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Liveblog: Julian Assange in jeopardy

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Julian Assange’s status in the Ecuadorian embassy has been in jeopardy over the past months, particularly since Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno came to power, with Ecuador and the UK believed to be engaged in negotiations to bring his stay to an end. In a recent interview, Moreno said, “Let’s not forget the conditions of his asylum prevent him from speaking about politics or intervening in the politics of other countries. That’s why we cut his communication.”

Isolated without internet access since March, Julian Assange will have been arbitrarily detained by the UK in the Ecuadorian Embassy for six years on 19 June 2018. The UN has condemned his detention; leading intellectuals, academics, and artists around the world have called for an end to his isolation; and the UK refuses to guarantee safety from extradition should he step outside the embassy.

Due to the seriousness of the current situation, Courage will be live blogging daily updates on the situation at the Ecuadorian embassy and support actions planned worldwide. The website Justice4Assange has published a template to encourage NGOs to take a stand for Assange.

6 August 2018

German MPs sign letter supporting Julian Assange’s freedom

Fifteen members of the German Bundestag and the European Parliament have signed a letter (in English and German, below) entitled, ‘Freedom for Julian Assange!’ The MPs call on the governments of England and Ecuador to end Julian’s “de facto imprisonment”:

The risk of extradition to an unpredictable administration in the U.S. is greater than ever. This is all the more serious as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has condemned the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange was subjected to without British or other governments of EU Member States having drawn any political consequences from it.

Prime Minister Theresa May and President Lenín Moreno, we appeal to you: ensure the release and effective protection of Julian Assange!

The letter was initiated by MP Heike Haensel of the Left Party, a longtime supporter of Assange and Chelsea Manning, and has been subsequently been signed by several MPs across multiple parties.

English:

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German:

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5 August 2018

6500+ have signed petition for Assange

More than 6,500 supporters have signed a petition calling on the UK government to free and protect Julian Assange.

Julian Assange is in great jeopardy and it appears that you may be the only one who can help him. His asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy is threatened and he is living under intolerable conditions. Yet, if he leaves, he is exposed to arrest and imprisonment in the US. Senior US law enforcement officials have stated that they intend to do anything they can do to imprison him in the US. In recent days heavily armored police vehicles have surrounded the Embassy and the media is reporting that his arrest is imminent. You can prevent this and we urge you to free Assange.

Add your name here!

3 August 2018

BBC Newsnight covers Assange’s embassy dilemma

Courage Director Naomi Colvin spoke to Newsnight about the potential for extradition:

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson spoke to the BBC as well about Julian’s asylum:

1 August 2018

Assange’s attorney calls on Australia to step in

TeleSUR reports that Julian Burnside, an Australian member of Assange’s legal team, called on his government to intercede in the embassy situation:

The main option for Assange is for the Australian government to step in and help him by doing a diplomatic deal with the British, which should not be difficult to do, which would enable him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy and travel safely back to Australia.

30 July 2018

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister comments on Assange case

José Valencia Amores, Ecuador’s new Foreign Minister, has issued a statement via Twitter, saying that “it is in the interest of Ecuador and also of Mr. Assange that the asylum be terminated.”

Assange’s days in the Ecuadorian Embassy are numbered says former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa

In an interview for RT’s Spanish service, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that, sooner or later, the publisher will have to leave the embassy. Correa noted that unless Assange secures safe passage guarantees, he is likely to be prosecuted for espionage and treason “which may carry the death penalty.”

Petition to secure Assange’s freedom submitted to Australian officials

A petition to secure freedom for Julian Assange has been submitted this morning to the Australian Prime Minister and all elected members of government. More than 3,300 have signed as of this writing — add your name here.

Ongoing vigils in front of the Ecudorian Embassy in London

Supporters have been gathering in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for Julian Assange throughout his time there. Catalans in London are organising a solidarity vigil on Tuesday July 31 at 7 pm in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy.

29 July 2018

Moreno on “ideal” solution for Assange

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, who visited Spain and Britain last week, said the “ideal” solution would involve Assange accepting a “penalty” for having breached British bail conditions and then be “extradited to a country where he does not face any danger.”

15 cities join in support of Julian Assange

In the event Julian Assange’s asylum is revoked, emergency rallies will be organized at 6pm the following day and then again the following Sunday. Here is the latest map. Join the emergency protest network here.

A letter to Pope Francis seeking help for Julian Assange

A number of Catholic priests, activists, health workers and clergy have signed a Plea to the Pope, initiated by longtime activist Ciaron O’Reilly of London Catholic Worker, to ensure safe passage for Assange out of England into a place of safety.

27 July 2018

Moreno says he did discuss Assange with UK government

In a press conference in Madrid, Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno says he did discuss Assange’s situation with UK government this week and says, “the only person I haven’t spoken to is Mr. Assange” and that the “only thing” he wants is a guarantee that Assange won’t be executed.

Originally in Spanish, the exchange was translated here:

Ecuador’s case for Assange’s asylum, six years on, is stronger than ever

In an op-ed for Open Democracy, Guillaume Long, professor of international relations and former Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs, writes that Ecuador’s initial fears of political persecution — the main reason for granting asylum to Assange — have been proven right.

“With the case dropped in Sweden, the affair has gone a full circle and the key issue is Washington’s wrath with Wikileaks.” writes Long. “Ecuador has a choice. It can (…) demonstrate its respect for the internationally recognised principle of non-refoulement and uphold the asylum as long as its causes persist. Or it can hand Assange over to the British authorities making future extradition to the United States likely.”

26 July 2018

Fidel Navárez outlines Ecuador’s responsibilities

Fidel Navárez, former counsel at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, has written an analysis of Ecuador’s responsibilities towards Julian Assange as an asylee and a citizen, which have been underlined by the recent ruling of the Inter American court.

Hundreds urge New Zealand to grant Julian Assange asylum

WikiLeaks supporters in New Zealand are gathering signatures to press for their government to offer Julian Assange safe haven. Greg Rzesniowiecki explains why he started the campaign:

WikiLeaks is one of the democracy’s sensors, providing vital information as to the civilisation brain or ordering system – our governments.

Where our governments attack Wikileaks they attack the democracy. Where they attack the democracy they attack us.

25 July 2018

Scott Ludlam: how WikiLeaks became a political Rorschach test

Former Australian Senator Scott Ludlam has written a defence of WikiLeaks that recalls the importance of their 2010-11 releases for global politics:

The WikiLeaks organisation has operated as a kind of political Rorschach test since at least 2010,… This malignant scatter of ink-blots was easy enough for most people to read: the disclosures were clearly in the public interest, given the distance between the officially curated version of the United States’ saintly presence in the world and the ugly raw material

24 July 2018

New York Times deputy general counsel: Assange “in a classic publisher’s position”

An audience of US federal judges at the Ninth Circuit’s annual Judicial Conference heard from David McCraw, the deputy general counsel of the New York Times and Barry Pollack, from Julian Assange’s legal team, on the potential ramifications of a US prosecution.

Speaking on a panel on the Law of Leaks, McGraw held that any prosecution would have inevitable repercussions for traditional news outlets (“I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks”) and that organisations innovating in journalistic practice were playing a valuable public service.

Our colleagues who are not only challenging us financially but journalistically have raised an awareness that there are different ways to report.

Barry Pollack noted that recent US criminal indictments that appear to refer to WikiLeaks as ‘Organisation-1’ are squarely attacking perfectly ordinary journalistic practice.

If you read the indictment that just came out on Russians and you look at what Organization Number 1, which is clearly WikiLeaks, is alleged to have done in that indictment, it is doing exactly what The New York Times and The Washington Post do every day of the week… He [Assange] is communicating with a source, the source provides him with information, he publishes that information.

There are no questions about the truthfulness or accuracy or authenticity of that information. And then he encourages the source to give him more information. He says ‘don’t give it to my competitors, give it to me. This story will have more impact if I publish it.’

23 July 2018

Reuters: the situation at the embassy is “coming to a head”

A report from Reuters cites a source stating that the situation is deteriorating at the Ecuadorian embassy.
“The situation is very serious. Things are coming to a head,” the source, who spoke on condition on anonymity, told Reuters. He said the latest information from inside the embassy was, “It’s not looking good”.

Inter-American Court ruling explained

A post by Jennifer Robinson at Doughty Street Chambers explains the Inter-American Court ruling of earlier this month, which was brought by the previous government of Ecuador.

In summary, the decision of the Court makes clear that Ecuador cannot return Mr Assange to the British authorities if there is a risk he will be extradited to the United States, which was the basis on which he was granted asylum.

22 July 2018

What we’ve learned from WikiLeaks

Flick Ruby recounts many of the ways the public has benefited from WikiLeaks’ releases, from exposing war crimes to using released documents in court cases, in an extended Twitter thread.

21 July 2018

Ecuador to “imminently” withdraw Assange’s aslum

Glenn Greenwald reports that Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is in London with the covert motive of negotiating with British officials to withdraw asylum for Julian Assange “imminently”, turning him over to UK police who have vowed to arrest him immediately.

Moreno has previously said Assange’s asylum would continue but with “conditions”; since then, the foreign minister who decided to grant Assange citizenship has been elected President of the UN General Assembly, replaced by the less sympathetic Jose Valencia Amores. When stepping into the new position, Amores said Ecuador seeks an “exit that is not traumatic.”

Inter-American ruling a victory for Assange

Though it didn’t mention Julian Assange directly, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that states granting asylum must provide safe passage to asylees in embassies.

The ruling “interpreted the reach of the protection given under Article 22 (7) of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article XXVII of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, which recognize the right to seek and receive asylum in a foreign territory.”

19 July 2018

Stefania Maurizi: Inside WikiLeaks: Working with the Publisher that Changed the World

Stefania Maurizi, a WikiLeaks media partner for nine years, recounts her experience of working on a series of critically important document releases with an organisation being put under exceptional state pressure:

WikiLeaks is rather unique from many standpoints. As a media organization publishing exclusively secret or otherwise restricted documents on “invisible powers,” such as intelligence agencies, which citizens do not normally perceive as directly relevant to their lives, there is little doubt that WikiLeaks has the full force of the State against it. It is probably the only Western media organization to have been under continuous investigation by the U.S. authorities – and probably others—since 2010, and it is definitely the only one whose editor is arbitrarily detained in the heart of Europe.

15 July 2018

Persecution of WikiLeaks threatens press freedoms

Chris Hedges has written “The War on Assange is a War on Press Freedom,” explaining:

The extradition of the publisher—the maniacal goal of the U.S. government—would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites. If Assange is extradited to the United States and sentenced, The New York Times, The Washington Post and every other media organization, no matter how tepid their coverage of the corporate state, would be subject to the same draconian censorship. Under the precedent set, Donald Trump’s Supreme Court would enthusiastically uphold the arrest and imprisonment of any publisher, editor or reporter in the name of national security.

Hedges joins a chorus of voices warning of the threat to journalists everywhere if the US has its way with WikiLeaks. Human Rights Watch’s executive director Ken Roth said over the weekend:

Earlier this year, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote, “By suing WikiLeaks, DNC could endanger principles of press freedom”

The notion that journalistic activity such as cultivating sources and receiving illegally obtained documents could be construed as part of a criminal conspiracy is, according to Goodale, the “greatest threat to press freedom today.” “It will inhibit reporters’ ability to get whistleblower information, because as soon as you talk to them in any aggressive fashion you could be guilty of a crime,” Goodale said.

13 July 2018

Why I stand with Julian Assange

Former State Department diplomat Peter Van Buren pens a defence of Julian Assange for the American Conservative, emphasising the gains WikiLeaks has made for oversight of government and the likelihood that this case represents a major encroachment of government power.

Wikileaks’ version of journalism says here are the cables, the memos, and the emails. Others can write about them (and nearly every mainstream media outlet has used Wikileaks to do that, some even while calling Assange a traitor), or you as a citizen can read the stuff yourself and make up your own damned mind. That is the root of an informed public, a set of tools never before available until Assange and the internet created them.

If Assange becomes the first successful prosecution of a third party under the Espionage Act, whether as a journalist or not, the government will turn that precedent into a weapon to attack the media’s role in any national security case. On the other hand, if Assange leaves London for asylum in Ecuador, that will empower new journalists to provide evidence when a government serves its people poorly and has no interest in being held accountable.

Freedom is never static. It either advances under our pressure, or recedes under theirs. I support Julian Assange.

3 July 2018

Today marks Julian Assange’s 47th birthday. Supporters worldwide have been drawing attention to his plight.

1 July 2018

Geoffrey Robertson QC: Julian Assange faces a US extradition request if he has to leave the embassy

Renowned human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, discusses Julian Assange’s case in a new interview:

Julian Assange has exposed a great deal of the secrets of the modern establishment. When he was in court, in fact when I was acting for him, he performed a service to journalists by getting a ruling that they could tweet from court, which they’d never been allowed to previously.

There’s no doubt [that he is wanted by the United States]. We never hear about that from Downing Street, we hear it from the White House.

I think this is working up to be a major free press issue. He’s been in the Ecuadorian embassy for six years, the charges brought against him in Sweden have been withdrawn. He only has America to fear.

If he leaves the embassy, he will be arrested, held for a short time for a breach of bail and in that time the US foreign secretary will order an extradition request that will keep him in prison for years fighting a US extradition request to prosecute him as a spy.

30 June 2018

Ecuador refutes claims of US influence

Ecuador’s new foreign minister Jose Valencia Amores said it’s not up to the US to determine the fate of Julian Assange, who was granted Ecuadorian citizenship earlier this year.

According to the Associated Press:

“Ecuador and the United Kingdom, and of course Mr Assange as a person who is currently staying, on asylum, at our embassy” will decide the next steps, Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told reporters.

“It does not enter, therefore, on an agenda with the United States.”

29 June 2018

White House confirms US and Ecuador are coordinating over Assange

Earlier this week, ten US Democratic Senators sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, as he was traveling to Ecuador. The letter urged “him to raise concerns with President Moreno about Ecuador’s support for Mr. Assange at a time when WikiLeaks continues its efforts to undermine democratic processes around the world.”

The following day, the White House released a statement to reporters confirming Pence did bring up Assange’s situation: “The vice president raised the issue of Mr. Assange. It was a constructive conversation. They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

Independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone comments on the letter and response:

Why would US Senators care that Assange is receiving political asylum if his belief that the US government is trying to extradite him was a paranoid fantasy? The only known existing charge that Assange could be arrested for if he leaves the embassy is a bogus bail violation he was charged with a full 12 days after he applied for political asylum; nobody actually believes ensuring that Assange is prosecuted for that nonsensical charge is an urgent matter, let alone one so urgent it necessitates the full attention of ten sitting US Senators and the Vice President of the United States. Continuing to pretend that we don’t all know that the same government which tortured Chelsea Manning is trying to extradite Assange is a farce, and the correct response to anyone denying it is to laugh in their face.

27 June 2018

Comey killed discussions over Assange’s immunity deal

The Hill reported this week that a lawyer for Julian Assange, Adam Waldman, and the US Department of Justice were in talks in March 2017 to reach an immunity deal for Assange.

Waldman wrote to a DOJ rep:

Subject to adequate and binding protections, including but not limited to an acceptable immunity and safe passage agreement, Mr. Assange welcomes the opportunity to discuss with the U.S. government risk mitigation approaches relating to CIA documents in WikiLeaks’ possession or control, such as the redaction of agency personnel in hostile jurisdictions and foreign espionage risks to WikiLeaks staff.

Derived directly from this discussion of risk mitigation, Mr. Assange is also prepared to discuss (within the source protection boundaries expected of a journalist and publisher operating at the highest level of integrity) (i) a description of CIA information in the possession or control of WikiLeaks; (ii) the risks of third parties who may have obtained access to such information (not withstanding the foregoing, for the avoidance of doubt this category specifically and others generally will not include any information that may effect WikiLeaks obligations to protect its sources) and (iii) information regarding the timing of further publications in so far as they relate to the risk mitigation approaches developed.

But just the next day, The Hill reported that former FBI Director James Comey intervened, through Senator Mark Warner, to kill those discussions.

 

Chilean Political Refugee Cristina Godoy Navarrete Speaks in Support of Julian Assange

“Today 20 June is World Refugee Day. My mum arrived in the UK as a political refugee in 1976 after being imprisoned and tortured by the US-government supported Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.”

Assange Is a Journalist, Should Not Be Persecuted for Publishing the Truth

Kevin Zeese writes:

The threat of prosecution against Julian Assange for his work as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks will be a key to defining what Freedom of the Press means in the 21st Century. Should people be allowed to know the truth if their government is corrupt, violating the law or committing war crimes? Democracy cannot exist when people are misled by a concentrated corporate media that puts forth a narrative on behalf of the government and big business.

20 June 2018

Yesterday rallies were held in major cities around the world, calling for Julian Assange’s freedom.

Human Rights Watch was barred from visiting Assange in the Embassy, and its general counsel Dinah PoKempner has argued, ‘UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to US.’

The publication of leaks—particularly leaks that show potential government wrongdoing or human rights abuse—is a critical function of a free press in a democratic society. The vague and sweeping provisions of the Espionage Act remain ready to be used against other publishers and journalists, whether they be Wikileaks or the New York Times.

19 June 2018

Sixth anniversary rallies and media

Supporters rally in London for the 6th anniversary of Assange’s detention

Today marks six years since Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, seeking asylum from US/UK persecution. Assange lawyer and Courage Trustee Renata Avila remarked on the anniversary:


Rallies for Assange are being held around the world

At the Embassy in London (livestream), Diem25 co-founder Srecko Horvat spoke about WikiLeaks’ importance:


At Mintpress News, Whitney Webb writes, ‘The Implications of Assange’s Persecution for Journalism and Democracy’:

Assange’s case means much more than the severe mistreatment – torture, as some have said – of a single man whose commitment to bringing the dark deeds of government crimes to light has forced him to sacrifice seeing the outside world – even his own children – for the better part of a decade. Though his mistreatment has no place in any civilized “democracy,” the outcome of Assange’s case – if his extradition to the United States does come to pass – will have a powerful impact for journalism as a whole. Indeed, if the U.S.-led campaign to extradite and silence Assange is successful, it will invariably become the blueprint used by powerful governments like the U.S. to silence independent journalists the world over, and bludgeon them into submission.

At Consortium News, former CIA officer Ray McGovern writes, ‘Julian Assange and the Mindszenty Case’:

Where is the voice of conscience to condemn what is happening to Julian Assange, whose only “crime” is publishing documents exposing the criminal activities and corruption of governments and other Establishment elites? Decades ago, the U.S. and “civilized world” had nothing but high praise for the courageous Mindszenty. He became a candidate for sainthood.

And Assange? He has been confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years —from June 19, 2012—the victim of a scurrilous slander campaign and British threats to arrest him, should he ever step outside. The U.S. government has been putting extraordinary pressure on Ecuador to end his asylum and top U.S. officials have made it clear that, as soon as they get their hands on him, they will manufacture a reason to put him on trial and put him in prison. All for spreading unwelcome truth around.

Vault 7 charges brought

Meanwhile, Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charges have been brought against Joshua Schulte, the alleged source of the Vault 7 leak of CIA hacking tools published by WikiLeaks.

18 June 2018

Tomorrow, 19 June 2018, marks six years since Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Rallies in support of Assange’s freedom, and freedom to use the internet, are planned around the world. See here for a list of global actions, and get in touch with us here to add your event or send us photos from your local action.

Tomorrow the UN Human Rights Council will hear a discussion of “Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and the Future of Rights and Freedoms in the West,” with Judge Baltasar Garzon, head of Assange’s legal team; Stefania Maurizi, the Italian journalist who uncovered important documents about Assange’s persecution; and Micol Savia, from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

John Pilger and others speak at Australian rally

Courage trustee and investigative journalist John Pilger spoke at the Sydney Town Hall rally for Julian Assange. An abridged transcription of his talk, ‘Bring Julian Assange Home,’ can be found here.

 

Lawyers speak out for Assange’s rights

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about Julian’s case.

 

Julian Assange’s Lawyer on 6 Years of Arbitrary Detention

Lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter highlights the Australian government’s selective willingness to protect human rights.

the Australian government says it is ‘fully committed’ [to upholding international human rights law] but simultaneously cherry picks the human rights it wants to uphold or agitate for, depending upon what is politically advantageous to itself or its allies. In Assange’s case this “commitment” has never been translated into any sort of action.

14 June 2018

An exit without “trauma”

Ecuador’s new foreign minister Jose Valencia Amores replaces Maria Fernando Espinosa, the new President of US General Assembly who granted Julian Assange with Ecuadorian citizenship. Amores said on Wednesday, 13 June, that Ecuador seeks a solution to Assange’s situation “that gives us an exit that is not traumatic, an exit that can not provoke a dissonance with international law (and that) serves the interest of the Ecuadorian State.”

UN meeting on Assange

Julian Assange’s Twitter account, run by campaign members while he remains without internet access, announced that on 19 June, the sixth anniversary of Julian entering the embassy, the UN will hold a meeting on his persecution:

New details on Ecuadorian surveillance

Spanish newspaper El Diario has uncovered new details about Operation Hotel, Ecuador’s long effort to spy on Julian Assange’s every move within the embassy, unveiled by the Guardian last month. Based on confidential government intelligence reports, El Diario explains:

The parties of the security company do not limit themselves to detailing the incidents that were registered during those dates outside the embassy, ​​where there were concentrations and some manifestations not too numerous, they also detail and photograph what happens inside the government building, where a network of security cameras registered all Assange activity. These images came to screens located in an apartment located 100 meters from the embassy in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in London . The cameras allowed the Ecuadorian Government to document a meeting that took place on April 4, 2017. “The Guest – as they refer to Assange – receives the visits of Praxis Film”, begins the extraordinary report dedicated to that appointment.

However, El Diario notes ample incorrect information within the reports:

The intelligence reports to which eldiario.es has had access are filled with errors and incorrect statements. Some names of visitors Assange received are not correct, there are misspellings and on some documents, and the Ecuadoran embassy is referred to as the Colombian Embassy. There are also mistakes in identifying the people with whom the WikiLeaks founder has access, like when the report speaks of Renata Avila, who it refers to as one of his Spanish lawyers from the office of Baltasar Garzon. Avila is not Spanish and she is not a lawyer in Garzon’s office.

More support

Filmmaker Ken Loach is the latest to add his voice of support for Assange, with this statement:

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. To force him to remain in the Ecuadorian Embassy for fear of extradition to the USA is clearly political.

He is right to be fearful. In the current febrile atmosphere people in the US have called for his execution.

He has defended the public’s right to know what is done in their name when others who now attack him have run for cover.

It is time that Julian Assange is free to leave without fear.

The Washington Post mark the upcoming six-year anniversary of Julian Assange taking refuge in the embassy.

Free Julian Assange NZ have announced a Wellington protest in support of Julian Assange on 19 June, with a march planned from the Australia High Commission to the US Embassy to the UK Embassy.

John Jiggens writes in Independent Australia that ‘the long siege of Julian Assange’ is “ongoing and unfair”, with extensive comments from Irish-Australian Catholic Worker activist Ciaron O’Reilly, who said:

lf you marched against the Iraq War and over a million people marched in London alone, then what you did by marching is you incited people like Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. So if you serious about being anti-war then you have to accompany the people you incited, whether they be military resisters or whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning or publishers like Julian Assange.

I know from my own experiences of imprisonment for anti-war activity that the most minute expressions of solidarity carry a lot of weight in terms of nourishing resisters and I have been in the embassy with Julian when he’s received support mail from people and I’ve seen how he has been sincerely nourished by that and I would encourage everyone to write to him.

There’s an old saying that truth is the first casualty of war. Well maybe, as Julian points out, peace can be founded on telling the truth.

13 June 2018

Courage Trustee and investigative journalist John Pilger was interviewed by Dennis Bernstein about the ‘Curious Case of the Left’s Silence on Julian Assange.’ Pilger said:

They have not won, not yet, and they have not destroyed the man. Only the silence of good people will allow them to win. Julian Assange has never been more isolated. He needs your support and your voice. Now more than ever is the time to demand justice and free speech for Julian. Thank you.”

WISE Up Action have published a new interview with James Cogan, ;The Fight to Free Julian Assange is a question of political principle.’

Artists Tony Garnett, Davide Dormino and Costantino Ciervo demand freedom for Julian Assange.

Former high-ranking UN official Alfred M. de Zayas issued a statement of support:

Assange, whom I visited at the Ecuador Embassy in London, deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace. He and fellow whistleblower Eduard Snowden have done more for democracy, rule of law and peace than the many hypocritical politicians and journalists who attack and defame them.

12 June 2018

Australians take notice after High Commission visit

Following the news that Australian officials visited the Ecuadorian Embassy, Australians are showing their support for Julian Assange. Australian public high school teachers signed a resolution in support of the campaign for Assange’s freedom.

At Mintpress News, Whitney Webb says that the outcome of Assange’s situation could set a precedent for all Australians, calling on the Aussie government to protect him:

if Australia reneges on its obligations to protect Assange and fight for his rights, the implications such actions would hold for every other citizen of the country are as vast as they are chilling. It would set the legal precedent for Australia to allow any of its citizens to be detained, imprisoned and/or silenced by another government without charges, greatly weakening the rights of any Australian national living or traveling abroad. Essentially, it would mean that many of the rights granted to an Australian by right of one’s citizenship would evaporate the second he or she set foot on foreign soil.

11 June 2018

Australia providing consular assistance

Over the weekend it was confirmed that Australia was providing consular assistance in Assange’s situation after two officials from the High Commission in London visited the Ecuadorian Embassy. 7 News Melbourne spoke with Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson:


Postcards for Assange

Inspired by John Pilger’s statement calling for support, WISEUP Action has launched a postcard campaign, providing postcards emphasizing Assange’s right to free speech and his right to healthcare available for download.

5 June 2018

Ecuador’s foreign minister elected President of UN General Assembly

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador’s foreign minister who approved Julian Assange’s citizenship and gave him diplomatic status, has been elected President of the United Nations’ General Assembly.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Espinosa said there was no set date for Assange to regain internet access.

Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, said last week that Espinosa made the decision to grant Assange citizenship. “I told the foreign minister she should, with complete freedom, choose how to solve the problem. And she chose that system. It wasn’t the most suitable, but I respected it,” Moreno said.

4 June 2018

Investigative journalist and Courage Trustee John Pilger has released a statement about Julian’s situation and the need for widespread grassroots support, entitled “Justice and freedom for Julian Assange mean free speech for us all.”

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou explained the importance of supporting Assange in a recent video message. “I feel like we’re heading into an international crisis if we turn our backs on Julian Assange,” he said.

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters displayed a huge message of support at a performance over the weekend:

Assange supporter Emmy Butlin, whose group WISEUP Action organizes vigils outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, recently gave an interview to World Socialist Website.

Vigils planned in support of Julian Assange

17 June – Sydney, Australia, Town Hall’s Square, 1pm

19 June – London, Ecuadorian Embassy, 6-8pm

Assange’s protection from US extradition “in jeopardy”

CNN reports that refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy may end “any day now”

Almost two months after Julian Assange’s ability to receive visitors and access to digital communications was severely curtailed by the Government of Ecuador, CNN reports that the situation has become “unusually bad”.

Without the protection of the Ecuadorian government, Assange is liable to be arrested in the UK on charges related to a bail violation. More seriously, this would also open the way to questioning and a likely extradition request from the United States, where a grand jury investigation has been looking into Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing US secrets since 2010.

Last week, the Guardian reported that the UK and Ecuador were engaged in negotiations to attempt to bring the impasse over Assange’s asylum status to an end, without a guarantee that Assange should be protected from the prospect of extradition for his publication activities. Such a settlement would appear to breach principles of international and Ecuadorian domestic law.

In 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Assange’s detention to be arbitrary, that he “has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty,” and that he is “entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation.”

Without internet access or visitation, Assange has been even further cut off from the outside world. At least four open letters from civil society advocates around the world have been sent to the Ecuadorian government, calling for an end to Assange’s isolating conditions.

Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship in late 2017, which means he should have certain constitutional rights. Article 79 of the Ecuadorian Constitution bans the extradition of citizens: “In no case shall extradition of an Ecuadorian be granted.” Article 41 bans asylees from being returned: “The State shall respect and guarantee the principle of non-return.”

There is no question that Julian Assange faces immense danger from the prospect of a US prosecution. These threats have been reiterated under Trump. Last year, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service”, saying that the US “can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” The Trump Administration has shown a willingness to continue the Obama Administration’s policy of using the 1917 Espionage Act against leakers of classified information, but indicting a publisher would be a serious step forward in the war on journalism, putting the freedom of the US press more broadly at risk.

DNC threatens press freedom in lawsuit against WikiLeaks, Assange over 2016 election

The Democratic National Committee has launched a wide-ranging lawsuit against Russia, WikiLeaks, Guccifer 2.0, Donald Trump – everyone it blames for Hillary Clinton losing the 2016 election. “Russia,” the suit contends, “mounted a brazen attack on American Democracy” by hacking the DNC and publicizing information damaging to the Clinton campaign through WikiLeaks. The narrative will be familiar to anyone who has followed any coverage of the US presidential election. But the charges that the DNC decided to levy should worry anyone with an interest in US press freedom.

The lawsuit contends that merely by publishing the DNC’s communications, a journalistic act obviously protected by the First Amendment that major newspapers carry out routinely, WikiLeaks is guilty of “economic espionage,” and is liable for damages resulting from that publication.

As Glenn Greenwald and Trevor Timm note in The Intercept, “Some of the most important stories in contemporary journalism have come from media outlets obtaining and publishing materials that were taken without authorization or even in violation of the law.”

They write:

Media figures constantly sounded the alarm about threats to press freedom each time Donald Trump posts an insulting tweet about various media personalities. But the DNC’s lawsuit — just like the attempts of the Obama and Trump DOJs to criminalize and prosecute whistleblowing under the Espionage Act — is an actual grave threat to those press freedoms.

Similarly, Norman Solomon observes for TruthDig:

The most unprincipled part of the lawsuit has to do with its targeting of Assange and WikiLeaks. That aspect of the suit shows that the DNC is being run by people whose attitude toward a free press—ironically enough—has marked similarities to Donald Trump’s.

The threat this suit poses to American journalism is hard to overstate. As Greenwald and Timm write, “No media outlet can function, indeed journalism cannot function, if it becomes illegal to publish secret materials taken by a source without authorization or even illegally.”

See the full lawsuit here:

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Fourth open letter to #ReconnectJulian published in Norway

Julian Assange has now been without internet access – his only connection to the world beyond his small room in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – for two weeks. In that time, three open letters have been published, calling on Ecuador to reconnect his internet. Leading intellectuals and artists published the first, then a Spanish-language letter was published, and then ex-CIA and intelligence officers delivered a letter of their own. On Monday, Courage Trustee and fashion icon Vivienne Westwood released a video message, imploring Ecuador to continue protecting the WikiLeaks publisher.

Additionally, more than 55,000 supporters have signed a petition launched by Brian Eno and Yanis Varoufakis, hosted by DiEM25, who have released a video message from Slavoj Zizek.


Now a fourth open letter has been published in newspapers in Norway, in Norwegian and in Spanish, signed by dozens of leading artists, authors and academics. As Ecuador doesn’t have an embassy in Norway, the letter was mailed by post to the Ecuadorian government.

See photos of the letter, and the Spanish-language translation below:

¡El aislamiento de Julian Assange tiene que acabar ya!

Con la presente, los abajo firmantes ­–en su mayoría periodistas, escritores y académicos afiliados a instituciones noruegas– solicitamos al Gobierno de Ecuador que restituya a Julian Assange la libertad de expresión consagrada en el artículo 10 de la Convención Europea de Derechos Humanos.

Assange sufre hoy un aislamiento prácticamente total. Desde su detención en Londres, en diciembre de 2010, su existencia ha sido la de un cautivo. Por añadidura, según un comunicado del 28 de marzo del presente año, las autoridades ecuatorianas acaban de suspenderle a Assange la comunicación con el mundo exterior a través del Internet y por teléfono, amén de someterle a un régimen de control de visitas. El mismo comunicado prevé nuevas medidas en el caso de que las ya ejecutadas no tengan el efecto deseado.

Los abajo firmantes estamos profundamente preocupados por el agravamiento de las condiciones de Assange. Hace ya años que un panel de la ONU declaró que Assange es víctima de una detención arbitraria y pidió a las autoridades británicas, entre otras, que garantizaran su libertad de movimiento. En enero pasado tres médicos independientes concluyeron que la salud del cautivo corría riesgo y que necesitaba tratamiento médico, al cual no tiene acceso actualmente. Su aislamiento prolongado constituye una violación intolerable de los derechos del individuo decretados tanto por la jurisdicción nacional como por convenciones internacionales, del mismo modo que va en contra del sentido general de justicia. Las consecuencias para la salud mental del recluso son imposibles de pronosticar a largo plazo.

Julian Assange no ha sido acusado de ninguna ofensa criminal. Hace casi un año que el Gobierno de Suecia retiró los cargos que había presentado contra Assange.  A pesar de ello, las autoridades estadounidenses continúan empeñadas en lograr su extradición, e incluso han intensificado los esfuerzos para enjuiciarlo. ¿Para qué? De hecho, el “delito” de Assange es un importante trabajo periodístico: ha dado a conocer información sobre vigilancia ilegítima y otras infracciones por parte de las autoridades, información que el público tiene todo el derecho de conocer pero que le ha sido ocultada.

Ya en una fecha temprana, Assange había advertido sobre  confabulaciones, en amplia escala, entre compañías de datos multinacionales y círculos de poder político, las cuales han sido comprobadas por revelaciones recientes, v.g. de las maniobras fraudulentas de Cambridge Analytica y Facebook.

Durante el gobierno anterior, Ecuador mostró gran coraje e integridad moral al concederle asilo político a Assange en su embajada en Londres, a pesar de la presión masiva por parte de los Estados Unidos. Por ello, tanto más decepcionante resulta el argumento del nuevo gobierno para interrumpir la comunicación con el exterior: “el comportamiento de Assange, con sus mensajes a través de las redes sociales, pone en riesgo las buenas relaciones que el país mantiene con Reino Unido, estados de la Unión Europea, entre otras naciones”.

Se entiende que el comunicado oficial alude principalmente a las expresiones críticas de Assange a la expulsión de diplomáticos rusos de varios países europeos por el envenenamiento del exespía Serguéi Skripal, así como sus comentarios sobre la situación del expresidente catalán Carles Puigdemont. No obstante, tales expresiones están protegidas por la Convención Europea de Derechos Humanos. El intento ecuatoriano de silenciar a Assange es, por lo tanto, un claro ataque contra su libertad de expresión así como contra sus derechos humanos fundamentales.

Si Ecuador, la UE y Gran Bretaña continúan contribuyendo al escandaloso amordazamiento de Assange, en el futuro ya no podrán invocar su papel de defensores de la libertad frente a países como Turquía, China o Arabia Saudita. Por consiguiente, la libertad de expresión se verá severamente amenazada como uno de los valores cardinales del mundo occidental.

No podemos quedarnos tranquilos ante el aislamiento al que es sometido un renombrado activista de la libertad de expresión, denunciante y periodista. Por eso le rogamos encarecidamente al Gobierno ecuatoriano que levante el aislamiento y amordazamiento que está sufriendo Julian Assange. ¡Que se respeten los derechos humanos de Julian Assange y se le garantice su derecho a expresarse libremente!

Bergen, Noruega, 6 de abril de 2018

Firman:

Marie Amdam, artista

Charles I. Armstrong, catedrático, Universidad de Agder

Jon Askeland, profesor, Universidad de Bergen

Arne Borge, periodista y poeta

Pedro Carmona Álvarez, músico y escritor

Susanne Christensen, crítica y escritora

Torstein Dahle, representante del Ayuntamiento de Bergen

Alf van der Hagen, editor y escritor

Terje Dragseth, poeta

Marit Eikemo, escritora

Chris Erichsen, músico y escritor

Tomas Espedal, escritor

Freddy Fjellheim, escritor

Eline Lund Fjæren, escritora

Kjartan Fløgstad, escritor

Sigmund Grønmo, catedrático, Universidad de Bergen

Henning Hagerup, crítico y escritor

Tormod Haugland, escritor

Svein Haugsgjerd, psiquiatra (emérito),

Vigdis Hjort, escritora

Egon Holstad, periodista

Tone Hødnebø, poeta

Leif Høghaug, profesor y poeta

Kari Jegerstedt, profesora, Universidad de Bergen

Preben Jordal, crítico y traductor

Jan H. Landro, escritor y periodista

Sandra Lillebø, escritora y crítica

Audun Lindholm, editor y escritor

Ingunn Lunde, catedrática, Universidad de Bergen

Ingri Lønnebotn, escritora

Cecilie Løveid, escritora

Sofie Marhaug, representante del Ayuntamiento de Bergen

Bjarne Markussen, catedrático, Universidad de Agder

Magnus Michelsen, consultor municipal, Bergen

Ellen Mortensen, catedrática, Universidad de Bergen

Remi Nilsen, editor

Olaug Nilssen, escritora

Erlend Nødtvedt, escritor y bibliotecario, Bergen

Hans Jacob Ohldieck, profesor, Colegio Universitario del Sudeste de Noruega

Frode Helmich Pedersen, investigador, Universidad de Bergen

Ole A. Sandmo, asesor de comunicaciones, Premio Holberg

Kari Soriano Salkjelsvik, profesora, Universidad de Bergen

Gisle Selnes, catedrático, Universidad de Bergen

Per Selnes, doctor en medicina, Universidad de Oslo

Sven Storelv, catedrático (emérito), Universidad de Bergen

Morten Strøksnes, escritor y periodista

Espen Stueland, escritor y periodista

Ole Robert Sunde, escritor

Odd Wilhelm Surén, escritor

Håvard Syvertsen, escritor y traductor

Bjørn Tomren, músico

Vilde Tuv, artista

Even S. Underlid, profesor y escritor

Jan Bojer Vindheim, escritor y político

Eirik Vold, periodista

Matti Wiik, profesor, Universidad de Bergen

Bjørn Aagenæs, editor

Kjersti Aarstein, profesora, Universidad de Bergen

 

 

 

 

Confinement by proxy: the UK continues arbitrary confinement of journalist as threats from US prosecution escalate

The battle for Julian Assange’s freedom continues as Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot has ruled the WikiLeaks publisher’s confinement has been proportionate and in the public interest. The judge’s defensive and harsh ruling comes a day after it was revealed that Swedish prosecutors attempted to close their investigation into Assange in 2013, but British prosecutors dissuaded them from doing so. The ruling is consistent with UK behavior in this highly politicised case, as the court refused to recognise both Assange’s precarious health situation and the strong and binding ruling from the UN, declaring his confinement arbitrary, maintaining the UK’s silence on the imminent threat of a US prosecution linked to his journalistic activities.

The UK has long declined to confirm or deny the existence of an extradition request. Today’s ruling continues that tradition, with Arbuthnot’s rather inconsistent ruling that she would unwilling to treat these fears seriously without Julian Assange putting himself at risk of them being realised.

Assange’s lawyer Gareth Peirce said: “If you’re baffled by this [ruling], it’s because it’s a legally baffling situation.”

Judge Arbuthnot dismissed the idea that Sweden would have extradited to the United States as unlikely because doing so would have caused an “international crisis.” It is unfortunate she did not reflect on the US government’s willingness to provoke precisely that kind of situation in comparable cases. In 2013, shortly after President Obama said he wasn’t considering grounding planes to apprehend Edward Snowden, the US did exactly that, forcing a plane carrying the Bolivian president to land while it was flying over Austria, on a hunch that Edward Snowden might be on board. In 2014 it was reported that the CIA had a rendition plane flying over Europe, on hand to transport Snowden to the US.

Tomorrow: Judge set to rule whether continued arbitrary detention of WikiLeaks publisher can be “in the public interest”

At 2pm on Tuesday 13 February at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot is due to rule on whether Britain’s determination to arrest WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is really in the public interest. Assange risks arrest by UK police if he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been living since seeking asylum there in 2012.

The arrest warrant is connected to Sweden’s 2010 investigation and was upheld in court last week despite the underlying Swedish investigation having been closed last year. In that hearing, Assange’s defence had argued that because Sweden dropped its investigation and European arrest warrants have been withdrawn, the UK warrant “lost its purpose and its function.”

In the past year, a series of Freedom of Information requests have led to the publication of emails that raise important questions about Britain’s role in the affair. Correspondence – records of which have been deleted on the UK side – appear to show officials encouraging their Swedish counterparts to artificially prolong their investigation.

When did Assange enter the embassy, and why is he there?

Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy on June 19, 2012 and applied for political asylum, seeking protection from US attempts to imprison him over his work as the publisher of WikiLeaks. He was granted political asylum two months later after the UK and Sweden refused to give an assurance they would not extradite him to the US over WikiLeaks publications. Ecuador more recently granted Assange with Ecuadorian nationality. The United States has had an ongoing, “multi-subject” investigation into WikiLeaks and Julian Assange over their work publishing classified documents since 2010.

What is happening on 13 February?

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, is due to rule on whether the existing UK arrest warrant and a potential future charge of absconding under sections 6 and 7 of the 1976 Bail Act are proportionate and whether it would be in the public interest for the current situation to continue.

Why is this hearing important?

The current proceedings are important because of the focus they put on the actions of the United Kingdom in this affair. The UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has received an extradition request from the United States, but some of its actions seem difficult to explain on the basis of the closed Swedish investigation alone.

Recently published emails obtained under Freedom of Information legislation in the UK and Sweden show that Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service told Sweden to not interview Julian Assange in the UK in 2011 and 2012  (they eventually did so in 2016). The UK also told Sweden not to drop its extradition request when it moved to do so in 2013.

The UK remains in violation of a United Nations ruling from 2016 that Julian Assange is being subjected to Arbitrary Detention. The UK government refuses to release most of its internal communications relating to Assange saying that to do so would compromise the United Kingdom’s national security and diplomatic relations.

How is Julian Assange after having been in the embassy for five and a half years?

There have long been concerns about Julian Assange’s abilty to access adequate medical care. Doctors who have recently carried out a full examination have stated that Assange’s health is in an increasingly dangerous condition.

Why does Julian Assange fear prosecution from the United States?

A US grand jury investigation has been ongoing since May 2010 with the purpose of bringing a case against Assange over WikiLeaks publications. Efforts to extradite and charge Assange have expanded under the Trump administration to include WikiLeaks’ groundbreaking series on the CIA published last year. Assange faces up to life imprisonment for multiple charges including espionage, conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy, theft, and electronic espionage–a terrorism offence.

President Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo stated that Assange has “no First Amendment rights” and that the CIA is working to “take down” WikiLeaks. The US Senate intelligence committee has tabled legislation to declare WikiLeaks a “non-state intelligence service” and that the US government should “treat it accordingly.” Assange published two responses in the Washington Post.

 

 

 

 

UK judge declines to drop Assange arrest warrant

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected Julian Assange’s request to drop the UK’s arrest warrant, continuing the abusive, arbitrary detention of the publisher in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The arrest warrant is connected to Sweden’s 2012 investigation into Julian Assange and is upheld despite that investigation having been closed last year. Assange’s defence argued that because Sweden dropped its investigation and European arrest warrants have been withdrawn, the UK warrant “lost its purpose and its function.”

Even if the UK had dropped its warrant, however, Assange’s security would remain in jeopardy. If he left the embassy, the UK could extradite him to the US, which continues to threaten prosecution. Last year, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that WikiLeaks’ journalism “ends now,” calling the organization a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” The US has had a grand jury investigation into Assange and WikiLeaks ongoing since 2010. The UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has received a US extradition warrant.

Judge Arbuthnot ruled on just one argument of Assange’s defence. Assange’s lawyers have argued separately that the proceedings are not in the public interest. The judge will rule on that argument on 13 February, at 2pm.

Assange has been in the embassy for five and a half years. Two doctors recently examined Assange and determined that “his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him, and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.”

Last month, Ecuador announced that it had granted Assange Ecuadorian nationality. Courage Trustee Renata Avila said, “Ecuador’s decision … is a welcome step, but we’re still a long way from resolving this situation. In the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, we’ve seen the US rhetoric against First Amendment activity, and the threats of prosecution, reach new, dangerous heights.”

In February 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Assange’s detention to be arbitrary, that he “has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty,” and that he was “entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation.”  The United Kingdom challenged the determination and continues to illegally detain him.

Handy Infographic for Assange Case

In light of Julian Assange’s upcoming court ruling tomorrow in London at 2PM, UK time, we would like to provide you w/this infographic that can give some good facts about his case. Feel free to share using the hashtag #IamWikileaks and be sure to follow us via @couragefound on twitter and @courageWL

Sweden drops investigation into Julian Assange

The Swedish Prosecution Authority has announced, for the second and presumably final time, that its preliminary investigation into WikiLeaks founding editor Julian Assange is to be dropped. As the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention made clear last year, this decision is long overdue.

Julian Assange’s asylum must be respected and WikiLeaks staff must be protected from political persecution.

The conclusion of the Swedish case does nothing to alter the major threats issued against WikiLeaks and its staff for their journalistic work, which are serious and ongoing. Just last month, CIA director Mike Pompeo declared that the publisher was a “hostile intelligence service”. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that Assange’s arrest was “a priority”, amidst reports charges were being prepared against WikiLeaks members.

The US Department of Justice has been running an unprecedented and wide-ranging investigation into WikiLeaks for its publishing and sourcing work since 2010. A threat to WikiLeaks’ work is a threat to all free journalism and we invite those who share these concerns to join Edward Snowden, Oliver Stone, Patti Smith and the hundreds of others who have signed our Open Letter:

https://www.iamwikileaks.org/openletter/