VIDEO: Julian Assange's dad details son's torture

- see below: Julian Assange left out of journalists-in-prison list of CPJ

Julian Assange's dad on stage with Julian's sister in Brisbane, Australia (Image by Michelle Pini)

By Independent Australia - 

Independent Australia together with QCCL hosted an event to raise awareness for the plight of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, featuring his father John Shipton.

DESPITE THE oppressive humidity in a Brisbane hall packed to twice its capacity, the attention of the crowd did not falter. All eyes were on John Shipton as he spoke quietly and eloquently, detailing his son’s torture and labelling his incarceration in the UK "judicial kidnapping". John’s son is Julian Assange, currently rotting in Belmarsh Prison in the UK, awaiting potential extradition to the U.S. and facing 175 years in prison.

The conditions under which Assange is being held are worse than those of mass murderers and child sex offenders. Essentially in solitary confinement, he is not permitted internet usage. His visiting rights are limited to two half-hour visits per week. He cannot contact family or friends and his ability to prepare his own defence has been severely thwarted.

This, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, is

"prolonged exposure to psychological torture … and abuse [which] may soon end up costing his life.”

The event, co-hosted by Independent Australia and the Council of Civil Liberties (QCCL) was intended to mobilise support for the journalist and WikiLeaks founder. Managing editor David Donovan and executive editor Michelle Piniinterviewed Mr Shipton, along with anti-war activist Ciaron O’Reilly.

John Shipton spoke of his son's commitment to truth-telling and said of his son:

"Not once has Julian complained. Not once did he complain or moan about his situation. I don’t know if he thinks it’s worth it, but as far as I can see from the outside, his resolve is undiminished… I’ve never found any bitterness in Julian..."

Ciaron O'Reilly described Assange's popularity thus:

Where Julian is popular Is at the extremities of empire – he’s really big in Bangladesh... and the Congo – where he’s not popular is at the centre of empire. There's a lot of hostility in the UK and there was quite a lot of general sympathy with the liberal Left in the U.S. until Clinton blamed her election loss on WikiLeaks. There's a lot of scepticism in Australia.

Mr Shipton said the allegations against his son amounted to a distraction tactic to divert the limelight from the war crimes WikiLeaks exposed, and that this was the reason Assange is not receiving diplomatic assistance:

This is deliberate persecution of an Australian citizen...

Julian has had 100 consular "assistances" in one form or another, which is a testament to failure because he’s there [in Belmarsh prison] still... 

You, and us together, hold Julian up. Not the politicians or the big wigs. It’s us — we hold him up.

Watch 'Justice for Julian' event:

Sign the petition to free Julian Assange HERE.

Journalists can add their name to the International Journalist Statement in Defence of Julian Assange HERE.

Tinne Sterckx@EFT_Expert


Houses of the Oireachtas: Free Julian Assange ! - Sign the Petition!  via @Change

Sign the Petition

Free Julian Assange !


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People For Assange@people4assange


This is wonderful. The tide has turned.

So far 610 journalists and writers have spoken up for Julian Assange having signed the International journalist Statement in Defence of Julian Assange.

Thank you each and every one of you ✊ 

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helen caldicott@DrHCaldicott


JOHN PILGER: Julian sat alone, his fist clenched and held high,13376#.Xenj0d_McQI.twitter … @IndependentAus

JOHN PILGER: Julian sat alone, his fist clenched and held high

I set out at dawn. Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is in the flat hinterland of south-east London, a ribbon of walls and wire with no horizon.


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Julian Assange 2010-2019 - A decade of torture - at the hands of rogue governments and their psychotic politicians, military and agencies, many of whom he exposed for having committed crimes, warcrimes and crimes against humanity - has taken its toll on Julian Assange's health.

INTERVIEW: Dr Lissa Johnson on Perilous of Health of Julian Assange

By  - 05. December 2019

The following interview is extremely important, and we are asking our readers and listen to please disseminate this information far and wide. 

In EP 303 of the SUNDAY WIRE show, host Patrick Henningsen talks with Australian Clinical Psychologist, Dr Lissa Johnson, to discuss the current perilous situation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and his deteriorating health and a very real risk of death in custody. Currently, Assange is being held in unlawful detention in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison at the pleasure of HM Queen, but more importantly, at the behest of the US government. Consequently, 65 doctors and health professions have sent an open letter to the British Home Secretary Priti Patel asking that Assange to moved to a proper medical facility. Listen:

This segment of EP #303 of the SUNDAY WIRE originally aired live on November 24, 2019 on the Alternate Current Radio Network.

Open letter to Scott Morrison regarding Julian Assange

Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he was seeking asylum to incarceration at Belmarsh Prison (Screenshot via YouTube)

More than 40 esteemed lawyers, academics, journalists, top-ranking security veterans, whistleblowers, authors and artists have joined in urging Scott Morrison to intervene to stop the British violation of international law that keeps Julian Assange under life-threatening conditions, and to ensure his transfer to a suitable hospital, as urgently petitioned by more than 80 doctors last month.

To: Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Copies to:
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese
Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong

Dear Prime Minister,

In accordance with its duty to every citizen, the Australian Government must act to defend the beleaguered rights of Julian Assange.

Political reaction has caused him to be sought by the U.S., where he faces an effective death sentence of 175 years in prison for his role in publishing its internal documents. These included U.S. State Department communications and army logs of the wars it led in Afghanistan and Iraq — the latter of which was declared illegal by the UN Secretary-General.

To rationalise this on account of Wikileaks’ impacts is to condone punishment for releasing facts disseminated by major outlets. This is incompatible with press freedom, which in times of peace and conflict alike, hinges on the assurance that it will not be traded off.

Free expression is integral to transparency, without which democracy is necessarily a treacherous illusion. Genuine security thus stands or falls with the availed freedom to render power transparent.

Conversely, the war of aggression and oppressive surveillance amount to fake security, like the silencing of those who expose them, which, as a rule, is on false pretexts.

In 2010, a U.S. official was told in a State Department briefing that the impact of the leaks “was embarrassing but not damaging”, according to Reuters.

Courthouse News reported in 2013 that a former brigadier general heading the Information Review Task Force investigating the same leaks testified that they “did not lead to the deaths of any military sources”.

Assange's character has been much maligned, but is not subject to legislation and is accordingly no justification for extradition. Yet his rendition to the U.S. would be a precedent to weigh on all of good character — especially those who align with him in vital publishing.

Britain attempted to extradite him to Sweden over allegations of sexual violence, though Women Against Rape said,

"We do not believe that is why he is being pursued.”

In November 2019, after nine years of Assange being cast as a suspected rapist, the preliminary investigation was dropped for the third time. The last two of them spurred the impropriety of a press conference furthering a prosecutor's contentions, at additional expense to his reputation and without provision for his defence counsel to respond.

Assange was never charged, and despite arguing in court that he would likely be charged in Sweden, poverty of evidence moved the Swedish prosecutor to withdraw their European arrest warrant in 2013, before receiving the exculpatory testimony that Assange waited until 2017 for an opportunity to provide. The investigation only continued in the meantime due to pointed intervention of the British Crown Prosecution Service: "Don't you dare get cold feet!”

The UK persisted in refusing to let him leave the Ecuadorian Embassy without facing arrest and a UN panel ruled that such effective detainment was arbitrary.

In cooperation with Britain, a new president in Ecuador complied with a written request from the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs to deliver Assange 'to the proper authorities'.

Even the Ombudsman of Ecuador confirmed this expulsion as a breach of asylum laws, among others, and listed the violated articles.

Britain arrested and convicted Assange for breaching bail, citing failure to appear at a police station when requested. That request was issued with disrespect for the universal right to seek asylum, more than a week after the Embassy received him.

London's embarrassingly political prisoner has endured over 3,000 days of continuous detainment, and may not make it through the coming ones.

Assange was given a maximal sentence and endured the harshest prison conditions, simply for having sought and received asylum from another UN member state. Bail violation and absconding only apply if there is a breach of conditions without “reasonable cause”. Such causes naturally include asylum, which takes legal priority over extradition, including connected bail matters and for clearly justified reasons. Nevertheless, the judge was more interested in pronouncing him a "narcissist".

The U.S. indictments against him only concern 2010 material from WikiLeaks and reveal no new information. Like the bail issue and Swedish investigation, such matters were evaluated by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for 16 months prior to its ruling.

Its independent findings remain applicable, and cannot be rivalled as authoritative, expert opinion on how Britain is constrained to act by its own ratification of covenants. Such binding legal protection of human rights would be absurd if optional.

In May this year, Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, presented Britain, Ecuador, Sweden and the U.S. with evidence of their extensive violations of legal protocol and duty concerning Assange. He also detailed the consequences of this, including emaciation, cognitive abnormalities and severe psychological suffering, as well as mortal risk if the strain placed on him was not immediately reduced.

The opposite occurred and his condition has strikingly deteriorated.

More than 80 doctors have now petitioned the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, as well as the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC, to end this abuse and transfer him to a suitable hospital, in accordance with Professor Melzer's explicit and urgent report to Patel's predecessor.

To date, the UK Government has failed to respond in any way to the UN Rapporteur on Torture, other than by issuing a single reply and denying impropriety in two paragraphs, four months later.

This conduct is a brazen abrogation of absolute investigative and remedial obligations, under international and human rights law signed by Britain.

The UK Government is still resisting the hospital transfer request, which is a scandal that Australia will be increasingly culpable in, to the extent that it remains a passive witness.

No law or protocol prevents an Australian statesman from asking a British counterpart to relocate its citizen to a required university teaching hospital. Nor would it be possible in this case to refuse that request in a credible or politic way.

Julian Assange should not spend another day as a publisher held on remand, withering under effective solitary confinement in a poorly funded maximum-security prison.

Extradition to the U.S. would not culminate in a fair trial or bring an end to the torture, but likely make it worse and permanent, in Melzer's researched, documented and mandated estimation, as a professor of international law at the University of Glasgow.

Relevant proceedings should be ended immediately by the UK Crown Prosecutor, who has the discretionary power to do this and like any person acting on the government's behalf, must abide by ratified international law in that role. The Home Office should also commit in public to refuse any potential extradition directive from the judiciary.

All branches and parts of the implicated governments are obliged to uphold the spirit, as well as legally bound to the letter pertaining to international law.

This implies that Australia must do all in its power to ensure that Britain rectifies, in each way described, its treatment of an Australian citizen who happens to be the world's most famous publisher.

It also means that extraterritorial prosecution must be vigorously opposed, and with particular respect to Assange, by way of openly and preemptively refusing his extradition from Australia to the U.S. This should occur in tandem with securing him the option, with an itinerary of his choosing, to be availed of diplomatic escort to a friendly Australian doorstep.

There is no latitude for a free and dignified nation to deviate from these positions, let alone the country of his birth.

In regards to U.S. relations, no alliance can remain special without healthy and respected boundaries. Foremost among these are sovereignty and human rights, neither of which are negotiable.

Parliamentary groups in support of Assange in Germany, Italy and the European Union as well as here in Australia are keenly mindful of that, and naturally gaining momentum.

London's embarrassingly political prisoner has endured over 3,000 days of continuous detainment, and may not make it through the coming ones.

Intervention can be appropriate, and never more than now.

Bring Julian Assange home, safely and speedily.


Daniel Ellsberg
Pentagon Papers Whistleblower

Julian Burnside AO QC
Human Rights Lawyer

Brian Toohey
Author and Australian Financial Review Columnist

William Binney
Former Technical Director, NSA

Mairead Maguire
Nobel Peace Laureate

Chris Hedges
Author and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Craig Tuck
Transnational Defence Counsel

Wendy Bacon
Investigative Journalist and Walkley Award Winner, Pacific Media Centre

Ray McGovern
Former CIA Analyst, prepared daily brief for President Reagan's top security advisers

Mary Kostakidis
Journalist and Former Chair, Sydney Peace Foundation

Margaret Ratner Kunstler
Civil Rights Attorney, Author and Editor

Andrew Fowler
Author and Journalist

John Kiriakou
CIA Torture Whistleblower

Chris Nash
Journalist and Former Professor of Journalism, Monash University

Dr Thomas Harré
Human Rights Lawyer

Dylan Welch
ABC Investigations Reporter

George Hunsinger
Professor of Systematic Theology

Jodie Evans
Co-founder of CODEPINK

Kellie Tranter
Lawyer, Researcher and Human Rights Activist

Emeritus Professor Brian Martin
Social Scientist, Wollongong University

Jeffrey Kaye PhD
Author of Cover-Up at Guantanamo

Carmen Grayson
Retired History Professor

Lakhdar Boumadiene
Former Guantanamo Prisoner

Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell
Political Economy USyd. Vice President, Evatt Foundation

Tim Canova
Law Professor and Progress For All Chair

Andrej Hunko
MP German Bundestag and Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Doug Valentine
Author of The CIA as Organized Crime

Dr Piers Robinson
Co-director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies

Dr Tim Anderson
Center for Counter Hegemonic Studies

Jacob Applebaum
Investigative Journalist and TOR Pioneer

Afshin Rattansi
Journalist, Sony Award Winner for Outstanding Contribution to International Media

Alastair Thompson
Co-Founder Scoop Independent News

Peter Forrest FAHA
Australian Philosopher

Davide Dormino
Artist, Sculptor of 'Anything to Say?'

Dr Luke Fischer
Philosopher, Author and Overland Award-Winning Poet USyd

Nozomi Hayase
Writer and Journalist

Dr Scott Burchill
Senior Lecturer in International Relations Deakin University

Jennifer Powell
NGO Executive Director & U.S. Citizen Abroad

Myrna Lim
Journalist, Public Access Television San Francisco/Sacramento

Margaret Flowers
Paediatrician and Activist, Popular Resistance

Ahmar Mahboob
Associate Professor Linguistics University of Sydney

Kevin Zeese
Attorney and Activist, Popular Resistance

Dr Lissa Johnson
Psychologist and New Matilda Columnist

Diani Barreto
Independent Researcher, Advocate, Journalist

Emmy Butlin
Committee to Defend Julian Assange, UK

Elizabeth Vos
Consortium News Live Co-host

Dr Nick Riemer
Senior Lecturer English and Linguistics USyd

Trevor Fitzgibbon
US Public Relations

Dr David Coady
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy UTAS

Taylor Hudak
Journalist, Co-host, Action 4 Assange

Catherine Vogan
Australian Filmmaker

Dr Tony Lynch
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy UNE

Mara Kupka
Screenwriter and Artist

Gail Malone
Action-taker providing instruments for traumatised kids in war zones

Arianna Marchionne
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Helsinki

Christy Dopf
Activist, Unity4J Spokesperson, Free Assange Vigil Host

Dr Evan Jones
Political Economy USyd

Kelley Lane
Independent Journalist

Michelle Wood
Activist, Artist

Felicity Ruby
PhD Candidate

Danielle Wood
Activist/Artist with People for Assange

Dr Binoy Kampmark
Lecturer School of Global, Urban and Social Studies RMIT University

Bruce Haigh
Former Australian diplomat

John Pilger
Award-winning journalist and filmmaker

Simon Floth
Philosopher, UNE

Michelle Pini
Executive Editor Independent Australia

David Donovan
Managing Editor Independent Australia


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Julian Assange, founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, is currently detained in Belmarsh high-security prison in the United Kingdom and faces extradition to the United States and criminal prosecutionunder the Espionage Act. He risks up to 175 years imprisonment for his part in making public the leak of US military documents from Afghanistan and Iraq, and a trove of US State Department cables. The ‘War Diaries’ provided evidence that the US Government misled the public about activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and committed war crimes. WikiLeaks partnered with a wide range of media organizations worldwide that republished the War Diaries and embassy cables. The legal action underway against Mr Assange sets an extremely dangerous precedent for journalists, media organizations and the freedom of the press.

We, journalists and journalistic organizations around the globe, express our grave concern for Mr Assange’s wellbeing, for his continued detention and for the draconian espionage charges.

This case stands at the heart of the principle of free speech. If the US government can prosecute Mr Assange for publishing classified documents, it may clear the way for governments to prosecute journalists anywhere, an alarming precedent for freedom of the press worldwide. Also, the use of espionage charges against people publishing materials provided by whistleblowers is a first and should alarm every journalist and publisher.

In a democracy, journalists can reveal war crimes and cases of torture and abuse without having to go to jail. It is the very role of the press in a democracy. If governments can use espionage laws against journalists and publishers, they are deprived of their most important and traditional defense – of acting in the public interest – which does not apply under the Espionage Act.

Prior to being moved to Belmarsh prison, Mr Assange spent more than a year under house arrest and then seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been granted political asylum. Throughout this time he was subjected to serious violations of his human rights, including having his legally privileged conversations spied on by organizations taking direct instruction from US agencies. Journalists visiting were subjected to pervasive surveillance. He had restricted access to legal defense and medical care and was deprived of exposure to sunlight and exercise. In April 2019, the Moreno government allowed UK law enforcement officers to enter the Ecuador embassy and seize Mr Assange. Since then he has been held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day and, according to visitors, is “heavily medicated”. His physical and mental health have seriously deteriorated.

As early as 2015 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) determined that Mr Assange was arbitrarily detained and deprived of his liberty, and called for him to be released and paid compensation. In May 2019, the WGAD reiterated its concerns and request for his personal liberty to be restored.

We hold the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Ecuador and Sweden accountable for the human rights violations to which Mr Assange has been subjected.

Julian Assange has made an outstanding contribution to public interest journalism, transparency and government accountability around the world. He is being singled out and prosecuted for publishing information that should never have been withheld from the public. His work has been recognized by the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in 2011, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, the Index on Censorship prize, the Economist’s New Media Award, the Amnesty International New Media Award, the 2019 Gavin MacFadyen Award and many others. WikiLeaks has also been nominated for the UN Mandela Prize in 2015 and for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times (2010-2015, 2019).

Mr Assange’s reporting of abuses and crimes is of historic importance, as have been the contributions by whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner, who are now in exile or incarcerated. They have all faced relentless smear campaigns waged by their opponents, campaigns that have often led to erroneous media reports and a lack of scrutiny and media coverage of their predicaments. The systematic abuse of Mr Assange’s rights for the past nine years has been understood and protested by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists and leading human rights organisations. But in public discussion there has been an insidious normalising of how he has been treated.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer investigated the case and in June 2019 wrote:

“it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News”.

“By displaying an attitude of complacency at best, and of complicity at worst, Sweden, Ecuador, UK and US governments have created an atmosphere of impunity encouraging Mr Assange’s uninhibited vilification and abuse. In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

In November 2019, Melzer recommended that Mr Assange’s extradition to US be barred and that he be promptly released. “He continues to be detained under oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance, not justified by his detention status (…) Mr Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life”, said Melzer.

In 1898, French writer Émile Zola wrote the open letter J’accuse…! (I accuse) to warn about the wrongful sentencing to life in prison of a military officer named Alfred Dreyfus on espionage charges. Zola’s stance entered history books and still today stands for our duty to fight miscarriages of justice and to hold the powerful to account. This duty is as necessary as ever today, when Julian Assange is being victimized by governments and faces 17 charges[1] under the US Espionage Act, legislation that also dates back over hundred years.

As journalists and journalists’ organizations that believe in human rights, freedom of information and of the public’s right to know, we demand the immediate release of Julian Assange.

We urge our governments, all national and international agencies and fellow journalists to call for an end to the legal campaign being waged against him for the crime of revealing war crimes.

We urge our fellow journalists to inform the public accurately about this abuse of fundamental rights. 

We urge all journalists to speak up in defense of Julian Assange at this critical time.

Dangerous times call for fearless journalism.  

[1]    There is a further charge under different legislation, making a total of 18 charges.


Assange blocked from seeing evidence

Julian Assange's lawyer has told a British court he has been denied access in jail to documents prepared by his legal team.

Henry Vaughan 14. December 2019

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been blocked from seeing evidence in his extradition case, a court has heard.

The 48-year-old appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court by video-link on Friday for a hearing to extend his custody in Belmarsh Prison, in southeast London.

He is being held in the high-security jail ahead of a full hearing in February when he will fight extradition to the US, where he faces 18 charges, including conspiring to commit computer intrusion.

Assange is accused of working with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

With unkempt white hair and beard, he appeared uncomfortable as he sat waiting for the hearing to start, clenching his hands before putting them inside the sleeves of his grey sweater.

He spoke to confirm his name and date of birth, saying: "I do, but I'm an Australian", after the court's legal adviser had mistakenly suggested he was a Swedish national.

The court heard his lawyers had made a request to the judge, complaining about a lack of access to their client behind bars.

Gareth Peirce, defending Assange, said his legal team was struggling to prepare documents for the case as Assange had no access to the evidence.

"Without Mr Assange's knowledge, some of it is recently acquired evidence, some of it is subject to months of investigation not always in this country, of which he is unaware because of the blockage in visits," she said.

"Despite our best efforts, Mr Assange has not been given what he must be given, and we are doing our utmost to cut through this."

Ms Peirce said the governor of Belmarsh had prioritised family visits over legal visits and asked the judge to step in.

But District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said she had no jurisdiction over the Prison Service.

"Can I make it clear that I have no desire to stand in the way of any lawyer having proper access to their client and it's in the interest of justice that they do," she said.

"What I can do and say is to state in open court that it would be helpful to this extradition process that Mr Assange's lawyers have the access to their client."

Assange's lawyers have previously complained that he had been given access to an unsuitable computer in prison.

It comes weeks after more than 60 doctors warned in an open letter addressed to Home Secretary Priti Patel that he could die in prison without urgent medical care.

He was jailed for 50 weeks in May for breaching his bail conditions after going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex offence allegations which have been dropped.


'Assange Cannot Be Extradited to the US', Lawyer Holds at Court

  • Protest for Julian Assange at Downing Street, London, U.K, Dec 14, 2019.

    Protest for Julian Assange at Downing Street, London, U.K, Dec 14, 2019. | Photo: Twitter/ @cuartasclau

Published 19 December 2019

The treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States bans extradition for political offenses.

During a hearing before the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Julian Assange's lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, requested Thursday that the founder of Wikileaks not be extradited to the United States arguing that the alleged crimes of his defendant have a political character.

Fitzgerald mentioned that the United Kingdom-United States extradition treaty bans extradition of persons linked to political offenses, which is precisely the situation of his defendant.

Today's judicial action is part of the preparation of Assange's extradition trial to the U.S., which is expected to take place on February 24, 2020.

On this matter, however, Clair Dobbin, representing the U.S. authorities, asked for the case to be delayed until April, which the Westminster Court did not accept.

The defense lawyer also reiterated his complaints about the "big problems" his team faces in contacting Assange in prison and recalled that the Australian journalist does not have access to a suitable computer to prepare his argument.​​​​​​

Ariyana Love@mideastrising


“On 22 Oct. 2019, Craig Murray, a former British Ambassador, published a detailed & shocking eye witness account of Mr Assange’s hearing the previous day, stating that he “exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim.” 

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In November, 60 doctors from several countries sent an open letter to British Home Secretary Priti Patel warning her him that Assange could die in jail if he did not receive urgent medical attention.

Although he already served the 50-week jail sentence for breaking the conditions of his probation in 2012, he remains jailed because a court considered that he could escape the U.K. if he left the cell.

In June, former Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order to allow Assange to be handed over to the United States, where he could be sentenced up to 170 years in prison.

The U.S. authorities accuse him of conspiring to hack government computers and extract secret documents, which would have been published at the WikiLeaks portal.

On Friday, the Spanish judge Jose de la Mata will take a statement from Assange about the alleged espionage he was subjected to during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

This interrogation is part of an investigation of the Spanish company Undercover Global, which was responsible for the security of the embassy.


Why Did Respected Press Freedom Organization Exclude Assange From Annual List Of Jailed Journalists?

By Kevin Gosztola - 12. December 2019

Kati Marton and Joel Simon at CPJ’s 2019 International Pess Freedom Awards (Photo: Barbara Nitke)

A prominent press freedom organization in the United States declined to include WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its annual list of journalists jailed throughout the world.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), based in New York City, anticipated a backlash to the exclusion, and CPJ deputy executive director Robert Mahoney wrote a post intended to head off criticism. But the post raises several questions and invites further scrutiny.

Can a laudable press freedom organization claim Assange is not a journalist without aiding the political case brought by prosecutors in President Donald Trump’s Justice Department?

CPJ’s Board of Directors is composed of many journalists in the U.S. media establishment, an establishment which clings to the notion that Assange is not a journalist in order to maintain a supposed distinction between his work and their work. The decision to exclude Assange from the list is likely driven by their aversion to solidarity.

I contacted CPJ for comment. A press person said they were unable to make someone available to respond to questions due to resources being stretched thin for the launch of their annual report on jailed journalists. The person confirmed the post by Mahoney was published to address questions the organization expected.

Their press person also directed me to a page that very briefly describes the methodology that CPJ uses when deciding who is and is not a journalist.

In Mahoney’s post, he declares, “The question with which CPJ has had to grapple is whether his actions make him a journalist. Each year, we compile a list of journalists imprisoned around the world, based on a set of criteria that have evolved as technology has upended publishing and the news business.”

“After extensive research and consideration, CPJ chose not to list Assange as a journalist, in part because his role has just as often been as a source and because WikiLeaks does not generally perform as a news outlet with an editorial process,” Mahoney adds.

Assange has never acted as a source. He acted as a conduit and publisher of documents obtained from sources.

However, in 2011, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller (who is quoted in Mahoney’s post) referred to Assange as a “source” to avoid treating him as someone who was of the same stature as professionally trained journalists at the Times.

The “source” label was also designed to insulate the Times if President Barack Obama’s administration pursued prosecutions.

It is unclear how CPJ defines “editorial process,” but the term is highly subjective. As editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Assange and other staffers vetted the documents they obtained to authenticate and verify whether they were forgeries or not. They determined whether the documents were newsworthy or not.

In several cases, media organizations were given access to material in order to help the organization provide context to documents when they were published on the WikiLeaks website.

The video WikiLeaks published of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed two Reuters journalists contained footage that was edited and contextualized. It went through an editorial process.

More importantly, according to CPJ’s own methodology, Assange is a journalist.

“CPJ defines journalists as people who cover news or comment on public affairs through any media — including in print, in photographs, on radio, on television, and online.”

Prior to Assange’s arrest and detention at Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, he appeared several times on CNN to not only comment on WikiLeaks publications but to also comment on NSA whistleblower Edward SnowdenNSA reforms, and internet freedom.

Al Jazeera English’s “Listening Post” program spoke to Assange about the leaked Panama Papers in 2016, which WikiLeaks was not involved in publishing. In 2014, he appeared on a CBC radio show to discuss his book, When Google Met WikiLeaks. ABC News talked with him about Snowden in 2013.

Assange has been a frequent guest on the independent news program, “Democracy Now!”. He was invited to comment on the Catalonia independence movement in Spain, Google, and institutional corruption at U.S. security agencies.

This is commentary on “public affairs,” which CPJ indicates is part of their criteria for whether someone is a journalist.

Assange has an International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) press card. Since 2010, he also has been a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), a trade union in Australia.

Former New York Times general counsel James Goodale represented the Times when they published the Pentagon Papers. He wrote in his 2013 book, Fighting For the Press, “It should be clear Assange is carrying out the digital equivalent of editing and gathering news in the digital age.”

“Assange sought out secret information by setting up a private website for the anonymous transmission of information to him,” Goodale added. “Journalists asking sources to reveal secrets is the essence of journalism. The only thing that has changed is that online chats and a digital submission system have replaced meeting over a cup of coffee and a P.O. Box.”

Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler testified as an expert on WikiLeaks and its role in the networked Fourth Estate at Pfc. Chelsea Manning’s trial. In a paper, He described WikiLeaks as an “organization that fulfilled a discrete role in network journalism, of providing a network solution to leak-based investigative journalism that in the past was done only by relatively large and unified organizations and now could be done in a network mode.” The media organization gathered “information relevant to public concern” and disseminated it to the public.

The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel spent “time working both on the relevancy and the dissemination, while WikiLeaks did essentially the gathering, the authentication and the initial selection for dissemination” to organizations doing “further analyses.”

In fact, a 2008 Army Counterintelligence Center (ACIC) report on the possible “threat” posed to the U.S. Army by WikiLeaks (which Manning was convicted of disclosing to WikiLeaks), suggested the media organization engaged in journalism by attempting to “verify the information” in a secret National Ground Intelligence Center document on warfare in Fallujah, Iraq. This showed “journalist responsibility to the newsworthiness or fair use of the classified document if they are investigated or challenged in court.”

Assange was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2011.

Julian Assange in the Ecuador embassy (Photo: Xavier Granja)

Mahoney suggested, “More generally, WikiLeaks’ practice of dumping huge loads of data on the public without examining the motivations of the leakers can leave it open to manipulation, as CPJ executive director Joel Simon has written.”

Yet, Simon was only referring to the publication of emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 2016. WikiLeaks has a policy of forming partnerships with journalists, media organizations, or nonprofit institutions in order to bolster the impact of their publications. They do not always “dump” the material online for consumption.

Goodale noted in his book that Assange “held back (i.e. edited out) some of the information he shared with his fellow publishers.” Not all of the 250,000-plus diplomatic cables that Manning disclosed were published at once. “Later, when a series of mistakes by the Guardian and WikiLeaks allowed the unredacted cables to escape online, Assange was forced to release all his cables.”

As Benkler testified during Manning’s trial, “I would define journalism as the gathering of news and information.” instead of inordinately focusing on the purpose behind “dissemination to the public.”

CPJ has consistently condemned indictments and even rumored indictments against Assange as threats to press freedom. Yet, it is possible that Trump prosecutors may relish the press freedom organization’s decision to exclude Assange. It provides a salient example for the U.S. government’s argument that Assange is not a journalist but a criminal.

If a press freedom organization unanimously supported by U.S. media does not consider Assange a journalist, then perhaps prosecutors will tell a jury this shows there is some “truth” to what Mike Pompeo said when he was CIA director: WikiLeaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”

Hundreds of journalists are imprisoned around the world. Each one of their cases deserve attention, but because CPJ excluded Assange, the organization provoked outrage and distracted from the injustice these other journalists endure.

It was a prime example of the pettiness among professional journalists, which plays right into the hands of a Trump administration that has total contempt for press freedom.

CPJ’s decision to exclude Assange undermines their credibility as advocates on this important case, and they should reconsider their decision.

(*) Author:

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola - Journalist. Writes about politics & film. Managing editor of Twitter: @kgosztola


The CIA’s War On WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

By Kevin Gosztola - 04. October 2019

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: public domain / Wikimedia)

On behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency, a Spanish security company called Undercover Global spied on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he was living in the Ecuador embassy in London.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on September 25 that the company’s CEO David Morales repeatedly handed over audio and video. When cameras were installed in the embassy in December 2017, “Morales requested that his technicians install an external streaming access point in the same area so that all of the recordings could be accessed instantly by the United States.”

Technicians planted microphones in the embassy’s fire extinguishers, as well as the women’s bathroom, where Assange held regular meetings with his lawyers — Melynda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson, and Baltasar Garzon.

Morales’ company was hired by Ecuador, but Ecuador apparently had no idea that Morales formed a relationship with the CIA.

The world laughed at Assange when it was reported in a book from David Leigh and Luke Harding that he once dressed as an old woman because he believed CIA agents were following him. It doesn’t seem as absurd now.

A Tremendous Coup for the CIA

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he was expelled from Ecuador embassy. Screenshot of Ruptly coverage.

Julian Assange was expelled from the embassy and arrested by British authorities on April 11. It was subsequently revealed that the U.S. Justice Department indicted him on a conspiracy to commit a computer crime charge, and in May, a superseding indictment charged him with several violations of the Espionage Act.

He became the first journalist to be indicted under the 1917 law, which was passed to criminalize “seditious” conduct during World War I.

The WikiLeaks founder was incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London. A court found him guilty of violating bail conditions when he sought political asylum from Ecuador in 2012. He was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison. But following his sentence, authorities refused to release him. They decided Assange should remain in the facility until a February hearing, where the U.S. government will argue for his extradition.

The expulsion, arrest, and jailing of Assange represented a tremendous coup for the CIA, which views WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service.”

“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is — a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Mike Pompeo declared in April 2017, when he was CIA director.

“Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice. They may have believed that, but they are wrong.”

Pompeo added, “Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value. He relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous. He is a fraud — a coward hiding behind a screen. And in Kansas [Pompeo was a representative from Kansas], we know something about false wizards.”

Unwanted Scrutiny

The CIA’s loathing for Assange stems from the fact that the dissident media organization exposed the agency to unwanted scrutiny for its actions numerous times.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published two Red Cell memos from the CIA. One memo from March 2010 outlined “pressure points” the agency could focus upon to sustain western European support for the Afghanistan War. It brazenly suggested “public apathy enables leaders to ignore voters” because only a fraction of French and German respondents identified the war as “the most urgent issue facing their nation.”

The second memo from February 2010 examined what would happen if the U.S. was viewed as an incubator and “exporter of terrorism.” It warned, “Foreign partners may be less willing to cooperate with the United States on extrajudicial activities, including detention, transfer [rendition], and interrogation of suspects in third party countries.”

“If foreign regimes believe the U.S. position on rendition is too one-sided, favoring the U.S. but not them, they could obstruct U.S. efforts to detain terrorism suspects. For example, in 2005 Italy issued criminal arrest warrants for U.S. agents involved in the abduction of an Egyptian cleric and his rendition to Egypt. The proliferation of such cases would not only challenge U.S. bilateral relations with other countries but also damage global counterterrorism efforts,” the February memo added.

On these memos, which were disclosed by U.S. military whistleblower Chelsea Manning, she said, “The content of two of these documents upset me greatly. I had difficulty believing what this section was doing.”

CIA Renditions Further Exposed

More than 250,000 diplomatic cables from the U.S. State Department, largely from the period of 2003–2010, were provided by Manning to WikiLeaks. There were several that brought unwanted scrutiny to the CIA.

The CIA abducted Khaled el-Masri in 2003. He was beaten, stripped naked, violated by a suppository, chained spread-eagled on an aircraft, injected with drugs, and flown to a secret CIA prison in Kabul known as the “Salt Pit.” El-Masri was tortured and eventually went on hunger strike, which led to personnel force-feeding him. He was released in May 2004, after the CIA realized they had the wrong man.

Cables showed the pressure the U.S. government applied to German prosecutors and officials so 13 CIA agents, who were allegedly involved in el-Masri’s abduction, escaped accountability. They were urged to “weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations.”

Pressure was also applied to prosecutors and officials in Germany. They feared that magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who is now one of Assange’s attorneys, would investigate CIA rendition flights.

The cache of documents brought attention to Sweden’s decision to curtailCIA rendition flights after Swedish authorities realized stopovers were made at Stockholm’s Arlanda International Airport.

During the “Arab Spring,” cables from Egypt showed Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence chief who Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak selected as his potential successor, highlighted his collaboration with the CIA. Suleiman oversaw the rendition and torture of dozens of detainees. Abu Omar, who was kidnapped by the CIA in Milan in 2003, was tortured when Suleiman was intelligence chief.

The world also learned that the CIA drew up a “spying wishlist” for diplomats at the United Nations. The list targeted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other senior members. The agency sought “foreign diplomats’ internet user account details and passwords,” as well as “biometric” details of “current emerging leaders and advisers.” It was quite an embarrassing revelation for the CIA.

As cables spread in the international media, the CIA launched the WikiLeaks Task Force to assess the impacts of the disclosures.

Documents revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showedduring this same period the security agencies had a “Manhunting Timeline” for Assange. They pressured Australia, Britain, Germany, Iceland, and other Western governments to concoct a prosecution against him.

Several NSA analysts even wanted WikiLeaks to be designated a “malicious foreign actor” so the organization and its associates could be targeted with surveillance, an attitude likely supported by CIA personnel.

‘We Look Forward To Sharing Great Classified Info About You’

The CIA joined Twitter in June 2014. WikiLeaks welcomed the CIA by tweeting at the agency, “We look forward to sharing great classified info about you.” They shared links to the Red Cell memos and a link to a search for “CIA” documents in their website’s database.

By December, the media organization published a CIA report on the agency’s “high value target” assassination program. It assessed attacks on insurgent groups in Afghanistan, Algeria, Chechnya, Colombia, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Peru, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The review acknowledged such operations, which include drone strikes, “increase the level of insurgent support,” especially if the strikes “enhance insurgent leaders’ lore, if noncombatants are killed in the attacks, if legitimate or semilegitimate politicians aligned with the insurgents are targeted, or if the government is already seen as overly repressive or violent.”

WikiLeaks also released two internal CIA documents from 2011 and 2012 detailing how spies should elude secondary screenings at airports and maintain their cover. The CIA was concerned that the Schengen Area — ”a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport control at shared borders” — would makie harder for operatives because they planned to subject travelers to biometric security measures.

After CIA director John Brennan had his personal AOL account by hackers, the contents were provided to WikiLeaks for a series of publications that took place in October 2015.

Julian Assange. Photo by Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación Argentina (culturaargentina) on Flickr.

U.S. Intelligence Steps Up Effort To Discredit WikiLeaks

As Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigned against President Donald Trump, WikiLeaks published emails from John Podesta, chairman for the Clinton campaign.The national security establishment alleged the publication was part of a Russian plot to interfere in the 2016 election.

Assange held a press conference in January 2017, where he countered, “Even if you accept that the Russian intelligence services hacked Democratic Party institutions, as it is normal for the major intelligence services to hack each others’ major political parties on a constant basis to obtain intelligence,” you have to ask, “what was the intent of those Russian hacks? And do they connect to our publications? Or is it simply incidental?”.

“The U.S. intelligence community is not aware of when WikiLeaks obtained its material or when the sequencing of our material was done or how we obtained our material directly. So there seems to be a great fog in the connection to WikiLeaks,” Assange contended.

He maintained, “As we have already stated, WikiLeaks sources in relation to the Podesta emails and the DNC leak are not members of any government. They are not state parties. They do not come from the Russian government.”

“The [Clinton campaign] emails that we released during the election dated up to March [2016]. U.S. intelligence services and consultants for the DNC say Russian intelligence services started hacking DNC in 2015. Now, Trump is clearly not on the horizon in any substantial manner in 2015,” Assange added.

Yet, in the information war between WikiLeaks and the U.S. government, Brennan responded during an appearance on PBS’ “NewsHour.” “[Assange is] not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity. And so therefore I wouldn’t ascribe to any of these individuals making comments that [they are] providing the whole unvarnished truth.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller oversaw a wide-ranging investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The report, released in April 2019, did not confirm, without a doubt, that Russian intelligence agents or individuals tied to Russian intelligence agencies passed on the emails from the Clinton campaign to WikiLeaks.

CIA Loses Control Of Largest Batch Of Documents Ever

Mike Pompeo, CIA director from January 2017 to April 2018 (Photo: U.S. Government)

In February 2017, WikiLeaks published “CIA espionage orders” that called attention to how all of the major political parties in France were “targeted for infiltration” in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.

The media organization followed that with the “Vault 7” materials — what they described as the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.” It was hugely embarrassing for the agency.

“The CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation,” WikiLeaks declared in a press release. “This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

“The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” WikiLeaks added.

Nearly 9,000 documents came from “an isolated, high-security network inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence.” (WikiLeaks indicated the espionage orders published in February were from this cache of information.)

The publication brought scrutiny to the CIA’s “fleet of hackers,” who targeted smartphones and computers. It exposed a program called “Weeping Angel” that made it possible for the CIA to attack Samsung F8000 TVs and convert them into spying devices.

As CNBC reported, the CIA had 14 “zero-day exploits,” which were “software vulnerabilities” that had no fix yet. The agency used them to “hack Apple’s iOS devices such as iPads and iPhones.” Documents showed the “exploits were shared with other organizations including the National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ, another U.K. spy agency. The CIA did not tell Apple about these vulnerabilities.”

WikiLeaks additionally revealed that CIA targeted Microsoft Windows, as well as Signal and WhatsApp users, with malware.

The CIA responded, “The American public should be deeply troubled by any Wikileaks disclosure designed to damage the intelligence community’s ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries. Such disclosures not only jeopardize U.S. personnel and operations but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.”

But the damage was done. The CIA was forced to engage with the allegations by insisting the agency’s activities are “subject to oversight to ensure that they comply fully with U.S. law and the Constitution.” Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft took the disclosures very seriously.

Assange attempted to force a public debate that high-ranking CIA officials did not want to have.

“There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons,’ Assange stated. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons,’ which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace.”

(Note: Josh Schulte, a former CIA employee, was charged with violating the Espionage Act when he allegedly disclosed the files to WikiLeaks. He was jailed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.)

CIA Exploits New Leadership In Ecuador

Lenín Moreno was elected president of Ecuador in May 2017. At the time, the U.S. Justice Department had essentially abandoned their grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks. President Barack Obama’s administration declined to pursue charges against Assange. But officials in the national security apparatus recognized a political shift in Ecuador and exploited it.

By December, the CIA was able to fight back against Assange and WikiLeaks by installing spying devices in the Ecuador embassy.

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou contended, “The attitude at the CIA is that he really did commit espionage. This isn’t about freedom of speech or freedom of the press because they don’t care about freedom of speech or freedom of the press. All they care about is controlling the flow of information and so Julian was a threat to them.”

Recall, as the Senate intelligence committee compiled a study on the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program, the CIA flouted restrictions on domestic spying and targeted Senate staff. Personnel even hacked into Senate computers.

“The CIA likes nothing more than being able to operate unfettered,” Kiriakou further declared.

He also commented, “[Moreno] did the CIA’s bidding. I have no idea why he would do such a thing, but he was the perfect person to take over the leadership of Ecuador at exactly the time that the CIA needed a friend there.”

As 2018 progressed, restrictions imposed by the Ecuador government on what Assange was allowed to do on the internet and in his daily work for WikiLeaks intensified.

A doctor named Sondra Crosby, who evaluated Assange’s health on February 23, described the embassy surveillance she experienced during her visit. She left the embassy at one point to pick up some food and returned to the room where they were meeting to find her confidential medical notes were taken. She found her notes “in a space utilized by embassy surveillance staff” and presumed they were read, a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Forcing the removal of Assange from the embassy was a major victory for the CIA, and if prosecutors win his extradition to the United States, the agency will have a hand in how the trial unfolds.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola - Journalist. Writes about politics & film. Managing editor of Twitter: @kgosztola