freedom of the press

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MAYDAY: Assange extradition decision tomorrow – get there if you can, watch live if not

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/05/2024 - 7:36am in

Wikileaks founder faces court tomorrow to find out if UK will give in to disgraced US extradition case – supporters have asked for you to join them at the High Court if possible and will be streaming live from London

Julian Assange faces the High Court tomorrow in London to find out whether judges will agree a disgraced US request to extradite the Wikileaks founder to the US to face 175 years in maximum-security jail. The US case fell apart when its main witness admitted he had been lying the whole time, but the UK state has continued to hold and punish Assange pending extradition for revealing US war crimes, despite known US plots to kill him – plots that the court has already refused to admit as new evidence.

His campaign has asked anyone who can get there to gather tomorrow at the High Court by 8.30am and will also be running a live-stream of developments from 6.30am, which will run below as soon as it goes live:

Video will go live from 6.30am on Monday 20 May

Freedom for Assange is a moral imperative, but it is also essential for all our freedom, as governments try to increase suppression of information vital to democracy and justice and to make Assange an example to intimidate other journalists into silence.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Vid: Mason’s deranged Corbyn smear – ‘He’s disarming Ukraine and tolerating antisemitism’

Corbyn apparently travelling the length and breadth of Europe to stop the neo-Nazi Ukrainians from ‘fighting fascism’…

Paul Mason was caught last month in a full-blown meltdown of deranged accusations, at a woman who dared to challenge Israel’s mass slaughter of innocent civilians and the unhealthy influence of pro-Israel lobby groups in British politics – and also caught misrepresenting what she had said, when a recording of her comments and his diatribe was revealed.

And he was caught on the same evening in another deranged rant, when he accused Jeremy Corbyn of ‘touring’ Europe ‘tolerating antisemitism’ and ‘disarming the Ukrainian people in their struggle against fascism’:

Audio capture by @UrbanDandyLDN, subtitles by Skwawkbox

As ‘Urban Dandy’, who recorded Mason’s ramblings, commented:

Mason’s suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn tolerates antisemitism is false, just as the widespread, mainstream claims that there was a serious antisemitism problem in Labour under Corbyn’s leadership were false, and have been debunked repeatedly. The MP for Islington North is taking legal action against Nigel Farage for similar defamatory statements, while another political commentator favoured in the mainstream media recently had to make a humiliating public apology for his baseless allegations against Corbyn.

Screengrab from X / johnmcternan

Disarming the Ukrainians

Paul Mason’s second allegation against Corbyn, that the MP has been on a European tour aimed at disarming the Ukrainian people, is also false. Corbyn has never called for the disarming of Ukraine. The anti-war veteran who fronts the Peace & Justice Project has spoken in many European cities since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, mainly at events organised by peace campaigners. Corbyn has called for diplomacy instead of escalation, and expressed skepticism about the relentless arms sales by western companies. 

Mason’s claim that the left wants to somehow stop Ukrainians ‘fighting fascism’ is also bizarre enough to verge on the delusional. Ukraine is well known, despite the best efforts of the UK media to rewrite history, to be rife with actual nazis, some of whom are in influential positions in the Zelenskiy regime. Zelenskiy himself has seized control of Ukraine’s media, stripped workers of their rights and shut down opposition groups, all key identifiers of fascism.

Mason’s reputation, already falling apart because of his support for Keir Starmer, was shredded in 2022 when The Grayzone revealed his emails plotting with security-state figures to take down left-wing news outlets, accompanied by a notorious, sprawling chart showing the links he imagined among left groups Russia and China – and boasting of ‘cauteris[ing] Corbyn and Stop the War’ so that ‘no MP will touch them:

Mason’s support for Starmer despite the so-called ‘Labour leader’s backing for Israel’s genocide in Gaza has left him a risible figure, yet he keeps spouting his nonsense despite the inevitable backfiring and mockery.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Breaking Biden says US may drop Assange case

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/04/2024 - 3:46am in

A genuine indication of sense from US president – or more mind games?

US president Joe Biden has said that the US is ‘considering’ abandoning the country’s attempt to extradite persecuted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in response to a request from the Australian government. Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison for years while his legal team attempts to fight a case that should have been thrown out when the main US witness admitted he had been lying when he said that Assange arranged the hacking of US systems.

Last month, the High Court kept Assange in prison when it ruled that the US could have more time to provide assurances that it would not impose a death penalty on the Australian journalist, even though it admitted that the US was attacking his right to free speech in a way it would not do to one of its own citizens.

Before his imprisonment, Assange was effectively kept captive for years in the Ecuadorian embassy when the UK refused to stop trying to extradite him to Sweden, which Assange’s supporters feared was an indirect route to handing him to the US, despite Sweden dropping discredited rape allegations. The US has pursued Assange in vengeance for Wikileaks exposing war crimes by US military.

Last month, the US leaked hints that it might accept a ‘plea deal’ and drop the extradition in return for Assange accepting a lesser conviction – still an outright attack on journalistic freedom and the public’s right to know what their governments are doing. Biden’s latest comment may be more mind games and those who support Assange and the importance of press freedom to a functioning democracy should not let up on their pressure until the case is formally dropped and Assange is free, as he should have been all along.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Video: protests for Assange as British justice goes on trial in extradition case

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/02/2024 - 10:31am in

Up to 2,000 gather for ‘last chance’ to stop disgraced US case allowed so far by courts – but system seems stacked against Wikileaks founder, press freedom and public’s right to know

Protestors outside the court on Tuesday

Up to two thousand protesters gathered to demonstrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice today in London, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his legal team are fighting in what may be their last chance to avoid his extradition to the US, where the Biden administration wants to lock him in a high-security prison for the rest of his life for the ‘crime’ of exposing the actions of the US military.

Wikileaks embarrassed the US by revealing the wanton slaughter of Iraqi civilians – and the US wants its vengeance. To the UK’s shame, successive UK governments and courts have been all too eager to let the Americans have their way, despite the US case collapsing in disgrace when its main witness to Assange’s supposed ‘hacking’ of US systems admitted he had been lying the whole time – and plots by senior US officials to assassinate him. The admission should have seen the US laughed out of court, but UK judges granted its request anyway.

Protesters massed to show their solidarity with the Australian journalist, who has been imprisoned in Belmarsh prison since 2019 after a long effective incarceration in the Ecuadorian embassy while the UK and US governments conspired against him and even bugged supposedly sacrosanct meetings with his lawyers:

Wikileaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson gave the protest crowd a lunchtime update on the ‘absurd’ proceedings, which kept observers down to a handful despite the importance of the case, preventing even human rights groups from attending:

As with all the hearings so far, the case against Julian Assange appears to be stacked. After the farce of the collapsed US case being granted anyway, Assange’s appeal was denied by a judge with deep security service connections.

In the current case, one of the two judges was a lawyer for the Secret Intelligence Service and the Ministry of Defence, with clearance for access to ‘top secret’ information – and the other judge is the twin sister of right-wing former BBC chair Richard Sharpe, who resigned after an inquiry into his arrangement of an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson before his appointment.

Activist Steve Price, who represented Skwawkbox at the demo, summarised the day:

On a cold day thousands gathered to lobby the court and raise public awareness of this situation. This morning at the RCJ, the chant of the day was “There’s only one decision – no extradition!” The demo was noisy, very colourful, with a visible but low-key police presence and many passing drivers honking horns in solidarity.

Speakers included three Labour MPs – Richard Burgon, Zara Sultana and Apsana Begum, alongside Chris Hedges, Andrew Feinstein, Stella Assange and Julian’s brother and father, as well as lawyers, Reporters without Borders (RwB) and Wikileaks’ editor-in-chief. John Pilger, the great Australian journalist, was remembered with great affection.

Julian’s brother said the Australian Parliament voted by two thirds criticising the UK and USA and demanding he be released and returned to his home country. Two of the lawyers, as well as RwB noted that this case has enormous implications for freedom of the press globally and there are obvious parallels with how journalists have been deliberately targeted by Israel in Gaza.

The magistrate back in January 2021 decided Julian should be released solely on the grounds that he might kill himself, but this was overturned by the Home Secretary. There are a number of legal grounds his team will advocate for refusing the extradition. He has been detained in Belmarsh (in solitary confinement) for nearly 5 years, spent 7 years before that confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy. His health has deteriorated, it’s a form of torture, they’re slowly killing him. He is believed to be too ill to attend court today?

They want to extradite him for the crime of journalism, for exposing their hypocrisy, their dirty secrets, their war crimes.

Keir Starmer, the ‘human rights lawyer’, as he never tires of reminding everyone, has never spoken in Assange’s defence. As Director of Public Prosecutions, his actions are murky – because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) destroyed its records of them and destroyed notes of what it destroyed. However, it is known that in the case of another extradition the US wanted – that of autistic hacker Gary McKinnon – Starmer flew in a rage to the US to apologise to his US government contacts as soon as then-PM Theresa May quashed the extradition on humanitarian grounds. The CPS and Sweden also destroyed records of their communications when the CPS was pressuring Sweden to continue to pursue Assange’s extradition there – no doubt a stepping stone to getting him to the US – on discredited rape allegations. Despite the destruction of evidence, it is known that the CPS told Swedish counterparts not to ‘dare’ drop its request and refused Sweden’s offer to come and interview Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Assange’s family and team have asked everyone who can make it to the court to continue demonstrating throughout the duration of the hearing to try to keep up pressure on the authorities. The Establishment’s relentless assault on Julian Assange is a war not just against him, but against press freedom and the right of the public to know what its supposed representatives are doing and to hold them to account.

The UK justice system has a last chance to show it is fit for purpose. If it happens, it looks as though justice will have to be wrung out of it. Absolute solidarity with Julian Assange and all persecuted journalists everywhere.

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