Julian Assange Extradition Hearing, or “Freedom of Press Trial of the Century”

Tom Paine 1949

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I dedicate this new post to the ongoing extradition trial of Wiki Leak’s founder Julian Assange. Feel free to add comments on this precedent-setting “international freedom of the press” hearing.

I reported earlier on Trump’s decision to prosecute Assange and Mike Pompeo’s CIA spying on him when he was still in the Columbian Embassy: How Pompeo’s CIA spied on Julian Assange. Here is an updated report
:

The third day of extradition proceedings against Julian Assange at the Old Bailey resumed on the point of politics. Assange as a figure of political beliefs; Assange as a target of the Trump administration precisely for having them. The man sketching the portrait was Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University.

It is no mean feat trying to pin down Assange’s political system. Leftward, rightward, with resistance to the centre? Lashings of libertarianism; heavy doses of anti-war and holding the powerful to account? Such figures tend to be sui generis. In his submitted statement to the court, Rogers suggests a uniform theme. “The political objective of seeking to achieve greater transparency in the workings of governments is clearly both the motivation and the modus operandi of Mr Assange and the organisation WikiLeaks.”

On the stand, Rogers described the Assange method of influence and disruption: the release of the war logs, their influence on public opinion regarding the US imperium’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, the revelations of 15,000 unaccounted civilian casualties. The butcher’s bill of the imperium ... was laid bare by the WikiLeaks’ releases.

For Rogers, this approach jarred with various US administrations, but none more so than that of Trump’s. Assange’s entire approach and “what he stands for represents a threat to normal political endeavour.”...

The Obama administration had ... not [prosecuted] Assange; those in the Trump administration had warmed to the idea. Not quite getting his pound of flesh, Lewis moved on to targeting the reasons why the Obama administration had gone cold on prosecuting Assange...

Post-lunch interest then turned to Trevor Timm, Director of Freedom of the Press Foundation. As he points out in the submitted statement, “The decision to indict Julian Assange on allegations of a ‘conspiracy’ between a publisher and his source or potential sources, and for the publication of truthful information, encroaches on fundamental freedoms.” WikiLeaks was a pioneer in secure submission systems such as SecureDrop, one that had been emulated by media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Al Jazeera....

The Trump administration, however, had proved bolder than its predecessors. The Espionage Act had been previously floated at such journalists as James Bamford, Ben Bradlee, Seymour Hersh and Neil Sheehan. It took Assange’s arrest and charging in 2019 to break with tradition.... Were the prosecution permitted “to go forward, dozens of reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere would also be in danger.”

Assange’s Third Day at the Old Bailey: Bias, Politics and Wars on Journalism - CounterPunch.org
 
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pknopp

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My only comment is that I still have no idea why he is on trial for this.
 
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Tom Paine 1949

Tom Paine 1949

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You mean the Ecuadorean embassy. Close though. Same building.
Thanks, Grumblenuts . I’m getting senile in my old age.

But not so senile I can’t see a grave and dangerous miscarriage of justice when I see it! Hell, if between the U.S., England and Australia, nobody with real power comes forward to foil this witch-hunt, what chance will free and independent journalism and whistle-blowing have in the English-speaking world in the future? Will every whistle-blower have to seek refuge in Moscow or Beijing? Like people there run to seek refuge here?

If I were a multi-billionaire I think I would set up some young computer wiz journalists on an independent island nation in the South Pacific. Help them create a new Wiki-Leaks with secret internet drops from all over the world. Then we would publish true state secret revelations through our servers. With a few decent hotels and restaurants and some tens of thousands of decent islanders, we could set up a little paradise refuge where the Ed Snowdens of the world could find at least a temporary sanctuary....

:wine: :backpedal:
 
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Grumblenuts

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It did seem like there was a moment back several years ago where transparency and whistleblowers might actually enjoy some kind of lasting peace. Well not here and probably not there either. Not yet anyways. One thing for sure though. The current crop of billionaires will never save us from themselves.. so you best get busy, lol!
 

C_Clayton_Jones

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In a Republic, actually
Freedom of the press is not absolute – it’s subject to limits and restrictions by government; is the reporting exposing misdeeds by the state, or jeopardizing a legitimate war effort and endangering the lives of military servicemen?

Is the reporting undermining counterterrorist efforts where absent such efforts the lives of innocent civilians might be lost?

Is it incumbent upon news reporting entities to be responsible in their reporting? And if they engage in reckless, irresponsible reporting, suffer the consequences?

How can the people’s right to know be balanced with the government’s authority to preempt reporting where lawfully warranted?

Supporters of Assange see him as a victim of the authoritarian state seeking to silence him and his exposing of the state’s criminal wrongdoing.

Assange’s detractors portray him as an anti-government extremist engaged in a dangerous campaign that will hobble anti-terrorism efforts and foment continued acts of terrorism.

Needless to say, the issue is far more complex than the simplistic notion of Assange being either a hero or a villain.
 
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Tom Paine 1949

Tom Paine 1949

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Day Seven:

The other blazing feature of today’s proceedings was the appearance of Daniel Ellsberg, the aged whistleblower of Pentagon Papers fame. Over the years, he has become a grandfatherly presence in the debates on disclosing classified material for public consumption and debate. The documents he passed on to the New York Times in 1971 shed light on the futility of US involvement in the Vietnam War while revealing habitual public mendacity on the part of various administrations. “My own actions in relation to the Pentagon papers and the consequences of their publication have been acknowledged to have performed such a radical change of understanding. I view the WikiLeaks publications of 2010 and 2011 to be of comparable importance.”

Before the court, Ellsberg attested to the common beliefs he shared with Assange: opposing wars, holding to those cardinal principles of keeping the powerful accountable and the state transparent. Common ground was also shared about the invasion of Iraq (a “crime” and “aggressive war”); and Afghanistan, a modern Vietnam redux of infinite stalemate. Over time, attitudes had changed to documents discussing such behaviour in war. The killings, abuses and war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq had been buried in “low-level field reports” so as to be banal. The Pentagon Papers had been seen as the palace jewels of secrecy; the Iraq and Afghan war logs were merely classified as “secret”.

— Courtesy of Binoy Kampmark, Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

 

Tommy Tainant

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Apologies. I have just posted an update on this hearing on the current events forum.


Its less a philosophical discussion that you are having here but it does hint at what a murky business it all is.

Personally I am broadly supportive of what Assange claims to believe in but as an individual, I have my doubts about him.
 
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Tom Paine 1949

Tom Paine 1949

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John Richard Pilger, the famous Australian journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker, has watched Australian citizen Julian Assange’s extradition trial from the public gallery at London’s Old Bailey:

“The prevailing atmosphere has been shocking. I say that without hesitation; I have sat in many courts and seldom known such a corruption of due process; this is due revenge ... the defendant was caged behind thick glass, and had to crawl on his knees to a slit in the glass, overseen by his guard, to make contact with his lawyers. His message, whispered barely audibly through face masks, was then passed by post-it the length of the court to where his barristers were arguing the case against his extradition to an American hellhole....

“This is what the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Nils Melzer, calls ‘psychological torture’, the result of a gang-like ‘mobbing’ by governments and their media shills. Some of the expert medical evidence is so shocking I have no intention of repeating it here. Suffice to say that Assange is diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s syndrome and, according to Professor Michael Kopelman, one of the world’s leading neuropsychiatrists, he suffers from ‘suicidal preoccupations’ and is likely to find a way to take his life if he is extradited to America....

“The plan of the US Government throughout has been to limit the information available to the public and limit the effective access to a wider public of what information is available. Thus we have seen the extreme restrictions on both physical and video access. A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population....”

OCTOBER 2, 2020. Eyewitness to the Agony of Julian Assange
 

bottlecap

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John Richard Pilger, the famous Australian journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker, has watched Australian citizen Julian Assange’s extradition trial from the public gallery at London’s Old Bailey:

“The prevailing atmosphere has been shocking. I say that without hesitation; I have sat in many courts and seldom known such a corruption of due process; this is due revenge ... the defendant was caged behind thick glass, and had to crawl on his knees to a slit in the glass, overseen by his guard, to make contact with his lawyers. His message, whispered barely audibly through face masks, was then passed by post-it the length of the court to where his barristers were arguing the case against his extradition to an American hellhole....

“This is what the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Nils Melzer, calls ‘psychological torture’, the result of a gang-like ‘mobbing’ by governments and their media shills. Some of the expert medical evidence is so shocking I have no intention of repeating it here. Suffice to say that Assange is diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s syndrome and, according to Professor Michael Kopelman, one of the world’s leading neuropsychiatrists, he suffers from ‘suicidal preoccupations’ and is likely to find a way to take his life if he is extradited to America....

“The plan of the US Government throughout has been to limit the information available to the public and limit the effective access to a wider public of what information is available.Julian Assange Thus we have seen the extreme restrictions on both physical and video access. A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population....”

OCTOBER 2, 2020. Eyewitness to the Agony of Julian Assange
Thank you for this thread. Julian Assange is, in truth, a honest reporter. A HONEST REPORTER whose political beliefs are very anti-war and anti-imperialism.

The Real problem is that which you stated so well...

"A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population....”

The failure of the Main-Stream Media too protect a persecuted reporter SPEAKS VOLUMES about how the MSM is a very controlled, corrupt voice.
 

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