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WATCH: ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: Implications for Press Freedom’

WATCH: ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: Implications for Press Freedom’

Watch CN Live!‘s simulcast on Sunday of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee’s production of Nils Melzer & Ray McGovern discussing the Julian Assange case and its impact on press freedom.

Watch the replay: 

Nils Melzer is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow, and holds the Human Rights Chair at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Ray McGovern is a former, longtime CIA Russia analyst, presidential daily briefer, and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Julian Assange’s extradition trial ended at the Old Bailey in September. More than 30 witnesses for the defense included Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky; the prosecutors declared standard journalistic practices to be crimes; and the judge cut the feed to all monitoring NGOs on the first day. Judge Vanessa Baraitser on Jan. 4 blocked Assange’s extradition to the U.S. but two days later denied him bail and sent the WikiLeaks‘ publisher to Belmarsh prison.
Forum Host: Ann Batiza

‘Journalists’ Who Smear Assange Are Pure Scum

‘Journalists’ Who Smear Assange Are Pure Scum

I wouldn’t have thought that any mass media reporters would have the temerity to continue the public smear campaign against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after it became clear to everyone that he was the subject of a brutal Trump administration prosecution aimed at criminalizing inconvenient journalism. But if there was going to be anyone to take up that flag, it would be the odious James Ball.

Ball, who as activist Suzie Dawson documented in 2016 has been working within the plutocratic media to destroy Assange’s reputation for years, has just published yet another disgusting smear piece titled “Julian Assange is no hero. I should know — I lived with him and his awful gang”, this time with Murdoch’s Sunday Times. Claiming that Assange is “Reckless and immoral in deed and word”, Ball spins the tortured journalist as a monster who must remain marginalized and never be trusted by sources again.

This would be the same James Ball who, as Financial Eyes recently observed, “admits to having taken money from the Integrity Initiative, a government and NATO funded propaganda unit designed to shape opinion in a direction hostile towards Russia and favourable towards increased militarism.”

 

This would also be the same James Ball who, a year before Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in which he’d taken political asylum fearing US extradition, authored a Guardian article titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride” and subtitled “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US, charges in Sweden have been dropped – and for the embassy, he’s lost his value as an icon”.

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

 

Chris Hedges: The Empire is Not Done with Julian Assange

Chris Hedges: The Empire is Not Done with Julian Assange

As is clear from the memoir of one of his attorneys, Michael Ratner, the ends have always justified the means for those demanding the WikiLeaks‘ publisher’s global persecution.

(Original illustration for ScheerPost by Mr. Fish)

Shortly after WikiLeaks released the “Iraq War Logs” in October 2010, which documented numerous U.S.  war crimes — including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the “Collateral Murder” video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians who had approached too closely to U.S. checkpoints — the towering civil rights attorneys Michael Ratner and Len Weinglass, who had defended Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case, met Julian Assange in a studio apartment in Central London, according to Ratner’s newly released memoir Moving the Bar.

Assange had just returned to London from Sweden where he had attempted to create the legal framework to protect WikiLeaks’ servers in Sweden.  Shortly after his arrival in Stockholm, his personal bank cards were blocked.  He had no access to funds and was dependent on supporters.  Two of these supporters were women with whom he had consensual sex.  As he was preparing to leave, the Swedish media announced that he was wanted for questioning about allegations of rape.

The women, who never accused Assange of rape, wanted him to take an STD test.  They had approached the police about compelling him to comply. “I did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange,” texted one of them on Aug. 20 while she was still at the police station, but “the police were keen on getting their hands on him.” She said she felt “railroaded by the police.”

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

Wikileaks Cables: Saudi Arabia Oil Reserves Overstated

The United States fears that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom’s crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300 billion barrels — nearly 40%.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their OPEC cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco’s 12.5 million barrel-a-day capacity, needed to keep a lid on prices, could not be reached.

Tapping the truth

According to the cables, which date between 2007-09, Husseini said Saudi Arabia might reach an output of 12 million barrels a day in 10 years but before then — possibly as early as 2012 — global oil production would have hit its highest point. This crunch point is known as “peak oil“.

Husseini said that at that point Aramco would not be able to stop the rise of global oil prices because the Saudi energy industry had overstated its recoverable reserves to spur foreign investment. He argued that Aramco had badly underestimated the time needed to bring new oil on tap.

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

Chomsky, Cockburn and Worthington Forced To Testify Only in Writing in Assange Case

Chomsky, Cockburn and Worthington Forced To Testify Only in Writing in Assange Case

I really do not know how to report Wednesday’s events. Stunning evidence, of extreme quality and interest, was banged out in precis by the lawyers as unnoticed as bags of frozen chips coming off a production line.

The court that had listened to Clair Dobbin spend four hours cross-examining Carey Shenkman on individual phrases of first instance court decisions in tangentially relevant cases, spent four minutes as Noam Chomsky’s brilliant exegesis of the political import of this extradition case was rapidly fired into the court record, without examination, question or placing into the context of the legal arguments about political extradition.

Twenty minutes sufficed for the reading of the “gist” of the astonishing testimony of two witnesses, their identity protected as their lives may be in danger, who stated that the CIA, operating through Sheldon Adelson, planned to kidnap or poison Assange, bugged not only him but his lawyers, and burgled the offices of his Spanish lawyers Baltazar Garzon. This evidence went unchallenged and untested.

The rich and detailed evidence of Patrick Cockburn on Iraq and of Andy Worthington on Afghanistan was, in each case, well worthy of a full day of exposition. I should love at least to have seen both of them in the witness box explaining what to them were the salient points, and adding their personal insights. Instead we got perhaps a sixth of their words read rapidly into the court record. There was much more.

I have noted before, and I hope you have marked my disapproval, that some of the evidence is being edited to remove elements which the US government wish to challenge, and then entered into the court record as uncontested, with just a “gist” read out in court. The witness then does not appear in person.

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

Chris Hedges: The Cost of Resistance

Chris Hedges: The Cost of Resistance

You can measure the effectiveness of resistance by the fury of the response by ruling elites.

Two of the rebels I admire most, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher, and Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, are in jail in Britain. That should not be surprising. You can measure the effectiveness of resistance by the fury of the response.

Julian courageously exposed the lies, deceit, war crimes and corruption of the ruling imperial elites. Roger has helped organized the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in British history, shutting down parts of London for weeks, in a bid to wrest power from a ruling class that has done nothing, and will do nothing, to halt the climate emergency and our death march to mass extinction.

The governing elites, when truly threatened, turn the rule of law into farce. Dissent becomes treason. They use the state mechanisms of control – intelligence agencies, police, courts, black propaganda and a compliant press that acts as their echo chamber, along with the jails and prisons, not only to marginalize and isolate rebels, but to psychologically and physically destroy them.

The list of rebels silenced or killed by ruling elites runs in a direct line from Socrates to the Haitian resistance leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the only successful slave revolt in human history and died in a frigid French prison cell of malnutrition and exhaustion, to the imprisonment of the socialist Eugene V. Debs, whose health was also broken in a federal prison.

Detroit, 2009. (CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Rebel leaders from the 1960s, including Mumia Abu Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Kojo Bomani Sababu, Mutulu Shakur and Leonard Peltier, remain, decades later, in U.S. prisons. Muslim activists, including those who led the charity The Holy Land Foundation and Syed Fahad Hashmi, were arrested, often at the request of Israel, after the hysteria following 9/11, and given tawdry show trials. They also remain incarcerated.

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

Julian Assange and the Conservative Press


Rembrandt van RIjn A Woman Standing with a Candle c.1631
To be honest, I didn’t think it would ever happen, even though it’s been so obvious for so long. But all of a sudden, the conservative voices questioning the Russia collusion narrative and all the investigations that followed from it, are finally figuring out that those behind that narrative and all that resulted from it, are the same people who have been chasing down Julian Assange for many years.

And that to get to the bottom of the hunt for Trump by the DNC, Clinton campaign, US intelligence and last but not least the media in their pockets, the NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al, they will have to take a much closer look at what happened to Assange. If they don’t they will never understand. How do we know it’s starting to dawn on them? Look at this illustration at the Last Refuge site yesterday. More on them later.

Note: the mostly left wing Assange supporters would do good to consider the same thing: they in turn must look into the RussiaRussia Trump collusion stories, much as they may not like the president. Because those stories are why Assange has been chased down like so much roadkill. And because the right win of America is their best chance at getting him pardoned/released. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, to put it bluntly. Sometimes you need blunt.

As I’ve pointed out countless times, the Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign -and presidency- may have come up glaringly empty, but the report they issued maintained that “13 Russians” and Julian Assange were responsible for hacking DNC emails. There is no proof of this, but since none of the “accused” can speak out, the report make the claim, and did.

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

The Assange Trial, And Other Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

The Assange Trial, And Other Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

The most powerful government in the world is currently conducting a prosecution to protect its right to lie to the public about the evil things that it does, and somehow the public isn’t shaking the earth with unmitigated rage about this.

~

“Assange isn’t a journalist! He has an agenda!”

Every journalist in the world has an agenda. It just happens that most journalists have fame, wealth and esteem as their agenda while Assange’s agenda is, in his own words, “crushing bastards”.

It’s crazy how there are still people who try to claim Assange isn’t a journalist. He is, and it’s not even debatable. Publishing information that informs the public about what’s going on in the world is exactly the thing that journalism is.

~

The mainstream press have been far, far less critical of immensely powerful world-dominating government agencies than they’ve been of one thin, frail man locked in a cage who published inconvenient facts about those agencies.

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The very worst fringe conspiracy theories do far less damage than mainstream, establishment-promoted conspiracy theories.

~

If I died today my one regret would be that I wasn’t mean enough to shitty MSM reporters.

~

Step 1: Destroy nations and displace tens of millions of people.

Step 2: Wait for some of those people to hate you and want to fight back.

Step 3: Use their desire to fight back as justification to repeat Step 1.

~

Ask someone how much a dollar bill is worth and they’ll tell you a dollar. Put a gun to their head and ask “Are you sure it’s not worth 100 dollars?” and they’ll say “Ah yes you’re right, my mistake.”

That’s the economy under the US empire.

~

Q: What is Novichok?

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

Greenwald: MSM Journalists Hate Assange Because He’s Broken More Blockbuster Stories Than All Combined

“Nonsense!” — Julian Assange shouted as during the second day of his resumed extradition hearing US federal government attorney James Lewis told a witness that the WikiLeaks founder is facing extradition over the publication of informants’ names and not for merely handling leaked documents.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser promptly warned Assange, seated in the dock, that any further outbursts could get him removed from court and the hearings could proceed without him.

“If you interrupt proceedings and disrupt a witness who is properly giving their evidence, it is open to me to continue without you in your absence,” Baraitser said. “This is obviously not something I wish to do. I am, therefore, giving you a clear warning.”

Julian Assange being held in a glass cage during prior May UK court proceedings, via The Gray Zone.

The US side is hinging its extradition request argument on its prior claims that WikiLeaks under Assange’s leadership revealed names of sources. These individuals then “disappeared” according to the government’s argument, suggesting Assange actually got US operatives and assets detained or killed in foreign countries.

During the Tuesday proceedings, US wrongdoing was highlighted as well. Reuters reported that:

Stafford Smith, a dual US-UK national, said the leaked information had contributed to court findings that criminal proceedings should be taken against senior U.S. officials.

“I say this more in sadness than anger. I would never have believed that my government would do what it did,” he said. “We are talking about criminal offences of torture, kidnapping, rendition, holding people without trial.”

Meanwhile The Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald blasted the deafening press silence this week as the hearing proceeds.

Greenwald pointed out that years ago “it was fairly accepted in liberal circles (and media ones) that prosecuting Assange would be a grave threat to press freedom.”

But what’s different this time, Greenwald underscores, is that “Now Trump DOJ is doing it, and liberals are silent-to-supportive because Assange hurt Hillary & liberals want him imprisoned for that.”

John Pilger: The Stalinist Trial of Julian Assange

John Pilger: The Stalinist Trial of Julian Assange

The extradition hearing beginning this week is the final act of an Anglo-American campaign to bury Julian Assange. It is not due process. It is due revenge, said John Pilger in a speech Monday outside the court building.

Having reported the long, epic ordeal of Julian Assange, John Pilger gave this address outside the Central Criminal Court in London on Sept. 7 as the WikiLeaks Editor’s extradition hearing entered its final stage.


When I first met Julian Assange more than ten years ago, I asked him why he had started WikiLeaks. He replied: “Transparency and accountability are moral issues that must be the essence of public life and journalism.”

I had never heard a publisher or an editor invoke morality in this way. Assange believes that journalists are the agents of people, not power: that we, the people, have a right to know about the darkest secrets of those who claim to act in our name.

If the powerful lie to us, we have the right to know. If they say one thing in private and the opposite in public, we have the right to know. If they conspire against us, as Bush and Blair did over Iraq, then pretend to be democrats, we have the right to know.

It is this morality of purpose that so threatens the collusion of powers that want to plunge much of the world into war and wants to bury Julian alive in Trump’s fascist America.

In 2008, a top secret U.S. State Department report described in detail how the United States would combat this new moral threat. A secretly-directed personal smear campaign against Julian Assange would lead to “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”.

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

Assange Extradition Hearing Resumes on Monday in London

Assange Extradition Hearing Resumes on Monday in London

If extradited to US, the WikiLeaks founder could face up to 175 years in prison

The extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to resume in London on Monday, September 7th. Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh Prison, and if extradited to the US, the publisher faces up to 175 years in prison.

The US has indicted Assange on 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiring with a source to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The charges are related to WikiLeaks’ dissemination of a trove of documents released in 2010 that revealed classified information about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.

The information was provided to WikiLeaks by former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning, who spent more almost seven years in prison for the leaks before President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017. Manning was jailed again in March 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and was not released until March 2020.

If Assange, an Australian citizen, is extradited to the US and prosecuted, it will be the first time a journalist is tried under the 1917 Espionage Act, and it will set a grave precedent for press freedom in the US and around the world.

Throughout Assange’s lock-up at Belmarsh, the publisher’s family and experts have warned of his deteriorating health. Nils Melzer, a UN special rapporteur for torture, has likened Assange’s treatment to psychological torture.

How to follow the hearing:

Consortium News will be reporting on the hearing and live-tweeting throughout the process. Journalist Joe Lauria will be recapping each day on the CN Live! YouTube channel. The channel will also host a panel of experts every weekend while the hearing is ongoing; the trial is expected to last three to four weeks.

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

WATCH: WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs: What It Means for Press Freedom,

WATCH: WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs: What It Means for Press Freedom

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson leads a discussion with investigative journalists Iain Overton and Chris Woods about the impact of the Iraq War Logs’ release a decade ago.

Almost 10 years ago WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Logs along with The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, The Washington Post and other news outlets. The logs showed the true numbers of civilian deaths in Iraq—at least 15,000 more people had died than previously thought—as well as the abuse and torture of prisoners by police and military in full knowledge of coalition forces. 

“The U.S. figures appear to be unreliable in respect of civilian deaths caused by their own military activities,” The Guardian reportedThis online event was organized by the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign. It features WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson and investigative journalists Iain Overton and Chris Woods.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange remains held at a maximum security prison in London in relation to a US extradition request – he faces a sentence of 175 years for publishing truthful information in the public interest, which include the Iraq War Logs.

 

How We Could Wind Up Banned From Discussing An October Surprise On Social Media This Election

How We Could Wind Up Banned From Discussing An October Surprise On Social Media This Election

In what it calls an effort to make itself “a more reliable source for election-related news and information,” YouTube has announced  that it will be removing “content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.”

“For example, videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate shared with the intent to interfere in an election,” adds the Google-owned video sharing platform.

 

This by itself is an alarming assault on human communication and press freedom. If there is authentic information out there about either of the candidates who are up for the most powerful elected position on the planet, the world is entitled to know about it, regardless of how that information was acquired. Monopolistic tech oligarchs have no business barring us from learning about and discussing that information.

Immensely powerful people should not be permitted to have secrets from the public anyway. The amount of power one has should be directly inverse to the amount of secrecy they are permitted to have. If you’re anywhere near the presidency of the United States of America, the secrecy you are entitled to should be zero.

If a hacker is able to get ahold of accurate information about Donald Trump or Joe Biden, that information is ours. We’re entitled to it. Anyone who tries to obstruct our access to that information is stealing from us. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have a society where people are permitted to both rule over us and keep secrets from us as it is without government-aligned tech plutocrats silencing our attempts to learn what those secrets might be.

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

THE REVELATIONS OF WIKILEAKS: No. 8—Busting the Myth WikiLeaks Published Nothing on Israel & Syria

THE REVELATIONS OF WIKILEAKS: No. 8—Busting the Myth WikiLeaks Published Nothing on Israel & Syria

One myth about WikiLeaks is that it favors U.S. enemies and declines to publish documents against them, while another legend is that WikiLeaks, for obscure reasons, is soft on Israel, reports Patrick Lawrence.

President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 3, 2013. (White House, Pete Souza)

AWikiLeaks continued its document releases, and as major news organizations continued to publish fulsome accounts and analyses of these releases, the media’s stance toward Julian Assange and his organization began to turn: What had begun as collegial collaboration was transformed into criticism and denigration — this in accordance with the hardening attitudes of the U.S. and allied governments.

The key events in this shift were WikiLeaks’ publication in October 2010 of “Iraq War Logs,” comprised of 392,000 Army field reports, and, a month later, the phased publication of “Cablegate,” a collection of 251,287 State Department emails. “Cablegate” was the first major release of U.S. diplomatic traffic in WikiLeaks’ “Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy.” At writing, this continually expanding collection makes available more than 3 million documents spanning the 1966–2010 period.

With these publications, along with “Collateral Murder” and “Afghan War Diary,” released earlier in 2010, WikiLeaks penetrated more deeply into the citadels of official secrecy than it had since its founding in 2006. This new reality stunned the Obama administration and the national-security apparatus invisibly but formidably behind it.

Official policy shifted. Washington began actively to pursue avenues through which Assange could be arrested, charged, and tried for one or another offense, however far-fetched, trivial, or unrelated to WikiLeaks’ work. It was at this time that Sweden alleged that Assange had raped two women during a visit to Stockholm for a media conference—allegations based on falsified police reports and concocted evidence.

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

ASSANGE EXTRADITION: ’60 Minutes’ Gives Assange Fair Shake

ASSANGE EXTRADITION: ’60 Minutes’ Gives Assange Fair Shake

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.

Consortium News

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.

An article Monday in Australia’s Murdoch papers about the 60 Minutes’ report was largely factual, except that it repeated the canard that Assange faced rape “charges” in Sweden. 

WikiLeaks, Christine Assange, Julian’s mother, and Assange supporters have tweeted recognition that this was a mainstream treatment of the Assange case like few others. 

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

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