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End of free speech as Julian Assange faces 17 more charges

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End of free speech as Julian Assange faces 17 more charges

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:58 am

Julian Assange arrested after
Ecuador tears up asylum deal


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has spent the last six years. Ecuador's president has announced that the country has withdrawn asylum from Assange

The eviction follows reports that the Australian founder of the WikiLeaks whistleblowing portal would be handed over to British authorities. Ecuador denied the reports and said it had no intention of stripping him of his protected status, but apparently another decision was made by Quito.

Assange's relationship with Ecuadorian officials appeared increasingly strained since the current president came to power in the Latin American country in 2017. His internet connection was cut off in March of last year, with officials saying the move was to stop Assange from "interfering in the affairs of other sovereign states."

USA is always interfering in the affairs of other sovereign states

The whistleblower garnered massive international attention in 2010 when WikiLeaks released classified US military footage, entitled 'Collateral Murder', of a US Apache helicopter gunship opening fire on a number of people, killing 12 including two Reuters staff, and injuring two children.

The footage, as well as US war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 200,000 diplomatic cables, were leaked to the site by US Army soldier Chelsea Manning. She was tried by a US tribunal and sentenced to 35 years in jail for disclosing the materials.

Manning was pardoned by outgoing President Barack Obama in 2017 after spending seven years in US custody. She is currently being held again in a US jail for refusing to testify before a secret grand jury in a case apparently related to WikiLeaks.

USA should NOT have secret grand juries

Assange's seven-year stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy was motivated by his concern that he may face similarly harsh and arguably unfair prosecution by the US for his role in publishing troves of classified US documents over the years.

His legal troubles stem from an accusation by two women in Sweden, with both claiming they had a sexual encounter with Assange that was not fully consensual. The whistleblower said the allegations were false. Nevertheless, they yielded to the Swedish authorities who sought his extradition from the UK on "suspicion of rape, three cases of sexual abuse and unlawful compulsion."

In December 2010, he was arrested in the UK under a European Arrest Warrant and spent time in Wandsworth Prison before being released on bail and put under house arrest.

During that time, Assange hosted a show on RT known as 'World Tomorrow or The Julian Assange Show', in which he interviewed several world influencers in controversial and thought-provoking episodes.

His attempt to fight extradition ultimately failed. In 2012, he skipped bail and fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy, which extended him protection from arrest by the British authorities. Quito gave him political asylum and later Ecuadorian citizenship.

Assange spent the following years stranded at the diplomatic compound, only making sporadic appearances at the embassy window and in interviews conducted inside. His health has reportedly deteriorated over the years, while treatment options are limited due to his inability to leave the Knightsbridge building.

In 2016, a UN expert panel ruled that what was happening to Assange amounted to arbitrary detention by the British authorities. London nevertheless refused to revoke his arrest warrant for skipping bail. Sweden dropped the investigation against Assange in 2017, although Swedish prosecutors indicated it may be resumed if Assange "makes himself

Assange argued that his avoidance of European law enforcement was necessary to protect him from extradition to the US, where then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that arresting him is a "priority." WikiLeaks was branded a "non-state hostile intelligence service" by then-CIA head Mike Pompeo in 2017.

The US government has been tight-lipped on whether Assange would face indictment over the dissemination of classified material. In November 2018, the existence of a secret indictment targeting Assange was seemingly unintentionally confirmed in a US court filing for an unrelated case.

Last year, a UK tribunal refused to release key details on communications between British and Swedish authorities that could have revealed any dealings between the UK, Sweden, the US, and Ecuador in the long-running Assange debacle. La Repubblica journalist Stefania Maurizi had her appeal to obtain documents held by the Crown Prosecution Service dismissed on December 12.

WikiLeaks is responsible for publishing thousands of documents with sensitive information from many countries. Those include the 2003 Standard Operating Procedures manual for Guantanamo Bay, the controversial detention center in Cuba. The agency has also released documents on Scientology, one tranche referred to as "secret bibles" from the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard.

https://www.rt.com/news/456212-julian-a ... -eviction/
Last edited by Anthea on Fri May 24, 2019 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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End of free speech as Julian Assange faces 17 more charges

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Re: End of free speech WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 24, 2019 9:47 pm

Charging Julian Assange With Espionage Could Make His Extradition to the U.S. Less Likely

By charging Julian Assange with 17 violations of America’s World War I-era Espionage Act on Thursday, federal prosecutors in Virginia might have undermined their own chances of securing the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder from the United Kingdom

That’s because the new charges relate not to any arcane interpretation of computer hacking laws, but to WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of American military reports and diplomatic cables provided by the former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

The fact that WikiLeaks published many of those documents in collaboration with an international consortium of leading news organizations — including The Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, El País, and Der Spiegel — ensured that the charges against Assange were immediately denounced by journalists and free speech advocates as an unconstitutional assault on press freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

    Assange's motives or membership in an undefinable "journalist" club are irrelevant to the very dangerous step that the Trump DOJ took today. We'll now find out whether *publishing* information (as well as seeking and obtaining it) may constitutionally be charged as espionage.

    — Barton Gellman (@bartongellman) May 23, 2019
    When you read Demers' quote, please remember that the President of the United States has repeatedly referred to the New York Times as "the enemy of the people." Do we really want Trump's Justice Department deciding who is and who is not a "journalist"? https://t.co/aaV8YfECAw

    — Elizabeth Goitein (@LizaGoitein) May 23, 2019
The uproar could make it easier for Assange’s lawyers in the U.K. — where he is currently serving a 50-week jail term for violating bail — to argue that he is wanted in the United States primarily for embarrassing the Pentagon and State Department, by publishing true information obtained from a whistleblower, making the charges against him political in nature, rather than criminal.

That would make his transfer to Virginia at the end of his jail term in London unlawful, since Article 4 of the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty, signed in 2003, clearly states that “extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”

In what could be an attempt by prosecutors to distinguish Assange’s publication of those documents from their use by news organizations, the indictment focuses on cases in which WikiLeaks published military intelligence files that were not redacted to remove the names of Iraqis and Afghans who had provided information to U.S. forces.

Declan Walsh, who was The Guardian’s Pakistan correspondent at the time, recalled that Assange was indifferent to the harm he might cause by revealing those names, but, as the journalist Alexa O’Brien has reported, there appears to be no evidence that any of those individuals were killed as a result of the online disclosures.

British authorities are already faced with a competing extradition request from Sweden, where prosecutors have reopened an investigation of Assange for rape in response to a complaint filed in 2010. That case has already been adjudicated in England’s High Court. After Assange lost his final appeal against extradition to Sweden in 2012, he took refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London, where he lived until his asylum was revoked this year.

A British judge will issue a preliminary decision on whether to grant priority to the Swedish request or the American one, but the ultimate decision on Assange’s extradition will be made by a politician, the U.K. home secretary.

That process could be intensely political, given that Prime Minister Theresa May announced her imminent resignation on Friday, and one of the leading contenders to replace her is Sajid Javid, the current home secretary.

The disarray in Britain over the country’s stalled exit from the European Union could incline Javid, or his successor at the Home Office, to seek closer ties with the U.S. and expedited trade talks with U.S. President Donald Trump by sending Assange there, but there is also pressure on Javid to consider the Swedish request seriously in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Last month, more than 70 British lawmakers signed a letter to Javid from Stella Creasy, a member of Parliament for the opposition Labour Party, urging him to give priority to an extradition request from Sweden. “We must send a strong message of the priority the U.K. has in tackling sexual violence and the seriousness with which such allegations are viewed,” Creasy wrote. “We urge you to stand with the victims of sexual violence and seek to ensure the case against Mr. Assange can now be properly investigated.”

That view was echoed on Friday by Christian Christensen, a professor of journalism at Stockholm University.

    Espionage charges against #Assange are an attack on a free press. He should still be sent to Sweden.

    — Christian Christensen (@ChrChristensen) May 24, 2019
Mark Klamberg, a professor in public international law at Stockholm University, argued last month that Assange might even have more legal protection against extradition to the U.S. if he is sent to Sweden, since Swedish law also bars extradition for political offenses, and any decision to send him to the U.S. would require the assent of the U.K. too.

    For the record. I think it was reasonable, legal and desirable for Assange to be surrendered to Sweden to face rape allegations, the same does not necessarily apply when it comes to a surrender to the US since it essentially concerns (potentially) political crimes.
https://theintercept.com/2019/05/24/jul ... tradition/
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