Contributed from Victoria
Julian Assange’s extradition case in the United Kingdom continues. The accused is in prison and appearing on the dock at court, although he has been charged with no crime.
This has been engineered in Washington. The United States has sought to indict the journalist, editor and Wikileaks founder, under its Espionage Act of 1917. By doing this, Washington has signaled that everyone accused of saying something inconvenient, anywhere in the world, can be a target for similar treatment.
The indictments are over the disclosure of a trove of documents made held in collaboration with major newspapers the New York Times, Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel, and the Guardian. They concern war crimes committed during the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
An additional indictment against Assange, is that he assisted Chelsea Manning to hack into the United States security network
It is important to restate that this is what the case is all about. A terrific amount of mud has been thrown against Julian Assange over the years since these leaks took place, to take public attention away from the real subject, and replace this with false accusations and innuendo, labeling the man as a sex offender, anti-women, a narcissist, a tool of the Russians, and even a part of the ultra-right.
None of it is true. But it remains that some people bought the lie, and have unwittingly become apologists for a travesty of justice. It goes to show how effective the big lie method can be.
One of the most damning parts of this dirty business has been the eager participation of the collaborating publications, in spreading the accusations and innuendo. Had they been pressured, or just sought to keep themselves out of the firing line?
Julian Assange and WikiLeak had the courage to stand by their actions. The others did not, and whichever way you look at it, principle has been betrayed here.
Time has worn down the lie somewhat. Assange is now appearing at the Old Bailey, facing a frame up, and fighting against being bundled off to another country, to face up to 175 years imprisonment.
As the show continued this week, evidence has been presented, showing WikiLeaks was not the first to present the Iraq and Afghanistan cables to the public.
Expert, Professor Grothoff of the Bern University of Applied Sciences, told the court, the Guardian was the original publisher of the cables, and because of this, WikiLeaks only published what was already in the public domain.
Anyone wanting to trace the truth about this, can very easily check the publication dates. That the prosecution has conveniently overlooked this and the court not pulled it up, suggests that seeking the truth is not the objective.
The court has heard that the plan to get Julian Assange had been prepared in Washington, six months before the British police stormed the Ecuadoran embassy and dragged him out.
Journalist Jennifer Robinson testified that she had received this information at that time. After having been warning her off the Assange case, a Trump aid outlined details of the plan, where the extradition process and the Ecuadoran embassy raid had already been worked out in Washington.
Evidence was presented about a visit from a Donald Trump representative and at that time politician, about the Democratic National Committee in 2016, which irreparably damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign to win the Presidential election. Assange was offered amnesty in exchange for the identity of the whistleblower. He turned the deal down.
Assange lawyer says she saw Trump ally offer to arrange pardon
Video from Reuters
Khaled el Masri, who the prosecution had tried to stop from appearing in the court, and partially succeeded, was able to have a shortened statement read out.
He outlined his own case, where the United States had collaborated with the Macedonian government, to have him secretly extradited with no charge, to be questioned, sodomised with an object, and tortured in a third country.
Khaled el Masri is a German citizen, but his country had been warned by Washington not to pursue the issue. The case was heard din Spain, where state prosecutor issued warrants against 13 implicated CIA operatives. Nothing came of it.
Wikileaks and the El-Masri case: Innocent CIA torture victim more than just a leaked cable
Video from Boing Boing Video
, “I record here my belief that without dedicated and brave exposure of the state secrets in question, what happened to me would never have been acknowledged and understood,” he said in his statement.
The statement cast a light on disturbing practice that emerged since the war on Iraq, extending the reach of extra judicial actions carried out by Washington, against citizens of other nations. It pointed out how this takes place through collaboration with other states.
Collaboration of this type has been used to get Assange.
Carey Shenkman, First Amendment specialist and historian of the Espionage Act, testified that under United States law it is permissible to charge journalists, by using the wide brush definition of anything the United States government classifies as sensitive. It does not have to be secret information.
All who pass on information to the public, whether first hand or second hand, anywhere in the world, can be targeted by the broad definition of this law. This is a major attack on free speech and journalism.
The court also heard from colleagues of the Reuters journalists, shown to be deliberately killed Collateral Damage video. This, more than anything else, horrified the world, changed public opinion, and became the catalyst of the hunt for Julian Assange.
Reuters Baghdad bureau chief Dean Yates outlined what happened, adding that the original footage had been edited by the US military to hide the truth.
Collateral Damage and the other leaks have raised the matter of the right of the public to know when their governments do the wrong thing and do it in their name.
The case continues.