Merrick Garland: Drop the Charges Against Julian Assange

I turned on the news yesterday and there was Attorney General Merrick Garland somewhere in Ukraine, talking about being part of the effort to prosecute war crimes charges against the Russian invaders. Coincidentally, the night before seeing our chief prosecutor in Ukraine, I had finished reading Nils Melzer’s recently-published book, the Trial of Julian Assange, which is an eloquent and devastating exposé of endemic political corruption deep within the state apparatuses of the US, the UK, Sweden, and other countries.

The unmistakable fact is that Merrick Garland’s Justice Department is still actively pursuing the extradition of Julian Assange, in order for him to face charges under the Espionage Act and spend the rest of his life in prison. This is the same Espionage Act that the Nixon administration considered using against Daniel Ellsberg, for leaking what became known as the Pentagon Papers, which were published in the New York Times and elsewhere.

Unlike Ellsberg, Assange did not himself steal, hack, or otherwise make off with secret documents that exposed US war crimes. He only facilitated the leaking of these documents, and the eventual publication of redacted parts of them by Wikileaks, the New York Times, and most of the rest of the world’s media. But unlike with Ellsberg, the government is going ahead with prosecuting someone — a journalist and editor named Julian Assange — under the Espionage Act.

The Espionage Act is one of these laws that is on the books but is not generally considered particularly useful by prosecutors because the law is so blatantly an outrageous, draconian relic of the Red Scare, an example of the most authoritarian responses to the militant labor movement of the post-World War 1 period. Enforcing the Espionage Act makes a complete mockery of all of the most fundamental democratic institutions. It’s obviously in total conflict with the First Amendment and many other elements of the Bill of Rights. The possibility that other journalists who expose war crimes might go to prison for the rest of their lives for violating the Espionage Act is a terrifying prospect. But Garland’s prosecution of a journalist for exposing war crimes under the Espionage Act continues.

While Garland makes plans to help prosecute war crimes committed by Russian soldiers, the war crimes committed by US forces in Bagram, Kama Ado, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Fallujah, Haditha, Baghdad, and on and on and on, go almost entirely unprosecuted and unpunished, and generally unacknowledged, except when the media spotlight is temporarily impossible to ignore, and a few crocodile tears must be shed to maintain appearances. But even while occasional noises are made by officials to half-heartedly acknowledge some of the shortcomings of the US military invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the person most responsible for bringing the knowledge of these shortcomings to the global public is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917.

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Fmr CIA Director Summoned by Judge Over Claims US Plotted ‘At Highest Level’ to Execute Julian Assange

Last year, media reported that US officials had allegedly discussed the possibility of assassinating Julian Assange during his stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2017. The alleged plot presupposed kidnapping the WikiLeaks founder from the diplomatic mission or capturing him if he tried to escape.

Mike Pompeo, the former US secretary of state, has been summoned by a Spanish court to testify over claims the US had plotted “at the highest level” to assassinate WikiLeaks whistleblower Julian Assange, reported The Telegraph.

Judge Pedraz had sent a request to US authorities to call Pompeo as a witness, a spokesman for Spain’s National Court was cited by The Telegraph as saying, adding that, “There has been no reply as yet.”

Judge Santiago Pedraz, of Spain’s National Court, is leading a probe into whether Spanish security firm UC Global spied on Assange while providing security for the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The Australian citizen had sought refuge at the embassy in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape charges, which he denies. The whistleblower remained there until April 2019, when Ecuador’s new government revoked his asylum.

Lawyers representing Assange in Spain, including the former judge Baltasar Garzón, have accused Washington of “orchestrating” the espionage effort targeting the whistleblower. The claim that UC Global placed microphones and cameras in the embassy to spy on Assange’s private conversations and meetings.

The legal moves involving Mike Pompeo come as part of a petition filed by Aitor Martínez, one of the lawyers representing Assange in the proceedings against UC Global. In addition to summoning Pompeo, Judge Pedraz is also seeking to question William Evanina, a former US counterintelligence official who is said to have confessed to viewing security camera footage and audio recordings from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy.

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Julian Assange’s Wife Says He’ll Kill Himself After Brits Approve Extradition To America

Stella Moris, the wife of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, suggested that her husband would kill himself if he is extradited to the United States after the British Home secretary approved a judge’s order to fly Assange from the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison in London to Virginia to stand trial.

British Home Secretary Pristi Patel approved the order on Thursday; paving the way for Assange, a native Australian, to stand trial on espionage charges.

“If he’s extradited to the U.S., the conditions he will be under will be oppressive,” Stella Moris told a press conference Friday. “It will drive him to take his own life. That’s not simply a regular discussion about mental health. We are talking about driving a person to take their own life.”

American officials have informed the British government that Assange will not be held in maximum security if he is extradited.

Moris said Assange’s declaration that he would kill himself was made “recently,” adding that she would fight the order with “every available avenue. … I’m going to use every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free,” The Daily Mail reported.

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The UK’s Decision to Extradite Assange Shows Why The US/UK’s Freedom Lectures Are a Farce

The eleven-year persecution of Julian Assange was extended and escalated on Friday morning. The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the U.S.’s extradition request to send Julian Assange to Virginia to stand trial on eighteen felony charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and other statutes in connection with the 2010 publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents showing widespread corruption, deceit, and war crimes by American and British authorities along with their close dictatorial allies in the Middle East.

This decision is unsurprising — it has been obvious for years that the U.S. and UK are determined to destroy Assange as punishment for his journalism exposing their crimes — yet it nonetheless further highlights the utter sham of American and British sermons about freedom, democracy and a free press. Those performative self-glorifying spectacles are constantly deployed to justify these two countries’ interference in and attacks on other nations, and to allow their citizens to feel a sense of superiority about the nature of their governments. After all, if the U.S. and UK stand for freedom and against tyranny, who could possibly oppose their wars and interventions in the name of advancing such lofty goals and noble values?

Having reported on the Assange case for years, on countless occasions I’ve laid out the detailed background that led Assange and the U.S. to this point. There is thus no need to recount all of that again; those interested can read the granular trajectory of this persecution here or here. Suffice to say, Assange — without having been convicted of any crime other than bail jumping, for which he long ago served out his fifty-week sentence — has been in effective imprisonment for more than a decade.

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Judge suggests CIA may have illegally recorded Assange conversations, challenging extradition demands

Spanish media is reporting that a court order issued by Spanish High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz indicates that content of communications between Julian Assange and his lawyers may have been illegally recorded during the time he spent at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The order that the newspaper El Pais has seen names Spain’s Under Cover (UC) Global security company as handing over the information to CIA agents. That would have revealed the defense strategy of Assange, a whistleblower and journalist whom the US wants extradited from the UK on espionage charges, a request that has been granted and will be decided on within the next two months by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

If put on trial and found guilty in the US, Assange could be sentenced to 175 years in prison for revealing damning US military operations during the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and publishing it on the WikiLeaks website.

The Spanish court order is procedural in nature, sent by Jusge Pedraz to the UK as an explanation as to why the country’s authorities should allow him to take testimonies from Assange’s doctors and UK lawyers – one of whom is well known solicitor and human rights activist Gareth Peirce – who were the subject of spying at the embassy.

Legal sources have told El Pais that the extradition request could fall through for violating the right of defense if there is proof that US intelligence agencies managed to learn about Assange’s defense by illegally spying on his legal representatives and doctors. Spain gaining access to these individuals for the sake of obtaining witness testimonies would leave the British justice system “in an embarrassing situation,” some believe.

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Judge approves Julian Assange’s extradition to US over spying charges

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is one step closer to facing espionage charges in the US after a British judge formally approved his extradition.

The case will go to Britain’s interior minister for a decision, and Assange, 50, still has legal avenues of appeal.

A judge at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday issued the extradition order in a brief hearing, as Assange watched by video link from Belmarsh Prison. He stated his full name and date of birth.

It is up to Home Secretary Priti Patel to decide whether to grant the extradition.

The order comes after the UK Supreme Court last month refused Assange permission to appeal against a lower court’s ruling that he could be extradited.

The move doesn’t exhaust the legal options for Assange, who has sought for years to avoid a trial in the US on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse related to WikiLeaks’ publication of a massive trove of classified documents more than a decade ago.

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Leaked Hillary Clinton Emails Reveal Concerns About ‘Biological Weapons’ Created At Wuhan Lab

Leaked State Department emails reveal Hillary Clinton knew about the dangers of Communist China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology while she was Secretary of State.

The State Department cables from June 2009 obtained by WikiLeaks reveal Clinton warned France that gain-of-function activities at the Wuhan lab could cause “biological weapons proliferation concern.”

The cables were sent to all embassies in member nations ahead of the Australia Group plenary session in Paris from September 21-25, 2009.

The Australia Group is an “informal” international export control forum created to prevent the spread of technologies and research that could contribute to the development of chemical and biological weapons.

“We believe it is important to focus on emerging chemical and biological technologies, trends in the trade of CBW-related goods and threats,” former Secretary Clinton stated.

Directed to France, the email continues: “The U.S. believes participants would benefit from hearing about your experiences assisting China in setting up a Biosafety Level-4 (BSL-4) laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from the export control and intangible technology transfer perspectives.”

“We are particularly interested to know how China plans to vet incoming foreign researchers from countries of biological weapons proliferation concern,” Clinton added.

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The Assange Case Explained Simply

One of the most common reasons I hear from people on their reluctance to wade into the Assange debate is that they don’t understand it. It looks like a complicated issue to them, so they leave it to the experts.

In reality, the complexity of this case is a complete illusion. It’s very, very simple. It only looks complicated because many years of media distortion have made it appear so.

The US government is trying to extradite a journalist and prosecute him under the Espionage Act for exposing its war crimes, with the long-term goal of normalizing this practice.

That’s it. That’s the whole entire thing. So simple you can sum it up in a single sentence. In a single breath. The most powerful government on earth setting a legal precedent which would allow it to extradite any journalist anywhere in the world for exposing its malfeasance would unquestionably have a massive chilling effect on journalism everywhere in precisely the area where press scrutiny is most sorely needed. It’s not any more complex or nuanced than that.

The Assange issue is simple. What makes it seem complicated is the lies people have been fed by the media class whose job is to manipulate the public into consenting to the agendas of the US power alliance and its war machine.

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Julian Assange Loses Appeal: British High Court Accepts U.S. Request to Extradite Him for Trial

In a London courtroom on Friday morning, Julian Assange suffered a devastating blow to his quest for freedom. A two-judge appellate panel of the United Kingdom’s High Court ruled that the U.S.’s request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to stand trial on espionage charges is legally valid.

As a result, that extradition request will now be sent to British Home Secretary Prita Patel, who technically must approve all extradition requests but, given the U.K. Government’s long-time subservience to the U.S. security state, is all but certain to rubber-stamp it. Assange’s representatives, including his fiancee Stella Morris, have vowed to appeal the ruling, but today’s victory for the U.S. means that Assange’s freedom, if it ever comes, is further away than ever: not months but years even under the best of circumstances.

In endorsing the U.S. extradition request, the High Court overturned a lower court’s ruling from January which had concluded that the conditions of U.S. prison — particularly for those accused of national security crimes — are so harsh and oppressive that there is a high likelihood that Assange would commit suicide. In January’s ruling, Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected all of Assange’s arguments that the U.S. was seeking to punish him not for crimes but for political offenses. But in rejecting the extradition request, she cited the numerous attestations from Assange’s doctors that his physical and mental health had deteriorated greatly after seven years of confinement in the small Ecuadorian Embassy where he had obtained asylum, followed by his indefinite incarceration in the U.K.

In response to that January victory for Assange, the Biden DOJ appealed the ruling and convinced Judge Baraitser to deny Assange bail and ordered him imprisoned pending appeal. The U.S. then offered multiple assurances that Assange would be treated “humanely” in U.S. prison once he was extradited and convicted. They guaranteed that he would not be held in the most repressive “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado — whose conditions are so repressive that it has been condemned and declared illegal by numerous human rights groups around the world — nor, vowed U.S. prosecutors, would he be subjected to the most extreme regimen of restrictions and isolation called Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”) unless subsequent behavior by Assange justified it. American prosecutors also agreed that they would consent to any request from Assange that, once convicted, he could serve his prison term in his home country of Australia rather than the U.S. Those guarantees, ruled the High Court this morning, rendered the U.S. extradition request legal under British law.

What makes the High Court’s faith in these guarantees from the U.S. Government particularly striking is that it comes less than two months after Yahoo News reported that the CIA and other U.S. security state agencies hate Assange so much that they plotted to kidnap or even assassinate him during the time he had asylum protection from Ecuador. Despite all that, Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde announced today that “the court is satisfied that these assurances” will serve to protect Assange’s physical and mental health.

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