John Pilger: Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed

By John Pilger

Source

(First Published on February 21, 2020)

On Saturday, there will be a march from Australia House in London to Parliament Square, the centre of British democracy. People will carry pictures of the Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange who, on 24 February, faces a court that will decide whether or not he is to be extradited to the United States and a living death.

I know Australia House well. As an Australian myself, I used to go there in my early days in London to read the newspapers from home. Opened by King George V over a century ago, its vastness of marble and stone, chandeliers and solemn portraits, imported from Australia when Australian soldiers were dying in the slaughter of the First World War, have ensured its landmark as an imperial pile of monumental servility.

As one of the oldest “diplomatic missions” in the United Kingdom, this relic of empire provides a pleasurable sinecure for Antipodean politicians:  a “mate” rewarded or a troublemaker exiled.

Known as High Commissioner, the equivalent of an ambassador, the current beneficiary is George Brandis, who as Attorney General tried to water down Australia’s Race Discrimination Act and approved raids on whistleblowers who had revealed the truth about Australia’s illegal spying on East Timor during negotiations for the carve-up of that impoverished country’s oil and gas.

This led to the prosecution of whistleblowers Bernard Collaery and “Witness K”,  on bogus charges. Like Julian Assange, they are to be silenced in a Kafkaesque trial and put away.

Australia House is the ideal starting point for Saturday’s march.

“I confess,” wrote Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1898, “that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.””

We Australians have been in the service of the Great Game for a very long time. Having devastated our Indigenous people in an invasion and a war of attrition that continues to this day, we have spilt blood for our imperial masters in China, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. No imperial adventure against those with whom we have no quarrel has escaped our dedication.

Deception has been a feature. When Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent Australian soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s, he described them as a training team, requested by a beleaguered government in Saigon. It was a lie. A senior official of the Department of External Affairs wrote secretly that “although we have stressed the fact publicly that our assistance was given in response to an invitation by the government of South Vietnam”, the order came from Washington.”

Two versions. The lie for us, the truth for them. As many as four million people died in the Vietnam war.

When Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, the Australian Ambassador, Richard Woolcott, secretly urged the government in Canberra to “act in a way which would be designed to minimise the public impact in Australia and show private understanding to Indonesia.”  In other words, to lie. He alluded to the beckoning spoils of oil and gas in the Timor Sea which, boasted Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, were worth “zillions”.

In the genocide that followed, at least 200,000 East Timorese died. Australia recognised, almost alone, the legitimacy of the occupation.

When Prime Minister John Howard sent Australian special forces to invade Iraq with America and Britain in 2003, he — like George W. Bush and Tony Blair — lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. More than a million people died in Iraq.

WikiLeaks was not the first to call out the pattern of criminal lying in democracies that remain every bit as rapacious as in Lord Curzon’s day. The achievement of the remarkable publishing organisation founded by Julian Assange has been to provide the proof.

WikiLeaks has informed us how illegal wars are fabricated, how governments are overthrown and violence is used in our name, how we are spied upon through our phones and screens. The true lies of presidents, ambassadors, political candidates, generals, proxies, political fraudsters have been exposed. One by one, these would-be emperors have realised they have no clothes.

It has been an unprecedented public service; above all, it is authentic journalism, whose value can be judged by the degree of apoplexy of the corrupt and their apologists.

For example, in 2016, WikiLeaks published the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, which revealed a direct connection between Clinton, the foundation she shares with her husband and the funding of organised jihadism in the Middle East — terrorism.

One email disclosed that Islamic State (ISIS) was bankrolled by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, from which Clinton accepted huge “donations”. Moreover, as US Secretary of State, she approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her Saudi benefactors, worth more than $80 billion. Thanks to her, US arms sales to the world — for use in stricken countries like Yemen — doubled.

Revealed by WikiLeaks and published in The New York Times, the Podesta emails triggered a vituperative campaign against editor-in-chief Julian Assange, bereft of evidence. He was an “agent of Russia working to elect Trump”; the nonsensical “Russiagate” followed. That WikiLeaks had also published more than 800,000 frequently damning documents from Russia was ignored.

On an Australian Broadcasting Corporation programme, Four Corners, in 2017, Clinton was interviewed by Sarah Ferguson, who began: “No one could fail to be moved by the pain on your face at [the moment of Donald Trump’s inauguration] … Do you remember how visceral it was for you?”

Having established Clinton’s visceral suffering, the fawning Ferguson described “Russia’s role” and the “damage done personally to you” by Julian Assange.

Clinton replied, “He [Assange] is very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And he has done their bidding.”

Ferguson said to Clinton, “Lots of people, including in Australia, think that Assange is a martyr of free speech and freedom of information. How would you describe him?”

Again, Clinton was allowed to defame Assange — a “nihilist” in the service of “dictators” — while Ferguson assured her interviewee she was “the icon of your generation”.

There was no mention of a leaked document, revealed by WikiLeaks, called Libya Tick Tock, prepared for Hillary Clinton, which described her as the central figure driving the destruction of the Libyan state in 2011. This resulted in 40,000 deaths, the arrival of ISIS in North Africa and the European refugee and migrant crisis.

For me, this episode of Clinton’s interview — and there are many others – vividly illustrates the division between false and true journalism. On 24 February, when Julian Assange steps into Woolwich Crown Court, true journalism will be the only crime on trial.

I am sometimes asked why I have championed Assange. For one thing, I like and I admire him. He is a friend with astonishing courage; and he has a finely honed, wicked sense of humour. He is the diametric opposite of the character invented then assassinated by his enemies.

As a reporter in places of upheaval all over the world, I have learned to compare the evidence I have witnessed with the words and actions of those with power. In this way, it is possible to get a sense of how our world is controlled and divided and manipulated, how language and debate are distorted to produce the propaganda of false consciousness.

When we speak about dictatorships, we call this brainwashing: the conquest of minds. It is a truth we rarely apply to our own societies, regardless of the trail of blood that leads back to us and which never dries.

WikiLeaks has exposed this. That is why Assange is in a maximum security prison in London facing concocted political charges in America, and why he has shamed so many of those paid to keep the record straight. Watch these journalists now look for cover as it dawns on them that the American fascists who have come for Assange may come for them, not least those on the Guardian who collaborated with WikiLeaks and won prizes and secured lucrative book and Hollywood deals based on his work, before turning on him.

In 2011, David Leigh, the Guardian’s  “investigations editor”, told journalism students at City University in London that Assange was “quite deranged”. When a puzzled student asked why, Leigh replied, “Because he doesn’t understand the parameters of conventional journalism”.

But it’s precisely because he did understand that the “parameters” of the media often shielded vested and political interests and had nothing to do with transparency that the idea of WikiLeaks was so appealing to many people, especially the young, rightly cynical about the so-called “mainstream”.

Leigh mocked the very idea that, once extradited, Assange would end up “wearing an orange jumpsuit”. These were things, he said, “that he and his lawyer are saying in order to feed his paranoia”.

The current US charges against Assange centre on the Afghan Logs and Iraq Logs, which the Guardian published and Leigh worked on, and on the Collateral Murder video showing an American helicopter crew gunning down civilians and celebrating the crime. For this journalism, Assange faces 17 charges of “espionage” which carry prison sentences totalling 175 years.

Whether or not his prison uniform will be an “orange jumpsuit”, US court files seen by Assange’s lawyers reveal that, once extradited, Assange will be subject to Special Administrative Measures, known as SAMS.  A 2017 report by Yale University Law School and the Center for Constitutional Rights described SAMS as “the darkest corner of the US federal prison system” combining “the brutality and isolation of maximum security units with additional restrictions that deny individuals almost any connection to the human world … The net effect is to shield this form of torture from any real public scrutiny.”

That Assange has been right all along, and getting him to Sweden was a fraud to cover an American plan to “render” him, is finally becoming clear to many who swallowed the incessant scuttlebutt of character assassination. “I speak fluent Swedish and was able to read all the original documents,” Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, said recently, “I could hardly believe my eyes. According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never taken place at all. And not only that: the woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm Police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”

Keir Starmer is currently running for election as leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Between 2008 and 2013, he was Director of Public Prosecutions and responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service. According to Freedom of Information searches by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, Sweden tried to drop the Assange case in 2011, but a CPS official in London told the Swedish prosecutor not to treat it as “just another extradition”.

In 2012, she received an email from the CPS: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”  Other CPS emails were either deleted or redacted. Why? Keir Starmer needs to say why.

At the forefront of Saturday’s march will be John Shipton, Julian’s father, whose indefatigable support for his son is the antithesis of the collusion and cruelty of the governments of Australia, our homeland.

The roll call of shame begins with  Julia Gillard, the Australian Labor prime minister who, in 2010, wanted to criminalise WikiLeaks, arrest Assange and cancel his passport– until the Australian Federal Police pointed out that no law allowed this and that Assange had committed no crime.

While falsely claiming to give him consular assistance in London, it was the Gillard government’s shocking abandonment of its citizen that led to Ecuador granting political asylum to Assange in its London embassy.

In a subsequent speech before the US Congress, Gillard, a favourite of the US embassy in Canberra, broke records for sycophancy (according to the website Honest History) as she declared, over and again, the fidelity of America’s “mates Down Under”.

Today, while Assange waits in his cell, Gillard travels the world, promoting herself as a feminist concerned about “human rights”, often in tandem with that other right-on feminist Hillary Clinton.

The truth is that Australia could have rescued Julian Assange and can still rescue him.

In 2010, I arranged to meet a prominent Liberal (Conservative) Member of Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. As a young barrister in the 1980s, Turnbull had successfully fought the British Government’s attempts to prevent the publication of the book, Spycatcher, whose author Peter Wright, a spy, had exposed Britain’s “deep state”.

We talked about his famous victory for free speech and publishing and I described the miscarriage of justice awaiting Assange — the fraud of his arrest in Sweden and its connection with an American indictment that tore up the US Constitution and the rule of international law.

Turnbull appeared to show genuine interest and an aide took extensive notes. I asked him to deliver a letter to the Australian government from Gareth Peirce, the renowned British human rights lawyer who represents Assange.

In the letter, Peirce wrote, “Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for [Julian Assange] any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

Turnbull promised to deliver the letter, follow it through and let me know. I subsequently wrote to him several times, waited and heard nothing.

In 2018, John Shipton wrote a deeply moving letter to the then prime minister of Australia asking him to exercise the diplomatic power at his government’s disposal and bring Julian home. He wrote that he feared that if Julian was not rescued, there would be a tragedy and his son would die in prison. He received no reply. The prime minister was Malcolm Turnbull.

Last year, when the current prime minister, Scott Morrison, a former public relations man, was asked about Assange, he replied in his customary way, “He should face the music!”

When Saturday’s march reaches the Houses of Parliament, said to be “the Mother of Parliaments”, Morrison and Gillard and Turnbull and all those who have betrayed Julian Assange should be called out; history and decency will not forget them or those who remain silent now.

And if there is any sense of justice left in the land of Magna Carta, the travesty that is the case against this heroic Australian must be thrown out. Or beware, all of us.

Julian Assange’s Attorney Speaks Out on the Hopes and Hazards of His Upcoming Trial in London on Feb. 24

By Chris AgeeMax BlumenthalGlen Ford, and Howie Hawkins

Global Research, February 21, 2020

CovertAction Magazine

Assange’s legal advisor Renata Avila joins Gray Zone investigative reporter Max Blumenthal, Black Agenda Report founder Glen Ford, and Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins in Randy Credico’s acclaimed radio series, “Assange: Countdown to Freedom” – hosted by CovertAction Magazine with breaking news updates from Courage Foundation Director Nathan Fuller. Click here to listen or play the button below.

Click here

This is the seventh and latest episode in Credico’s ongoing radio exploration of the prosecution and persecution of the imprisoned WikiLeaks founder. Keep listening for late-breaking updates on the approaching extradition trial of Julian Assange in London.

You can listen to the prior episodes here:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6

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History: How Britain Assisted the Soviet Union’s Fight Against Hitler

The original source of this article is CovertAction Magazine

Copyright © Chris AgeeMax BlumenthalGlen Ford, and Howie Hawkins, CovertAction Magazine, 2020

Hundreds Attend London Meeting to Demand Freedom for Julian Assange

Global Research, December 02, 2019
World Socialist Web Site 30 November 2019

Hundreds packed the St Pancras New Church in Euston Thursday night for a meeting demanding freedom for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

The largest meeting held in London to date reflects growing opposition to plans by the US government to extradite and imprison Assange for exposing war crimes, illegal mass surveillance and state corruption.

Headlined “Free the Truth,” speakers included UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, former UK ambassador Craig Murray and veteran investigative journalist John Pilger.

An accompanying art exhibition featured paintings, drawings and sculpture, while the meeting opened with a piano recital of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”—a favourite of Assange. The meeting was organised by academics Deepa Driver and Iain Munro, with the support of the Julian Assange Defence Committee.

Rap artist Lowkey began by quoting the words of jailed Chartist leader Ernest Jones:

“Because I tried to extend your liberties, mine were curtailed. Because I tried to rear the temple of freedom for you all, I was thrown into the cell of a felon’s jail… Because I tried to give voice to truth, I was condemned to silence.”

These words, Lowkey explained, were taken from an article by Karl Marx written in 1852 for the New York Herald Tribune. Marx was then a political refugee in London.

“Julian Assange is not being punished for anything he has done wrong. He is being punished for everything he has done right,” Lowkey said to applause. The brutal treatment of Assange was a “slow motion crucifixion… what they are trying to crucify is the truth.”

Condemning the mainstream media’s vilification of Assange, Lowkey said its journalists were just “stenographers.”

“Those who have joined in this demonization of Julian Assange are like turkeys voting for Christmas. How much profit did you generate off of Julian’s three million cables that WikiLeaks revealed?… Today Julian Assange, tomorrow you.”

Fidel Narvaez(image on the right), former Ecuadorian counsel at the Ecuadorian Embassy, said that Assange was “along with Chelsea Manning, the most important political prisoner in the world today.”

The allegations against Assange in Sweden had never been credible and the investigation had been “opened and shut more times than a fridge door.” Assange was being “denied the chance to adequately prepare his defence against the fiercest persecution of a journalist so far this century, which is a powerful reason to demand due process for Julian Assange.”

Narvaez said, “Julian’s case is also a precedent for the institution of political asylum, because he, along with Edward Snowden, was the most important political asylee in the world.” His treatment was an attack on a small country, Ecuador, by some of the most powerful nations in the world.

“Ecuador had every sovereign right to determine whether Julian Assange was being politically persecuted in 2012. In order to protect him from the odious persecution of a Grand Jury…that can open a secret investigation against you and indict you on secret charges that will only be revealed once you are arrested. That is what happened to Julian Assange this April.”

“This Grand Jury wants to sentence a journalist to 175 years in prison for publishing truthful information about war crimes,” he said. For years the world’s media had attacked the warnings made by Assange about the existence of a Grand Jury “as paranoia…an excuse to hide from Swedish justice.”

The United Nations had ruled that Assange was being subject to arbitrary detention and the UK should free him and provide compensation. Lenin Moreno’s government had “committed the crime of delivering a political refugee to those who persecuted him.” This had broken the “sacred principle of asylum.”

Lisa Longstaff (image on the left) from Women Against Rape addressed the meeting.

“The pursuit of Julian Assange is not about rape. It’s the US government weaponising and distorting rape in order to punish him for the WikiLeaks exposés of war crimes, rape and torture.”

“In 2010 and 2012, we pointed to the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange was being pursued. It’s unlike any other rape investigation we’ve seen anywhere… In his case the judicial process was corrupted from the beginning.”

“Evidence emerged that the UK ordered Sweden not to drop the case sooner,” Longstaff explained, “so it’s clearly politically motivated.”

Longstaff said,

“Rape and sexual allegations have been used to pursue a political agenda from the start, intent on actually hiding rape, hiding torture and hiding murder committed by the state. They are the rapists, they are the racists, they are the murderers.”

Professor Nils Melzer(image on the right) was given a prolonged standing ovation. He explained that his mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture was to report to states when their actions contravened international law. He had assumed that signatories to international law would “act in good faith.”

“In my investigation I found that this isn’t about the law…because if it was about the law, then Julian Assange would not be sitting in extradition detention, accused of espionage for having exposed serious misconduct on the part of states, including war crimes.”

Assange, he explained, would not have been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for a bail violation for seeking and receiving political asylum, or had his asylum terminated and his citizenship withdrawn by Ecuador without explanation, or been portrayed as a suspected rapist by Sweden for more than nine years with no charges ever brought.

He would have been granted the right to prepare his defence and would not be detained in a high security prison, “under oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance” and facing extradition for a political offence in contravention of UK law, “to a country where he will be exposed to a politicised trial, with secret evidence, behind closed doors, facing draconian punishments that is unlawful under US law and the First Amendment and sentencing to a supermax prison for the rest of his life.”

Assange’s persecution, he stressed, “is about setting an example, about scaring other journalists away, of instilling fear, preventing others from following the example of Julian Assange and of WikiLeaks, and to show to the world what happens when you expose the misconduct of the power of a state.”

During his May 9 visit with Assange at Belmarsh Prison, he had “found typical evidence of someone who has been exposed to a prolonged period of psychological torture,” Melzer explained. “Psychological torture is not ‘torture lite.’ Psychological torture aims to wreck and destroy the person’s personality and identity…to make them break.”

“We were able during our medical examination to confirm that this ill treatment had already had neurological consequences. If that is not stopped, it can end up having irreversible consequences on the cardiovascular system and the neurological system. This is extremely serious… Today I am extremely concerned for his life.”

Melzer had written to the UK, Sweden, the US and Ecuador to present his conclusions and ask them to take urgent measures to alleviate the pressure on Julian Assange and protect his human rights. All refused to do so:

“If they no longer engage with the institutions that they have created to report their compliance with human rights, then I only see a very dark future for us and our human rights and for the rights of our children.”

Clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson(image on the left) spoke on behalf of more than 60 medical doctors who have issued an open letter calling for Assange’s urgent transfer from Belmarsh Prison to a tertiary care hospital:

“If the UK government fails to heed their advice there will be very serious consequences, including that Julian Assange may die in prison.”

Johnson cited the findings of medical experts led by Nils Melzer who examined Assange inside Belmarsh on May 9:

“Julian does show signs typical for someone exposed for a prolonged time to psychological torture… the doctors know that is very serious physically for Julian’s life and survival.”

Pointing to the public’s response to worldwide media coverage of the doctors’ open letter, she observed,

“There’s a lot more public support for Julian than the media’s censorship and antagonism toward him suggests.”

“While institutions are failing us, while authorities are failing us, while the courts are failing us, here’s a group of people who took a matter of weeks to get this letter together. I think that’s where the pressure and the change is going to come.”

Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray(image on the right), began his remarks by pointing to the meeting’s magnificent venue. At the rear of the church were monuments erected to honour those families—the Burnleys of Barbados, the Beale family of Canton, the Page family of Bombay—who gave funds to build the church and who were doubtless involved in the slavery and opium trade.

“This building is like the British Establishment itself—on the surface it is beautiful, solid and harmonious, but inside it is rotten and corrupt to the core,” he said.

“We are seeing illegality in the treatment of Julian Assange. The abuses of process by the British justice system throughout the last decade have been absolutely astonishing,” Murray recounted. “There is no legality, there is no justice.”

“It is not only that he is the victim of torture. It’s not only that his life is at stake. It is not only that we need to save him from this dreadful injustice. We also want to save him because the world needs Julian Assange as a symbol of resistance!”

Historian, author and journalistMark Curtis(image on the left) told the audience, “Julian has support all over the world.” He suggested actions that people could take to fight for Assange’s freedom, beginning with information available on the defend.wikileaks.org website. “Obviously there’s no point in relying on the establishment media, not unless you want to brainwash yourself.”

Curtis attacked the “propaganda tropes” employed by the media against Assange—that he is a “rapist,” a “Russian asset,” a “supporter of Trump”—singling out the Guardian’s November 2018 fabrication that Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort had met Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.

He called for mass pressure on human rights organisations to actively defend Assange, pointing to Amnesty International’s refusal to designate Assange a “prisoner of conscience.” He called on MPs to follow the lead of former Labour MP Chris Williamson who has campaigned publicly in Assange’s defence.

The audience gave a loud ovation for the twice-suspended Labour MP, who was present, and who quit the party this month after it refused to endorse him as candidate for Derby North. Curtis explained that just four MPs had signed an early day motion moved by Williamson in defence of Assange. (Neither Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn nor Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott signed that motion).

“These are the people who are meant to represent us and hold the executive to account. I know I’m confusing the UK with a democracy… In our system, which we clearly see in this case, the law has been stitched-up, the media is a platform for the elite and the political class is an appendage of the executive. That’s why we, as ordinary people, need to take action on these issues.”

He urged the audience to become involved in grassroots organisations such as the Julian Assange Defence Committee and to take part in events being organised in the weeks ahead, “culminating in a global day of protest in February when the extradition hearing will be held.”

The final speaker, Australian journalist John Pilger, told the audience he had visited Assange in Belmarsh Prison earlier that day. He described his visit with Julian and the draconian security regime inside the prison for visitors and inmates. A transcript of Pilger’s report is posted separately.

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Criminalizing Speech and Press Freedoms. Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning

Global Research, December 01, 2019

The persecution of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning is all about waging war on truth-telling.

Chelsea Manning remains imprisoned for invoking her constitutional right to remain silent — for refusing to testify against Assange.

Her First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendment rights were violated.

Since her ordeal began in 2010, she was imprisoned for courageously revealing US high crimes of war and against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Subjecting her to unreasonable searches and seizures violated her Fourth Amendment rights.

Her Fifth Amendment rights of due process, protection from self-incrimination, and possible double jeopardy were violated.

So was her Sixth Amendment right of a public trial represented by counsel, an impartial jury, and evidence explaining charges against her.

Subjecting her to cruel and unusual punishments, including the threat to her freedom and well-being by demanding she testify before a grand jury in secret without counsel violated her Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendment rights.

Instead of being a shield against oppressive, arbitrary authority, the US grand jury system is a sword against fundamental constitutional rights because of its manipulative practices, prosecutors doing whatever it takes to get indictments.

Wrongfully imprisoned in London at the behest of the Trump regime, Assange faces extradition to the US for the “crime” of truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be — putting other independent journalists at risk in the West and elsewhere.

Weeks earlier, Assange’s father John Shipton said his son is “subjected to every kind of torment” imaginable by UK authorities in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison.

His physical and emotional health fast-deteriorating, he’s being slowly assassinated.

“The only people who are breaking the law are the UK government and the Crown Prosecution Service,” said Shipton — in cahoots with the Trump regime, adding:

The intensity of his mistreatment increased since forcefully dragged from London’s Ecuadorian embassy in April.

UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer earlier said

“(i)n 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of (so-called) democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

We’re all Julian Assange. His fate is ours. At stake is the fate of speech, media and academic freedoms. Losing them jeopardizes all other fundamental rights.

What’s happening to Assange and Chelsea Manning puts everyone publicly expressing views that differ from the official narrative at risk — fascism triumphing over freedom, the rule of law rendered null and void.

Candidate Trump said “I love WikiLeaks.” Calling its site “amazing,” he added “I love reading those WikiLeaks.”

As president, he called Assange “disgraceful,” adding he deserves the “death penalty.” Following his April arrest, DJT turned truth on its head, saying “I know nothing about Wikileaks. It’s not my thing.”

Exposing government wrongdoing, truth-telling journalism, dissent, doing the right things despite risk of great personal harm are the highest forms of patriotism.

When whistleblowers and journalists are criminalized for exposing government wrongdoing on the phony pretext of protecting national security or other fabricated reasons, fundamental freedoms no longer exist.

Thomas Jefferson once said speech “cannot be limited without being lost” — the fundamental right upheld by Supreme Court rulings.

WikiLeaks earlier published an open letter to Trump, saying the following:

“We are journalists, activists and citizens from the United States and around the world who care about press freedom and are writing to you in response to the latest threat of prosecution against WikiLeaks for its journalistic work.”

“We ask you to immediately close the grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks and drop any charges against Julian Assange and other Wikileaks staff members…”

“This threat to WikiLeaks escalates a long-running war of attrition against the great virtue of the United States — free speech.”

Obama “prosecuted more whistleblowers than all (former US) presidents combined and opened a grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks that had no precedent.”

“It now appears the US is preparing to take the next step — prosecuting publishers who provide the ‘currency’ of free speech, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson.”

Wrongful “charges (against Assange), including conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act” were fabricated to frame him.

“A threat to WikiLeaks’ work — which is publishing information protected under the First Amendment — is a threat to all free journalism. If the DOJ is able to convict a publisher for its journalistic work, all free journalism can be criminalized.”

“We call on you as president of the United States to close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and drop” all charges against Assange and WikiLeaks.

“It was a free and robust press that provided you with a platform on which to run for president.”

“Defending a truly free press requires freedom from fear and favor and the support of journalists and citizens everywhere; for the kind of threat now facing WikiLeaks — and all publishers and journalists — is a step into the darkness.”

At a November 24 UK launch of the book titled “In Defense of Julian Assange,” John Pilger said the following:

Assange’s revelations represent “(a)ll the people whose lives were devastated in Iraq, the people whose lives were devastated in Afghanistan, and Yemen, all over the world that WikiLeaks had told us so much about.”

His unjust persecution is all about robbing people of their freedom and other fundamental rights.

“If they can come for Julian they can come for the rest of us, unless we stand up, speak, make sure our voices are heard,” Pilger stressed.

Assange is a political prisoner, “guilty” of truth-telling investigative journalism the way it’s supposed to be.

In 2015, life-sized bronze statutes of Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden were unveiled in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz.

Their sculptor Davide Dormino said he wanted to “represent three contemporary heroes who have lost their freedom for the truth,” adding: “Their work is reminder of “how important it is to know the truth.”

On Thursday at a large gathering in London for Assange, Australian journalist Kerry O’Brien warned that he’s unjustly “mouldering in a British prison awaiting extradition to the United States.”

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance head Paul Murphy slammed Western media for failing to support Assange, siding with his persecutors.

Historian, former UK ambassador, human rights activist Craig Murray explained that “(d)espite the lack of coverage or biased coverage in mainstream media, there is now an understanding that Julian is being extradited to the United States for nothing except for publishing the truth,” adding:

He believes “we will see one of the largest campaigns (in support of Assange) of our time” next year.

UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer warned that “(i)f Assange gets extradited to the United States and if he gets punished for exposing the truth, then essentially what’s happening is that telling the truth becomes a crime,” adding:

“He’s going to be sentenced by the same judge that sentences all of these whistleblowers in a closed court in East Virginia, and he’ll disappear in a high security prison in inhumane conditions for the rest of his life…if he makes it that far.”

Assange faces either longterm US gulag hell imprisonment or death before arrival from UK brutal mistreatment designed to kill him.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from TruePublica

On the liberty to teach, pursue, and discuss knowledge without restriction

 

ac freedom.jpg

by Gilad Atzmon

It didn’t  take long for the American Administration to crudely interfere with an open society’s most sacred ethos, that of academic freedom.  We learned this weekend that the US Department of Education has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake their joint Middle East studies program after concluding that they were offering students “a biased curriculum that, among other complaints, did not present enough “positive” imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region.”

Academic freedom is a relatively simple principle. It refers to the ”liberty to teach, pursue, and discuss knowledge without restriction or interference, as by school or public officials.”

This principle seems to be under attack in America.  The American administration has openly interfered with the liberty to freely teach, pursue and discuss knowledge.

The New York Times writes:  “in a rare instance of federal intervention in college course content, the department asserted that the universities’ Middle East program violated the standards of a federal program that awards funding to international studies and foreign language programs.”

According to the NYT the focus on ‘anti Israeli bias’ “appears to reflect the views of an agency leadership that includes a civil rights chief, Kenneth L. Marcus, who has made a career of pro-Israel advocacy and has waged a years long campaign to delegitimize and defund Middle East studies programs that he has criticized as rife with anti-Israel bias.”

One may wonder why America is willing to sacrifice its liberal ethos on the pro Israel altar?  Miriam Elman provides a possible answer. Elman is an associate professor at Syracuse University and executive director of the Academic Engagement Network, which opposes BDS. Elman told the NYT that this “should be a wake-up call… what they’re (the Federal government presumably) saying is, ‘If you want to be biased and show an unbalanced view of the Middle East, you can do that, but you’re not going to get federal and taxpayer money.”

In Elman’s view academic freedom has stayed intact, it is just the dollars  that will be  withheld unless a university adheres to pro Israel politics.

Those who follow the history of Zionism, Israeli politics and Jewish nationalism find this latest development unsurprising. Zionism, once dedicated to the concept of a “promised land,” morphed decades ago into an aspiration toward a ‘promised planet.’  Zionism is a global project operating in most, if not all, Western states. Jewish pressure groups, Zionist think tanks and Pro Israel lobbies work intensively to suppress elementary freedoms and reshape the public, political and cultural discourse all to achieve Zionism’s ambitious goal. After all, Jewish power, as I define it, is the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power.

This authoritarian symptom is not at all new. It is apparently a wandering phenomenon. It has popped out in different forms at different times.  What happened in the USSR  provides a perfect illustration of this  symptom. In the early days of Soviet Russia, anti-Semitism was met with the death penalty as stated by Joseph Stalin  in answer to an inquiry made by the Jewish News Agency: “In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.”

Germany saw the formation of Jewish anti defamation leagues attempted to suppress the rise in anti Jewish sentiments.* There’s no need to elaborate on the dramatic failure of these efforts in Germany. And despite Stalin’s early pro-Jewish stance, the Soviet leader turned against the so- called rootless cosmopolitans.” This campaign led to the 1950s Doctors’ plot, in which a group of doctors (mostly Jewish) were subjected to a show trial for supposedly having plotted to assassinate the Soviet leader.

In Britain and other Western nations we have seen fierce pro Israel campaigns waged to suppress criticism of Israel and Jewish politics. Different lobbies have been  utilizing different means amongst them the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by governments and institutions. In Britain, France, Germany and other European countries, intellectuals, artists, politicians, party members and ordinary citizens are constantly harassed by a few powerful Jewish pressure groups. In dark Orwellian Britain 2019, critics of Israel have yet to face the death sentence, but they are subjected to severe reprisals ranging  from personal intimidation to police actions and criminal prosecution. People have lost their jobs for supporting Palestine, others have been expelled from Corbyn’s compromised Labour Party for making truthful statements. Some have even been jailed for satirical  content. And as you might guess, none of this has made Israel, its supporters or its stooges popular. Quite the opposite.  

I learned from the NYT that the administration “ordered” the universities’ consortium to submit a revised schedule of events it planned to support, a full list of the courses it offers and the professors working in its Middle East studies program.  I wonder who in the administration possesses the scholarly credentials to assess the academic level of university courses or professors? Professor Trump himself, or maybe Kushner & Ivanka or Kushner’s coffee boy Avi Berkovitch, or maybe recently retired ‘peace maker’ Jason Greenblatt?

 It takes years to build academic institutions, departments, libraries and research facilities. Apparently, it takes one determined lobby to ruin the future of American scholarship.

*In his book Final Solution David Cesarani brings the story of the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith) that operated in Germany since the late 19th century “suing rabble rousers for defamation, funding candidates pledging to contest antisemitism…” You can read about the association and its activity here


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Now It’s Official: US Visa Can Be Denied If You (Or Even Your Friends) Are Critical of American Policies

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Now It’s Official: US Visa Can Be Denied If You (Or Even Your Friends) Are Critical of American Policies

Philip Giraldi
September 5, 2019

There have been several interesting developments in the United States government’s war on free speech and privacy. First of all, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), which is responsible for actual entry of travelers into the country, has now declared that it can legally access phones and computers at ports of entry to determine if there is any subversive content which might impact on national security. “Subversive content” is, of course, subjective, but those seeking entry can be turned back based on how a border control agent perceives what he is perusing on electronic media.

Unfortunately, the intrusive nature of the procedure is completely legal, particularly as it applies to foreign visitors, and is not likely to be overturned in court in spite of the Fourth Amendment’s constitutional guarantee that individuals should “…be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Someone at a port of entry is not legally inside the United States until he or she has been officially admitted. And if that someone is a foreigner, he or she has no right by virtue of citizenship even to enter the country until entry has been permitted by an authorized US Customs and Border Protection official. And that official can demand to see anything that might contribute to the decision whether or not to let the person enter.

And there’s more to it than just that. Following the Israeli model for blocking entry of anyone who can even be broadly construed as supporting a boycott, the United States now also believes it should deny admittance to anyone who is critical of US government policy, which is a reversal of previous policy that considered political opinions to be off-limits for visa denial. DHS, acting in response to pressure from the White House, now believes it can adequately determine hostile intent from the totality of what appears on one’s phone or laptop, even if the material in question was clearly not put on the device by the owner. In other words, if a traveler has an email sent to him or her by someone else that complains about behavior by the United States government, he or she is responsible for that content.

One interesting aspect of the new policy is that it undercuts the traditional authority of US Embassies and Consulates overseas to issue visas to foreigners. The State Department visa process is rigorous and can include employment and real property verification, criminal record checks, social media reviews and Google-type searches. If there is any doubt about the visa applicant, entry into the US is denied. With the new DHS measures in place, this thoroughly vetted system is now sometimes being overruled by a subjective judgment made by someone who is not necessarily familiar with the traveler’s country or even regarding the threat level that being a citizen of that country actually represents.

Given the new rules regarding entering the United States, it comes as no surprise that the story of an incoming Harvard freshman who was denied entry into the United States after his laptop and cellphone were searched at Boston’s Logan Airport has been making headlines. Ismail Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Lebanon, was due to begin classes as a freshman, but he had his student visa issued in by the US Embassy in Beirut rejected before being flown back to Lebanon several hours later.

Ajjawi was questioned by one immigration officer who asked him repeatedly about his religion before requiring him to turn over his laptop and cell phone. Some hours later, the questioning continued about Ajjawi’s friends and associates, particularly those on social media. At no point was Ajjawi accused of having himself written anything that was critical of the United States and the interrogation rather centered on the views expressed by his friends.

The decision to ban Ajjawi produced such an uproar worldwide that it was reversed a week later, apparently as a result of extreme pressure exerted by Harvard University. Nevertheless, the decisions to deny entry are often arbitrary or even based on bad information, but the traveler normally has no practical recourse to reverse the process. And the number of such searches is going up dramatically, numbering more than 30,000 in 2017, some of which have been directed against US residents. Even though permanent resident green card holders and citizens have a legal right to enter the United States, there are reports that they too are having their electronic media searched. That activity is the subject of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security that is currently working its way through the courts. The ACLU is representing 10 American citizens and a legal permanent resident who had their media searched without a warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment.

It is believed that many of the arbitrary “enforcements” by the CBP are carried out by the little-known Tactical Response Team (TRT) that targets certain travelers that fit a profile. DHS officials confirmed in September 2017 that 1,400 visa holders had been denied entry due to TRT follow-up inspections. And there are also reports of harassment of American citizens by possible TRT officials. A friend of mine was returning from Portugal to a New York Area airport when he was literally pulled from the queue as he was departing the plane. A Customs agent at the jetway was repeatedly calling out his birth date and then also added his name. He was removed from the line and taken to an interrogation room where he was asked to identify himself and then queried regarding his pilot’s license. He was then allowed to proceed with no other questions, suggesting that it was all harassment of a citizen base on profiling pure and simple.

My friend is a native-born American who has a Master’s degree and an MBA, is an army veteran and has no criminal record, not even a parking ticket. He worked for an American bank in the Middle East more than thirty years ago, which, together with the pilot’s license, might be the issue these days with a completely paranoid federal government constantly on the lookout for more prey “to keep us safe.” Unfortunately, keeping us safe has also meant that freedom of speech and association as well as respect for individual privacy have all been sacrificed. As America’s Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once reportedly observed, “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety will wind up with neither.”

Reports: FBI Starts Going After US Citizens Who Attend Iran-linked Conference

By Staff, Agencies

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] is going after American citizens who have already attended or plan to attend the New Horizon Conference [NHC] held by an Iranian media expert to discuss major global issues.

A Virginia-based ex-Pentagon official said FBI agents were knocking at his door at 6:30 am in May, cited by Medium.com. Maloof had traveled to Mashhad in northeast Iran to attend last year’s NHC and was one of the guests invited to the next conference which is to be held in the Lebanese capital of Beirut in September. The agents, however, warned him of consequences if he decides to attend.

In July, the FBI sent agents to the Florida home of Scott Rickard, a former translator with the US Air Force and the US National Security Agency [NSA] who once attended New Horizon, also warning him to skip the conference or face arrest.

The bureau also approached former State Department diplomat J. Michael Springmann, asking him over the phone to attend a meeting and answer a few questions about the conference, but he turned down the request. Vernellia Randall, an African American academic who wrote the book “Dying while Black,” and who attended the conference in Tehran in 2015, was also visited by the FBI.

Hicks said the FBI’s intimidation techniques set a “new low” in America’s approach to its relationship with Tel Aviv, where it has constantly backed the regime despite its many atrocities against the people of Palestine, Lebanon and more recently Syria. Later Hicks told Press TV that the FBI turned up at his door and warned him that New Horizon was being held by what they called “Iranian intelligence” without giving any evidence.

Nader Talebzadeh, the renowned Iranian intellectual and journalist who chairs the New Horizon organization, has filed a petition with the Treasury, appealing the decision.

“The consequence of your highly inaccurate and inflammatory allegations have had the result of seriously damaging our reputation, costing us a major loss of business and longtime friendships,” he wrote in the petition, adding that the NHC is a forum for free thought and expression of these thoughts.

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