A new call for solidarity with Julian Assange has been issued as his extradition hearing is set to resume in September. Following motions in support of Assange at Birmingham TUC and from the National Union of Journalists a resolution campaign is being launched across the labour movement. The comprehensive resolution adopted by the NUJ is to be circulated for other trade unions, Labour Party bodies, and campaign organisations to adapt for thier own use.
‘Please put this resolution to your next meeting’, said John Rees from the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, ‘this is the defining free speech case of the 21st century. Freedom of information, free from government censorship, is the lifeblood of an effective labour movement. The NUJ have made a stand. Follow their example’.
The NUJ resolution is reproduced in full below and can be found here.
Please adapt it as required for your own organisation and let us know when it passes at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. That WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is held in Belmarsh prison awaiting United States extradition proceedings, a process that can take many years.
2. If Assange is successfully prosecuted in the US he faces 175 years in prison.
3. That the extraterritorial application of the Espionage Act in the indictment of Assange criminalises journalistic activities, in this case activities carried out on UK soil by a non-US national, in collaboration with numerous UK media (including The Guardian, Channel 4 and The Telegraph).
4. That previous statements by the General Secretary of the NUJ, by the Australian Journalists Union MEAA, and by the International Federation of Journalists’ organisations have supported Assange.
5. That there is a political dimension to extraditions and that the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US makes the extradition of Assange more likely to go ahead.
1. That Assange’s indictment comes at a time of heightened threats to the press in Western countries in the form of raids on newspapers and broadcasters, government claims that the press are ‘the enemy of the people’, and actual prosecutions involving life-long sentences for publishing accurately.
2. That Assange’s extradition to the United States would establish a dangerous precedent with regard to the prosecution of journalists in this country under the UK Official Secrets Act given the requirement for the UK courts to accept US arguments as to dual criminality for the extradition to go ahead.
3. That press freedoms in this country will be weakened if the courts accept that NUJ members’ publishing activities in this country can give rise to criminal liability in foreign states and to their consequent lawful extradition.
4. That the publication of the Afghan and Iraq war logs and other material by WikiLeaks that are the subject of the US indictment revealed important information that has benefitted the public.
5. Disclosing information to the public should never be equated with espionage
1. To campaign to stop the extradition of Julian Assange to the US.
2. To write to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Secretary making the union’s case on this issue.
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!
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.
Award-winning documentary on the global campaign to defend the right to publish and free Julian Assange is coming soon to a theater near you, followed by Q&A panel events with Julian’s father and brother, John and Gabriel Shipton
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.
Please join us in person at the Community Church of Boston, or online, for a panel discussion on how the Julian Assange case will impact the future of journalism. This event is part of the fifth annual Student Press Freedom Day initiative.
The reality is that ‘Bold Journalism’ has landed Julian Assange in a supermax prison for publishing the most important journalistic work of this century. Our First Amendment rights are threatened by this unconstitutional prosecution of a journalist.
An accomplished panel of journalists and activists will have a conversation about the Assange prosecution (its threat to journalism), independent media v. corporate media, and the importance of a free press in the workplace. Censorship is driving the current trend for respected, award-winning journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and Seymour Hersh to self-publish on platforms such as Substack.
“The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) created Student Press Freedom Day to give student journalists a platform to advocate for press freedom in their communities.” SPLC’s article, ‘Responding to Censorship’ advises students that, if their school-sponsored student media is consistently being censored, they may want to consider an alternative means of getting their message out. Off -campus websites or underground, independently published student publications are entitled to significant First Amendment protections.
Students and citizens alike are entitled to a free press so that we can make informed decisions. We must fight against censorship and the criminalization of investigative journalism. We must show ‘Brave Advocacy’ to end the prosecution of Julian Assange!
Can’t make this conversation in person? Join us online!
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
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
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
Come celebrate Student Press Freedom Day by taking part in a forum focused on the threat to Freedom of The Press represented by the case for extradition against Julian Assange.
Kevin Gosztola will be the featured speaker. He is an author known for his stellar work on whistleblowers cases, WikiLeaks, national security and civil liberties He is managing editor of Shadowproof, where he writes The Dissenter. Gosztola has previously covered the court martial of Chelsea Manning, The case of CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and extensively covered the extradition case against Julian Assange
Gosztola has written for the Nation, Salon and many other journals of note. He co-authored, with Greg Mitchell Truth and Consequences: The US vs. Bradley Manning. Since 2014, Gosztola has co-hosted, with Rania Khalek, the podcast Unauthorized Disclosure. Kevin will be discussing his soon to be released Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange.
This new work examines abuses of power by the CIA and the FBI, including a spying operation that targeted Assange’s family, lawyers, and doctors. Guilty of Journalism offers a balanced and comprehensive perspective on all the events leading up to what press freedom advocates have called the trial of the century.
Guilty of Journalism is a joint production of The Censored Press and Seven Stories Press.
Parking is limited. However the closest CTA stop is State & Lake
At the end of the Night Carnival for Assange on Saturday 11 February there will be a rally in the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, Westminster, SW1P 3DW. Speakers will include Stella Assange, Kristinn Hrafnsson, Richard Ratcliffe and Jeremy Corbyn..
Boston Area Assange Defense will be gathering at Park St. Station, Feb 11th, 11:30-12:30. Please join us to keep the spotlight on the continued prosecution and persecution of journalist Julian Assange as he remains languishing in limbo in a supermax prison, in virtual solitary confinement awaiting the UK High Court ruling on the defense extradition appeal.
*Jan 24, full broadcast of ‘Assange Odysseia’, a “theatre forum” held in Strasbourg. Stella’s speech at 1:55:50 is a must listen. Assange phones in and listens to applause (he does not speak) at 2:19:00 min. 2018 audio clip of Assange speaking with Kristinn Hrafnsson at the embassy about the leaked document that ended the war in Iraq, much of it is inaudible. At 38:05min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BmZ6JJyN7g…
*Jan27, Newsweek article ‘Julian Assange’s Biggest Fight in Notorious Prison Isn’t Over Extradition’ with a short video clip of Assange’s family speaking. Newsweek has proven itself to be one of the few mainstream media outlets to report regularly on the Assange case. https://www.newsweek.com/…/julian-assanges-biggest…
*Jan 27, Twitter Files15: internal twitter communications reveal the secret 2017 ‘Hamilton68’ list targeting both right and left and pushing the russiagate narrative on social media, mainstream media, universities, and think tanks. Let’s not forget that it was this Russia hysteria that helped pave the way to Assange’s prosecution. https://consortiumnews.com/…/cn-editor-named-on-secret…
Here is our call-to-action to help amplify this growing support for Assange. Please be his voice:
1) Call Atty General Merrick Garland’s Dept of Justice! It’s easy to leave a simple message on their comment line: 202-353-1555 press 1. Call on Garland to drop all the charges against this publisher! All major news outlets warn that this prosecution of a journalist is a threat to global press freedom. The United Nations along with press freedom, human rights, and civil rights organizations call for Assange’s freedom with compensation for his arbitrary detention.
Boston Area Assange Defense has been on the streets to Free Assange since October 2020. We are committed to raising awareness on the Assange case which is the single most important case on global press freedom and protecting our First Amendment. Our goal is to stop the US extradition, and for the US Dept of Justice to drop all charges against Assange, and set him free to join his loving friends and family.
Please join us Saturday, Feb 11th – 11:30-12:30pm (winter hours!)
Contact: Paula Iasella, AssangeBoston@gmail.com or Susan McLucas, SusanBMcL@gmail.com 617-501-9125.
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.”
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.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, and Joseph Farrell, ambassador of the organization, met with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico. During their Latin American tour, representatives of Wikileaks have so far been received by Presidents of Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia.
López Obrador reiterated his solidarity with Julian Assange, imprisoned in the Belmarsh maximum security prison in London, and promised to speak about the case with US President Joe Biden, in the private meeting of both leaders.
Hrafnsson noted that the meeting “was a good conclusion to our tour of Latin America. Now we have the commitment of all the main countries south of the US border, to put pressure on the Biden administration, call on it to do the right thing and practice what he preaches on the issue of free speech, and to drop the charges against Julian.”
Hrafnsson emphasized that it is clear that Assange’s case is political and not judicial. “They are even avoiding the fact that the extradition request violates the extradition treaty between the United States and Great Britain. This treaty prohibits extradition for political reasons, and Julian is charged with the political offense in its purest form: espionage.” So “we cannot depend on the judicial process, we have to treat this for what it is: a political persecution that requires the intervention and interest of political leaders”, he said.
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:
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.”
Continuing their Latin American tour, Wikileaks representatives Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-Chief and Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador were received by Bolivia President, Luis Arce and the Minister of the Presidency, Maria Nela Prada to discuss the case of WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange. The meeting took place on Saturday, December 17th, in the capital La Paz at the Casa Grande del Pueblo.
President Arce spoke frankly of the threat to press freedom and the necessity to uphold human rights and the right to information. The president was firm in his support of Julian Assange and the desire to see him a free man.
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.”
Today, The Commission on Human Rights and Participative Legislation (CDH) of the Federal Senate of Brazil has held an interactive public hearing to shed light at the numerous cases of attacks and threats to the work of journalists in Brazil and around the world, including the Julian Assange case. The hearing was held at the initiative of Senator Humberto Costa (PT-PE), who presided over the Panel. It was convened as a part of Wikileaks Latin American tour. Wikileaks representatives Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell previously met with Presidents of Colombia, Brazil and Argentina, as well as with numerous legislators, policy makers and representatives of media freedom organizations.
“It is ironic that the accusers are precisely the ones who were unmasked,” said Carol Proner, a professor of international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Assange’s case itself brings to light the “crimes committed” by US security forces, said the lawyer during the hearing.
The editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson highlighted that the possible extradition of Assange “will send a signal that any journalist who ventures to expose the secrets of the powerful will be punished”.
The Commission has deliberated that it will produce a note to be sent to the US, UK and Australian Embassies and form a delegation to go to Washington. It also mentioned that the Brazilian President-elect Lula da Silva has endorsed WikiLeaks and stated that defending the freedom of Julian Assange will be part of government policy.
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.
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).
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.
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 Ukraine—Making 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.
December 8, 2022 — A coalition of 21 freedom of press and human rights organisations – including Committee to Protect Journalists, ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Index On Censorship, RSF, Freedom Of The Press Foundation – have written a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to abandon the persecution of Julian Assange.
The letter reads:
“We, the undersigned coalition of press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights organizations, write to express grave concern about the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings relating to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, under the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
“It is more than a year since our coalition sent a joint letter calling for the charges against Assange to be dropped. In June, then U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition to the United States, a decision that Assange’s legal team is in the process of appealing. Today, we repeat those concerns, and urge you to heed our request. We believe that the prosecution of Assange in the U.S. would set a harmful legal precedent and deliver a damaging blow to press freedom by opening the way for journalists to be tried under the Espionage Act if they receive classified material from whistleblowers.
“It is time for the Biden administration to break from the Trump administration’s decision to indict Assange – a move that was hostile to the media and democracy itself. Correcting the course is essential to protect journalists’ ability to report freely on the United States without fear of retribution.
“We again urge you to protect democratic values and human rights norms, including freedom of the press, by abandoning this relentless pursuit of Assange.”
The groups wrote to the Biden DOJ back in February and October 2021 to warn of the dangers of the Assange prosecution, and here they reiterate how it threatens media freedom and the First Amendment and undermines the country’s ability to defend journalists against repression by authoritarian and other rights-abusing regimes abroad.
They discussed Julian Assange’s plight and the ongoing extradition battle. After the meeting Hrafnsson stated that “the President told us that he would support our mission”, adding that “it is extremely positive to receive such a clear signal of support from the country’s highest authority”.
Hrafnsson stressed that “it is not just about a man or a life, it is about a much greater interest: it is the freedom of the press in the world that is at stake” and concluded by saying: “That is the position of the main human rights organizations in the world that have taken an interest in the case and for this reason the leaders have joined so strongly”.
Continuing their Latin American tour, Wikileaks representatives Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell met with President-elect of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to discuss the freedom of Julian Assange.
President-elect of Brazil Lula da Silva expressed his ongoing support for Julian Assange and the demand to end his persecution, understanding it can damage press freedom worldwide.
Kristinn Hrafnnson, Editor-in-Chief of Wikileaks, and Joseph Farrell, Wikileaks Ambassador “briefed me on the health situation and the fight for the freedom of Julian Assange,” Lula tweeted, “I asked them to send my solidarity. May Assange be released from his unjust imprisonment,” he added.
In Brasilia, Hrafnnson and Farrell were received by Humberto Costa, President of the Brazilian Senat’s Commission for Human Rights and Maria do Rosario, Member of Federal Parliament and former Minister for Human Rights.
At the same time, Brazilian lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution urging the US authorities to drop the charges against Julian Assange. The resolution will be filed at the American Embassy and addressed to US President Biden and the US Congress.
The five media organizations that first helped WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange publish leaked diplomatic cables have penned an open letter telling the U.S. government it must drop his prosecution because it is undermining press freedom.
The letter reads:
“Cablegate”, a set of 251,000 confidential cables from the US state department, disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.
For Julian Assange, publisher of WikLeaks, the publication of “Cablegate” and several other related leaks had the most severe consequences. On April 12th 2019, Assange was arrested in London on a US arrest warrant, and has now been held for three and a half years in a high-security British prison usually used for terrorists and members of organised crime groups. He faces extradition to the US and a sentence of up to 175 years in an American maximum-security prison.
This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s first amendment and the freedom of the press.
Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.
Twelve years after the publication of “Cablegate”, it is time for the US government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.
“…at this critical juncture there should be no lack of clarity regarding the extradition charges against Assange. That’s why it is important that the message of the IFJ’s “Journalism is Not a Crime” campaign be amplified—not just by media outlets and journalists but also by civil rights and civil liberties groups. Last year, the ACLU, Amnesty International USA, and Human Rights Watch warned the Justice Department that “a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be used against publishers and journalists alike, chilling their work and undermining freedom of the press.”
“The conduct for which Assange is accused of breaking the law is exactly what the new DOJ regulation defines as protected “news gathering”; namely “the process by which a member of the news media collects, pursues or obtains information or records for purposes of producing content intended for public dissemination,” including “classified information” from confidential sources. The Justice Department is also said to have removed “espionage” from a list of criminal activities excluded from protected news gathering.
If the Biden administration means what it says, it should immediately reverse one of the worst legal excesses of Donald Trump’s term. The indictment of Assange is the first time in the 230-year history of the First Amendment that a media organization is being prosecuted for publishing or disseminating classified information disclosed by a whistleblower. Since founding Wikileaks, Assange has been in the business of gathering and publishing newsworthy information and documents, activities clearly protected by the First Amendment.”
WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador are touring Latin America, meeting with seven heads of state to discuss Julian Assange’s extradition battle and raise support for his release.
On November 21st Hrafnsson and Farrell met with the President of Colombia Gustavo Petro and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Álvaro Leyva Duran in Bogota. President Petro promised to help “put pressure on the Biden government” to drop the charges against Julian Assange, expressed his commitment to fight for his freedom, and encouraged political leaders around the world to do the same.
“They’ve shown a clear commitment to support the fight for Julian Assange’s freedom, and strongly recognized the implications for press freedom worldwide that his extradition would set”, Hrafnsson said in a statement after the meeting.
After their meeting with President Petro, Hrafnsson and Farrell attended an event with Colombian NGO’s where they discussed Julian Assange, human rights and how to defend freedom of the press.
On November 22nd, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson took part in the event “Assange, Wikileaks and journalism: freedom of expression imprisoned” at the National University of Colombia together with representatives of academia and freedom of expression organisations.
November 14, 2022 — Ithaka, 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:
Featuring Deborah Hrbek, partner at HRBEKKunstler & Marjorie Cohn, former president of National Lawyers Guild
Deborah Hrbek will discuss the July lawsuit against the CIA, Mike Pompeo, and UC Global filed in August by Hrbek, her law partner Margaret Ratner Kunstler, and two American journalists, whose constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the US government were violated when they visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Hrbek will discuss the implications of that lawsuit on the Assange extradition matter, while Marjorie Cohn will unpack the extradition request and indictment. Both will discuss why press freedom and government accountability is at stake if the Department of Justice continues to prosecute Julian Assange and seek his extradition.
Why is President Biden actively pursuing the prosecution of Julian Assange brought by President Trump and rejected by President Obama, which poses a grave danger to the freedom of the press? Learn the latest about the international movement to end the prosecution of Assange and what you can do about it.
Join the conversation with our speakers:
Vincent De Stefano is founding member of Assange Defense in Southern California. He also sits on the National steering committee and is their National Organizing Coordinator. He currently serves as President of the Pasadena/Foothill chapter of the ACLU and sits on the ACLU Affiliate board and the Executive Committee. He has been involved with Amnesty International for more than four decades and was the recipient of Amnesty’s 2019 Urgent Action Hero award.
Jim Lafferty is the Executive Director Emeritus of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles, co-host of The Lawyers Guild Show on KPFK, and co-host of the national public affairs show, Law & Disorder. He is a board member of the ACLU of Southern California, a fellow of The Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California, and a founding member of the national Julian Assange Defense Committee and its Los Angeles affiliate.
Marjorie Cohn is a retired criminal defense attorney, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and member of the advisory board of Assange Defense and the bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Marjorie is a legal and political analyst who writes a regular column for Truthout, does frequent media commentary, and has published several books. She is co-host of the nationally broadcast radio show “Law and Disorder.”
Stephen Rohde is a lecturer, writer, political activist, and retired constitutional lawyer. In addition to his role as a founder and Chair of ICUJP, he is a past Chair of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, past Chair and board member of Death Penalty Focus, and Chair Emeritus of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. Steve authored the books American Words of Freedom and Freedom of Assembly and is co-author of Foundations of Freedom, published by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.
★★★★ 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.
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.
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;
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.
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.”
Here in the Bay Area please join us as we participate in this worldwide solidarity event of the Surround Parliament human chain. We will meet at noon on October 8th at Harry Bridges Plaza in San Francisco. Bring #YellowRibbons4Assange, signs, your family & friends, or just yourself. We will form a human chain of yellow ribbons, come rain or shine. If you can’t make it to San Francisco, create a chain or stand alone in your city and let us and/or @Candles4Assange know about it.
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.
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.”
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.
Monday, Sept 12th, 11am-12:30pm, Boston Area Assange Defense and fellow First Amendment supporters will rally at Park St. Station.
Every three weeks we gather to raise awareness and report factually on the Julian Assange case.
Mainstream media remains eerily silent on the Assange case – doing the bidding of a government attempting to bury Julian Assange in a dungeon in the UK – whilst sending a message to all journalists worldwide, that a dungeon awaits them if they dare report US war crimes.
Our Boston actions will continue as long as Biden’s administration continues with Trump’s unconstitutional prosecution of journalist, Julian Assange under the Espionage Act.
Speaking of the troublesome archaic Espionage Act, there is new bi-partisan legislation in Congress which protects whistleblowers and journalists from the hundred-year-old law meant to be used against spies, not journalists!
Good news! Assange’s American attorneys filed a lawsuit against CIA, Mike Pompeo, UC Global, and UC Global CEO David Morales. The Plaintiffs are US lawyers and journalists who were spied on by the CIA at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The evidence of CIA malfeasance which has been uncovered in Spain’s High Court will come to light in this lawsuit being tried in the Southern District of NY.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet met with Assange’s wife and father at the end of August. After the meeting, Bachelet stated that she is aware of the health issues which Mr Assange has suffered during his time in detention, and she is concerned for his physical and mental well-being. She also stated that the potential extradition and prosecution of Julian Assange raised concerns for media freedom and could have a “chilling effect” on investigative journalism.
Roger Waters’ Pink Floyd ‘This Is Not A Drill’ tour continues in 31 major cities!. A long-time supporter of Julian Assange, he creatively presents WikiLeaks’ ‘Collateral Murder’ in a series of light projections which show US soldiers gunning down innocent civilians in Iraq. Text across the video footage reveals that only those who exposed these crimes have been punished while no one was court martialed for the killing spree.
If more artists, performers and media outlets came forward to defend Julian Assange – as Roger Waters has – Assange would be free now!
Journalism is not a crime and journalists like Julian Assange should not be prosecuted. Journalists should be protected and cherished for their public service of courageously defending our right to know what our government does in our name!
Please join us on Monday, Sept 12th at Park St. Station, 11-12:30pm. We must all stand up and fight to stop this US extradition of a truth teller! Protect journalism, protect our First Amendment!
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.
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.
Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle 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.
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.
Hoy, la Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, Michelle 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.
On October 8, 2022, supporters of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in England will join hands to form a human chain surrounding Parliament in London. In solidarity, US-based supporters will hold a rally at the Department of Justice in Washington DC, calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to drop the charges against Assange.
369 10th St NW Washington D.C.,20530United States+ Google Map
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.
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.
July 12, 2022
October 8, 2022
11:00 pm EDT
Legendary guitarist, cofounding member of Pink Floyd, and longtime activist Roger Waters is bringing his ‘This is Not A Drill‘ tour to North America, with shows in major cities from Boston to Los Angeles. Waters has long spoken out against the persecution of Julian Assange, in interviews, on stage, and at events hosted by Assange Defense.
Assange Defense will have a table at every U.S. stop on the This is Not A Drill tour. Stop by before the show, during intermission, or afterward to sign up for our newsletter, take home leaflets on Assange’s case, and meet a local Assange Defense representative who can help you get more involved in the campaign to defend Assange and the freedom of the press.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Monday, August 22nd, 11am-12:30pm, Boston Area Assange Defense and fellow supporters will rally at Park St. Station to raise awareness of the US government’s war on publisher Julian Assange and its war on investigative journalism. The Biden administration continues with Trump’s unconstitutional prosecution of a journalist under the Espionage Act.
The government and its media would like us to believe that Assange is a ’national security terrorist’ instead of a publisher of truth and defender of human rights.
Assange didn’t publish National Security ‘secrets’, he published US ‘war crimes’.
It’s unlikely that Americans will know how WikiLeaks publications are used in thousands of court cases globally to right corporate and government wrongs! For example, the US Senate last week passed the Burn Pits restitution Act (aka PACT Act). Assange’s contribution to this case cannot be denied. It was Julian Assange through WikiLeaks that published a memo in 2009 (that was suppressed by the Pentagon!) which revealed the US military was exposing its personnel and civilians to lethal toxic fumes. President Biden’s son Beau developed brain cancer because of exposure to burn pits when he served in Iraq.
Roger Waters is touring this year with Pink Floyd’s ‘This Is Not A Drill’. A long-time supporter of Julian Assange, he creatively presents WikiLeaks’ ‘Collateral Murder’ in a series of light projections which show US soldiers gunning down innocent civilians in Iraq. Text across the video footage reveals that only those who exposed these crimes have been punished while no one was court martialed for the killing spree. Roger Waters has invited #FreeAssange activists to set up information tables nationally at EVERY venue!!
Breaking News! Watch for the August 15th Press Conference which unveils Assange’s US lawyers suing Mike Pompeo, ex-CIA head, and the CIA’s contracted security firm for stealing lawyer-client privileged communications.
Please join us on Monday, August 22nd at Park St. Station, 11-12:30pm. We must all stand up and fight to stop this US extradition because journalism is not a crime, and the prosecution of Julian Assange will criminalize investigative journalism and threaten any person handling classified material. The decision to extradite Assange to the country which plotted to assassinate him hovers like a stake over the heart of press freedom which is essential to a true democracy. Contact: Paula Iasella AssangeBoston@gmail.com or SusanBMcL@gmail.com 617-501-9125
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.”
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.
Supporters of our First Amendment return to the British Consulate at One Broadway in Kendall Sq Cambridge on Monday July 11th, 11am-12:30pm to protest the UK signing off on the US extradition of journalist and publisher, Julian Assange.
Julian Assange the founder of WikiLeaks, published thousands of documents showing evidence of US war crimes. Videos of these crimes in this thread.
These publications won international awards but a decade later these same documents became the US government’s grounds to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917. Journalist Chip Gibbons explains this repressive law that is used to suppress dissent.
And Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) president Karen Percy called on Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese to intervene and stop the extradition.
The Chair of the Walkley Foundation (Australia’s ‘Pulizer Prize’) Adele Ferguson has called on the Australian Government to intervene in the case of Julian Assange.
Articles are now surfacing on ex Secretary of State/CIA director Mike Pompeo having been summoned by the Spanish High Court to testify on the CIA spying and plotting to assassinate Assange – except here in the United States where the media is burying the story!
Stella Assange reported that Julian was strip searched and put in a bare cell with no visitors after UK Home Sec Priti Patel ruled to extradite him to the US.
“Shout louder. Lobby harder. Don’t stop until he’s free!”
Please join us on Monday, July 11th at the British Consulate in Cambridge to say ‘No!’ to Britain’s treatment of political prisoner Julian Assange, and say ‘No!’ to US imperialism which has made the UK complicit in this illegal extradition of political prisoner. We must all stand up and fight to stop this extradition because journalism is not a crime, and the prosecution of Julian Assange will criminalize investigative journalism and threatens any person handling classified material.
Mexican Pres Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) recently voiced support for imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, calling on the US to drop its extradition effort. Lopez Obrador will be visiting U.S. President Joe Biden next Tuesday, July 12, at the White House.
As part of this visit, DC Action for Assange will deliver a letter of thanks to AMLO, at the Mexican Embassy on Tuesday. We will first rally at noon, at Edward R. Murrow Park (named for a famed journalist!), at 18th & Penn Ave NW. Then at 1:00 pm, we will proceed to the Embassy of Mexico, 1911 Penn. Ave NW, to deliver our letter.
Please join DC Action for Assange at this action, to thank a world leader who has spoken out to the US Government about Assange’s case! Look for Twitter updates at @assangeactionDC.
Edward R. Murrow Park
18th & Penn Ave NW Washington,
District of Columbia
20006United States+ Google Map
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:
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.”
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.
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”
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.
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.
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’
“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.”
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’
“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‘
“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
“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‘
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.
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
“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?
The U.S. government argues that its venerated Constitution does not protect journalism the government dislikes, and that publishing truthful information in the public interest is a subversive, criminal act. This argument is a threat not only to journalism, but to democracy itself.
The UK has shown its complicity in this farce, by agreeing to extradite a foreigner based on politically motivated charges that collapse under the slightest scrutiny.”
UK Home Secretary Orders Julian Assange Extradition, Assange Family To Hold Press Conference at the British Consulate
Open to all media, Julian Assange’s Father and Brother Respond to Extradition Decision and take questions today at 12:30 PM ET
NEW YORK CITY — Julian Assange’s father and brother will hold a press conference today in front of the British Consulate to respond to the decision from UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to extradite Assange to the United States.
Press freedom and human rights groups have condemned the U.S. extradition efforts. If extradited, Julian Assange faces unprecedented charges that carry up to 175 years in prison. This is the first time in history that the U.S. Justice Department has charged a journalist under the controversial Espionage Act of 1917. The United Nations has declared Assange “arbitrarily detained” since 2010. Assange will appeal the decision.
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!)”
“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.”
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.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is giving the commencement speech at Harvard University’s graduation ceremony (for class 2020-21) on May 29 at the Smith Center. Students are calling for Garland to drop the unprecedented charges against publisher Julian Assange.
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.
‘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 exposes atrocities, the shameful treatment of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, on up to the present persecution of WikiLeaks: a terrifying web of impunity and cover-ups.
At the heart of the book is the brutality of secret power and the unbearable price paid by Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and truthtellers.
Stefania Maurizi is an Italian investigative journalist working for the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, having previously reported for La Repubblica and l’Espresso. She began working with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in 2009 for her newspaper. Among international journalists, she is the only one who has worked on the entirety of the WikiLeaks secret documents and the only one who has conducted a multi-jurisdictional litigation to defend the right of the press to access the full documentation on the WikiLeaks case.
Stella Assange, Julian’s wife and mother to his two young children, speaks to the BBC’s Stephen Sackur about Assange’s case as supporters await the decision from UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on whether to sign his extradition order.
Günter Wallraff Prize 2022 goes to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
Investigative journalist and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange receives this year’s Günter Wallraff Prize. In the name of Germany’s best-known investigative journalist, this award recognizes critical journalism and civil courage. The prize will be awarded during the 6th Cologne Forum for Journalism Criticism, which will take place tomorrow at Deutschlandradio’s broadcasting centre. Human rights activist and lawyer Stella Moris accepts the award on behalf of her husband Julian Assange.
“Julian Assange has made a significant investigative contribution to the news by revealing classified footage and text of possible US war crimes. In his work with the Internet platform WikiLeaks, Assange has always accepted immense reprisals in favor of reporting. The relentless pursuit of the investigative journalist Assange by the USA with the threat of extradition now poses a threat to free reporting in general,” was the jury’s reasoning.
On Thursday, May 19, the 6th Cologne Forum for Criticism of Journalism will deal with the topics of “reporting in times of war” and “activism in the media”. Among others, Thomas Präkelt (war correspondent RTL and n-tv), Olaf Müller (Humboldt Univ