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Posts Tagged ‘Extradition Hearing’

Assange Trial Exposes False Partisan Narratives With Focus On Trump’s War On Journalism – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on September 14, 2020

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/09/10/assange-trial-exposes-false-partisan-narratives-with-focus-on-trumps-war-on-journalism/

The last two days of Julian Assange’s scandalously opaque and plainly rigged show trial have brought into focus the reality that the WikiLeaks founder’s plight is the exact inverse of what the mainstream partisan narratives assert in the nation that’s working to extradite him.

A new article about the proceedings in The Evening Standard titled “Julian Assange ‘targeted as a political opponent of Trump administration and threatened with the death penalty’” highlights the undeniable fact that this extradition process is only taking place because of a Trump administration agenda which threatens to strike a deadly blow to press freedoms around the world with the precedent it would set.

The Evening Standard reports on the following testimony on Wednesday by Professor Paul Rogers, a lecturer in peace studies at Bradford University:

Assange’s legal team argue that a decision was taken under President Obama not to prosecute the Wikileaks activist, but that move was overturned under Trump.

 

“During the Obama presidency there was a greater recognition of the problems and less pressure on those presenting conflicting evidence”, said Professor Rogers.

 

“But since the election of President Trump there has been a vigorous denigration of the Obama era, a return to the outlook of the Bush administration and even more bitter opposition to those perceived as dissenters, especially those involved in communicating unwelcome information such as Mr Assange.”

 

Rogers is absolutely correct. The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald explained in 2018 that the Obama administration was unable to find an avenue to prosecute Assange for the leaks which began dropping in 2010 without endangering press freedoms, yet the Trump administration worked in concert with London and Quito to drag Assange out of the embassy and slam him with an extradition request (the sole reason for his continued imprisonment) based on the exact same evidence the Obama administration had access to on those exact same leaks.

Greenwald explained in The Washington Post that the Assange indictment was “a blueprint for making journalists into felons”, writing that “the Trump administration is aggressively and explicitly seeking to obliterate the last reliable buffer protecting journalism in the United States from being criminalized, a step that no previous administration, no matter how hostile to journalistic freedom, was willing to take.”

“The argument offered by both the Trump administration and by some members of the self-styled ‘resistance’ to Trump is, ironically, the same: that Assange isn’t a journalist at all and thus deserves no free press protections,” Greenwald wrote.

Indeed, it always blows Assange-hating Democrats’ minds when you point out to them that when they defend this extradition campaign they are in fact defending a Trump administration agenda. Not because it isn’t true, nor even because the proof that it’s true isn’t publicly available information, but because there’s been a massive smear campaign directed at liberal echo chambers to manufacture consent for Assange’s silencing and persecution which has been geared toward painting Assange as a Trump supporter.

Conversely, when you talk to those who espouse the common position of supporting both Donald Trump and Julian Assange, they are unable to wrap their head around the indisputable fact that their president is ultimately responsible for the campaign to extradite Assange and imprison him with a sentence of up to 175 years. They’ll claim falsely that this is an Obama-initiated operation. They’ll claim falsely that Trump, who could have issued Assange a full pardon at any time since he took office, is actually working to get Assange to America so he can pardon him. They’ll claim falsely that Assange, who’s been fighting US extradition tooth and claw for many years, is secretly working with Trump and secretly wants to come to the United States to help him. Again, this is because of establishment propaganda campaigns like QAnon shaping the Assange narrative in a way that benefits the establishment.

The extradition trial has been exposing those partisan positions for the power-serving lies that they are.

 

In an article titled “Trump’s ‘War On Journalism’ Takes Centerstage At Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing“, Shadowproof‘s Kevin Gosztola gives more detail to this Wednesday exposition:

Trevor Timm, the executive director for the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), told a magistrate court judge, “[President Donald] Trump’s administration is moving to explicitly criminalize national security journalism, and if this prosecution is allowed to go forward, dozens of reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere would also be in danger.”

In Timm’s statement to the court, Timm highlighted how Trump has “attempted to stifle press freedom at all levels.” The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which FPF uses to track press freedom violations in the U.S., has tallied over 2,000 examples, where Trump tweeted “negative remarks, insults, or threats to the press” since his presidential campaign in 2016. He has referred to journalists as “enemies of the people.”

The liberal echo chamber has been enthusiastically taking up the banner of “Trump’s war on the press”, but has been pointing its “resistance” to this war at its most inconsequential and downright idiotic aspects rather than at an extradition trial which would set a precedent that could arguably constitute a greater leap toward Orwellian dystopia than the Patriot Act.

“Just embarrassing to have treated this coddled, pompous, self-absorbed windbag who is a threat to nobody like he’s some kind of press freedom martyr, while ignoring what would be by far the most dangerous precedent for press freedom in years if Assange is successfully prosecuted,” Greenwald recently tweeted with a screenshot of a self-aggrandizing book by CNN’s Jim Acosta. “But that perfectly captures Trump-era journalism: hysterically exaggerating deranged conspiracies & sideshows while ignoring real threats unfolding with little attention. Mean tweets about Chuck Todd and Jim Acosta are treated as grave threats to the Republic while this is ignored.”

 

The theme of Trump’s assault on world press freedoms also featured in the previous day at court. Former UK ambassador Craig Murray wrote the following of the testimony by Professor Mark Feldstein, Chair of Broadcast Journalism at Maryland University, on Tuesday:

[Defense attorney Mark] Summers asked about the Obama administration’s attitude to Wikileaks. Feldstein said that there had been no prosecution after Wikileaks’ major publications in 2010/11. But Obama’s Justice Department had instigated an “aggressive investigation”. However they concluded in 2013 that the First Amendment rendered any prosecution impossible. Justice Department Spokesman Matthew Miller had published that they thought it would be a dangerous precedent that could be used against other journalists and publications.

 

With the Trump administration everything had changed. Trump had said he wished to “put reporters in jail”. Pompeo when head of the CIA had called Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence agency”. Sessions had declared prosecuting Assange “a priority”.

[Prosecuting attorney James] Lewis said that Feldstein had stated that Obama decided not to prosecute whereas Trump did. But it was clear that the investigation had continued through from the Obama to the Trump administrations. Feldstein replied yes, but the proof of the pudding was that there had been no prosecution under Obama.

 

Maybe it’s a good thing this trial isn’t being televised. The head explosions it would cause among America’s propagandized partisan hacks would destroy the nation.

This all highlights the fact that it is impossible to gain an accurate understanding of what’s going on in the world through partisan perceptual filters. Partisan echo chambers exist solely to distort people’s understanding of events to the advantage of the powerful, whether you’re talking about ensuring the dominance of establishment political factions, the advancement of status quo-preserving wars, or the elimination of voices who punch inconvenient holes in power-serving propaganda narratives.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. The source of our world’s problems is the fact that the powerful understand this, while ordinary people do not. Things won’t change until a critical mass of people begin waking up to this fact.

_____________________

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Hypocrisy on Display at Assange’s Extradition Hearing – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on September 9, 2020

Summers argued it was “entirely unfair” to add what were in law new and separate criminal allegations, at short notice and “entirely without warning and not giving the defense time to respond to it. What is happening here is abnormal, unfair and liable to create real injustice if allowed to continue.”

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012340900

I went to the Old Bailey today expecting to be awed by the majesty of the law, and left revolted by the sordid administration of injustice.

There is a romance which attaches to the Old Bailey. The name of course means fortified enclosure and it occupies a millennia old footprint on the edge of London’s ancient city wall. It is the site of the medieval Newgate Prison, and formal trials have taken place at the Old Bailey for at least 500 years, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. For the majority of that time, those convicted even of minor offenses of theft were taken out and executed in the alleyway outside. It is believed that hundreds, perhaps thousands, lie buried under the pavements.

The hefty Gothic architecture of the current grand building dates back no further than 1905, and round the back and sides of that is wrapped some horrible cheap utility building from the 1930’s. It was through a tunneled entrance into this portion that five of us, Julian’s nominated family and friends, made our nervous way this morning. We were shown to Court 10 up many stairs that seemed like the back entrance to a particularly unloved works canteen. Tiles were chipped, walls were filthy and flakes of paint hung down from crumbling ceilings. Only the security cameras watching us were new – so new, in fact, that little piles of plaster and brick dust lay under each.

Court 10 appeared to be a fairly bright and open modern box, with pleasant light woodwork, jammed as a mezzanine inside a great vault of the old building. A massive arch intruded incongruously into the space and was obviously damp, sheets of delaminating white paint drooping down from it like flags of forlorn surrender. The dock in which Julian would be held still had a bulletproof glass screen in front, like Belmarsh, but it was not boxed in. There was no top to the screen, no low ceiling, so sound could flow freely over and Julian seemed much more in the court. It also had many more and wider slits than the notorious Belmarsh Box, and Julian was able to communicate quite readily and freely through them with his lawyers, which this time he was not prevented from doing.

Rather to our surprise, nobody else was allowed into the public gallery of court 10 but us five. Others like John Pilger and Kristin Hrafnsson, editor in chief of WikiLeaks, were shunted into the adjacent court 9 where a very small number were permitted to squint at a tiny screen, on which the sound was so inaudible John Pilger simply left. Many others who had expected to attend, such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, were simply excluded, as were MPs from the German federal parliament (both the German MPs and Reporters Without Borders at least later got access to the inadequate video following strong representations from the German Embassy).

The reason given that only five of us were allowed in the public gallery of some 40 seats was social distancing; except we were allowed to all sit together in consecutive seats in the front row. The two rows behind us remained completely empty.

To finish scene setting, Julian himself looked tidy and well groomed and dressed, and appeared to have regained a little lost weight, but with a definite unhealthy puffiness about his features. In the morning he appeared disengaged and disoriented rather as he had at Belmarsh, but in the afternoon he perked up and was very much engaged with his defense team, interacting as normally as could be expected in these circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »

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Humanity Is Making A Very Important Decision When It Comes To Assange – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on March 3, 2020

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

That’s the debate now. Not Russia. Not Sweden. Not whether he followed proper bail protocol or washed his dishes at the embassy. That’s old stuff. That’s obsolete. That’s playing defense.

Truth, or lies?

Light, or darkness?

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/03/01/humanity-is-making-a-very-important-choice-when-it-comes-to-assange/

The propagandists have all gone dead silent on the WikiLeaks founder they previously were smearing with relentless viciousness, because they no longer have an argument. The facts are all in, and yes, it turns out the US government is certainly and undeniably working to exploit legal loopholes to imprison a journalist for exposing its war crimes. That is happening, and there is no justifying it.

So the narrative managers, by and large, have gone silent.

Which is good. Because it gives us an opening to seize control of the narrative.

It’s time to go on the offensive with this. Assange supporters have gotten so used to playing defense that it hasn’t fully occurred to us to go on a full-blown charge. I’ve been guilty of this as well; I’ll be letting myself get bogged down in some old, obsolete debate with someone about some obscure aspect of the Swedish case or something, not realizing that none of that matters anymore. All the narrative manipulations that were used to get Assange to this point are impotent, irrelevant expenditures of energy compared to the fact that we now have undeniable evidence that the US government is working to set a precedent which will allow it to jail any journalist who exposes its misdeeds, and we can now force Assange’s smearers to confront this reality.

“Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

That’s the debate now. Not Russia. Not Sweden. Not whether he followed proper bail protocol or washed his dishes at the embassy. That’s old stuff. That’s obsolete. That’s playing defense.

Now we play offense: “Should journalists be jailed for exposing US war crimes? Yes or no?”

Demand an answer. Call attention to them and demand that they answer. Dig them out of their hidey holes and make them answer this. Drag them out into the light and make them answer this question in front of everyone. Because that is all this is about now.

Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t get tricked into debating defensively. Force the issue: the US government is trying to establish and normalize the practice of extraditing and imprisoning journalists for exposing its misdeeds. That is the issue to focus on.

You will find that anyone who dares to stick their head above the parapet and smear Assange now gets very, very squirmy if you pin them down and force them to address this issue. Because they cannot answer without admitting that they are wrong. And that they’ve been wrong this entire time. It’s a completely unassailable argument.

We now have two and a half months to prepare for the second half of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing: all of March, all of April, and half of May. We’re going to need all that time to seize control of the narrative and make it very, very clear to the world that a very important decision is about to be made by the powerful on our behalf, if we don’t make that decision for them.

This really is do or die time, humans. If we allow them to extradite and imprison Julian Assange for practicing journalism, that’s it. It’s over. We might as well all stop caring what happens to the world and sit on our hands while the oligarchs drive us to ecological disaster, nuclear annihilation or authoritarian dystopia. It’s impossible to hold power accountable if you’re not even allowed to see what it’s doing.

If we, the many, don’t have the spine to stand up against the few and say “No, we get to find out facts about you bastards and use it to inform our worldview, you don’t get to criminalize that,” then we certainly won’t have the spine it will take to wrest control of this world away from the hands of sociopathic plutocrats and take our fate into our own hands. We are deciding, right now, what we are made of. And what we want to become.

This is it. This is the part of the movie where we collectively choose the red pill or the blue pill. We are collectively being asked a question here, and our answer to that question will determine the entire course we will take as a species.

So what’s it going to be, humanity?

Truth, or lies?

Light, or darkness?

A world where we can hold power to account with the light of truth, or a world where power decides what’s true for us?

A world with free speech and a free press, or a world where journalists are imprisoned whenever they expose the evils of the most powerful institutions on this planet?

A world where we all actively fight to free Assange and get the job done, or a giant, irreversible leap toward the end of humanity as we know it?

Do we free Assange?

Or do we sit complacent with our Netflix and our KFC and trust the authority figures to do what’s best?

Do we take the red pill?

Or do we take the blue one?

Choose your path, humans.

Choose wisely.

 

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Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Assange’s Extradition Hearing Reveals Trump’s War on Free Press – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on February 25, 2020

Edward Fitzgerald QC indicated Assange has become a target of Trump’s “war on leakers and journalists.” He stated that his client was “the obvious symbol of all that Trump condemned. He had brought American war crimes to the attention of the world.”

“Mr. Rohrabacher visited Julian Assange and discussed a preemptive pardon in exchange for personal assistance to President Trump in the enquiry then ongoing concerning Russian involvement in the hacking and leaking of the Democratic National Committee emails… ” [3.7]

Fitzgerald QC continued: “We say that this whole pardon incident shows that, just as the prosecution was initiated in December 2017 for political purposes, so too the Trump administration had been prepared to use the threat of prosecution as a means of extortion to obtain personal political advantage from Mr. Assange.” [3.9]

https://original.antiwar.com/Nozomi_Hayase/2020/02/24/assanges-extradition-hearing-reveals-trumps-war-on-free-press/

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On Monday, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange’s one-week extradition hearing began at Woolwich Crown Court in SouthEast London. The judge heard the opening arguments for the prosecution and defense. The prosecution began, accusing the journalist who exposed the US government’s war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan of espionage charges that would carry 175 years in jail.

The US-based investigative journalist Kevin Gosztola, who was at the media annex during the proceeding, reported that U.S. Government barrister, James Lewis QC, said that prosecutors “are not criminalizing the publication of classified materials but rather the publication of names of informants or dissidents who help the US and allies in military operations.”

Gosztola noted that James Lewis QC “listed off specific documents that Assange is accused of releasing which allegedly contained names of ‘human sources’ that were endangered.” When asked by the judge if the offense of publishing would extend to a newspaper, the Prosecution replied, “1989 Official Secrets Act would cover [that]” and “If a journalist or newspaper publishes secret information likely to cause harm in the categories, it commits an offense.”

Updating the media on the hearing, the WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson reminded the crowd that this is “journalism on trial” and stated that the US argument is repeating the same old line they used 10 years ago, while dismissing the importance of the harm the US was doing, as revealed WikiLeaks by in their 2010-2011 publications. Hrafnsson rejected the US government’s claims that WikiLeaks publications put lives at risk, stating that during the 2013 Manning Trial, the US government could not prove any harm, and had to admit that no physical harm had occurred to a single individual due to WikiLeaks revelations.

Assange’s defense lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that this prosecution is politically motivated and so the UK can’t extradite Assange, since their treaty with the US strictly forbids extradition for a political offense.

The defense for Assange provided a background that led to this prosecution of his client. He noted that “President Trump came into power with a new approach to freedom of speech…. Effectively declaring war on investigative journalists.” He said that “President Trump met with FBI Director James Comey and agreed that they should be ‘putting a head on a pike’ as a message to journalists over leaks, and ‘putting journalists in jail”.

Edward Fitzgerald QC indicated Assange has become a target of Trump’s “war on leakers and journalists.” He stated that his client was “the obvious symbol of all that Trump condemned. He had brought American war crimes to the attention of the world.”

Then, examples of egregious government “abuse of power” and the “abuse of the rule of law” were presented to the court as key defenses. These include the breach of client and attorney confidentiality. Assange’s conversations with lawyers were spied on by a Spanish security firm hired by the US while he was living under political asylum inside the London Ecuadorian Embassy. His grant of asylum was explicitly to protect him from the risk of extradition to the US; a risk related to his publishing activities with WikiLeaks.

A further breach of legal privilege occurred after the Ecuadorian government illegally breached his asylum and evicted Assange, having the UK police arrest him within the embassy. The US authorities were then permitted, by the embassy, to seize his legally privileged materials.

On the first day of the hearing, the unprecedented scale of the assault on the journalist was revealed. Extreme measures employed in the targeting Assange included plans to try to kidnap or poison Assange while he was in the embassy.

As another example of abuse of process, Fitzgerald QC brought up Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s alleged pardon offer, made to Mr. Assange in August 2017. The opening summary of defense case states:

“Mr. Rohrabacher visited Julian Assange and discussed a preemptive pardon in exchange for personal assistance to President Trump in the enquiry then ongoing concerning Russian involvement in the hacking and leaking of the Democratic National Committee emails… ” [3.7]

Fitzgerald QC continued: “We say that this whole pardon incident shows that, just as the prosecution was initiated in December 2017 for political purposes, so too the Trump administration had been prepared to use the threat of prosecution as a means of extortion to obtain personal political advantage from Mr. Assange.” [3.9]

From the US government spying on the embassy, to the alleged extortion, Julian Assange’s lawyer argued, this extradition case “is not about criminal justice, it’s about the manipulation of the system to ensure the United States could make an example of Assange.”

As the extradition hearing began, hundreds of supporters gathered outside the courthouse, chanting for freedom of the WikiLeaks founder. Major human rights organizations and press freedom groups, including Amnesty International and The Committee to Protect Journalists, have now come out strongly against Assange’s extradition to the US.

After the first day of monitoring the hearing, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) UK bureau director Rebecca Vincent noted, “Nothing we heard today was surprising, and has reinforced our position. We believe he has been targeted for his contributions to public interest reporting.”

Note:

 

 

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