The news that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 additional charges under the US Espionage Act and could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison should concern all journalists, the world over.
Some, to their credit, have spoken out against the relentless persecution of the white-haired Australian truth-teller.
But it’s nothing compared to the outrage that could and should be stirred. Most journalists in the west have stayed as silent as Trappist monks with sore throats, or actually taken the side of the authorities acting against Assange.
Just imagine, as I discussed here if Julian was a Russian dissident, being treated in the same way by the Russian authorities. Then we’d be seeing column after column in ‘serious newspapers’ urging people to join the ‘Free Assange’ campaign. Celebrities would be falling over themselves to show their support. There’d be calls for yet more sanctions to be imposed on Russia, and to be maintained until the ‘political prisoner’ was released. But who so far has come out in defense of Assange, save for Pamela Anderson and Roger Waters? Where are the great ‘human rights defenders’?
Assange’s fears about being extradited to the US – the real reason he took refuge in the Embassy – were laughed at.
In 2010 Assange stated: “The big risk, the risk we have always been concerned about, is onwards extradition to the United States. And that seems to be increasingly likely.”
Now that the indictments from the US have come, will those who rubbished Julian’s concerns have the good grace to admit they were wrong, and that his flight to the Ecuadorian Embassy was justified?
Among those who owe Assange an apology is Emma Arbuthnot, the senior district judge, who in February 2018 said she did not find Assange’s fears of extradition to the US were “reasonable.”
But they were, as yesterday’s events prove.
Regarding the Swedish angle, we know from leaked emails the pressure put on the Swedes by the British authorities not to drop the investigation into Assange. “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!” the Swedes were told.
It’s hard to believe that similar exhortations weren’t made again following Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy and lo and behold on Monday it was announced that prosecutors in Sweden have asked the courts to detain Assange in absentia as part of an investigation into rape allegations.
Of course rape allegations are serious. Yet how many ‘liberal’ commentators have been talking or writing of Assange being “charged with rape” or “fleeing rape charges” or even call him “a rapist”- when it wasn’t factually correct? The old legal principle ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is thrown out of the window when Assange is concerned. It’s not just a case of ‘guilty as charged’, with Assange it’s ‘guilty even though there has been no charge’.
The great ‘crime’ of Julian – and the reason he’ll probably never be at liberty again, was to pull back the curtain to show us what was behind it.
To reveal what our governments, which we pay for, were doing in our name. He exposed Western war crimes. He showed us what was really going on. He published information which we, as taxpayers, had every right to know. He was Tobermory, the talking cat, in Saki’s classic short-story.
Yet while Assange languishes in jail, and faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, those who planned the most heinous of war crimes, such as the illegal invasion of Iraq which led to the deaths of one million people and the rise of the genocidal death cult Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), go free.
Even if you think the founder of WikiLeaks should face some form of punishment or penalty for publishing leaked documents, you cannot honestly maintain that sentences of up to 175 years in jail are proportionate.
Assange is being destroyed to deter others from following in his path.
If journalists and politically-minded ‘celebrities’ stay silent on this great injustice, this crime against the profession they claim to represent, this crime against the truth and against common humanity, then they should kindly spare us their ‘outrage’ on other issues.
by Neil Clark @NeilClark66 Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries . He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at https://neilclark66.blogspot.com
Chelsea was not pardoned but had her sentence cut, Assange said he would surrender if she were pardoned. Also she will have to rot in solitary 4 more months before being freed
via True Activist with thanks By: Jay Syrmopoulos / The Free Thought Project – After 24 hours of rampant speculation, Julian Assange’s attorney has come forward to announce that President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence did not meet the criteria set forth by the WikiLeaks’ head to proceed with extradition to the United States as he had offered.
While Assange has not been publicly charged with a crime in the United States, his legal team is virtually certain that he is to be charged “under seal.” This entails charges being kept secret as a means of preventing a suspect from attempting to escape.
Political Prisoners Obama Could Pardon Before He Leaves Office
BY SARA DAVID shared with thanks, illustrations added… With limited time left in the White House, the pressure’s on POTUS to do as much good as he can before Trump’s Legion of Doom threatens the civil liberties of many. Now more than ever, Obama must take a stand to protect human rights activists, radical revolutionaries, and those disproportionately punished by government. Here are some of the political prisoners that Obama should and could pardon before he leaves office:
Mumia Abu-Jamal Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, according to Democracy Now, though he has always maintained his innocence.
Abu-Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, supporter of Philadelphia’s MOVE organization, and award-winning journalist whose writing from prison has reached worldwide audiences. Like the FBI’s obsession with the Black Panther Party, MOVE (a Philadelphia-based black liberation group that often demonstrated against police brutality) was targeted by the U.S. government to quash civil rights activists. In 1985, Philadelphia Police bombed MOVE headquarters, destroying 65 homes and killing 11 people, including five children.
Amnesty International says Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death “after a trial that failed to meet international standards.” Yet he’s spent 35 years in prison—almost all of which he says has been spent in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s Death Row.
Abu-Jamal’s demand for a new trial is supported by Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela (now deceased), Toni Morrison, and Desmond Tutu, as well as the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Bay View published an open letter calling on NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to speak out in support of Abu-Jamal.
Image via Getty/MPI
Leonard Peltier fought for Native American rights as a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). According to Amnesty International, a 1975 confrontation involving AIM members left two FBI agents dead. Peltier was convicted of their murders, but has always maintained his innocence.
His case has long been “a flash point in the strained relations between federal law enforcement and Native Americans,” according to Mother Jones. The FBI agents’ deaths occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, approximately 18 miles from Wounded Knee. Mother Jones reported:
In 1973, about 200 Sioux, led by members of the American Indian Movement, occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days to protest injustices against Native Americans and what they perceived as the corrupt leadership of the reservation’s president. By the end of the standoff, two Native Americans had been killed, 12 were wounded, and 12 were “missing” but suspected of having been killed by tribal leadership, according to Peltier’s petition.
The three years after the Wounded Knee occupation became known within Native American circles as the “Reign of Terror,” a period during which dozens of Native Americans were murdered and hundreds were assaulted by a private militia that was aligned with Oglala Lakota Souix chairman Dick Wilson and known as the “GOON squad.”
There has been zero recourse for law enforcement responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Native Americans, and Amnesty International has said when it comes to Peltier, it “is concerned about the fairness of proceedings leading to his trial and conviction,” and calls on citizens to write to Obama to request clemency on humanitarian grounds. Peltier has exhausted all legal resources, spent 40 years in jail, and is in poor health. At 71 years old, Peltier suffers from diabetes and was recently diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
According to her website, Manning revealed the following via WikiLeaks:
the Collateral Murder video that exposed the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq
the Afghan War Diary that revealed uninvestigated civilian casualties and contractor abuse
the Iraq War Logs that revealed civilian casualties, and uninvestigated reports of torture
the US diplomatic cables that revealed the role that corporate interests and spying play in international diplomacy
There is no evidence that anyone died as a result of Manning’s leaked info. For her actions revealing the U.S. government’s crimes against humanity, Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times—and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
And Manning’s abuse didn’t even begin with her trial or sentencing. Though soldiers are promised fair treatment and a speedy trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, PVT Manning was arrested in 2010 and “waited in pre-trial confinement for over three years before her trial finally began.” According to Manning’s website:
Additionally, during the first 10 months of her incarceration she was subjected to solitary confinement at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine Corps brig. During this time, Manning was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and on a number of occasions was forced to stay completely naked.
Pre-trial punishment is clearly illegal under US military law, and these extreme conditions were unique to Manning. In March 2011, chief US State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley called Manning’s treatment “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” Following his immediate resignation, he has stated that the prosecution’s heavy-handed persecution of Manning has undermined the government’s credibility.
Furthermore, Manning’s treatment caused an investigation by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez. Mendez’s requests to visit Manning were repeatedly denied, and after 14 months of investigation, he issued a statement concluding Manning’s treatment was “cruel and inhuman.”
Black Panther activist Assata Shakur was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper. She spent six and a half years in prison in what she calls “brutal circumstances” before escaping from the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving to Cuba in 1984. According to Shakur, she was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice, and then charged with murder of a police officer.
The FBI itself has admitted that COINTELPRO—a Counterintelligence Program launched in 1956 to disrupt Communities Party activity that was later expanded to include domestic groups including the Black Panther Party—was “rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging first amendment rights and for other reasons.”
The FBI has also admitted to enlisting the cooperation of local police departments to disrupt and “neutralize” the Black Panther Party. With micro- and macro-government vendettas against prominent black activists (which is still very much alive today), how could Shakur rely on the U.S. Department of Justice to give her a fair trial?
She writes on her website that she’s a “20th century escaped slave”:
Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party.
By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.
In 2015, musician Common was pulled from a commencement speech at Kean University because of police complaints against “A Song for Assata.” Also that year, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza wrote: “When I use Assata’s powerful demand in my organizing work, I always begin by sharing where it comes from, sharing about Assata’s significance to the Black Liberation Movement, what its political purpose and message is, and why it’s important in our context.” Today, there’s even a Chicago-based collective of radical Black women called Assata’s Daughters.
Earlier this year, Obama said Cuba had agreed to “help resolve the cases of several U.S. fugitives living in Cuba,” including Shakur, the Independent reported.
Oscar López Rivera
Oscar López Rivera has become the longest-held political prisoner in the history of Puerto Rico, after being sentenced to 70 years in prison in 1981. López Rivera was a Chicago-based activist fighting discrimination and police brutality in Puerto Rican communities in the ‘60s.
He was not convicted of killing or harming anyone, but rather “seditious conspiracy”—plotting “against the U.S.” to further Puerto Rican independence. In reality, López Rivera was fighting for the very American principle of no taxation without representation. Puerto Rico is neither a sovereign country nor the 51st state, so its people are U.S. citizens that could be drafted into the military—but can’t even vote for president or Congress representatives.
In 1999, then-president Bill Clinton used his final days in office to grant a presidential pardon to 11 Puerto Rican independence fighters under the condition that they renounce violence, according to the Washington Post. López Rivera was offered a lesser deal; he renounced violence but ultimately refused the deal because he said he had no faith in the U.S. government “sticking to its side of the bargain,” the Guardian reported. According to the publication:
Two decades ago he and his fellow Puerto Rican independence fighters renounced violence and embraced peaceful political reform. The last year in which the militant group to which he belonged committed a violent act was 1983.
Yet López Rivera still sits in prison.
Prominent supporters of pardoning López Rivera include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former president Jimmy Carter, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda, who confronted Obama about López Rivera face to face during a recent White House visit.
In the near future you may be chosen or refused for a job without an interview, test or formal qualifications, chosen by an algorithm robot after instant analysis of your ‘digital footprint’, everything you’ve ever done that leaves a trace. Equally you could get fired because the BOT dislikes your footprint.
”What Bradley Manning did may not be to everyone’s taste but there is a larger issue here and that is the accountability of the people we elect and the decisions they make on our behalf. In not standing up to them en masse we are as guilty as the soldiers and officers that are “just following orders” and with this we leave a young man, still 25 despite 1162 days of confinement, facing a further 136 years in prison for not following those orders, for standing his ground and governments, responsible for war crimes, being allowed to walk away without a care in the world whilst they plot their invasion and liberation of their next country.”
…”The white house could claim that unleashing democracy and freedom has been the real target behind the invasion of Iraq while journalist reports and wikileaks documents have shown and revealed the American collaboration with Saddam`s intelligence and security officers to kill and torture thousands of unarmed civilian Iraqis.
Poor Brad Manning faces 130+ yrs in jail .. while the real criminals, robbers, torturers, murderers and ecocidal lunatics are having a wild party tonight…
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (R) is escorted by military police as arrives to hear the verdict in his military trial July 30, 2013 at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)
The verdicts in the Bradley Manning trial are about to be announced and between now and sentencing – which is likely to commence as soon as next week – it is imperative that you, the world’s media, come together and demand that Manning be released. Whether you are The Guardian, Der Spiegel, the New York Times, the Washington Post, El Pais, Le Monde, The Age or any of those other publications that collaborated or benefited from the publishing of material revealed by Bradley Manning: you are party to the charges raised and Bradley needs your help and intervention now. Continue reading “Manning verdict: to the world’s media – THIS is the moment when Bradley needs your help”