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What Julian Assange’s Win Today Really Means for the World
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The 10-year campaign by the US government to criminalise reporting critical of its actions has failed in rather peculiar circumstances, with the unexpected decision by the court in London to reject the US demand for Julian Assange‘s extradition.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser gave as the reason for her decision Assange’s mental health and possible suicide risk, not freedom of expression or evidence of a politically inspired persecution by the Trump administration. If the judge is correct, this must be one of the very few non-political actions of the Trump era in the US.

Assange stays for the moment in the high-security Belmarsh Prison, as the US is likely to appeal against the verdict, but he can make a fresh application for bail.Had the US succeeded in extraditing Assange to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act of 1917, and one charge of computer-hacking, he could have been sentenced to 175 years in prison. His conviction would have had a devastating effect on freedom of the press, because what he was accused of doing is what every journalist and news outlet does or ought to do: find out significant information, which may or may not be labelled secret by self-interested governments, and pass it on to the public so they can reach evidence-based judgments on the world in which they live.

I followed the extradition hearings day-by-day last September, and there was nothing that Assange and WikiLeaks disclosed that I and any other decent reporter would not have revealed.

It is a little too early to say whether the Assange saga, which began when WikiLeaks published a great trove of US government documents in 2010 giving an unprecedented insight into US political, military and diplomatic affairs, is finally over.

At that time, extracts from the US government files were published by The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais. They were described as the greatest scoop of the century, akin to Daniel Ellsberg giving the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971.

The most famous item was film taken by a US military helicopter in Baghdad in 2007 as it opened fire on a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two local journalists working for Reuters, killing them all. The Pentagon claimed that the targets were “terrorists” and had refused to release the video, despite a Freedom of Information Act request. I was in Baghdad at the time and the journalists there suspected what had really happened, but we could not prove it in the face of official denials.

It was the contents of the Apache helicopter video and thousands of other reports that so shocked a US military intelligence analyst called Bradley Manning, who later changed her name and legal gender to Chelsea Manning, that she handed the great cache of classified documents over to WikiLeaks.

ORDER IT NOW

Despite claims to the contrary, the electronic files did not contain the deepest secrets of the US government, but they did reveal what it knew about its own activities and that of its allies. This was often deeply embarrassing and wholly contrary to what American governments had been saying to their own people and the world.

A US official explained to me at the time that the files – 251,287 diplomatic cables, over 400,000 classified reports from the Iraq War and 90,000 from the Afghan War – were filed on a system known as Siprnet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network). This was designed to give wide access to useful information to hundreds of thousands of US government personnel. My diplomatic friend explained that with so many people able to read the files, the US government was not so naïve as to put its deepest secrets in it.

I was surprised 10 years ago by the outrage of the US and allied governments at the disclosures. An early claim that Assange and WikiLeaks had endangered the lives of US agents lost credibility when it was revealed in 2013 that a task force of 120 counterintelligence officers had failed to find a single instance of anybody who had died because of the WikiLeaks disclosures. Nevertheless, this charge was brought up against Assange by the lawyers for the US government at the extradition hearings that began last September.

The anger of the American and allied governments had little to do with the precise level of secrecy of the files that were disclosed. Many of the facts were already known or suspected by journalists. But the keeping of secrets – and their disclosure by the authorities themselves in their own interests – is an instrument of power that those possessing it will fight hard not to lose. Hence the dogged determination with which Assange has been pursued ever since.

The campaign to discredit him had much success. The newspapers that once feted him as the source of their scoops swiftly distanced themselves from him and from WikiLeaks. This had much to do with his status as a rape suspect in Sweden, though these allegations had nothing do with the extradition hearings. I have a sense that the mainline establishment newspapers that had published the files were taken back and intimated by the explosive reaction of the American governments and its allies.

The majority of these publications consequently ignored or played down the Assange extradition hearings. The challenge to the freedom of the press was self-evident, as was the danger to journalists truthfully reporting facts, any one of which might be deemed a secret by the US government. They too could have faced espionage charges on exactly the same basis as Assange.

Yet much of the media remained silent or made nit-picking attacks on Assange’s personality, despite the seriousness of the case. The failure of the attempt to extradite Assange – if confirmed on appeal – gets them off the hook and they will no longer have to take a stand. This is one of the most worrying aspect of the case – the willingness of the media to stand to one side during one of the greatest attacks on press freedom in modern history.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Thomasina says:

    “…the unexpected decision by the court in London to reject the US demand for Julian Assange‘s extradition.”

    The Deep State in the U.K. and the U.S. are joined at the hip. Now, why would they suddenly and “unexpectedly” decide to free Assange at this particular time? Is it because they’ve gotten word that Trump is about to pardon Assange, and they want to act first?

    If you listen to Alexander Mercouris (a U.K. lawyer) of The Duran from 4:00 minutes to 14:00 minutes, he spells out what the judge had to say. She emphasized that it was OBAMA’s Justice Department who instigated the charges against Assange and kept up the pressure, and she even mentioned that Trump shows some sympathy towards Assange.

    Trump must pardon Assange. If he doesn’t, and Assange’s mental and physical health improve, they can come after Assange again in the future. The judge ruled Assange is a criminal, so I wouldn’t put it past them.

    Trump is unfortunately not in charge of the Swamp in Washington. The Deep State acts on its own, with a little help from its friends.

  2. Julian Assange’s “win” . . right, another year of torture at the hands of Her Majesty’s maximum security prison while his release is delayed on appeal – winning! Meanwhile, the judge who created the conditions that led to his mental condition dismisses the case on account of . . wait for it . . his mental condition. Apparently, the Queen considers the whole thing “political”, and will not intervene.

    https://www.rt.com/uk/480974-queen-elizabeth-julian-assange/

    Is it any wonder that the man who invented the terms “doublethink” and “thoughtcrime” is an Englishman.

    • Thanks: Greta Handel
    • Replies: @gar manar nar
  3. meamjojo says:

    Assange can be assassinated at any time, Trump pardon or no pardon. Putin has shown the way. He best go back to Australia and get a job at whatever the 7-11 is called there and stay away from the business of dumping stolen information. We can see that he really doesn’t have the mental strength for that type of thing.

    • Replies: @Rev. Spooner
  4. polistra says:

    “Wins” don’t exist. Deepstate loves to play pranks where “judges” give narrow and meaningless paper “victories” to dissidents. Each of these nominal “victories” always turns out to be worse than the previous situation.

    This is how psychopaths work. Give the victim a momentary reprieve or release from torture, then clamp down harder. The clamping now starts from a lower baseline, so it causes more pain this way.

  5. Wielgus says:

    Suffragettes who went on hunger strike in Britain were sometimes released, then re-arrested when they had recovered from their hunger strikes.
    Turkish courts sometimes “release” people then re-arrest them a day or so later after the prosecutor or another higher court objects.

  6. skrik says:

    They should just let Assange go, scot-free. His persecution has been nothing short of excruciatingly depraved = utterly inhuman. One ‘highlight’ of wikileaks’ revelations [the heli-snip] shows the callous, cold-blooded murdering actions of US forces, echoed by Aussie military murderers in Afghanistan. Our rulers lap such mil-porn up. Note that this [court-case and all preceding] is the attitude of all of our rulers, where ‘our’ = all the west, mostly so-called liberal democracies. It’s a lie, the rulers are liars, and if not corrected then grounds for insurrection. Oh! Only and as always IMHO.

  7. Thomasina says:

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 – Assange has been denied bail. Alexander Mercouris (U.K. lawyer) of The Duran talks about it here:

    The President of Mexico offers asylum for Assange.

  8. @meamjojo

    I do not know who you are and where you are but I fart in your general direction.

    • Agree: YetAnotherAnon
  9. @gar manar nar

    Surprise! . . but not really. Assange is denied bail today, and in a “through the looking glass” contradiction of here earlier ruling, judge Baraitser absolves herself of responsibility for his mental condition . .

    She was also satisfied that his mental health was being managed at Belmarsh.

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/jan/06/julian-assange-refused-bail-despite-judge-ruling-against-extradition-to-us

    Winning!

  10. It means you gotta be crazy to speak or spill the truth. Why? Because the West is ruled by Jewish supremacists and their cuck-puppets.

    Assange got clobbered by the Power despite the fact that Wikileaks went easy on Israel. Displease Jews, and you are finished. Appease Jews 100% if you want to succeed.

    Jews not only control the money but the gods. They got the golden calves and sacred cows.

    This is why any change must begin with Naming the Jew.

  11. The guy is an Australian citizen living in Europe, how does the US think they have any jurisdiction over him? This is similar to Iran’s persecution of Salman Rushdie, an Indian living in Britain whose writings is none of their business.

  12. anon[901] • Disclaimer says:

    Assange is a hero, as is Snowden. Why won’t Trump parden them? Because Trump’s a rat himself, a Zionist stooge who answers to no one but Mossad.

  13. Sean says:

    The Collateral Murder video was not about government policy, but about trigger happy US soldiers, acting in the same way as any other army’s young men fighting an insurgency. Why would anyone suppose that Americans act differently to every single other army in the world’?

    If the self dramatizing ‘Assange’ is a journalist, then he stands as one who has committed the basic error of becoming the story. But that was the only way to go for him; his RT show demonstrated the man has no ideas of his own. It is a shame that so many consider him some kind of thinker.

  14. The alternative media and Assange’s kawyers have probably done more harm to him than the main stream media and U.S. government. A protest staged outside the embassy resulted in Ray McGovern, Susie Dawson, Caitlin Johnstone and others hacking into Assange’s twitter account and tweeting their own article’s with links to their websites that also had contribution solicitations.

    Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison on May 1, 2019, so his release date was in April of 2020, which was delayed over U.S. extradition hearing requests.

    Extradition has been denied. Assange should be 100% free without an ankle bracelet, without house arrest, and without bail.

    The alternative media is silent.

    You are the worst friends, advocates, humanitarians, and first amendment advocates that anyone could ever ask for!

    Andrea Iravani

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