UPDATE 03. January 2020: Mexico offers Julian Assange political asylum to avoid extradition to US + Margaret Flowers: Assange’s Extradition Case is Our Struggle for Popular Powery 20

UPDATE 02. Januar 2021: Let's Be Absolutely Clear What's At Stake In The Assange Case

UPDATE 01. January 2020: The Political Persecution Of Julian Assange & The War On Journalism

UPDATE 31. December 2020: The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom and Tyranny

ICYMI: Sarah Palin appologizes and calls for Julian Assange to be Pardoned 

EYEWITNESS TO THE TRIAL AND AGONY OF JULIAN ASSANGE

02. October 2020

JAgag.jpg

John Pilger has watched Julian Assange's extradition trial from the public gallery at London's Old Bailey. He spoke with Timothy Erik Ström of Arena magazine, Australia:

Q: Having watched Julian Assange's trial first-hand, can you describe the prevailing atmosphere in the court?

The prevailing atmosphere has been shocking. I say that without hesitation; I have sat in many courts and seldom known such a corruption of due process; this is due revenge. Putting aside the ritual associated with 'British justice', at times it has been evocative of a Stalinist show trial. One difference is that in the show trials, the defendant stood in the court proper. In the Assange trial, the defendant was caged behind thick glass, and had to crawl on his knees to a slit in the glass, overseen by his guard, to make contact with his lawyers. His message, whispered barely audibly through face masks, WAS then passed by post-it the length of the court to where his barristers were arguing the case against his extradition to an American hellhole.

Consider this daily routine of Julian Assange, an Australian on trial for truth-telling journalism. He was woken at five o'clock in his cell at Belmarsh prison in the bleak southern sprawl of London. The first time I saw Julian in Belmarsh, having passed through half an hour of 'security' checks, including a dog's snout in my rear, I found a painfully thin figure sitting alone wearing a yellow armband. He had lost more than 10 kilos in a matter of months; his arms had no muscle. His first words were: 'I think I am losing my mind'.

I tried to assure him he wasn't. His resilience and courage are formidable, but there is a limit. That was more than a year ago. In the past three weeks, in the pre-dawn, he was strip-searched, shackled, and prepared for transport to the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in a truck that his partner, Stella Moris, described as an upended coffin. It had one small window; he had to stand precariously to look out. The truck and its guards were operated by Serco, one of many politically connected companies that run much of Boris Johnson's Britain.

The journey to the Old Bailey took at least an hour and a half. That's a minimum of three hours being jolted through snail-like traffic every day. He was led into his narrow cage at the back of the court, then look up, blinking, trying to make out faces in the public gallery through the reflection of the glass. He saw the courtly figure of his dad, John Shipton, and me, and our fists went up. Through the glass, he reached out to touch fingers with Stella, who is a lawyer and seated in the body of the court.

We were here for the ultimate of what the philosopher Guy Debord called The Society of the Spectacle: a man fighting for his life. Yet his crime is to have performed an epic public service: revealing that which we have a right to know: the lies of our governments and the crimes they commit in our name. His creation of WikiLeaks and its failsafe protection of sources revolutionised journalism, restoring it to the vision of its idealists. Edmund Burke's notion of free journalism as a fourth estate is now a fifth estate that shines a light on those who diminish the very meaning of democracy with their criminal secrecy. That's why his punishment is so extreme.

The sheer bias in the courts I have sat in this year and last year, with Julian in the dock, blight any notion of British justice. When thuggish police dragged him from his asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy - look closely at the photo and you'll see he is clutching a Gore Vidal book; Assange has a political humour similar to Vidal's - a judge gave him an outrageous 50-week sentence in a maximum-security prison for mere bail infringement.

For months, he was denied exercise and held in solitary confinement disguised as 'heath care'. He once told me he strode the length of his cell, back and forth, back and forth, for his own half-marathon. In the next cell, the occupant screamed through the night. At first he was denied his reading glasses, left behind in the embassy brutality. He was denied the legal documents with which to prepare his case, and access to the prison library and the use of a basic laptop. Books sent to him by a friend, the journalist Charles Glass, himself a survivor of hostage-taking in Beirut, were returned. He could not call his American lawyers. He has been constantly medicated by the prison authorities. When I asked him what they were giving him, he couldn't say. The governor of Belmarsh has been awarded the Order of the British Empire.

At the Old Bailey, one of the expert medical witnesses, Dr Kate Humphrey, a clinical neuropsychologist at Imperial College, London, described the damage: Julian's intellect had gone from 'in the superior, or more likely very superior range' to 'significantly below' this optimal level, to the point where he was struggling to absorb information and 'perform in the low average range'.

This is what the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Nils Melzer, calls 'psychological torture', the result of a gang-like 'mobbing' by governments and their media shills. Some of the expert medical evidence is so shocking I have no intention of repeating it here. Suffice to say that Assange is diagnosed with autism and Asperger's syndrome and, according to Professor Michael Kopelman, one of the world's leading neuropsychiatrists, he suffers from 'suicidal preoccupations' and is likely to find a way to take his life if he is extradited to America.

James Lewis QC, America's British prosecutor, spent the best part of his cross-examination of Professor Kopelman dismissing mental illness and its dangers as 'malingering'. I have never heard in a modern setting such a primitive view of human frailty and vulnerability.

My own view is that if Assange is freed, he is likely to recover a substantial part of his life. He has a loving partner, devoted friends and allies and the innate strength of a principled political prisoner. He also has a wicked sense of humour.

But that is a long way off. The moments of collusion between the judge - a Gothic-looking magistrate called Vanessa Baraitser, about whom little is known - and the prosecution acting for the Trump regime have been brazen. Until the last few days, defence arguments have been routinely dismissed. The lead prosecutor, James Lewis QC, ex SAS and currently Chief Justice of the Falklands, by and large gets what he wants, notably up to four hours to denigrate expert witnesses, while the defence's examination is guillotined at half an hour. I have no doubt, had there been a jury, his freedom would be assured.

The dissident artist Ai Weiwei came to join us one morning in the public gallery. He noted that in China the judge's decision would already have been made. This caused some dark ironic amusement. My companion in the gallery, the astute diarist and former British ambassador Craig Murray wrote:

I fear that all over London a very hard rain is now falling on those who for a lifetime have worked within institutions of liberal democracy that at least broadly and usually used to operate within the governance of their own professed principles. It has been clear to me from Day 1 that I am watching a charade unfold. It is not in the least a shock to me that Baraitser does not think anything beyond the written opening arguments has any effect. I have again and again reported to you that, where rulings have to be made, she has brought them into court pre-written, before hearing the arguments before her.

I strongly expect the final decision was made in this case even before opening arguments were received.

The plan of the US Government throughout has been to limit the information available to the public and limit the effective access to a wider public of what information is available. Thus we have seen the extreme restrictions on both physical and video access. A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population.

There are few records of the proceedings. They are: Craig Murray's personal blog, Joe Lauria's live reporting on Consortium News and the World Socialist Website. American journalist Kevin Gosztola's blog, Shadowproof, funded mostly by himself, has reported more of the trial than the major US press and TV, including CNN, combined.

In Australia, Assange's homeland, the 'coverage' follows a familiar formula set overseas. The London correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, Latika Bourke, wrote this recently:

The court heard Assange became depressed during the seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought political asylum to escape extradition to Sweden to answer rape and sexual assault charges.

There were no 'rape and sexual assault charges' in Sweden. Bourke's lazy falsehood is not uncommon. If the Assange trial is the political trial of the century, as I believe it is, its outcome will not only seal the fate of a journalist for doing his job but intimidate the very principles of free journalism and free speech. The absence of serious mainstream reporting of the proceedings is, at the very least, self-destructive. Journalists should ask: who is next?

How shaming it all is. A decade ago, the Guardian exploited Assange's work, claimed its profit and prizes as well as a lucrative Hollywood deal, then turned on him with venom. Throughout the Old Bailey trial, two names have been cited by the prosecution, the Guardian's David Leigh, now retired as 'investigations editor' and Luke Harding, the Russiaphobe and author of a fictional Guardian 'scoop' that claimed Trump adviser Paul Manafort and a group of Russians visited Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. This never happened, and the Guardian has yet to apologise. The Harding and Leigh book on Assange - written behind their subject's back - disclosed a secret password to a WikiLeaks file that Assange had entrusted to Leigh during the Guardian's 'partnership'. Why the defence has not called this pair is difficult to understand.

Assange is quoted in their book declaring during a dinner at a London restaurant that he didn't care if informants named in the leaks were harmed. Neither Harding nor Leigh was at the dinner. John Goetz, an investigations reporter with Der Spiegel, was at the dinner and testified that Assange said nothing of the kind. Incredibly, Judge Baraitser stopped Goetz actually saying this in court.

However, the defence has succeeded in demonstrating the extent to which Assange sought to protect and redact names in the files released by WikiLeaks and that no credible evidence existed of individuals harmed by the leaks. The great whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg said that Assange had personally redacted 15,000 files. The renowned New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager, who worked with Assange on the Afghanistan and Iraq war leaks, described how Assange took 'extraordinary precautions in redacting names of informants'.

Q: What are the implications of this trial's verdict for journalism more broadly - is it an omen of things to come?

The 'Assange effect' is already being felt across the world. If they displease the regime in Washington, investigative journalists are liable to prosecution under the 1917 US Espionage Act; the precedent is stark. It doesn't matter where you are. For Washington, other people's nationality and sovereignty rarely mattered; now it does not exist. Britain has effectively surrendered its jurisdiction to Trump's corrupt Department of Justice. In Australia, a National Security Information Act promises Kafkaesque trials for transgressors. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has been raided by police and journalists' computers taken away. The government has given unprecedented powers to intelligence officials, making journalistic whistle-blowing almost impossible. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Assange 'must face the music'. The perfidious cruelty of his statement is reinforced by its banality.

'Evil', wrote Hannah Arendt, 'comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil'.

Q: Having followed the story of WikiLeaks closely for a decade, how has this eyewitness experience shifted your understanding of what's at stake with Assange's trial?

I have long been a critic of journalism as an echo of unaccountable power and a champion of those who are beacons. So, for me, the arrival of WikiLeaks was exciting; I admired the way Assange regarded the public with respect, that he was prepared to share his work with the 'mainstream' but not join their collusive club. This, and naked jealousy, made him enemies among the overpaid and under-talented, insecure in their pretensions of independence and impartiality.

I admired the moral dimension to WikiLeaks. Assange was rarely asked about this, yet much of his remarkable energy comes from a powerful moral sense that governments and other vested interests should not operate behind walls of secrecy. He is a democrat. He explained this in one of our first interviews at my home in 2010.

What is at stake for the rest of us has long been at stake: freedom to call authority to account, freedom to challenge, to call out hypocrisy, to dissent. The difference today is that the world's imperial power, the United States, has never been as unsure of its metastatic authority as it is today. Like a flailing rogue, it is spinning us towards a world war if we allow it. Little of this menace is reflected in the media.

WikiLeaks, on the other hand, has allowed us to glimpse a rampant imperial march through whole societies - think of the carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, to name a few, the dispossession of 37 million people and the deaths of 12 million men, women and children in the 'war on terror' - most of it behind a façade of deception.

Julian Assange is a threat to these recurring horrors - that's why he is being persecuted, why a court of law has become an instrument of oppression, why he ought to be our collective conscience: why we all should be the threat.

The judge's decision will be known on the 4th of January 2021.

 

Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger

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Behind the Eyes of John Pilger: Radicalizing the Conscience of the World through the Power of the Moving Image

By Randy Credico - 11. January 2020

John Pilger

In this second episode of Live on the Fly – Julian Assange: Countdown to Freedom, Randy Credico delivers an exclusive interview with the legendary documentarian John Pilger—a man whose searing vision and crusading exposés of government greed, hypocrisy, tyranny, injustice, poverty and heartbreak have fired the passions and inspired the activism of millions.

John is a longtime friend and supporter of Julian Assange, whom he recently visited in Britain’s maximum security Belmarsh prison after Julian was dragged from the Ecuadoran embassy by police.

Pilger has borne personal witness to many of the epochal events of our time. Deploying his camera to shock, enlighten, and radicalize audiences throughout the world, he marched with America’s poor from Alabama to Washington following the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968, and was in the same room when Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in June 1968.

Julian Assange, dragged from Ecuadoran embassy to maximum security Belmarsh prison

Based in the United Kingdom, John is an Australian journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. He is a strong critic of American, Australian and British foreign policy—a policy which he considers to be driven by an imperialist agenda. Pilger has also criticized his native country’s treatment of Indigenous Australians. In the British print media, Pilger worked at the Daily Mirror from 1963 to 1986 and wrote a regular column for the New Statesman magazine from 1991 to 2014. Pilger won the Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award in 1967 and 1979. His documentaries have gained awards worldwide. The practices of the mainstream media are a regular subject in Pilger’s writing.

His provocative films are sometimes so excruciatingly truth-telling that—despite winning a multitude of prestigious prizes and awards—they often fail to find venues brave enough to show them. For example, in 1970 Pilger flew to New York at the invitation of Mike Wallace, the supposedly courageous host of the CBS-TV show 60 Minutes, to preview his embarrassing (for Nixon and Kissinger) discovery of the rapidly disintegrating morale, and the outbreak of mutiny and “fragging” among U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. It was the first documentary to do so. But after agreeing that Pilger’s film was “something of a scoop,” Wallace said, “real shame we can’t show it here.”

John Pilger

His work in South East Asia produced an iconic issue of the London Mirror, devoted almost entirely to his world exclusive dispatches from Cambodia in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s reign. The combined impact of his Mirror reports and his subsequent documentary, Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia, raised almost $50 million for the people of that stricken country.

Similarly, his 1994 documentary and dispatches from East Timor, where he traveled under cover, helped galvanize support for the East Timorese, then occupied by Indonesia.

Pilger has won an American TV Academy Award, an Emmy, and a BAFTA (British Academy Award) for his documentaries, which have also won numerous U.S. and European awards, such as as the Royal Television Society’s Best Documentary. The British Film Institute includes his 1979 film, Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia among the ten most important documentaries of the twentieth century.

See John’s work at johnpilger.com.

Randy Credico

Randy Credico, host of Live on the Fly, is a political satirist, civil rights activist and former director of The William Mosea Kunstler Fund For Racial Justice. Randy has an uncanny knack for circumventing mainstream media disinformation and official stonewalling to bring you live-audio debriefings and analysis from lawyers, journalists, whistle blowers, organizers and activists who are fighting to protect Assange from a lifetime sentence behind the bars of a U.S. maximum security penitentiary.

Randy visited Julian at the Ecuadoran embassy in London and is actively coordinating public support for him in the U.S. and abroad. Because Randy is adept at evading news blackouts and cutting through official stonewalling, Live on the Fly delivers gripping live-audio debriefings and analyses from the defense attorneys, witnesses, journalists, activists and many more.

Prior and returning guests to Live on the Fly include renowned investigative journalist and documentarian John Pilger; investigative journalists Stefania Maurizi and Max Blumenthal; animal rights activist and environmentalist Pamela Anderson; whistle blowers Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, Coleen Rowley and ex NYPD Detective Frank Serpico; whistle blower, human rights activist and former United Kingdom Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray and many more.

Nathan Fuller is also back with Randy co-hosting the interview. Nathan is the director of the Courage Foundation which runs Julian Assange’s public defense campaign at defend.wikileaks.org.

The Courage Foundation supports whistle blowers and other journalistic sources who risk life or liberty to make significant contributions to the historical record. Before Courage, Nathan covered Chelsea Manning’s military court martial for the Chelsea Manning Support Network.

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Episode 16: John Pilger

Assange Countdown to Freedom

John Pilger provides a sweeping historical context for the revolutionary journalism of Julian Assange. Pilger’s famous interview of the great war corespondent Martha Gelhorn serves as the basis for a discussion of the history of courageous reporting. Powerful segments of five of Pilger’s most famous films serve as a panorama of journalistic history dating from the First World War—-showing the dark growth of the overwhelming power of the U.S., it’s increasing worldwide efforts to control the flow of information as exemplified by the shocking London show trial of Julian Assange.

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Episode 1: Season 5 Debut - John Pilger

In the debut program of Season 5 of Assange Countdown To Freedom, legendary filmmaker, author and war correspondent, John Pilger provides insight on the future and fate of the Assange prosecution under a Joe Biden administration. Mr. Pilger also reminds us of the profound and unparalleled importance of the trailblazing WikiLeaks founder's contribution to the world of journalism.

Pilger recounts the history of the US’ unrelenting and vindictive campaign against the journalism of Julian Assange for his revelations of the government's criminal activities. He elso exposes the complicity of British prosecutors in the frame up of Assange and the ominous nature of the ongoing show trial.

Mr Pilger also examines Biden's deplorable multi-decade hawkish record on foreign policy and predicts what we can expect in the future.

Pilger also takes a moment to acknowledge the work of the courageous journalist Robert Fisk on the occasion of his death.

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UPDATES:

Mexico offers Julian Assange political asylum to avoid extradition to US

By Lee Brown - 03. January 2021

https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/01/AFP_8Y23WV.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=618&h=410&crop=1

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange raises his fist prior to addressing the media on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London AFP via Getty Images

Mexico on Monday offered political asylum to Julian Assange to further protect him from extradition to the US.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said it was his nation’s “responsibility” to offer protection after the US announced it was appealing a UK court decision not to extradite the WikiLeaks founder, who faces up to 175 years in prison for espionage charges.

“Assange is a journalist and deserves a chance. I am in favor of pardoning him,” Lopez Obrador said. “We’ll give him protection.”

Assange remains in custody until at least Wednesday, when his lawyers plan to fight for his release at a bail hearing.

“I’m going to ask the foreign minister to carry out the relevant procedures to request that the UK government releases Mr. Assange and that Mexico offers him political asylum,” Lopez Obrador told reporters, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents a decade ago.

More On Julian Assange:

Pamela Anderson posts tribute to ‘dear friend’ Julian Assange after his court win

Julian Assange wins case to avoid extradition to US

Pamela Anderson makes 11th-hour pardon plea for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

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Margaret Flowers: Assange’s Extradition Case is Our Struggle for Popular Power

January 4, 2021

Monday, January 4, 2021, will be a seminal day for press freedom and our right to know what our governments and corporations are doing around the world.

By Margaret Flowers  Popular Resistance 
 NEWSLETTER  Above photo: europeanjournalists.org

Judge Vanessa Baraitser will announce her decision on the United States’ request to extradite Julian Assange to the US for trial on 18 charges for his work to publish leaked documents that expose US war crimes and other wrongdoing in Wikileaks.

If Assange is extradited, this will have a chilling effect on any journalist or publisher anywhere in the world who dares to expose the truth about what the United States and its transnational corporations are doing. Already, Assange has endured what would break the will of many people – false accusations of sex crimes, seven years holed up in the small Ecuadorian Embassy in London and almost two years in a maximum security prison. His health has deteriorated due to these conditions and lack of proper health care.

Assange is enduring this for his belief in transparency, that people have a right to see leaked documents directly without the gate-keeping of corporate media that protects the interests of the ruling class. This is what frightens the power holders the most. Knowledge is power. That is why corporate media spend so much effort to distract the public with meaningless gossip to hide the real conversations we should be having nationally about the failed state in which we live.

We can expect a propaganda campaign to follow the judge’s announcement on Monday. Here is what we need to know about Assange, the hearing and next steps to protect Julian Assange.

The Extradition Hearing

In the Popular Resistance Newsletter written at the end of the witness portion of the extradition hearing last October, I outlined five reasons why it is clear that Julian Assange must be freed. Assange is facing 17 charges under the US Espionage Act and one charge of attempted hacking. These carry a sentence of up to 175 years in prison. If extradited, Assange would be tried in a Virginia court that is favorable to the security state. Jeffrey Sterling writes about his conviction by that court and why Assange would not have a fair trial.

Assange’s September hearing was full of injustices. Assange did not have adequate access to his lawyers or to the documents related to his case while he was in prison. The excuse for this was the COVID-19 pandemic, but the court refused to accept that as an excuse to delay the hearing so he could prepare properly when his lawyers made the request to push it back. During the hearing, Assange was placed in a glass cubicle behind his lawyers where he struggled to hear the proceedings and could not communicate freely with his legal team. John Pilger writes about Assange’s experience in court:

“The prevailing atmosphere has been shocking. I say that without hesitation; I have sat in many courts and seldom known such a corruption of due process; this is due revenge.”

Chris Hedges spoke with Craig Murray, who attended the hearing virtually and wrote a daily summary of it.

The legal team for Assange clearly demonstrated that Assange is a publisher and that his publishing of materials leaked by Chelsea Manning was done in a responsible way. His actions were the same as those of media outlets around the world who press their sources for information and publish leaked materials regularly. They also showed that the United States’ case against Assange is purely political and that the United States worked with a Spanish security corporation, UC Global, to spy on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The United States is retaliating against Assange for exposing its crimes. And, Assange’s lawyers demonstrated that extradition of Assange would be physically harmful to him. It would also harm press freedom worldwide.

For any of these reasons, the extradition request must be denied and Julian Assange should be freed to be with his young family. Assange needs to receive comprehensive health care to restore him physically and mentally. And, Assange must be applauded and supported for his brave actions. Whether any of this happens depends on what we do.

From Defend.Wikileaks.org.

Defending Julian Assange and Press Freedom

As Glenn Greenwald explains:

“Whether a society is truly free is determined by how it treats its dissidents, those who live and speak and think outside of permissible lines, those who effectively subvert ruling class aims. If you want to know whether free speech is genuine or illusory, look not to the treatment of those who loyally serve establishment factions and vocally affirm their most sacred pieties, but to the fate of those who reside outside of those factions and work in opposition to them.”

This is why Julian Assange’s struggle is our struggle. If he is extradited, the power holders will win another victory against the people that further cements their power and our oppression. Julian’s fight is our fight for our right to have access to information about what is being done. Without that right, we will be much weaker.

Think about how important it has been for us to know about what US troops were really doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, about torture in the prison at Guantanamo Bay, about what was being negotiated in the secret TransPacific Partnership and about what State Department officials are doing, to name just a few Wikileaks revelations. This information fueled our movements for peace and justice.

Whatever happens on January 4, our struggle continues. This week, I spoke with Kevin Gosztola who has been covering the extradition process on Clearing the FOG about what we can expect and what our next steps could be.

If the judge decides against extradition, it is possible Assange could be freed but it is also possible the US government could appeal the decision and he would remain in prison pending that process. If the judge decides to extradite him, Assange’s lawyers could appeal that decision on the basis that it would imperil his health, which has been a successful strategy in other recent cases in the United Kingdom. It is possible the judge could issue a split decision by denying the charges under the Espionage Act and ruling in favor of extradition to face the hacking attempt charge. If that is the case, there is no reason to believe the United States would comply with the UK court once Assange is in the US.

Here are some actions being taken or that could be taken:

  1. Always be the media. Share articles that provide accurate information about the situation. You will find them at PopularResistance.org, Consortium News, Craig Murray’s websiteShadowproof, and The Grayzone, to name a few. We can expect a barrage of misinformation after the decision. Counter it everywhere you see it using comment sections on articles, letters to the editor and responding on social media. If we all do this, we can have an impact on the national dialog.
  2. Push for a presidential pardon. Over the past few weeks, there has been an effort to push President Trump to pardon Julian Assange. United Nations’ torture expert Nils Melzer has called for his pardon as well as Australian Members of Parliament, Pamela Anderson and even Sarah Palin.
  3. Push the Biden Department of Justice to drop the charges. Julian’s father, John Shipton, said he would fly to Washington to speak with Joe Biden personally. Remember, it was the Obama-Biden administration that charged Julian Assange using the Espionage Act back when Chelsea Manning was facing trial. They declined to take that charge any further under the realization of the harm it would cause to the functioning of the press. For the Trump administration to proceed with the charges years later does not make sense. The Biden administration must revert to the original position of protecting press freedom or if they won’t do that, they can justify dropping the extradition request on the grounds that Assange’s health is in poor condition.
  4. Encourage members of Congress to speak out on Assange’s behalf. The new Congress provides an opportunity to get your member on the record about their position regarding Assange’s case. Write or email them to find out whether they support the First Amendment or not. If a group of lawmakers were willing to back Assange, this could have a big impact on the new administration.
  5. Press for stronger protections for the press. The Espionage Law was created in 1917 to prevent dissent to the first world war. It has been used more in the past decade than in all the years prior to that. It needs to be repealed and we need laws that end corporate media monopolies and empower independent media outlets.

No matter what happens in the Assange case, we must continue to advocate for him and to press for stronger protections for our right to know. We are headed in a dangerous direction considering the culture of censorship that is developing. I can’t emphasize enough that access to knowledge is power. Whoever controls that access has the power. Wikileaks was trying to put that power into the hands of the people. We must keep working to democratize the media with the understanding that it is essential to our success in our two-pronged strategy of stopping the machine (resisting harmful policies and practices) and creating the new world (building alternative systems that are democratic and equitable).

RELATED

The New York Times  January 3, 2021 by Elian Peltier

A British judge plans to rule on Monday whether the WikiLeaks founder should be sent to the U.S. to face charges of violating the Espionage Act and hacking government computers.

Upcoming Ruling in Assange Trial Threatens More Than Just Freedom of the Press

By Steve Brown on Jan 02, 2021His two children could lose their father for the rest of their lives Although important legal principles are at stake in the extradition trial of Julian Assange, for which a ruling will be handed down on January 4, it should not be forgotten that there are important human issues at stake as well.  One such […]

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Glenn Greenwald: Julian Assange’s Imprisonment Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom

The real measure of how free is a society is not how its mainstream, well-behaved ruling class servants are treated, but the fate of its actual dissidents.

[Assemblea Nacional Catalana / CC BY-NC 2.0]

By Glenn Greenwald - 02. 

Persecution is not typically doled out to those who recite mainstream pieties, or refrain from posing meaningful threats to those who wield institutional power, or obediently stay within the lines of permissible speech and activism imposed by the ruling class.

Those who render themselves acquiescent and harmless that way will — in every society, including the most repressive — usually be free of reprisals. They will not be censored or jailed. They will be permitted to live their lives largely unmolested by authorities, while many will be well-rewarded for this servitude. Such individuals will see themselves as free because, in a sense, they are: they are free to submit, conform and acquiesce. And if they do so, they will not even realize, or at least not care, and may even regard as justifiable, that those who refuse this Orwellian bargain they have embraced (“freedom” in exchange for submission) are crushed with unlimited force.

Those who do not seek to meaningfully dissent or subvert power will usually deny — because they do not perceive — that such dissent and subversion are, in fact, rigorously prohibited. They will continue to believe blissfully that the society in which they live guarantees core civic freedoms — of speech, of press, of assembly, of due process — because they have rendered their own speech and activism, if it exists at all, so innocuous that nobody with the capacity to do so would bother to try to curtail it. The observation apocryphally attributed to socialist activist Rosa Luxemburg, imprisoned for her opposition to German involvement in World War I and then summarily executed by the state, expresses it best: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

The metric to determine whether a society is free is not how its orthodoxy-spouting, well-behaved, deferential-to-authority citizens are treated. Such people are treated well, or at least usually left alone, by every sovereign and every power center in every era, all over the world.

You will not feel the sting of Silicon Valley or other institutional censorship as long as you affirm the latest COVID pronouncements of the World Health Organization and Dr. Anthony Fauci (even as those decrees contradict the ones they issued only a few months earlier), but you will if you question, refute or deviate from them. You will not have your Facebook page deleted if you defend Israeli occupation of Palestine but will be banished from that platform if you live in the West Bank and Gaza and urge resistance to Israeli occupying troops. If you call Trump an orange fascist clown, you can stay on YouTube for eternity, but not if you defend his most controversial policies and claims. You can vocally insist that the 2000, 2004 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections were all stolen without the slightest concern of being banned, but the same claims about the 2020 election will result in the summary denial of your ability to use online tech monopolies to be heard.

Censorship, like most repression, is reserved for those who dissent from majoritarian orthodoxies, not for those who express views comfortably within the mainstream. Establishment Democrats and Republicans — adherents to the prevailing neoliberal order — have no need for free speech protections since nobody with power would care enough to silence them. It is only the disaffected, those who reside on the fringes and the margins, who need those rights. And those are precisely the people who, by definition, are most often denied them.

Similarly: powerful officials in Washington can illegally leak the most sensitive government secrets and will suffer no punishment, or will get the lightest tap on the wrist, provided their aim is to advance mainstream narratives. But low-level leakers whose aim is to expose wrongdoing by the powerful or reveal their systemic lying will have the full weight of the criminal justice system and the intelligence community come crashing down on them, to destroy them with vengeance and also to put their heads on a pike to terrorize future dissidents out of similarly stepping forward.

Journalists like Bob Woodward, who spend decades spilling the most sensitive secrets at the behest of the ruling class D.C. elites, will be lavished with awards and immense wealth. But those like Julian Assange who publish similar secrets but against the will of those elites, with the goal and outcome of exposing (rather than obscuring) ruling class lies and impeding (rather than advancing) their agenda, will suffer the opposite fate as Woodward: they will endure every imaginable punishment, including indefinite imprisonment in maximum-security cells. That is because Woodward is a servant of power while Assange is a dissident against it.

All of this illustrates a vital truth. The real measure of how free is a society — from China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to France, Britain and the U.S. — is not how its mainstream, well-behaved ruling class servants are treated. Royal court vassals always end up fine: rewarded for their subservience and thus, convinced that freedoms abound, they redouble their fealty to prevailing status quo power structures.

Whether a society is truly free is determined by how it treats its dissidents, those who live and speak and think outside of permissible lines, those who effectively subvert ruling class aims. If you want to know whether free speech is genuine or illusory, look not to the treatment of those who loyally serve establishment factions and vocally affirm their most sacred pieties, but to the fate of those who reside outside of those factions and work in opposition to them. If you want to know whether a free press is authentically guaranteed, look at the plight of those who publish secrets designed not to propagandize the population to venerate elites but, instead, those whose publications result in generating mass discontent against them.

That is what makes the ongoing imprisonment of Julian Assange not only a grotesque injustice but also a vital, crystal-clear prism for seeing the fundamental fraud of U.S. narratives about who is free and who is not, about where tyranny reigns and where it does not.

Assange has been imprisoned for almost two years. He was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British police on April 11, 2019. That was possible only because the U.S., U.K. and Spanish governments coerced Ecuador’s meek President, Lenin Moreno, to withdraw the asylum extended to Assange seven years earlier by his staunch sovereignty-defending predecessor, Rafael Correa.

The U.S. and British governments hate Assange because of his revelations that exposed their lies and crimes, while Spain was enraged by WikiLeaks’ journalistic coverage of and activism against Madrid’s 2018 violent repression of the Catalan independence movement. So they bullied and bribed Moreno to throw Assange to the wolves — i.e., to them. And ever since, Assange has been held in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London, a facility used for terrorist suspects that is so harsh that the BBC asked in 2004 whether it is “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay.”

Assange is not currently imprisoned because he was convicted of a crime. Two weeks after he was dragged out of the embassy, he was found guilty of the minor offense of “skipping bail” and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison, the maximum penalty allowed by law. He fully served that sentence as of April of this year, and was thus scheduled to be released, facing no more charges. But just weeks before his release date, the U.S. Justice Department unveiled an indictment of Assange arising out of WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of U.S. State Department diplomatic cables and war logs that revealed massive corruption by numerous governments, Bush and Obama officials, and various corporations around the world.

That U.S. indictment and the accompanying request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to stand trial provided, by design, the pretext for the British government to imprison Assange indefinitely. A judge quickly ruled that Assange could not be released on bail pending his extradition hearing, but instead must stay behind bars while the U.K. courts fully adjudicate the Justice Department’s extradition request. No matter what happens, it will takes years for this extradition process to conclude because whichever side (the DOJ or Assange) loses at each stage (and Assange is highly likely to lose the first round when the lower-court decision on the extradition request is issued next week), they will appeal, and Assange will linger in prison while these appeals wind their way very slowly through the U.K. judicial system.

That means that — absent a pardon by Trump or the withdrawal of the charges by what will become the Biden DOJ — Assange will be locked up for years without any need to prove he is guilty of any crime. He will have been just disappeared: silenced by the very governments whose corruption and crimes he denounced and exposed.

Those are the same governments — the U.S. and U.K. — that sanctimoniously condemn their adversaries (but rarely their repressive allies) for violating free speech, free press and due process rights. These are the same governments that succeed — largely due to a limitlessly compliant corporate media that either believes the propaganda or knowingly disseminates it for their own rewards — in convincing large numbers of their citizens that, unlike in the Bad Countries such as Russia and Iran, these civic freedoms are guaranteed and protected in the Good Western Countries.

(The ample evidence showing that the indictment of Assange is the single gravest threat to press freedoms in years, and that the arguments mounted to justify it are fraudulent, has been repeatedly documented by myself and others, so I will not rehash those discussions here. Those interested can see the article and video program I produced on this prosecution along with my op-ed in The Washington Post; Laura Poitras’ New York Times op-ed last week on the indictment; former Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s Guardian op-ed calling for Assange’s immediate release; the editorial from The Guardian and column from The Washington Post’s media reporter Margaret Sullivan condemning this prosecution as abusive; and statements from the Freedom of the Press Foundationthe Committee to Protect JournalistsColumbia Journalism Review, and the ACLU warning of the serious dangers to press freedoms it poses).


Even Assange’s conviction on “bail jumping” charges, and the way it is portrayed in mainstream media discourse, reveals how deceitful these narratives are, and how illusory are these supposedly protected liberties. Assange’s misdemeanor bail jumping conviction was based on his decision to seek asylum from Ecuador rather than appear for his 2012 extradition hearing in London. That asylum request was granted by Ecuador on the ground that Sweden’s attempt to extradite Assange from the U.K. for a sexual assault investigation could be used as a pretext to ship him to the U.S., which would then imprison him for the “crime” of reporting on its illegal and deceitful acts. Such retaliatory imprisonment, said Ecuador, would amount to classic political persecution, thus necessitating asylum to protect his political rights from attack by the U.S. (the case in Sweden was subsequently closed after prosecutors concluded that Assange’s asylum rendered the investigation futile).

When the U.S. grants asylum to dissidents from adversary countries in order to protect them from persecution, the U.S. media heralds it a noble, benevolent act, one that proves how devoted the U.S. Government is to the rights and freedoms of people all over the world.

Recall the celebratory tone of U.S. media coverage when the Obama administration gave refuge in its Beijing embassy and then permanent asylum to the blind Chinese activist-lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who had faced numerous criminal charges in his home country for his work against various policies he regarded as oppressive and unjust. American liberals depict asylum when granted by the U.S. Government, to protect against persecution in other Latin American countries, as so sacred that the Trump administration’s efforts to limit such asylum invoked their sustained fury (that fury is about to dissipate as Biden does the same, but with the softer and gentler language of reluctance).

But when asylum is granted by other countries to protect someone against persecution at the hands of the U.S. Government, then suddenly asylum is transformed from a noble and benevolent shield against human rights abuses into a dastardly, corrupt crime. That is how U.S. and British journalists routinely malign Ecuador’s decision to shield Assange from the possibility of being shipped to the U.S to be punished for his journalism, or how they still speak of Russia’s grant of asylum to Edward Snowden, which shields him from being shipped to the U.S. to face a likely punishment of life in prison under the repressive Espionage Act of 1917, a law that bars him from even raising a defense of “justification” in court and thus obtaining a fair trial. Under this propagandistic framework, not only the governments that grant asylum against U.S. persecution (such as Ecuador and Russia) but also the individuals who seek asylum from U.S. persecution (such as Assange and Snowden) are cast by the U.S. and British media as villains and even criminals for availing themselves of this internationally guaranteed asylum right.

Indeed, the British judge who doled out the maximum sentence to Assange for bail jumping, Deborah Taylor, sneered at his sentencing hearing that he “used his asylum at the Ecuadoran Embassy to insult the British judiciary.” She added: “It’s difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offense. By entering the embassy, you deliberately put yourself out of reach, whilst remaining in the U.K. You remained there for nearly seven years, exploiting your privileged position to flout the law and advertise internationally your disdain for the law of this country.”

Snowden’s asylum in Russia — the only thing standing between him and decades in a high-security cage in the U.S. for the “crime” of revealing unconstitutional spying by Obama officials — is similarly scorned in elite U.S. media and political circles as something shameful and even treasonous rather than a perfectly legal shield under international asylum conventions against persecution by the vengeful and notoriously repressive U.S. security state.

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Here we see the blinding propaganda to which U.S. citizens are endlessly subjected. Asylum is always warranted when extended by the U.S. Government to dissidents or outcasts from inferior countries, but is never warranted when granted by other countries to U.S. dissidents or other other journalists and activists whose punishment the U.S. seeks. This warped formulation is potent because the U.S. media succeeds in peddling the toxic mythology that the U.S. has unique rights and entitlements that lesser countries do not because, unlike them, the U.S. is a freedom-loving democracy that honors basic human rights and steadfastly guarantees fundamental civil liberties of free expression, a free press, and due process to all peoples.

The next time someone makes that claim, explicitly or otherwise, tell them to look at the fate of Julian Assange, one of this generation’s most effective journalists and activists in exposing the crimes, deceit and corruption of key U.S power centers, particularly its permanent security state. Assange is not even a U.S. citizen, having spent a week total in his life on U.S. soil and having absolutely no duties — legal, journalistic or ethical — to safeguard U.S. secrets.

But no matter: anyone who effectively challenges U.S. power must and will be crushed. That is because freedom of speech and press and other civic guarantees are granted only to those who refrain from meaningfully challenging the U.S. ruling class: i.e., to those who do not need those rights. Those who do need those rights — those who dissent and are disaffected — are denied them, definitively proving that these rights exist only on parchment, that in reality they are artificial and illusory for those who actually need and deserve them.

Glenn Greenwald

 

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, “No Place to Hide,” is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to co-founding The Intercept, Glenn’s column was featured in the Guardian and Salon. He was the debut winner, along with Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work on the abusive detention conditions of Chelsea Manning. For his 2013 NSA reporting, he received the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting; the Gannett Foundation Award for investigative journalism and the Gannett Foundation Watchdog Journalism Award; the Esso Premio for Excellence in Investigative Reporting in Brazil (he was the first non-Brazilian to win), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award. Along with Laura Poitras, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. The NSA reporting he led for the Guardian was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service. Greenwald resigned from The Intercept in October 2020.

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Let's Be Absolutely Clear What's At Stake In The Assange Case

By Caitlin Johnstone - 02. January 2020

Toxic social dynamics like racism, sexism and homophobia only begin moving toward health when society collectively begins gaining a lucid and unobstructed understanding of how disordered and damaging those dynamics really are.


When it comes to human behavior, things only change for the better when there is a lucid and unobstructed perception of what's going on.

Self-destructive behavior patterns only go away when there's a lucid and unobstructed perception of the previously unconscious psychological dynamics which were driving them.

Victims of abuse only end their abusive relationships when they obtain a lucid and unobstructed perception of the abusive dynamics as they truly are.

It only becomes unacceptable to have a totalitarian monarch who tortures and executes people without trial, murders anyone who speaks ill of him, and rules by divine right when society begins collectively gaining a lucid and unobstructed awareness of how ridiculous, unjust and unacceptable such models of government are.

Whether you're talking about individuals or humanity in its entirety, the story of human progress has always been a story of moving from blindness to seeing. From unawareness to awareness. From the lights in the room being off to the lights being switched on.

There is no progress without clear seeing. We cannot move in the direction of health and harmony if we cannot lucidly perceive the ways in which we are still sick and dysfunctional. We can't move forward if we're unaware of the specific ways in which we are stuck in place.

Most of us, on some level, want things in our world to change for the better. Some few others want things to stay the same, because the status quo happens to be treating them quite well thank you very much. The struggle between the deep desire of the many for healthy change and the corrupt desire of the few to maintain the status quo is the struggle between turning the lights on and keeping them off. Between wanting to become aware of the various ways we are stuck so that we can move forward, and wanting the light of awareness as far away from our stuck points as possible.

The struggle for our species, which is really the struggle for our very survival, is therefore between the many who desire truth and the few who desire confusion. We've got numbers and truth on our side, but they have power, wealth, and a remarkable knack for psychological manipulation.

We see this struggle playing out in many ways in our world right now. Between propaganda and those trying to learn and share the truth. Between the push for internet censorship and the fight against it. Between government secrecy and freedom of information. Between the campaign to imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes, and the campaign to free him.

Anonymous Scandinavia🌐 Assange⏳ #NoExtradition @AnonScan

Barring a pardon, the extradition process concerning Julian Assange, will likely drag on no matter how Baraitser rules Monday. Appeals could take 18-24 months with possible challenges going to the UK Supreme Court and even European Court of #HumanRights. Bloomberg - Are you a robot?bloomberg.com

December 31st 2020

86 Retweets132 Likes

On Monday January 4th a UK judge will be ruling on whether or not to allow the process of Assange's extradition to the United States to move forward. It's important for opponents of this extradition to be aware that the fight will not end at this time; there's still a gruelling appeals process to go through which could take 18 to 24 months or longer in the likely event that the incredibly biased judge overseeing the case rules against Assange.

So as we prepare for the next stage in this fight, it's important for us to be perfectly clear what's at stake here.

It is absolutely true that this case will have far-reaching implications for press freedoms around the world. The imperial narrative managers have been toiling for years to frame the persecution of Julian Assange as something other than what it is, but in reality this case is about whether the most powerful government in the world is allowed to extradite journalists anywhere on earth who expose its malfeasance. Whether or not the United States should be allowed to imprison journalists for exposing its war crimes.

If the US succeeds in normalizing the legality of extraditing any journalist anywhere in the world who exposes its wrongdoing, there will be a worldwide cooling effect on national security journalism which will greatly impede humanity's ability to form a lucid and unobstructed understanding of what's going on in the world. The largest power structure on earth will have succeeded in not just turning the lights off in the room, but in uninstalling the light switch.

There is no legal case in the world right now where the struggle for lucid and unobstructed seeing has so much on the line. For this reason, this isn’t just about journalism: we really are collectively deciding the fate of our species with our response to the prospect of Assange's extradition.

Are we going to allow the most powerful government on the planet to set a legal precedent which allows it to obstruct truth around the entire world? Or are we going to oppose this tooth and claw?

Are we going to allow power to remain corrupt and unaccountable? Or are we going to insist on our right to know what's going on?

Are we going to let them keep the lights off? Or are we going to turn them on?

Are we going to let the bastards lock us into an omnicidal, ecocidal status quo while they drive us at a rapidly accelerating pace toward extinction and dystopia? Or are we going to move toward the kind of lucid and unobstructed perception of our situation which will allow us to progress into a healthy world? 

These are the questions that we are in the process of answering together. I hope we can get everyone to very seriously consider what they want their own answer to be.

______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Taylor Hudak Interview - The Political Persecution Of Julian Assange & The War On Journalism


Published on BITCHUTE January 1st, 2021.

channel image

The Last American Vagabond

Joining me today is activist and journalist Taylor Hudak, here to discuss a story that has been all but ignored by the very people screaming the loudest about the “attacks on journalists” – the MSM – and that is the story of Julian Assange and his unjust arrest and subsequent political persecution. As I state in the interview, one glaring fact that is regularly ignored, is the fact that the US government has gone after and arrested everyone involved with EXPOSING these US government war crimes – otherwise known as a whistleblower which is supposed to afford certain protections – and no one disputes that these were indeed war crimes, yet the US government has not even attempted to go after ANYONE involved with committing what are now publicly acknowledged war crimes. No accountability for those killed, only abuse of power to cover it all up. This was never about security, or American interests; this was always about covering up the crimes of a rouge government. (Recorded on 12/28/20)

All Video Source Links Can Be Found Here At The Last American Vagabond: https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/taylor-hudak-interview-political-persecution-julian-assange-war-on-journalism/

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The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom and Tyranny

The real measure of how free is a society is not how its mainstream, well-behaved ruling class servants are treated, but the fate of its actual dissidents.

By Glenn Greenwald - 31. December 2020

A billboard van calling for an end to extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange waits at traffic lights in Parliament Square in London, England, on September 14, 2020. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Persecution is not typically doled out to those who recite mainstream pieties, or refrain from posing meaningful threats to those who wield institutional power, or obediently stay within the lines of permissible speech and activism imposed by the ruling class.

Those who render themselves acquiescent and harmless that way will — in every society, including the most repressive — usually be free of reprisals. They will not be censored or jailed. They will be permitted to live their lives largely unmolested by authorities, while many will be well-rewarded for this servitude. Such individuals will see themselves as free because, in a sense, they are: they are free to submit, conform and acquiesce. And if they do so, they will not even realize, or at least not care, and may even regard as justifiable, that those who refuse this Orwellian bargain they have embraced (“freedom” in exchange for submission) are crushed with unlimited force.

Those who do not seek to meaningfully dissent or subvert power will usually deny — because they do not perceive — that such dissent and subversion are, in fact, rigorously prohibited. They will continue to believe blissfully that the society in which they live guarantees core civic freedoms — of speech, of press, of assembly, of due process — because they have rendered their own speech and activism, if it exists at all, so innocuous that nobody with the capacity to do so would bother to try to curtail it. The observation apocryphally attributed to socialist activist Rosa Luxemburg, imprisoned for her opposition to German involvement in World War I and then summarily executed by the state, expresses it best: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

The metric to determine whether a society is free is not how its orthodoxy-spouting, well-behaved, deferential-to-authority citizens are treated. Such people are treated well, or at least usually left alone, by every sovereign and every power center in every era, all over the world.

You will not feel the sting of Silicon Valley or other institutional censorship as long as you affirm the latest COVID pronouncements of the World Health Organization and Dr. Anthony Fauci (even as those decrees contradict the ones they issued only a few months earlier), but you will if you question, refute or deviate from them. You will not have your Facebook page deleted if you defend Israeli occupation of Palestine but will be banished from that platform if you live in the West Bank and Gaza and urge resistance to Israeli occupying troops. If you call Trump an orange fascist clown, you can stay on YouTube for eternity, but not if you defend his most controversial policies and claims. You can vocally insist that the 2000, 2004 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections were all stolen without the slightest concern of being banned, but the same claims about the 2020 election will result in the summary denial of your ability to use online tech monopolies to be heard.

Censorship, like most repression, is reserved for those who dissent from majoritarian orthodoxies, not for those who express views comfortably within the mainstream. Establishment Democrats and Republicans — adherents to the prevailing neoliberal order — have no need for free speech protections since nobody with power would care enough to silence them. It is only the disaffected, those who reside on the fringes and the margins, who need those rights. And those are precisely the people who, by definition, are most often denied them.

Similarly: powerful officials in Washington can illegally leak the most sensitive government secrets and will suffer no punishment, or will get the lightest tap on the wrist, provided their aim is to advance mainstream narratives. But low-level leakers whose aim is to expose wrongdoing by the powerful or reveal their systemic lying will have the full weight of the criminal justice system and the intelligence community come crashing down on them, to destroy them with vengeance and also to put their heads on a pike to terrorize future dissidents out of similarly stepping forward.

Journalists like Bob Woodward, who spend decades spilling the most sensitive secrets at the behest of the ruling class D.C. elites, will be lavished with awards and immense wealth. But those like Julian Assange who publish similar secrets but against the will of those elites, with the goal and outcome of exposing (rather than obscuring) ruling class lies and impeding (rather than advancing) their agenda, will suffer the opposite fate as Woodward: they will endure every imaginable punishment, including indefinite imprisonment in maximum-security cells. That is because Woodward is a servant of power while Assange is a dissident against it.

All of this illustrates a vital truth. The real measure of how free is a society — from China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to France, Britain and the U.S. — is not how its mainstream, well-behaved ruling class servants are treated. Royal court vassals always end up fine: rewarded for their subservience and thus, convinced that freedoms abound, they redouble their fealty to prevailing status quo power structures.

Whether a society is truly free is determined by how it treats its dissidents, those who live and speak and think outside of permissible lines, those who effectively subvert ruling class aims. If you want to know whether free speech is genuine or illusory, look not to the treatment of those who loyally serve establishment factions and vocally affirm their most sacred pieties, but to the fate of those who reside outside of those factions and work in opposition to them. If you want to know whether a free press is authentically guaranteed, look at the plight of those who publish secrets designed not to propagandize the population to venerate elites but, instead, those whose publications result in generating mass discontent against them.

That is what makes the ongoing imprisonment of Julian Assange not only a grotesque injustice but also a vital, crystal-clear prism for seeing the fundamental fraud of U.S. narratives about who is free and who is not, about where tyranny reigns and where it does not.

Assange has been imprisoned for almost two years. He was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British police on April 11, 2019. That was possible only because the U.S., U.K. and Spanish governments coerced Ecuador’s meek President, Lenin Moreno, to withdraw the asylum extended to Assange seven years earlier by his staunch sovereignty-defending predecessor, Rafael Correa.

The U.S. and British governments hate Assange because of his revelations that exposed their lies and crimes, while Spain was enraged by WikiLeaks’ journalistic coverage of and activism against Madrid’s 2018 violent repression of the Catalan independence movement. So they bullied and bribed Moreno to throw Assange to the wolves — i.e., to them. And ever since, Assange has been held in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London, a facility used for terrorist suspects that is so harsh that the BBC asked in 2004 whether it is “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay.”

Assange is not currently imprisoned because he was convicted of a crime. Two weeks after he was dragged out of the embassy, he was found guilty of the minor offense of “skipping bail” and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison, the maximum penalty allowed by law. He fully served that sentence as of April of this year, and was thus scheduled to be released, facing no more charges. But just weeks before his release date, the U.S. Justice Department unveiled an indictment of Assange arising out of WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of U.S. State Department diplomatic cables and war logs that revealed massive corruption by numerous governments, Bush and Obama officials, and various corporations around the world.

That U.S. indictment and the accompanying request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to stand trial provided, by design, the pretext for the British government to imprison Assange indefinitely. A judge quickly ruled that Assange could not be released on bail pending his extradition hearing, but instead must stay behind bars while the U.K. courts fully adjudicate the Justice Department’s extradition request. No matter what happens, it will takes years for this extradition process to conclude because whichever side (the DOJ or Assange) loses at each stage (and Assange is highly likely to lose the first round when the lower-court decision on the extradition request is issued next week), they will appeal, and Assange will linger in prison while these appeals wind their way very slowly through the U.K. judicial system.

That means that — absent a pardon by Trump or the withdrawal of the charges by what will become the Biden DOJ — Assange will be locked up for years without any need to prove he is guilty of any crime. He will have been just disappeared: silenced by the very governments whose corruption and crimes he denounced and exposed.

Those are the same governments — the U.S. and U.K. — that sanctimoniously condemn their adversaries (but rarely their repressive allies) for violating free speech, free press and due process rights. These are the same governments that succeed — largely due to a limitlessly compliant corporate media that either believes the propaganda or knowingly disseminates it for their own rewards — in convincing large numbers of their citizens that, unlike in the Bad Countries such as Russia and Iran, these civic freedoms are guaranteed and protected in the Good Western Countries.

(The ample evidence showing that the indictment of Assange is the single gravest threat to press freedoms in years, and that the arguments mounted to justify it are fraudulent, has been repeatedly documented by myself and others, so I will not rehash those discussions here. Those interested can see the article and video program I produced on this prosecution along with my op-ed in The Washington Post; Laura Poitras’ New York Times op-ed last week on the indictment; former Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s Guardian op-ed calling for Assange’s immediate release; the editorial from The Guardian and column from The Washington Post’s media reporter Margaret Sullivan condemning this prosecution as abusive; and statements from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Columbia Journalism Review, and the ACLU warning of the serious dangers to press freedoms it poses).

Even Assange’s conviction on “bail jumping” charges, and the way it is portrayed in mainstream media discourse, reveals how deceitful these narratives are, and how illusory are these supposedly protected liberties. Assange’s misdemeanor bail jumping conviction was based on his decision to seek asylum from Ecuador rather than appear for his 2012 extradition hearing in London. That asylum request was granted by Ecuador on the ground that Sweden’s attempt to extradite Assange from the U.K. for a sexual assault investigation could be used as a pretext to ship him to the U.S., which would then imprison him for the “crime” of reporting on its illegal and deceitful acts. Such retaliatory imprisonment, said Ecuador, would amount to classic political persecution, thus necessitating asylum to protect his political rights from attack by the U.S. (the case in Sweden was subsequently closed after prosecutors concluded that Assange’s asylum rendered the investigation futile).

When the U.S. grants asylum to dissidents from adversary countries in order to protect them from persecution, the U.S. media heralds it a noble, benevolent act, one that proves how devoted the U.S. Government is to the rights and freedoms of people all over the world.

Recall the celebratory tone of U.S. media coverage when the Obama administration gave refuge in its Beijing embassy and then permanent asylum to the blind Chinese activist-lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who had faced numerous criminal charges in his home country for his work against various policies he regarded as oppressive and unjust. American liberals depict asylum when granted by the U.S. Government, to protect against persecution in other Latin American countries, as so sacred that the Trump administration’s efforts to limit such asylum invoked their sustained fury (that fury is about to dissipate as Biden does the same, but with the softer and gentler language of reluctance).

NPR, April 9, 2015

But when asylum is granted by other countries to protect someone against persecution at the hands of the U.S. Government, then suddenly asylum is transformed from a noble and benevolent shield against human rights abuses into a dastardly, corrupt crime. That is how U.S. and British journalists routinely malign Ecuador’s decision to shield Assange from the possibility of being shipped to the U.S to be punished for his journalism, or how they still speak of Russia’s grant of asylum to Edward Snowden, which shields him from being shipped to the U.S. to face a likely punishment of life in prison under the repressive Espionage Act of 1917, a law that bars him from even raising a defense of “justification” in court and thus obtaining a fair trial. Under this propagandistic framework, not only the governments that grant asylum against U.S. persecution (such as Ecuador and Russia) but also the individuals who seek asylum from U.S. persecution (such as Assange and Snowden) are cast by the U.S. and British media as villains and even criminals for availing themselves of this internationally guaranteed asylum right.

Indeed, the British judge who doled out the maximum sentence to Assange for bail jumping, Deborah Taylor, sneered at his sentencing hearing that he “used his asylum at the Ecuadoran Embassy to insult the British judiciary.” She added: “It’s difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offense. By entering the embassy, you deliberately put yourself out of reach, whilst remaining in the U.K. You remained there for nearly seven years, exploiting your privileged position to flout the law and advertise internationally your disdain for the law of this country.”

Snowden’s asylum in Russia — the only thing standing between him and decades in a high-security cage in the U.S. for the “crime” of revealing unconstitutional spying by Obama officials — is similarly scorned in elite U.S. media and political circles as something shameful and even treasonous rather than a perfectly legal shield under international asylum conventions against persecution by the vengeful and notoriously repressive U.S. security state.

Here we see the blinding propaganda to which U.S. citizens are endlessly subjected. Asylum is always warranted when extended by the U.S. Government to dissidents or outcasts from inferior countries, but is never warranted when granted by other countries to U.S. dissidents or other journalists and activists whose punishment the U.S. seeks. This warped formulation is potent because the U.S. media succeeds in peddling the toxic mythology that the U.S. has unique rights and entitlements that lesser countries do not because, unlike them, the U.S. is a freedom-loving democracy that honors basic human rights and steadfastly guarantees fundamental civil liberties of free expression, a free press, and due process to all peoples.

The next time someone makes that claim, explicitly or otherwise, tell them to look at the fate of Julian Assange, one of this generation’s most effective journalists and activists in exposing the crimes, deceit and corruption of key U.S power centers, particularly its permanent security state. Assange is not even a U.S. citizen, having spent a week total in his life on U.S. soil and having absolutely no duties — legal, journalistic or ethical — to safeguard U.S. secrets.

But no matter: anyone who effectively challenges U.S. power must and will be crushed. That is because freedom of speech and press and other civic guarantees are granted only to those who refrain from meaningfully challenging the U.S. ruling class: i.e., to those who do not need those rights. Those who do need those rights — those who dissent and are disaffected — are denied them, definitively proving that these rights exist only on parchment, that in reality they are artificial and illusory for those who actually need and deserve them.

Author:

Glenn Greenwald is one of the three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He left The Intercept in October 2020. https://greenwald.substack.com/ Suscribe to his newsletter

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