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Political Prisoner

Urgent: Imprisoned Diplomat Alex Saab’s Life Is In Danger

Today the Free Alex Saab Movement makes an urgent call to the world to denounce the alarming health condition of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, which endangers his life. In July 2021, the Working Group against Torture and several UN rapporteurs expressed their concern about the irreparable deterioration of Alex Saab's health condition. Let us recall that in Cape Verde, on July 7, 2021, after many refusals, Alex Saab was visited by his family doctor, who in his report detected a worrying health condition of the Venezuelan official, especially because Saab is a stomach cancer survivor.

‘Ithaka’ And A Father’s Struggle For His Son’s Freedom

“I don’t much like media,” mutters John Shipton, the father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. During the first minutes of “Ithaka,” an Australia documentary that follows John as he campaigns for his son’s freedom, it becomes clear that he is not someone who is accustomed to appearing on camera or before groups of people to ask for their support. John is asked how he got along with Assange, a tedious question that he resents given the harsh circumstances. However, the question is reasonable given the fact that Assange grew up without his father. “The story is, I’m attempting in my own humble modest way to get Julian out of the shit,” John replies.

Abducted Diplomat Alex Saab Sends Message Calling For Peace

On Monday, Venezuela’s Vice President of Communication, Culture and Tourism Freddy Ñáñez released an audio with statements by Alex Saab which had been sent to the Code Pink organization. In his message, Alex Saab made several complaints about his current situation as “prisoner of an unconventional war that the United States has unilaterally declared on us, imposing criminal sanctions on us that have caused terrible harm to the people of Venezuela.” “The United States must return to the path of peace,” Saab added. “Venezuela is not its enemy. Political differences should not prevent us from maintaining diplomatic or economic relations between our nations.” “The government of our President Nicolás Maduro has already extended his hand several times with the aim of re-establishing cordial relations with the United States—relations based on mutual respect,” Saab said from the Miami prison where he currently is being held.

Chris Hedges: Will Julian Assange Ever Be Freed?

The film Ithaka, the title taken from a poem by C.P Cavafy, chronicles the slow-motion torture and execution of the Australian journalist Julian Assange, currently awaiting extradition to the United States in a high security prison in London. It charts his journey from publisher of the most important revelations of our generation of fraud, war crimes, lies and corruption by the powerful to his refuge for seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London from 2012 to 2019, his seizure and arrest by British police, who enter the embassy to detain him, and harsh imprisonment in Belmarsh prison where he currently fights a U.S. extradition request. It unflinchingly portrays the terrible emotional cost to him and his family, including his father John, his wife Stella, and their two young children.

FBI’s Opposition To Releasing Leonard Peltier Driven By Vendetta

The FBI’s repeated opposition to the release of Leonard Peltier is driven by vindictiveness and misplaced loyalties, according to a former senior agent close to the case who is the first agency insider to call for clemency for the Indigenous rights activist who has been held in US maximum security prisons for almost five decades. Coleen Rowley, a retired FBI special agent whose career included 14 years as legal counsel in the Minneapolis division where she worked with prosecutors and agents directly involved in the Peltier case, has written to Joe Biden making a case for Peltier’s release. “Retribution seems to have emerged as the primary if not sole reason for continuing what looks from the outside to have become an emotion-driven ‘FBI Family’ vendetta,” said Rowley in the letter sent to the US president in December and shared exclusively with the Guardian.

Ana Belén Montes, An Exemplary Hero, Will Be Freed

On January 8, 2023 the US has to release one of its many political prisoners, most being fighters against its repression of Third World peoples. Ana Belén Montes, heroic defender of Cuba’s sovereignty, will be freed after over 21 years in a federal military prison. She was a top official on Latin America in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who, solely out of moral conviction, gave Cuba information on top secret US military plans and operations. Unrepentant in her trial, she defended herself saying, “I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. … I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.”  She is one of the many exemplary people who have taken an honorable and moral stance, opposing the reprehensible actions of government, and have been accused of being traitors or spies.

Day Two Of US Political Prisoner Alex Saab’s Legal Hearing

On Tuesday, December 13, the second day of the hearing (see first day here), the prosecution presented its case why the US rejects Saab’s status as a diplomat. The prosecution presentation initially focused on Saab being a “cooperative source” for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) between 2016-2019, meeting with DEA agents several times. The prosecutor asserted that Saab explained to the DEA how he conducted business, how he paid off Venezuelan government officials, and that he paid the DEA millions of dollars.  The Saab defense did not respond to this, an issue that is entirely out of the domain of this hearing. The corporate media has covered this in the past (here and here).

Day One: Hearing About US Political Prisoner Alex Saab’s Diplomatic Status

The long delayed official hearing on the question of the Venezuela Special Envoy Alex Saab’s status as a diplomat finally began December 12, 2022. The US government had him seized in Cape Verde two and a half years ago, June 12, 2020, in violation of his  diplomatic immunity as guaranteed in the Geneva Convention. At present, a hearing - which occurs before a judge, who makes the determination, not before a jury, as in the case of a trial -  is taking place in Miami over the question of Alex Saab’s status, which the US prosecutors dispute. If this were a simpy case of deciding if a person with a diplomatic passport, carrying a sealed official letter from one head of state to another head of state, were on a diplomatic mission, it would be a no-brainer.

Anti-Imperialist Youth Intensify Campaign To Free Kononovich Brothers

The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and its federating progressive youth groups across the world have intensified their campaign for the immediate release of Aleksander Kononovich and his brother Mikhail Kononovich, communist youths imprisoned by Ukrainian authorities. Both the Kononovich brothers belong to the leadership of the Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine (LKSMU), a member organization of the WFDY. The WFDY leadership also demanded an end to all deadly, imperialist wars raging across the world. November 21 marked 260 days since the arrest and imprisonment of the Kononovich brothers by the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU). Since November 11, WFDY and its federating youth groups worldwide have organized a week-long campaign and held protest demonstrations in front of Ukrainian embassies in various countries demanding the release of the Kononovich brothers.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Denied A New Trial

Yesterday, at 12:45pm October 26, 2022, a proposed order denying Mumia Abu-Jamal’s constitutional claims of jury bias and suppressed evidence was issued by Common Pleas court Judge Lucretia Clemons.   Abu-Jamal’s defense petition included newly discovered evidence that had been buried in the prosecutor’s own files.  This evidence documented key witnesses receiving promises of money for their testimony and evidence of favorable treatment in pending criminal cases. The petition also documented the abhorrent and unconstitutional practice of striking Black jurors during Mumia’s original trial. Philadelphia ADA Jack McMahon made the policy clear in a 1986 training tape stating that getting “a competent, fair and impartial jury. Well, that's ridiculous,'…“You don't want smart people. But if you're sitting down and you're going to take Blacks, you want older Blacks."

Leonard Peltier’s 46 Years In Prison: ‘What Else Do You Want?’

Leonard Peltier’s name has become a story that reflects other stories. One narrative describes Peltier as America’s longest political prisoner, serving more than 46 years in a federal maximum security prison. In that telling, Peltier has become a humanitarian and a 78-year-old Turtle Mountain elder who has been incarcerated for far too long. There is a long list of people, tribes and organizations that have called for Peltier’s freedom. The former prosecutor in the case. Members of Congress. Amnesty International USA. Pope John Francis. The Dalai Lama. The National Congress of American Indians. Dozens of tribal nations, including Peltier’s own tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. And, as of this month, the Democratic National Committee.

John Kiriakou: A Depressing Journey

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. 

Walk To Freedom For Leonard Peltier Halfway To Washington

Volunteers demanding the freedom of Leonard Peltier have trekked 500 miles over the last four weeks in a protest walk organized by the American Indian Movement (AIM) Grand Governing Council. Peltier (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), 78, was convicted of aiding and abetting in the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on June 26, 1975. He has spent the last 46 years in federal prison. AIM hopes the walk will raise awareness for Peltier’s plight and apply some pressure on President Joe Biden to grant executive clemency to Peltier. “The walk and prayer for Elder Peltier has been heartfelt, heavy and healing,” Walk to Justice organizer Rachel Thunder told Native News Online.

Venezuela Rejects Washington’s Statement On Imprisoned US Citizens

This Saturday, September 10, the Venezuelan government rejected, through a communique, the statement made on Friday by US Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price, labeling US Marine veteran and MVM Inc. “contractor” Matthew Heath’s detention as wrongful and his arrest as based on specious charges. At the time of his capture in September 2020, Heath had allegedly already taken photos of strategic military and oil refining facilities in Zulia and Falcón states. He entered Venezuela illegally from Colombia through Paraguachón (Zulia state) and his final destination was Aruba. To avoid being detained at checkpoints, he “hired” National Guard 3rd Sergeant Major Darwin Adreizo Urdaneta Pardo, who would be his “safeguard.”

Possible Prisoner Exchange In US Hybrid War Against Venezuela

US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs Roger Carstens is on a case which could lead to freeing Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab. Pressure is building on the Biden administration to swap Saab for some American citizens currently incarcerated in Venezuela. Alex Saab, who has been confined for over two years, is a victim of the US economic war calculated to achieve regime-change in Venezuela. He has been targeted because of his role in helping circumvent the sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US. These measures, really collective punishment, are intended to make conditions so onerous there that the people would renounce their elected government. Such unilateral coercive measures are illegal under international law.
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