Nils Melzer’s book about the persecution of Julian Assange – Nils Melzer, The Trial of Julian Assange, A story of persecution, must be heeded, due to Melzer’s extraordinary position and status as an independent international investigator and legal expert in complaints of torture and ill-treatment,  which has given him access to details and documents not previously available. That is probably why it is hard to get the book in Australia.
As a result of western crimes against Iraq, a person continues to serve time in prison. "Strangely enough, that person is not any of those who initiated the offensive on Iraq. Instead, he's the man behind exposing American crimes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay: A whistleblower called Julian Assange." Marzieh Hashemi, journalist and presenter of Secret Files.
"Assange's case is a mirror which reveals the hypocrisy of the US and British claim to defend press freedom. [Because he revealed their war-crimes ...] the US government has, for more than a decade, filed unwarranted charges of sexual harassment, espionage, and computer-misuse against Assange [...] continuously suppressed Assange through secret surveillance, global pursuit behind the scene, deals, and other means. Britain has spared no effort in cooperating [...]"
"Official Western institutions have never recognised Assange as a prisoner of conscience,why do you think that is?" Oksana asks Greg Barnes. After almost a decade in confinement, Julian Assange is still fighting against extradition requests to the United States, at cost to his physical and mental health, while also compromising WikiLeaks’ ability to continue its operations.
In this video, BBC journalist Orla Guerin interviews Azerbaijan President Aliyev, assuming that Azerbaijan press and politics are heavily censored, and presses him on that. He denies the accusation, then asks her why Julian Assange has been held inhumanely for years, if the British and western press are so free. The BBC journalist simply won't acknowledge the situation for journalists and the media in her own country, kind of proving the president's point. Transcript below, with the pithiest bits emboldened.
Transcript of this excerpt
BBC JOURNALIST: [...] to Armenian civilians.
PRESIDENT ALIYEV: No way! We already talked about civilians. We have nothing wrong .. I think, in communications with them. And I said many times, and I think what I say, I keep the word [touches heart] that, after we liberate the territory from these criminal gangs which occupied our territory, Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh will live much better. They will have more salaries, because the salaries in Azerbaijan is higher, more pensions in Azerbaijan is three times higher [than] in Armenia. They will have all the social protection. We will invest in those areas largely.
BBC: Will they have the full range of human rights, which people here in Azerbaijan do not have? Will they have a fully free media? Will they have an opposition that's allowed to raise its voice? Will they be allowed to have things that people in Azerbaijan do not have?
PRESIDENT: [Chuckles] Ah, you think they do not have it? Why do you think that people of Azerbaijan do not have free media and opposition?
BBC: Because this is what I'm told by independent sources in this country.
PRESIDENT: Which independent sources?
BBC: Many independent sources.
PRESIDENT: Tell me which.
BBC: I certainly couldn't name sources.
PRESIDENT: Oh, if you couldn't name, then that means you are just inventing this story.
BBC: So you're saying the media is not under state control?
PRESIDENT: Not at all.
BBC: And there is a vibrant and free opposition media?
PRESIDENT: Of course.
BBC: Where do I see this?
PRESIDENT: You can see on internet. You can see it everywhere.
BBC: Not in newspapers.
PRESIDENT: Why? You can see it in newspapers. Whom do you call 'opposition' here? Can I ask you?
BBC: Well, is there allowed to be an opposition here.
PRESIDENT: Yes, it is allowed, of course.
BBC: I mean NGOs are the subject of a crackdown.
BBC: Journalists are the subject of a crackdown.
PRESIDENT: Not at all.
BBC: Critics are in jail.
PRESIDENT: No, not at all.
BBC: None of this is true?
PRESIDENT:Absolutely fake. Absolutely. We have free media. We have free internet. Now, due to the martial law, we have some restrictions, but before, there have been no restrictions. And the number of internet users in Azerbaijan is more than 80%. Can you imagine the restriction of media in a country where internet is free? There is no censorship, and there are 80% of internet users. We have millions of people on facebook.
How can you say that don't have free media? This is again a biased approach. This is an attempt to create a perception, in western audiences, about Azerbaijan. We have [political] opposition, we have NGOs, we have free political activity, we have free media, we have freedom of speech - But if you raise this question, can I ask you also one?
How do you assess what happened to Mr Assange? Is that a reflection of free media in your country?
BBC: We're not here to discuss my country. No. No, President.
PRESIDENT: No, let's discuss, let's discuss.
PRESIDENT: In order to accuse me, saying that Armenians will not have free media here, let's talk about Assange. How many years? - Sorry, How many years he's spent in Ecuadorian Embassy? And, for what? And where is he now? For journalistic activity! You kept that person hostage, actually killing him, morally and physically. You did it, not us. And, now he's in prison! So, you have no moral right to talk about free media, when you do these things.
BBC: Returning to the conflict, how long -
PRESIDENT: Yes, better return to the conflict [in Azerbajan], because this is not what you like. You like only to accuse, only to attack. But look at the mirror! Look! I tell many times, before coming and lecturing us, and, in your question, accusing me - it's not a question, it's accusation. You talk like a prosecutor, why? If you're so democratic, and so objective, why you keep Assange in prison? For what? You keep him in prison because of his journalistic activity!
BBC: I'm not keeping him in Prison, President Aliyev.
PRESIDENT: (Laughs). You don't like this.
BBC: It's not the question of don't like. It's not the subject of our interview.
PRESIDENT: Of course. You are not used to this. Because your [?] to attack.
BBC: It's not the subject of our interview and with respect, President -
PRESIDENT: No, it is not subject of interview, but you raise it!
BBC: You raised it -
PRESIDENT: No, you raised it.
BBC: You raised the case of Assange.
PRESIDENT: You said Armenians if you don't have a free media, you can't see how Armenians can live without opposition, that's was your -
BBC: Yes -
PRESIDENT: That was your question.
BBC: You've answered the question, President Aliev. Could I ask you, going back to the conflict, as you say, 40 days and counting - [END OF EXCERPT]
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) is busy finalising its consideration of the Inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press.
The Chair, Mr Andrew Hastie MP, said ‘The Committee has received considerable evidence from submitters and witnesses regarding the media and their ability to operate effectively within Australia’s democratic society. All members are endeavouring to achieve a bipartisan report, which delivers tangible areas for reform and consideration. This will not be possible by the end of November.’
The Deputy Chair, Hon Anthony Byrne MP, said ‘As this inquiry has progressed, the complexity and nuances of the issues raised have become acutely emphasised to the Committee. The ability for the Committee to make targeted recommendations is reliant on time, and the Committee would rather report later to ensure that occurs.’
The Committee has written to the Attorney-General informing him of the later reporting requirement, with the undertaking to present a report in the week before Christmas at the latest.
Kristinn Hrafnsson - Editor in Chief of WikiLeaks
Suelette Dreyfus - technology researcher, journalist, and writer
Julian Burnside QC - part of Assange's legal team
Lizzie O'Shea - lawyer, writer, broadcaster
Recent raids on broadcasters, journalists and whistleblowers in Australia for precisely the kind of journalism that has cost Julian Assange a decade of his life, has prompted debate about the role of a free press in democracies such as Australia and of investigative journalists doing national security reporting. (Reservations required but event is free.)
What is happening to Journalism & Julian Assange?
ORDER TICKETS HERE
Wed 4 December, 6.30 pm
Victorian State Library - Village Roadshow Theatrette on La Trobe St
Victorian State Library, Village Roadshow Theatrette - enter at La Trobe St
Dec. 4th, 2019
Here is further explantion of the huge significance of the judgement handed down against the US Democrats' attempt to charge Julian Assange with espionage and somehow prosecute a non-US citizen as if they were a US citizen. That successive Australian governments have allowed the US and the UK to go after Assange in absolute refusal of Assange's human rights is damning of our political class.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has commenced an inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press. The inquiry was referred by the Attorney-General, The Hon Christian Porter MP, on 4 July 2019, for the PJCIS to inquire into the Terms of Reference. (Details inside.) This is a reaction to public and press reaction over the raid by the Australian federal police of the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst, to find out how she had come by a leaked plan to allow government spying on Australians. A warrant from an ACT magistrate gave police authority to search the home, computer and mobile phone of the journalist. News Corp Australia called this a "dangerous act of intimidation targeted at public interest reporting." Smethurst had authored an article about heads of defence and home affairs ministries in Australia having talked about "draconian new powers to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australian citizens for the first time. Under the mooted plan, spies would be allowed to secretly access emails, bank accounts and text messages with approval from the defence and home affairs ministers." See inside for how you can contribute - by 26 July 2019. Consider how Australian governments have failed to protect Julian Assange in the name of a perceived right to conceal war crimes.
The Committee has been requested to report back to both Houses of Parliament by 17 October 2019.
The Chair, Mr Andrew Hastie MP, said ‘the government has referred this inquiry based on concerns raised in relation to recent search warrants executed on members of the press, and the issue of balancing national security with the freedom of the press’.
‘This inquiry will allow the Committee to hear from the media, government agencies and other interested stakeholders as to the direct impact of these powers on civil society and their importance to both national security and the public interest. We will consider these issues closely and carefully.’
The Committee invites written submissions to this inquiry, to be received by Friday, 26 July 2019.
Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.
Chair, Mr Andrew Hastie MP (Canning, WA)
08 9534 8044 (Electorate office)
(02) 6277 4223 (Parliament House)
For background information:
Committee Secretariat, Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
(02) 6277 2360
For more information about this Committee, you can visit its website. On the site, you can make a submission to an inquiry, read other submissions, and get details for upcoming public hearings. You can also track the Committee and receive email updates by clicking on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner of the page.
Terms of Reference
The Committee is to inquire and report back to both Houses of Parliament on the following matters:
a) The experiences of journalists and media organisations that have, or could become, subject to the powers of law enforcement or intelligence agencies performing their functions, and the impact of the exercise of those powers on journalists' work, including informing the public.
b) The reasons for which journalists and media organisations have, or could become, subject to those powers in the performance of the functions of law enforcement or intelligence agencies.
c) Whether any and if so, what changes could be made to procedures and thresholds for the exercise of those powers in relation to journalists and media organisations to better balance the need for press freedom with the need for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to investigate serious offending and obtain intelligence on security threats.
d) Without limiting the other matters that the Committee may consider, two issues for specific inquiry are:
whether and in what circumstances there could be contested hearings in relation to warrants authorising investigative action in relation to journalists and media organisations.
the appropriateness of current thresholds for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access electronic data on devices used by journalists and media organisations.
The Committee is to report back to both Houses of Parliament by 17 October 2019.
The failure on the part of establishment media to defend Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication with the outside world since March and appears to be facing imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing. The extradition of the publisher—the maniacal goal of the U.S. government—would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites. If Assange is extradited to the United States and sentenced, The New York Times, The Washington Post and every other media organization, no matter how tepid their coverage of the corporate state, would be subject to the same draconian censorship. Under the precedent set, Donald Trump's Supreme Court would enthusiastically uphold the arrest and imprisonment of any publisher, editor or reporter in the name of national security.
There are growing signs that the Ecuadorean government of Lenín Moreno is preparing to evict Assange and turn him over to British police. Moreno and his foreign minister, José Valencia, have confirmed they are in negotiations with the British government to "resolve" the fate of Assange. Moreno, who will visit Britain in a few weeks, calls Assange an "inherited problem" and "a stone in the shoe" and has referred to him as a "hacker." It appears that under a Moreno government Assange is no longer welcome in Ecuador. His only hope now is safe passage to his native Australia or another country willing to give him asylum.
"Ecuador has been looking for a solution to this problem," Valencia commented on television. "The refuge is not forever, you cannot expect it to last for years without us reviewing this situation, including because this violates the rights of the refugee."
Moreno's predecessor as president, Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum in the embassy and made him an Ecuadorean citizen last year, warned that Assange's "days were numbered." He charged that Moreno—who cut off Assange's communications the day after Moreno welcomed a delegation from the U.S. Southern Command—would "throw him out of the embassy at the first pressure from the United States."
Assange, who reportedly is in ill health, took asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense charges. He feared that once in Swedish custody for these charges, which he said were false, he would be extradited to the United States. The Swedish prosecutors' office ended its "investigation" and extradition request to Britain in May 2017 and did not file sexual offense charges against Assange. But the British government said Assange would nevertheless be arrested and jailed for breaching his bail conditions.
The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news organizations. The ruling elites, who refuse to accept responsibility for profound social inequality or the crimes of empire, have no ideological veneer left to justify their greed, ineptitude and pillage. Global capitalism and its ideological justification, neoliberalism, are discredited as forces for democracy and the equitable distribution of wealth. The corporate-controlled economic and political system is as hated by right-wing populists as it is by the rest of the population. This makes the critics of corporatism and imperialism—journalists, writers, dissidents and intellectuals already pushed to the margins of the media landscape—dangerous and it makes them prime targets. Assange is at the top of the list.
I took part with dozens of others, including Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Craig Murray, Peter Van Buren, Slavoj Zizek, George Galloway and Cian Westmoreland, a week ago in a 36-hour international online vigil demanding freedom for the WikiLeaks publisher. The vigil was organized by the New Zealand Internet Party leader Suzie Dawson. It was the third Unity4J vigil since all of Assange's communication with the outside world was severed by the Ecuadorean authorities and visits with him were suspended in March, part of the increased pressure the United States has brought on the Ecuadorean government. Assange has since March been allowed to meet only with his attorneys and consular officials from the Australian Embassy.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Friday that those seeking political asylum have the right to take refuge in embassies and diplomatic compounds. The court stated that governments are obliged to provide safe passage out of the country to those granted asylum. The ruling did not name Assange, but it was a powerful rebuke to the British government, which has refused to allow the WikiLeaks co-founder safe passage to the airport.
The ruling elites no longer have a counterargument to their critics. They have resorted to cruder forms of control. These include censorship, slander and character assassination (which in the case of Assange has sadly been successful), blacklisting, financial strangulation, intimidation, imprisonment under the Espionage Act and branding critics and dissidents as agents of a foreign power and purveyors of fake news. The corporate media amplifies these charges, which have no credibility but which become part of the common vernacular through constant repetition. The blacklisting, imprisonment and deportation of tens of thousands of people of conscience during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s are back with a vengeance. It is a New McCarthyism.
Did Russia attempt to influence the election? Undoubtedly. This is what governments do. The United States interfered in 81 elections from 1945 to 2000, according to professor Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. His statistics do not include the numerous coups we orchestrated in countries such as Greece, Iran, Guatemala and Chile or the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. We indirectly bankrolled the re-election campaign of Russia's buffoonish Boris Yeltsin to the tune of $2.5 billion.
But did Russia, as the Democratic Party establishment claims, swing the election to Trump? No. Trump is not Vladimir Putin's puppet. He is part of the wave of right-wing populists, from Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in Britain to Viktor Orbán in Hungary, who have harnessed the rage and frustration born of an economic and political system dominated by global capitalism and under which the rights and aspirations of working men and women do not matter.
The Democratic Party establishment, like the liberal elites in most of the rest of the industrialized world, would be swept from power in an open political process devoid of corporate money. The party elite, including Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, is a creation of the corporate state. Campaign finance and electoral reform are the last things the party hierarchy intends to champion. It will not call for social and political programs that will alienate its corporate masters. This myopia and naked self-interest may ensure a second term for Donald Trump; it may further empower the lunatic fringe that is loyal to Trump; it may continue to erode the credibility of the political system. But the choice before the Democratic Party elites is clear: political oblivion or enduring the rule of a demagogue. They have chosen the latter. They are not interested in reform. They are determined to silence anyone, like Assange, who exposes the rot within the ruling class.
The Democratic Party establishment benefits from our system of legalized bribery. It benefits from deregulating Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry. It benefits from the endless wars. It benefits from the curtailment of civil liberties, including the right to privacy and due process. It benefits from militarized police. It benefits from austerity programs. It benefits from mass incarceration. It is an enabler of tyranny, not an impediment.
Demagogues like Trump,  Farage and Johnson, of course, have no intention of altering the system of corporate pillage. Rather, they accelerate the pillage, which is what happened with the passage of the massive U.S. tax cut for corporations. They divert the public's anger toward demonized groups such as Muslims, undocumented workers, people of color, liberals, intellectuals, artists, feminists, the LGBT community and the press. The demonized are blamed for the social and economic dysfunction, much as Jews were falsely blamed for Germany's defeat in World War I and the economic collapse that followed. Corporations such as Goldman Sachs, in the midst of the decay, continue to make a financial killing.
The corporate titans, who often come out of elite universities and are groomed in institutions like Harvard Business School, find these demagogues crude and vulgar. They are embarrassed by their imbecility, megalomania and incompetence. But they endure their presence rather than permit socialists or leftist politicians to impede their profits and divert government spending to social programs and away from weapons manufacturers, the military, private prisons, big banks and hedge funds, the fossil fuel industry, charter schools, private paramilitary forces, private intelligence companies and pet programs designed to allow corporations to cannibalize the state.
The irony is that there was serious meddling in the presidential election, but it did not come from Russia. The Democratic Party, outdoing any of the dirty tricks employed by Richard Nixon, purged hundreds of thousands of primary voters from the rolls, denied those registered as independents the right to vote in primaries, used superdelegates to swing the vote to Hillary Clinton, hijacked the Democratic National Committee to serve the Clinton campaign, controlled the message of media outlets such as MSNBC and The New York Times, stole the Nevada caucus, spent hundreds of millions of dollars of "dark" corporate money on the Clinton campaign and fixed the primary debates. This meddling, which stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders, who probably could have defeated Trump, is unmentioned. The party hierarchy will do nothing to reform its corrupt nominating process.
WikiLeaks exposed much of this corruption when it published tens of thousands of messages hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's email account. The messages brought to light the efforts by the Democratic Party leadership to thwart the nomination of Sanders, and they disclosed Clinton's close ties with Wall Street, including her lucrative Wall Street speeches. They also raised serious questions about conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation and whether Clinton received advance information on primary-debate questions.
The Democratic National Committee, for this reason, is leading the Russia hysteria and the persecution of Assange. It filed a lawsuit that names WikiLeaks and Assange as co-conspirators with Russia and the Trump campaign in an alleged effort to steal the presidential election.
But it is not only Assange and WikiLeaks that are being attacked as Russian pawns. For example, The Washington Post, which has sided with the Democratic Party in the war against Trump, without critical analysis published a report on a blacklist posted by the anonymous website PropOrNot. The blacklist was composed of 199 sites that PropOrNot alleged, with no evidence, "reliably echo Russian propaganda." More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were major progressive outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. PropOrNot, short for Propaganda or Not, accused these sites of disseminating "fake news" on behalf of Russia. The Post's headline was unequivocal: "Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news' during the election, experts say."
In addition to offering no evidence, PropOrNot never even disclosed who ran the website. Even so, its charge was used to justify the imposition of algorithms by Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon to direct traffic away from the targeted sites. These algorithms, or filters, overseen by thousands of "evaluators," many hired from the military and security and surveillance apparatus, hunt for keywords such as "U.S. military," "inequality" and "socialism," along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras. The keywords are known as "impressions." Before the imposition of the algorithms, a reader could type in the name Julian Assange and be directed to an article on one of the targeted sites. After the algorithms were put in place, these impressions directed readers only to mainstream sites such as The Washington Post. Referral traffic from the impressions at most of the targeted sites has plummeted, often by more than half. This isolation will be compounded by the abolition of net neutrality.
Any news or media outlet that addresses the reality of our failed democracy and exposes the crimes of empire will be targeted. The January 2017 Director of National Intelligence Report spent seven pages on RT America, where I have a show, "On Contact." The report does not accuse RT America of disseminating Russian propaganda, but it does allege the network exploits divisions within American society by giving airtime to dissidents and critics including whistleblowers, anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, Black Lives Matter activists, anti-fracking campaigners and the third-party candidates the establishment is seeking to mute.
If the United States had a public broadcasting system free from corporate money or a commercial press that was not under corporate control, these dissident voices would be included in the mainstream discourse. But we don't. Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Malcolm X, Sheldon Wolin, Ralph Nader, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Angela Davis and Edward Said once appeared regularly on public broadcasting. Now critics like these are banned, replaced with vapid courtiers such as columnist David Brooks. RT America was forced to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). This act requires Americans who work for a foreign party to register as foreign agents. The FARA registration is part of the broader assault on all independent media, including the effort to silence Assange.
WikiLeak's publication in 2017 of 8,761 CIA files, known as Vault 7, appeared to be the final indignity. Vault 7 included a description of the cyber tools used by the CIA to hack into computer systems and devices such as smartphones. Former CIA software engineer Joshua Adam Schulte was indicted on charges of violating the Espionage Act by allegedly leaking the documents.
The publication of Vault 7 saw the United States significantly increase its pressure on the Ecuadorean government to isolate and eject Assange from the embassy. Mike Pompeo, then the CIA director, said in response to the leaks that the U.S. government "can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us." Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange's arrest was a "priority."
It is up to us to mobilize to protect Assange. His life is in jeopardy. The Ecuadorean government, violating his fundamental rights, has transformed his asylum into a form of incarceration. By cutting off his access to the internet, it has deprived him of the ability to communicate and follow world events. The aim of this isolation is to pressure Assange out of the embassy so he can be seized by London police, thrown into a British jail and then delivered into the hands of Pompeo, John Bolton and the CIA's torturer in chief, Gina Haspel.
Assange is a courageous and fearless publisher who is being persecuted for exposing the crimes of the corporate state and imperialism. His defense is the cutting edge of the fight against government suppression of our most important and fundamental democratic rights. The government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, where Assange was born, must be pressured to provide him with the protection to which he is entitled as a citizen. It must intercede to stop the illegal persecution of the journalist by the British, American and Ecuadorean governments. It must secure his safe return to Australia. If we fail to protect Assange, we fail to protect ourselves.
 Unlike the author Chris Hedges, I am not so certain that Donald Trump "[has] no intention of altering the system of corporate pillage …" Whilst President Donald Trump may not be without shortcomings, he has attempted to enact two policies against the interests of America's ruling elites: 1. Effective border conrtrol to prevent an unlimited number of illegal aliens from entering the United States to undercut working conditions and American democracy; and 2. An attempt to end the antagonism between the United States and Russia at the recent Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin. As we know the corporate and 'liberal' newsmedia and establishment political figures have gone beserk over that summit. Some political figures have openly and seditiously called for a military coup against President Trump for his supposed 'treason' in trying to avoid war with Russia. See, for example From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video) (20/7/18) by Alex Christoforou | The Duran.