that reach more broadly into typical journalistic practices, including communication with a source, encouraging a source to share information, and protecting a source.”

In an analysis of the indictment’s implications, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) observed that it includes an allegation that “Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure…including by removing usernames from the disclosed information and deleting chat logs between Assange and Manning,” and that they “used a special folder on a cloud drop box of WikiLeaks to transmit classified records.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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