In The News

THE NATION // JUNE 24, 2022

America’s Lapdog Britain Moves to Extradite Julian Assange

“If President Biden really cared about press freedom,” writes Peter Oborne, “he would have canceled the extradition request months ago.”

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Julian Assange strip searched and moved to bare cell on day extradition announced, wife says

Julian Assange was strip searched and moved to a bare cell on the day his extradition was announced, his wife has said — “for his own protection,” as authorities put it.

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The Guardian View on Julian Assange’s Extradition: A Bad Day for Journalism

“The decision by Priti Patel, the home secretary, to extradite the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US ought to worry anyone who cares about journalism and democracy…. The charges against him should never have been brought,” writes The Guardian’s editorial board.

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Julian Assange’s Father and Brother Announce US Tour to Demand Journalist’s Freedom

“Gabriel and I are excited to talk to the American public on why protecting journalism and freeing Julian is so important to a free press,” says John Shipton, the WikiLeaks founder’s father.

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Biden Should End Espionage Act Prosecutions of Whistleblowers and Journalists

“President Joe Biden has an opportunity to right some of these wrongs. He should publicly commit to ending the use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers. Congress could also amend or repeal the act so that it cannot be used for such purposes. Biden should also take actions to end the persecution of Julian Assange and return to the Obama era position that Assange should not be prosecuted by the United States.”

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NBC NEWS // JANUARY 11, 2021

Julian Assange is still in prison. And America’s democratic principles are still at stake.

By Jameel Jaffer, inaugural director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University: “In a case that advocates of freedom of the press have been watching closely, on Jan. 4 a British judge rejected the U.S. Justice Department’s request that Julian Assange be extradited from the United Kingdom to face trial in the United States. For Assange and his supporters, the ruling was a victory — even if the Justice Department has pledged to appeal. (Assange was also denied bail.) But the ruling’s implications for press freedom are more complicated.”

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Trump Pardon for Julian Assange Would ‘Secure President’s Legacy as Defender of Free Speech’ – Nobel Laureates    

“The five Nobel Prize laureates say the case against Assange “threatens the constitutional protections that Americans hold dear”, suggesting to Trump: “By offering a pardon, to put a stop to the prosecution of Assange, your presidency will be remembered for having saved First Amendment protections for all Americans.””

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Julian Assange Supporters Outnumber His Critics. Who Are They?    

“Recently, calls to pardon [Julian Assange] have grown louder, including from unlikely characters such as former US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a Republican. In September, 160 former and current world leaders and diplomats signed a letter demanding the UK government prevent his extradition. Rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have called for his release. Increasingly, prominent media outlets, such as The Guardian, are also voicing their concern about the charges levelled against the jailed publisher.”

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Assange and the Critical Threat to Publishing State Secrets   

“This case is nothing less than the first time in American history that the US government has sought to prosecute the act of publishing state secrets, something that national security reporters do with some regularity. While many of the charges involve conspiracy or aiding and abetting, three counts are based on “pure publication”—the argument that Assange broke the law just by posting classified documents on the internet.”

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UN NEWS // DECEMBER 22, 2020

UN Independent Expert Asks Outgoing US President: Pardon Wikileaks’ Assange   

“UN expert [Nils Meltzer] asked that Mr. Assange be pardoned, saying, “he is not, and has never been, an enemy of the American people”.  

“Wikileaks fights secrecy and corruption throughout the world and, therefore, acts in the public interest both of the American people and of humanity as a whole”, maintained Mr. Melzer.”

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I Am Guilty of Violating the Espionage Act  

“WikiLeaks’ publications exposed war crimes, revealed previously undisclosed civilian deaths in American-occupied Iraq, detailed government corruption in Tunisia on the eve of the Arab Spring, and generated countless other reports that dominated the front pages of newspapers around the world throughout 2010 and 2011… None of the architects of the “war on terror,” including the C.I.A.’s torture programs, have been brought to justice. In contrast, Mr. Assange is facing a possible sentence of up to 175 years in prison.”

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The Guardian View on Julian Assange: Do Not Extradite Him 

“[The Trump Administration] has taken the unprecedented step of prosecuting him under the Espionage Act for publishing confidential information. In doing so, it chose to attack one of the very bases of journalism: its ability to share vital information that the government would rather suppress.”

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Biden’s Choice on Julian Assange and the First Amendment

“Assange’s liberty represents the liberty of all journalists and publishers whose job is to expose government and corporate criminality without fear of prosecution. We need and deserve to be protected against government control of the press.”

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EL PAÍS // NOVEMBER 26, 2020

Supporting Julian Assange, Fighting For a Free Press

Former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger addresses the implications of the failure of journalists, advocates, and governments to take up Julian’s cause. While various actors quibble about the definition of modern journalism, the ominous threat to press freedom lies in the precedent prosecuting Julian would set: “Whether or not Assange is ‘one of us’ is surely less important than the slippery slope his case could create for those who consider themselves ‘real’ journalists.”

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Assange Legal Team Submits Closing Arguments Against Extradition To United States

Shadowproof reporter Kevin Gosztola summarizes Julian Assange’s legal defense team’s closing submission in his extradition hearing. “The closing argument relies on evidence presented by witnesses, who testified during a trial in September, and details how President Barack Obama’s administration declined to prosecute Assange. President Donald Trump’s administration reversed this ‘principled’ position because of the nature of Assange’s ‘disclosures to the world and the nature of his political opinions, which inevitably attracted the hostility of the Trump administration and the CIA.’”

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National Union Of Journalists Calls On Other Unions To Condemn Persecution Of Assange

“The National Union of Journalists, which represents journalists in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, is calling on other trade unions to pass resolutions protesting the persecution of Julian Assange. The NUJ was founded in 1907 and has 38,000 members. It slams the prosecution as a “grave threat to free speech and a free press.””

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10 Years After Iraq War Logs, It’s Impunity for War Criminals, War on Whistleblowers

Brett Wilkins of Common Dreams covers the anniversary of the Iraq War Logs, noting the grisly contrast in accountability. Those responsible for war crimes, civilian casualties, and cover-ups have faced no consequences, while those who helped inform the public — notably whistleblower Chelsea Manning and publisher Julian Assange — have been subject to torture and relentless legal persecution.

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Legal Scholar Marjorie Cohn Discusses the Importance of the Iraq War Logs

Appearing on Kevin Gosztola’s Dissenter Weekly podcast, former president of the National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn discusses the Iraq War Logs and the important press freedom implications of the Julian Assange case. According to Cohn, the Iraq War Logs were released in the public interest and helped change the course of global events.

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The Assange Case is Politicized

In an interview with Al Jazeera, lawyer Jennifer Robinson touches on the politicized nature of the U.S. indictment of Julian Assange, how the WikiLeaks founder is holding up, and what’s next in the case.

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The U.S. Should Indict American War Criminals, Not Julian Assange

Acclaimed journalist Chip Gibbons touches on the unprecedented and dangerous U.S. indictment of Julian Assange. If the U.S. is able to extradite the Australian publisher for his journalistic activities abroad, it will open the door to abuses on other journalists and make exposing war crimes and demystifying war propaganda more difficult. Rather than targeting journalists, Gibbons argues, the real focus should be on those breaking the law and committing war crimes.

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Assange Faces Extradition for Exposing U.S. War Crimes

Marjorie Cohn, law professor emerita and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, digs deep into arguments surrounding the Assange extradition case. Cohn notes the impact of WikiLeaks’ work, the politicized nature of the charges against Assange, and the importance of the case on press freedom.

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Congress Moves to Save Journalism and Free Assange

The growing bipartisan movement to protect press freedom and stop the persecution of whistleblowers and publishers is a ray of hope in our otherwise divisive political climate. This article looks at H.Res.1175, a resolution sponsored by Democrat Tulsi Gabbard and Republican Thomas Massie. The resolution sends a strong message that journalism is a vital part of our democratic character and calls for the Justice Department to drop its efforts to prosecute Julian.

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The Unprecedented and Illegal Campaign to Eliminate Julian Assange

The Intercept’s Charles Glass takes a deep look at the lengths the U.S. government and its foreign partners have gone to in their campaign against Julian. From spying to violating medical and legal confidentiality to weighing assassination plots, it’s hard to see how any court could grant Julian a fair trial.

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Artist Ai WeiWei Stages Pro-Assange Protest as Court Hears of “Intolerable Conditions” Assange Would Face in U.S. Jails

Renowned artist Ai Weiwei staged a silent protest outside the Old Bailey court to bring attention to the prosecution of Julian Assange. “He is prepared to fight,” Ai said, “but this is not fair to him. Free him.” The article also covers testimony in Assange’s extradition case dealing with the oppressive conditions Assange would face in U.S. detention. Witnesses discussed the extreme measures Assange would be subjected to, including the “near permanent solitary life” he would live under U.S. “Special Administrative Measures.”

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AL DIA // SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

Ben & Jerry’s Cofounder: If Assange is Prosecuted “Then We’re No Longer in a Democracy”

Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Ben Cohen spoke with AL DÍA about the importance of the Assange trial and the implications for American democracy. “The key to a functioning democracy is a free press,” Cohen argued. If the government can prosecute journalists for publishing information the government “doesn’t want you to know…then we’re no longer in a democracy. We’re in some kind of totalitarian state.”

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The Next Bob Woodward Could Be Muzzled by the Assange Verdict

Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, explains that the charges brought against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would criminalize good reporting. “We might not even know Woodward’s name if a government policy against “conspiring” was established law in the 1970s. The Nixon administration could have thrown Woodward and Bernstein in jail before their life-changing Watergate investigation made it to the front page.”

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The Extradition of Julian Assange Would Undermine Freedom of Speech

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, writes that he Wikileaks founder is a champion of democracy, and the charges against him affect journalists around the world. “We must keep this outrage from happening. I call on all those committed to the cause of freedom of speech in every corner of the world to join me in an international effort to defend the innocence of Assange and demand his immediate release.”

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World Leaders Demand End to Assange Case, Trump’s Corrupt “Deal”

NBC News covers recent developments, including news that 167 politicians (13 of them heads of state) had signed an open letter calling on the U.K. to end the Julian Assange extradition case. The article also reports on the bombshell revelation in court that Trump administration allies offered Julian a “deal” if he would disclose his sources — a revelation that the prosecution conceded was true.

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Edward Snowden and Joe Rogan Speak Up for Assange

NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden appears on the Joe Rogan Experience, where both guest and host decry the unfair treatment of Julian Assange and discuss how the administration could easily drop the charges and recognize the importance of WikiLeaks’ work. “You cannot convict Julian Assange,” Snowden says, “without exposing the New York TimesWashington Post, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox, whoever…to the same kind of charges.”

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Pulitzer Prize Winner Glenn Greenwald Calls on Trump to Pardon Assange

Glenn Greenwald, attorney and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his work on the NSA surveillance programs, says Trump should use his pardon power to end the “abusive prosecution” of Julian Assange. “They’re punishing Julian Assange,” Greenwald argues, “for informing the public about things they have the right to know about.”

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COVID-19 Concerns Postpone Assange Extradition Hearings

Julian Assange’s extradition hearings have been postponed due to concerns over one of the prosecution lawyer’s possible exposure to COVID-19. The case has been adjourned until Monday, and the test results for the attorney were expected to have been released at some point Friday September 10th. Assange’s lawyers asserted that the extent of the virus’ spread is unknown in the courtroom, and therefore, it would not be safe for them to continue proceedings.

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Assange’s Attorney: “He Faces 175 Years in Prison for Doing His Job as a Journalist”

Democracy Now journalists dive deep into the details of Julian Assange’s extradition hearings with Jennifer Robinson, long time attorney representing Julian. In this interview, Robinson gives excellent background on a host of important pieces of this trial. The interview notably includes: information about the new U.S. indictment, highlights from key witness testimony, and potential prison and trial conditions if Julian is extradited to the U.S..

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Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker on Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearings

“Assange faces extradition to the United States because he published incontrovertible proof of war crimes and abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarrassing the most powerful nation on Earth. Assange published hard evidence of “the ways in which the first world exploits the third”, according to whistleblower Chelsea Manning, the source of that evidence. Assange is on trial for his journalism, for his principles, not his personality.”

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Judge Rejects Adjournment Request in Assange Hearings

One of the first arguments made during Julian Assange’s four weeks of continued extradition hearings was an argument to exclude elements of a new indictment by U.S. prosecutors revealed just two months before the hearings began. Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected this idea, and subsequently rejected the request from Julian’s attorneys to adjourn the hearings to collect more information about the new pieces of the U.S. indictment. While Julian remaining incarcerated during a potential adjournment period is a circumstance his attorneys would like to avoid, the Judge has left the question of adjournment open for argument later in the hearings.

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Supporters Gather in Protest As Assange Extradition Hearings Resume

In the opening moments of Julian Assange’s resumed extradition hearings, Julian simply answered “no” when asked if he consented to extradition to the U.S.. Outside the courthouse, crowds of protesters gathered to support Julian in his case to avoid extradition; if extradited, he would face a trial that could land him in prison for 175 years. Among the protesters were Dame Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer and John Shipton, Julian’s father.

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Expert Witness: Potential Free Press Consequences in Assange Case

After months of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, extradition hearings for Julian Assange began again on September 7th. If Julian is extradited to the U.S., he would face unprecedented charges that threaten journalistic activities. This sentiment was echoed in the testimony of Professor Mark Feldstein of the University of Maryland, who noted that the First Amendment freedom of the press is a key reason why publishers such as Assange are routinely protected from prosecution under U.S. law. 

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Bureaucratic Error or Barrier to Free Press Access?

Non-governmental organizations including Amnesty International and PEN Norway have encountered unusual bureaucratic barriers in gaining remote access to the Assange extradition hearings. On Monday September 7th, Judge Baraitser revoked the hearing access of NGO court watchers citing procedure as they had failed to submit all the appropriate letters. These organizations expect to gain permissions once going through the new process; however, many high profile advocates are criticizing the Assange hearings for what they see as a blatant attack on the free press. 

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ABC NEWS // AUGUST 31, 2020

U.S. Attorney General Replaces National Security Watchdog with Assange Foe Weeks Before Election, Raising Concerns

ABC News reports that Attorney General William Barr has replaced career national security Brad Wiegmann, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General with the Office of Law and Policy. Wiegmann, a 23-year veteran public servant, headed the office that “helps ensure federal counterintelligence and counterterrorism activities are legal.” He was replaced by 36-year-old Kellen Dwyer, a political appointee and cyber-crimes prosecutor who made international headlines in 2018 for inadvertently revealing a sealed indictment against Julian Assange.

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Julian Assange’s Partner Visits Him in Prison: Julian in “A Lot of Pain”

Stella Morris, Julian Assange’s partner, took their two children to visit their father in prison for the first time in almost six months. During the visit, Stella saw firsthand that Julian is in “a lot of pain,” and that he looked “a lot thinner” than the last time she was able to visit. Stella is currently raising funds to fight Julian’s extradition to the U.S. as the extradition hearings are set to resume on September 7.

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Former Guardian Editor: Assange Case Has Press Freedom Implications

Julian Assange’s case is critical for journalists around the world. If Julian is extradited to face charges that carry with them 175 years in prison, the boundaries of press freedom could be forever narrowed. Alan Rusbridger, a 20 year veteran editor of The Guardian, agrees. Rusbridger noted that Assange’s extradition would set a “very alarming precedent” for journalists publishing in the public interest worldwide.

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Lawyers Speak Out for Assange

After the U.S. released a fresh extradition request for Julian Assange, 169 lawyers, scholars, and human rights groups wrote an open letter in support of Julian. The letter touched on Julian’s rights as a journalist, activist, and human being. According to the letter, extraditing Julian would violate “national and international law, human rights, and the rule of law.”

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THE HILL // JANUARY 13, 2020

Will Alleged CIA Misbehavior Set Julian Assange Free?

The U.S. government’s misconduct in pursuing Julian is compared to its treatment of another prominent advocate for the public’s right to know: Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. In the light of revelations that the CIA spied on Julian in the Ecuadorian embassy, famed lawyer James Goodale — who defended the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case and later chaired the Committee to Protect Journalists — explores the legal ramifications of the U.S. government’s relentless pursuit of Julian. Goodale argues that the CIA’s behavior toward Assange “seems indistinguishable” from what was done to Ellsberg, which should force the courts to dismiss the government’s case.

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LAWFARE // MAY 24, 2019

The Julian Assange Indictment Seeks to Punish Pure Publication

Lawfare contributor Gabe Rottman of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press notes that the shocking implications of the Espionage Act indictment of Julian Assange. According to the indictment, three of the charges against Julian are purely based on WikiLeaks’ “publishing on the internet,” opening the door to prosecuting journalists any time the government can claim “national security harm.” Rottman also points out that 13 of the remaining charges are based on Julian working with the source of the leaks — standard news-gathering behavior. The only time the Espionage Act was applied to this behavior by a non-governmental party was the prosecution of AIPAC lobbyists who sought to pass leaked documents to Israel. Those defendants were not engaged in journalistic activity and the case against them was dropped.

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LAWFARE // MAY 2, 2019

The U.S. Media is in the Crosshairs of the Julian Assange Indictment

Harvard professor and former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith writes that Julian’s prosecution “would have adverse implications for mainstream U.S. news publications’ efforts to solicit, receive and publish classified information.” Goldsmith, who worked in the Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush, notes that the press provides an important check on abuse of power, and that the actions Julian is being prosecuted for are “exactly what national security reporters and their news publications” do all the time.

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THE HILL // APRIL 14, 2019

Pentagon Papers Lawyer: The Indictment of Assange is a Snare and a Delusion

Pentagon Papers lawyer James Goodale notes in The Hill how the original U.S. indictment of Julian Assange does not include Espionage Act charges — as the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty prohibits extradition for “political purposes.” With Julian charged with violating U.S. laws on hacking government computers, Goodale recounts his experience in the Pentagon Papers case and observes a startling similarity that makes the charges against Julian dubious. Working with a source is standard journalistic conduct and protected by the First Amendment. Goodale’s prediction that this could be a “bait and switch” and “the tip of the legal iceberg” has proven correct: the U.S. government ultimately added Espionage Act counts against Julian.

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James Goodale: More than a Data Dump– Why Julian Assange Deserves First Amendment Protection

Famed press lawyer James Goodale, who successfully fought the U.S. government in the Pentagon Papers case, argues that Julian Assange’s journalistic activities deserve First Amendment protection. Goodale, the former general counsel for the New York Times who has been dubbed “the father of reporter’s privilege” for his tireless advocacy for press freedom, laments the early reluctance of mainstream media outlets (like the Times) to stand up for Julian. The prosecution of Julian could mark “the end of national security reporting.”

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