UPDATE 24. March 2021: Exclusive: 'What Happens to Julian Assange Will Affect Us All', Hip-Hop Artist Lowkey Insists
UPDATE 16. March 2021: Julian Assange Can't 'Receive a Fair Trial' in the US, CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Explains
UPDATE 10. February 2021: There is no free press in the U.S. without a free Assange.
ICYMI: The 4th Annual Fake News Awards!
Sign Call to President Biden
By Assange Defense - 23. January 2020
In his inaugural address yesterday, President Joe Biden called on Americans “to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”
You might remember that Julian Assange’s primary motivation for starting WikiLeaks was to fight against war propaganda and provide truthful information to the people.
“If wars can be started by lies,” Julian argued,
“peace can be started by truth.”
It’s time for President Biden to SET THE TONE!
We need to urge President Biden and his team to defend press freedom!
The presidential transition is the perfect occasion to set a new tone by championing truth, freedom of the press, and integrity.
The Trump administration launched a dangerous War on Journalism with their unprecedented prosecution of a journalist for standard newsgathering and publishing activities. When it came time to finalize his legacy, President Trump chose not to pardon journalists, truth-tellers, and whistleblowers. Trump pardoned cronies, celebrities, and corrupt politicians.
Julian #Assange: If Wars can be Started by Lies, Peace can be started by Truth
•Sep 3, 2014
Julian Assange speaking at Trafalgar Square 8th October 2011 TRANSCRIPT: ". . . and that is something I want to talk about. What can we do with our values, what can we do at all in relation to this war? Because the reality is Margaret Thatcher had it right; there is no society any more. What there is is a transnational security elite that is busy carving up the world using your tax money. To combat that elite we must not petition; we must take it over. We must form our own networks of strength and mutual value which can challenge those strengths and self-interested values of the warmongers in this country and in others that have formed hand in hand an alliance to take money from the United States, from every NATO country, from Australia and launder it through Afghanistan, launder it through Iraq, lander it through Somalia , launder it through Yemen, launder it through Pakistan and wash that money in peoples blood. I don't need to tell you the depravity of war, you are all too familiar with its images, with the refugees of war, with information that we have revealed showing the everyday squalor and barbarity of war. Information such as the individual deaths of over 130,000 people in Iraq. Individual deaths that were kept secret by the US military who denied that they ever counted the deaths of civilians. Instead I want to tell you what I think is the way that wars come to be and that wars can be undone. In democracies, or the pseudo-democracies that we are evolving into, wars are a result of lies. The Vietnam War and the push for US involvment was the result of the Gulf of Tonkin incident . . . a lie. The Iraq War famously is the result of lies. Wars in Somalia are a result of lies. The Second World War and the German invasion of Poland was the result of carefully constructed lies. That is war by media. Let us ask ourselves of the complicit media, which is the majority of the mainstream press, what is the average death count attributed to each journalist? When we understand that wars come about as a result of lies peddled to the British public and the American public and the publics all over Europe and other countries then who are the war criminals? It is not just leaders, it is not just soldiers, it is journalists; journalists are war criminals. And while one might think that that should lead us to a state of despair, that the reality that is constructed around us is constructed by liars, is constructed by people who are close to those that they are meant to be policing, it should lead us also to an optimistic understanding because if wars can be started by lies, truth can be started, peace can be started by truth. So that is our task and it is your task, go and get the truth, get into the ballpark and get the ball and give it to us and we'll spread it all over the world."
Demand More from President Biden!
President Biden says he wants to unite America, fight for truth, and restore integrity to government. The Obama-Biden administration had the decency not to prosecute Julian. They knew it would set a dangerous precedent and called it “The New York Times problem.”
In the first 100 days of his presidency, Joe Biden has a chance to mend the divide that has escalated into full hostility between the U.S. government and the foundations of our democracy -- free speech and a free press.
It is time to uphold our democratic ideals and demand that our government respect the rights of free speech, free publication, and full transparency.
Biden’s first step should be to end the Trump administration’s gravest attack on journalism: the prosecution of Julian Assange. Julian still sits in a British prison even after a judge has blocked his extradition to the U.S., all because the U.S. government is attempting to prosecute him for publishing.
In 2010 Julian Assange published truthful information in the public interest: evidence of U.S. war crimes, uncounted civilian casualties, and rampant corruption. For this he faces up to 175 years in prison. A conviction of Assange, an Australian citizen, would put all other journalists at risk too, setting a precedent allowing the government to decide what gets published around the world.
The Biden administration can end this injustice today, by dropping the charges and letting Assange walk free today.
The persecution of Julian Assange is an attack on journalists’ right to do their jobs, the public’s right to know what is done in their name, and the ability to hold our government to account.
Let's come together and tell President Biden-- it's time to free Julian Assange!
To: President Biden
It is time to free Julian Assange.
You have the chance to restore the rights to free speech, publication, and the incredibly important practice of government transparency to our government. Julian, whatever you may think about him personally, is a journalist and publisher. No different from the New York Times and Washington Post. His indictment and prosecution is a dangerous precedent for the world and for our own news outlets at home.
You can stop the prosecution of this important journalist at any time. Freeing Julian Assange and letting him return to his family sends a strong message to the entire world that the U.S. is truly dedicated to the principles upon which it was founded. We all look forward to seeing the day very soon when your Department of Justice drops all of the charges against Julian.
There is no free press in the U.S. without a free Assange.
That’s the message that defenders of press freedom sent to President Biden yesterday. A coalition of two dozen prominent human rights and press freedom organizations spoke with a unified voice and called on the Biden administration to drop the appeal of Julian’s extradition case, drop the underlying charges against him, and set him free.
“...there is near-universal agreement among human rights, civil liberties, and press freedom organizations that the case against [Julian Assange] poses a major threat to press freedom not just here in the United States but around the world. The Justice Department should drop the appeal and dismiss the indictment.”
- Jameel Jaffer, Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
It is crucial that we keep up the pressure this week. We are just days away from a key deadline for the Biden administration to file its appeal in the UK extradition case.
The 4th Annual Fake News Awards!
•Jan 16, 2021
From the palatial living room studios of The Corbett Report it's the 4th Annual Fake News Awards. The boldest lies. The stupidest propaganda. The ugliest presstitution. Join James as he debunks the lies and shames the liars behind the biggest fake news stories of 2020. Who will take the Dino for the worst fake news story of the year? Watch and find out!
SHOW NOTES AND MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/fakenews4/
Exclusive: 'What Happens to Julian Assange Will Affect Us All', Hip-Hop Artist Lowkey Insists
Far too many in the UK media are prepared to "trade servility for access", hip-hop artist Lowkey tells Sputnik. He also notes that District Judge Vanessa Baraitser's decision not to grant Assange's extradition to the US nonetheless maintains the "shell of impunity" that protects the powerful who act in the public's name and with public funds.
Lowkey is a hip-hop artist and political campaigner. He has worked with Immortal Technique, Wretch 32, Akala, Dead Prez and Outlawz. He is part of the super group Mongrel alongside members of the Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles and Reverend And The Makers. The band released their album Better than Heavy in tandem with the Independent newspaper. His critically acclaimed music has received millions of streams on Spotify, sold over 25k albums digitally and garnered over 45 million YouTube views, with his most recent album Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 having been streamed millions of times. Lowkey has come out strongly against the detention and prosecution of Julian Assange, warning that what happens to the award-winning WikiLeaks publisher and journalist "will affect us all".
© Photo : Lowkey
By Mohamed Elmaazi - 24. March 2021
Sputnik: You've been quite outspoken in respect of the treatment and prosecution of Julian Assange. Why is that?
Lowkey: Well, Julian Assange has done more than anyone in my lifetime alongside his organisation, WikiLeaks, to expose what are known as - according to Donald Rumsfeld - "unknown unknowns". [Historian and philosopher] Peter Gallison in the book, Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance, guesses that the classified universe is not smaller - and it's very much, probably,larger than the unclassified one. We know that in the first year of the 'War on Terror', there were 33 million classified actions that took place by the US government. And they spent $5.5 billion in that year alone, to keep classified documents secure. When we look at who Julian Assange would have upset through WikiLeaks, we see governments far and wide-ranging from the Peruvian government, the Kenyan government, the Chinese government, the Iranian government, the German government, the Syrian government, the Saudi government, the Yemeni, the Turkish, the Russian, the French and the government of the UAE.
However, the only government that has attempted to — and successfully kept him incarcerated for over a decade— and is now attempting to have him extradited, where he faces over 170 years in prison, is the United States government. When we think about the things that were revealed through WikiLeaks, they were performing a very essential public service and that public service is informing people about how their taxes are spent and how their purportedly democratic governments are behaving when the lights are off and the cameras are nowhere to be seen.
If you have any interest in real political participation and real democratic values, then you would support what Julian Assange has done because people's ability to participate in society is determined by their access to information. So in that interest of giving people access to information, of course I would support Julian Assange and, you know, make every effort I can to draw attention to what he is facing, because it is a great injustice and an extension of the injustices which he was revealing. Interestingly, he has become a victim of the very war on human rights that he was revealing.
Sputnik: What is it that you think is most important for people to know and understand about this case?
Lowkey: I would say the most important thing for people to absorb is that what happens to him will not only be about him, and will not be isolated to him. The ramifications of a successful extradition and then prosecution of Julian Assange will be chilling to all genuine journalists who, rather than performing as stenographers that blindly reproduce press releases given to them by the MoD [Ministry of Defence] and by the US Department of Defense and the Pentagon - journalists who actually want to encourage a critical thinking on the behind on the part of the populations of these countries, we know that it will really have terrible, terrible ramifications for all of them.
The basis of Julian Assange's persecution, at this stage, could easily be applied to all of the newspapers who benefited so massively from the work that he did. When you think about the ad revenue that publications like The Guardian or the New York Times would have generated from Julian Assange's millions and millions of leaks and files [given to him that he published], it really boggles the mind. There probably is still hundreds of thousands of stories that you could glean from the WikiLeaks data dumps that are still available to people, and can be found in different places on the internet.
The reality is that what happens to Julian Assange will affect us all and it is for that reason that we must do everything we can to protect him.
Sputnik: Finally, how do you respond to Judge Vanessa Baraitser's ruling in the extradition case of Julian Assange? She did after all rule against extraditing him to the US.
Lowkey: Well, obviously, that is a statement of fact when she says that US prison system would not be safe for him, people within the US prison system of five times more likely to commit suicide than [in] the general population. However, the worry is that the main assertions of the US government were not challenged in any meaningful way [by the judge]. So it was kind of a get-out clause for the British government, and it leaves intact the very same logic that can be used to harm others. And obviously with the bipartisan dedication to getting their man, the United States is unlikely to retreat and go quietly into the night.
What we see is a situation where something that all journalists do, which is cultivate internal sources in the corridors of power to give them information —Julian Assange is being punished for that very 'crime'. The reason he's being punished is because that is information that actually lends itself to a greater accountability for the powerful. Now, along with the Spycops Bill that we see giving impunity, domestically, to intelligence agencies and the military, being facilitated by the opposition in this country, we see the [Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill], which gives impunity abroad. We [also] see some of the legislation recently being pushed through that will be very damaging to [the right to] protest. On top of all of that, [the] lack of accountability for powerful agencies in society is backed up by a media, which is willing to trade servility for access. And so the D-Notice [Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice] committees, which invite journalists to come and hear things that [the MoD and others] would prefer the journalists don't report about. What it means is that you have entire shell, which is covering the public in terms of access, to vital information about what is being done with their taxes and in their name. Unfortunately, that shell of impunity is being upheld by the judge's decision. So while I'm absolutely, pleased that Julian is not being extradited, and I hope he will be at home with his family as soon as possible, that underlying logic has not been problematised at all by the judge's decision.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and concision.
© PHOTO : MOHAMED ELMAAZI
Julian Assange Can't 'Receive a Fair Trial' in the US, CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Explains
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will face a system that is rigged by design before he ever sets foot in the court room, should he be extradited to the Unites States, CIA officer-turned-whistleblower John Kiriakou explains in an exclusive interview with Sputnik.
© Photo : Truthout/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
By Mohamed Elmaazi - 16. March 2021
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counter-terrorism officer and former chief investigator for the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In an exclusive interview with Sputnik, Kiriakou explains how he faced decades in prison after being charged with Espionage Act offences following his revelations that the Bush administration was engaged in torture of terror suspects. Kiriakou, who co-hosts The Backstory on Sputnik radio in Washington DC, also said that he did not believe it was possible for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to receive a fair trial, as he would face a jury made up of members of the national security state, the military, or their family members.
Sputnik: Can you explain the events leading up to you being arrested and prosecuted by the US federal government?
John Kiriakou: The story of my arrest and prosecution has a bit of background. I was the chief of CIA counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks. And in that job, I led a series of raids that resulted in the capture of Abu Zubaydah, who we believed at the time was the number three in Al-Qaeda*. I returned to CIA headquarters after the capture of Abu Zubaydah who was sent to a secret prison. Once I got back to headquarters, I was asked if I wanted to be trained in, what they called, the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. I had never heard that term before, and I asked what it meant. It was, I was told, that we were going to start getting rough with our prisoners. I asked what that meant. My colleague explained these 10 techniques that were going to be used against Abu Zubaydah and other prisoners.
I told him that it sounded like a torture programme to me, and that I had a moral and ethical problem with it. That was on May the sixth, 2002. On August 1st, 2002, the CIA began to torture Abu Zubaydah and they used techniques that actually had not been approved by the US Justice Department and by the White House. Besides waterboarding, which everybody has heard about, there were unspeakable crimes committed against Abu Zubaydah: mock executions, sleep deprivation —as long as 12 days. They put him in a coffin for two weeks wearing only a diaper. And knowing that he had an irrational fear of insects, they dropped a box of cockroaches in the coffin with him, all different kinds of things.
I kept waiting for somebody to say something. I kept waiting for somebody to go public, because, certainly behind the scenes people were complaining about this and saying ‘this programme is illegal’. It's unethical. And people actually resigned from the CIA rather than to participate. And so naturally I thought, well, certainly somebody is going to say something and the programme is going to be halted. That didn't happen.
In 2004, I resigned from the CIA, still waiting for somebody to say something. And finally, in December of 2007, more than five years after Abu Zubaydah was tortured, I decided to say something. And so, in response to a reporter's request, I gave an interview on ABC news here in the United States, nationally televised interview, in which I said three things. I said that the CIA was torturing its prisoners. It was not the result of a rogue operation, as President Bush had insisted. And I said that the torture program had been personally approved by the president himself.
Within 24 hours, the CIA filed something called "a crimes report" against me with the Justice Department, alleging that I had revealed classified information. The FBI investigated me for a full year from December of 2007 until December of 2008. And then they sent my attorneys what's called a declination letter, declining to prosecute me. They said that they had found that my revelation was not classified and besides it's illegal to classify a crime —and I believed torture was a crime — but the FBI declined to prosecute me. And they ended the investigation.
What I did not know was that three weeks later, when Barack Obama became president, John Brennan —who is an old nemesis of mine and became Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor— asked the Justice Department to secretly reopen the case against me. I had no idea that my phones were being tapped, my emails were being intercepted, that there were teams of FBI agents conducting surveillance on me. And that lasted for three years until January of 2012.
And then in January, I was arrested and charged with five felonies, including three counts of espionage, one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, and one count of making a false statement. Of course, I hadn't committed espionage. That was ludicrous. And eventually, those charges were dropped. I ended up taking a plea to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in exchange for a sentence of 30 months in prison, where I would do 23 months rather than face 45 years. I have five kids at home. It was an easy decision.
Sputnik: You faced a trial in the Eastern District of Virginia which is known as the ‘espionage court’. Why is it known as the espionage court?
John Kiriakou: I was charged in the Eastern District of Virginia, which is known as the ‘espionage court’ and it's called the espionage court, for a couple of very simple reasons. Number one, it's the home of both the CIA and the Department of Defense. Number two, no national security defendant has ever won a case there. Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker, was charged there. [NSA whistleblower] Ed Snowden was charged there. Jeffrey Sterling, the CIA whistleblower, was charged there. Julian Assange has been charged there.
So, they do that because the jury pool is such that jurors will be either employees of, or relatives or friends of employees of, the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, intelligence community contractors. It's almost impossible to find a jury that's truly independent. And it's because these people have to live somewhere and their jobs are based in Northern Virginia. So, they tend to live in Northern Virginia.
Sputnik: What can Julian Assange expect were he to be extradited to the United States and tried under the Espionage Act in the Eastern district of Virginia?
John Kiriakou: I don't believe that it's possible for Julian Assange to receive a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia. The judges are very conservative. As I mentioned, the juries tend to be very conservative. There's an old saying that in the Eastern District of Virginia, a ham sandwich would be indicted and convicted if it were to be charged with a crime. You know, in my own case, I hired a jury consultant. I hired OJ Simpson's jury consultant. And he flew up from Texas. He got a security clearance from the Justice Department and went through all 15,000 pages of discovery. And after he did all that, we met with all the attorneys - I had 11 attorneys in my case - and he said to me, ‘if we were in any other district in America, we would win this thing. If we were in any other district in America, I would say, let's go for it. We're going to get a good jury and we're going to win this thing. But the Eastern District of Virginia', he said, 'you don't have a chance. Take the deal’.
Julian Assange is in an even more precarious position because so many people have already made up their minds about Julian. He's received so much press. He's a foreign national accused of espionage. He's being charged in the espionage court, in the Eastern District. I just don't see how it's possible that Julian Assange can receive a fair trial.
Sputnik: In her decision refusing Julian Assange's extradition, the judge actually found in favour of the majority of the US government's arguments. Among them was that Julian Assange could expect a fair trial in respect of the jury composition. In her judgement, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that as US federal prosecutor Gordon Kromberg pointed out, "there are 1,100,000 people living in Fairfax county alone, and the jury could be drawn from any of the six counties. Given this large pool of potential jurors, the suggestion that twelve impartial individuals could not be empanelled is hard to sustain".
She continued "No juror will be qualified to serve unless the presiding judge is satisfied that he or she is able to put aside any previously formed opinions or impressions, is prepared to pay careful and close attention to the evidence, and is able to render a fair and impartial verdict, based solely on the evidence”. How do you respond to Judge Baraitser's conclusions in this respect? Does she have a point?
John Kiriakou: The business of Northern Virginia is government. Period. That's it. There's no manufacturing here. We're not a financial hub. We're not a medical hub. It's government. That's it. Everybody works for the government or everybody has a family member who works for the government. Sure, there are 1.1 million people, including children, in Fairfax County and the Eastern District of Virginia covers six counties - about of 3 million people. But as I said, the entire business of the area is government.
Let me ask you a question. When former CIA director David Petraeus was charged the national security crimes, he was not charged in the Eastern district of Virginia. He was charged in the Western District of North Carolina. And after he pleaded guilty to illegally disclosing classified information to his adulterous girlfriend and accepted a misdemeanour punishment of 11 months of unsupervised release, the judge came down from the bench to shake his hand and to thank him for his service to the country.
Why wasn't he charged in the Eastern District of Virginia? The answer is because the fix was in and had he been charged [there] he would have been convicted of a more serious crime. They didn't want him to be convicted of a more serious crime. They wanted to go through the motions to make it look like the judicial system is blind. Well, it's not blind. And even the prosecution knew that. And that's why David Petraeus was not charged in the Eastern District of Virginia, and Julian Assange was charged in the Eastern of Virginia. So, the judge can talk all she wants about the honesty and integrity of the jury pool in Northern Virginia. I don't believe it for a second.
Sputnik: John Kiriakou thank you for joining us on Sputnik.
John Kiriakou: Thanks for having me.
*Al-Qaeda is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.
* This interview has been edited for clarity and concision.
JOE LAURIA: WIKILEAKS LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD.
First published on BITCHUTE October 28th, 2018.
Joe Lauria talks with John Kiriakou about life inside mainstream media, being muzzled as a journalist and the 'big agenda' of the New York Times to push and promote American interests abroad.
Mr. Fish was a cartoonist known for bold political cartoons. He made many Assange illustrations, see more at: