Petition to Trump: Pardon Julian Assange

Ask President Trump to pardon persecuted journalist Julian Assange

infowars.com

Journalist and Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, is now in failing health and has been a prisoner in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for six years even though there is absolutely no legitimate legal ground for his prosecution.

Sign and spread this petition so it can reach President Donald J. Trump to fully and unconditionally pardon Julian Assange in the interests of both justice and mercy.

Additionally, the Department of Justice is on record admitting that prosecuting Assange would also expose all American journalists and news outlets to similar criminal jeopardy.

We are calling on and asking President Trump to take a stand against the establishment media’s and globalists’ assault on liberty and freedom of speech.

Read, sign, and share the full petition here.

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In Refusing to Defend Assange, Mainstream Media Exposes Its True Nature

Caitlin JOHNSTONE
medium.com

Last Tuesday a top lawyer for the New York Times named David McCraw warned a room full of judges that the prosecution of Julian Assange for WikiLeaks publications would set a very dangerous precedent which would end up hurting mainstream news media outlets like NYT, the Washington Post, and other outlets which publish secret government documents.

“I think the prosecution of him would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers,” McCraw said. “From that incident, from everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”

Do you know where I read about this? Not in the New York Times.

“Curiously, as of this writing, McCraw’s words have found no mention in the Times itself,” activist Ray McGovern wrote for the alternative media outlet Consortium News. “In recent years, the newspaper has shown a marked proclivity to avoid printing anything that might risk its front row seat at the government trough.”

So let’s unpack that a bit. It is now public knowledge that the Ecuadorian government is actively seeking to turn Assange over to be arrested by the British government. This was initially reported by RT, then independently confirmed by The Intercept, and is today full mainstream public knowledge being reported by mainstream outlets like CNN. It is also public knowledge that Assange’s asylum was granted by the Ecuadorian government due to a feared attempt to extradite him to the United States and prosecute him for WikiLeaks publications. Everyone from President Donald Trump to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ranking House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff to Democratic members of the US Senate have made public statements clearly indicating that there is a US government interest in getting Assange out of the shelter of political asylum and into prison.

The New York Times is aware of this, and as evidenced by McCraw’s comments it is also aware of the dangerous precedent that such a prosecution would set for all news media publications. The New York Times editorial staff are aware that the US government prosecuting a publisher for publishing important documents that had been hidden from the public would make it impossible for the Times to publish the same kind of material without fear of the same legal repercussions. It is aware that the maneuvers being taken against Assange present a very real existential threat to the possibility of real journalism and holding power to account.

You might think, therefore, that we’d be seeing a flood of analyses and op-eds from the New York Times aggressively condemning any movement toward the prosecution of Julian Assange. You might expect all media outlets in America to be constantly sounding the alarm about this, especially since the threat is coming from the Trump administration, which outlets like the New York Timesare always eager to circulate dire warnings about. You might expect every talking head on CNN and NBC to be ominously citing Assange as the clearest and most egregious case yet of Trump’s infamous “war on the free press”. Leaving aside the issues of morality, compassion and human rights that come with Assange’s case, you might think that if for no other reason than sheer unenlightened self interest they’d be loudly and aggressively defending him.

And yet, they don’t. And the fact that they don’t shows us what they really are.

Theoretically, journalism is meant to help create an informed populace and hold power to account. That’s why it’s the only profession explicitly named in the United States Constitution, and why freedom of the press has enjoyed such constitutional protections throughout US history. The press today is failing to protect Julian Assange because it has no intention of creating an informed populace or holding power to account.

This is not to suggest the existence of some grand, secret conspiracy among US journalists. It’s just a simple fact that plutocrats own most of the US news media and hire the people who run it, which has naturally created an environment where the best way to advance one’s career is to remain perpetually inoffensive to the establishment upon which plutocrats have built their respective empires. This is why you see ambitious reporters on Twitter falling all over themselves to be the first with a pithy line that advances establishment agendas whenever breaking news presents an opportunity to do so; they are aware that their social media presence is being assessed by potential employers and allies for establishment loyalism. This also why so many of those aspiring journalists attack Assange and WikiLeaks whenever possible.

“Everyone hoping to gain admission to the cultural elite must now strenuously cultivate their social media so as to avoid controversy,” journalist Michael Tracey observed recently. “Eventually they will internalize controversy-avoidance as a virtue, not a societal imposition. Result: a more boring, conformist elite culture.”

A great way for an aspiring journalist to avoid controversy is to never, ever defend Assange or WikiLeaks on social media or in any media outlet, and certainly under no circumstances allow yourself to look like the sort of journo who might someday publish the sorts of materials that WikiLeaks publishes. An excellent way to prove yourself is to become yet another author of yet another one of the many, many smear pieces that have been written about Assange and WikiLeaks.

Mainstream media outlets and those who thrive within them have no intention of rocking the boat and losing their hard-earned privilege and access. Conservative mass media will continue to defend the US president, and liberal media will continue to defend the CIA and the FBI. Both will help advance war, ecocide, military expansionism, surveillance and police militarization, and none will leak anything that is damaging to the power structures that they have learned to serve. They will remain innocuous, uncontroversial defenders of the rich and powerful at all times.

Meanwhile, alternative media outlets are defending Assange ferociously. Just today I’ve seen articles from Consortium News, World Socialist Website, Disobedient Media, Antiwar and Common Dreams decrying the persecution of the most important government transparency advocate living today. Alternative media outlets and independent writers aren’t bound by establishment servitude, so the value of WikiLeaks is clear as day. One’s eyes are only blinded to the pernicious behaviors of power when power is signing one’s paycheck.

Mass media outlets in America and around the world have fully discredited themselves with their failure to defend a publisher who actually holds power to account and brings facts into the light of truth to create an informed populace. Every day that goes by where they don’t unequivocally condemn any attempt to prosecute Assange is another day in the pile of evidence that corporate media outlets serve power and not truth. Their silence is a tacit admission that they are nothing other than stenographers and propagandists for the most powerful forces on earth.


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This article first appeared on medium.com

 

Our Verdict: UK Assange Ruling Is Unlawful, and 100% Political

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

Yesterday, a high court judge ruled to uphold a UK arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, consigning him to further limbo and little chance of justice.

While the details, twists and turns of this case are certainly important, it’s essential to first understand that this case no longer has anything to do with any laws Assange is said to have broken. It is now one hundred percent political. 

How did we get here?

In August 2010, the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Assange as part of an investigation for an alleged sexual assault involving two women. This triggered a European Arrest Warrant, which prompted UK authorities to issue a warrant for the arrest and detention of Assange.

In September 2010, Assange was arrested and then released on bail. At the time, US authorities were already openly branding Assange as an international criminal and calling for his apprehension and to stand trial in the US where he would face any number a federal charges ranging from espionage to ‘threatening US national security’ by publishing, among of other things, a damning video leaked in 2010 that depicted US war crimes in Iraq.

On June 19, 2011, prior to his extradition hearing, Assange jumped bail, and claimed political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been living in the basement ever since. By jumping bail at that time, Assange triggered a separate UK arrest warrant. However, the Swedish sex assault case was eventually dropped in August 2015, and has since been deemed by many analysts to be vexatious, if not completely fraudulent. Despite all this, the UK government has still enforced the original charge of jumping bail.

UK judgment

There were faint hopes that yesterday’s hearing at Westminster magistrates court might yield a victory for justice and common sense, but those hopes were dashed by senior Judge Emma Arbuthnot.Seemingly unmoved by recent game-changing events, she sluggishly reiterated that bail jumpers like Assange must “come to court to face the consequences of their own choices.”

In addition, the judge made a series of bizarre remarks, including a claim that Assange has not been arbitrarily detained, and should be grateful of the luxurious conditions of his incarceration.

“Firstly, he can leave the embassy whenever he wishes; secondly, he is free to receive, it would seem, an unlimited number of visitors and those visits are not supervised; thirdly, he can choose the food he eats, the time he sleeps and exercises.”

“He can sit on the balcony (I accept probably observed by the police and his supporters) to take the air. He is not locked in at night.”

The first comment by judge Arbuthnot was a condescending one, considering how police teams are on rotation 24/7, ready to detain Assange should he dare to step foot out the front door. It should also be noted that he has only ventured out on the embassy’s balcony a total of six times in five and half years.

Assange is all too aware of what will happen when he walks out that door in London’s Belgravia; he will be arrested, questioned and held on remand until such a time that the British will hand him over to US authorities to be rendered from RAF Northholt back to the US and placed in a federal penitentiary, awating to stand trial for a laundry list of trumped-up allegations prepared by the US Department of Justice.

While the UK government refuses to publicly announce any US extradition orders for Assange, it’s fairly obvious that UK and US authorities have a coordinated strategy in containing and apprehending him. According to a statement made to The Guardian by his defense lawyer Jennifer Robinson, the US government is certain to bring a case against Assange and Wikileaks:

“The UK FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] refuses to confirm or deny whether there is an extradition request for Mr Assange,” she said. “In our recent FOI challenge against the CPS […] the CPS refused to disclose certain material because it would ‘tip off’ Mr Assange about a possible US extradition request. It is time to acknowledge what the real issue is and has always been in this case: the risk of extradition to the US.”

Considering the high-profile nature of this case, it’s a bit ludicrous for the UK government to pretend this is not a fait accompli. Of course, when any government official says ‘we can neither confirm or deny’ then it is evasive, and should normally be translated as an indirect confirmation.

21WIRE editor Patrick Henningsen following Tuesday’s case hearing here:

What should have been considered by the British high court, but wasn’t, was new evidence that should have deactivated any legacy arrest warrant. Last year saw the release of a series of emails obtained through a FOIA challenge made by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, which showed how Swedish law enforcement wanted to drop the spurious sex investigation back in 2013 – only to have UK officials intervene and persuade them to keep the collapsed case going.

If that wasn’t bad enough, when Swedish officials wanted to travel to London to take an official statement from Assange, they were persuaded by UK authorities not to come, thus needlessly dragging proceedings on another few years. Maurizi’s FOI request revealed one email from the UK’s The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer to Swedish prosecutors, dated January 25 2011:

“My earlier advice remains, that in my view it would not be prudent for the Swedish authorities to try to interview the defendant in the UK.”

Upon hearing from Swedish officials that they might drop the Assange sex case back in August 2012, the CPS lawyer at the time barked back in an intimidating fashion, saying:

“Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”

This is clear case of collusion between the two countries.

Award-winning British journalist Jonathan Cook explains the gravity of this discovery:

“Swedish director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, wrote to Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service on 18 October 2013, warning that Swedish law would not allow the case for extradition to be continued. This was, remember, after Sweden had repeatedly failed to take up an offer from Assange to interview him in London, as had happened in 44 other extradition cases between Sweden and Britain.”

Ny then confirmed to the CPS:

“We have found us to be obliged to lift the detention order … and to withdraw the European arrest warrant. If so this should be done in a couple of weeks. This would affect not only us but you too in a significant way.”

“In other words, for more than four years Assange has been holed up in a tiny room, policed at great cost to British taxpayers, not because of any allegations in Sweden but because the British authorities wanted him to remain there. On what possible grounds could that be, one has to wonder? Might it have something to do with his work as the head of Wikileaks, publishing information from whistleblowers that has severely embarrassed the United States and the UK,” said Cooke.

However, only a fraction of the email exchange evidence between the Sweden and the CPS was recovered. Why? Because CPS deleted many of the emails on Assange’s extradition – a clear case of the state destroying potentially self-incriminating evidence.

Not surprisingly, the CPS denied any wrongdoing at the time, stating this was ‘normal procedure to delete emails’ and claimed that there were no back-up copies either (looks like another ‘cock-up’, see HRC: ‘my dog ate the emails’.

But they were also kind enough to inform the public that,

 “We have no way of knowing the content of email accounts once they have been deleted.”

What about transparency, and accountability? If the evidence suggests that the CPS are guilty of destroying evidence, then who will hold them to account? What are the chances of oversight in this case?

Following this revelation, Prof. Mads Andenas, the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo stated,

 “It is disloyal to the legal system, it leaves us, who follow this case, with very little confidence in the rule of law. And it is clearly a breach of duty to indicate something like what we now expect was, or we are pretty sure was requested.”

In both instances, interference by the CPS can be interpreted as an intentional effort to pervert the course of justice.

In the case of the deleted emails, this would have been ordered by a superior, who in turn, would have been instructed by another, which would lead to the highest levels of state, and the likelihood that rear guard actions were taken at the behest of the United States, with Britain serving as a glove puppet of the United States. It wouldn’t be the first time. In geopolitical terms, this is not technically dissimilar to the chain of events which led to then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith’s eleventh hour ploy to declare Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq as both legal and lawful. To claim that no pressure or direct marching orders came from the Bush Administration on this matter would be extremely naive, but that’s how state-friendly media outlets like the BBC gleefully spun the story long after-the-fact by promoting the idea that the AG simply “changed his views at the last minute’.

In November last year, Assange’s lawyer Robinson explained just how far off the rails UK authorities have gone in their bid to isolate Assange:

“The United Kingdom is in breach of its international obligations, it’s found [Assange is] arbitrarily detained. And a large part of this decision-making process, was the way in which this case has been handled; and the fact he has been offering his testimony to the Swedish prosecutors for seven years.”

On February 5, 2016, a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGADannounced that the arbitrary detention of Julian Assange is unlawful, and ordered that he be released and compensated by Sweden and the United Kingdom. (Justice4Assange)

By going against the UN working Group’s recommendations, the UK cannot claim to be in-line with the ‘rules-based international system’, a seemly illusive standard for some we’re told, and one which current Prime Minster Theresa May repeatedly invokes when referencing all things Russian. Don’t forget that it was during May’s tenure as Home Secretary, that this entire Assange fiasco took shape, and if a proper inquiry were to be held, it’s almost certain that investigators would find May’s own fingerprints on some of this scandal.

It’s not hard to see the pattern here. Julian Assange is being incarcerated for exposing one government who was attempting to hide crimes of one state (the US slaughtering innocent Iraqis), while Theresa May appears to be involved in covering-up the potential injustices of another state – the UK government in collusion the CPS. Add in the likelihood of Washington’s strong-arming here, and you have a real international conspiracy. Seeing that the UK have not been directly affected in any severe manner by the actions Assange or exposures on WikiLeaks, we can only assume that the UK government acting on behalf of Washington DC – at the expense of due process and the rule of law.

Unless it wants to spark a crisis in international law, the UK will have to respect Julian Assange’s present diplomatic status.

Certainly, this ladder day Count of Monte Cristo would prefer the lush views of the Anes in Quito than the basement walls of Belgravia, but for that to happen it will take some extraordinary set of circumstances to occur. Not in Britain though, as the lapdog already has its orders. The change will have to take place in the United States.

So long as elites continue to hide the crimes of the state, Julian Assange will continue to serve his time.

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This article was originally published by 21st Century Wire.

Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally on the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq.