Skip to main content

The coming show trial of Julian Assange

Report by Chris Hedges

On Friday morning I was in a small courtroom at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Julian Assange, held in Belmarsh Prison and dressed in a pale-blue prison shirt, appeared on a video screen directly in front of me. Assange, his gray hair and beard neatly trimmed, slipped on heavy, dark-frame glasses at the start of the proceedings. He listened intently as Ben Brandon, the prosecutor, seated at a narrow wooden table, listed the crimes he allegedly had committed and called for his extradition to the United States to face charges that could result in a sentence of 175 years. The charges include the release of unredacted classified material that posed a “grave” threat to “human intelligence sources” and “the largest compromises of confidential information in the history of the United States.” After the prosecutor’s presentation, Assange’s attorney, Mark Summers, seated at the same table, called the charges “an outrageous and full-frontal assault on journalistic rights.”

Most of us who have followed the long persecution of Assange expected this moment, but it was nevertheless deeply unsettling, the opening of the final act in a Greek tragedy where the hero, cursed by fortuna, or fate, confronts the dark forces from which there is no escape.

The publication of classified documents is not a crime in the United States, but if Assange is extradited and convicted it will become one. Assange is not an American citizen. WikiLeaks, which he founded and publishes, is not a U.S.-based publication. The message the U.S. government is sending is clear: No matter who or where you are, if you expose the inner workings of empire you will be hunted down, kidnapped and brought to the United States to be tried as a spy. The extradition and trial of Assange will mean the end of public investigations by the press into the crimes of the ruling elites. It will cement into place a frightening corporate tyranny. Publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian, which devoted pages to the WikiLeaks revelations and later amplified and legitimized Washington’s carefully orchestrated character assassination of Assange, are no less panicked. This is the gravest assault on press freedom in my lifetime.

The WikiLeaks publisher was trapped for nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had been granted political asylum. He feared being sent to Sweden to face sexual offense allegations, which he has denied, and then extradited to the United States. Two months ago, although diplomatic missions are considered sovereign territory, he was physically dragged out of the embassy by British police when the new government of Ecuador revoked his asylum and the Ecuadorian citizenship that had been granted to him. (Assange retains his Australian citizenship.) He was transported to court within three hours of his arrest, given 15 minutes to prepare a defense and summarily handed a 50-week sentence for a dubious bail violation. He was sent to Belmarsh, a notorious high-security prison in southeast London.

On Thursday, the day before Assange appeared in court, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid advanced the process for his removal to the United States by signing an extradition request. It is a clear signal to the courts where the British government stands.

We know what will be done to Assange. It has been done to thousands of those we kidnapped and then detained in black sites around the world. Sadistic and scientific techniques of torture will be used in an attempt to make him a zombie. Assange, in declining health, was transferred two weeks ago to the hospital wing of the prison. Because he was medically unable to participate when the hearing was initially to be held, May 30, the proceeding was reset. Friday’s hearing, in which he appeared frail and spoke hesitantly, although lucidly, set the timetable for his extradition trial, scheduled to take place at the end of February. All totalitarian states seek to break their political prisoners to render them compliant. This process will define Assange’s existence over the next few months.

Assange’s psychological and physical state, which includes a dramatic loss of weight that was apparent Friday, came as Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, spoke out after he, with two physicians, went to Belmarsh Prison to assess Assange. Melzer said Assange had undergone prolonged psychological torture. He went on to criticize what he called the “judicial persecution” of Assange by Britain, the United States, Ecuador and Sweden. He warned that Assange would face a politicized show trial in the United States if he were extradited to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act, each carrying a potential sentence of 10 years, for his role in publishing classified military and diplomatic cables, documents and videos that exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. An additional charge that he conspired to hack into a government computer carries a maximum sentence of five years.

At last week’s hearing, Assange spoke only briefly.

He does not have access to a computer, and his attorneys have complained that the heavy restrictions imposed upon him make it nearly impossible for him to prepare his case.

I know there has been an indictment brought against me,” Assange said through the video conference system. “My lawyers have not yet given me the paperwork.

He raised objections to the prosecutor’s charge that he and WikiLeaks attempted to hack into a U.S. government computer, insisting “WikiLeaks is nothing but a publisher.” The United States has charged him with offering to hack into a government computer to help Chelsea Manning—who passed the files and documents to WikiLeaks—conceal her identity. The government concedes, however, that no such hack ever took place.

Full report:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trump's "brigades" are ready to start a civil war in case he loses November's election

globinfo freexchange
Signs show an extremely explosive situation now in the America of Donald Trump. 
Starting with the murder of George Floyd, we witness almost in daily basis some very disturbing incidents, which unveil a deeply divided society that was hiding for decades behind the "American dream" facade. As the facade now rapidly collapses, due to a major financial crisis and a pandemic, in less than fifteen years, the reality looks terrifying.
In a latest incident, Common Dreamsreported that members of a far right militia group were arrested Monday evening in Albuquerque after a standoff at a statue of a notoriously brutal conquistador in the New Mexico city turned violent with a demonstrator advocating for the removal of the monument shot and sent to the hospital.
As dusk fell, demonstrators began attempting to pull the monument down from its pedestal on the Albuquerque Museum grounds. At that point, members of the New Mexico Civil Guard militia group moved in, attack…

Evidence that Biden will start an AI-conducted war with Iran on behalf of the new Military-HighTech complex

globinfo freexchange

About two months ago, we mentioned Joe Biden's terrible response on whether he would lift sanctions on Iran due the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
As we wrote back then, Biden didn't even bother to defend one of the very few positive achievements that the Obama administration - during which he served as vice-president - left behind: the Iran nuclear deal.

Instead, he dropped all the assets he had in his arsenal that would help him attack Trump from the Left. And he did it, just only to make sure that he would not disturb the deep state apparatus with his response because the question was meant to test Biden's loyalty on the deep state agenda.

Connecting the dots, we found something even more terrifying. New evidence shows that key people around Biden and his potential cabinet in case he wins November's election, are deeply connected with the Military-HighTech complex. And that they will not hesitate to make Iran a test field for the first AI war i…

Ο Κούλης επιβεβαιώνει πλήρως ότι θα εφαρμόσει νέο, σκληρό μνημόνιο!

globinfo freexchange
Όπως είχαμε αναφέρει ήδη από το 2016 και αμέσως μετά την εκλογή Μητσοτάκη στην ηγεσία της ΝΔ, το αποτέλεσμα των εσωτερικών εκλογών στη γαλάζια παράταξη έλυνε τα χέρια του άξονα Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου. Οι γραφειοφασίστες των Βρυξελλών και το διευθυντήριο του Βερολίνου απέκτησαν μια πρώτης τάξεως εφεδρεία σε περίπτωση που τα πράγματα "στράβωναν" με την κυβέρνηση Τσίπρα.  
Έτσι, ο νέος [τότε] αρχηγός της ΝΔ, Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης, αποτελεί την καλύτερη λύση προκειμένου να εφαρμόσει πιστά τις πιο σκληρές νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές προκειμένου να ολοκληρωθεί το πείραμα με κάθε λεπτομέρεια.
Ήρθε η ώρα να μας επαληθεύσει πλήρως ο ίδιος ο Μητσοτάκης. Όπως αναφέρει ρεπορτάζ του tvxs.gr:
Μνημόνια με τη μορφή κυβερνητικής πολιτικής είναι το οικονομικό σχέδιο του Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη, όπως προκύπτει από τη συνέντευξή του στους Financial Times, με αφορμή τη σύνοδο κορυφής της ΕΕ στις 17-18 Ιουλίου. Ο πρωθυπουργός μάλιστα θεωρεί ότι η πανδημία μπορεί να αποτελέσει…

Firm linked to HHS’ Robert Kadlec poised to become exclusive manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines

A pharmaceutical firm with a dark history and questionable ties to serving ASPR Robert Kadlec is poised to become the exclusive manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccines now being funded through Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.
by Raul Diego 
Part 1
Trump’s much-ballyhooed “Operation Warp Speed” unveiled in May of this year to produce and deploy a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. is shaping up to be yet another scheme to funnel millions of dollars into a singularly corrupt pharmaceutical entity with deep ties to Robert Kadlec, the serving Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), who is in charge of the Strategic National Stockpile and is the architect of the legislative edifice which currently governs the nation’s public-private partnership (PPP) approach to health emergencies.
The task force’s latest and largest grant was awarded to Maryland-based Novavax, Inc. to cover late-stage testing and manufacturing of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Only the sixth company to receive fed…

Trump used looted Venezuelan public money to build border wall with Mexico

An estimated $24 billion of Venezuelan public money has been looted, and the Trump administration has used at least $601 million of it to construct a militarized wall on the US-Mexico border.
by Ben Norton
Part 2 - Right-wing opposition upset Trump didn’t give Guaidó gang all stolen Venezuelan money
The Trump corruption scandal has been almost entirely ignored by mainstream corporate media outlets. Univision buried its own scoop deep in a report that advanced the talking points of Venezuela’s US-backed right-wing opposition and referred to the elected government of President Nicolás Maduro as a “widely repudiated regime.
Univision, the largest corporate media network in the United States that focuses on Latino issues, is owned by billionaire-controlled private equity firms, one of the most prominent of whom is the Israeli-American oligarch Haim Saban.
Based in Miami, the de facto capital of the Latin American right, this massive media conglomerate acts as a mouthpiece for conservative f…

What does community control of police look like?

The Grayzone
Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with Chicago-based activist and author Frank Chapman about his life story as well as his vision for community control over the police. 
Frank has been in the struggle for more than 50 years— beginning with his time as a young man serving a life sentence in Missouri state prison. While incarcerated, Chapman became a self-taught radical, eventually leading a successful fight to desegregate Missouri state prisons and cchieve his own freedom. Chapman shares his remarkable story his memoir, "The Damned Don't Cry, Pages From the Life of a Black Prisoner & Organizer".

Σκάνδαλο με υπογραφή Μητσοτάκη

Επιβεβαιώνονται οι υποψίες ότι τεράστια ποσά της καμπάνιας «Μένουμε Σπίτι» μοιράστηκαν στους «ημετέρους» και τους «υποστηρικτές» της κυβέρνησης.
Δημήτρης Ψαρράς
Μετά την πίεση των κομμάτων της αντιπολίτευσης και την επιμονή ελάχιστων μέσων ενημέρωσης, η κυβέρνηση υποχρεώθηκε να δώσει χθες στη δημοσιότητα τον πίνακα με τους αποδέκτες και τα ποσά που μοιράστηκαν στον καθένα από το κονδύλι των 20 εκατ. ευρώ της καμπάνιας «Μένουμε Σπίτι».
Η «Εφ.Συν.» από την πρώτη στιγμή στηλίτευσε τη σκανδαλώδη διαδικασία που ακολουθήθηκε, ενώ πριν από δυο βδομάδες (23.6.) προχώρησε και σε αίτηση προς τους δυο αρμόδιους υφυπουργούς, Πέτσα και Σκυλακάκη, σύμφωνα με το άρθρο 5 του Κώδικα Διοικητικής Δικονομίας, η οποία δεν μπορούσε να μείνει αναπάντητη.
Τελικά δίκιο είχε και έκρυβε τη λίστα η κυβέρνηση. Η δημοσιοποίηση των ποσών στον πίνακα των 1.232 μέσων ενημέρωσης που ανακοινώθηκε χθες αφήνει τον αναγνώστη άφωνο. Παρά το γεγονός ότι μεσολάβησε ένα μεγάλο διάστημα, κατά το οποίο είναι βέβαιο ότι έγιναν κά…

Here we go again: neoliberal machine prepares ground to blame the Greens for a potential Biden defeat in November

globinfo freexchange

It seems that the neoliberal machine creates the suitable climate in order to put the blame on the usual scapegoats in case Joe Biden loses November's election.

Politico's recent article leaves little doubt. Check out the title:
Jill Stein cost Hillary dearly in 2016. Democrats are still writing off her successor.

And the first paragraphs confirm the case:

                         Jill Stein still haunts Hillary Clinton’s campaign team. “Oh woof. I can’t bear to talk about that,” said former communications director Jennifer Palmieri. For good reason: Had voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin cast their ballots for Clinton rather than the Green Party’s Stein, Clinton would be president. 

                         Now, with the Green Party set to elevate its presumptive nominee — Howie Hawkins, a longtime labor activist keen on attracting disillusioned Bernie Sanders voters and calling for a “#DemExit” — many Democrats are unfazed. Not to worry, they sa…

Meet the far-right oligarchs working to topple Mexico’s progressive President AMLO

A Trump-like Mexican oligarch, Gilberto Lozano, is leading a coalition of corporate leaders and far-right fanatics called FRENA to try to overthrow President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
by José Guadalupe Argüello III and Ben Norton
Part 2 - The extremist National Anti-AMLO Front (FRENA) proposes a color revolution
On May 30 and throughout the weekend of June 13 and 14, traffic across Mexico was disrupted with motorcades of honking cars displaying signs of opposition to President López Obrador. In the days leading up to the event, opposition supporters in the country, and in parts of the United States, had been called to protest in vehicle caravans under the slogan “Andrés López, we don’t want you.”
The group that organized these protests calls itself the National Anti-AMLO Front (Frente Nacional Anti-AMLO in Spanish), and uses the acronym FRENAAA, typically simplified to FRENA. This far-right Mexican group modeled its demonstrations against AMLO after similar protests organized by the …

Leaked documents reveal right-wing oligarch plot to overthrow Mexico’s AMLO

Mexico’s oligarchs and establishment political parties have united in a secret alliance to try to remove left-wing President López Obrador from power, with help from the media, Washington, and Wall Street. Leaked documents lay out their devious strategy.
by Ben Norton 
Part 3 - Mexico’s establishment political parties and former presidents unite to oust AMLO
With backing from the US government and utter dominance of media narratives, the Broad Opposition Bloc plan is to unite all of Mexico’s establishment political parties.
Together, these parties could potentially run candidates under the BOA umbrella, according to the document. Their goal would be, in the 2021 legislative elections, to end the majority that AMLO’s left-wing party Morena won in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies. 
After that, BOA states clearly that it plans to block reforms in the Mexican legislature, and ultimately impeach President López Obrador by 2022 — at least two years before his term ends.
Quite revealing is that th…