I had occasion to visit London and Jerusalem to meet with members of the (establishment) media, of the two respective parliaments and people from think tanks and universities. I took this trip to talk with interested parties about a human rights case. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of a group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is being held in solitary confinement in a prison in Nigeria. His crime? He gave an interview to the BBC in which he said that Nigeria’s 70 million Biafrans want a referendum on independence. Nnamdi is a British citizen; his wife and child live in Manchester, England. He renounced his Nigerian citizenship years ago. In the spring of 2021, Nnamdi was in Kenya to meet with Biafrans to discuss independence from the corrupt, violent and Muslim fundamentalist government of Nigeria.
On October 8, people around the world will take action to demand that Julian Assange be freed. Tens of thousands of people have registered to surround the British Parliament on that day. In the United States, people will demonstrate at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Clearing the FOG speaks with Randy Credico, a political satirist, host of Live on the Fly: Assange Countdown to Freedom, and an organizer on behalf of Julian Assange. Credico describes his meetings with Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, provides an update on Assange's legal case and discusses his work to raise awareness about the importance of defending Assange, including his current billboard campaign.
The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, and the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls a system of inverted totalitarianism—where the outward symbols of capitalist democracy remain, but the system itself is captured by corporate interests. Assange has spent over a decade fighting imprisonment, extradition, and CIA espionage. On Oct. 8, Chris Hedges and others will gather in Washington, DC, to demand Assange’s release at the same time that protestors surround the British Parliament. For this special episode of The Chris Hedges Report, John Shipton, Assange’s father, shares updates on the international campaign to free his son.
Calls of ‘Truth not War’ can be heard around the globe this week as supporters of the world’s most famous political prisoner, Australian journalist Julian Assange, rally for his immediate release by the 21st anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Peace (21 Sept 2022). Julian’s growing army of millions of supporters – from ordinary people to governments, politicians, professional and non-government organisations, charities, activists, lawyers, journalists, authors, academics, doctors, artists, unions and grass-roots community groups – are all calling on the USA and UK Governments to stop the US extradition and drop the charges against the award-winning Australian journalist and WikiLeaks founder. On 5 April 2010, WikiLeaks published ‘Collateral Murder’, a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen civilians in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff.
Former President Donald Trump shouldn’t be charged with espionage for taking classified documents with him —some of them apparently very highly classified — when he left the White House for semi-retirement at his Mar-a-Lago home. Nobody should be charged with espionage unless they are working for a foreign power and mean harm to the United States. The Espionage Act, which was written 105 years ago to combat German saboteurs, is rarely used now to target spies and traitors. Instead, it’s used as a cudgel to silence whistleblowers, journalists, and occasionally a stupid former president. To understand the damage that this deeply flawed law has done, and will continue to do, we have to look at its origins. The Espionage Act was written in 1917, at the height of World War I. The U.S. was panicked at the thought of German spies working undercover to steal its secrets and to disrupt its ability to produce war materiel and support its allies.
Today, 26 August 2022, Julian Assange is filing his Perfected Grounds of Appeal before the High Court of Justice Administrative Court. The Respondents are the Government of the United States and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel. The Perfected Grounds of Appeal contain the arguments on which Julian Assange intends to challenge District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision of 4 January 2021, and introduces significant new evidence that has developed since that ruling. The Perfected Grounds of Appeal concerning the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) include arguments that Home Secretary Priti Patel erred in her decision to approve the extradition order on grounds of specialty and because the request itself violates Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty.
For a good while one could blame Trump for the prosecutorial monstrosity perpetrated on journalist Julian Assange. But now it’s time for Trump to move over. The single worst assault on the first amendment and a free press in recent centuries is no longer solely his. Biden owns it. Biden could end this state persecution of a journalist today, if he felt like it. A persecution that a U.N. expert has called torture. A persecution that could easily lead to Assange’s death. But maybe that’s the point. Indeed, if killing Assange isn’t the point, Biden should prove it, by pardoning him now. Biden doesn’t feel like it. Unlike Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder he deplored before he didn’t, Biden never censured the years of abuse heaped on Assange by the U.S. government. He enabled it.
Four U.S. citizens who were surveilled by the C.I.A. during visits to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuador embassy in London have sued the C.I.A, former C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo, the Spanish security firm UC Global and its director David Morales Guillen for allegedly violating their constitutional rights protecting them from illegal searches and seizure. The lawsuit was filed at 8 a.m. Monday in the Southern District of New York federal court. Assange spent seven years in the embassy as a political asylee. He is being held on remand in London’s Belmarsh prison after the U.S. indicted him in 2019 under the Espionage Act for alleged possession and dissemination of defense information. Assange is awaiting a decision by the High Court of England and Wales on whether it will hear his appeal of the ruling by the High Court, signed by the home secretary in June, to extradite him to the United States.
On this week’s edition of The Watchdog podcast, Lowkey explores the growing movement to free Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and is joined by his father John Shipton, to do so. Imprisoned in Belmarsh high security prison in London since 2019, and before that confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy, Assange has spent a decade locked up. If extradited to the United States, he faces up to 175 years in prison. Yet there are signs that his future might be brighter than his past. The global movement to free him, Shipton explains, is growing. In Australia, dozens of members of parliament have come together to lobby for Assange’s release. In the United Kingdom, 23 MPs from across the political spectrum have done the same.
The United States constantly accuses its adversaries of holding political prisoners, while insisting it has none of its own. But for its entire history, the US government has used incarceration of its political opponents as a tool to crush dissent and advance the interests of economic elites. Well-known cases are those entrapped or framed in US national security state sting operations, or imprisoned with extreme sentences for a minor offense because of their political activism, such as Black revolutionary George Jackson. Each period of struggle by the working class and oppressed peoples against ruling-class control results in some activists locked up for their revolutionary work. “Political prisoner” has often meant those revolutionaries jailed for fighting their national oppression, as is the case with a great number of Black Panthers.
The US government employs many strategies to try to justify its intervention in the internal affairs and violation of the sovereignty of foreign nations. Chief among these deceptive tactics is Washington’s weaponization of accusations that its adversaries violate the freedom of expression. This is quite ironic, given that the United States is the world’s leading violator of press freedoms, according to any consistent definition of the term. And unlike the countries that Washington claims supposedly repress the freedom of expression within their borders, US government censorship of independent media outlets and suppression of alternative voices is global, hurting people across the planet. The Joe Biden administration has in particular gone to great lengths to depict itself as a defender of civil liberties.
The difficulty for the Australian Labor government in deciding how to respond to the Julian Assange case is that once a prosecution is characterised as a political prosecution then, by its nature, there can be no expectation of due process. The U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty forbids extradition in the case of “political offences.” Former Australian High Commissioner to the U.K. George Brandis — who was commissioner for almost the entirety of Assange’s Belmarsh imprisonment since 2019 — doesn’t agree that Assange is a political prisoner. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and its new Minister Penny Wong have consistently stated a view that the case is not political but purely a legal matter:
Last month, British Home Secretary Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition to the US, where he faces 175 years imprisonment under the Espionage Act for publishing true information exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Pilger explains, Patel’s order will be the subject of a further appeal, but the British judiciary that will adjudicate has facilitated Assange’s persecution every step of the way. This underscores the urgency of a political fight to free Assange, based on the powerful struggles of the working class that are emerging all around the world. Pilger began his media career in the late 1950s. His first documentary, The Quiet Mutiny, exposed aspects of the US war in Vietnam in 1970. Since then, Pilger has produced more than 50 documentaries, many of them feature-length and centering on revealing the crimes of the major imperialist powers.
This is National Whistleblower Week, with Saturday marking National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. The National Whistleblower Center in Washington has its annual lunch, seminar and associated events scheduled. Whistleblowers from around the U.S. attend, a couple members of Congress usually show up and we talk about how important it is to speak truth to power. I’ve been attending these events for much of the past decade. But I’m not sanguine about where our efforts stand, especially on behalf of national security whistleblowers. Since I blew the whistle on the C.I.A.’s torture program in 2007 and was prosecuted for it in 2012, I think the situation for whistleblowers has grown far worse. In 2012, when I took a plea to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 for confirming the name of a former C.I.A. colleague to a reporter who never made the name public, I was sentenced to 30 months in a federal prison.
London, U.K. - Following a June 17 decision from British Secretary of State Priti Patel approving the order to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, lawyers for the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher have since submitted filings indicating they intend to fight the decision on 16 legal grounds. As first revealed by The Wall Street Journal, lawyers for Assange submitted two separate appeal applications: one against Patel’s decision, the second against a January 2021 ruling from the lower courts that originally barred the extradition on mental health considerations, but agreed with prosecutors on behalf of the U.S. on every other point of law. Following that ruling, the U.S. sent a series of diplomatic assurances in which they said Assange would not be held in the restrictive conditions that were found to cause an intolerable risk of suicide if he were to be extradited and successfully argued these assurances were sufficient to overturn the decision at the British High Court.