By Neenah Payne
Key Witness In Julian Assange Case ADMITS TO LYING provides a quick overview of the case against Assange whose “crime” was reporting the war crimes of the United States revealed to him by former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning) in 2010 which showed that the US military was targeting and killing civilians 66,000 unarmed civilians in Iraq. Assange is awaiting an extradition hearing from Britain by the United Sates where he faces 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one of conspiracy to commit computer instruction for leaking classified documents. All charges relate to 700,000 classified documents handed to WikiLeaks.
The hearings on the Assange extradition in January 2020 didn’t go well for the US government. The arguments that political extradition is banned by the UK/US extradition treaty and that the publisher was not responsible for Chelsea Manning’s whistleblowing on war crimes, appeared to be strong. The US Justice Department decided it therefore needed to discover some “crimes” by Assange that seemed less noble than the Manning revelations.
So, the FBI turned to an informant in Iceland, Sigi Thordarson, who testified that Assange had been involved with him in hacking private banking information and tracking Icelandic police vehicles. This was much easier to portray as crime, as opposed to journalism, so the second superseding indictment was produced based on Thordarson’s story. However, the case against Assange fell apart when Thordarson (a convicted criminal) recently admitted that his testimony against Assange was entirely false.
US Extradition Appeal Granted
Yet UK High Court Grants US Permission for Appeal in Assange Extradition Case shows that Assange’s legal team said the UK’s High Court granted permission to the US government to appeal the decision that blocked Assange’s extradition.
While the British court’s original decision barred extradition on the grounds of Assange’s health and US inhumane prison conditions, the second superseding indictment and Thordarson’s accusations were accepted as a valid basis for extradition. If extradited, Assange will be tried in a Virginia court where he will probably be found guilty and would face 175 years in prison. The court reportedly granted the appeal “on a limited basis” and on “narrow, technical grounds,” and did not set a date for a future court hearing.
The ruling led to intensified calls by Assange’s supporters for his release from Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh where he has been held for more than two years following seven years in isolation at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he claimed asylum. Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancée, said the High Court’s decision “means he is still at risk of extradition where he faces a 175-year prison sentence and…is certain to lose his life if he is extradited.”
Assange UPDATE: Appeal Granted After NO TORTURE Vow (For Now) Katie Halper Calls Out RESISTANCE LIBS On July 8, Katie Halper, host of The Katie Halper Show Podcast, explained that this case is not just about Julian Assange. It is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of the press which is the foundation of democracy. She says this story should be all over the media. Halper points out that Americans who believe The New York Times should be free to publish should remember that it published stories it received from WikiLeaks. The Obama administration dropped its pursuit of the Assange case because of what is called “the NYTimes’ problem”. If Assange is guilty of publishing the information, so is The New York Times. Halper calls on Biden to drop the case now.
WikiLeaks’ Goals and Global Impact
Assange said WikiLeaks fights for:
- Publishers to have the right to publish
- Sources to be protected
- Media accuracy – WikiLeaks has a perfect record in 10 years
Assange pointed out “Without secure communications technology, journalists are not able to effectively hold the state to account.” Assange said their sources are not subject to attacks because WikiLeaks is a specialist in source protection and uses a more secure cryptography that is not based on smart phones.
WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published three of the biggest leaks of classified information in history: the Iraq War Logs, the Afghanistan War Logs, and Cablegate. Some believe that the huge wave of protest – including the Arab Spring – which swept the Middle East and North Africa was fueled in part by WikiLeaks revelations.
In the April 2011 interview Assange Speaks, the interviewer points out that the upheaval in Tunisia is being labeled “The WikiLeaks Revolution” and asks about Egypt (and the Arab Spring). Assange provides a very detailed reply and concludes, “There is no doubt that Tunisia was THE example for Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and all the protests that have happened there. It’s extremely gratifying to see this happening. The political elite of that whole region is handing out concessions hand over foot in terms of changing positions in the cabinet, greater representation for different groups, watering down various security laws, and so on….in order to prevent a total overthrow. So, in these regions, either there will be a total overthrow of the political elite or very important concessions will be extracted. ”
The groundbreaking film and panel discussion The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange points out that what happens to Assange can happen to any journalists who do their job. It is the JOB of journalists to research and report the truth. It is NOT their job to support government corruption, propaganda, abuses, deception, or disinformation.
What’s at stake in the Assange case is Freedom of the Press which the US Founding Fathers protected with the First Amendment because they understood that it is the cornerstone of democracy. The First Amendment rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press keep other branches of government honest. What’s at stake is the American public’s right to know the truth rather than to be fed government propaganda as in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and now Communist China.
John Pilger, award-winning journalist and filmmaker, says WikiLeaks is the most extraordinary development in journalism in his lifetime because people can trust the accuracy of the information from WikiLeaks which has never had to retract a story. The US government is treating these super heroes like criminals because they tell truths the US doesn’t want people to know. Assange’s WikiLeaks published information from documents submitted by Chelsea Manning showing the US was targeting and killing civilians in the Middle East.
The people who committed those murders have not been held accountable. Instead, Assange and Manning have been made to pay high prices simply for telling the truth.
Assange’s Fiancée Stella Moris and Their Two Sons
Stella Moris, a South African lawyer and legal researcher, joined WikiLeaks in 2011 after the release of the documents about Iraq. Stella said she felt fortunate to meet the person who had changed the world with WikiLeaks. Since her family spent time in Sweden, she is a Swedish national and is fluent in Swedish. She helped in litigating Assange’s case in Sweden which was rescinded in 2019. Stella is also fluent in Spanish which was critical when Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012. Fluent in English, Stella is able to speak now to the British and American press in defense of Assange.
By 2015, Assange and Stella were in love and by 2017, they were engaged. They planned to get married, but he was arrested before that happened. Assange (50) and Stella (38) have two sons: Gabriel (4 years) and Max (2 years).
They kept their love affair secret to avoid having Stella and their sons targeted. However, last year, Stella went public to plead for Assange to be released under government plans to free thousands of prisoners to quell the spread of the COVID virus behind bars.
Stella explained that Assange is doubly vulnerable in the Belmarsh prison because he suffers from a chronic lung condition exacerbated by his years inside the embassy and mental health issues due to extreme isolation. She is worried that he cannot survive further forced isolation. She has not been allowed to visit him because of the virus. He has been in the prison over a year now.
Dental issues that needed to be addressed while Assange was in the embassy have gone unresolved. Assange is not well. Assange is in a dark room 23.5 hours a day. Because of the COVID restrictions, his fianceé and sons were not able to visit him for months. Assange’s right to a family life with Stella and their two British-born sons will play a part in WikiLeaks’ legal bid to keep him in the UK.
Stella lives in London with her extended family. She is being supported by Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, and his father, John Shipton, who are both delighted by their new grandchildren. Stella said she is anxious because Assange is also unable to see his legal team or prepare for his extradition hearing.
Stella said, “For a long time, I have feared I will lose Julian to suicide if there is no way in which he can stop his extradition to the US. I now fear I may lose him for different reasons, and sooner, to the virus. He doesn’t have a voice at present but I do. That’s why I am using it.”
The June 21, 2020 video Julian Assange’s hidden family revealed: top secrets inside the Embassy | 60 Minutes Australia says that until COVID hit, Stella would take her sons to see their father in prison. However, for weeks, their only contact was over the phone when Assange managed to call.
Daddy Leaks: WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange fathers two kids inside Ecuadorian embassy with lawyer who fell in love with him is an April 2020 article that includes a video with Stella Morris.
June 25, 2021
“‘If Biden really wants to break with the Trump legacy, then he has to drop the case,’ Moris told Reuters in an interview. ‘They can’t maintain this prosecution against Julian while saying that they defend a global press freedom.’
Washington has sought the extradition of Assange over his role in one of the biggest leaks of classified information, accusing him of putting lives in danger by releasing vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables…
He has now spent nine years in jail or self-incarceration in Britain. Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris and the British judge overseeing the extradition request have warned he may not survive an extradition process to send him across the Atlantic…
WikiLeaks came to prominence when it published a U.S. military video in 2010 showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
An effort to extradite Assange was launched in 2019 when he was detained in London after taking refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London for seven years to avoid being extradited to Sweden.
British judge Vanessa Baraitser said in January that although she accepted the U.S. legal arguments in the case, she said Assange’s mental health issues meant he would be at risk of suicide if extradited, leading to her rejecting the request.
Moris, who has two young boys with the Australian-born Assange, said the 49-year-old was very low but still fighting. She likened his treatment to the way journalists are treated in China and Saudi Arabia.
‘I think there’s no doubt that Julian wouldn’t survive an extradition,’ she said.
She argued that any robust democracy had to accommodate internal dissent. ‘A superpower that has a free press is very different in nature from one that does not.’
She said she is hopeful that the case will be viewed differently under a Biden administration, but refused to say if his legal team had held talks with U.S. officials.
Despite that hope, she said the couple were planning to marry soon inside Belmarsh, once the paperwork is done, rather than wait to hear his fate.
She said Assange had been given a huge lift recently when she was allowed to take their two sons to visit, allowing him to touch his children for the first time in over a year.
‘He was happy to see us, but he’s struggling,’ she said. ‘He’s very low but he’s fighting. He has the hope that this will end soon.'”
Stella Provides Updates on Julian’s Case
July 6th, 2021
Assange’s Father and Brother Tour US To Demand His Freedom
“Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, begins a month-long, 17-city U.S. tour in Miami as his son languishes in Belmarsh Prison in London awaiting a US appeal against the denial of his extradition. Organized by Assange Defense, John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian Assange’s father and brother are scheduled to make stops on both coasts and the Midwest before concluding the tour in the nation’s capital.
STAND WITH ASSANGE: Reception for John and Gabriel Shipton, the father and brother of Julian Assange – YouTube. The transcript of Chris Hedges’ powerful speech at the event is shown at Chris Hedges: Assange & the Collapse of the Rule of Law which also links to the video of his speech.
The Assange Defense Committee
“A project of the Courage Foundation, the Assange Defense Committee is a national coalition fighting to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Comprising human rights defenders, press freedom advocates, civil liberties lawyers, and supporters across the United States, the Committee organizes public rallies, provides essential resources, and raises awareness about the unprecedented prosecution against Julian Assange and the threat it poses to the freedom of the press around the world.
In supporting journalists’ right to publish, the Assange Defense Committee is upholding the public’s right to know what its government is doing in its name. The Committee calls for Julian Assange’s immediate release, charges to be dropped, safe passage to the secure location of his choosing, and compensation for the psychological torture and arbitrary detention he has endured.”
The site includes the following video.
Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze.
Top image: Jacobinmag.com
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