Categories
Action

June 17-21: Call Congress for Assange

This week’s installment of Call Congress for Julian Assange 

Julian Assange’s extradition appeal hearing has been scheduled at the UK High Court for July 9-10 in London. Meanwhile, Julian remains in prison in the UK and faces a life sentence if sent to the United States, so the Mayday for Julian effort has now morphed into Calling Congress for Julian.

As before, this is an action you can do from the comfort of your home. We are again asking you to make 6 calls per week to the House, and we’re adding an additional 6 calls to the Senate. We are focusing on the 5 congresspersons and 5 senators listed below. In addition to them, please include a call to your own Congressperson and Senator.

Congressmembers

Please call these U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 934 to drop the charges and extradition of Julian Assange. And call these U.S, Senators to urge President Biden to drop the charges. Remind them that once Julian is extradited, and this could be as soon as his new trial is completed, the ability of journalists to expose government crimes will be forever compromised.

It is now more important to halt this extradition and your calls can make the difference.

When you speak to each office please remember to be polite and brief. If they tell you that the representative only accepts calls from their constituents politely tell them that protection of the 1st Amendment is something that is important to all of us. Politely remind them of the oath of office that they took to protect our constitution and that is the reason for this call from a non-constituent.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Representatives:

“My name is ____ and I would like Congressperson ____ to sign on to House Resolution 934 to free Julian Assange.

I am hoping that _______will add (his or her) name to the bipartisan House Resolution 934 to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of Australians, along with Australian PM Anthony Albanese have forcefully called for this extradition to be dropped as well. That is because they all understand our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Please sign on to H. Res. 934. Thank you!”

Senators

Now, please call the following members of the Senate. Ask them to urge President Biden to drop the charges against Julian Assange and to drop the request for his extradition.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Senators:

“My name is ____ and I would like Senator ____ to stand up for press freedom and Julian Assange.

“I am hoping that _______will urge President Biden to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.”

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of Australians, along with Australian PM Anthony Albanese have forcefully called for this extradition to be dropped as well. That is because they all understand our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Thank you!”

Look for a new list each week until Julian is free. Thank you for all your efforts for Julian Assange!

Categories
Action

June 10-14: Call Congress for Assange

This week’s installment of Call Congress for Julian Assange 

Though he was granted permission to appeal last month, Julian remains in prison under the threat of extradition, so the Mayday for Julian effort has now morphed into Calling Congress for Julian.

As before, this is an action you can do from the comfort of your home. We are again asking you to make 6 calls per week to the House, and we’re adding an additional 6 calls to the Senate. We are focusing on the 5 congresspersons and 5 senators listed below. In addition to them, please include a call to your own Congressperson and Senator.

Congressmembers

Please call these U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 934 to drop the charges and extradition of Julian Assange. And call these U.S, Senators to urge President Biden to drop the charges. Remind them that once Julian is extradited, and this could be as soon as his new trial is completed, the ability of journalists to expose government crimes will be forever compromised.

It is now more important to halt this extradition and your calls can make the difference.

When you speak to each office please remember to be polite and brief. If they tell you that the representative only accepts calls from their constituents politely tell them that protection of the 1st Amendment is something that is important to all of us. Politely remind them of the oath of office that they took to protect our constitution and that is the reason for this call from a non-constituent.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Representatives:

“My name is ____ and I would like Congressperson ____ to sign on to House Resolution 934 to free Julian Assange.

I am hoping that _______will add (his or her) name to the bipartisan House Resolution 934 to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of Australians, along with Australian PM Anthony Albanese have forcefully called for this extradition to be dropped as well. That is because they all understand our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Please sign on to H. Res. 934. Thank you!”

Senators

Now, please call the following members of the Senate. Ask them to urge President Biden to drop the charges against Julian Assange and to drop the request for his extradition.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Senators:

“My name is ____ and I would like Senator ____ to stand up for press freedom and Julian Assange.

“I am hoping that _______will urge President Biden to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.”

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of Australians, along with Australian PM Anthony Albanese have forcefully called for this extradition to be dropped as well. That is because they all understand our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Thank you!”

Look for a new list each week until Julian is free. Thank you for all your efforts for Julian Assange!

Categories
Action

June 3-7: Call Congress for Assange

This week’s installment of Call Congress for Julian Assange 

Your phone calls are working! On June 3, 2024, Rep. Pramila Jayapal signed on to cosponsor H.Res. 934, after supporters made calls to Rep. Jayapal’s office in back to back weeks. Let’s keep it up!


Though he was granted permission to appeal last month, Julian remains in prison under the threat of extradition, so the Mayday for Julian effort has now morphed into Calling Congress for Julian.

As before, this is an action you can do from the comfort of your home. We are again asking you to make 6 calls per week to the House, and we’re adding an additional 6 calls to the Senate. We are focusing on the 5 congresspersons and 5 senators listed below. In addition to them, please include a call to your own Congressperson and Senator.

Congressmembers

Please call these U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 934 to drop the charges and extradition of Julian Assange. And call these U.S, Senators to urge President Biden to drop the charges. Remind them that once Julian is extradited, and this could be as soon as his new trial is completed, the ability of journalists to expose government crimes will be forever compromised.

It is now more important to halt this extradition and your calls can make the difference.

When you speak to each office please remember to be polite and brief. If they tell you that the representative only accepts calls from their constituents politely tell them that protection of the 1st Amendment is something that is important to all of us. Politely remind them of the oath of office that they took to protect our constitution and that is the reason for this call from a non-constituent.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

U.S. RepresentativeWashington Office Phone
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)(202) 225-2006
Tony Gonzales (R-TX)(202) 225-4511
Andre Carson (D-IN)(202) 225-4011
Judy Chu (D-CA)(202) 225-5464
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)(202) 225-3965
YOUR REPRESENTATIVE(202) 224-3121

If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Representatives:

“My name is ____ and I would like Congressperson ____ to sign on to House Resolution 934 to free Julian Assange.

I am hoping that _______will add (his or her) name to the bipartisan House Resolution 934 to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of Australians, along with Australian PM Anthony Albanese have forcefully called for this extradition to be dropped as well. That is because they all understand our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Please sign on to H. Res. 934. Thank you!”

Senators

Now, please call the following members of the Senate. Ask them to urge President Biden to drop the charges against Julian Assange and to drop the request for his extradition.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

U.S. SenatorWashington Office Phone
Lindsey Graham202-224-5972
Richard Blumenthal202-224-2823
Tim Scott202-224-6121
Ted Cruz202-224-5922
Tim Kaine202-224-4343
YOUR SENATOR202-224-4024

If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Senators:

“My name is ____ and I would like Senator ____ to stand up for press freedom and Julian Assange.

“I am hoping that _______will urge President Biden to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.”

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of Australians, along with Australian PM Anthony Albanese have forcefully called for this extradition to be dropped as well. That is because they all understand our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Thank you!”

Look for a new list each week until Julian is free. Thank you for all your efforts for Julian Assange!

Categories
Action

May 28-31: Call Congress for Assange

This week’s installment of Call Congress for Julian Assange 

May 28, 2024 — Julian Assange won a small victory in the UK High Court last week, as the two-judge panel granted Assange permission to appeal his extradition on free expression grounds. However, Assange remains in prison, and the threat of extradition and an attack on our press continues to loom large.

So we continue to ask you to call your Congressmembers, and urge them to support Assange, and this week, we’re asking you to call Senators too. We are focusing on the 5 congresspersons and 5 senators listed below. In addition to them, please include a call to your own congressperson and senator.

Week of May 28-31: Congressmembers

Please call these U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 934 to drop the charges and extradition of Julian Assange, and call the following U.S, Senators to urge President Biden to drop the charges. Remind them that once Julian is extradited, the ability of journalists to expose government crimes will be forever compromised.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

U.S. RepresentativeWashington Office Phone
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)(202) 225-3106 (again!)
Jim Jordan (R-OH)(202) 225-2676 (again!)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)(202) 225-2906 (again!)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)(202) 225-2661
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)(202) 225-3965 (again!)
YOUR REPRESENTATIVE(202) 224-3121


If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Representatives:

“My name is ____ and I would like Congressperson ____ to sign on to House Resolution 934 to free Julian Assange.

I am hoping that _______will add (his or her) name to the bipartisan House Resolution 934 to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. They know that our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Please sign on to H. Res. 934. Thank you!”

Calling the Senate for Assange

Now, please call the following members of the Senate. Ask them to urge President Biden to drop the charges against Julian Assange and to drop the request for his extradition.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

U.S. SenatorWashington Office Phone
Bernie Sanders202-224-5141
Elizabeth Warren202-224-4543
Chuck Grassley202-224-3744
Ron Wyden202-224-5244
Rand Paul202-224-4343
YOUR SENATORS202-224-3121


If you prefer to use a script, here is one for contacting U.S. Senators:

“My name is ____ and I would like Senator ____ to stand up for press freedom and Julian Assange.

“I am hoping that _______will urge President Biden to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.”

“All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition. They know that our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

“Protect press freedom! Thank you!”

Look for a new list each week until Julian is free. Thank you for all your efforts for Julian Assange!

Categories
Past Events Video Series

May 20: Our right to know is on trial

May 18, 2024 — The latest installment in our “Start with the Truth” partnership with Stella Assange, an ongoing webinar series featuring discussions among experts on key aspects of Julian Assange’s case, gives a preview of the upcoming May 20th hearing in London.

Our panelists this month are:

  • Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, and now an independent journalist on Substack
  • Jesselyn Radack heads the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts. As Director of WHISPeR, her work focuses on the issues of secrecy, surveillance, torture and drones, where she has been at the forefront of challenging the government’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers, which has become a war on journalists, hacktivists and those who reveal information that the public has right to know but the government wants kept secret.
  • Carey Shenkman is a human rights attorney specializing in freedom of expression and technology. He is co-author of “A Century of Repression: The Espionage Act and Freedom of the Press” (2022)
Categories
Action Press Release

May 13-17: Call on your reps to free Assange!

This week’s installment of Call Congress for Julian Assange 

You can take action to free Julian Assange from the comfort of your own home. Call the 5 Congressmembers listed below and your own Congressperson, and urge them to save journalists’ right to publish and our right to know.

We have just one week left until what could be Assange’s final appearance in a UK courtroom on May 20, as the High Court will decide whether the U.S.’s so-called “assurances” are good enough to sign off on trampling the First Amendment.

Week of May 13

Please call these U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 934 to drop the charges and extradition of Julian Assange.  Remind them that once Julian is extradited, and this could be as soon as May 20, the ability of journalists to expose government crimes will be forever compromised.  As Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said last week on the Washington Post’sWorld Press Freedom Day panel,

… I would use this opportunity to encourage the U.S. to drop its charges against Julian Assange. If he is brought here and he is convicted, that will send–that will create a terrible precedent for press freedom everywhere. It’s really important that the U.S. upholds its commitments to press freedom, and that includes dropping the charges against Assange. Governments have to realize that press is not there to make lives more difficult for governments. It’s there so that we can make sure that we are all–we all have access to the information that we need to live freely, safely, and it’s essential that it is protected.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

U.S. RepresentativeWashington Office Phone 
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)(202) 225-3106
Jim Jordan (R-OH)(202) 225-2676
Mark Pocan (D-WI)(202) 225-2906
Andy Biggs (R-AZ)(202) 225-2635
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)(202) 225-3965
YOUR REPRESENTATIVE                  (202) 224-3121

This week’s script

Here is a sample of the kind of messaging we encourage. Please make it your own but always be respectful:

“My name is ____ and I would like Congressperson ____ to sign on to House Resolution 934 to free Julian Assange.  

I am hoping that _______will add (his or her) name to the bipartisan House Resolution 934 to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.  

All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition.  They know that our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalists, reminded us of this last week on World Press Freedom Day. She said that extraditing and convicting Julian Assange “will create a terrible precedent for press freedom everywhere. It’s really important that the U.S. upholds its commitments to press freedom, and that includes dropping the charges against Assange.”

Protect press freedom! Please sign on to H. Res. 934. Thank you for all your efforts to free Julian Assange!

Once you’ve made your calls this week, encourage friends to do the same, and post about your calls on social media.

Categories
Action

May 6-10: Call on your reps to free Assange!

This week’s installment of Call Congress for Julian Assange 

You can take action to free Julian Assange from the comfort of your own home. Call the 5 Congressmembers listed below and your own Congressperson, and urge them to save journalists’ right to publish and our right to know.

We have just two weeks left until what could be Assange’s final appearance in a UK courtroom on May 20, as the High Court will decide whether the U.S.’s so-called “assurances” are good enough to sign off on trampling the First Amendment.

Week of May 6

Please call these U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 934 to drop the charges and extradition of Julian Assange.  Remind them that once Julian is extradited, and this could be as soon as May 20, the ability of journalists to expose government crimes will be forever compromised.  As Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said last week on the Washington Post’sWorld Press Freedom Day panel,

… I would use this opportunity to encourage the U.S. to drop its charges against Julian Assange. If he is brought here and he is convicted, that will send–that will create a terrible precedent for press freedom everywhere. It’s really important that the U.S. upholds its commitments to press freedom, and that includes dropping the charges against Assange. Governments have to realize that press is not there to make lives more difficult for governments. It’s there so that we can make sure that we are all–we all have access to the information that we need to live freely, safely, and it’s essential that it is protected.

You can reach all of them through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the numbers below:

U.S. RepresentativeWashington Office Phone 
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)(202) 225-3106
Jim Jordan (R-OH)(202) 225-2676
Jerry Nadler (D-NY)(202) 225-5635
Matt Gaetz (R-FL)(202) 225-4136
Harriet Hageman (R-WY)(202) 225-2311
YOUR REPRESENTATIVE                  (202) 224-3121

This week’s script

Here is a sample of the kind of messaging we encourage. Please make it your own but always be respectful:

“My name is ____ and I would like Congressperson ____ to sign on to House Resolution 934 to free Julian Assange.  

I am hoping that _______will add (his or her) name to the bipartisan House Resolution 934 to drop the charges and extradition request for Assange.  

All major press freedom and human rights organizations are opposed to this extradition.  They know that our ability to know what our government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars is essential to our democracy – and that this can only occur with a free press.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalists, reminded us of this last week on World Press Freedom Day. She said that extraditing and convicting Julian Assange “will create a terrible precedent for press freedom everywhere. It’s really important that the U.S. upholds its commitments to press freedom, and that includes dropping the charges against Assange.”

Protect press freedom! Please sign on to H. Res. 934. Thank you for all your efforts to free Julian Assange!

Once you’ve made your calls this week, encourage friends to do the same, and post about your calls on social media.

Categories
Past Events Video Series

Debunking the ‘WikiLeaks Harm’ smear

April 13, 2024 — Continuing our new monthly webinar series, ‘Start with the Truth,’ in partnership with Stella Assange, this month we present ‘Debunking the ‘WikiLeaks Harm’ smear,” an investigation into WikiLeaks’ redaction process, particularly around the Iraq and Afgan War Logs, and the U.S. government’s evidence-free claim that Julian Assange intentionally published names and put sources in danger.

Our panelists this month are:

  • Hamit Dardagan is co-founder with John Sloboda of the NGO Iraq Body Count, where he is the lead analyst. From 2007 he was the Consultant on Civilian Casualties in War for the UK think-tank Oxford Research Group. He has written and co-written a number of analytical papers on casualties in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, including for the New England Journal of Medicine, PLoS Medicine, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal. He earlier undertook research for a number of organisations including Greenpeace and chaired Kalayaan, a human rights campaign for unauthorised overseas domestic workers in the UK.
  • Matthew Hoh is the Associate Director of the Eisenhower Media Network. Matt is a former Marine Corps captain, an Afghanistan State Department officer, a disabled Iraq War veteran, and a Senior Fellow Emeritus with the Center for International Policy. In 2009, Matt resigned his post with the State Department in Afghanistan over the escalation of the war by the United States. Matt is an advisory board member for the Assange Defense Committee.
  • Ann Wright has been a part of the peace community for 20 years and serves as a member of the CODEPINK Board of Directors. Before that, she was in the US Army/Army Reserves for 29 years and retired as a Colonel. She was also a US diplomat and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the US government in March 2003 in opposition to Bush’s war on Iraq.
Further reading:
Categories
Hearing Coverage

Recap and reactions to High Court appeal ruling

April 6, 2024 — Last month, the UK High Court issued a judgment that could grant Julian Assange limited permission to appeal his extradition to the United States but first gives the U.S. government an opportunity to give “assurances” to potentially head off an appeal altogether.

Press freedom organizations and journalistic unions welcomed the decision to avoid extradition for now, but they reiterated their calls for the U.S. to drop the charges.


UK High Court ruling

In the judgment issued on March 26, the UK High Court decided that three of Assange’s requested nine grounds of appeal have merit and invited the U.S. government and U.K. Home Secretary to offer “assurances” to address those grounds before giving its final ruling.

Stella Assange addressing the press after the court was adjourned

The court has ordered assurances be made that Assange will be granted First Amendment protections, that he will not be prejudiced at trial by reason of his nationality, and that he will not receive the death penalty.

The ruling gives the U.S. three weeks to provide assurances that would address these grounds. If the U.S. declines to do so, the court will grant Assange right to appeal on those grounds. If, as is expected, assurances are given, there will be a hearing on May 20, 2024, to decide if the assurances are sufficient and to give a final ruling on permission to appeal.


Press freedom groups warn threat to journalism remains

The court’s decision to avoid extradition for now was welcomed by press freedom organizations and journalistic unions across the globe, which reiterated their calls for the U.S. to drop the charges.

Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), said:

“We are glad Julian Assange is not getting extradited today. But this legal battle is far from over, and the threat to journalists and the news media from the Espionage Act charges against Assange remains”.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of the Committee to Protect Journalistssaid:

“It is time that the U.S. Justice Department put an end to all these court proceedings and dropped its dogged pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder.”

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institutesaid:

“The UK High Court’s ruling presents the U.S. government with another opportunity to do what it should have done long ago—drop the Espionage Act charges. Prosecuting Assange for the publication of classified information would have profound implications for press freedom, because publishing classified information is what journalists and news organizations often need to do in order to expose wrongdoing by government.”

Simon Crowther, Legal Adviser at Amnesty Internationalsaid: “Instead of allowing this protracted legal process to continue, the US should drop all charges against Assange”.

Whistleblower and source protection group WHISPeR urged the British court not to trust U.S. assurances:

“As attorneys who have represented several defendants under Espionage charges in media leak cases, we can speak to these issues from direct experience. Our clients have been denied both the right to present a First Amendment defense and the supposedly humane prison conditions promised by the Department of Justice. The U.S. government simply cannot make any meaningful assurance that any defendant can rely on First Amendment protections under an Espionage Act prosecution, much less a foreign citizen.”

Alice Jill EdwardsUN Special Rapporteur on Torturesaid:

“Irrespective of any assurances that may soon be provided by the US authorities, many of the questions that have been raised are within the ambit of the European Court of Human Rights.”

Karen Percy, Media President at MEAAsaid:

“We remain concerned that there is still no certainty an appeal against his extradition will proceed, and even if it goes ahead that only a small number of grounds of appeal are possible. (…) The only clear path to freedom is for the US to drop the charges.”


Expert panel reacts to appeal decision

Assange Defense convened a panel of experts to discuss the court’s ruling, which delayed Assange’s extradition, but only to allow the U.S. government to give assurances as to how Julian would be treated if he were extradited.

Panelists Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild; Kevin Gosztola, journalist and author of “Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case against Julian Assange”; Stephen Rohde, constitutional lawyer and author; and Chip Gibbons of Defending Rights & Dissent discussed the ruling, what it means, and what comes next.

Categories
Past Events Press Release

VIDEO: Expert panel reacts to Assange appeal decision

March 26, 2024 — This morning in London, the UK’s High Court ruled on Julian Assange’s request to appeal his extradition to the United States. The ruling delayed Assange’s extradition, but only to allow the U.S. government to give assurances as to how Julian would be treated (in court and in prison) if he were extradited.

Assange Defense convened a panel of experts to discuss the ruling, what it means, and what comes next.

Categories
Press Release

Remembering Marty Goodman (1949-2024)

Marty Goodman at a rally for Julian Assange in NYC (Photo by Pamela Drew)

March 18, 2024 — We are very sad to announce the passing of Marty Goodman, a devoted member of Assange Defense since its inception in our New York City branch. Marty was a tireless activist for Julian Assange as he was for political prisoners everywhere. He was 74.

Marty was a retired station agent in the New York City subway system and a former executive board member in the Transport Workers Union. The TWU 100 published an obituary:

“Marty cut a wide swath as a progressive activist not only in the labor movement but also in the fight against imperialism in Haiti and in favor of the rights of Palestinians.…He embraced rank and file activism, and could always be found on the front lines where working people needed a voice. Stations VP Robert Kelley expressed his sorrow over Marty’s passing and said he would organize a memorial for him.”

Marty’s Memorial

Remembering Marty

Everyone who worked with Marty could attest to his relentless commitment. 

Jeff Mackler, another originating activist with Assange Defense, knew Marty well through their work with Socialist Action,

“Marty was a rare kind of revolutionary socialist, a comrade who devoted his every moment to party-building, to attending endless movement events, to selling our press and setting up Socialist Action literature tables to being an activist participant in countless movements… Haiti, Assange Defense, UNAC, Mumia, union-organizing, strike solidarity, Cuba, climate, etc.”

Specifically on Marty’s work with AD, Jeff said,

“Marty’s active participation in Julian’s free speech, free press and dedication to truth telling was fully consistent with his lifelong commitment to every cause that advances humanity’s striving for a world of freedom equality.”

Marty Goodman at a rally for Julian Assange in NYC (Photo by Pamela Drew)

Patricia Dahl cofounded Stand with Assange NY with Marty, a local branch of the Assange Defense network. She remembered Marty: “Political protest was a way of life for Marty. No oppressed group was outside of his vision. He identified the apparatuses that linked them all. His legacy is immeasurable.”

Bernadette Evangelist, a founding member of NYC Free Assange and fellow activist with Assange Defense, said, “Marty Goodman was tireless. Always present. Always working for justice.”

Chuck Zlatkin, also with Assange Defense in NYC, remembered Marty’s indefatigable effort, 

“I knew Marty first from the labor movement. When the postal union was fighting to keep post offices open in NYC, Marty went up to the Bronx GPO and tabled for hours every Saturday for months in that struggle. Marty was a transit worker. That typifies Marty, he was there for every struggle, not with just words, but by putting his body on the line. He was totally committed to freeing Julian Assange. It was an honor to work with him.”

Activist Zool Zulkowitz, who worked alongside Marty at antiwar demonstrations and other actions for years in New York City, said, 

“There are a few activists I’ve worked with over decades in NYC or DC or Cuba or Palestine, who connected all the dots from Assange to Mumia, and linked the issues of supremacy, inequity, militarism and sustainability across generations and identities. Our sweet and cantankerous Marty was one of those. One of the great ones. Marty lives on!”

Assange Defense director Nathan Fuller said,

“Marty was one of a kind, lovably irascible, cantankerous for the cause, and we will really miss him. He was in the streets every single week, for Haiti or Palestine or Assange — if there was an injustice, Marty was rallying against it. Rain or sleet or snow, even if he’d be the only one there, Marty didn’t care. His principles told him to get out in the street and so he did. I’m grateful for his work with us and his example as an activist.”

Information about a memorial for Marty will be forthcoming. 

Photo by Pamela Drew
Photo by Pamela Drew

Correction: a previous version of this post listed Marty’s age as 68. His union updated their post correcting that error. Marty was 74.

Categories
Press Release

Rep. Thomas Massie brings Julian Assange’s brother to State of the Union

March 7, 2024 — Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie is bringing Julian Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, as his guest to the State of the Union address in Washington D.C. tonight. Shipton is in town this week meeting with Congressmembers to talk about Assange’s prosecution.

In a press release announcing his plus-one, Massie said,

“The U.S. government’s ongoing effort to prosecute Julian Assange threatens the First Amendment rights of Americans and should be opposed. During his term in office, I asked President Trump to pardon Mr. Assange, and I was disappointed by his failure to do so. President Biden should drop the criminal charges currently being pursued by the Department of Justice. I am pleased Mr. Shipton has accepted my invitation to join me at the State of the Union.”

Shipton, who said he was honored to be Massie’s guest, added:

“The prosecution of Julian Assange is a direct attack on the 1st amendment and the freedom of the press to publish information in the public interest. Rep. Massie is a fierce defender of these rights having introduced legislation that would protect my brother Julian and put an end to the espionage act being weaponised against publishers. I hope President Biden, can take a new look at the indictment and see it for the threat to democracy that it is.”

Shipton also met with Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, who is a co-leader on House Resolution 934, which calls for dropping all charges against Assange.


Categories
Press Release

Amnesty, CPJ brief Congress on dangers of Assange case

February 28, 2024 — Days after Julian Assange returned to court in London for what could be his final hearing in the UK legal system, where he attempts to appeal his imminent extradition, leaders of Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists joined Assange’s lawyer in a briefing on Congress hosted by Defending Rights & Dissent.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnes Callamard and CEO of CPJ Jodie Ginsberg spoke alongside Assange lawyer Jen Robinson in the conversation moderated by DRAD policy director Chip Gibbons.

As Defending Rights & Dissent said,

“Callamard told the capacity crowd, mostly made up of Congressional staff, that Amnesty International vehemently opposes the Assange prosecution because it violates the right to freedom of expression, the right of the public to know, freedom of information, and is politically motivated.”

Watch the full briefing here:

See a transcript of the entire conversation at DRAD’s website.

Categories
Press Release

Supporters around the world demand a free Assange

February 22, 2024 — Demonstrations were held, speeches were made, and banners were dropped in major cities across the United States and around the world as Julian Assange returned to court in London for what could be his final hearing in the United Kingdom, requesting permission to appeal his extradition to the United States.

Support videos from around the world

Part 1

Part 2

Washington DC

New York City 

Susan Sarandon, Margaret Kimberley, Margaret Kunstler, and many more

Denver

Boston

Raleigh/Durham

Milwaukee

London 

Categories
Hearing Coverage

 Julian Assange could face death penalty in US, High Court hears 

This is a synopsis of day 2. Read the full play-by-play here and our hearing highlightFind all extradition coverage here.


February 21, 2024 — Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could face the death penalty for a prosecution based on ‘state retaliation ordered from the very top’, the High Court heard today. 

Assange is accused by the US government of conspiring with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified military documents online between January and May 2010. 

The Australian is seeking permission to appeal a 2021 decision by a UK court to approve his extradition to the US, where he faces charges under the country’s 1917 Espionage Act. 

The 52-year-old had initially won his fight against extradition on the grounds he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh US prison conditions. 

But in December 2021 judges found the US authorities had given sufficient assurances to the UK that Assange would be treated humanely in an American prison, and overturned the decision. 

Assange appealed against that ruling, but last June High Court judges upheld the decision to approve the US extradition order, which was signed by then UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in June 2022. 

If he is refused permission to bring a further appeal, Assange is likely to be extradited in the coming weeks to face trial for 18 charges, 17 of which fall under the Espionage Act. The charges include conspiracy to receive, obtain, and disclose classified diplomatic and military documents. 

Assange’s lawyers say he faces up to 175 years in jail if convicted, but the US government claimed the sentence would probably be between four and six years. He has spent the last five years at Belmarsh maximum security prison in southeast London. 

The charges against Assange relate to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq and secret cables about Guantanamo Bay. 

This included the notorious ‘Collateral Murder’ video, which showed the July 2007 killing by an American Apache helicopter crew of eleven civilians, including Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and Saeed Chmagh, 40. 

The video, recorded by the helicopter gunsight, showed the helicopter crew firing into a group of Iraqi civilian men in Baghdad after being given permission from a commanding officer, killing 11 men and seriously wounding two children. 

Joel Smith, representing the US, disputed the claim from Assange’s legal team that the sentence Assange would face in the US would be ‘disproportionate’ and a breach of his human rights. 

He dismissed the 175-year prison sentence Assange’s barristers said he would face if extradited as ‘calculated by simply totting up the maximum sentence for every single offense.’ 

Mr Smith added that Assange’s barristers had said he would face a sentence of 30-40 years. 

He said: ‘Other cases involving unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the media have led to significantly lower sentences.’ 

He gave three examples where defendants were given sentences of 42, 48, and 63 months, despite the ‘maximum exposure’ in these cases running to as many as 130 years. 

The maximum sentence given for the same offenses Assange is facing under the Espionage Act was 63 months. 

He added that sentencing would follow guidelines, and would reflect consideration of aggravating and mitigation factors. 

Mr Smith said the alleged offences were ‘extremely serious’ and that if the sentence was a lengthy one ‘that would reflect the fact his conduct had been aggravated.’ 

He added: ‘Looked at through an American lens the offense is grave. 

‘Looked at through a UK lens the offence is grave. And entirely unprecedented.’ 

He gave a list of Assange’s alleged offending, including ‘the accusation of encouraging others to circumvent legal safeguards on information to provide information to WikiLeaks for dissemination. 

‘The continuing pattern of illegally procuring and providing protected information to WikiLeaks for distribution to the public. 

‘The recruitment of Manning and other hackers, the encouragement of Manning who was subject to the American equivalent of the Official Secrets Act, assisting her to crack a password. 

‘The obvious point of naming sources, who were put in danger.’ 

He added: ‘That’s a sweep of offending. It’s beyond the scope of anything that any of the criminal courts in this country have had to grapple with.’ 

Mr Smith said that given ‘such grave and unprecedented criminality’ it could not be said that a lengthy sentence would be disproportionate. 

Responding to the US case, Edward Fitzgerald, KC, repeated that Assange was being prosecuted on political grounds and that it was not legal to extradite him on this basis. 

He said the absence of any mention of the political offense exception in the 2003 Extradition Act did not amount to disapplying it from individual treaties that include it. 

He said: ‘The act is silent. You can’t read into that act a deliberate omission. You cannot say the act disapplies a provision that’s in every treaty we sign with other countries. 

‘You can’t say the silence means it expressly disapplies its appearance in a treaty.’ 

He said the political offenses exception was included in almost every treaty the UK had signed, and that US, UN, and Interpol treaties always include this provision. 

‘In what sense can it be properly said this [exception] is out of date? It’s not out of date.’ 

He also said that as a non-US citizen, Assange risked being denied rights available to a US citizen. 

He said: ‘Mr [Mike] Pompeo said Assange wouldn’t have these rights because he’s a foreigner, and that’s evidence he might be prejudiced in the USA.’ 

This included, he said, US constitutional rights, including the First Amendment right which guarantees freedom of the press, which US citizens are entitled to. 

He continued: ‘So there is a real risk, said to be 15 percent, he may well be prejudiced by that approach and put in a position where he’s discriminated against because of his status and loses his right that US citizens would have.’ 

Mark Summers, KC, another member of Assange’s legal team said there had been no reference to the fact the material he published exposed war crimes. 

The barrister said this was ‘the exposure of a state-level crime’. 

He said the barristers for the US authorities were dodging the issue when they accused Assange of questioning the probity of US prosecutor Gordon Kromberg when they alleged the extradition was politically motivated. 

He said: ‘We don’t suggest that Mr Kromberg is a lying individual or that he’s personally not carrying out his prosecutorial duties in good faith. 

‘We say that the prosecution and extradition is a decision taken way above his head. You can’t focus on the sheep and ignore the shepherd. 

‘What happened is state retaliation ordered from the very top.’ 

Mr Summers said this was reflected in the fact Assange had been denounced at senior government level, and then-president Trump was drawing up plans to assassinate him. 

He said: ‘It was submitted to you that the US government has acted at all times in good faith in bringing this prosecution. 

‘We don’t understand how that can be advanced with a straight face in the face of evidence the president was planning on kidnapping and killing him.’ 

He also reiterated that Assange had gone to ‘extraordinary’ lengths in the year prior to publication to redact names from the documents and that he could not be held responsible for their eventual publication. 

The barrister said the eventual publication of the names by third parties who gained access to the encrypted files was ‘Unintended, unforeseen and unwanted. 

‘At best Mr Assange could be alleged to have been reckless in the provision of the key to Mr Lee. It would be an absurd allegation to make but that’s the highest anyone could place it.’ 

He added that there was ‘no proof at all that any harm actually eventuated’ to any of the people named in the leaked documents. 

Mr Summers also returned to what he described as the ‘horrendous punishment’ awaiting Assange were he to be extradited to the US. 

He said Assange would be imprisoned for the rest of his natural life, a punishment, he said, ‘that would shock the conscience of every journalist around the world.’ 

He said the courts in the UK should have carried out a balancing exercise on Assange’s actions to determine the public interest in the disclosures. 

He noted that the Strasbourg court deemed ‘exposure of state-level crimes as the very highest level of public interest.’ 

‘The crimes being discussed here were real and ongoing and were happening then to real people. And the disclosures had the capacity and capability of stopping that happening, and they did. 

‘Drone killings in Pakistan came to an end, the war in Iraq came to an end’. 

He said that in a balancing exercise on whether the disclosures were in the public interest ‘colossal, ongoing, real criminal wrongdoing outweighs the risk of some harm to some of the criminals performing or facilitating the criminality.’ 

Judge Dame Victoria Sharp challenged him on whether all the people named in the leaked documents were criminals. 

Mr Summers replied that ‘their names are in there because they have engaged in the criminality that’s been exposed. 

‘The fact is there’s context to these names. They are the names of people who have facilitated America doing what the disclosures reveal them to have been doing.’ 

He added that even if they were innocent, the fact the disclosures protected people against practices like rendition and war crimes would outweigh the potential harm to them. 

Mr Summers said there was no guarantee the US would not subject Assange to the death penalty in the event of his extradition. 

He said: ‘We don’t understand why there is no usual death penalty assurance in this case.’ 

‘The consequences of it are that discharge must follow if they continue to decline to give it.’ 

The judges have reserved their decision.

Categories
Hearing Coverage

Hearing Highlight: Assange Is Not a Journalist, Manning Is Not a Whistleblower, Up Is Down, and Night Is Day 

Read the full report from day 2 of Julian Assange’s final bid to appeal his extradition here. Find all extradition coverage here.


Supporters outside the courtroom in London (FreeAssangeNews)

February 21, 2024 — In order to avoid the pesky press freedom issues that rights groups and media outlets everywhere are warning its Assange prosecution poses, the U.S. government has to claim all kinds of extraordinary falsehoods that fall apart under the mildest scrutiny.

Representing the U.S. today, CPS barrister Clair Dobbin had to argue that Julian Assange is not a journalist, that Chelsea Manning is not a whistleblower, and that the indictment of Assange is a narrowly focused punishment of the release of sources’ names rather than a wholesale assault on the freedom of the press.

Anything but a journalist 

The U.S. is desperate to claim that Julian Assange is not a journalist. The prosecution of Assange has garnered global attention for many reasons, including that major media outlets around the world have condemned the charges as landmark threats to the First Amendment, so the U.S. needs to fix that image. The tactic they’ve chosen is to try to separate Julian Assange from other journalists. To keep mainstream journalists happy, but also to keep them from paying too much attention to the Assange case because it might threaten their jobs, the U.S. goes to great lengths to suggest Assange is anything but a journalist — a hacker, a spy, an activist, whatever it may be. 

“The district judge rejected outright that [Assange] was to be treated as a journalist or akin to a publisher,” Dobbin declared.

“He solicited the bulk disclosure of classified information and was party to Ms. Manning’s theft of classified information,” Dobbin said, “and then indiscriminately and knowingly published to the world who acted as sources of information to the United States. It is these key facts that distinguish [Assange] from the New York Times and other media organizations; it is these facts that distinguish him.”

Assange’s press cards (via Stella Assange)

Julian Assange has a press card. He has many press cards — from the International Federation of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, and the Australian Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance. He has written and edited books and articles, he’s hosted an interview television show, and he’s published carefully redacted databases in close partnership with other media outlets around the world to break news in those outlets’ local regions. 

He’s also won scores of journalism prizes, including the Walkley Award, the most prestigious award in Australian journalism and frequently referred to as the Australian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.

But even this misses a bigger point. The First Amendment isn’t just for journalists. Meaning it isn’t just for whomever this or that judge determines is a journalist either. The First Amendment protects types of activity, not types of people. It protects the freedom of the press, which includes newsgathering, reporting, and publishing alike. 

Press freedom experts have warned time and again that the charges against Assange present a direct threat to this journalistic work. The New York Times, which hasn’t always been Assange’s most ardent defender, said the indictment “aims at the heart of the First Amendment.”

Mainstream reporters have said the indictment terrifies them. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman said:

I am very much worried that the precedent that the present US administration is trying to set with Assange is dangerous, and quite new in the American legal tradition. Assange is charged with asking for information, with receiving information, and with publishing information. And I don’t mind saying that those are exactly the things that I do. And there has never been a prosecution for espionage based entirely on publication. If that’s allowed to stand, there’s absolutely no reason why it couldn’t be used against the Washington Post or the New York Times or CNN.

Dobbin again tried to separate Assange from other journalists by focusing on his alleged agreement with source Chelsea Manning to uncover more abuses, publish more documents, and allegedly conceal her identity. “Entering into this agreement is what takes Assange well outside the activities of a responsible journalist.”

But other journalists do this kind of thing all the time. Journalism professor Mark Feldstein testified in 2020:  

Feldstein confirmed that soliciting information is “standard journalistic behavior.” When teaching journalism, Feldstein talks about asking sources for evidence, actively seeking information, working with them to find documents that are newsworthy, and directing them as to what to find out. “It’s all routine,” he said.

Also routine are efforts to conceal sources’ identities. “Trying to protect your source is a journalistic obligation” Feldstein said, adding, “We use all kinds of techniques to protect them, including payphones, anonymity, encryption, removing fingerprints from documents, reporters do this all the time.”

As Gellman told the Committee to Protect Journalists, “If asking questions and protecting a source are cast as circumstantial evidence of guilt, we’ll be crossing a dangerous line.”

Chelsea Manning’s motives

Dobbin said it was “unrealistic to submit that” Chelsea Manning “gave any thought to specific disclosures she wanted to raise.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Though the Espionage Act charges against her afforded no public interest defense during the merits stage of her court martial, Manning made a point to submit a personal statement to the court, in which she expounded at length on her crisis of conscience, her ultimate decision to make certain documents public, her desire for change and her careful selection of which databases would give the public the best window into the war on terror without putting her fellow soldiers at risk.

On her decision to release the Collateral Murder video, Manning said, 

I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare. After the release I was encouraged by the response in the media and general public, who observed the aerial weapons team video. As I hoped, others were just as troubled – if not more troubled that me by what they saw.

The State Department diplomatic cables were the only set of documents that Manning worried, initially, had the potential to cause damage. “Of the documents released, the cables were the only one I was not absolutely certain couldn’t harm the United States,” she said at first. She kept reading.

The more I read the cables, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the type of information that should become public. I once read and used a quote on open diplomacy written after the First World War and how the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other.

I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy.

She knew exactly which cables had which sensitivity levels, and she knew that it would be safe to release them. She acknowledged that “exposing this information might make some within the Department of State and other government entities unhappy,” but she knew that it wouldn’t cause actual harm.

Given all of the Department of State cables that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption, I believed that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States, however, I did believe that the cables might be embarrassing, since they represented very honest opinions and statements behind the backs of other nations and organizations.

Manning’s motive could hardly be clearer. But the government has to portray this desire to stop war crimes as a random act of anarchy — anything to take our eyes off of what was actually in those documents. 

Will the High Court see through it?

Every major media outlet, press freedom group, and civil liberties organization can see the obvious: Assange is a journalist, Manning was a whistleblower, and the charges against Assange are dangerous. So far though, British courts have been willingly led astray, taking U.S. prosecutors at their word and plugging their ears to the world’s laments. 

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s 2021 ruling, though it narrowly blocked extradition for the time being on health grounds, otherwise took every U.S. argument at face value and ignored the testimony of experts. Since then, even more evidence has come in revealing U.S. intentions. Eight months after Baraitser’s ruling, more than 30 former U.S. intelligence and national security officials confirmed to Yahoo News that the CIA had drawn up plans to kidnap and kill Julian Assange.

The story also revealed that the DOJ hurried a legal case against Assange just to get out ahead of a rogue CIA.

Some National Security Council officials worried that the CIA’s proposals to kidnap Assange would not only be illegal but also might jeopardize the prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder. Concerned the CIA’s plans would derail a potential criminal case, the Justice Department expedited the drafting of charges against Assange to ensure that they were in place if he were brought to the United States.

Three years have passed since Baraitser’s ruling. Assange’s health, which prevented him from even attending this week’s proceedings by video link, has deteriorated greatly. The indictment has already had a chilling effect, as journalists worry they could face charges and prospective whistleblowers with even fewer places to turn with their evidence of abuse.

The British High Court has a chance now to take another look at the facts in front of them, and to take an honest look at what they’ve been hearing from the prosecution and whether it passes the smell test. 

This award-winning publisher, who painstakingly redacted names, worked with local outlets to ensure accuracy, and published evidence of war crimes…is just a reckless hacker?

This intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, who combed over databases to select the documents most important for the public interest, and knew that doing so would put herself at great personal risk…gave no thought to what she released? 

Does that sound right?

Categories
Hearing Coverage

Assange Final UK Appeal Request: Hearing Day 2

This is a blog post of our live tweets. See our report from day one as well as our hearing highlight. Find all extradition coverage here.


WikiLeaks editor Kristin Hrafnsson outside the courtroom in London

February 21, 2024 — Today is the second and final day in publisher Julian Assange’s final UK bid to appeal his extradition. Yesterday, the defense explained to the 2-judge panel why the High Court should reassess the District Judge’s ruling. The defense argued that the judge had failed to adequately assess whether Assange has been charged with a “political” offense and whether extradition should be barred on those grounds.

Another principle against extradition is “unforeseeable prosecution”; you cannot be prosecuted for a crime that you couldn’t be expected to know was a crime. Because the U.S. had never prosecuted a journalist for publishing truthful information in the public interest before, how could Assange have known that his journalism would be against the law?

Yesterday’s recap

Today we hear the U.S. case in response, arguing against Assange’s right to appeal his extradition order.

Judge Sharpe opened this morning by acknowledging audio and microphone issues: “We are aware there were technical issues that affected the ability for those in court to listen. This is extremely regrettable and is being investigated. If there are issues today that affect members of the press or in court or on a remote link, please do let us know so they can be investigated without delay.”

Claire Dobbin is the British prosecutor arguing on behalf of the United States. She said, “A refrain from yesterday is that much of the defense case was unanswered [by the district judge]. But the affidavit submitted by the U.S. addressed every aspect of the defense; his prosecution is based on the rule of law and evidence.”

“The charges might be unprecedented but what he did was also unprecedented.”

Dobbin: He solicited the bulk disclosure of classified information and was party to Ms. Manning’s theft of classified information, and then indiscriminately and knowingly published to the world who acted as sources of information to the United States.

Dobbin: It is these key facts that distinguish the appellant from the New York Times and other media organizations; it is these facts that distinguish him – not his political opinions. 

Judge Sharp interrupts, says we’re going to have to pause the proceedings to ensure that the people in court 3 can hear. (Journalists and observers complained of audio issues again.)

Court resumes. Dobbin again for the U.S.: ‘The district judge rejected outright that the appellant was to be treated as a journalist or akin to a publisher, and she did so considering at length the evidence marshaled on behalf of the appellant about the value of some of the disclosures.’

Dobbin rejects the suggestion that this case is about punishing Assange for his political opinions. Says that the U.S. admin changed during this case but nonetheless, it remains on foot because the prosecutor in charge of the prosecution insists it is based on evidence, not politics.

Prosecution claims Assange isn’t a journalist, Manning isn’t a whistleblower

Review key arguments from the 2020 extradition hearing

Dobbin, trying to refocus judges after the defense case yesterday, notes the second superseding indictment expands the allegations against him to encompass the additional allegations of hacking 

Assange published information that he knew was stolen classified information, Dobbin said. These documents disclosed to the world the names of human sources who provided information to the US, many of whom lived in war zones and authoritarian countries. 

The effect of disclosure of unredacted names created “a grave and imminent risk” that people would suffer physical harm or arbitrary detention, she said. Damaged the work of security & intelligence services, & damaged the capability of U.S. forces, thereby endangering the interest of the U.S.

Dobbin spent much of the morning attempting to paint Assange as recklessly endangering sources, repeating over and over the hypothetical harm that they have never been able to prove when actually asked in court. 

The prosecution elides some basic facts about how the unredacted cables came about, WikiLeaks’ redaction process, and efforts to protect sources.

Dobbin instead returns to the U.S.’s arguments from the initial extradition hearing, and attempts to portray Chelsea Manning as a nefarious hacker with Assange’s help, rather than a conscientious whistleblower.

Dobbin: The Department of Justice and presidents of both parties have long viewed the outing of intelligence sources as outside the scope of the First Amendment.

Dobbin trying to paint a picture of a narrow, restrained indictment that only deals with unredacted names.

Dobbin, returning to the alleged attempt to crack a password, says: ‘Entering into this agreement is what takes Assange well outside the activities of a responsible journalist.’

Dobbin: The material he published attracts no public interest whatsoever; his publication, as alleged, of the unredacted material wasn’t inexorable, it didn’t have to happen and that is what he is being prosecuted for. 

Judge Johnson stops Dobbin before she moves on, and notes, ‘By the time he had published them – they had already been published by others.’

Dobbin: The allegation is that he was responsible for having material in the hands of others in the first place, and the district judge makes the point that he is free to litigate in the U.S. 

Dobbin, not answering the question, said, “This court must proceed on the basis that these are the allegations against him.” The U.S. is blaming Assange for the actions of David Leigh & Luke Harding at the Guardian.

Dobbin moves on to arguments over the Extradition Treaty vs Act. Says the 2003 Act entirely reformed extradition legislation in this jurisdiction; it expressly removed the political offense exception, provides no provision for it. 

Dobbin: If a statute is clear, then it applies regardless of the terms of any treaty.

Dobbin spending a long time on case law to insist the Treaty should be ignored in favor of the Act.

Judge Johnson warns she’s running low on time. 

Dobbin arguing against the defense case that Assange is targeted for his political views or actions. Says the case “Does not permit a simplistic analysis – ‘my acts were political, therefore I am being sought for prosecution on account of my political opinion’.” 

Dobbin effectively says that U.S. and UK governments/courts should just trust each other: ‘The starting position must be that the fundamental assumption of good faith with states where the UK has long relationships on extradition – US as one of the most longstanding partners of the UK.’ 

Dobbin again refers to Trump saying he loved WikiLeaks at one point, undermining the allegation that pressure was brought on prosecutors. (That was in 2016; in 2010 he said Assange should get the death penalty and in 2019 he indicted him) 

Dobbin says the Yahoo News article on the CIA’s plans to kidnap/kill Assange is not “fresh evidence” because there was evidence before the judge about plots and plans at the embassy already and she rejected them.

Dobbin: ‘What was the nexus between the surveillance plans of the appellant and this extradition request? The appellant only comes before the UK courts upon Ecuador having rescinded diplomatic protection. He was only arrested upon the UK being invited into the embassy in order to do so and only comes before this court because of lawful proceedings instituted after. He is subject to these proceedings because of due process and ordinary process.

Dobbin, having it both ways with CIA spying: In any event [even if the CIA did spy], says nothing about the motivation for prosecution – even if there was a concern [i.e., spying] for the appellant in the Embassy, this does not detract from the objective basis for this prosecution.”

Of the Yahoo story, Dobbin said, ‘It’s not witness statement evidence or anything like that and in many respects, I am hesitant to address it.’

Dobbin notes “Article 10, which I am conscious is the key aspect of the application for permission.” (Article 10 of the ECHR)

On the defense point that Assange couldn’t foresee an unprecedented prosecution, Dobbin says, ‘Even if you were to take this at face value that it’s ordinary journalistic activity to solicit this information’, should reject the revelation of the classified names of sources 

Dobbin focusing on the expanded computer intrusion charge in 2nd superseding indictment, effectively saying they needed that newer indictment to get away from the journalism issues of the case 

Dobbin trying to paint Julian as different from a normal journalist: ‘It’s his complicity…going beyond receipt – it’s the encouragement and incitement to steal the material that puts the appellant at one end of the spectrum of gravity’ 

Once again, Feldstein in 2020: “Trying to protect your source is a journalistic obligation. We use all kinds of techniques to protect them, including payphones, anonymity, encryption, removing fingerprints from documents, reporters do this all the time.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman, who led the Washington Post‘s reporting on the Snowden documents, has long said that the Assange prosecution criminalizes activity that he engages in regularly:

“Assange is charged with asking for information, with receiving information, and with publishing information. And I don’t mind saying that those are exactly the things that I do.” 

Gellman told CPJ, “If asking questions and protecting a source are cast as circumstantial evidence of guilt, we’ll be crossing a dangerous line.”

Dobbin claims that Chelsea Manning wasn’t a whistleblower because she responded to solicitation and just gave bulk datasets. Says it’s “unrealistic to submit that she gave any thought to specific disclosures she wanted to raise.” 

That couldn’t be more wrong. Chelsea Manning has always been clear about her motives. In 2013, she said: “I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members.”

U.S. Espionage Act and UK Official Secrets Act

A key point of law in extradition cases: The prosecution needs to prove dual criminality, meaning that the allegations against Assange in the US would constitute crimes in the UK. 

Dobbin: ‘This could be charged as conspiracy and aiding and abetting and under section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, which can apply to publishers; but the burden of proof is higher – must prove it was damaging and the person publishing had cause to believe it was damaging’ 

Judge Johnson queries her: If in this country, a journalist had information of very serious wrongdoing by an intelligence agency and incited an employee to provide that information, and it was provided and published carefully, would a prosecution be compatible with Article 10? 

Dobbin: I’m not sure that it would give way to a straightforward answer…. There is no public interest defense and it’s not incompatible with Article 10 

Dobbin effectively says that regardless of the public interest in such a case, if it was damaging then it would be prosecuted. 

Dobbin: It is true the US authorities are careful about prosecuting when First Amendment rights are implicated this much…. Free speech is highly prized in America, which is why the US has gone a long way to distinguish the appellant’s prosecution from other media. 

Dobbin: Those media outlets who went through the redaction processes have not been prosecuted.

[Note: this elides the fact that U.S.-based website Cryptome published the unredacted cables (even before WikiLeaks) and has never been asked to take them down or been prosecuted.] 

Dobbin lengthily defends the district judge’s handling of issues with Article 7 of the ECHR (which says you can’t be charged with crimes that weren’t crimes at the time they were committed). 

The discussion moves to whether Assange would be afforded First Amendment protections If sent to be tried in the United States. Judge notes that US Attorney Kromberg said he wouldn’t, which could conflict with Section 81b of the UK Extradition Act:

Dobbin: ‘We are not in any position to assess whether this is established [that it would conflict] as a matter of case law; it refers to a possible argument rather than a foundation that reaches the threshold in 81b.’ 

Judge Johnson: Do we have any evidence that a foreign national is entitled to the same First Amendment rights as a U.S. citizen?

Dobbin: I don’t think so, there was a lot of case law referred to but I don’t think there was case law on that point. 

Barrister Joel Smith arguing for the US on sentencing enhancements in a potential U.S. trial.

“The evidence is that the applicant will be entitled to a fair and public hearing, within a reasonable time, before an independent and impartial tribunal” 

Smith: Another matter, wasn’t developed orally but in writing, that is the possibility of aggravating evidence being placed before the court that the applicant would never have seen.

Seems to suggest we can’t decide sentencing issues now with the possibility of more evidence.

Moving on to Section 103 of the UK Extradition Act, which says, “If the judge sends a case to the Secretary of State under this Part for his decision whether a person is to be extradited, the person may appeal to the High Court against the relevant decision.”

Discussion on this matter deals with the creation of the 2003 Extradition Act, and contemporaneous discussion of the ‘political offense’ exemption in the US/UK Treaty 

The prosecution argues, ”There is no free-ranging discretion for the Secretary of State to refuse extradition” if they determine it to be a political offense 

Judge: The US/UK treaty says you cannot extradite for political offenses. Hypothetically, if the Sec. of State finds it’s in violation of Article 4, they’re still required to certify it as valid?

Barrister acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department: Yes 

Prosecution now turns to the death penalty. Yesterday, the defense pointed out that more charges could be added that carry the death penalty, & that Chelsea Manning was charged with “aiding the enemy,” a death penalty offense (even though the US didn’t seek the death penalty for her) 

Prosecution: Assange is not charged with treason or any such charge. Manning, who was, received a determinate sentence and nothing in her case suggests that the applicant here faces the genuine risk of the death penalty. 

Judge Johnson: If the appellant is extradited, is there anything to prevent the charge of aiding and abetting treason from being charged?

Counsel: No

Judge: So if there is nothing to prevent it, do you accept that the sentence could be the death penalty?

Counsel: Yes 

Judge Johnson: could there be any assurance to protect against that?

Counsel: Why should the prosecutors give an assurance when there is no real prospect it would happen? We say there must be a threshold reached otherwise in any case people could raise this in any technical case 

SSHD barrister cont’d: … Here the evidence suggests a 30-40 year sentence. It would be difficult to offer assurances to prevent the death penalty from being imposed. But that still doesn’t mean the Secretary of State was wrong in refusing to prevent extradition. 

Edward Fitzgerald QC for the defense, pushing back against the prosecution’s attempt to just focus on the 2003 Extradition Act. “There is powerful abuse jurisprudence that also allows us to look at this Treaty point,” he says. 

Discussion continues over the 2003 Act’s omission of the Treaty’s political offense exemption: ‘They claim that the omission of the political offense was deliberate; it’s simply not the way an important issue like this can be determined – there can be all sorts of reasons’ 

Fitzgerald quotes the language used: “‘Extradition will not be allowed of people being prosecuted…accounted for by their race or political opinions.’ It’s the textbook definition of a relative political offense. He is saying there will be a pardon for a relative political offense” 

Fitzgerald says it’s “ludicrous” to suggest the UK just stopped caring about political offenses when they made the 2003 Act because the UK “continues to implement this specific safeguard over and over again in treaties” with other countries. 

Fitzgerald: When we are dealing with the right to life, the court should adopt an anxious scrutiny approach.

It is consistent with Article 5 to consider the Treaty.

We cannot say the courts are powerless to develop the law. 

Mark Summers QC for the defense: “It is a feat for the US counsel to be on her feet for two and a half hours advocating for the prosecution for disclosure of this material without once referring to the fact that the material disclosed war crimes.” 

Summers responds to Dobbin: ‘We don’t suggest that Kromberg is lying or that he is not personally carrying out his duties in good faith.

The decision to prosecute is a decision taken way above his head. What happened is state retaliation ordered from the very top.’ 

Summers on Dobbin’s response to the defense’s 3 points from yesterday:

  •  That the prosecution was part of a state-level practice to secure impunity for unlawful conduct – you heard no answer for that
  • The US didn’t prosecute until the ICC took interest – no submission on that 
  • Condemnation from the President – well the answer was that President Trump praised WikiLeaks, ignoring completely what we now know is that he was plotting to kill Assange 

Summers, to the judges: It was submitted to you that the U.S. has acted in good faith and we don’t understand how that submission can be made with a straight face when there is evidence of plans drawn to kidnap and kill Mr Assange. 

We pointed out the fresh evidence that the charges that were brought were done so to facilitate the secret rendition, Summers said. It was submitted that Mr. Assange is before the court because he has been subject to the due process of the law – doesn’t sound much like it to us 

Summers comes back to Article 7:

“Espionage cannot be used to attack the press for publishing state secrets.”

“There is no suggestion anywhere in any authority that everyday journalistic activity was going to prompt criminal prosecution.” 

On the password hash: If you engage in theft, you as a member of the press could be prosecuted for it, but nothing suggests anything to the effect that also renders publication unlawful or ‘out with the First Amendment’ or renders someone ‘not a journalist’. 

‘All of those authorities say that you could be prosecuted for theft, but it doesn’t say — and no authority has ever said — that that takes out outside the scope of protection for publication.” 

Discussion between Judge Sharp and Summers over which charges the defense is arguing engage Article 10 — Summers says the Manning-related charges, i.e. all except the non-Manning parts of count 2 (computer intrusion) 

Summers: ‘If at the end of this process, count 2 is left standing, shorn of the Manning allegations, as it were, what will happen is an Article 8 submission’ because Assange has already served a sentence as long as that charge (5 years) 

Defense: Can I ask why [the prosecutor] had such difficulty in answering [the judge’s] question when pressed on the implications of this decision for the press? 

Summers: There must be proportionality in relation to the publications – all of the cases talk about the duty of the court to engage with the public interest of the publication itself 

Summers: The US submission completely ignores the extraordinary efforts by WikiLeaks to redact – with partners – followed a year later by one of the media partners, not Assage, deliberately publishing in his book, the key to the encrypted internet file where the names existed. 

That was followed by Mr Assange scrambling around to try to protect the names of those published, including calling the State Dept to put in place urgent and immediate measures to protect people named.

Then the fact that others published the material. 

Summers, envisioning a case before the ECHR: This is how the harm would happen; unintended, unforeseen, unwanted – at worst, he could be reckless in giving the key to Mr Leigh; the Strasbourg court would recognize that there is no proof at all that any harm actually eventuated. 

Says the court would accept there was damage [in giving the keys to Leigh], but that would be weighed against the other side of the scales, which is what Assange faces for publishing: 30-40 years (in the words of the prosecutor) 

The Manning sentence (35 years) should be seen as a floor, not a ceiling, for what Assange would face. 

That is a sentence that shocks the conscience of every journalist around the world 

The vast public interest in the exposure and prevention of harm on a titanic scale – rendition, torture, murders, black sites, drone strikes, war crimes. Strasbourg regards the disclosure of state-level crimes as a matter of immense public interest. 

All of the European cases protected by Article 10 involved state officials. 

Crimes disclosed here were real, ongoing, and happening to people and the disclosure had the capacity of stopping that happening. Drone killings in Pakistan came to an end, and the war in Iraq came to an end. 

Summers: the district judge failed to even undertake that analysis, and said this isn’t about journalism. 

The role of the court on appeal is significant: there is no evaluative conclusion for the court to pay deference to; the restrictions on review of such decisions have no application here. You must assess it de novo. Mr Assange is entitled to a court that will make that assessment 

That’s the close of the defense submission in court.

Judge Sharp: We will reserve our decision, pending written submission from the parties. 

The U.S. has until 4:30pm tomorrow for a submission on Manning’s sentence. The defense has until March 4 to submit its speaking note though it’s requested asap.

Court is adjourned.


Categories
Hearing Coverage

Julian Assange revealed US criminality in the public interest, High Court is told

This is a synopsis of day 1. Read the full play-by-play here and our hearing highlight: ‘U.S. silencing Assange for threatening its immunity.’ Find all extradition coverage here.


February 20, 2024 — Julian Assange’s barrister told the High Court, ‘It’s difficult to conceive of a disclosure of greater public interest’ than the information the Wikileaks founder is accused of unlawfully disclosing.

Assange is accused by the US government of conspiring with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified military documents online between January and May 2010.

The Australian is seeking permission to appeal a 2021 decision by a UK court to approve his extradition to the US, where he faces charges under the country’s 1917 Espionage Act. The 52-year-old had initially won his fight against extradition on the grounds he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh US prison conditions.

But in December 2021 judges found the US authorities had given sufficient assurances to the UK that Assange would be treated humanely in an American prison, and overturned the decision. Assange appealed against that ruling, but last June High Court judges upheld the decision to approve the US extradition order, which was signed by then-UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in June 2022.

If he is refused permission to bring a further appeal, Assange is likely to be extradited in the coming weeks to face trial for 18 charges, 17 of which fall under the Espionage Act. The charges include conspiracy to receive, obtain and disclose classified diplomatic and military documents. Assange’s lawyers say he faces up to 175 years in jail if convicted.

Mark Summers KC, representing Assange, told the court that the material published on WikiLeaks exposed ‘state-level criminality’ by the US. This included, he said, exposing practices like extraordinary rendition, torture, and war crimes. ‘Exposure of criminality is obviously in the public interest,’ Mr Summers said. He told the court that Chelsea Manning had been acting as a whistle-blower when she passed the documents to Assange, and that the underlying leak was therefore ‘specially protected’ under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Article 10 protects an individual’s right to freedom of expression. Mr Summers said the publisher of that material should be afforded similar protection, and that Assange, as a member of the public who was simply handed the material by Manning, should not face prosecution.

He said: ‘The court is clear that there can be cases of exposing criminality where the interest and need for the public to know the content of the disclosure is such as to outweigh the duty of confidentiality for Article 10 purposes.’

‘The sheer weight of the public interest means the disclosure in this case eclipses all else. It eclipses secrecy, and eclipses the high risk of harm to those doing this.’

He added: ‘It’s difficult to conceive of a disclosure of greater public interest than that which occurred in this case. ‘That public interest would eclipse all else, and in Mr Assange’s case all the more easily than for Ms Manning because of course Mr Assange is not under the duty of secrecy.

‘He never signed the Official Secrets Act, or American equivalent, and Strasbourg clearly recognizes the difference between those who are and are not under secrecy.’

Mr Summers said that in her original January 2021 decision the judge had ‘failed to undertake the Article 10 balance. She didn’t, and it’s a glaring legal error.’ He conceded that the leaks did result in three individuals being named, but described ‘the extraordinary steps that were taken to redact, and the unforeseeable escape from that net that occurred.’

He added that not only did the disclosures not result in any actual harm to any of the individuals named, but by contributing to the ending of the Iraq war they had a positive impact overall.

Mr Summers also told the court that a prosecution on the basis of publication of state secrets was unprecedented. He said there were numerous examples of state secrets being published in the US, including disclosures that included the names of individuals, but that publishing these had never before resulted in prosecution in the US.

‘There is a practice in the US of national security journalism. ‘It is concerned on occasions with the publishing of names, and it’s never been met with prosecution before so far as publishers were concerned.’

He added that this was also the case even where the disclosure resulted in ‘actual violence’ to people named within it. The barrister said as a result ‘if somebody had asked in 2010 if this was going to result in an espionage prosecution, the answer is there has been no prior prosecution for any publishing of state secrets, on that or any other ground.’

He said Assange faces ‘an allegation of engaging in criminality in order to extract state secrets. That’s happened plenty of times before. It’s never attracted prosecution’.

As a result, he said it would have been ‘wholly unforeseeable’ that Assange might have been opening himself up to prosecution under the Espionage Act when he published the material on Wikileaks in 2010.

This meant, he said, that the prosecution was a ‘flagrant violation’ of Article 7 of the ECHR, which stipulates that ‘no one shall be held guilty of any criminal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offense under national or international law at the time when it was committed.’

Mr Summers told the court: ‘On the state of the evidence the judge had as to American law, American prosecutorial practice and American non-prosecutorial practice, there was a flagrant violation of Article 7 before her. It was her duty to engage with it and she didn’t’ In summary, he said that ‘above all Strasbourg will record Mr Assange was exercising Article 10 rights of the Council of Europe area, where these alleged offences occurred, carrying out journalistic work of the highest importance.’

‘The court will have regard to the sheer magnitude of the sanction he faces for doing that. He now faces the sentence of imprisonment that will last the rest of his natural life.

‘The court will have regard to the sheer chilling effect that that the kind of treatment will have on others. ‘Had the District Judge engaged with that at all we would respectfully submit that the result would have been different.’

He added: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, we also say that the penalty in this case is so off the scale that of itself it engages Article 3 as a grossly disproportionate sentence.’ Article 3 of the ECHR states that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. Mr Summer told the court this includes disproportionately long prison sentences.

The hearing continues on Wednesday.

Categories
Hearing Coverage

Hearing highlight: U.S. silencing Assange for threatening its immunity

Read the full report from day 1 of Julian Assange’s final bid to appeal his extradition here. Find all extradition coverage here.


February 20, 2024 — The prosecution of Julian Assange should be seen within the context of the United States’ efforts to prevent its own war crimes from being investigated and prosecuted. It’s an extraordinary effort to silence a critic for taking evidence of the crimes of war out of the SCIFs and into the ICC. 

Mark Summers QC, arguing for the defense, pulled no punches in describing the importance of the documents WikiLeaks revealed. “These were the most important revelations of criminal U.S. state behavior in history,” he said, referring to the Afghan and Iraq War Logs, the State Department Cables, and the Guantanamo Bay Detainee Assessment Briefs published in 2010 for which Assange is now being tried. 

The Collateral Murder video, documenting U.S. Apache helicopter fighters gunning down reporters and children in Iraq, is “the most important revelation since Abu Ghraib.”

“The cables Assange published disclosed extrajudicial assassinations, rendition, torture, dark prisons, and drone killings,” Summers said. The Guantanamo Bay files, showing the treatment of detainees, were described to the court as a “colossal criminal act.” On the Afghan and Iraq documents, the evidence showed allegations of “extraordinary seriousness.”

“What was being disclosed by the publications,” Summers said, “was criminality which permeates, was tolerated by and was facilitated by the American government.”

But Summers’ key point was not merely that these documents have been used to inform the public, though they have certainly done that, about the nature and detail of the horrors of these wars the United States worked to keep secret. Just as importantly, Summers argued, these documents have been used in other courtrooms, in foreign courts where they’ve been used to establish that war crimes have been committed and to find evidence of rendition and torture. 

Recall Assange’s initial extradition hearing, in which we heard testimony about the extensive and unprecedented usefulness of WikiLeaks’ releases in finally bringing justice in courts around the world.

Human rights attorney Clive Stafford-Smith testified in September 2020:

Clive Stafford Smith, a U.S.-U.K. dual national and the founder of Reprieve, which defends prisoners detained by the U.S. at Guantánamo Bay and others in secretive detention localities around the world, testified about the importance of WikiLeaks material in their litigation. He first discussed the utility of WikiLeaks disclosures in litigation in Pakistan relating to drone strikes and the “sea change” in attitudes towards US drone strikes in Pakistan.

Regarding rendition, assassinations, torture exposed in WikiLeaks documents, Stafford-Smith said, “Speaking as a U.S. citizen, it is incredibly important that it stopped … I feel that my country’s reputation was undermined and criminal offenses were taking place.”

“The litigation in Pakistan would have been very, very difficult and different” if it weren’t for WikiLeaks disclosures.

John Goetz testified about using the documents to confirm CIA torture:

Giving an example of the types of stories that WikiLeaks releases assisted with, Goetz explained had been investigating the story of Khalid el-Masri, a German citizen who was kidnapped by the CIA in Macedonia, extraordinarily rendered to a black site in Afghanistan where he was detained and tortured in 2004. This wasn’t known at the time, so Goetz searched the documents for el-Masri’s name, saw that he had been brought to Afghanistan, and found the CIA kidnappers “who’d forced el-Masri onto a military plane, sodomized him and sent him” to Afghanistan.

Goetz tracked down the CIA agents responsible in the United States, interviewed them, and reported the story. Following that broadcast, a Munich state prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for the 13 CIA agents. But, Goetz said, “It turns out the arrest warrant was never actually issued to the United States.” When he saw the State Department cables, he discovered that the U.S. had pressured the German prosecutor to issue the warrant in a jurisdiction where the perpetrators didn’t live, threatening “repercussions” otherwise.

There are many more examples from the initial extradition proceedings:

Summers also said that the disclosures brought about the “cessation of some of the practices that they revealed,” potentially referring to the 2011 revelation that after WikiLeaks cables in 2010 documented war crimes by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, the Iraqi government refused to grant the U.S. military immunity going forward, leading the U.S. troops to ultimately withdraw from Iraq entirely.  

Because the U.S. refuses to operate without impunity. Look no further than its actions at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first time the court looked into crimes committed by the U.S. in Afghanistan. International human rights lawyer Susan Akram wrote in September 2020, 

Claiming the ICC’s investigation into alleged war crimes by U.S. forces in Afghanistan poses a national security threat, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on June 11 effectively criminalizing anyone who works at the ICC. Its lawyers, judges, human rights researchers and staff could now have their U.S. bank accounts frozen, U.S. visas revoked and travel to the U.S. denied.

The following October, the new chief prosecutor at the ICC “deprioritized” the investigation of U.S. offenses in the conflict, deciding to instead focus only on crimes committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Summers referenced these actions specifically. “The UK and the U.S. have taken very different paths since the end of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said. “The UK has engaged in a public inquiry. The U.S. has taken another path. It has insulated officials from the ICC, it has conferred immunity from prosecution within the U.S., and it has classified such evidence as it exists under state secrecy laws.” 

The documents that Assange and WikiLeaks made public provide evidence for potentially hundreds of criminal actions like those investigated by the ICC.

“The fact that the U.S. had been seeking to impose global impunity should be a red flag for the motives for the prosecution of the person who disclosed those very crimes,” Summers said. This is a paradigmatic example of state retaliation for the exercising of political opinion. 

The U.S. considered going even beyond prosecution. As Yahoo News reported in September 2021, more than half a year after the district judge’s January 2021 ruling — meaning this is new evidence since then, all the more reason to grant an appeal for judges to properly assess it in context — the CIA drew up plans to kidnap and even kill Julian Assange while he was under political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Against the background of obstructing anyone investigating these disclosures, the ICC investigation, and U.S. efforts to obstruct it, Summers said, “the evidence now shows that the U.S. developed a plan to either kill or rendition Mr. Assange to the USA.”

“There was a plan to kidnap and poison Mr. Assange from within the embassy. There were red flags everywhere.”

Categories
Hearing Coverage

Assange Final UK Appeal Request: Hearing Day 1

This is a blog post of our live tweets. See our synopsis of the day, ‘Julian Assange revealed US criminality in the public interest, High Court is told‘ and our hearing highlight. Find all extradition coverage here.


February 20, 2024, — Julian Assange’s two-day hearing at the UK High Court begins today, as a two-judge panel will listen to arguments as to whether Assange should be allowed to appeal his extradition on the grounds that his prosecution is politicized and unprecedented and would prevent a fair trial. 

Foreign journalists barred from UK proceedings

AD Executive Director Nathan Fuller, who has been accredited to cover each previous portion of the hearing, was denied remote access. He will provide coverage here based on updates from our team on the ground:

For this hearing, potentially Julian Assange’s last in the United Kingdom, the Courts have denied access to all reporters outside of England and Wales, despite the fact that this case has implications for journalists in every country around the world.

We weren’t sure if Julian would be appearing in court today. His barrister Edward Fitzgerald confirms he will neither attend in court nor watch by videolink, as he is too ill.

Defense: politicized prosecution is barred by the Extradition Treaty

Fitzgerald outlines the chief arguments he’ll make in this 2-day hearing

Fitzgerald: Assange faces real risk of grossly “disproportionate penalty” if sent to the United States, with total potential imprisonment at 175 years. The Extradition Treaty would allow the US to amend or add charges which could expose Julian Assange to the death penalty.

We are back to some of the very first arguments made in this extradition hearing back in February 2020, about extradition and political offenses. The US/UK Treaty (PDF) bars political offenses. The 2003 Extradition Act does not do so explicitly. 

Fitzgerald has been reviewing cases where the Treaty (as opposed to the Act) has been applied to give “justiciable rights” in the past 

Fitzgerald has been explaining that the U.S. use of the Espionage Act is a classic “political” offense, and so should be barred under the Treaty. All of the charges allege he “obtained, received and disclosed national defense information”, making this a clearly political case. 

Fitzgerald has been taking the court through case law in extradition cases between the UK and various other countries, all finding that variations on accusations of espionage have all been deemed “pure political offenses” 

In any event, Fitzgerald says, the charges are clearly at least “relative political offenses” because of the “political motivation” attributed to Assange, seen in the phrases “non-state hostile intelligence service”, “waging cyber war against the United States”, etc. 

Fitzgerald notes that the District Judge accepted that Assange had “relevant political opinions” as testified to the court by defense witnesses Prof. Rogers, Noam Chomsky, and Daniel Ellsberg, with Rogers testifying that Assange did in fact induce a change in government policy 

The crucial question is whether to rely on the Treaty, which bars extradition for political offenses, or the Act, which doesn’t. Fitzgerald notes the Act does not explicitly allow them either; it’s simply silent on the question. Reviews case law on conflicts between Treaty & Act. 

Assange being punished for exposing war crimes

Courtroom sketch by Matt Ó Branáin

Mark Summers now arguing for the defense. Journalists and observers in the overflow room complain of extremely poor audio quality and occasional interruptions to the video feed. 

Summers reviews the accepted evidence. The cables Assange published disclosed extrajudicial assassinations, rendition, torture, dark prisons, and drone killings. 

These cables have been relied upon by foreign courts to establish war crimes for government officials and have been relied upon by Strasbourg to find evidence of rendition and torture. 

Summers: The evidence before the judge is that the disclosures brought about the cessation of some of the practices that they revealed. 

Collateral Murder, which was described to the judge in unchallenged evidence, is “the most important revelation since Abu Ghraib”, and sparked international outrage 

The Guantanamo Bay files show the treatment of detainees, described to the court as a “colossal criminal act” 

On the Afghan and Iraq documents, the evidence showed allegations of “extraordinary seriousness” and Mr Assange was invited to address the UN about this. 

“These were the most important revelations of criminal U.S. state behavior in history” – unchallenged evidence before the court. 

Summers: The district judge acknowledges none of this evidence in her judgment. 

There is an extensive case law on exposing state criminality, which qualifies as a political act where that criminality is endemic, is directed from the highest levels of society and enjoys political protection within that society. 

Summers: The disclosures in this case satisfy every single iteration of the test – what was being disclosed by the publications was criminality which permeates, was tolerated by and facilitated by the American government 

Summers: The district judge did rule out personal or financial motives – she recognized that what was going on here was the intentional exposure of criminality. See page 147 of her judgment (PDF).

That equates in law to opposition to the machinery, authority, or government of the state – see case references. 

Note for example the authorities are not concerned solely with corruption; exposing the complicity of government officials in murder; the case law understands that you can expose the crimes against others – you don’t have to be the victim of the crimes yourself. 

Summers warns that the US is going to argue that this is all prohibited territory – because there is no evidence the crimes were actually committed. He makes four points in response: 

1. Not a reflection of the judge’s decision
2. Doesn’t reflect the law
3. Doesn’t reflect any logic – this was the US’s own material about their own conduct
4. The courts have found these allegations to be true, including European Court 

The evidence before the district judge went one way: Mr Assange is being prosecuted for those exposures, and they are seeking to prosecute him to silence him.

There is a class of cases where state retaliation is straightforward – they use the criminal justice system to prosecute those disclosing. (Cites 5 cases.)

All of them concerned various states where the state retaliated by using the criminal justice machinery to silence them. 

Reviews the case of Yu, a union worker who exposed corruption in the state-run Chinese airplane factory where she worked. She was as a result arrested, forced to admit she organized workers, charged, and detained until she refused to refrain from any future revelations. 

Summers: The Court grappled to whether what she had done had amounted to the expression of a political opinion and, without doubt, found that it had 

Yu showed she had been charged because the police had imputed political opinions.

Yu is reflective of all cases in which the nature of the state retaliation is a prosecution for the disclosures in which it is assumed as axiomatic that that is connected to the disclosures 

Summers: While some cases may be difficult and some require inferential reasoning between exposure and state retaliation on the other, these cases aren’t. This is a paradigmatic example of state retaliation for the exercising of political opinion. 

Summers: Unfortunately the district judge addressed none of this evidence. She only briefly engaged with the compelling circumstantial evidence as to the US motivations lying behind this prosecution, called it “pure conjecture” without addressing or considering evidence 

Summers: the UK and the US have taken very different paths since the end of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The UK has engaged in a public inquiry.

The US has taken another path: it has insulated officials from the ICC, it has conferred immunity from prosecution within the US, and it has classified such evidence as it exists under state secrecy laws. 

Of course, seeking impunity for torture and war crimes is in violation of customary international law.

The fact that the US had been seeking to impose global impunity should be a red flag for the motives for the prosecution of the person who disclosed those very crimes. 

Summers: the language of US officials that they would take any measures necessary to protect that impunity – is another red flag.

But the district judge didn’t mention any of this. 

CIA targets Assange for attempting to hold US accountable

Nor did she mention the US stance when the ICC opened the formal investigation, which prompted a string of attacks on states who might cooperate with the ICC; including threats by the US national security advisor to prosecute anyone who cooperated with the ICC’s investigation. 

Summers: 6 years went by (since WikiLeaks’ disclosures) without prosecution. The judge did not consider what specifically triggered the government into action after those years of non-prosecution 

The judge knew US officials denounced Mr Assange as a ‘political actor.’

Memorably, they include the director of the CIA describing WikiLeaks as a non-state hostile intelligence agency; saying Assange had made common cause with dictators, and accused him of taking down America.

The judge did acknowledge that the CIA had been hostile to Mr Assange but dismissed it on the grounds that the CIA doesn’t speak for the administration. Of course, the director of the CIA is a member of the executive. 

In fairness to the judge – when she dismissed the suggestion of a hostile non-state intelligence agency – she like everyone else, had no idea it was a phrase with legal significance; no one in the defense team had any reason to suggest that the term had legal significance 

Yahoo News revealed later that it did have legal significance. 

She went on to conclude there was no presidential animosity (she had ignored Trump’s 2010 “death penalty” comment) – that conclusion is almost laughable now that we know from the evidence that President Trump had sought detailed options on how to kill Mr Assange in 2017. 

Against the background of obstructing anyone investigating these disclosures, the ICC investigation and obstructing it, the evidence now shows that the US developed a plan to either kill or rendition Mr Assange to the USA 

Summers: There was a plan to kidnap and poison Mr Assange from within the embassy.

There were red flags everywhere. 

The judge thought there was nothing fishy about the timing of the extradition request. Whether she was wrong or not on the evidence she had, new evidence (the Yahoo News story) shows that prosecution was commenced to provide a framework for the proposed kidnap and rendition of Mr Assange 

Unprecedented prosecution of a publisher

Summers moves on now to Article 7 of the ECHR.

The thrust of this argument is that Assange could not have been reasonably expected to know that he could be prosecuted for publishing in the public interest because no one has been prosecuted for publishing in the public interest before. 

Related reading: testimony on press freedom

Journalists had never before been prosecuted under the Espionage Act.  Entirely unpredictable that a member of the press would be prosecuted contrary to longstanding practice. Judge’s analysis of entirely flawed because, contrary to authority, she passed the issue over to the US. 

This was wrong for 2 reasons:

1. It was her duty to decide whether Article 7 was violated;

2. And even if she could abrogate that to the US, she had to be satisfied that the Fifth Amendment operates in the same way as Article 7 – and it does not. 

Summers: Law must be foreseeable and it must protect against arbitrary prosecutions 

Summers: National security leaks to the media are routine in Washington – this was the unchallenged evidence the judge had.

The publishing of those national security leaks is equally routine. There are reporters in Washington who only report on national security matters. 

Leakers and whistleblowers have been prosecuted – see the case of Morrison, for example, just as here journalists have been prosecuted. But there has never been a prosecution for the obtaining or publishing of state secrets. 

Summers: According to the evidence of a witness that had been agreed, this prosecution crosses “a new legal frontier” – and this was the tenor of all of the evidence that the judge heard. 

Witnesses told the judge that even when the act was amended in 1950, nothing in the Espionage Act infringes upon freedom of the press. 

There had in fact never been a prosecution of anyone from outside of the government for obtaining and publishing state secrets 

Judge: Was there evidence of the publication of large names of human sources?

Summers: Yes, there is an individual called Mr Hay who had done precisely that. It is one of the cases relied upon by the US in their grounds of opposition. 

That case concerned the revocation of his passport.

That was the limit of state action taken against him. 


Court is back in session. Summers still arguing for the defense. Says he’s been asked for examples of where anyone had been prosecuted for revealing the names of individuals. 

Summers notes the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, and the judge in this case actually heard from the whistleblower in that case, and he told her that that publication had included names and he had taken the decision not to redact those names. 

Summers: [Ellsberg] was prosecuted because he was a state agent; the Times were never prosecuted 

Summers: In the 6 years of inactivity (non-prosecution of Assange) 2010-2017, many outlets published this very set of publications & materials. In particular, Cryptome published this material in the US and it’s still there, and they’ve never been prosecuted or asked to remove. 

There is a statute that addresses the deliberate disclosure of US intelligence sources and it is deliberately restricted to state officials; you cannot be prosecuted under it as a non-state official. 

There has never been a prosecution of someone for revealing names — cites one case, says and in that case, there was evidence of violence against those whose names were exposed. 

The primary point there is no American case which has sought to prosecute publishers who publish state secrets.

The Times case was a civil action where the Supreme Court held that they could not be restrained from publishing state secrets – even stolen state secrets 

Summers: In the district judge’s view, this was a matter to be determined by the American courts under the 5th Amendment. We disagree. It was her duty to determine if Article 7 was engaged, and if so, not to extradite. 

Summers says that since the district judge’s decision in this case in 2021, there have been other cases with clear guidance from this court about decisions such as this.

The notion of “leave it all to the requesting state” was rejected in these cases. 

Article 10: Freedom of Expression

Moving on to Article 10 of the ECHR

Judge Sharp asks: Are you saying that Article 10 applies to all acts in the indictment?

Summers: Yes – I will take them each in turn

Article 10 protects freedom of expression. Case law has established some national security exceptions. Some back and forth, with judge first asking about how Article 10 applies to Chelsea Manning as the whistleblower.

Summers says whistleblowers like her do get Article 10 protection 

The judge asks if the defense argues that Article 10 applies to Manning here only when balanced against the state’s legitimate security interest or that Article 10 covers any publication at all.

Summers says there’s a balance at play, and if appropriate, the whistleblower is protected.

Discussion moves to a whistleblower’s choices for disclosure, ‘official’ or ‘internal’ channels contrasted with ‘alternative’ ones. 

The expectation of the court is that the whistleblower will use internal channels that are realistically available to them. But the court recognizes that there are circumstances where “direct external reporting” is justified 

Summers: Ms Manning was exposing apex-level crimes which were condoned by the US military, and only direct reporting would work 

Satisfying the other criteria for Article 10 protection, that the information be true: Ms. Manning revealed her information unedited and it was authentic – and was true and not only believed it to be true but has been verified to be true by courts around the world 

Third, on motive: Manning was acting in good conscience. No one has ever suggested anything other than good conscience. 

Exposing crimes is in the public interest

As to whether the information is truly in the public interest: the information in question documented abuse of office, illegal conduct, or wrongdoing – all obvious issues of public interest. Exposure of state criminality is squarely at the highest level of public interest disclosures 

The court at this stage will balance the interest in your [the whistleblower’s] disclosure against the duty you have violated. 

It’s a balance between the importance of the disclosure & the obligation to protect secrets, like with Manning, and the court is clear that there can be cases where the interest and need for the public to know the content of the disclosure outweighs the duty of confidentiality. 

The court talks about a democratic system where the government needs to be subjected to public scrutiny. 

Summers: As far as Manning was concerned, the public interest in her disclosures outweighed the obligation.

Judge: You argue that with regard to the names of sources?

Summers: Yes and I will get there. 

The evidence in this case is that no harm has actually been proved to have occurred – there is no allegation that anyone named has actually come to harm. This is an important matter so far as this balance is concerned for Strasbourg. 

The sheer weight and monument of the disclosures in this case, it eclipses the duty of secrecy and the hypothetical risk of harm to those who were doing all of this. 

Related reading: testimony on WikiLeaks releases in bringing justice and accountability around the world

Showing how important these documents are: Pakistan High Court relied on this information, and the ICC is utilizing these disclosures to investigate war crimes. 

Summers says the defense believes the court would strike this balance in favor of Ms Manning in a whistleblower context if the question was legally before them. 

So the question follows if Article 10 protects the disclosure of Manning to Mr Assange, despite her obligations of secrecy and risk of harm, how can Article 10 prohibit Assange from receiving and publishing that material to the public? 

What would the European Court of Human Rights think?

If it was ever seriously ventilated, the ECtHR would look at special protections for whistleblowers, but then also for publishers.

It would recognize the constitutional watchdog role of the free press; the right of the public to receive and the press to impart information. 

It would recognize the importance of accountability for government action in secrecy.

It would recognize the scope of public interest and ensure proper functioning of political democracy.

Exposures in this case, in addition to risking harm to those undertaking all of this criminal activity, brought about the end of drone killings in Pakistan; & brought change to the rules of engagement in Iraq to prevent the kind of machine gun killing we saw in Collateral Murder. 

The [ECHR] court would understand that these disclosures in the end contributed to the end of the Iraq war. All of that would play into the balance and the outcome would be precisely the same [for Assange] as it had been for Ms Manning. 

It is difficult to conceive of a disclosure of greater public interest than that that took place in this case. That public interest would eclipse all else.

All the more easily for Mr Assange than Ms Manning — because he was not under any duty of secrecy. And Strasbourg clearly recognizes the difference, 

Then there was a back and forth between High Court Judge Sharp and defense lawyer Summers about whether the district judge addressed these issues or not — she addressed Article 10 but not the public interest. 

Judge says the public interest could have been taken into account with these disclosures but without the inclusion of names — basically says WikiLeaks didn’t have to release unredacted names to achieve this public interest. 

Summers: Strasbourg [meaning ECHR] can look at that and consider that it was never intended; there was a huge amount of evidence of how that disclosure happened as a result of the unforeseeable action of one individual journalist at the newspaper that was involved 

Judge Sharpe mentions indiscriminate disclosure which was condemned by the Guardian and others.

Summers says the problem is that the judge never undertook this balancing act which would weigh these issues against each other, including the fact no harm has come from the disclosures. 

What the judge did acknowledge, Summers notes, is that Mr Assange was publishing and seeking to bring about change – and Strasbourg would recognize this as well. 

ECHR would recognize that soliciting leaks (“curious eyes never run dry”) is protected newsgathering activity.

Countless examples of ‘most wanted lists,’ and witnesses said that is normal, unobjectionable newsgathering activity; an inherent part of protected press freedom 

Summers continues, imagining for the court what the European Court of Human Rights would say about aspects of the allegations. Concludes that the only balance in this case is public interest in disclosure against risk of harm if the crimes are disclosed.

End of Article 10 discussion and the end Summers’ submissions. Ed Fitzgerald continues for the defense. 

A fair trial in the United States?

The defense argues for many reasons that Assange can’t get a fair trial in the United States.

US prosecutor Gordon Kromberg said that the government may argue at a trial for Assange in the US that “foreign nationals are not entitled to protections under the First Amendment” 

Fitzgerald notes that it’s not just the prosecutor; Pompeo said it too: he has no First Amendment rights.

It’s a chilling prospect – if you are a foreigner then you don’t have any rights. 

Moved on to a discussion of potential sentencing in the US, including the question of whether ‘enhancement’ could be applied (such as a ‘terrorism enhancement’ like the one given to alleged WikiLeaks Vault 7 source Joshua Schulte, leading to his 40-year prison sentence).

Related reading: US government officials’ bias against Assange

The bigger point is that Vault 7 was what led to Mr. Pompeo going off the deep end on 7 March 2017, saying WikiLeaks is a non-state hostile intelligence agency, saying Assange’s arrest is a priority, initiating surveillance through UC Global, & on 21 December they request his provisional arrest. 

This is all a hectic and angry reaction to the publication of Vault 7 for which Mr Schulte received a sentence of 40 years in prison. It is clear, we say, that the publication of Vault 7 was of particular concern to the US authorities. 

Fitzgerald argues that a US court may increase a sentence up to the statutory maximum even in relation to other conduct that is not charged or relied on in the current indictment — for example, Vault 7 publications.

Fitzgerald then returns to the revelations that the CIA considered killing or kidnapping Assange. He stressed the importance of looking at this plot in the context of Pompeo calling Assange and WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence agency,” and that viewed together there is sufficient evidence to suggest Assange could be targeted in this way.

Finally, Fitzgerald argues that these facts should also be considered in the context of the so-called “assurances” the U.S. has given the courts about what type of conditions Assange could face if extradited, including that he won’t face the death penalty and that he could potentially serve out his sentence in an Australian prison. These “assurances” contain their own caveats that undermine them, and the U.S. has reneged on such promises in the past. 

The U.S. could potentially add charges, related to Vault 7 or otherwise, that could expose Assange to the death penalty. The government “assuring” the court it would never do that is the same one that drew up plans to poison him. 

With that, the court adjourned for the day. Court returns tomorrow at 10:30am GMT.


AD organizing director Vinnie DeStefano speaks outside the courtroom in London
Categories
Press Release

Milwaukee Democratic Party calls for Assange’s freedom

Assange supporters hang an Assange Defense banner in Milwaukee

February 19, 2024 — At a special session of the Milwaukee Democratic Party to vote on a set of submitted resolutions, the Milwaukee Democratic Party, on Sunday, February 18 voted to affirm,

“THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPMC endorses House Resolution 934 which calls for all charges against Mr. Assange to be dropped and the extradition request to be rescinded.”

The vote was 33-Yes to 9-No.

The entire resolution is indented below:

Endorse U.S. H. Res. 934

WHEREAS, the Biden administration continues to hold Julian Assange at the high security Belmarsh Prison in the U.K., solely on remand for extradition to the U.S.

WHEREAS, he is being held for the crime of journalism by the government whose war crimes he exposed.

WHEREAS, Joe Biden on World Press Freedom Day, 2023 stated, “No journalist – American or not – should have to risk their lives and livelihoods in pursuit of that truth.”

THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPMC endorses House Resolution 934 which calls for all charges against Mr. Assange to be dropped and the extradition request to be rescinded.

By Ann Batiza, 200 S. Water Street #205, Milwaukee 53204, 414-238-3903

In addition, a “Banner Drop for Assange,” supported by Peace Action of Wisconsin, will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. at the Brady Street footbridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive in Milwaukee.

Categories
Hearing Coverage

What to expect in Julian Assange’s hearing this week

February 19, 2024 — Julian Assange returns to court tomorrow and Wednesday, Feb. 20-21, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, as a two-judge panel on the UK High Court listens to his final plea to appeal his extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States.

The judges’ ruling will not approve or deny Assange’s extradition but rather it will decide whether Assange should be granted a full appeal hearing on these issues at all.

Over the course of the two-day hearing, Assange’s lawyers will present the arguments that they believe are worthy of reevaluation, and the Crown Prosecution Service barristers acting on behalf of the U.S. government will be given time to respond. While previous appeal hearings dealt with Julian’s mental health, his likely prison conditions, and whether extradition would put him at unjust risk of suicide, this appeal will deal much more with the nature of the charges against him and what he would face in the courtroom if sent to the United States. 

The defense team intends to argue that this is a politicized prosecution, that Assange couldn’t receive a fair trial in the U.S., and that the charges against him are unprecedented.

Stella Assange has detailed these arguments in this thread

 1. Julian Assange should not be extradited to face prosecution and punishment for his political opinions exposing state criminality. Assange is being prosecuted for exposing US government criminality including war crimes and torture. There is extensive evidence of Assange’s political opinions on the importance of transparency in being able to hold governments accountable to deter future abuses. Extradition for political opinions is not allowed. The new evidence which emerged since the hearing of the C.I.A. plans to kidnap and/or kill Assange further supports this ground.

2. Julian Assange should not be extradited to face prosecution where the criminal law is being extended in an unprecedented and unforeseeable way. This is the first time in US history that a publisher has been prosecuted for obtaining or publishing (as opposed to leaking) US state secrets. The drafters of the Espionage Act did not intend for publishers to fall within its ambit, unchallenged expert evidence showed that receipt and publication of state secrets is routine, and that there was an ‘unbroken practice of non-prosecution’ of publishers. 

The prosecution ‘crosses a new legal frontier’ and ‘breaks all legal precedents’. Extradition would therefore expose Assange to a novel and unforeseeable extension of criminal law. To extradite Assange would be a grave violation of Article 7 ECHR.

3. Julian Assange should not be extradited because his prosecution amounts to a grave violation of his right to free speech. Publishing state secrets can play a vital role in a democratic society and criminal prosecution and conviction for such publications will deter the press from playing this ‘public watchdog’ role. The US indictment against Assange criminalizes essential journalistic practices and imposes a disproportionate sentence (175 years). To extradite Assange would be a grave violation of Article 10 ECHR.

4. Julian Assange should not be extradited given that the US affirms that he may not be granted any First Amendment protections at all. The US said it would argue at trial that Assange would not get First Amendment protection (Free Speech protections) as he is not a US national (he is Australian). In other words, as a defendant he would be prejudiced at a trial as he is not a US citizen.

5. Extradition should be barred because Julian Assange will not receive a fair trial. He cannot mount a public interest defense. In the US system, there is a tradition of coercive plea bargaining via overcharging to secure a conviction. Julian Assange faces 175 years for his journalism. The jury pool will be drawn from people connected to US Government national security agencies and contractors, and therefore likely to be prejudicial to Julian Assange. They will also be sensitive to public comments made by the US President and C.I.A. Director, tainting the presumption of innocence. Evidence obtained through the inhuman and degrading treatment of Chelsea Manning, spying on his lawyers and the illegal removal of Julian Assange’s legal files from the Ecuadorean Embassy mean there is no prospect for a fair trial. To extradite him would be a grave violation of Article 6 ECHR.

6. The US-UK Treaty prohibits extradition for political offenses meaning Mr Assange’s extradition would violate the treaty, international law and amounts to an abuse of process (including Article 5 ECHR). The offenses with which Assange is charged are all formally “pure political offenses” and therefore are extradition-barred under article 4(1) of the US-UK Extradition Treaty. It is an abuse of process for the US to make an extradition request which is prohibited under the terms of the Treaty.

7. Renewed application to admit fresh evidence about US plans to kidnap/render/assassinate Mr Assange in 2017 – relevant to his Article 2 and 3 ECHR rights. The C.I.A. planned to kidnap and assassinate Assange. This indicates that he will be subject to inhuman and degrading treatment if extradited to the US. To extradite Assange would mean delivering him right into the hands of the very people who plotted to assassinate him.

8. The Extradition Treaty would allow the US to amend or add charges which could expose Julian Assange to the death penalty. Under the same facts alleged in the extradition request, Julian Assange can be recharged under provisions of the Espionage Act which carry the death penalty. It is noteworthy that Chelsea Manning was charged with ‘aiding the enemy’, which carries the death penalty and US government officials have publicly labelled the allegations against Assange as treason and called for the death penalty.”

Check back here for continued coverage of Julian Assange’s extradition proceedings

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Day X protests to Free Assange

Day X is here: February 20-21, imprisoned publisher Julian Assange returns to court in London for his final bid to appeal his extradition to the United States where he would face life in prison for publishing truthful information in the public interest.

Human rights leaders and civil liberties groups around the world are again warning that the prosecution of Assange threatens journalism everywhere. In this month alone, a UN Special Rapporteur, leading press freedom groups, over 35 U.S. law professors, and the Australian Parliament have called for an end to the prosecution of Julian Assange. 

February 19 livestream

The day before the hearing, Stella Assange and Assange Defense will co-host a 24-hour video countdown. Tune in below:

Protests February 20-21

Supporters around the world are planning demonstrations in solidarity with Assange. See Candles4Assange’s thread for global demonstrations. U.S. demonstrations can be found here:

Categories
Press Release

Australia passes motion demanding Assange’s freedom

February 14, 2024 — The Australian Parliament, with the support of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion calling for an end to Assange’s prosecution and for him to return home to Australia. The motion was introduced by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie, who warned in his opening remarks that “we’ve just about run out of time to save Julian Assange.”

The motion affirms that “both the Australian Government and Opposition have publicly stated that this matter has gone on for too long” and it “underlines the importance of the UK and USA bringing the matter to a close so that Mr Assange can return home to his family in Australia.”

PM Albanese’s vote in support is his strongest public message to date. The Sydney Morning Herald said that the “vote signalled a new federal government stance by going beyond past statements from Albanese about the need to bring the matter ‘to a conclusion’ in some way.” As The Guardian put it,

Anthony Albanese’s government has repeatedly said that “enough is enough” and that it is time for the Assange matter to be “brought to a conclusion”.

But the motion on Wednesday removed the ambiguity about what that conclusion should entail: allowing him back to Australia.

Wilkie underscored that a conviction would set a precedent that puts every other journalist at risk. Assange is an Australian publisher who was working in Europe at the time of the disclosures; the United States is claiming global jurisdiction. Wilkie said,

“The injustice of all this is absolutely breathtaking—absolutely breathtaking—as much as the attack on journalism is terrifying because if this matter runs to its shameful conclusion, then it will have set a precedent that applies to all Australian journalists. If ever any Australian journalist annoys a foreign government in any way, and if that government is a government that the Australian government is hoping to curry favour with, then who’s to say that the Australian government won’t be complicit in the extradition or the transport of that Australian journalist to that country?”

The resolution passed with a tally of 86 votes to 42, with MPs across the political spectrum signing on in support. Read the resolution and accompanying discussion in full here.

Categories
Press Release

U.S. law professors call on DOJ to drop Assange prosecution

February 14, 2024 — More than 35 American law professors have co-signed a letter imploring U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to “uphold the First Amendment” and drop the DOJ’s efforts to extradite Julian Assange. The letter comes less than a week before Julian Assange returns to court in London as the UK High Court considers his final attempt to appeal his extradition from the United Kingdom. Press freedom organizations and human rights groups have been sounding the alarms over the prosecution as a landmark threat to the First Amendment right to publish.

“We are united in our concern about the constitutional implications of prosecuting Assange,” the law professors write. “We believe the Espionage Act charges against him pose an existential threat to the First Amendment.”

Signatories include both active and retired law professors from across the United States, including Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur, and James Goodale, former lead counsel at the New York Times.

Goodale told the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which helped organize the letter:

“Based on my experience, which includes serving as The New York Times’ general counsel when the Nixon administration tried to indict a journalist under the Espionage Act for publishing the Pentagon Papers, I am confident that a successful prosecution of Julian Assange would lead to similar charges against journalists from newspapers like the Times when they uncover secrets that embarrass officials. This would be absolutely disastrous for press freedom in the United States.”

Seth Stern, director of advocacy for Freedom of the Press Foundation, said,

“Scholars, lawyers, media publishers and activists all agree that the prosecution of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act is sure to lead to prosecutions of journalists for doing their jobs. It seems the only people who disagree are the DOJ. It’s time for them to finally drop this dangerous prosecution. Whether you love or hate Julian Assange, if he comes first, a journalist you do like may come next.”

Read the full letter here.

Categories
Press Release

Press freedom and human rights groups call for Assange’s freedom ahead of final UK appeal hearing

February 14, 2024 — With less than a week to go until Julian Assange’s final bid to appeal his extradition from the United Kingdom in a London courtroom, press freedom and human rights organizations are once again sounding the alarm over Assange’s prosecution and the threat it poses not only to Assange’s due process and First Amendment rights but to investigative journalists around the world.

On February 14, the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists issued a joint statement, in which they warned that ”the ongoing prosecution of Julian Assange jeopardizes media freedom everywhere in the world.”

Dominique Pradalié, IFJ president says: “I have twice met with Julian Assange in Belmarsh and it is clear to me that he has suffered grievously for far too long. In April he will have spent five years in a British prison despite having been convicted of nothing. The actions for which the US is seeking prosecution are clearly journalistic. The conviction of Julian Assange would threaten us all”.

Maja Sever, EFJ president said: “Journalists and their unions have recognised since the outset that Julian Assange is being targeted for carrying out tasks that are the daily work of many journalists – seeking out a whistleblower and exposing criminality. We stand with journalists of every political persuasion and nationality and say that Assange should be freed at once”.

The same day, Reporters without Borders dispelled some of the most common misconceptions about Assange and his persecution. 

Misconception: If I don’t believe Julian Assange is a journalist, I can’t defend him.

Correction: Many different views are held about Assange’s status as a journalist, a publisher, or a journalistic source, but what matters most is why Assange has been targeted and the implications of his extradition and prosecution. RSF defends Assange because of his contributions to journalism, as WikiLeaks’ publication of the leaked classified documents informed extensive public interest reporting around the world. His prosecution would have alarming implications for the future of journalism and would represent an unprecedented blow to press freedom.

Misconception: If Julian Assange is convicted, it won’t have a wider impact.

Correction: Assange’s conviction would impact the future of journalism around the world and all of our right to know. He would be the first publisher tried under the US Espionage Act, which lacks a public interest defence and is in dire need of reform. His conviction would pave the way for similar prosecutions of others who publish stories based on leaked classified information, setting a dangerous precedent for journalism. This would put many media organisations and journalists at risk, and create a distinct chilling effect on public interest reporting. The ultimate impact would be on the public’s right to know.

On February 13, Amnesty International issued a renewed warning: ‘Global media freedom at risk as Julian Assange back in UK court facing possible extradition to USA’

“The risk to publishers and investigative journalists around the world hangs in the balance. Should Julian Assange be sent to the US and prosecuted there, global media freedoms will be on trial, too,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and criminal justice in Europe.

“Assange will suffer personally from these politically-motivated charges and the worldwide media community will be on notice that they too are not safe. The public’s right to information about what their governments are doing in their name will be profoundly undermined. The US must drop the charges under the espionage act against Assange and bring an end to his arbitrary detention in the UK.”  

On February 12, PEN International wrote, ‘Stop the Extradition and Release Julian Assange’

‘Using espionage laws to target journalists and publishers who disclose information in the public interest infringes fundamental rights of press freedom and freedom of expression, both safeguarded within the legal framework of the UK. Assange’s case is politically motivated and challenges the core of investigative journalism and democratic principles, necessitating the protection of these rights for the broader preservation of a free and responsible press. PEN International and PEN Centres around the world have repeatedly called on the US authorities to drop the charges against Assange and to withdraw their extradition request. With the prospect of his extradition alarmingly close, we call on the UK authorities to urgently refrain from extraditing him and to release him from prison immediately’, said Burhan Sonmez, PEN International President.

On February 6, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture urged the UK government to halt imminent extradition of Julian Assange

“The risk of being placed in prolonged solitary confinement, despite his precarious mental health status, and to receive a potentially disproportionate sentence raises questions as to whether Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States would be compatible with the United Kingdom’s international human rights obligations, particularly under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as respective articles 3 of the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Categories
Press Release

Amnesty International: “The US must drop the charges” against Julian Assange

February 13, 2024 — One week ahead of Julian Assange’s final bid at the High Court in London to appeal his extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, Amnesty International has reaffirmed its warning that press freedom is at risk around the world if Assange is extradited.

Julia Hall, Amnesty’s expert on counter-terrorism and criminal justice in Europe, said,

“The risk to publishers and investigative journalists around the world hangs in the balance. Should Julian Assange be sent to the US and prosecuted there, global media freedoms will be on trial, too.

Assange will suffer personally from these politically-motivated charges and the worldwide media community will be on notice that they too are not safe. The public’s right to information about what their governments are doing in their name will be profoundly undermined. The US must drop the charges under the espionage act against Assange and bring an end to his arbitrary detention in the UK.”  

Julia Hall, Amnesty International

Hall went further to explicitly address so-called ‘assurances’ the U.S. has given the UK about the type of treatment Assange would endure if extradited and prosecuted.

“The US assurances cannot be trusted,” she said. “Dubious assurances that he will be treated well in a US prison ring hollow considering that Assange potentially faces dozens of years of incarceration in a system well known for its abuses, including prolonged solitary confinement and poor health services for inmates. The US simply cannot guarantee his safety and well-being as it has also failed to do for the hundreds of thousands of people currently imprisoned in the US.”

The prosecution is not only a danger to Assange — Amnesty warns that a conviction would set a precedent that would criminalize basic journalistic practices that reporters around the wor;d undertake every day.

“Julian Assange’s publication of documents disclosed to him by sources as part of his work with Wikileaks mirrors the work of investigative journalists. They routinely perform the activities outlined in the indictment: speaking with confidential sources, seeking clarification or additional documentation, and receiving and disseminating official and sometimes classified information.”

This aggressive nature of this unprecedented prosecution may already be having a chilling effect on journalists and their sources alike, as the U.S. government claims global jurisdiction as to what can and cannot be published about it. Hall said,

“The US’ efforts to intimidate and silence investigative journalists for uncovering governmental misconduct, such as revealing war crimes or other breaches of international law, must be stopped in its tracks.

“Sources such as legitimate whistle blowers who expose governmental wrongdoing to journalists and publishers must also be free to share information in the public interest. They will be far more reluctant to do so if Julian Assange is prosecuted for engaging in legitimate publishing work.

“This is a test for the US and UK authorities on their commitment to the fundamental tenets of media freedom that underpin the rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right to information. It’s not just Julian Assange in the dock. Silence Assange and others will be gagged.”

Read Amnesty’s full press release here.

Categories
Press Release

Join us for the 24-hour Countdown to Day X

Join us on Monday, February 19, 2024 at 8:30am GMT | 7:30pm AEDT | 3:30am EST streaming only on Stella Assange’s and Assange Defense’s YouTube channels.

Julian Assange is arguably the most significant journalist and publisher of our time. He is currently in his fifth year in the high security prison of Belmarsh, South East London for exposing accurate and damning accounts of US war crimes.

Day X is the new public hearing date for Julian Assange. This could be the last chance to stop his extradition to the United States where he faces a 175 year sentence. An effective death sentence.

In this countdown, we will be providing you with a complete overview of what Julian Assange is facing at the two-day public hearing which starts on the February 20 at 8:30 am GMT. We will then be going live from outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Join us in person or send pics and video of your local actions to our dedicated Telegram channel. For participating locations go to https://www.StellaAssange.com and AssangeDefense.com/events.

It’s Now or Never. Free Assange Now.

Categories
Press Release

Call Congress: Support H. Res. 934!

House Resolution 934 calls for an end to the prosecution of Julian Assange and affirms the First Amendment rights for journalists. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Gosar in December, needs cosponsors to be introduced to the House floor for a vote — so we need to urge our representatives to support H.Res. 934 right away!

“First Amendment freedom of the press promotes public transparency and is crucial for the American Republic”

House Resolution.934 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that regular journalistic activities are protected under the First Amendment, and that the United States ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange.

“Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that— 
(1) regular journalistic activities, including the obtainment and publication of information are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States;

(2) First Amendment freedom of the press promotes public transparency and is crucial for the American Republic;

(3) the Federal Government ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange; and

(4) the Federal Government allow Julian Assange to return home to his native Australia if he so desires.”

Call your congressmembers!

Here is a sample script:

“My name is [NAME] and I live in [CITY/STATE].

I am contacting you to ask Rep [NAME] to cosponsor H.Res 934, which urges the Department of Justice to drop all charges against Julian Assange.

Press freedom groups, mainstream publishers, and human rights organizations around the world oppose the U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange.

Prosecuting Assange threatens the First Amendment. If Assange is convicted, future administrations could use the precedent to prosecute journalists for doing their job by publishing truthful information.

I believe that journalism is not a crime. I am asking Rep. [NAME] to stand up for press freedom by signing on as a cosponsor of H. Res. 934. Let Julian Assange go free!”

Categories
Press Release

Assange Defense Launches Projection Campaign, Shedding Light on Free Assange Movement

Washington, D.C. — Assange Defense launched a projection campaign last night across the Metro D.C. area, shedding light on the critical push to free Julian Assange. This projection campaign coincides with the state visit of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. 

The projection campaign hit major locations, including the Washington Post and 555 Penn Ave. The images highlight how “there is no free press without a free Assange.” The projections will continue throughout the scheduled state dinner tonight. Supporters of Julian Assange also plan to hold banners and demonstrate outside the State Dinner, as guests arrive at 17th and Penn Ave NW. They will be there from 5 to 7 p.m.

“Prime Minister Albanese has been clear that ‘enough is enough,’ that Assange’s persecution has gone on far too long, and we want to support that message,” said Nathan Fuller, director of Assange Defense. “The First Amendment is on the line – the Biden Administration must drop these dangerous charges.”

Freeing Assange, who is an Australian citizen, is a priority for the Prime Minister, who has stated there is “nothing to be gained,” as the dangers posed by the charges outweigh the arguments in their favor. Securing Assange’s release is a top concern for Australians, with nine out of ten in support of the action. Albanese is expected to advocate for his release directly with President Biden.

Australia is an important ally to the United States, and critical in America’s plan for peace in the Pacific. The charges against Assange have generated pressure between the two allies. Concerns are mounting that should the Biden administration continue to double down on its prosecution of Assange, the relationship could fracture.

The Obama administration declined to indict Assange because it would risk criminalizing basic journalistic activities that every mainstream media outlet engages in on a regular basis. The Trump administration reversed course, and the Biden administration fell in step, continuing to insist that Assange had “damaged national security.”

There are growing fears amongst both the international community and the American public of rollbacks on freedom of speech. Press freedoms are under attack across the world, and Assange’s imprisonment for publishing documents obtained by a source could trigger a global rollback of protections for these basic journalistic practices. 

A new bipartisan push by American members of Congress to free Assange has also launched to coincide with this state visit, showing that both the American public and their elected officials are paying attention, and will not stand for the rollback of our First Amendment rights.

Photos of the projection campaign can be found here.

Categories
Press Release

Daniel Ellsberg, 1931-2023

Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg at the Frontline Club in 2010 (Photo by Robert Wallis/Corbis/Getty Images)

June 16, 2023 — Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower and an icon of movements for peace and the freedom of the press, has died today at the age of 92. Daniel was a co-chair of the Assange Defense Committee, and he testified in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in 2020.

In 1969, inspired by antiwar draft resisters, Daniel leaked the Pentagon Papers — a damning 7,000-page Top Secret report of the U.S. war in Vietnam exposing the deceit of public rhetoric over the conflict — to the New York Times and Washington Post and was nearly sent to prison for life under the Espionage Act of 1917. Daniel’s case was dismissed in 1973 when the judge learned that prosecutors had broken into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s records in an attempt to discredit his mental state in court.

Daniel has spent the last half century continuing to fight for peace and justice, speaking out against war and attempts to justify it, supporting whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and warning of the dangers of U.S. nuclear war policy.

Assange Defense director Nathan Fuller said,

Ellsberg and Fuller at a rally for WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2012

“We knew it was coming and still I am crushed by the loss of Daniel Ellsberg. The way Daniel chose to live his life, down to his last days, he has left behind a blueprint for the rest of us whose conscience finds us at odds with the world around us. He never gave up in his struggles for peace, for press freedom, and for nuclear disarmament.

His specific contributions to the defense of Julian Assange alone are incredible. Nearing age 90, Daniel became the co-chair of Assange Defense — not just a figurehead, he participated in webinars, authored op-eds, and was a soundboard for ideas and actions. He testified in Julian’s extradition hearing, expertly deconstructing the prosecution’s attempt to disparage Assange and standing up for the right to publish in the public interest.

I am so lucky to have counted Daniel as a friend, let alone to have worked alongside him in the fight for truth and justice. Thank you, Daniel, we will miss you dearly.”

Ellsberg testified in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London in September 2020. In cross-examination, prosecutors attempted to draw a distinction between Ellsberg — who is now widely lauded as a heroic whistleblower — and Assange. Daniel explicitly rejected this false dichotomy and explained how Assange and WikiLeaks’ publications were similarly in the public interest.

“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.”

Ellsberg explained that this tactic is an effort to turn public opinion against those charged with Espionage for engaging in acts of whistleblowing:

Ellsberg said at the time of his releases, he was harshly criticized, the way Snowden and Manning and Assange are now. Then for a long time he was ignored. And now that these new releases have come out, WikiLeaks’ in 2010 and Snowden’s NSA revelations in 2013, all of a sudden commentators were contrasting them with him, referring to Ellsberg positively “to draw some contrast between us.”

“I totally disagree with the ‘good Ellsberg / bad Assange’ theory,” he said. “Except for the computer aspects which didn’t exist back then, I see no difference between the charges against me and the charges against Assange.”

Ellsberg in support of Julian Assange

Daniel Ellsberg: Espionage Charges Against Assange Are Most Significant Attack on Press in Decades

Indict Us Too: Daniel Ellsberg & Cryptome’s John Young Demand US Drop Charges Against Julian Assange

Daniel Ellsberg on Julian Assange’s Espionage Charges


More remembrances for Daniel Ellsberg

Kevin Gosztola, The Dissenter | The Loving Truth-Teller That Was Daniel Ellsberg

Seeing Dan’s life announcement, and the warm responses to it, made it easier for me to accept that one of the best human beings I have ever known had come to the end of his life.

Dan was not at peace with the world around him. Wars and the threat of nuclear armageddon motivated him to do several more interviews while he could still speak with reporters. But he did feel joy and gratitude having lived his life unapologetically as a peace activist and truth-teller—someone who embodied the idea of the moral imperative.

For the rest of my life, I will cherish the fact that I was one of the first journalists who Dan spoke with on his farewell media tour and that I had the privilege of interacting and sharing his wisdom with the world for over a decade.

Chip Gibbons, Jacobin | Daniel Ellsberg, American Hero

“In his email announcing his terminal cancer, the threat of nuclear war was clearly weighing heavily on Ellsberg’s mind. Stating that the world risked nuclear war over Ukraine or Taiwan, Ellsberg wrote, “It is long past time — but not too late! — for the world’s publics at last to challenge and resist the willed moral blindness of their past and current leaders. I will continue, as long as I’m able, to help these efforts.”

While he viewed the world as close to catastrophe as ever, he noted, “I’m happy to know that millions of people — including all those friends and comrades to whom I address this message! — have the wisdom, the dedication and the moral courage to carry on with these causes, and to work unceasingly for the survival of our planet and its creatures.”

When I interviewed him for the fiftieth anniversary of the Pentagon Papers’ release, it was clear that he was far less interested in reminiscing about the past than carrying forward his urgent work to avert nuclear war and reform the Espionage Act. Honoring Ellsberg requires not just recalling him as a historic figure, but carrying on his work and legacy to dismantle the machinery of war that has claimed far too many lives and end its accompanying regime of secrecy that crushes truth-tellers while granting impunity to war criminals.”

Categories
Hearing Coverage Press Release

UK Judge Rejects Julian Assange’s Appeal Request

June 8, 2023 — Julian Assange’s legal battle in the UK hit a roadblock this week as High Court Judge Jonathan Swift unilaterally rejected an appeal of Julian’s extradition order on all grounds. This leaves just one avenue at the High Court level remaining for Assange: he now has five business days to submit another request to appeal to a panel of two judges, who will convene a public hearing as to whether they will grant Assange leave of appeal. 

Press freedom groups condemn UK decision

Judge Swift ruled against Julian on all grounds, drawing a harsh rebuke from the globally renowned watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Chip Gibbons, Policy Director of Defending Rights & Dissent, said,

The US government seeks to prosecute Assange for his legitimate journalistic activity that exposed war crimes, corruption, and abuses of power. The prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act is inherently illegitimate. On top of that, the legal case against Assange is irrevocably tainted by the extralegal war multiple intelligence agencies have waged on the Australian publisher. 

The Biden Administration must heed the calls of nearly every human rights and press freedom organization, major newspapers, and members of Congress and drop these charges once and for all.

“The idea of Assange or anyone being tried in a U.S. court for obtaining and publishing confidential documents the same way investigative reporters do every day should be terrifying to all Americans,” said Freedom of the Press Foundation Director of Advocacy Seth Stern.

Final High Court appeal

While this ruling is obviously a major setback, it isn’t the end of the road. RSF explained,

“This leaves only one final step in the UK courts, as the defence has five working days to submit an appeal of only 20 pages to a panel of two judges, who will convene a public hearing. Further appeals will not be possible at the domestic level, but Assange could bring a case to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Julian’s wife, Stella Assange, said on Twitter that Assange will submit a renewed appeal request early next week. This request will argue on the same grounds as the previous appeal, which include that the prosecution of Assange is a highly politicized indictment which violates the US-UK Extradition Treaty, which specifically exempts political accusations.

The Solution

The Biden administration can end this case any time it so chooses, and the chorus of voices around the world calling on Biden to #DropTheCharges keeps growing. Australia, a key U.S. ally, has recently reiterated that it wants this nightmare to end; Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese personally raised the issue with President Biden, and Albanese has publicly stated that “enough is enough” when it comes to Washington’s crusade against Julian.

Categories
Press Release

Julian Assange pens letter to King Charles III

This letter was first published by Declassified UK

May 5, 2023

To His Majesty King Charles III,

On the coronation of my liege, I thought it only fitting to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to commemorate this momentous occasion by visiting your very own kingdom within a kingdom: His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh.

You will no doubt recall the wise words of a renowned playwright: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

Ah, but what would that bard know of mercy faced with the reckoning at the dawn of your historic reign? After all, one can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners, and your kingdom has surely excelled in that regard.

Your Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is located at the prestigious address of One Western Way, London, just a short foxhunt from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. How delightful it must be to have such an esteemed establishment bear your name.

It is here that 687 of your loyal subjects are held, supporting the United Kingdom’s record as the nation with the largest prison population in Western Europe. As your noble government has recently declared, your kingdom is currently undergoing “the biggest expansion of prison places in over a century”, with its ambitious projections showing an increase of the prison population from 82,000 to 106,000 within the next four years. Quite the legacy, indeed.

As a political prisoner, held at Your Majesty’s pleasure on behalf of an embarrassed foreign sovereign, I am honoured to reside within the walls of this world class institution. Truly, your kingdom knows no bounds.

During your visit, you will have the opportunity to feast upon the culinary delights prepared for your loyal subjects on a generous budget of two pounds per day. Savour the blended tuna heads and the ubiquitous reconstituted forms that are purportedly made from chicken. And worry not, for unlike lesser institutions such as Alcatraz or San Quentin, there is no communal dining in a mess hall. At Belmarsh, prisoners dine alone in their cells, ensuring the utmost intimacy with their meal.

Beyond the gustatory pleasures, I can assure you that Belmarsh provides ample educational opportunities for your subjects. As Proverbs 22:6 has it: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Observe the shuffling queues at the medicine hatch, where inmates gather their prescriptions, not for daily use, but for the horizon-expanding experience of a “big day out”—all at once.

You will also have the opportunity to pay your respects to my late friend Manoel Santos, a gay man facing deportation to Bolsonaro’s Brazil, who took his own life just eight yards from my cell using a crude rope fashioned from his bedsheets. His exquisite tenor voice now silenced forever.

Venture further into the depths of Belmarsh and you will find the most isolated place within its walls: Healthcare, or “Hellcare” as its inhabitants lovingly call it. Here, you will marvel at sensible rules designed for everyone’s safety, such as the prohibition of chess, whilst permitting the far less dangerous game of checkers.

Deep within Hellcare lies the most gloriously uplifting place in all of Belmarsh, nay, the whole of the United Kingdom: the sublimely named Belmarsh End of Life Suite. Listen closely, and you may hear the prisoners’ cries of “Brother, I’m going to die in here”, a testament to the quality of both life and death within your prison.

But fear not, for there is beauty to be found within these walls. Feast your eyes upon the picturesque crows nesting in the razor wire and the hundreds of hungry rats that call Belmarsh home. And if you come in the spring, you may even catch a glimpse of the ducklings laid by wayward mallards within the prison grounds. But don’t delay, for the ravenous rats ensure their lives are fleeting.

I implore you, King Charles, to visit His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, for it is an honour befitting a king. As you embark upon your reign, may you always remember the words of the King James Bible: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). And may mercy be the guiding light of your kingdom, both within and without the walls of Belmarsh.

Your most devoted subject,

Julian Assange

A9379AY

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Julian Assange, World Press Freedom Day, and U.S. Hypocrisy 

May 4, 2023 — Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, a day in which the United States’ hypocrisy over its stated support of freedom of the press was on full display. U.S. officials held events and press conferences to claim they support protections for journalists around the world, even condemning adversarial countries for their treatment of their reporters, but activists reminded them that these words ring hollow as long as the U.S. continues to persecute and prosecute imprisoned journalist Julian Assange.

Activists take to the streets for Julian Assange and the First Amendment

Chicago: Press Freedom Webinar
DC: Funeral March for the Death of Press Freedom
NYC: Press Freedom Rally
Los Angeles: Hollywood die-in

U.S. officials confronted over hypocrisy on press freedom

CodePink protests Sec. State Blinken
Press Sec. Jean-Pierre refuses to engage

“Advocates on Twitter today have been talking a great deal about how the United States has engaged in hypocrisy by talking about how Evan Gershkovich is held in Russia on espionage charges but the United States has Espionage Act charges pending against Julian Assange.  Can you respond to that criticism?” asked Portnoy.

“What is the criticism?” asked Jean-Pierre. 

“Well, the criticism is that — the argument is that Julian Assange is a journalist who engaged in the publication of government documents,” Portnoy replied. “The United States is accusing him of a crime under the Espionage Act, and that, therefore, the United States is losing the moral high ground when it comes to the question of whether a reporter engages in espionage as a function of his work. So can you respond to that?”

“Look, I’m not going to speak to Julian Assange and that case from here,” said Jean-Pierre.

State Dept. dodges Associated Press on Assange

Associate Press reporter Matt Lee

“So then can I ask you, as was raised perhaps a bit abruptly at the very beginning of his comments this morning, whether or not the State Department regards Julian Assange as a journalist who would be covered by the ideas embodied in World Press Freedom Day?” asked Lee.

“The State Department thinks that Mr. Assange has been charged with serious criminal conduct in the United States, in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in our nation’s history,” Patel replied. “His actions risked serious harm to US national security to the benefit of our adversaries. It put named human sources to grave and imminent risk and risk of serious physical harm and arbitrary detention. So, it does not matter how we categorize any person, but this is – we view this as a – as something he’s been charged with serious criminal conduct.”

“Well, but it does matter actually, and that’s my question. Do you believe that he is a journalist or not?” asked Lee.

“Our view on Mr. Assange is that he’s been charged with serious criminal conduct in the United States,” said Patel.

“Yeah, but anyone can be charged with anything,” Lee replied. “Evan Gershkovich has been charged with a serious criminal offense in Russia, and you say that he is a journalist, and he is obviously. And I just want to know whether or not you, the State Department – regardless of any charges that he faces – believe that he is a journalist, or he is something else.”

“The United States doesn’t go around arbitrarily detaining people, and the judicial oversight and checks and balances that we have in our system versus the Russian system are a little bit different,” said Patel, before again repeating his line that Assange has been charged with a very serious crime.

“Okay. So, basically, the bottom line is that you don’t have an answer. You won’t say whether you think he is a journalist or not,” Lee replied.

Sam Husseini follows up with State Department

Independent journalist Sam Husseini

“You refer to WikiLeaks allegedly damaging US national security,” said Husseini. “People might remember that WikiLeaks came to prominence because they released the Collateral Murder video. And what that showed was US military mowing down Reuters reporters – workers in Iraq. Reuters repeatedly asked the US Government to disclose such information about those killings, and the US government repeatedly refused to do so. Only then did we know what happened, that the US helicopter gunship mowed down these Reuters workers, through the Collateral Murder video? Are you saying that disclosure of such criminality by the US government impinges US national security?”

“I’m not going to parse or get into specifics,” Patel said, before again repeating his line that Assange stands accused of serious crimes in a way that harmed US national security.

Further coverage

Trevor Timm in The Guardian | If you care about press freedom, make some noise about Julian Assange

If Assange is extradited, his case will go from being ignored in the United States to an absolute circus. The justice department will dig its heels in even further to avoid the embarrassment of dropping the charges during a media firestorm. By then it may be too late anyway. A new president may be in office, who would not only ignore pleas from journalists but may revel in them.

Ask yourself: do you trust Donald Trump not to turn around and use this precedent on the reporters he considers the “enemies of the people” and has previously wanted thrown in jail? If not, then now is the time to make your voice heard about the dangerous case against Julian Assange.

John Nichols, The Nation | If Biden Really Believes in Press Freedom, He’ll Stop Targeting Julian Assange https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/biden-julian-assange-press-freedom/ 

“Tonight, our message is this: Journalism is not a crime!” declared Biden, as he put aside the evening’s punch lines for a serious show of solidarity with jailed and persecuted journalists around the world, including Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been falsely accused of espionage by the Russians, and Austin Tice, a kidnapped American journalist who is believed to be held by the Syrian government.

“The free press is a pillar—maybe the pillar—of a free society, not the enemy,” Biden told the assembled reporters, editors, TV anchors, and radio hosts. “You make it possible for ordinary citizens to question authority—and, yes, even to laugh at authority—without fear or intimidation. That’s what makes this nation strong. So, tonight, let us show ourselves and the world our strength, not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”

The statement was a welcome departure from the attacks on journalism that characterized the administration of Donald Trump, who claimed in 2019 that “the press…is the enemy of the people.”And it anticipated the participation of high-profile Biden administration members, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in events scheduled for Wednesday that will honor World Press Freedom Day.

Counter Points | Assange Advocate SHREDS Biden Hypocrisy On Free Press

“Ryan and Emily are joined by Ann Wilcox who shreds Biden for claiming to support a free press while continuing to push forward with the prosecution of Julian Assange.”

Categories
Press Release

Free Assange events planned across U.S. for World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day, created 30 years ago by the UN, is meant to act as both a reminder and a reflection on the freedoms of the press and of speech that we all hold dear. But these freedoms are under attack daily. With the continued prosecution of Assange, and now the imprisonment of WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, we have to stand up to protect free speech. 

Events are being added daily, so make sure to keep an eye on our events page! On May 3, 2023, join us for the below events to mark World Press Freedom Day, or create your own by contacting Organizer Vinne De Stefano.

Los Angeles – Join a broad coalition of activists at Hollywood and Highland to raise our voices in support of journalism and journalists and the very principle of freedom of the press. Details can be found here!  

Washington, D.C. – Join us for a rally on May 3. The rally will have several stops, ending outside the the Washington Post headquarters, calling on the mainstream media to protect press freedom and support journalists as well as whistleblowers who have risked their careers to inform the public. Details can be found here!

New York – Join Assange Countdown to Freedom, NYC Free Assange and Assange Defense for a rally at MSNBC to call for the Extradition of Julian Assange. Details can be found here!

Chicago – Join us for a panel discussion with journalists Kevin Gosztola, the author of the recently released “Guilty of Journalism – The Political Case Against Julian Assange”; Jamie Kalven, founder of the Invisible Institute; and lawyer Leonard Goodman, founder of the Leonard Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting. Details can be found here!

San Francisco – Join us for a Day of Action to free journalists! This event will discuss both Julian Assange and Mumia Abu-jamal’s imprisonments and call for their freedom. Details can be found here!

Boston – Boston Area Assange Defense will be holding a call-in to the White House, Attorney General’s offices, and local representatives to call for an end to Julian’s extradition. Details can be found here!

Categories
Press Release

Lawmakers around the world call on AG Merrick Garland to drop charges against Julian Assange

U.S. letter | UK letter | Australian letter | Mexican letter

April 11, 2023  — Seven U.S. policymakers, led by Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, have cosigned a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling for the Department of Justice to drop the unprecedented charges against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Tlaib is joined by New York Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Texas Rep. Greg Casar, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Missouri Rep. Cori Bush. The letter comes on the fourth anniversary of Assange’s arrest and imprisonment in London.

In support of the U.S. effort, parliamentarians across the political spectrum in the UK, Australia, Mexico, and Brazil have cosigned similar letters to AG Garland, emphasizing the global implications in this case. 

The U.S. letter-writers note that “The prosecution of Mr. Assange marks the first time in U.S. history that a publisher of truthful information has been indicted under the Espionage Act,” and go on to warn how a conviction on these charges would change the media and political landscape of the country:

“The prosecution of Mr. Assange, if successful, not only sets a legal precedent whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted, but a political one as well. In the future the New York Times or Washington Post could be prosecuted when they publish important stories based on classified information. Or, just as dangerous for democracy, they may refrain from publishing such stories for fear of prosecution.”

Richard Burgon MP said: 

“British Parliamentarians are increasingly alarmed by the potential extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. Any extradition would, in effect, be putting press freedom on trial. It would set a dangerous precedent for journalists and publishers around the world.

Four years on since Julian Assange was first detained in Belmarsh High-Security prison, now is the right moment to draw a line under this outrageous prosecution initiated by the Trump Administration, drop the charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to Australia.”

Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Clark in the Australian Federal Parliament said:

“The widespread political concern for Julian Assange is a powerful reminder that this terrible saga has gone on for much too long and must be brought to an end.

The 48 Australian federal parliamentarians who put their name to the formal letter of concern, in concert with similar letters from parliamentarians from around the world, represents millions of constituents. This is no small matter and must not be dismissed.

Nor should it be ignored that the outpouring of political concern spans the political spectrum and is based on a diverse range of reasons. This reflects how the injustice being endured by Julian Assange is so wrong on so many levels. It must be brought to an end.

The parliamentarian effort was welcomed by leaders of civil society organizations who have warned of the grave implications this case has for press freedom around the world.”

Reporters without Borders’ Rebecca Vincent said,

“As Julian Assange marks four years in Belmarsh prison and faces possible imminent extradition to the United States, it’s more crucial for Members of Congress to speak up now than ever before. No one should face prosecution or the possibility of the rest of their lives in prison for publishing information in the public interest. As long as the case against Assange continues, it will be a thorn in the side of the US government, and undermines US efforts to defend media freedom globally. We welcome Representative Tlaib’s leadership on this issue and encourage widespread support for her call on the Justice Department to drop the charges against Assange. It’s time for the US to lead by example by bringing this 12 year-old case to a close and allowing for his release without further delay.”

Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Seth Stern said,

“We commend Rep. Tlaib’s efforts to finally put an end to the unconstitutional prosecution of Julian Assange. Whatever one might think about Assange personally, there is no principled distinction between the conduct he is charged with and the kind of investigative journalism that has helped shape U.S. history. As long as the government claims the power to prosecute newsgathering, all journalists can do is hope prosecutors exercise restraint and don’t come after them for doing their jobs. Journalists will surely tread more cautiously as a result. No one who values the First Amendment should be comfortable with that which is why every major press rights and civil liberties organization opposes Assange’s prosecution.”

Julian Assange has been detained in maximum-security Belmarsh prison in London since his arrest on April 11, 2019. He is fighting extradition to the United States where he has been indicted on unprecedented charges for publishing truthful information in the public interest, for the 2010-11 publication of documents exposing war crimes and other abuses in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If convicted, he faces 175 years in prison.

Chip Gibbons, Policy Director of DC-based civil liberties organization Defending Rights and Dissent, said: 

Defending Rights & Dissent applauds Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s courageous defense of the First Amendment. Defending the Bill Of Rights is the responsibility of every branch of government and we are proud to stand with those members of Congress who are joining with nearly every press freedom group and newspapers such as The New York Times, in calling on the Department of Justice to end its prosecution of Julian Assange.  When the Trump Administration brought unprecedented Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange for doing what journalists do everyday, they put the First Amendment in peril. To turn the page, the Biden Administration must heed the call of nearly every major human rights and press freedom group, and halt this press freedom endangering prosecution.

Nathan Fuller, Executive Director of Assange Defense, said:

We are so grateful that Rep. Rashida Tlaib has stepped up in defense of the freedom of the press and in defense of Julian Assange. The indictment against Assange is a blatant attack on the First Amendment right to publish, and it puts every investigative journalist around the world at risk.

It is heartening to see members of Congress—as well as members of parliaments across the globe—refuse to sit back and let this attack go on without a fight. Merrick Garland should leap at this opportunity to reassess the indictment, recognize the dangers it poses to democratic principles, and drop the charges at once.

U.S. letter | UK letter | Australian letter | Mexican letter


U.S. letter

Dear Attorney General Merrick Garland,

We write you today to call on you to uphold the First Amendment’s protections for the freedom of the press by dropping the criminal charges against Australian publisher Julian Assange and withdrawing the American extradition request currently pending with the British government.

Press freedom, civil liberty, and human rights groups have been emphatic that the charges against Mr. Assange pose a grave and unprecedented threat to everyday, constitutionally protected journalistic activity, and that a conviction would represent a landmark setback for the First Amendment. Major media outlets are in agreement: The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel have taken the extraordinary step of publishing a joint statement in opposition to the indictment, warning that it “sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

The ACLU, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Defending Rights and Dissent, and Human Rights Watch, among others, have written to you three times to express these concerns. In one such letter they wrote:

“The indictment of Mr. Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely—and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do. Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices.”

The prosecution of Julian Assange for carrying out journalistic activities greatly diminishes America’s credibility as a defender of these values, undermining the United States’ moral standing on the world stage, and effectively granting cover to authoritarian governments who can (and do) point to Assange’s prosecution to reject evidence-based criticisms of their human rights records and as a precedent that justifies the criminalization of reporting on their activities. Leaders of democracies, major international bodies, and parliamentarians around the globe stand opposed to the prosecution of Assange. Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic have both opposed the extradition. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called on the U.S. government to end its pursuit of Assange. Leaders of nearly every major Latin American nation, including Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Argentinian President Alberto Fernández have called for the charges to be dropped. Parliamentarians from around the world, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, have all called for Assange not to be extradited to the U.S.

This global outcry against the U.S. government’s prosecution of Mr. Assange has highlighted conflicts between America’s stated values of press freedom and its pursuit of Mr. Assange. The Guardian wrote “The US has this week proclaimed itself the beacon of democracy in an increasingly authoritarian world. If Mr. Biden is serious about protecting the ability of the media to hold governments accountable, he should begin by dropping the charges brought against Mr. Assange.” Similarly, the Sydney Morning Herald editorial board stated, “At a time when US President Joe Biden has just held a summit for democracy, it seems contradictory to go to such lengths to win a case that, if it succeeds, will limit freedom of speech.”

As Attorney General, you have rightly championed freedom of the press and the rule of law in the United States and around the world. Just this past October the Justice Department under your leadership made changes to news media policy guidelines that generally prevent federal prosecutors from using subpoenas or other investigative tools against journalists who possess and publish classified information used in news gathering. We are grateful for these pro-press freedom revisions, and feel strongly that dropping the Justice Department’s indictment against Mr. Assange and halting all efforts to extradite him to the U.S. is in line with these new policies.

Julian Assange faces 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one charge for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.  The Espionage Act charges stem from Mr. Assange’s role in publishing information about the U.S. State Department, Guantanamo Bay, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of this information was published by mainstream newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, who often worked with Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks directly in doing so. Based on the legal logic of this indictment, any of those newspapers could be prosecuted for engaging in these reporting activities. In fact, because what Mr. Assange is accused of doing is legally indistinguishable from what papers like the New York Times do, the Obama administration rightfully declined to bring these charges. The Trump Administration, which brought these charges against Assange, was notably less concerned with press freedom.

The prosecution of Mr. Assange marks the first time in U.S. history that a publisher of truthful information has been indicted under the Espionage Act. The prosecution of Mr. Assange, if successful, not only sets a legal precedent whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted, but a political one as well. In the future the New York Times or Washington Post could be prosecuted when they publish important stories based on classified information. Or, just as dangerous for democracy, they may refrain from publishing such stories for fear of prosecution.

Mr. Assange has been detained on remand in London for more than three years, as he awaits the outcome of extradition proceedings against him. In 2021, a U.K. District Judge ruled against extraditing Mr. Assange to the United States on the grounds that doing so would put him at undue risk of suicide. The U.K.’s High Court overturned that decision after accepting U.S. assurances regarding the prospective treatment Mr. Assange would receive in prison. Neither ruling adequately addresses the threat the charges against Mr. Assange pose to press freedom. The U.S. Department of Justice can halt these harmful proceedings at any moment by simply dropping the charges against Mr. Assange.

We appreciate your attention to this urgent issue. Every day that the prosecution of Julian Assange continues is another day that our own government needlessly undermines our own moral authority abroad and rolls back the freedom of the press under the First Amendment at home. We urge you to immediately drop these Trump-era charges against Mr. Assange and halt this dangerous prosecution.

Sincerely,
Members of Congress

CC: British Embassy; Australian Embassy

UK letter

Dear Attorney General,

We write to you as members of the UK Houses of Parliament to request that you end the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange.

This April 11th marks the fourth anniversary of Mr Assange, an award-winning journalist and publisher, being detained in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London, where he awaits a decision on extradition to the United States of America.

As you will be aware, this threat of extradition follows a decision by the Trump Administration to bring charges against Mr Assange relating to his role as a journalist and publisher in publishing evidence of war crimes, corruption and human rights abuses.

If Mr Assange were to be extradited to the United States, he faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years for his publishing work which was carried out in the United Kingdom and in partnership with globally leading news outlets.

This would clearly have a chilling impact on journalism and would set a dangerous precedent for other journalists and media organisations. It would also undermine the US’ reputation on freedom of expression and the rule of law.

Given this, there is a growing clamour for the release of Julian Assange. Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, has urged the United States to end the prosecution of Julian Assange, who is an Australian citizen.
Likewise, extradition is opposed by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović.

Globally leading human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have also warned against the impact of extradition and called on the United States to drop the charges.

As we approach the fourth anniversary of the detention of Julian Assange in the HMP Belmarsh we request that you take a stance to uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and drop the extradition proceedings to allow Mr Assange to return home to Australia.

Yours sincerely
,

MPs

Richard Burgon MP (Labour)

David Davis MP (Conservative Party)

Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party)

John McDonnell MP (Labour Party)

Angus MacNeil MP (Scottish National Party)

Liz Saville-Roberts MP (Plaid Cymru)

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Kenny MacAskill MP (Alba Party)

Diane Abbott MP (Labour Party)

Apsana Begum MP (Labour Party)

Ian Byrne MP (Labour Party)

Dan Carden MP (Labour Party)

Ben Lake MP (Plaid Cymru)

Clive Lewis MP (Labour Party)

Rachael Maskell MP (Labour Party)

Andy McDonald MP (Labour Party)

Grahame Morris MP (Labour Party)

Kate Osborne MP (Labour Party)

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP (Labour Party)

Tommy Sheppard MP (Scottish National Party)

Zarah Sultana MP (Labour Party)

Claudia Webbe MP (Independent)

Mick Whitley MP (Labour)

LORDS

Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter (Liberal Democrat Party)

Baroness Caroline Cox (Cross-bench)

Lord Bryn Davies (Labour Party)

Lord Hugh Dykes (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord John Hendy KC (Labour Party)

Baroness Molly Meacher (Cross-bench)

Lord Jonny Oates (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord Diljit Rana (Conservative Party)

Lord Prem Sikka (Labour Party)

Lord Paul Strasburger (Liberal Democrat)

Lord Andrew Stunell (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord Tony Woodley (Labour Party)

Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter (Liberal Democrat Party)

Lord Paul Strasburger (Liberal Democrat)

Australian letter

The Honourable Merrick B. Garland
Attorney General of the United States of America
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
WASHINGTON DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General

We write to you as Australian parliamentarians from the Government, Opposition and crossbench to call on you to end the extradition proceedings against Australian citizen, Mr Julian Assange. Mr Assange is the Australian journalist and publisher, currently detained in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London awaiting a decision on extradition to the United States of America.

As you would be aware, the previous US Administration brought charges against Mr Assange for seventeen counts relating to allegedly obtaining and disclosing information under the Espionage Act of 1917, and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1968. The charges pertain to Mr Assange’s actions, as a journalist and publisher for WikiLeaks, in publishing information with evidence of war crimes, corruption and human rights abuses.

If the extradition request is approved, Australians will witness the deportation of one of our citizens from one AUKUS partner to another – our closest strategic ally – with Mr Assange facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison. This would set a dangerous precedent for all global citizens, journalists, publishers, media organizations and the freedom of the press. It would also be needlessly damaging for the US as a world leader on freedom of expression and the rule of law.

International experts oppose the continued persecution of Mr Assange, including the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, as well as human rights organisations, various heads of state and parliamentarians from around the world.

Attorney General, Australian public opinion on this matter is clear. Indeed polling shows that 88 per cent of Australians either support, or are unopposed, to calls for Mr Assange to be brought back to Australia. Mr Assange has been effectively incarcerated for well over a decade in one form or another, yet the person who leaked classified information had their sentence commuted and has been able to participate in American society since 2017. A clear majority of Australians consider that this matter has gone on for far too long and must be brought to a close. We implore you to drop the extradition proceedings and allow Mr Assange to return home.

Yours sincerely

Australian Parliamentarians
Signatories overleaf

2 / 3
Senator Penny Allman-Payne
Senator for Queensland

Michelle Ananda-Rajah MP
Member for Higgins

Bridget Archer MP
Member for Bass

Senator Ralph Babet
Senator for Victoria

Adam Bandt MP
Member for Melbourne

Stephen Bates MP
Member for Brisbane

Senator The Hon Matthew Canavan
Senator for Queensland

Max Chandler-Mather MP
Member for Griffith

Kate Chaney MP
Member for Curtin

Senator Dorinda Cox
Senator for Western Australia

Zoe Daniel MP
Member for Goldstein

The Hon Warren Entsch MP
Member for Leichhardt

Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi
Senator for New South Wales

Dr Mike Freelander MP
Member for Macarthur

Dr Helen Haines MP
Member for Indi

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Senator for South Australia

Julian Hill MP
Member for Bruce

The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP
Member for New England

Peter Khalil MP
Member for Wills

Tania Lawrence MP
Member for Hasluck

Zaneta Mascarenhas MP
Member for Swan

Senator Nick McKim
Senator for Tasmania

Brian Mitchell MP
Member for Lyons

Llew O’Brien MP
Member for Wide Bay

Alicia Payne MP
Member for Canberra

Graham Perrett MP
Member for Moreton

Senator Barbara Pocock
Senator for South Australia

Senator David Pocock
Senator for Australian Capital Territory

Senator Gerard Rennick
Senator for Queensland

Senator Janet Rice
Senator for Victoria

Senator Malcolm Roberts
Senator for Queensland

Dr Monique Ryan MP
Member for Kooyong

Dr Sophie Scamps MP
Member for Mackellar

Rebekha Sharkie MP
3 / 3
Member for Mayo

Senator David Shoebridge
Senator for New South Wales

Allegra Spender MP
Member for Wentworth

Senator Jordon Steele-John
Senator for Western Australia

Zali Steggall OAM MP
Member for Warringah

Susan Templeman MP
Member for Macquarie

Senator Lidia Thorpe
Senator for Victoria

Kylea Tink MP
Member for North Sydney

Maria Vamvakinou MP
Member for Calwell

Senator Larissa Waters
Senator for Queensland

Elizabeth Watson-Brown MP
Member for Ryan

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson
Senator for Tasmania

Andrew Wilkie MP
Member for Clark

Josh Wilson MP
Member for Fremantle

Tony Zappia MP
Member for Makin

Mexican letter

(En español)

President Joseph Biden
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr President of the United States of America,
Dear Speaker of the House,

We write to you as Members of the Mexican parliament to express our collective concerns about the US request to extradite the journalist and publisher, Julian Paul Assange, from the UK to the US, and the chilling precedent that extradition would set for other journalists and publishers around the world.

The political nature of the offense prohibits extradition

The US superseding indictment issued against Mr Assange on 24 June 2020 charges him with 18 counts all related solely to the 2010 publications of US government documents. Charges 1-17 are brought under the Espionage Act 1917, even though espionage is widely recognized as a political offense under international law. The UK-US Extradition Treaty that forms the basis of the extradition request specifically prohibits extradition for political offenses. So, too, does the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Model Treaty on Extradition, the Interpol Constitution, and other bilateral treaties ratified by the US. This principle is also enshrined in the Inter-American Human Rights System, which also upholds the right to political asylum.

Mr Assange undertook standard investigative journalistic practices, which include receiving classified information from a source inside the government and then publishing that information in the public interest. The charges under the Espionage Act would criminalize these routine practices, which are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It was in recognition of the irreconcilable conflict between these charges and the First Amendment that the Obama Administration rightly refused to charge Mr Assange with espionage because it would criminalize the standard journalistic practice.

Risk of being subjected to an unfair trial in the US

Mr Assange’s legal privilege, a right enshrined in Art. 8 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and long recognized under English common law, was grossly violated through constant and criminal video and audio surveillance at the Ecuadorian embassy carried out by the Spanish security firm, UC Global. This surveillance was, according to witness testimony, ordered by the CIA and has triggered an investigation into the owner of UC Global, David Morales, by Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional. The surveillance resulted in all of Mr Assange’s meetings and conversations being recorded, including those with his lawyers. The Council of Bar and Law Societies of Europe, which represents more than a million European lawyers, has expressed its concerns that these illegal recordings may be used – openly or secretly – in proceedings against Mr Assange in the event of successful extradition to the US. The Council states that if the information merely became known to the prosecutors, this would present an irremediable breach of Mr Assange’s fundamental rights to a fair trial under Art. 6 of the ECHR and due process under the US Constitution. The UN Model Treaty on Extradition prohibits extradition if the person has not received, or would not receive, the minimum guarantees in criminal proceedings, as enshrined in Art. 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Judicial Conflicts of Interest

Senior District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) Emma Arbuthnot, who as Chief Magistrate oversees Mr Assange’s extradition proceedings, has been shown to have financial links to institutions and individuals whose wrongdoings have been exposed by WikiLeaks, the organization which Mr Assange founded. This seemingly clear conflict of interest was, however, not disclosed by the District Judge. District Judge Arbuthnot did not recuse herself and was permitted to make rulings to Mr Assange’s detriment, despite the perceived lack of judicial impartiality and independence.

Mr Assange was arrested on 11 April 2019 and is now one of the longest-serving prisoners on remand in the United Kingdom.

We respectfully call on your Administration and American Congress to renew trust in the rule of international law, and the rule of law in the United States, by dropping the charges against Mr Assange and bringing an end to the ongoing extradition proceedings.

We add ours to an ever-growing public voice across civil society, human rights organizations, press groups, and the political and judicial class proclaiming that Mr Assange’s persecution must be halted. We fully agree with the Council of Europe, which considers Mr Assange’s treatment to be among “the most severe threats to media freedom,” and with the EU Parliament and parliamentarians worldwide, who oppose the extradition and express concerns about the violations of Mr Assange’s fundamental human, civil, and political rights.

We join in the call for Mr Assange’s immediate release made by international organizations at the United Nations, Amnesty International, other human rights advocates, and legal, medical and other professional associations. 

We urge the U.S. Justice Department to drop all charges against Mr Assange. 

With all our best regards and wishes for mutual cooperation,

En español

Presidente Joseph Biden

Presidente de la Cámara de Representantes, Kevin McCarthy

La Casa Blanca,

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Estimado presidente de la Cámara,

Les escribimos como miembros del Senado y de la Cámara de Legisladores de México para expresar nuestras preocupaciones colectivas sobre la solicitud de EE. UU. de extraditar al periodista y editor, Julian Paul Assange, del Reino Unido, a EE. UU. y el

escalofriante precedente que establecería la extradición para otros periodistas y editores de todo el mundo.

La naturaleza política del delito prohíbe la extradición

La acusación sustitutiva emitida por Estados Unidos contra el Sr. Assange el 24 de junio de 2020 contempla 18 cargos, todos relacionados únicamente con las publicaciones de documentos del gobierno de EE. UU. hechas en 2010. Los cargos 1 a 17 se presentan en virtud de la Ley de espionaje de 1917, aunque el espionaje está ampliamente reconocido como un delito político según el derecho internacional. El Tratado de Extradición Reino Unido-Estados Unidos que constituye la base de la solicitud de extradición prohíbe específicamente la extradición por delitos políticos. Lo mismo ocurre con el Convenio Europeo de Extradición de 1957, el Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos, el Tratado Modelo de Extradición de la ONU, la Constitución de Interpol y otros tratados bilaterales ratificados por EE.UU. Este principio también está consagrado en el Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos, que también defiende el derecho al asilo político.

Assange llevó a cabo prácticas periodísticas de investigación estándar, que incluyen recibir información clasificada de una fuente dentro del gobierno y luego publicar esa información en interés público. Los cargos bajo la Ley de Espionaje criminalizarían estas prácticas rutinarias que están protegidas por la Primera Enmienda de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. Fue en reconocimiento del conflicto irreconciliable entre estos cargos y la Primera Enmienda que la Administración Obama se negó acertadamente a acusar a Assange de espionaje porque criminalizaría la práctica periodística estándar.

Riesgo de ser sometido a un juicio injusto en EE. UU.

El privilegio legal del señor Assange, un derecho consagrado en el art. 8 Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos (CEDH) y reconocido desde hace mucho tiempo por el derecho consuetudinario inglés, fue violado gravemente a través de la vigilancia constante y criminal de video y audio en la Embajada ecuatoriana, misma que fue llevada a cabo por la empresa de seguridad española, UC Global. Esta vigilancia fue, según el testimonio de un testigo, ordenada por la CIA, desencadenando una investigación sobre el propietario de UC Global, David Morales, por parte del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de España, la Audiencia Nacional. La vigilancia resultó en la grabación de todas las reuniones y conversaciones de Assange, incluidas aquellas con sus abogados. El Consejo de Colegios de Abogados y Abogados de Europa, que representa a más de un millón de abogados europeos, ha expresado su preocupación

de que estas grabaciones ilegales puedan usarse, abierta o secretamente, en procedimientos contra el Sr. Assange en caso de una extradición exitosa a los EE. UU. El Consejo afirma que, si la información simplemente llegara a ser conocida por los

fiscales, esto representaría una violación irremediable de los derechos fundamentales del Sr. Assange a un juicio justo en virtud del art. 6 de la CEDH y el debido proceso bajo la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. El Tratado Modelo de Extradición de la ONU prohíbe la extradición si la persona no ha recibido, o no recibiría, las garantías mínimas en los procesos penales, tal como lo establece el art. 14 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos (PIDCP).

Conflictos de intereses judiciales

Se ha demostrado que la jueza principal de distrito (tribunales de magistrados) Emma Arbuthnot, quien como magistrada principal supervisa los procedimientos de extradición del Sr. Assange, tiene vínculos financieros con instituciones y personas cuyas fechorías han sido expuestas por WikiLeaks, la organización que fundó el Sr. Assange. Sin embargo, este aparentemente claro conflicto de intereses no fue revelado por el juez de

distrito. La jueza de distrito Arbuthnot no se recusó y se le permitió dictar sentencias en detrimento de Assange, a pesar de la aparente falta de imparcialidad e independencia judicial.

Assange fue arrestado el 11 de abril de 2019 y ahora es uno de los presos con más años en prisión preventiva en el Reino Unido.

Hacemos un llamado respetuosamente a su administración y al Congreso estadounidense para que renueven la confianza en el Estado de derecho internacional y el Estado de derecho en los Estados Unidos, retirando los cargos contra el Sr. Assange y poniendo fin a los procedimientos de extradición en curso.

A una voz pública cada vez mayor en la sociedad civil, las organizaciones de derechos humanos, los grupos de prensa y la clase política y judicial que proclaman que se debe detener la persecución del Sr. Assange, agregamos la nuestra. Estamos totalmente de acuerdo con el Consejo de Europa, que considera que el trato al Sr. Assange se encuentra entre “las amenazas más graves a la libertad de prensa”, y con el Parlamento de la Unión Europa y los parlamentarios de todo el mundo, que se oponen a la extradición y expresan su preocupación por las violaciones de los principios fundamentales del Sr. Assange. derechos humanos, civiles y políticos.

Nos unimos al llamado para la liberación inmediata del Sr. Assange hecho por organizaciones internacionales en las Naciones Unidas, Amnistía Internacional, otros defensores de los derechos humanos y asociaciones legales, médicas y otras

asociaciones profesionales. 

Instamos al Departamento de Justicia de EE. UU. a que retire todos los cargos contra Assange.

Con todos nuestros mejores saludos y deseos de cooperación mutua,

Minerva Citlalli Hernández Mora

Senadora por la Ciudad de México

Freyda Marybel Villegas Canché

Senadora por Quintana Roo

Cecilia Margarita

Sánchez García

Senadora por Campeche

Jesús Lucía Trasviña Waldenrath

Senadora por Baja California Sur

Navor Alberto Rojas Mancera

Senador por Hidalgo

Olga María del Carmen Sánchez

Cordero

Senadora

Reyes Flores Hurtado

Senador por Coahuila

Imelda Castro Castro

Senadora por Sinaloa

Sasil de León Villard

Senadora por Chiapas

Oscar Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar

Senador por Chiapas

Sergio Pérez Flores

Senador por Morelos

María Antonieta Cárdenas Mariscal

Senadora por Jalisco

Lilia Margarita Valdez Martínez

Senadora por Durango

Héctor Vasconcelos

Senador

Higinio Martínez Miranda

Senador por el Estado de México

Griselda Valencia de la Mora

Senadora por Colima

Antares Guadalupe Vázquez

Alatorre

Senadora

César Arnulfo Cravioto

Romero

Senador por la Ciudad de México

Katya Elizabeth Ávila Vázquez

Senadora

Mónica Fernández Balboa

Senadora por Tabasco

Verónica Noemí Camino Farjat

Senadora por Yucatán

Marcela Mora

Senadora

Lucía Meza

Senadora por Morelos

Gilberto Herrera Ruiz

Senador por Querétaro

Raúl Paz Alonso

Senador por Yucatán

Gloria Sánchez Hernández

Senadora por Veracruz

Eunice Renata Romo Molina

Senadora

Nestora Salgado García

Senadora por Guerrero

José Narro Céspedes

Senador por Zacatecas

Ricardo Velázquez Meza

Senador por Baja California Sur

Cristóbal Arias Solis

Senador por Michoacán

Martha Lucía Micher Camarena

Senadora por Guanajuato

José Ramón Enríquez Herrera

Senador por Durango

Ovidio Salvador Peralta Suárez

Senador por Tabasco

Ma. Guadalupe Covarrubias

Senadora por Tamaulipas

Ana Lilia Rivera Rivera

Senadora por Tlaxcala

Alejandro Armenta Mier

Senador por Puebla

Casimiro Méndez Ortiz

Senador

Raúl de Jesus Elenes Angulo

Senador por Sinaloa

Maria Soledad Luévano Cantú

Senadora por Zacatecas

Arturo del Carmen Moo Cahuich

Senador por Campeche

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia

Senador

María Merced González González

Senadora por Hidalgo

Daniel Gutiérrez Castorena

Senador por Aguascalientes

Adolfo Gómez Hernández

Senador por Oaxaca

Manuel Vázquez Arellano

Diputado Federal

Jorge Alberto Barrera Toledo

Diputado Federal

Aleida Alavez Ruiz

Diputada Federal

Andrea Chávez Treviño

Diputada Federal

Mario Alberto Torres

Diputado Federal

Leticia Chavez

Diputada Federal

Hamlet García Almaguer

Diputado Federal

Susana Prieto Terrazas

Diputada Federal

Maximiano Barboza Llamas

Diputado Federal

José Luis Flores Pacheco

Diputado Federal

Yeidckol Polevnsky

Diputada Federal

María Guadalupe Chavira de la Rosa

Diputada Federal

Javier Huerta Jurado

Diputado Federal

Alma Delia Navarrete Rivera

Diputada Federal

Karla Estrella Díaz García

Diputada Federal

Olimpia Tamara Girón

Diputada Federal

Juan Guadalupe Torres Navarro

Diputado Federal

Erika Vanessa del Castillo Ibarra

Diputada Federal

José Guadalupe Ambrocio Gachuz

Diputado Federal

Graciela Sánchez Ortiz

Diputado Federal

María Clemente García Moreno

Diputada Federal

Jaime Humberto Pérez Bernabé

Diputado Federal

Ángel Miguel Rodríguez Torres

Diputado Federal

Alejandro Robles

Diputado Federal

Arturo Hernández Tapia

Diputado Federal

Raymundo Atanacio Luna

Diputado Federal

Steve del Razo Montiel

Diputado Federal

Armando Corona Arvizu

Diputado Federal

Ana Elizabeth Ayala Leyva

Diputada Federal

Martín Sandoval Soto

Diputado Federal

Otoniel García Montiel

Diputado Federal

Leticia Estrada Hernández

Diputada Local de la Ciudad de

México

Cirse Camacho

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Martha Soledad Avila Ventura

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Miriam Valeria Cruz Flores

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Ana Francis López Bayghen Patiño

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Héctor Díaz Polanco

Diputado local de la Ciudad de México

Marcela Fuente Castillo

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Nancy Marlene Núñez Reséndiz

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Xóchitl Bravo Espinosa

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

José Martin Padilla Sánchez

Diputado local por la Ciudad de México

Miguel Ángel Macedo Escartín

Diputado local de la Ciudad de México

Yuriri Ayala Zúñiga

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

Alejandra Méndez Vicuña

Diputada local de la Ciudad de México

José Fernando Mercado Guaida

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

Valentina Valia Batres Guadarrama

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Christian Moctezuma González

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

Nazario Norberto Sánchez

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

María Guadalupe Chávez Contreras

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Esperanza Villalobos Pérez

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Marisela Zúñiga Cerón

Diputada local de la Ciudad de

México

Carlos Hernández Mirón

Diputado local de la Ciudad de

México

Categories
Press Release

Assange activist sends support kits across the U.S.

All over the world, activists and volunteers have been hard at work to bring awareness to Assange’s prosecution and the continued threat to free press. One of those activists is Halo Benson, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who created these amazing seed kits!

Filled with t-shirts, stickers, flyers, postcards pre-stamped and addressed to the Department of Justice and the White House, and more, these kits are a creative way to keep activists engaged, and keep up the drumbeat as we approach the one-year anniversary of Assange’s extradition. Watch this video to see more of what’s inside! If you’d like your own kit, you can reach out to her on Twitter.

When we think of actions to help Assange, we often jump to protesting, tabling, or other bigger, more public-facing work. However, not everyone has the resources or time to hit the streets. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be helpful in spreading awareness about Assange’s extradition and the encroaching threat to freedom of the press. There are so many creative ways to get the message out, just as Halo has shown here.  

Halo, we’re so grateful for your continued advocacy and support! Inspired by Halo’s work? You can get involved, too! Click here to find all the ways you can take action. Want to support Halo’s effort? Donate to Halo’s Assange Anniversary fundraiser.

Halo, right, with Julian Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton at a screening of Ithaka in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Categories
Press Release

Students, professors, activists assemble for Assange’s release and freedom of the press on Student Press Freedom Day

February 23, 2023 — All over the country, students and universities will be hosting events focused on the threat to freedom of the press for Student Press Freedom Day. Nothing represents this threat better than the unprecedented prosecution against Julian Assange.  In Boston and Chicago, Assange Defense chapters will hold open events to discuss the impacts of Assange’s case on the future of the free press.

In the United States and around the world, freedom of speech and the press are under attack. One of the biggest examples of this is the case against Julian Assange. Assange is fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces unprecedented charges that carry up to 175 years in prison. For the first time in history, the U.S. Justice Department is charging a journalist under the controversial Espionage Act of 1917. The United Nations has declared Julian Assange “arbitrarily detained” since 2010. 

“The case against Julian Assange could spell the end of investigative journalism for the next generation of reporters, editors, and publishers before they even have a chance to graduate,” said Nathan Fuller, director of the Assange Defense Committee. “This prosecution would fundamentally alter the relationship between the people and the government, by eliminating an essential avenue of accountability, and that’s what these students are standing up and speaking out against. It’s really inspiring to see and hear from young people who care about these issues and I hope these rallies and panels are the first of many for those who’ve started participating in events like these today.”

“The prosecution of Julian Assange would criminalize national security journalism and send a chilling message to journalists that they disclose government secrets at their peril,” said attorney Marjorie Cohn, member of the national advisory board of Assange Defense and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. “Assange would be punished for doing what journalists do – protect confidential sources and publish classified secrets to tell us what our government is doing in our name.”

Press freedom and human rights groups have condemned the U.S. extradition efforts. And now, future journalists and lawyers are taking on the mantle, calling on President Biden to honor his word to protect press freedom and to free Julian Assange.

“If the Trump/Biden prosecution against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange under the infamous Espionage Act of 1917 succeeds, the next generation of journalists will face an unprecedented era of intimidation, repression and censorship, denying the American public vital information about government wrongdoing, ” said Stephen Rohde, former chair of ACLU SoCal and author of American Words of Freedom. 

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Listen: Free Julian Assange

by Francisco Herrera and Dennis Bernstein

This is a song to promote the freedom of Julian Assange.

lyrics

FREE JULIAN NOW

1. Military chopper opens fire
Instruments of genocide
Wiki-leaks unmasked the liars
Of the Orders cued by
central command
Gun-sight video
Nails the murder scene down

2.The victims of smart bombs
Went up in flames
Baghdad on fire
Julian gave it a name
Collateral murder
A family shredded and maimed
Journalists died
Who will remember their names

3. It does not help to shield my eyes
The camera is still running
Deep inside the mind
History is watching us
Which side are we on
Julian told the truth
about the war machine
It’s getting late in the hour
Don’t wait another minute
To speak truth to power

One-liners:

Free Julian, Free
He Spoke for you and Me
and we will set him free
Libertad, libertad para Julian
Que se oiga esa voz
Por todo el mundo
Tell your neighbor tell your friend
Write the congress and the president
Truth to power Now’s the Hour

He spoke for you and me

And we must set him free

credits

Francisco Herrera- music
Dennis Bernstein- lyrics
Produced and arranged by Greg Landau

Drums- Darian Gray
Bass- Ernesto Mazar Kindelan
Keyboards- Steve Carter
Guitars- Greg Landau, Camilo Landau
Vocals- Francisco Herrera
Background Vocals- Zule Guerra, Liliana Herrera, and Orlando Torriente

Recorded and Mixed by Greg Landau

© all rights reserved

Categories
Press Release

Newsweek on what it’s like for Julian Assange inside the cell at Belmarsh

Newsweek‘s Shaun Waterman reports: Julian Assange “is locked alone in a 6′ by 12′ cell for 20 or more hours a day — his reading limited and his mail censored.”

Waterman also reported on the CIA lawsuit and the ‘Spartacus moment‘ of Daniel Ellsberg and John Young coming forward to announce themselves as equally eligible for prosecution.

Stella talked about what he’s been reading in prison:

“Assange sleeps poorly, she said, meaning that he is often too tired to concentrate properly. But when he can, he likes to read, and recently enjoyed a new biography of the visionary leader of the Haitian slave revolt, Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture. He also tackled In the Thick of It, the autobiography of controversial Tory Minister Alan Duncan.

He is teaching himself to read and write Chinese, she added.”

On the ongoing punishment by process of a years-long imprisonment and trial:

“His family says that with uncertainty about his extradition hanging over him like the sword of Damocles, he has lost weight and become depressed and anxious.”

The worst part about the confinement is having no idea when or how he would be able to leave, Stella Assange said. “It is the uncertain duration that makes it so hard to bear … It’s a kind of torture.”

The uncertainty has exacerbated Assange’s physical and mental deterioration, his wife said. In October 2021, during a High Court hearing about his extradition, Assange, attending via video link from Belmarsh, suffered a “transient ischaemic attack” — a mini-stroke. He has been diagnosed with nerve damage and memory problems and prescribed blood thinners.

“He might not survive this,” she said.

Waterman on the support Assange receives around the world:

Assange gets thousands of letters and parcels from all over the world, Stella Assange said, but the authorities interdict banned items, such as books about national security, paintings and other forbidden objects.


Even the letters he doesn’t recieve make a difference, Stella Assange said. “The letters he reads help him feel connected to the world, but above all the letters show prison authorities the world cares about him.”

What it’s like for Julian’s two young children, Max and Gabriel:

Gabriel has recently “put two and two together” and figured out that the place he meets his father a couple of times a week is actually a prison, Stella Assange said. “Because he has a concept of what a prison is from TV or whatever, and he asked me the other day ‘Is he in prison?’ And I said, Yes. He’s in prison, but he’s not like any other prisoner. He’s not there because he’s done anything bad. He’s there because he’s done something good.”

Max, for his part, refers to Belmarsh simply as “the Queue” because of the repeated lines the family has had to join to be cleared through to visit. “The checks are very onerous,” she said. “The children have to be searched, as well as me. We have to be checked inside our mouths and in our hair, behind our ears, under our feet, and so on. And sometimes there are dog searches, which are quite intimidating.”

Read the full piece here.

Categories
Press Release

Killing the messenger: Joe Biden’s disturbing hypocrisy on Julian Assange

A protester seen with a placard expressing her opinion at the Royal Courts of Justice. U.S wins appeal to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from the UK. (Thomas Krych/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

January 18, 2023 — It is time for President Biden to live up to his rhetoric on press freedom.

As a candidate in 2020, Biden released a powerful statement on the importance of press freedom, writing:

Reporters Without Borders tells us that at least 360 people worldwide are currently imprisoned for their work in journalism. We all stand in solidarity with these journalists for, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Biden left out the fact that one of those imprisoned people is WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, and that he is languishing in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison in London because the U.S. government wants to make an example of him.

Assange was indicted by the Trump administration in an aggressive, precedent-shattering move that was widely condemned by journalists and human rights groups. President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have had almost two years to do the right thing and drop this dangerous prosecution.

They have failed to deliver.

Instead, the Biden administration continues to lecture the world about press freedom and disinformation. Biden and his allies rightly chastise authoritarian regimes for censoring the press, cracking down on dissent and even criminalizing publishing the truth. Reporters Without Borders condemns violations of press freedom in places like Iran, China and Myanmar. But they also note that press freedom violations are not unique to such regimes. They condemn the persecution of Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa in the Philippines, and they lead a coalition of 16 journalism advocacy groups calling on the British government to free Assange.

These reports underscore the importance of a free and independent press that can expose wrongdoing, inform the public of uncomfortable realities and push back on government propaganda. In other words, a free press protects our access to the truth when the government deceives us.

I am proud to know Julian Assange. When I met with him at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, I was most impressed by his intelligence, compassion, and his belief in truth as an antidote to the poison of lies and war propaganda. As Assange said, “if wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”

For more than three years, Assange has been held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison known as “England’s Guantánamo” — much of that during a COVID outbreak at the jail that posed a threat to his life. As I write this, he is in 24-hour isolation with COVID. Last year, he suffered a mini-stroke. UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer has determined that the conditions of Assange’s confinement constitute torture.

Prior to being held in a maximum-security prison with murderers, Assange spent years confined in the Ecuadorian embassy, without access to adequate medical care. During that time, the U.S. government spied on his lawyers, his visitors (including me), his family and his doctors. They even seized his files and legal notes when he was arrested. Why? Because Assange’s work with WikiLeaks had embarrassed the government on the world stage.

Barack Obama refused to indict Assange because of the “New York Times problem”: If Obama were to indict Assange for publishing truthful information, he’d have to indict the New York Times as well. But Biden has now affirmed Trump’s contention that publishing the truth is a crime. Assange is being charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. That law is controversial enough when prosecutors use it to target whistleblowers, but it has never been used successfully against a publisher. What Biden is really saying by indicting Assange is that the U.S. government can lie to the public, conceal its criminal behavior and then destroy those who would dare seek the truth.

The Justice Department has charged Assange for receiving and publishing truthful, newsworthy information leaked by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, but has never charged any of the military or government officials whose wrongdoing was exposed.

It is the 21st-century version of killing the messenger.

No one was harmed by Assange’s reporting, unless you count the bruised reputations of politicians who were caught breaking the law, lying or concealing misconduct. Experts testified in British court proceedings that Assange went to extreme lengths to help protect both his sources and people who might be harmed by the disclosure of sensitive information. Instead of investigating the wrongdoing that WikiLeaks exposed and punishing those who broke the law or covered it up, the government has focused on attacking whistleblowers and the journalists who work with them.

Why? Because it sends a message to others who might be tempted to inform the public about government misconduct: We can destroy your life.

Thomas Jefferson was right, and as a candidate Joe Biden was right to cite his words. There is no democracy without a free press to hold the government accountable. And Reporters Without Borders is right to be concerned about press freedom in the United States. Its fact sheet begins with the ominous line: “In the United States, once considered a model for press freedom and free speech, press freedom violations are increasing at a troubling rate.”

There is no free press without a free Julian Assange. As long as the government can prosecute Assange for publishing truthful information in the public interest, the Biden administration’s pontifications about human rights, “fake news” and propaganda are the epitome of hypocrisy.

Categories
Press Release

Listen: Stella Assange updates on Julian’s case and condition

January 5, 2023 — Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange spoke with Suchitra Vijayan, executive director of The Polis Project, a research and journalism organization, to provide an update on Julian’s legal case as well as to discuss the latest developments in the campaign to drop the charges against him.

Listen to the conversation, hosted on Twitter Spaces, below:

Categories
Press Release

The Belmarsh Tribunal is coming to Washington D.C.

The Belmarsh Tribunal comes to Capitol Hill on 20 January 2023 to hear expert testimony from journalists, whistleblowers, lawyers, publishers, and parliamentarians on assaults to press freedom and the First Amendment of the US Constitution

From Ankara to Manila to Budapest, state actors are cracking down on journalists, their sources, and their publishers in a globally coordinated campaign to disrupt the public’s access to information and shut off their sources of dissent.

A landmark case in this campaign is that of Julian Assange, the publisher who founded WikiLeaks, exposed crimes by the United States government, and now faces 175 years in prison if extradited from the Belmarsh Prison where he is currently held in the United Kingdom. Assange’s case is the first time in history that a publisher has been indicted under the Espionage Act.

Inspired by the Russell-Sartre Tribunals of the Vietnam War, the Belmarsh Tribunal brings together a range of expert witnesses – from constitutional lawyers, to acclaimed journalists and human rights defenders – to present evidence of this attack on publishers and to seek justice for the crimes they expose. 

Since its first sitting in October 2020, the Belmarsh Tribunal has since traveled to London and New York with members such as President Lula da Silva, whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

The Washington D.C. Tribunal — organized by the Progressive International in partnership with the Wau Holland Foundation — will be held at the National Press Club, where Assange first premiered Collateral Murder, the leaked video documenting war crimes committed by the United States Army in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah, Iraq.

The Tribunal will be co-chaired by Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman and philosopher Srećko Horvat. 

Members of the Tribunal include: Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, human rights attorney Steven Donziger, former CIA official Jeffery Sterling, parliamentarian Jeremy Corbyn, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Stefania Maurizi, publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, professor Noam Chomsky, Stella Assange, and many others.

Partners of the Tribunal include: Democracy Now!, Defending Rights & Dissent, Courage Foundation, DiEM25, The Intercept, The Nation, and PEN International.

Co-chair Srećko Horvat said:

“The First Amendment, Freedom of the press, and the life of Julian Assange are at stake. That’s why the Belmarsh Tribunal is landing literally just two blocks away from the White House next  January. As long as the Biden administration continues to deploy tools like the Espionage Act to imprison those who dare to expose war crimes, no publisher and no journalist will be safe. Our tribunal is gathering courageous voices of dissent to demand justice for those crimes and to demand President Biden to drop the charges against Assange immediately.”

Human rights lawyer and former member of the Assange legal team Renata Ávila said:

“The Espionage Act is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation in the world: an existential threat against international investigative journalism. If applied, it will deprive us from one of our must powerful tools towards de-escalation of conflicts, diplomacy and peace. The Belmarsh Tribunal convenes in Washington to present evidence of this chilling threat, and to unite lawmakers next door to dismantle the legal architecture that undermines the basic right of all peoples to know what their governments do in their name.”

Categories
Press Release

MSNBC’s Ari Melber warns against Assange prosecution

December 15, 2022 — Ari Melber, on his MSNBC show ‘The Beat’ on Thursday, warned that the prosecution of Julian Assange poses a major threat to democratic governance and accountability and that it will lead to more indictments against the press.

“Nobody knows how future administrations will use this power,” Melber said in the 12-minute segment, which was spurred by the recent letter from the New York Times and other major international newspapers to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for the charges against Assange to be dropped.

“You get a precedent jailing a publisher in one case,” Melber said, “it will be easier in the next case. And the one after that. I promise you that.”

Watch the full segment below:

Categories
Past Events

Standing Up for Julian Assange during International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day brings activists together to speak out on behalf of Julain Assange and in defense of freedom of the press

By Vince DeStefano

December 14, 2022

To commemorate International Human Rights Day and in concert with actions across the United States and around the world, the Assange Defense Committee, CODEPINK, National Lawyers Guild, LA Progressive, the Pasadena-Foothill Chapter ACLU, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) presented a “Free Julian Assange—Defender of a Free Press” event at All Powers Books, located at 4857 W Adams Blvd. in Los Angeles, on Saturday, December 10th.

There was a capacity crowd at the event which was also live-streamed on CODEPINK’s Facebook page as well as All Power Books Instagram page. The Assange event was followed by a reading, video and book signing with Medea Benjamin and Nicholas Davies about their new book War in Ukraine.—Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict. Medea and Nicholas also spoke in defense of Julian and the necessity of a free and open press.

The focus of both events was protection of Freedom of The Press in a time of occupation and war. There was a banner that greeted attendees asking the question “Where is Julian Assange now that we need him?” With that question in mind the speakers highlighted the importance of WikiLeaks to ensuring the dissemination of fact-based information rather government manipulated propaganda.

Using the government’s own documents in collaboration with The New York Times, DER SPEGIEL. Le Monde, the Guardian and El Pais, WikiLeaks, under the direction of Julian Assange, exposed the lies and war crimes committed in our names and with our tax dollars that the US government never wished to be known or exposed.

There are many things to know about Julian and the journalism produced through WikiLeaks, the organization he helped to establish in 2006. The first is that they have released millions of documents provided by anonymous whistleblowers from across the globe. Those documents exposed the crimes and lies of many nations and organizations who never wished them to see the light of day. During its more than 16 years in existence, WikiLeaks has never had to issue a single retraction or an apology for anything they or their partners have published. That is because WikiLeaks used the government’s own words and documents that were always scrupulously vetted for accuracy and then carefully redacted to ensure no harm would come to individuals from their release.

Julian’s successful extradition to the US will, in a very real sense, spell the end of the kind of journalism Thomas Jefferson said was “the necessary predicate for a functioning democracy, an informed and well educated electorate”. Investigative journalism—the kind practiced by journalists such as Seymour Hersh, I .F. Stone, Carl Bernstein, David Halberstam, Jane Mayer, Susan Sontag or Ida B. Wells, to name but a few—would be silenced and the public’s right to know ended by a successful prosecution of Julian Assange.

Marcy Winograd
Marcy Winograd

With the consolidation of our media landscape to a mere six mega-corporations, it’s not The New York Times we need fear losing. Rather it is all the alternative outlets of news that are clearly in the crosshairs of the Assange prosecution. The successful extradition and prosecution of Julian Assange on the 17 counts under the 1917 Espionage Act will criminalize contact with classified documents in any fashion. These are the documents that are not only the foundation of investigative journalism but are also often released by government officials themselves to promote their own agendas.

The unprecedented use of the Espionage Act of 1917 in this case makes conviction a near certainty. That is because the law prevents the defense from arguing their case on the basis of compelling interest of the public’s right to know or a greater good argument. In addition, to all that Julian’s trial will end up in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. This court has an unbelievable 98.2% conviction rate. One of the reasons for this is that it sits in the hub of our intelligence community (the NSA and CIA) and its members make up the jury pool.

Daniel Hale, Chelsea Manning, Reality Winner, John Kiriakou, Jefferey Sterling, and many have others appeared before this court. All have been found guilty and all have been subjected to long and harsh sentences. Their crimes? Telling us the truth about what our government does in our names. However, the very organizations and individuals whose crimes they exposed walk free. In many cases those criminals appear ad nauseum in major media outlets to pontificate and propagandize with impunity while these heroes languished under harsh prison conditions and then upon release see that their lives have been shattered.

The event at All Power Books opened with statements by Marcy Winograd and myself. Following our remarks Tom English gave a moving acapella rendition of the 1970’s anti-war song “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” that was breathtaking in it pathos. Then there were selected readings from Wikileaks Afghan and Iraq War Logs and a panel reading of the headlines from 2021 to the present regarding the ongoing extradition trial of Julian Assange read by Marcy Winograd (CODEPINK), Carolfrances Likins (ICUJP), myself (Assange Defense), Dave Clennon (Actor) and Estee Chandler (Jewish Voice for Peace).

Tom English
Tom English

This was followed by Medea Benjamin talking about the media coverage and collaboration with WikiLeaks.

There was then a reenactment of conversations between Julian Assange and Richard Stengel, editor of TIME magazine by actors Dave Clennon and Ricco Ross, followed by a reading from the Iraq War Logs by Carolfrances Likins. More reenactments followed by the two actors.

Estee Chandler then took the stage to cover Cable Gate, the release of 251,000 documents regarding what the US State Department was doing and who they were surveilling including the heads of state of some of our closest allies. She focused on the impact that US actions in concert with some of the world’s most powerful corporations had on the oppression of the Palestinians by the US’s unquestioning support of the State of Israel.

Lastly Alan Minsky spoke on the Guantanamo Files. These are 771 documents that exposed one of the darkest stains in our national history . He covered the horrors where more than 150 innocent Afghans and Pakistanis were held for years without charges under torturous and unbelievably cruel conditions where many prisoner still languish in a moral limbo created by George W. Bush’s “War on Terror.”

Marcy Winograd as the emcee brought this event to a close and as always with any event involving CODEPINK there was a call for direct action. Marcy asked all attendees to write and call their representatives then and there. In addition to calls, attendees were directed to the QR code on the event flyers and the Assange Banner that directed individuals to the Assangedefense.org action page where they could also write directly to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Attorney General Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden to drop their misguided extradition of Julian Assange immediately and unconditionally, to return him to his family and loved ones and to protect the bedrock of our democracy: Freedom of the Press.

Jodie Evans, Rachel Brunke, Medea Benjamin and Marcy Winograd, at The Village Well (Photo: Buddy Gottlieb)
Jodie Evans, Rachel Brunke, Medea Benjamin and Marcy Winograd, at The Village Well (Photo: Buddy Gottlieb)

Once the Assange event concluded, Medea Benjamin took the stage to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine explored in the book she and Nicholas Davies wrote War in UkraineMaking Sense of a Senseless Conflict. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Editor of The Nation, writes in the book’s preface “Shouldn’t the consequences and human, economic and strategic costs of this proxy war be a central topic of informed analysis, discussion and debate? This primer by Medea Benjamin and Nicholas Davies is a needed and accessible contribution. ” Medea then provided in a video presentation and in her own words that very contribution with an illuminating history lesson almost totally absent from our corporate media’s march to war painted in the most simplistic black and white terms.

There are no heroes or villains in Benjamin and Davis’s telling account of this crisis, just deep analytical assessment of the history and players. It is a compelling read that informs without propagandizing, a clear and concise history lesson going back to its beginnings. It is written to ensure that all of the necessary elements for an objective analysis of the causes and possible solutions that will bring the bloodshed to an end are presented. I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone who wants to have the best source for the facts that have put the world closer to Armageddon. Where is Julian Assange when we need him to reveal the government’s secrets behind its role in this proxy war.

Gratitude to Steven Rohde and Carolfrances Likins for editing support. First published at the LA Progressive.

Categories
Press Release

Assange doc Ithaka makes North American premiere 

November 14, 2022Ithaka, the new documentary recounting the efforts of John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, to campaign for his son’s freedom around the world, has made its North American premiere at the DOCNYC film festival in New York City on Sunday. 

The film was produced by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton and directed by Ben Lawrence, who participated in a Q&A session following the film screening. 

Ithaka is currently available for limited streaming online until November 27. Filmgoers reacted to the screening outside of SVA Theatre following the premiere:

Vote for Ithaka for the Audience Award!

Here’s how:

Categories
Past Events Press Release

VIDEO: Oct. 8 DOJ rally to Free Assange

Video credit: Joe Friendly // October 8, 2022, at the Department of Justice

Speeches by Jill Stein, Chip Gibbons, Rev. Annie Chambers, Ben Cohen, Chris Hedges, and dozens more followed a march around the DOJ.

Protests around the country to free Assange

Categories
Press Release

Critically acclaimed Assange film ‘Ithaka’ gets North American premiere at DOC NYC

★★★Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
★★★★ Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
★★★★★ Margaret Pomeranz

Ithaka, director Ben Lawrence’s feature documentary about the determined public advocacy by Julian’s father, John Shipton, in the face of legal battles and media glare, will have its North American premiere at DOC NYC on November 13.

The film’s US premiere at this prestigious documentary festival comes as Assange continues to be incarcerated in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Prison as he fights extradition from Britain to the US.

Assange married his partner Stella Moris in Belmarsh earlier this year in a ceremony attended by their two children, Assange’s father John Shipton and his brother Gabriel Shipton, who is producer of Ithaka.

Ithaka film still: John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father

Gabriel Shipton and Ben Lawrence will attend the New York City screening.

Ithaka is Writer/Director Ben Lawrence’s return to documentary after the success of his earlier film Ghosthunter.

Ithaka was previously selected to screen at the Sydney Film Festival, SheffieldDoc/Fest and Doc Edge NZ, has been shortlisted for a Walkley Award, nominated for an AWG Award and nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Documentary.

Producer Gabriel Shipton said: “At a time when the space for documentaries that challenge the political status quo is harder and harder to find, we applaud DOC NYC for programming Ithaka. The story of my brother’s fight for freedom against the might of the US Government and our family’s continued efforts to secure his release is a wake-up call for people of the world to defend their democratic rights and to insist on the freedom of the press.

“It’s also a timely call to documentary filmmakers to agitate for their art form, before it is lost.”

The film begins on April 11th 2019, when images of Julian Assange being arrested from the Ecuadorian embassy in London are beamed across the world.  Since that moment Julian has been silenced and into the void have stepped lawyers, advocates, and supporters. Standing unique among them is Julian’s wife, Stella Moris and 76-year-old father, John Shipton – a self-taught builder from Sydney.  Using Julian’s extradition hearing as a framework, this intimate story of a family’s crisis traces moments from the trial and its aftermath, underscoring how Julian’s story is emblematic of a decade of uncertainty and volatility.

With this period of upheaval as a backdrop, the film frames John and Stella’s campaign and Julian’s motivations as an echo to the disquiet taking place across this increasingly partisan world – and explores this global cry for justice through the story of a family at the centre of the fight.

Music is by Brian Eno.

Ithaka film still
Categories
Press Release

Assange shortlisted for prestigious European parliament Freedom of Thought award

This was originally published by the European Parliament

MEPs have shortlisted WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, the Ukrainian people and their representatives and the Colombian Truth Commission for the 2022 Sakharov Prize.

On Thursday 13 October, MEPs on the Foreign Affairs and Development committees held a joint vote to choose the finalists for the European Parliament’s 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. They selected:

  • Julian Assange, Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher;
  • The brave people of Ukraine, represented by their president, elected leaders, and civil society;
  • Colombia’s Truth Commission.

Read more about all the nominees here.

Next steps

The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (President and political groups’ leaders) will select the winning laureate on Wednesday 19 October. They will receive the prize itself at a ceremony in the European Parliament’s hemicycle in Strasbourg on 14 December.

Background

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50,000 euros.

Last year, Parliament awarded the prize to Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Categories
Commentary Press Release

Alice Walker pens Kansas City Star op-ed: Biden must end Trump’s war on the press. Drop the Julian Assange case

October 10, 2022 — Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple and Assange Defense co-chair Alice Walker has written a new opinion piece on the importance of freeing Julian Assange, published in the Kansas City Star on Sunday, October 9.

Walker takes aim at the contrast between the Biden Administration’s rhetoric of major changes from the Trump Administration and the continuation of Assange’s prosecution.

What did Assange do to provoke the Trump administration’s ire? In 2010 and 2011, he embarrassed the U.S. government by exposing truths about civilian casualties, war crimes and abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. The Obama-Biden administration was in power then, and set its sights on Assange. But officials had the wisdom and restraint to conclude that prosecuting Assange would create a dangerous precedent called “The New York Times problem.” Simply put, there is no way to prosecute Assange without criminalizing the same newsgathering and publishing practices used at The Times, The Kansas City Star and every other news outlet.

Surely, reasonable leaders such as Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland would not allow the prosecution — condemned by journalism and human rights groups around the world — to go forward. Right?

The Biden team inherited this debacle. Instead of abandoning Trump’s war on journalism, they have continued it. They have chosen the politics of “nothing will fundamentally change,” instead of correcting the injustices of a rogue administration.”

Read the full piece here.

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Oct. 8th Assange rallies across the U.S.

On October 8, 2022, supporters of Julian Assange in London, where Assange is imprisoned, are forming a human chain to surround Parliament in a demonstration of mass support for the jailed journalist. Supporters around the world are holding rallies locally in solidarity with the London action. See this thread from @Candles4Assange for more actions outside the U.S.

In Washington D.C., Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Ben Cohen, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adepayo, and CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou are among dozens of speakers who will call for an end to the persecution of Julian Assange.

Categories
Commentary Press Release

Chicago Tribune op-ed: Biden’s efforts to have Julian Assange extradited should be called out

September 27, 2022 — Stephen Rohde, a former Constitutional lawyer, a past chair of ACLU of Southern California, and a member of Assange Defense-Los Angeles, has written a new op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, urging the Tribune and other editorial boards across the country to recognize the threat to their profession posed by the prosecution of Julian Assange.

“It is called ‘the New York Times problem,'” Rohde writes, “but it could just as easily be called ‘the Tribune problem.'”

“News media outlets should be unanimous in their outrage that President Joe Biden has followed in Trump’s footsteps and continued to pursue this dangerous case.”

Rohde concludes by warning that the threat to press freedom doesn’t require a conviction — in fact it’s already begun:

“Attorney General Merrick Garland’s failure to reject the Trump-era indictment against Assange risks the erosion of the First Amendment safeguards that protect reporters and publishers. Even if Assange is never convicted, the chilling effect on investigative journalism increases with each day that Assange remains locked in a maximum-security London prison fighting extradition. If he were to be flown to the United States for trial, the damage to press freedom would be immeasurable.

Biden backers often portray the president’s legacy in opposition to Trumpism, and Biden himself has called journalists “indispensable to the functioning of democracy.” With the midterms approaching, if Biden truly wishes to roll back the authoritarian abuses of the Trump era, he should have a problem with “the New York Times problem.”

Outlets such as the Tribune must follow the lead of the Times and the Guardian, increasing the pressure on Biden to dismiss the charges against Assange and to return us to safer, saner territory.”

Read the full piece here.

Categories
Press Release

Julian Assange receives Keys to Mexico City

The Head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, named Julian Assange a Distinguished Guest and delivered the Keys to the City to the family of the founder of WikiLeaks, who is in Mexico at the invitation of the Presidency to the celebrations for the anniversary of the independence.

“Julian Assange represents the truth, he represents freedom of expression and never, anywhere in the world, can that be persecuted,” Sheinbaum said. John Shipton and Gabriel Shipton, father and brother of Julian Assange, attended the ceremony on Wednesday.

“Today, in this national month, we endorse Independence and because we always endorse freedom of expression, Julian Assange will be welcomed, through his family, to Mexico City.”

Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, general coordinator of Social Communication and Spokesman for the Government of the Republic, pointed out that Julian Assange could be considered a “21st century liberator.”

“We hand over the Keys to the City to the family of Julian Assange. For us, Julian represents the truth, freedom of expression. We are a progressive City that has always defended the great freedoms and the right to free access to information.” Claudia Sheinbaum, Head of Government of Mexico City

The Former Minister of National Defence of Ecuador Ricardo Patino was able to deliver to the father and brother of Julian Assange, the national journalism award given to the founder of Wikileaks by the Journalists Club of Mexico in 2018.

Categories
Hearing Coverage Press Release

Julian Assange Files his Perfected Grounds of Appeal

Today, 26 August 2022, Julian Assange is filing his Perfected Grounds of Appeal before the High Court of Justice Administrative Court. The Respondents are the Government of the United States and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal contain the arguments on which Julian Assange intends to challenge District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision of 4 January 2021, and introduces significant new evidence that has developed since that ruling.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal concerning the United States Government include the following points:

  • Julian Assange is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions (s.81(a) of the Extradition Act);
  • Julian Assange is being prosecuted for protected speech (Article 10)
  • The request itself violates the US-UK Extradition Treaty and International law because it is for political offences;
  • The US Government has misrepresented the core facts of the case to the British courts; and
  • The extradition request and its surrounding circumstances constitute an abuse of process.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal concerning the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) include arguments that Home Secretary Priti Patel erred in her decision to approve the extradition order on grounds of specialty and because the request itself violates Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty.

“Since the last ruling, overwhelming evidence has emerged proving that the United States prosecution against my husband is a criminal abuse. The High Court judges will now decide whether Julian is given the opportunity to put the case against the United States before open court, and in full, at the appeal,” said Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange.

Background:

4 January 2021: Westminster Magistrates Court discharges (throws out) the US extradition request against Julian Assange. District judge Vanessa Baraitser rules that extradition is barred under the 2003 Extradition Act because it is “opressive” (s.91). The United States Government appeals.

27-28 October 2021: US appeal hearing before the High Court Appeal. Julian Assange suffers a transient ischemic attack (TIA) on the first day.

10 December 2021: The decision to discharge the extradition request is overturned by the High Court due to the United States Government issuing so-called ‘diplomatic assurances’ to the UK Government. The High Court rejects the United States Government’s arguments that the district judge erred in her findings.

14 March 2022: The Supreme Court refuses Julian Assange permission to appeal the High Court’s decision. The case is sent back to the Magistrates’ Court with instruction to issue the extradition order.

20 April 2022: The Magistrate issues the extradition order, which is sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval.

17 June 2022: Home Secretary Priti Patel approves the extradition order to extradite Julian Assange to the United States.

Categories
Press Release

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, met with Assange’s wife

(en español)

Stella Assange, Michelle Bachelet, Baltasar Garzón, and Aitor Martínez


Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human RightsMichelle Bachelet, met with Julian Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, and Mr. Assange’s Spanish lawyers, Baltasar Garzón and Aitor Martínez, at the Palais Wilson in Geneva.

At the meeting, the High Commissioner was informed about the human rights violations against Julian Assange, the risk to his life if he is extradited to the United States, and the implications for freedom of the press and the right of citizens to the truth.

The meeting lasted a little over an hour. Mr. Assange’s lawyers, Baltasar Garzón and Aitor Martínez, explained Mr. Assange’s current situation in the context of the United Kingdom’s extradition proceedings. The High Commissioner was informed that there are currently two pending appeals before the British High Court. The first, against the decision of the Home Office to agree to hand over Julian Assange to the United States; and the second, the cross appeal brought by the WikiLeaks founder against the arguments that district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected in the lower court’s ruling.

Mr. Assange’s lawyers explained in detail to High Commissioner Michel Bachelet the grounds that are before the High Court of the United Kingdom. Some of these grounds represent a very serious attack, not only on the rights of Mr. Assange, but also on freedom of the press globally. They discussed how, by criminally prosecuting a journalist for publishing truthful information related to serious international crimes committed by the United States Army, the United States’ case against Mr. Assange is also an aggression on the freedom of the press globally and on the right of access to information.

Similarly, the absence of dual criminality was discussed, since the Espionage Law of 1917 is being invoked to prosecute a journalist for exercising his profession, a rule that would not apply in Europe under the criminal standards of the continent.

In addition, his lawyers discussed how this case violates the principle of proportionality, as Julian Assange faces a potential prison sentence of 175 years, a de facto life sentence, simply for publishing information related to international crimes, which are crimes that the international community is under an obligation to prosecute. The lawyers also exposed the abusive extraterritoriality deployed by the United States in persecuting a foreign journalist who published abroad and who has no ties to the US jurisdiction.

Along with other arguments, the criminal cases opened by Spain to investigate the security company UC GLOBAL (which provided security services to the Embassy of Ecuador in London in apparent collaboration with US intelligence services to systematically spy on Mr. Assange, his lawyers and other visitors in Ecuador’s diplomatic mission for years), recently caused the Spanish Audiencia Nacional (aquivalent to the High Court) to issue a summons to take statements from Mike Pompeo, former director of the CIA, and William Evanina, former chief of US counterintelligence.

Finally, the High Commissioner was informed of a recent investigation revealing that Mike Pompeo’s Central Intelligence Agency instructed its agents to develop plans to kidnap Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy and even to draw up ‘sketches and options’ for his assassination.

His lawyers argued that minimal international human rights standards ought to have prevented the authorization to extradite of him to the country that has planned his assassination.

Furthermore, Mr. Assange’s lawyers discussed all the limitations suffered by Mr. Assange to his right to mount a defense, as well as the ways in which his political asylum was breached in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

For her part, Stella Assange, the wife of Julian Assange, focused on the frail state of Mr. Assange’s health. She invoked various medical reports that confirmed the risk of Mr Assange dying in prison including that extradition could drive him to take his own life, a risk corroborated by specialists’ reports before the British courts.

In addition, she highlighted the fact that the Special Rapporteur against Torture, Nils Melzer, visited her husband in Belmarsh prison with specialized doctors and concluded, in a very harsh report sent to the Human Rights Council, that Julian Assange was being subjected to a situation of torture. Regarding the medical situation, she recalled that her husband recently suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), and she expressed a profound and serious concern for his life.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michel Bachelet, together with members of her team, received the information provided at the meeting and had a very productive exchange with the lawyers for Mr. Assange and his wife.

—-


ESPAÑOL

Hoy, la Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos HumanosMichelle Bachelet, se reunió con la esposa de Julian Assange, Stella Assange, y los abogados españoles del Sr. Assange, Baltasar Garzón y Aitor Martínez, en el Palais Wilson de Ginebra.
 
En la reunión se le informó sobre las violaciones a los derechos humanos contra Julian Assange, el riesgo para su vida si es extraditado a Estados Unidos y las implicaciones para la libertad de prensa y el derecho de los ciudadanos a la verdad.

La reunión duró algo más de una hora. En la misma, los abogados del Sr. Assange, Baltasar Garzón y Aitor Martínez, expusieron la situación actual del Sr. Assange en el marco de la extradición que se está dilucidando en Reino Unido. En este sentido se comunicó a la Alta Comisionada que actualmente existen dos apelaciones pendientes que serán solventadas por la High Court británica. La primera, contra la decisión del Home Office de acordar la entrega de Julian Assange a Estados Unidos; y la segunda, la “cross appeal” de la defensa del fundador de WikiLeaks contra aquellos aspectos denegados en la primera decisión por parte de la jueza de distrito, Vanessa Baraitser.

En relación a esta segunda apelación, el equipo jurídico expuso con todo detalle a la Alta Comisionada, Michel Bachelet, los elementos que van a ser valorados por la High Court en Reino Unido. Algunos de esos elementos suponen un gravísimo atentado, no sólo a los derechos del Sr. Assange, sino a la libertad de prensa en el mundo. Para ello se expuso la agresión que la causa abierta en Estados Unidos significa para la libertad de prensa en el mundo y el derecho de acceso a la información, toda vez que se persigue penalmente a un periodista por publicar información veraz relativa a graves crímenes internacionales cometidos por el ejército de Estados Unidos. De igual forma, se expuso la falta de doble incriminación, ya que se está invocando la Ley de Espionaje, de 1917, para perseguir a un periodista por ejercer su profesión, una norma que no tendría aplicación en Europa bajo los estándares penales del continente. Además, se recordó la violación que esta causa supone al principio de proporcionalidad, al enfrentar Julian Assange potenciales penas de 175 años de cárcel, una cadena perpetua de facto, simplemente por publicar información relativa a crímenes internacionales, sobre los cuales existe una obligación de persecución por parte de la comunidad internacional. También se expuso la extraterritorialidad abusiva desplegada por Estados Unidos, persiguiendo a un periodista extranjero que publicó en el extranjero y que no tiene vínculos con su jurisdicción. Junto a otros argumentos, igualmente se expuso lo relativo a las causas penales abiertas en España para investigar a la empresa de seguridad UC GLOBAL, la cual proveía servicios de seguridad a la Embajada de Ecuador en Londres y habría colaborado con los servicios de inteligencia norteamericanos para espiar en forma masiva al Sr. Assange, sus abogados y demás visitantes en la misión diplomática por años, lo que ha motivado que recientemente la Audiencia Nacional española haya pedido tomar declaración a Mike Pompeo, ex director de la CIA, y a William Evanina, ex jefe de contrainteligencia. Por último, se puso al tanto a la Alta Comisionada que recientemente se reveló en Estados Unidos por parte de agentes de la CIA que se llegó a planear el secuestro de Julian Assange, incluso proyectándose su asesinato en la Embajada de Ecuador en Londres, contexto que impide bajo los mínimos estándares internacionales de derechos humanos que se puede autorizar la entrega a la jurisdicción que proyectó su asesinato.

Así mismo se compartió todas las limitaciones que se han venido sufriendo en el ejercicio del derecho de defensa por parte del señor Assange, y el incumplimiento de las condiciones del asilo en la embajada de Ecuador en Londres.

Por su parte, Stella Assange, la esposa de Julian Assange, se centró en el delicado estado de salud que atraviesa el Sr. Assange. Recordó los diversos informes médicos que confirmaron el riesgo de morir en prisión o de que cometiera suicidio en caso de ser entregado, tal y como se informó por parte de diversos especialistas a la justicia británica. Además, resaltó el hecho de que el Relator Especial contra la Tortura, Nils Melzer, visitó a su esposo en la prisión de Belmarsh con médicos especializados y concluyó, en un durísimo informe remitido al Consejo de Derechos Humanos, que Julian Assange estaba siendo sometido a una situación de tortura. En relación a la situación médica, recordó que su esposo recientemente sufrió un derrame cerebral, mostrando una profunda y seria preocupación por su vida.

La Alta Comisionada para los Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas, Michel Bachelet, junto a miembros de su equipo, recibió la información aportada en el referido encuentro y mantuvo un intercambio muy productivo con la defensa del Sr. Assange y su esposa.

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Roger Waters joins DOJ rally, tells Merrick Garland to free Julian Assange

Roger Waters joined a rally organized by DC Action for Assange and Assange Defense at the Department of Justice today, and he spoke out against the prosecution of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Waters had just performed in Washington DC the previous night — Waters has partnered with Assange Defense to feature a Free Assange information table at every stop on his current ‘This is Not a Drill’ tour of the United States.

Video by News2Share // Ford Fischer

Before Waters, Defending Rights & Dissent’s Chip Gibbons and Sue Udry, Randy Credico, and Max Blumenthal condemned the persecution of Assange and called on the Attorney General to drop the charges.

Categories
Press Release

Attorneys and Journalists Illegally Searched During Visits with Julian Assange Sue CIA and Michael Pompeo

Press conference

News coverage

Sydney Morning Herald: Assange lawyers sue CIA for allegedly spying on Wikileaks founder and his visitors in London

“At a press conference in New York on Monday, Assange’s US lawyers said the suit alleges that unbeknown to even the Ecuadorians, who granted Assange aslyum, the data on their phones and other electronic devices was copied and handed over to the CIA.”

Reuters: CIA sued over alleged spying on lawyers, journalists who met Assange

“The CIA, which declined to comment on the lawsuit, is prohibited from collecting intelligence on U.S. citizens, although several lawmakers have alleged that the agency maintains a secret repository of Americans’ communications data.”

Newsweek: CIA spying on Assange “illegally” swept up US lawyers, journalists: Lawsuit

“Legal experts, including a former senior intelligence official, told Newsweek that the allegations in the lawsuit, if proven, show the CIA crossed lines drawn to protect American citizens from surveillance by overzealous intelligence agencies.”

Democracy Now

Legal filing

Categories
Press Release

Mexican president called on Biden to free Assange

Photo: Randy Credico (click for source)

July 20, 2022 — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) delivered a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden last week, in which “he defended Julian Assange’s innocence and renewed a previous offer of asylum to the WikiLeaks founder,” Reuters reports

“I left a letter to the president about Assange, explaining that he did not commit any serious crime, did not cause anyone’s death, did not violate any human rights and that he exercised his freedom, and that arresting him would mean a permanent affront to freedom of expression”

Al Jazeera adds that AMLO also said that “Mexico is offering protection and asylum to Julian Assange,” but he hasn’t yet heard a response from Biden. 

Activists in Washington DC thanked AMLO for raising Assange’s persecution with Assange in a letter delivered to the Mexican embassy, writing,

“We applaud your decision to bring up Julian Assange in your conversation with President Biden today. We agree with you that the prosecution of Mr. Assange for publishing is a profound threat to journalism around the world. We appreciate your consistent vocal support for these important principles, core tenets of a functioning democracy.”

Categories
Press Release

Letter thanking Mexican President AMLO for Assange support

As President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with President Joseph Biden in Washington, a national network of press freedom groups delivered a letter to him at the Mexican Embassy. The coalition thanked López Obrador for his support for publisher Julian Assange and freedom of the press. Carrying “Gracias AMLO – Free Assange” signage, local activists celebrated Lopez Obrador’s announcement that he will raise the issue in his conversation with Biden. Below is the English translation of the letter in full.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador
President of Mexico
c/o Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC, USA

RE: Freedom of the Press and Julian Assange

Dear President Lopez Obrador,

Welcome to the United States, welcome to Washington D.C., and thank you for your support for press freedom!

We are activists dedicated to saving publisher Julian Assange from prosecution and persecution for his revelations regarding U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fight to save Assange is also the fight to save press freedom and our First Amendment rights.

We applaud your decision to bring up Julian Assange in your conversation with President Biden today. We agree with you that the prosecution of Mr. Assange for publishing is a profound threat to journalism around the world. We appreciate your consistent vocal support for these important principles, core tenets of a functioning democracy.

Your courage and commitment to freedom of speech are justly celebrated in Mexico and across the globe. Here in Washington, your voice is important.

In Solidarity,

DC Action for Assange
Assange Defense

Categories
Press Release

Rep. Tlaib introduces Espionage Act Reform amendment that would protect journalists and their sources

Representative Rashida Tlaib has introduced an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that would reform the draconian 1917 Espionage Act to protect whistleblowers and publishers from prosecution. 

Defending Rights and Dissent explains just how important enacting this reform would be:

The Tlaib amendment puts roadblocks in front of the government, making it harder to charge whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, and allowing whistleblowers to defend themselves if they are charged. Specifically, the amendment:

-Requires the government prove specific intent to injure the United States

-Requires that the information exposed was actually properly classified

-Permits a defendant charged under the Espionage Act  to testify as to their purpose for disclosing the information

-Creates a public interest defense.

-Additionally, the amendment would undermine the government’s effort to prosecute Julian Assange – or any future publisher or journalist – under the Espionage Act by excluding journalists, publishers, and members of the general public from its jurisdiction.

As the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Trevor Timm put it, “Congress has a historic chance to protect journalists and whistleblowers in this year’s defense authorization bill.”

Assange Defense co-chair and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg reacted to the amendment in a statement to reporter Ryan Grim:

“For half a century, starting with my own prosecution, no whistleblower charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 has had, or could have, a fair trial.  These long-overdue amendments would remedy that injustice, protect the First Amendment freedom of the press, and encourage vitally-needed truth-telling.”

Grim reported on the amendment proposal on The Hill’s Rising:

See the full text of the amendment here.

Categories
Press Release

International Federation of Journalists launches major Free Assange campaign

July 5, 2022 – Last week, the International Federation of Journalists launched a new global campaign to call on the United States to drop all charges against publisher Julian Assange.

The IFJ is the largest association of journalists’ trade unions worldwide, representing over half a million media employees from 187 organizations in 146 countries. Assange, a member of Australia’s Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance (MEAA), is an international press card-carrying member of the IFJ.

In its announcement of the new campaign, the federation explains,

“The IFJ is gravely concerned about the impact of Assange’s continued detention on media freedom and the rights of all journalists globally. The US pursuit of Assange against the public’s right to know poses a grave threat to the fundamental tenets of democracy, which are becoming increasingly fragile worldwide. Irrespective of personal views on Assange, his extradition will have a chilling effect, with all journalists and media workers at risk.

The case sets a dangerous precedent that members of the media, in any country, can now be targeted by governments, anywhere in the world, to answer for publishing information in the public interest.”

Following a timeline of WikiLeaks’ work, Assange’s journalism awards, his political asylum, and the U.S. persecution, the IFJ encourages media unions around the world to take action to fight back against a grave threat to their profession. IFJ has prepared a model letter for unions around the globe to sign and send to their local U.S. embassy.

The IFJ also calls on unions to urge their members to cover Assange’s case. “Organise a meeting, a rally, a press conference to highlight the implications of Assange’s extradition in the US on freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.”

Click to watch video

Finally, the IFJ has posted video statements from key union leaders, including Dominique Pradalié, President of the IFJ; Sadiq Ibrahim, President of the Federation of African Journalists; Zuliana Lainez, President of the Federación de Periodistas de América Latina y el Caribe; Maja Sever, President of the European Federation of Journalists; Sabina Inderjit, President of the Federation of Asia-Pacific Journalists; and Karen Percy, president of MEAA.

Click to watch video

The IFJ’s statement closes,

“The IFJ is calling on the United States government to drop all charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to be with his wife and children. The IFJ is also calling on all media unions, press freedom organisations and journalists to urge governments to actively work to secure Assange’s release. #FreeAssangeNOW”

Click to watch video
Categories
Past Events Press Release

The Assange case: international solidarity and implications for press freedom globally

Stella Assange, wife of Julian Assange, Vijay Prashad, journalist (International Peoples’ Assembly) and Zuliana Lainez, vice-president of the IFJ (International Federation of Journalists), held a panel discussion which ran parallel to the 50th Ordinary Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The objective of the event is to oppose the extradition of Julian Assange and to express the grave concerns regarding the violations of Assange’s human, civil and political rights.

Julian Assange has been held without legal grounds in Belmarsh maximum security prison in the UK since 2019. He is accused by the United States of violating the Espionage Act for the publication between 2010 and 2011 of classified documents revealing war crimes and torture camps in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julian Assange could face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.

Categories
Past Events

Geneva Press Club: In the name of press freedom, media and journalists call for the release of Assange

For all citizens:

For journalists only:

At the invitation of the Swiss Press Club in Geneva, Swiss and international organizations of journalists and publishers as well as editors call with one voice for the release of Julian Assange in the name of freedom of the press, the June 22 at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva at 11 a.m. CEST. A very large mobilization of journalists and media was formed when the British government authorized this June 17 the extradition of the founder of WikiLeaks to the United States where he faces 175 years in prison. This Geneva coalition, which is joined by journalistic organizations from many other countries, is directly challenging the British and American authorities. It also asks the Swiss authorities, in the name of freedom of the press and human rights,

The coalition supports Julian Assange who will use all possible remedies to oppose his extradition and regain his freedom. His only crime is to have published classified documents revealing in particular war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bearers of the Appeal will recall in particular on this occasion that an extradition of Julian Assange would have serious repercussions for investigative journalism since any use of so-called “classified” or secret documents could be prosecuted and result in a prison sentence for the investigators. . This threat will reinforce the pressure for self-censorship and encourage the renunciation of disclosing information of public interest coming from “protected” official sources.

Since May 18, the decision to extradite Julian Assange at the request of the United States has been in the sole hands of the British Minister of Justice, Priti Patel. She decided this Friday, June 17 to sign the extradition order considering that there was no reason to prohibit this order. This in flagrant violation of human rights and total disregard for press freedom.

As a reminder, Julian Assange, after having lived as a recluse at the Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years, has now been locked up for more than three years in Belmarsh Penitentiary, the high security prison in London, where he suffers, according to Nils Melzer , UN special rapporteur on torture, a treatment that amounts to torture. His health has seriously deteriorated and if extradited, he faces a 175-year prison sentence.

Beyond the human aspects and the violation of human rights dear to Geneva, the case of Julian Assange constitutes a major challenge for the future of press freedom as it is increasingly attacked in all latitudes. , including in Switzerland. It should be noted that the latter country, even if the situation there is described as “rather good”, has lost four places in the 2022 ranking of Reporters Without Borders, thus falling to 14th place. Recent provisions affecting the freedom of the press explain this result in particular.

With the participation of

  • Edgar Bloch , co-President, impressum, Swiss Journalists
  • Daniel Hammer , General Secretary, Swiss Media
  • Denis Masmejan , Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders, Switzerland
  • Dominique Pradalié , President, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and National Syndicate of Journalists (France)
  • Marc Meschenmoser , co-president Investigativ.ch
  • Jean-Philippe Ceppi , producer, TempsPresent (RTS) and investigativ.ch member
  • Nicole Lamon , Associate Editor, Matin Dimanche
  • Frédéric Julliard , editor-in-chief, Tribune de Genève
  • Philippe Bach , editor-in-chief, Le Courrier
  • Serge Michel , Editor-in-Chief, heidi.news
  • Tim Dawson , National Union of Journalists, Great Britain (zoom)
  • Karen Percy,   President of Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Australia (Zoom)
  • Mika Beuster, Co-Head, Deutscher Journalisten Verband, (Association of German Journalists), Germany (Zoom)
  • Jean Musy , President of the Association of the Foreign Press in Switzerland (APES)
  • Agustin Yanel , General Secretary, Federation of Spanish Journalists’ Unions, Spain
  • Pierre Ruetschi , Executive Director, Swiss Press Club and President of the Dumur Prize.

Ten other Swiss editors support the Appeal. Other international organizations join the Call.


This video was originally published at the Geneva Press Club.

Categories
Press Release

UK Home Sec. signs Assange extradition order

United Kingdom Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed off on Julian Assange’s extradition order, paving the way to send the publisher to the United States where he is indicted on unprecedented charges endangering press freedom.

Assange’s father and brother, John and Gabriel Shipton, held a press conference in New York City immediately following the news, in which they announced Assange’s defense team will fight this decision in an appeal to the UK’s High Court.

‘Julian Assange strip searched and moved to bare cell on day extradition announced’

The Independent:

“Prison is a constant humiliation but what happened on Friday felt especially cruel,” said Ms Assange.

“After the announcement of Patel’s decision, Julian was taken from his cell so that he could be strip searched, and then escorted to a bare cell where he remained for the rest of the weekend.

“His own cell was searched. They were looking for things that could be used to take one’s own life.

“In the bare cell, guards logged his status every hour until he was allowed to return to his cell on Tuesday.

“This kind of thing never becomes more tolerable. Any person would find it degrading. The mental strain on Julian is enormous as it is, having to process what is essentially a death sentence.

“The fact he is imprisoned while this outrageous extradition proceeds is a grave injustice in itself. He needs to deal with all that, while preparing for a complex appeal to the High Court.”

National Writers’ Union condemns Assange extradition order

Gabriel Shipton read a statement from National Writers’ Union President Larry Goldbetter:

“This fight isn’t over. As President of the National Writers Union and in the name of press freedom, I stand in solidarity with John and Gabriel Shipton, the father and brother of Julian Assange, in calling on the Biden Administration to withdraw the extradition request. Their protest at the Consulate here in Manhattan will be echoed around the world by professional journalists and our brothers and sisters in the global human rights community.

We join the 600,000 journalists represented by the International Federation of Journalists and its 147 member unions, plus press freedom advocates, like PEN, Reporters Without Borders, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Investigative Journalism, FAIR and many more in demanding freedom for Julian Assange!

Julian is not alone and we will support the appeal of this outrageous decision in London today.”

Journalists demand Assange release from UK jail

From the AFP:

An international coalition of journalists, editors and publishers demanded Wednesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be immediately released from a UK jail and that all charges against him be dropped.

Fifteen representatives of international journalist and publishers’ unions and organisations gathered in Geneva for the “call to free Julian Assange in the name of press freedom”.

“We are demanding that Julian Assange be freed, returned to his family, and finally permitted to live a normal life,” said Dominique Pradalie, head of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which counts some 600,000 members across 140 countries.

Assange’s brother on MSNBC and Democracy Now

Press freedom riding on upcoming Julian Assange decision 

‘Punished for Exposing War Crimes? U.K. Approves Assange Extradition to U.S., Faces 175 Years in Prison’

Assange Defense co-chairs condemn decision

Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and Alice Walker:

“It is a sad day for western democracy. The UK’s decision to extradite Julian Assange to the nation that plotted to assassinate him – the nation that wants to imprison him for 175 years for publishing truthful information in the public interest – is an abomination. 

We expect the world’s most despised autocrats to persecute journalists, publishers, and whistleblowers. We expect totalitarian regimes to gaslight their people and crack down on those who challenge the government. Shouldn’t we expect western democracies to behave better?

Julian Assange is my husband – his extradition is an abomination

Stella Assange’s op-ed in the Independent:

“Julian remains imprisoned in Belmarsh after more than three years at the behest of US prosecutors. He faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years for arguably the most celebrated publications in the history of journalism.

Patel’s decision to extradite Julian has sent shockwaves across the journalism community. The home secretary flouted calls from representatives of the Council of Europe, the OSCE, almost 2000 journalists and 300 doctors for the extradition to be halted.

Julian’s extradition case itself creates legal precedent. What has long been understood to be a bedrock principle of democracy, press freedom, will disappear in one fell swoop.

As it stands, no journalist is going to risk having what Julian is being subjected to happen to them. Julian must be freed before it’s too late. His life depends on it. Your rights depend on it.”

The Guardian view on Julian Assange’s extradition: a bad day for journalism

The Guardian’s editorial:

“Ms Patel could have turned down the American request. Britain should be wary of extraditing a suspect to a country with such a political justice department. Her predecessor Theresa May halted the extradition proceedings of Gary McKinnon, who hacked the US Department of Defense. The UK could have decided that Mr Assange faces an unacceptably high risk of prolonged solitary confinement in a US maximum security prison. Instead, Ms Patel has dealt a blow to press freedom and against the public, who have a right to know what their governments are doing in their name. It’s not over. Mr Assange will appeal.

The charges against him should never have been brought. As Mr Assange published classified documents and he did not leak them, Barack Obama’s administration was reluctant to bring charges. His legal officers correctly understood that this would threaten public interest journalism. It was Donald Trump’s team, which considered the press an “enemy of the people”, that took the step. It is not too late for the US to drop the charges. On World Press Freedom Day this year, the US president, Joe Biden, said: “The work of free and independent media matters now more than ever.” Giving Mr Assange his freedom back would give meaning to those words.”

Reporters without Borders condemns extradition order on BBC

‘Julian Assange Is Enduring Unbearable Persecution for Exposing US War Crimes

Marjorie Cohn, for Truthout:

“Assange now has until July 1 to appeal Patel’s decision and will apply to the High Court to reverse Baraitser’s rulings on other issues Assange raised at the extradition hearing. They include:

The U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty prohibits extradition for a political offense and “espionage” is a political offense;

Extradition is forbidden as the U.S. request is based on Assange’s political opinions;

The request for extradition is an abuse of process as it was made for a political motive and not in good faith;

Extradition would be oppressive or unjust because so much time has passed;

The charges against Assange do not comply with the “dual criminality test” because they encompass acts that are not criminal offenses in both the U.S. and the U.K.; and

Extradition would violate Assange’s rights to free expression and a fair trial, in addition to the prohibition against inhuman and degrading treatment in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Assange will also raise on appeal the CIA’s plot to kidnap and assassinate him while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy under a grant of asylum.”

Freedom of the Press Foundation: ‘The extradition of Julian Assange must be condemned by all who believe in press freedom

By Trevor Timm:

There is some historical irony in the fact that this extradition announcement falls during the anniversary of the Pentagon Papers trial, which began with the Times publication of stories based on the legendary leak on June 13, 1971, and continued through the seminal Supreme Court opinion rejecting prior restraint on June 30, 1971.

In the months and years following that debacle, whistleblower (and FPF co-founder) Daniel Ellsberg became the first journalistic source to be charged under the Espionage Act. What many do not know is that the Nixon administration attempted to prosecute Times reporter Neil Sheehan for receiving the Pentagon Papers as well — under a very similar legal theory the Justice Department is using against Assange.

Thankfully, that prosecution failed. And until this one does too, we continue to urge the Biden administration to drop this prosecution. Every day it continues to further undermine the First Amendment.

Doctors for Assange plea for Assange’s release

Just one week before the announcement, a coalition of more than 300 doctors wrote to Patel urging her to reject the extradition order, on the grounds that sending Assange to the United States would further imperil his health:

“During the extradition proceedings, the Court heard and accepted medical evidence that Mr Assange’s mental health was such that an extradition order, if imposed, would likely inflict substantial risk of suicide on him. The subsequent “assurances” of the United States government, that Mr Assange would not be treated inhumanly, are worthless given their record of pursuit, persecution and plotted murder of Mr Assange in retaliation for his public interest journalism, quite apart from the fact that the US government reserves the right to subject Mr Assange to the very conditions, namely, “Special Administrative Measures”, that would be inhuman.”

Protesters across U.S. demand Assange’s freedom

Geneva Press Club: In the name of press freedom, journalists call for the release of Assange

See more reactions from leaders around the world here.

Categories
Past Events

Assange Defense at the People’s Summit 2022

Directed by Robert Corsini, Assange Defense-Los Angeles

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Audio panel: Stella Assange & Harvard protesters

June 6, 2022 — Assange Defense hosted a Twitter Spaces conversation among Stella Assange, Julian’s wife; Mike Miccioli, Harvard student who organized the May 29th protest of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s commencement speech; and Susan McLucas, Boston Area Assange Defense campaigner.

Categories
Past Events Press Release

Harvard students, local activists protest Merrick Garland’s commencement speech over Assange prosecution

On Sunday, May 29, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland gave the commencement speech at the Harvard University graduation ceremony for the class of 2020-21. Harvard students teamed up with Boston Area Assange Defense and other local activists to protest Garland’s speech over the continued prosecution of Julian Assange. 

Mike Miccioli, class of ’22, explained why he and other Harvard students decided to use the commencement speech to draw attention to Assange’s plight:

“The prosecution of Julian Assange violates the First Amendment right to a free press. If Assange’s work with Manning is criminalized, this would open the door for any investigative journalist to be prosecuted for their standard work. If he is charged under the Espionage Act, a similar legal case could be built against any journalist who reports unflatteringly on US national security. Although he published evidence of war crimes, torture, surveillance, corruption, and more, no one in the US government has ever been held legally accountable for such exposures. Merrick Garland’s commencement speech is an important opportunity to bring awareness to this political persecution. In addition to drawing attention from the attendees, we hope to make Garland ask himself whether he wants this to be his legacy – the first prosecution of a publisher under the Espionage Act. Since Garland is Harvard class of ’74 and Harvard Law class of ’77, the university should be feeling a sense of shame for this reckless case, not inviting him to opine at the largest event on campus.”

After the event, Miccioli spoke with Assange Defense about the action:

Boston Area Assange Defense campaigner Susan McLucas said,

“After almost 2 years of helping organize rallies for Julian Assange, I was delighted to hear that Merrick Garland would be in our neighborhood at Harvard’s graduation. It was disturbing, though not surprising, to hear him encourage the graduates to take up public service (unspoken message: Just don’t try to end wars by exposing US war crimes!)”

Jill Stein, former Green Party presidential candidate, spoke at Sunday’s rally, saying,

“Merrick Garland, you need to make the biggest gift to the future of our younger generation possible by ending this assault on our most basic freedom that establishes the infrastructure for our democracy. End the prosecution of Julian Assange.”

The protest was picked up by the Boston Globe and the Harvard Crimson. See this thread on Twitter for more photos and videos from the action.

Boston Area Assange Defense campaigner Paula Iasella recounted the effort to organize Sunday’s demonstration:

“Mike, a Harvard student, came out of nowhere last summer to one of our Boston actions, took the microphone and wowed me with his understanding of the Espionage Act and the Assange case. Mike wrote to us in April, suggesting an action at Harvard’s graduation, protesting AG Merrick Garland who was the keynote speaker.

Weeks of planning between the Harvard students and Boston Area Assange Defense made for a successful event protesting Merrick Garland’s unconstitutional prosecution of a journalist.

It demonstrated the importance of Boston’s online networking in tandem with consistent boots-on-the-ground – showing up, in person, to spread the Free Assange message while giving others space to speak up publicly for Julian.”

Photo: Paula Iasella
Categories
Press Release

Protected: PROTEST: Priti Patel signs Julian Assange’s extradition order

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Categories
Press Release

Book Release: ‘Secret Power: WikiLeaks and its Enemies’

Book cover, in black with ripped paper showing the words "Secret Power: WikiLeaks and its Enemies" by Stefania Maurizi, with a foreword by Ken Loach.
Pluto Press

Investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi has written a new book detailing the secretive innerworkings behind the persecution of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Originally published in Italian, Secret Power: WikiLeaks and its Enemies won the 2022 European Award for Investigative And Judicial Journalism and Premio Alessandro Leogrande Award, and will be out in English in November 2022 from Pluto Press.

From Pluto Press’s overview:

‘I want to live in a society where secret power is accountable to the law and to public opinion for its atrocities, where it is the war criminals who go to jail, not those who have the conscience and courage to expose them.’

It is 2008, and Stefania Maurizi, an investigative journalist with a growing interest in cryptography, starts looking into the little-known organisation WikiLeaks. Through hushed meetings, encrypted files and explosive documents, what she discovers sets her on a life-long journey that takes her deep into the realm of secret power.

Working closely with WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange and his organisation for her newspaper, Maurizi has spent over a decade investigating state criminality protected by thick layers of secrecy, while also embarking on a solitary trench warfare to unearth the facts underpinning the cruel persecution of Assange and WikiLeaks.

With complex and disturbing insights, Maurizi’s tireless journalism expos