The long persecution of Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, is set to culminate in its final act: a trial in the United States, probably this year. Kevin Gosztola has spent the last decade reporting on Assange, WikiLeaks, and the wider war on whistleblowers. His new book, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case against Julian Assange, methodically lays out the complex issues surrounding the case, the gross distortions to the legal system used to facilitate the extradition of Julian, now in a high security prison in London, the abuses of power by the FBI and the CIA, including spying on Julian’s meetings when he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London with his family, doctors, and attorneys, and the dire consequences, should Julian be convicted, for the press. Joining me to discuss his new book is Kevin Gosztola. So Kevin, you do a very… I think your book and Nils Melzer are the two books I would recommend for people who don’t understand the case.
Brazil’s left-wing President-elect Lula da Silva has called for journalist Julian Assange to be freed from his “unjust imprisonment.” Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing journalism publication WikiLeaks, has languished since 2019 in a maximum-security British prison, where he has suffered from prolonged torture that could threaten his life, according to the top United Nations expert. The United Kingdom is preparing to extradite the Australian journalist to the United States, where he is facing up to 175 years in prison on politically motivated charges based in part on illegal CIA spying and threats. On November 28, Lula met with Assange’s colleagues from WikiLeaks.
In his 1971 opinion in the Pentagon Papers case, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.” That’s what WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been doing since 2006: censuring governments with governments’ own words pried from secrecy by WikiLeaks’ sources—whistleblowers. In other words, WikiLeaks has been doing the job the U.S. constitution intended the press to do. One can hardly imagine anyone sitting on today’s U.S. Supreme Court writing such an opinion.
On Sunday, November 13, dozens of journalists and communicators will mobilize in the center of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The press professionals will march to the Delmas 33 police station where the journalist Romelson Vilsaint of Radio Télé Zenith was executed on October 30 by the Haitian National Police when he denounced the arbitrary detention of journalist Dimanche Robeste and four others. In recent months, in the midst of strong protests and mobilizations of the Haitian people against the economic crisis, the de facto government of Ariel Henry, and the threat of foreign intervention, the attacks against journalists and social leaders by the police and paramilitary groups have increased. So far in 2022, according to data from the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), eight journalists have been murdered in the Caribbean country.
Robinson’s speech, which was broadcast live on the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, contained a sharp warning on Assange’s plight and the implications of the US attempt to prosecute him. Assange, she said, would not survive years’ more incarceration and “persecution by process.” And if he were extradited from Britain to the US and hauled before a kangaroo court for publishing true information, it would be a dagger blow to freedom of the press and democratic rights. The address was a rare breach in a wall of silence on the Assange case in Australia. His various court dates have been given cursory coverage, but there has scarcely been any television programming or substantive reporting on the persecution of an Australian citizen and journalist.
On Saturday, October 8, thousands of people in the UK gathered for a massive act of solidarity with political prisoner and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Protestors formed a human chain around the Parliament in London to demand that the government cancel Assange’s looming extradition to the US, and for him to finally be freed. Stella Morris, Assange’s partner, told The Independent that the action had been organized because Parliament was the “seat of democracy” and that Assange represented “democracy at its strongest— government accountability and democratic movement…It is to remind people that this is a political case, and his imprisonment is politically motivated.” Morris added that it had been “energizing” for Assange to know that he had support.
Thousands have marched through Melbourne's city centre calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The 51-year-old Australian has been in London's Belmarsh prison since he was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in 2019. Melbourne protesters marched through the city streets and formed a human chain across a Southbank bridge on Saturday morning as they called on the Australian government to intervene. "There's an expectation in the electorate that the prime minister and this government is going to get Julian out of jail," Mr Assange's brother Gabriel Shipton told AAP. "The prime minister's statements before the election - enough is enough, he doesn't see what purpose is served by Julian being kept in prison - those were seen as a commitment.
Imprisoned journalist Julian Assange is currently appealing the UK government’s decision to extradite him to the US to stand trial for his reporting. So, to ensure that the pressure is kept up on politicians and lawmakers to stop his removal, a campaign group is going surround the UK parliament with a human chain. Prominent supporters of DEA include groups like Amnesty and Reporters Without Borders; individuals and academics including Noam Chomsky, Edward Snowden and Oliver Stone, and politicians like US senator Bernie Sanders, UK MP Jeremy Corbyn and potential Brazilian president Lula da Silva. Rapper, academic and activist Lowkey tweeted that he would be at 8 October’s demo.
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.
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.
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.
On May 3 World Freedom Day ten international human rights and press freedom organizations (including the Committee to Protect Journalists and PEN America) expressed serious concern at the increasing assaults on journalists and media freedom in recent times. They called upon the Indian authorities to stop targeting journalists and critics, and more particularly to desist from prosecuting them under sedition and/or counterterrorism laws. This was just one among several several statements to emerge from international media and rights organizations to express concern regarding the fast deteriorating press freedom situation in India.
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has demanded the release of both Mohammed Zubair and Teesta Setalvad, a prominent journalist as well as human rights activist, who too was arrested very recently. This statement has noted the contradiction, observed also by other media organizations, between such arrests and the statements endorsed internationally by the Government of India regarding freedom of media and civil society organizations. In fact very recently at the G7 summit and meeting of several countries in Germany the Indian government committed itself to the 2022 Resilient Democracies Statement which involves a pledge to guard the freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors and protect the freedom of expression online and offline.
The world woke this morning to the news that yet another Palestinian journalist had been killed by Israeli gunfire. Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed while covering Israel's assault on the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Abu Akleh was shot in the head; she was taken to hospital where she was declared dead. "The bullet was aimed at a place that could not be covered by either a helmet or her 'PRESS' vest," explained Waleed Al Omari, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Ramallah. "It seems to me that she was shot by a sniper who wanted to end her life deliberately." A colleague of Abu Akleh, producer Ali Al-Samudi, was shot in the back at the same time. He was reported to be in a stable condition.