Highlights from the Assange Trial Thus Far

Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

February 26, 2020

Here are the most informative excerpts that I have noted from the best news-reporting from journalists who have been attending at the trial:

CRAIG MURRAY, “Day 2”:

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.

Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning

Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk

Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. …

This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights. …

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. …

After a brief break, Baraitser [the judge] came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. …

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. … Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book, Wikileaks, published in February 2011. …

Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison [both of Wikileaks] had attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

CNN, Day 2:

Julian Assange tried to warn the US government that sensitive documents were to be leaked “imminently,” but was told to call back in a few hours, according to his lawyers during the second day of the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition hearing in London.

Assange personally warned the State Department that an encrypted database of 250,000 unredacted US diplomatic cables was about to be leaked in 2011, his lawyer Mark Summers told Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday.

The cables included the identities of people — some deemed high risk — who had been in communication with the US.

Assange contacted officials after it became known that German newspaper Der Freitag had discovered the password to a database containing the unredacted files, Summers said.

The 48-year-old Australian, along with WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison, telephoned then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s emergency line to sound the alarm about the unredacted material, the court heard.

Assange personally warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency in this… people’s lives are at risk,” according to Summers.

But he was told to call back in a few hours, said the lawyer.

CNN reached out to the State Department for a response, but had not received one at time of publishing.

BBC, Day 2:

Mark Summers QC, representing Mr Assange, told the hearing in London that Wikileaks had begun redacting a tranche of 250,000 leaked cables in November 2010, working with media partners around the world as well as the US government.

He said that in February 2011 the Guardian published a book about Wikileaks which contained a password to the unredacted documents.

He said it wasn’t until months later that it was discovered the password could be used to access the unredacted database, which was revealed by German news outlet Der Freitag on 25 August 2011.

On that day, Mr Assange called the White House and asked to speak to then secretary of state Hillary Clinton “as a matter of urgency” over fears the documents were about to be dumped online by third parties who had gained access, Mr Summers told the court. He was told to ring back in a few hours.

Mr Summers said Mr Assange had warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency of this.

“Unless we do something, then people’s lives are put at risk.” …

Prosecutors argued on Monday that Mr Assange knowingly put hundreds of sources around the world at risk of torture and death by publishing the unredacted documents containing names or other identifying details.

But Mr Summers told the court that the US extradition request “boldly and brazenly” misrepresented the facts.

He said the US government, which was involved in the redaction process, knows “what actually occurred” which was “far from being a reckless, unredacted release”.

In response, James Lewis QC, representing the US government, told the court that Mr Assange “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables”.

“He decided to do so on a widely followed and easily searchable website, knowing that it was dangerous to do so,” he added.

MY CLOSING NOTE:

I hope that subsequently will be revealed whether or not the U.S. Government’s statement that Wikileaks “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables” is true. After Wikileaks gave the files to the media in the U.S. Government-accepted redacted version, a sequence of events occurred in which, it appears according to the Wilileaks allegations, the Guardian’s Luke Harding (who is a prominent neoconservative journalist) caused “security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011” as the Guardian’s book about Wikileaks was being published. Then Der Freitag took the next step, and used that key to open the lock, and obtain access to the unredacted file. Is the U.S. Government ignoring Assange’s intensive efforts to prohibit such a thing from happening? Is the U.S. Government ignoring Hillary Clinton’s role in this? Is Donald Trump protecting Ms. Clinton? Why would he be protecting her and trying to frame and destroy Assange? Why is the Government of UK, throughout this nearly ten-year-long matter, serving as the U.S. Government’s errand-boy? Is UK a democracy? Is U.S. a democracy?

Craig Murray’s report on the trial’s first day provides shocking evidence that Judge Baraitser is extremely prejudiced against Assange and for the Trump Administration. I strongly recommend his blog, as the best site covering this trial (and as one of the really great one-person blogs on international matters, along with the “Moon of Alabama”).

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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

Israel’s Supreme Court — Upholding “Targeted Assassinations” and Torture

Global Research, November 08, 2019

Time and again, Israel’s high court upholds human and civil rights abuses committed by the state.

In 2006, the court upheld its targeted assassinations policy, claiming they’re OK when no other choices exist to protect against dangers to national security — that don’t exist it failed to say.

The policy contravenes Israeli law, the laws of war, and human rights law. Time and again, Israel falsely calls legitimate self-defense by Palestinians “terrorism,” unjustifiably justifying its lawless actions, most often upheld by its high court.

In Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al v. the Government of Israel et al (1999), Israel’s Supreme Court banned the practice it earlier OK’d, ruling “psychological pressure (and) a moderate degree of physical pressure” are permissible.

Israel’s 1987 Landau Commission condemned harsh interrogations amounting to torture, but approved the practice to obtain evidence for convictions in criminal proceedings, saying these tactics are necessary against “hostile (threats or acts of) terrorist activity and all expressions of Palestinian nationalism.”

Despite calling the 1984 UN Convention against Torture “absolute (with) no exceptions and no balances,” Israel’s high court OK’d coercive interrogations in three cases.

It permitted violent shaking, painful shackling, hooding, playing deafeningly loud music, sleep deprivation, and lengthly detainments.

Loopholes in the high court’s 1999 ruling OK’d abusive practices amounting to torture despite banning the practice.

It notably allowed physical force in so-called “ticking bomb” cases, giving Israeli interrogators and others wide latitude on their actions.

The court effectively ruled both ways, approving torture and other abusive practices despite banning it.

International law is clear and unequivocal on this issue, banning it at all times, under all circumstances with no allowed exceptions.

In 2015, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by human rights groups and political movements that called for overturning the Anti-Boycott Law.

At the time, the Global BDS Movement and Coalition for Women for Peace called the bill “one of the most dangerous anti-democratic laws promoted” by Knesset members, adding:

“Boycott is a nonviolent, legal and legitimate means to promote social and political aims that are protected in civil rights of freedom of expression, opinion and assembly. The bill constitutes a fatal blow to all these civil rights.”

The police state law punishes entities or individuals that call for boycotting Israel, or an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of its illegal settlements.

According to the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Israel’s Supreme Court “ignored the chilling effect of this law, and missed the opportunity to tell legislators that there are limits to their anti-human rights actions. This law encourages discrimination against the Arabs in Israel.”

The 2012 Nakba Law “harms both the freedom of expression and the civil rights of Arab citizens, even before its implementation.”

“Because the law’s formulation is so broad and vague, many institutions have already begun and will self-censor in order not to risk incurring penalties.”

Israel’s high court upheld the law, falsely claiming it “does not raise difficult and complex questions.”

It violates Arab history, culture, heritage, and the right to express, teach, or disseminate it freely.

Arab intellectual Constantin Zureiq earlier called the Nakba “the worst catastrophe in the deepest sense of the word, to have befallen the Arabs in their long and disaster-ridden history.”

Compromising their ability to publicly denounce what happened compounds the high crime against them.

Speech, press, and academic freedoms in Israel are gravely endangered. In 2017, legislation was enacted that banned foreign nationals who support BDS from entering the country.

Last April, Israel’s Jerusalem district court ruled against Human Rights Watch’s Israeli office director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, ordering him deported for supporting the global BDS movement, his lawful free expression right.

HRW appealed the ruling, petitioning Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the injustice. It got an injunction to let Shakir stay in the country until the high court heard his case.

On Tuesday, the court ruled against him, Shakir tweeting:

“Breaking: Israeli Supreme Court upholds my deportation over my rights advocacy. Decision now shifts back to Israeli gov; if it proceeds, I have 20 days to leave…(W)e won’t be the last.”

Critic of Israeli human rights abuses Amnesty International said

“the court has made it explicitly clear that those who dare to speak out about human rights violations by the Israeli authorities will be treated as enemies of the state.”

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled against free expression. Without it, all other rights are jeopardized.

Compromising speech, press, and academic freedoms is the hallmark of totalitarian rule — the new normal in the US, other Western societies and Israel, affirmed by its high court.

Is is just a matter of time before Western ones rule the same way?

Is digital democracy in the West and Israel endangered?

Are abuses against Chelsea Manning, other whistleblowers, Julian Assange, and other independent journalists prelude for much more severe crackdowns against fundamental freedoms ahead?

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

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 IMEMC


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Empire Versus Democracy and Freedom. Will The Espionage Act Displace the US Constitution?

Global Research, April 18, 2019

The public interest, and democratic political economies, both domestic and internationally, are poison to Empire. But this must be hidden from view, hence war propaganda/fake news is protected by legislation, while Constitutionally-protected, evidence-based real journalism, a dying phenomenon, continues to be attacked.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution, adopted on December 15, 1791,

“prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.” [1]

However, the Constitution is under constant assault by US oligarch[2] ruling classes.

Freedom of the press has been negated by ruling class monopoly ownership and pervasive propaganda. Criminal propaganda is protected while “freedoms of speech” are under constant assault.

The fakery of the news stories is protected by (unconstitutional) laws embedded in the National Defense Authorization Act which blur the lines between reality and spectacle. In an earlier article I wrote,

According to an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the House Bill H.R 5736 (now law), the federal government of the United States can now legally propagandize the domestic public.

Arguably, this makes staged theatrical presentations, featuring crisis-actors, and purporting to be ‘reality’, legal.

And, as if that isn’t enough, Don North writes in “US/NATO Embrace Psy-ops and Info-War” that,

“As reflected in a recent NATO conference in Latvia and in the Pentagon’s new ‘Law of War’ manual, the U.S. government has come to view the control and manipulation of information as a ‘soft power’ weapon, merging psychological operations, propaganda and public affairs under the catch phrase ‘strategic communications.’ “[3]

The Espionage Act[4] also contradicts the US Constitution, but it is being invoked with regard to the indictment against Julian Assange.

Ubiquitous classification of information beneath the mantle of “National Security” serves to sustain the illusion that Empire serves the public interest. Hence, as author and veteran journalist Naomi Wolf asserts, whistleblowers are necessary, as is the transmission of their leaks. This, she says, has been journalism practice for years. It is what real journalists are supposed to do.

The Daniel Ellsbergs and Chelsea Mannings of the world are necessary — Ellsberg is now considered to be a hero.  The Assanges of the world who transmit the truth are also necessary.

If the Espionage Act, the NDAA, and other legislation were to completely displace the U.S Constitution and its First Amendment, then the prospect of real journalism would finally be extinguished. And ruling classes feigning concern for the public interest would be delighted.

In the following video, Wolf walks us through the indictment[5] against Assange and demonstrates the paucity of evidence against him in the government’s on-going efforts to frame him and destroy the messenger with a view to protecting the Supreme International War Criminals currently guiding the Neo-con Imperial Shipwreck.

Notes:

[1] Wikipedia, “First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[2] Daniel Kreps, “Jimmy Carter: U.S. Is an ‘Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery.’ “ (https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/jimmy-carter-u-s-is-an-oligarchy-with-unlimited-political-bribery-63262/) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[3] Mark Taliano, “Fake threats and engineered fears.” 16 July, 2016. (https://ahtribune.com/politics/1073-engineered-fears.html?fbclid=IwAR0qHlFivL8c1QIqMxZsiQO43qYN0R-ITQCPa9jUXAWjU9v8_LjzMFiGlJE) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[4] Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, “18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 37—ESPIONAGE AND CENSORSHIP.” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I/chapter-37) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[5] “In The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, United States of America v. Julian Paul Assange.” 6 March, 2018. (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/press-release/file/1153481/download) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

We are at a critical time to save Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange

Global Research, April 18, 2019

In every struggle for Peace and Justice, there are critical moments that can change the outcome of that struggle. These days are so crucial to save the Body and Mind of two great humble human beings who are under immense barbaric treatment by their captors. Their voices have been silenced by illegal arrests and since then have been denied any contact with the outside world. Wherever we are, we must feel their pain and at this moment be their voices.

In the U.S., the Democratic and Republican Administrations already have introduced a dreadful detention system like Guantanamo Bay to justify and normalize their torturous techniques in breaking down the spirit of their detainees. The submissive U.K. “leaders” without any legal permission or logical reason have detained Julian Assange in their own “GITMO” Belmarsh Prison. This notorious prison in London poses grave concerns about the wellbeing of Julian Assange.

Today, we must increase our efforts to save Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange and make their freedom possible. We have the right to know about the health of our loved ones behind bars. The right of visitation for people in detention is a minimum demand that every civilized nation must accommodate. A delegation of immediate families members, the families of the Iraqi victims, doctors, lawyers, journalists and supporters should have the right to visit Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.

Let’s not forget: the “Original Sin” mainly was the publication of a video about how a series of air-to-ground attacks conducted by a team of two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah in Iraq killing innocent civilians while they were laughing and shooting.

Free Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange NOW!

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Massoud Nayeri is a graphic designer and an independent peace activist based in the United States. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author

Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning: Martyred Behind Bars for Truth-Telling

By Stephen Lendman
Source

In 2013, Assange said “(Chelsea) Manning has become a martyr, adding:

She “didn’t choose to be a martyr. I don’t think it’s a proper way for activists to behave to choose to be martyrs, but these (individuals, Manning, Edward Snowden and others) have risked their freedom, risked their lives, for all of us. That makes them heroes.”

He’s one of them, elevated to martyrdom in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, likely in punishing solitary confinement – ahead of extradition to the US for the crime of truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be. 

Indefinitely detained for invoking her constitutional right to remain silent, her right not to testify before a witch-hunt grand jury, a notorious manipulative process designed to indict, the Trump regime wants Manning (and Assange) punished for doing the right thing.

Will it elevate them both to martyrdom, modern-day Joan of Arc figures? The 19-year-old 15th century French heroin was burned at the stake on false charges, a martyr declared a national symbol of France by Napoleon Bonaparte – beatified in 1909, canonized in 1920.

Will imprisonment of Manning and Assange assure their martyrdom for a just cause, for revealing what’s vital for everyone to know?

At a time of universal deceit, notably in the West, truth-telling is a revolutionary act – with attribution to Orwell. Not according to Hillary Clinton, an unindicted war criminal multiple times over.

Infamous for saying: “We came. We saw. He died” about Muammar Gaddafi’s sodomized death in October 2011, following US-led aggression on Libya she helped orchestrate, she mocked Julian Assange the same way, saying “it’s a little ironic that he may be the only foreigner that (Trump) would welcome in the United States,” adding:

His “indictment (is) not about punishing journalism (sic). It’s about assisting the hacking of the military computer to steal information from the US government (sic).” 

“The bottom line is that he has to answer for what he has done, at least as it’s been charged.” She and husband Bill belong in prison for high crimes gone unpunished. So do their successors and countless others in the imperial state and allied ones.

Led by establishment media, smearing Assange is in high gear. The NYT lied claiming WikiLeaks hacked Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s phones, revealing personal information about him, published on an anonymous website.

It lied repeating Moreno’s Big Lie, falsely accusing Assange of “installing electronic distortion equipment in (Ecuador’s London) embassy, blocking security cameras, confronting and mistreating guards and gaining access to security files without permission.”

It lied claiming WikiLeaks hacked DNC and John Podesta emails, material leaked by a Dem insider published by WikiLeaks.

It repeated the US intelligence community Big Lie, accusing WikiLeaks of acting as a Russian agent.

The neocon/CIA house organ Washington Post published an op-ed by London Guardian editor Alan Rushbridger, an anti-Assange hatchet job, saying:

“(M)aybe his greatest gift is the ability to make enemies (sic). He trusts, likes and respects almost no one (sic). He falls out with his friends and disgusts his opponents (sic).” 

“Now that he has been dragged kicking and shouting (sic) from the Ecuadoran Embassy in London — where he was, by all accounts, the house guest from hell (sic) — he may find few allies in the world outside (sic).”

Fact: The above rubbish and what followed is typical Guardian disinformation, numerous times caught red-handed reporting bald-faced Big Lies.

Rushbridger lied calling Assange “a useful idiot to Russian President Vladimir Putin and an enabler to President Trump.”

He lied saying Assange is “rude, aggressive, pompous, self-regarding, unreasonable and…smelly” – disgraceful stuff.

He lied claiming there’s “not much to love about Julian Assange” – Rushbridger serving as a press agent for the May and Trump regimes, disgracing himself at the same time.

The Boston Globe newspaper I grew up with as a boy, adolescent and youth in the 1940s and 50s was far from what journalism is supposed to be back then.

Owned by the NYT today, it publishes similar rubbish – misinformation and disinformation instead of real news, information and opinion.

“Julian Assange shouldn’t be a free speech martyr,” it roared, falsely claiming Trump regime charges are unrelated to violations of speech and media freedoms – precisely what they’re all about, wanting truth-telling silence, why Manning and Assange were and remain targeted.

Separately, the Globe called Assange “a bad guy (sic)…a Russian pawn who helped elected Donald Trump (sic).”

When endlessly repeated, Big Lies take on a life of their own. Ecuadorian envoy to the UK Jaime Marchan shamefully accused Assange of “put(ting) put excrement on the (embassy) walls.”

His lawyer called the charge “outrageous,” one of many phony reasons for handing him over to UK authorities.

In cahoots with the Trump regime, Ecuador, Britain and the US are elevating Assange to martyrdom by declaring him guilty by false accusation and holding him behind bars in punishing high security confinement.

Resisting the scourge of tyranny is a universal right and obligation.

When governments fail their people, the way things are today in the West and elsewhere globally, they forfeit their right to rule. 

Civil disobedience becomes an essential tool for change, popular revolution the only solution. Nothing else can work.

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