Press Freedom Groups Call for Assange Charges Dropped Before US Appeal
A coalition of more than two dozen press freedom and human rights organizations called on the Biden administration to drop all charges against Julian Assange. This precedes an American appeal which will be heard next week, challenging a British court ruling that blocked the extradition of the WikiLeaks publisher.
The statement, delivered to Biden Attorney General Merrick Garland last week, reflects widespread popular opposition to the attempt to prosecute Assange in the United States for exposing war crimes, surveillance and global diplomatic intrigue. by the United States.
It also expresses the increasingly crisis-scarred state of the US campaign against Assange, which is widely seen as an attack on basic civil liberties. This is even truer since revelations last month of gangster plans by the Trump administration and the CIA to kidnap or kill the Australian journalist while he was a political refugee at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The signatories of the letter are the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the Knight First Amendment Institute, as well as 20 other well-known rights organizations.
The same coalition called on the Biden administration to end legal proceedings against Assange shortly after Biden’s inauguration, but the request was rejected in another demonstration of the bipartisan nature of the attack on Assange, WikiLeaks and more largely democratic rights. The Democratic administration not only continued the vendetta against Assange, but played a leading role in crafting a call for his shipment to the United States and life imprisonment.
The latest press release warns: “[T]he lawsuits against Mr. Assange put journalism essential to democracy at risk. In our opinion, a precedent set by prosecuting Assange could be used against publishers and journalists, crippling their work and undermining press freedom. “
The signatories note: “[J]Journalists routinely engage in many of the behaviors described in the indictment: speaking with sources, asking for clarification or more documentation, and receiving and publishing official secrets. News organizations frequently and necessarily publish classified information in order to inform the public about matters of deep public importance.
Organizations involved in the initiative note that they were motivated to reiterate their call for an end to the prosecution of Assange “with even greater urgency, in light of a recent article in Yahoo News describing alarming discussions within the CIA and the Trump administration before an indictment against Assange was filed. The Yahoo News story only heightens our concerns about the motivations behind this lawsuit and the dangerous precedent that is being set.
The Yahoo News report, released late last month, reviewed in detail discussions within the Trump administration and at the highest levels of the CIA over taking “extreme measures” against Assange in 2017.
Based on interviews with more than 30 former US officials, the story describes the frenzied response of the government and the intelligence agency to WikiLeaks’ release of “Vault 7,” a vast mine of leaked CIA documents.
The documents exposed the agency’s vast cyber warfare capabilities, including its heavy use of malware, and its ability to place “telltale” markers on its own hacks, with the aim of attributing them to foreign powers such as Russia and Iran. “Vault 7” demonstrated that the CIA was engaged in mass surveillance, including via smartphones and televisions, and discussed developing capabilities to remotely support computer systems in modern cars.
The apoplectic response, led by then CIA Director Mike Pompeo, quickly involved discussions of illegal actions against Assange. These included meetings, involving Pompeo and Trump, over the prospect of kidnapping Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy, starting a shootout in London if he sought to flee the building and even assassinating the founder of WikiLeaks. and his colleagues based in Europe.
The discussions were not hypothetical. The statement, delivered to Biden Attorney General Merrick Garland last week, reflects widespread popular opposition to the attempt to prosecute Assange in the United States for exposing war crimes, surveillance and global diplomatic intrigue. by the United States. Building workers testified that discussions about the poisoning, or permission to violently remove Assange from the embassy, filtered down to ground level, involving UC Global staff.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, described the impact of Operation UC Global. She noted that with widespread espionage, the imposition of restrictions on Assange’s communications and visitors, and dirty tricks operations, including an attempt to secretly take the DNA from one of Assange’s children. Assange, the security company and its American payers had effectively created “a black site in the middle of London.” Total anarchy.
The Yahoo News revelations exposed not only the criminal nature of these extra-legal operations, but also the quasi-judicial attempt to prosecute Assange. The indictment against Assange was prepared amid discussions about his assassination, with Yahoo reporting it was in part motivated by concerns within the Justice Department that charges would be laid if Assange was “brought to trial. United States ”, that is to say kidnapped by the CIA. .
The Biden administration has said nothing about the extraordinary criminality of the actions taken by its predecessor, with its spokespersons directing media investigations into the CIA reports instead. Pompeo weakly denied the worst allegation, while declaring that “bits and pieces” of Yahoo history are true and calling for former officials who spoke at the point of sale “to be prosecuted for talking about activities classified “.
In a belated attempt to limit the damage, Democratic Party Representative Adam Schiff said the United States House Intelligence Committee was “seeking information” on information regarding the Trump-CIA plot against Assange. He claimed he had no idea anything was brewing, despite being the ranked Democrat on the intelligence panel in 2017.
The professions of ignorance have no credibility, as Democrats adopted WikiLeaks’ description of Pompeo as a “non-state hostile intelligence organization,” a designation that put the publishing organization in a close category. terrorists or hostile spies. In 2017, the Senate formally included Assange’s media description in its annual Intelligence Authorization Act, with an overwhelming majority of Democrats voting in favor.
Yahoo report follows Icelandic weekly’s revelation stunning that Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, a key witness in the US indictment against Assange, admitted that almost all of his testimony consisted of lies told in exchange for immunity from US prosecution for fraud and the like criminal activities.
Taken together, the information demonstrates that the case against Assange should have been thrown out of the UK courts as soon as it was presented. Despite this, the UK High Court has granted US prosecutors the right to appeal an earlier judgment blocking Assange’s extradition.
This earlier verdict, handed down by a district court, upheld all of prosecutors ‘substantive arguments, including states’ right to prosecute journalists for exposing material they deem classified. He ignored the explicit prohibition of extraditions for political offenses contained in the Anglo-American extradition treaty.
Instead, Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled Assange’s extradition would be “oppressive,” given the draconian conditions in US prisons and the likelihood of him committing suicide. In light of Yahoo reports, it seems likely that Baraitser’s decision was prompted by fears within the British state apparatus of widespread opposition that would ensue if Assange were killed by US authorities afterwards. to have been extradited.
Despite the full exposure of the American case as a set-up and a dirty trick operation, the record of the British justice system means that there is no certainty that it will reject the American appeal at its hearing. October 27 and 28.
Recent revelations have once again demonstrated that Assange’s pursuit is linked to broader political issues, including a shift to authoritarianism by governments around the world, in response to growing social and political opposition. Trump officials who plotted the murder and kidnapping of Assange and brought his prosecution are reportedly leading a fascist coup attempt on Jan.6. of the business elite and accelerates preparations for a catastrophic war against China.
The dossier demonstrated that Assange’s struggle for freedom and the defense of all democratic rights can only advance by building an independent political movement of the international working class against war, inequality and authoritarianism.