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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 4 - WikiLeaks’ publications are truthful information that is historically relevant.
The British-American lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of the human rights organization Reprieve, testified that WikiLeaks shined a light on torture of detainees in Guantánamo, and revealed that many were not terrorists, but rather had been arrested in Afghanistan in a bounty system. The worst accusations had been “staged” against prisoners, who were sometimes forced to admit to them under torture.

Stafford Smith explained that it was thanks to WikiLeaks that the use of these torture techniques are known, such as the pulley, or hanging someone by their wrists until their shoulders are dislocated, and cited as an example Binyam Mohamed, a UK citizen whose genitals were on a daily basis cut with a shaving razor.

The lawsuits against the United States’ drone assassination program in Pakistan would have been impossible without WikiLeaks, Stafford Smith said.

John Sloboda of Iraq Body Count said that the Iraq War Logs constitute “the greatest contribution to public knowledge about civilian casualties in Iraq,” revealing around 15,000 deaths that had previously been unknown.

Patrick Cockburn, of The Independent, insisted, “Wikileaks did what all journalists should do, which is to make important information available to the public, enabling people· to make evidence-based judgments about the world around them and, in particular, about the actions of their governments.

The files published by WikiLeaks convey the reality of war “far better than even the most well-informed journalistic accounts,” Cockburn added, showing how “the dead were automatically identified as ‘terrorists’ caught in the act, regardless or evidence to the contrary.

The former journalist Dean Yates, who was chief of Reuters’ Baghdad bureau in 2007 and 2008, said in his written declaration that it was not until 2010, when WikiLeaks published the famous Collateral Murder video, that he knew the truth about the death of his journalist colleagues Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.

Yates recounted the attempts by the United States to cover up the truth, and that the military only showed him part of the video. The only person who told the truth was Assange.

Had it not been for Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, the truth of what happened to Namir and Saeed, the truth of what happened on that street in Baghdad on July 12, 2007, would not have been brought to the world,” Yates said. “What Assange did was 100% an act of truth-telling, exposing to the world what the war in Iraq in fact was and how the US military behaved and lied.

On this point, Judge Baraitser interrupted Yates’ testimony, due to repeated pressure by the prosecution. It is ironic that a court would seek to criminalize journalism, while refusing to hear about the crimes exposed by journalism.

That is what happened in the much-anticipated testimony by the German-Lebanese citizen Khaled el-Masri, who was kidnapped and tortured by the CIA — and who for “technical problems” with the online transmission was not able to testify in person.

The judge stopped listening to him, also under pressure by the prosecution. This is what provoked an indignant reaction from Julian Assange, who shouted, “I will not censor the testimony of a torture victim before this tribunal… I will not accept it!

The prosecution, finally, allowed the summary of the written statement to be read: El-Masri was brought to a CIA black site in Afghanistan, where he was beaten, strip searched, sodomized, force-fed with a tube through his nose, and subject to total sensory deprivation and other cruel forms of inhumane treatment for six months.

Finally, when the torturers realized that they had the wrong man, El-Masri was abandoned with his eyes blindfolded on a remote road in Albania. When he returned to Germany, his house was empty and his wife and kids had gone.

The journalist John Goetz, on German public television, demonstrated that El-Masri’s story was true, and tracked down the CIA agents who were involved. German prosecutors sent out orders for the arrest of the kidnappers, but they were never executed.

WikiLeaks’ publications proved that the United States put pressure on the German government to block a legal investigation into the crime.

The European Court of Human Rights, using the WikiLeaks cables, agreed with El-Masri, who wrote to the court:

                         WikiLeaks publications have been essential to accept the truth of the crime and the cover-up… without dedicated and brave exposure of the state secrets in question, what happened to me would never have been acknowledged and understood.


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