Skip to main content

Julian Assange is facing the ‘trial of the century’: 10 reasons why it threatens freedom of speech

The Ecuadorian diplomat who gave Julian Assange political asylum reports from the extradition hearing against the WikiLeaks journalist, and explains why it is “the most important case against the freedom of expression in an entire generation.”
 
by Fidel Narváez, (translated by Ben Norton)
 
Part 2 - The accusation is for a “political crime,” which is not subject to extradition. Publishing classified, and truthful, information is not a crime.
 
Julian Assange would be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of the United States for a political “crime,” which is excluded from the extradition agreements between the United Kingdom and U.S.

The U.S. attorney general’s office has furthermore said that Assange, as a foreigner, would not be able to exercise the right of the First Amendment. That is to say, punishments apply to foreigners in the U.S., but not legal protections.

The director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Trevor Timm, told the court that the extradition of Assange would be the “end of national security journalism” because it would criminalize all reporters who receive secret documents.

He criticized the accusation that having a SecureDrop is a crime, as The Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, and more than 80 other news organization, including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, also currently use SecureDrop.

Timm said the Department of Justice has a political orientation, that the prosecution cannot decide who is a journalist and who is not, and that the charges against Assange “would radically rewrite” the First Amendment.

This was also affirmed in the written testimony by the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Jameel Jaffer, who insisted that the accusation against Assange is meant to discourage journalism that is essential for democracy, and represents a grave threat to the freedom of the press.

The professor of journalism and former investigative reporter Mark Feldstein testified that leaks are a “vital element” of journalism, that the collection of classified information is a “standard operating procedure” for journalists, and that WikiLeaks’ publications are constitutionally protected.

The US lawyer Eric Lewis, a former law professor at Georgetown University, noted that the Obama administration had finally decided not to try Assange Assange because of what is known as “the New York Times problem” — that is to say, there was not a way to prosecute him for publishing classified information without the same principle applying to many other journalists.

Lewis testified that the Trump administration had put pressure on prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia, and cited a New York Times article that referenced Matthew Miller, the former Justice Department spokesman under Obama, who warned the case could establish a precedent that threatens all journalists.

This same concern was expressed before the court by the lawyer Thomas A. Durkin, a former assistant United States attorney and professor of law, who warned that “the Trump administration ordering the reopening of the case was clearly a political decision.

Both Durkin and Lewis affirmed that Assange would be condemned for life, given that the sentences for spying in the U.S. are generally life in prison, and the most lenient are from 20 to 30 years.

The lawyer Carey Shenkman, who wrote a book about the history and use of the Espionage Act, testified that the law is “extraordinarily broad” and one of the most divisive laws of the United States. “Never, in the history of the Espionage Act, has there been an accusation against an American editor … and neither has there been an extraterritorial accusation against a non-American editor.

The prosecution, for its part, in what was one of the most terrifying admissions heard in the court, recognized that, while the Espionage Act had never been used against a journalist, its extensive scope would allow them to use it in this occasion.

The lawyer Jennifer Robinson, a member of Assange’s legal team, submitted to the court a written testimony detailing an offer of a pardon by President Trump, in exchange for Assange identifying the source of the leaks that WikiLeaks published from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016.

The offer was made through the US Representative Dana Rohrabacher during a visit to the embassy of Ecuador. The congressman had explained that the information from Assange about the source of the leaks would be “interest, value, and assistance” for the president, and would “resolve the ongoing speculation about Russian involvement.

The offer from the White House demonstrated the politicized nature of the case, given that the charges were made after Assange refused to provide any information.

The award-winning journalist Patrick Cockburn, who has written for The Independent for more than 30 years, submitted written testimony in which he said that Assange is being persecuted because he “exposed the way the US, as the world’s sole superpower, really conducted its wars – something that the military and political establishments saw as a blow to their credibility and legitimacy.

For his part, the journalist Ian Cobain, who worked for The Guardian during the publication of WikiLeaks materials in 2010, said in written testimony that Assange is being persecuted because, “There is always the understanding – one that is so clear that it needs not be spoken – that anyone who has knowledge of state crimes, and who comes forward to corroborate allegations about those crimes, may face prosecution.

The renowned professor Noam Chomsky told the court in written testimony that Assange “has performed an enormous service to all the people in the world who treasure the values of freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know what their elected representatives are doing. His actions in turn have led him to be pursued in a cruel and intolerable manner.

Yet, if there remain doubts about the political nature of the case, there was also the Judge Baraitser herself, who in the court said her original intention was to have the verdict before the U.S. presidential elections, and who asked the defense and the prosecution what implications a ruling would have had after said elections.

Why is a British judge, who is supposed to impart justice solely based on facts and evidence, waiting for a purely political event in another country to reveal her verdict?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Julian Assange and the rapid decline of liberal Democracy

by system failure We are now in 2023, and after 1362 days, Julian Assange is still in prison. If you seek something to measure the decline of liberal Democracy in our days, the Julian Assange case will help you a lot. And it's most amazing that in the era of information overflow (with plenty of means available to transfer it almost instantly in every corner of the planet), there are still many people who are unaware of the Assange case.   The origins of this deterioration go back in 1968 when the Left made a disastrous compromise with the powers of the establishment. Since the early 70s and after Nixon's shock , the cultural domination of neoliberalism paved the way for the restriction of certain types of liberties in Western societies.  The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 became the perfect opportunity for the establishment to abolish instantly a significant portion of the civil liberties that came out of the 1968 compromise. The liberal Democracy in the West suffered a heavy

Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges & Vijay Prashad expose NATO

acTVism Munich    

Proof Twitter censored anyone CIA & FBI told them to!

The Jimmy Dore Show   When Viktor Shokin, a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine and notable target of onetime Vice President Joe Biden, wrote a book about his experiences in office, there were powerful individuals within the U.S. Government who didn’t want people reading this book, or even becoming aware it existed. And that’s why government agents insisted Twitter censor accounts promoting Shokin’s book, along with countless others in the tsunami of demands for censorship from government agencies that were flooding into the social media company prior to the 2020 election. Guest host Aaron Maté and journalist Matt Taibbi discuss the very dangerous precedent established by this unseemly private-public censorial partnership.

Can we save Julian Assange? Intellectuals & journalists speak out!

acTVism Munich   To close out the year, we summarize our work on the Julian Assange case by compiling excerpts of statements we recorded from Edward Snowden, Noam Chomsky, Stella Assange, Jeremy Corbyn, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Jay, Jill Stein, Nils Melzer, Chris Hedges, Tariq Ali, John Pilger, Jennifer Robinson, Srecko Horvat, and Angela Richter. We hope to continue our coverage of this case next year!  

New JFK/CIA revelations & our alarmingly secretive security state

Glenn Greenwald   Allen Dulles was probably the second or third most powerful person in Washington - maybe the most powerful in 1950s - when he ran the CIA until JFK fired him in 1961 because he blamed Dulles for the failed fiasco in the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. And Dulles had every reason in the world to want to kill Kennedy, as did a lot of people in the CIA.  

Economists Radhika Desai & Michael Hudson explain multipolarity, decline of US hegemony

Geopolitical Economy Report   Introducing Geopolitical Economy Hour: This is the first episode of a show being hosted every two weeks by economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson. They present the program and discuss the rise of the multipolar world and decline of US hegemony.

January 21, 2010: The day corporate dictatorship destroyed the last remnants of US Democracy

globinfo freexchange     As we described many times in this blog, corporate power grew rapidly since the early 70s with the rise of neoliberalism and its subsequent establishment as the dominant culture, especially in the West.  In the motherland of neoliberalism, the United States, corporations essentially legalized corruption in politics during the 70s in order to capture the entire political system and put it under their complete control. As David Harvey describes in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism :                          The supposedly ‘progressive’ campaign finance laws of 1971 in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics. A crucial set of Supreme Court decisions began in 1976 when it was first established that the right of a corporation to make unlimited money contributions to political parties and political action committees was protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the rights of individuals (in this instance corporations) to freedom of speec

Human workforce under severe threat as hyper-automation spreads rapidly

globinfo freexchange     Remember when US workers in fast-food industry were fighting for higher minimum wages? In September, there has been some news circulation about such a prospect concerning the state of California. Yet, while workers struggle hard to achieve even a small raise, the fast-food industry is at least three steps ahead using robots and hyper-automation as what appears to be an unbeatable competitor against human workforce!   Indeed, the first almost fully automated McDonald's opened recently in Texas:   At one McDonald’s location in Texas, robots are now serving up Big Macs. Amid a growing desire for fast food giants to automate their processes, the first mostly robot-run McDonald’s restaurant is currently being tested in Fort Worth, Texas. At this location, there are no human cashiers in sight. Even the restaurant itself is smaller and has no seating, designed to serve the grab-and-go crowd, rather than sit-down diners.   Upon entry, digital tills take customer o

Jeremy Corbyn on freeing Julian Assange, the working class, Brazil, Peru & ending Ukraine War

Democracy Now!   In Washington, D.C., human rights and free speech advocates gather today for the Belmarsh Tribunal, focused on the imprisonment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been languishing for close to four years in the harsh Belmarsh prison in London while appealing extradition to the United States on espionage charges. If convicted, Assange could face up to 175 years in jail for publishing documents that exposed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Five major news organizations that once partnered with WikiLeaks recently called on the Biden administration to drop charges against Assange.    British MP and former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Belmarsh Tribunal, speaks about Assange and freedom of the press. We also speaks about the state of leftism around the globe, from labor rights in the U.K. and Europe to the war in Ukraine, to political unrest in Brazil and Peru. 

Russia dropping US dollar for Chinese yuan - and fast

Multipolarista   In response to Western sanctions, Russia's central bank is dropping the US dollar and plans to buy Chinese yuan on the foreign exchange market. The yuan's share of trading on Russia's currency market increased from 1% to 40-45% in less than a year, while dollar trade halved from 80% to 40%. Moscow has quickly become the world's fourth-biggest offshore trading center for renminbi.