Free Assange Now!!!

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is making a final attempt to avoid extradition to the U.S. Assange is wanted by American authorities for 18 criminal charges related to his organization’s publication of classified materials in the early 2010s, but has been held in a high-security British prison since 2019. He and his lawyers have been fighting the extradition order for years, but the decision now rests with two U.K. High Court judges.

Assange leaked classified U.S. government information to the public in an alleged effort to challenge Western hegemony and raise awareness of America’s human rights abuses. Among the material he’s made public are a video of a U.S. military helicopter firing on journalists and Iraqi civilians in 2007, and thousands of classified Afghan war documents.

Assange is facing up to 175 years in prison. His lawyers argue that he is “being prosecuted for engaging in [the] ordinary journalistic practice of obtaining and publishing classified information.” They also claim that Assange faces “a real risk of further extrajudicial actions ... by the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] or other agencies” if he’s brought to the U.S. – basically predicting that the U.S. intelligence community might assassinate him. 

Earlier today, the U.K. high court issued a temporary reprieve for the world’s foremost journalist and political prisoner, Julian Assange.

Assange has fought extradition to the United States for over a decade. Today’s ruling granted him the right to a new hearing to fight his extradition – but with a catch.

The court will first allow the Biden DOJ an opportunity to give “satisfactory assurances” that he will be allowed to argue his case on the grounds of the First Amendment and stipulate whether or not Assange will be subject to the death penalty.

The high court had an opportunity today to unequivocally defend press freedom and refuse extradition on any grounds. Instead they issued this fig leaf ruling to allow the continued persecution of a journalist for telling the TRUTH.

Many of us were sickened by the recent video which clearly shows an Israeli drone massacring four unarmed men walking down a road lined with destroyed buildings in Khan Younis. They were young men simply trying to reach their homes, demolished by Israeli airstrikes, to salvage whatever they could. And they were murdered for it.

It was a scene horrifyingly similar to the 2007 U.S. military video recorded by an Apache gunsight camera depicting the indiscriminate slaughter of over a dozen people in a Baghdad suburb – including two Reuters employees.

That video was revealed to the world by Julian Assange.

Assange is a hero who has been the target of three American presidents – two Democrats and one Republican. It appears that silencing journalists and covering up war crimes is another bipartisan issue for the political duopoly.  Jill Stein, US Green Party Presidential Candidate

So they’re really doing it. The Biden administration is really ignoring Australia’s request to end the case against Julian Assange, and they’re proceeding with their campaign to extradite a journalist for telling the truth about US war crimes.

In order to move the extradition case forward, per a British high court ruling US prosecutors needed to provide “assurances” that the US would not seek the death penalty and would not deprive Assange of his human right to free speech because of his nationality. The US provided the assurance against the death penalty (which they’d previously opposed doing), and for the free speech assurance they said only that Assange will be able to “raise and seek to rely upon” US First Amendment rights, adding, “A decision as to the applicability of the First Amendment is exclusively within the purview of the U.S. Courts.”

Which is basically just saying “I mean, you’re welcome to TRY to have free speech protections?”

At the same time, CIA Director William Burns has filed a State Secrets Privilege demand to withhold information in a lawsuit against the agency by four American journalists and attorneys who were spied on during their visits to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. State secrets privilege is a US evidentiary rule designed to prevent courts from revealing state secrets during civil litigation; the CIA began invoking it with the Assange lawsuit earlier this year.

Burns argues:  “I am asserting the state secrets and statutory privileges in this case as I have determined that either admitting or denying that CIA has information implicated by the remaining allegations in the Amended Complaint reasonably could be expected to cause serious — and in some cases, exceptionally grave — damage to the national security of the United States. After deliberation and personal consideration, I have determined that the complete factual bases for my privilege assertions cannot be set forth on the public record without confirming or denying whether CIA has information relating to this matter and therefore risking the very harm to U.S. national security that I seek to protect.”

Which is obviously a load of horse shit. As Assange himself tweeted in 2017, “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.” Burns isn’t worried about damaging “the national security of the United States,” he’s worried about the potential political fallout from information about the CIA spying on American lawyers and journalists while visiting a journalist who was being actively targeted by the legal arm of the US government.

Political security is also why the US is working to punish Julian Assange for publishing inconvenient facts about US war crimes. The Pentagon already acknowledged years ago that the Chelsea Manning leaks for which Assange is being prosecuted didn’t get anyone killed and had no strategic impact on US war efforts, so plainly this isn’t about national security. It’s just politically damaging for the criminality of the US government to be made public for all to see.

They’re just squeezing and squeezing this man as hard as they can for as long as they can get away with to keep him silent and make an example of him to show what happens when journalists reveal unauthorized information about the empire. Just like Gaza, the persecution of Julian Assange makes a lie of everything the US and its western allies claim to stand for, and reveals the cruel face of tyranny beneath the mask of liberal democracy.  Caitlin Johnstone

Update on this miscarriage of justice:  May 15, 2024
UK/USA: Long lasting damage to global media freedom as Julian Assange back in UK court ahead of possible extradition to USA
Amnesty International’s Legal Adviser, Simon Crowther, will attend Julian Assange’s next High Court hearing on 20 May, to monitor the proceedings as an expert legal observer. The outcome of the hearing will determine whether Julian Assange will have further opportunities to argue his case before the UK courts, or if he will have exhausted all appeals in the UK, leading to his extradition or an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

“As the court reconvenes to determine Julian Assange’s fate, we repeat the enormous repercussions at stake if he is extradited to the USA: the risk that he would be subjected to human rights violations and the long-lasting damage that would be done to global media freedom,” said Simon Crowther.

“If extradited, Assange potentially faces dozens of years of incarceration and the risk of prolonged solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison with poor health services. His safety and wellbeing simply cannot be guaranteed, just as the US has failed to respect the rights of tens of thousands of people currently imprisoned in the US. Assange has already spent five years in prison in the UK, much of which has been arbitrary.

“The authorities in the US seem hell-bent on making an example of Assange for exposing their alleged war crimes, rather than upholding the values of freedom of expression. Receiving sensitive government information from outside sources and publishing it in the public interest is not a crime. These are fundamental activities to the work of journalists and publishers. The public has an absolute right to know if their government is breaking international law. The USA must drop all the charges against Assange and the UK must halt the extradition proceedings, which will allow for his prompt release from UK state custody.”

Following the adjournment of court on 26 March, the High Court in the UK has confirmed a hearing on 20 May, having received renewed diplomatic assurances from the USA on 16 April.

The world’s foremost journalist and political prisoner, Julian Assange, is headed back to court in London tomorrow.

This is the final hearing to determine whether or not the United States has satisfied the “assurances” demanded by the U.K. high court that Assange would be permitted to use freedom of speech in his defense against charges of espionage, and that he would not face the death penalty if convicted.

If the high court is satisfied, his extradition will be approved and he could be on a plane within 24 hours.

There are three possible outcomes with tomorrow’s hearing according to a recent report from Reuters:

Possibility #1: The high court rules in favor of extradition.
In this case, Assange will have no further legal recourse in the U.K. However, his lawyers can and will immediately turn to the European Court of Human Rights to seek an emergency injunction blocking the extradition until a full hearing before THAT court.

Possibility #2: The high court rules the U.S. “assurances” are not sufficient.
In this case, Assange will have grounds to continue his appeal against extradition in cases that will extend into next year while he remains incarcerated at Belmarsh.

Possibility #3: The high court throws out the case.
This is the best possible outcome, because it will mean Julian could be immediately released.

But there is actually one further avenue.

Joe Biden could listen to the millions of Americans who believe, as I do, that Julian Assange is being persecuted for the crime of doing journalism – and drop the charges immediately.

Free Assange NOW!!!

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