Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 31

Thread: Julian Assange - UN Rules in His Favour?

  1. #11

    Default

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A United Nations panel has officially concluded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free. Assange has been holed up in Ecuadorean Embassy in London for more than three years. He wants to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations, which he has repeatedly denied and for which he has never been charged. He fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where he could face trial for WikiLeaks’ revelations.
    AMY GOODMAN: Seong-Phil Hong, the rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, spoke this morning.
    SEONG-PHIL HONG: The working group maintains the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end. And his physical integrity and his freedom of movement should be respected. And finally, if necessary, he should be entitled to an enforceable right to remedy—for example, compensation.
    AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. panel’s judgment is not legally binding. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond dismissed it as "ridiculous."
    PHILIP HAMMOND: Well, I reject the finding of this working group. It’s a group made up of laypeople, not lawyers, and they are—their conclusion is flawed in law. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He’s hiding from justice in the Ecuadorean Embassy. He can come out onto the pavement any time he chooses. He’s not being detained by us. But he will have to face justice in Sweden, if he chooses to do so. And it’s right that he should not be able to escape justice. This is a—frankly, a ridiculous finding by the working group, and we reject it.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: At a press conference at the Frontline Club in London this morning, Julian Assange’s attorney, Melinda Taylor, discussed the significance of the ruling.
    MELINDA TAYLOR: So, finally, we have the verdict of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. And they issued a very detailed opinion, which considers all arguments from Sweden and the United Kingdom. And this decision dispels the myth that Mr. Assange is either a fugitive from justice or that he could just walk out of the embassy. It is a damning indictment of the manner in which this case has been handled. It further affirms that Mr. Assange is a victim of a significant miscarriage of justice that is attributable to the action and inaction of both Sweden and the United Kingdom. It further emphasized Julian’s continued willingness to cooperate with the investigations in this case at all stages of the procedure.
    Now, today I’m going to first address why we brought a complaint before the United Nations working group and, secondly, what are the findings of this working group. In terms of why we brought the complaint, there are two main reasons. First, he is and has been detained now for five years, one month and 29 days. And to put it bluntly, that’s a hell of a long time to detain someone, someone who has never been charged and has never even been questioned by the Swedish authorities.
    AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange also responded to the ruling just before our broadcast today. He spoke at that news conference at the Frontline Club in London via video stream from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
    JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I’ve been detained now without charge in this country, the United Kingdom, for five-and-a-half years. That’s five-and-a-half years where I’ve had great difficulty seeing my family and seeing my children. Today that detention without charge has been found by the highest organization in the United Nations—that is, has the jurisdiction for considering the rights of detained persons—to be unlawful.
    AMY GOODMAN: That’s Julian Assange speaking just minutes before we went to broadcast through a video stream at the Frontline Club. He’s been holed up at the embassy in—the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for three-and-a-half years, where he got political asylum.
    Joining us now is Mads Andenæs. He is the former U.N. special rapporteur on arbitrary detention and the chair of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. He’s a professor at the University of Oslo and a visiting professor at All Souls College in Oxford. And that’s where we’re speaking to him right now.
    Mads Andenæs, thanks so much for joining us. Can you explain the ruling of the U.N. committee?
    MADS ANDENÆS: So, the U.N. committee holds that this is a violation of the prohibition against arbitrary detention. Mr. Assange has been deprived of his liberty for a five-year—more than a five-year period. He was initially arrested and detained in isolation. The isolation was completely groundless. He was afterwards in house arrest under, again, very strict restrictions. He was then threatened with actually being extradited to Sweden. And you’ve spoken about the consequences of that. And that would negate his basic human rights. He had no other choice than to go and seek refuge, and he did that in the Ecuadorean Embassy. That was not his choice. That was not his volition. It was the only way he could uphold his own rights in this situation.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mads Andenæs, I wanted to ask you—The Guardian newspaper had an editorial basically not backing—not backing Julian Assange, and saying that the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, that this latest opinion, is simply wrong. It says, "He is not being detained arbitrarily. Three-and-a-half years ago, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in order to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sex offences. ... 'Arbitrary' detention," The Guardian says, "means that due legal process has not been observed. It has. This is a publicity stunt." What do you say to that?
    MADS ANDENÆS: Well, first of all, due process has not been upheld, and that’s what the U.N. working group very clearly shows—a series of procedural mistakes on the Swedish side, no proportionality review on the U.K. side. And the alternatives here—there were alternatives. Under the European Arrest Warrant system, he could have been interviewed, interrogated in England, in London. That’s how we normally do these things in Europe. In these kind of cases, Swedish officers could have traveled to the U.K. He would—Mr. Assange would have been interviewed in an English police station. That’s how we usually do it, and it wasn’t done here. It was a highly irregular procedure. This was nothing like due process. And it is obvious to the U.N. group and, after this ruling, obvious that this did not serve the purposes of the case, the way it was explained. This was to achieve other aims and illegitimate aims. And it was clearly not a part of a due process.
    AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Julian Assange speaking this morning after the U.N. ruling became public.
    JULIAN ASSANGE: It is now the task of the states of Sweden and the United Kingdom, as a whole, to implement the verdict. Now, while there can be attempts for the media, for the popular press, to look tough and attempt to undermine that, a serious attempt, not just for show, would have the effect of undermining the U.N. system. And there are consequences of doing that. And Sweden and the U.K. know full well that there are consequences. Those consequences include not merely weakening a human rights and international law instrument to which both countries have signed binding treaties, but rather it will have the diplomatic effect—and diplomats know it. The diplomatic effect will be to make life difficult for Sweden and the United Kingdom to be treated seriously as international players that obey their international legal obligations.
    Their attempts, if they proceed to undermine the U.N. system, will see various enforcement measures that can be taken by the U.N. Those, initially, of course, can include their removal from U.N. committees, the movement against those states in various voting processes, and, ultimately, up to and including sanctions. Now that’s, of course, a matter for the U.N. to decide about how it’s going to enforce its decisions, and a matter for Sweden and the U.K. to think, do they really want to go down that path?
    AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Julian Assange speaking at the news conference today, albeit by video stream because he is in the Ecuadorean Embassy. If he steps foot outside, he’ll be arrested by British authorities. We’re talking to the former U.N. rapporteur on arbitrary detention, Mads Andenæs. I was watching CNN this morning, and a reporter was standing outside the Ecuadorean Embassy and saying, "Despite Sweden’s efforts to question Julian Assange in the embassy, Ecuador has prevented them from doing this." This was exactly the opposite. This was not true, what the reporter said. Ecuador has said that the Swedish authorities could come in. Even a court in Sweden has reprimanded the prosecutor for not questioning Julian Assange. Mads Andenæs, can you say what happens from here?
    MADS ANDENÆS: Well, it’s now for the U.K. and the Swedish authorities to find some way of abiding by this opinion. This U.N. body is the only body or the one U.N. body dealing with arbitrary detention. And they come with this very clear ruling. Sweden and the U.K. are bound by the U.N. Convention on Civil and Political Rights. And it’s now for them to find a way of complying.
    And what you mentioned there is part of the substance of the case. There are, of course, lesser—much lesser measures, less intrusive measures that could have been chosen. For instance, they could have interviewed him in the U.K. And it’s not true that Assange has not offered that, as far as I—well, I think it’s absolutely clear, although you have this reporter that you just mentioned. To the contrary, it’s absolutely clear that Assange and his team has offered to answer—that he should offer—he had offered to answer questions by Swedish police in the U.K. That’s beyond dispute. And that offer has not been taken up. And as you mentioned, Swedish courts have been very critical of the prosecutor, of the Swedish prosecutor, for this. And if you read those judgments closely—they’re in Swedish, of course—you will see that it is as strong a criticism as you can expect possible from a Swedish court against the way that the prosecutors have proceeded here.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mads Andenæs, we only have about 30 seconds or so, but your sense of how public opinion, both in Britain and in Sweden, is in respect to how their governments are dealing with the Julian Assange case?
    MADS ANDENÆS: Well, it’s split. It’s split. But no country likes to get a ruling for arbitrary detention, to be censured by the U.N. like this. But if you don’t abide by it, you fall into the category of countries we don’t like to compare ourselves with, who do not abide by these rulings. And it’s very important for the international human rights systems that countries like the U.K. and Sweden do actually go for—show a good example and do follow these rulings, because, in the end, they are bound by the conventions. And there’s no more authority body to interpret and apply the Convention on Arbitrary Detention than this working group, which is established by the U.N.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #12

    Default

    America is supposed to be a sanctuary from government persecution not a practicer of it.


    America's need to prosecute those who expose its crimes says more than any crimes the exposers are alleged to have committed.


    There's no way that John Walker Lindh should still be in jail. He was a classic Patty Hearst-type brainwashing victim and is being used as a scapegoat by the WMD war criminals :




    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Walker_Lindh

  3. #13

    Default

    Mmmmm....the UN investigation was put under considerable pressure hey?

    The former chair of the UNWGAD panel, the Norwegian lawyer Professor Mads Andenas, told Owen Bowcott that the expert lawyers and members of the group had come under considerable political pressure from the US and UK when compiling the highly critical report.


    Andenas completed his term in office last summer but was involved in earlier stages of compiling the report on Assange’s arbitrary detention. He endorsed the broad result of the findings released on Friday.
    “I’m absolutely convinced that [the panel] has been put under very string political pressure,” he said.
    “This is a courageous decision which is important for the international rule of law.
    “This is a clear, and for people who read it, an obvious, decision. It’s an outcome of a judicial process in which Sweden and the UK have taken part. It was before a specialist body at the UN, the only UN body dealing with arbitrary detention.”
    There was a clear finding under Article Nine of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Assange is subject to arbitrary detention, he explained.
    “If this finding had been made against any other country with a human rights record that one does not wish to compare oneself with, then these states [Sweden and UK] would have made it clear that the [offending] country should comply with the ruling of the working group. It’s not a good thing for any country to get a ruling for arbitrary detention against it.
    “For the international human rights system to function, states must abide by the rulings. There’s no other way to deal with it. If the state is in violation of international law, it’s for the state to find ways to give effect to the [panel’s] decision.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/media/liv...b0a1c9440d9434
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  4. #14

    Default

    Establishment Family Values

    by craig on February 5, 2016 5:24 pm in Uncategorized
    There has been a touching display of family values in the establishment’s full-throated attempt to roar down the United Nations today.
    Joanna Gosling of BBC News won my prize for the news presenter who exuded the highest level of shrill indignation that the UN should dare to query the actions of the British Government. There was not, of course, any acknowledgement by the BBC that she is married to Craig Oliver, Cameron’s spin doctor in chief.
    Meanwhile, over at Sky, Joan Smith of London Women against Violence was allowed a mind-numbingly long and uninterrupted interview in order to express her unmitigated certainty of Assange’s guilt. Nobody mentioned that at the time of the war crimes WikiLeaks revealed, she was the long-term partner of the Foreign Office minister, Dennis McShane (subsequently convicted and imprisoned for expenses fraud). Nor that she was appointed to her right-on sounding position by Boris Johnson, to whom she has been close.
    To complete the picture Joshua Rozenberg writes as the Guardian’s legal expert. His piece is full of outright lies, including the remarkable one that Assange’s case was predicated on a claim of diplomatic immunity. The Guardian does not mention that Rozenberg is married to Melanie Phillips, the most barkingly right wing columnist in Britain (she still believes, you may recall, that Iraqi WMD lurk in a secret chamber under the Euphrates). Rozenberg shares with her the most ultra of Zionist beliefs.
    Neo-con family values. You have to love them.

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archi...family-values/
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  5. #15

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by David Guyatt View Post
    The Blighty government has announced it will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy and deport him to Sweden. So their knee is bowed. Over to Sweden now...
    Philip Hammond’s Astonishing Lie

    by craig on February 5, 2016 6:57 pm in Uncategorized
    The official statement by the UK Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond:
    “I reject the decision of this working group. It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy.”
    These are the cvs of the group (including the ex-chair who started the work). Hammond’s statement that they are lay people and not lawyers is a blatant, a massive, an enormous, a completely astonishing lie. Yet nowhere has the media called him on this lie.
    Sètondji Adjovi (Benin, Second Vice-Chair) Adjovi, an academic and practitioner specialising in international criminal procedure and judicial reform, worked at the International Criminal Court and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda before his appointment to the UN WGAD.
    Mads Andenas (Norway, Chair and member until mid-2015) Chair of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention until mid-2015. Has previously held positions as Director of the Centre of European Law at King’s College, University of London and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London. Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo.
    Mr. José Guevara (Mexico, First Vice-Chair) Guevara is a legal academic and practitioner who focuses on Human Rights Protection and International Criminal Law. Prior to joining the WGAD, worked in the NGO sector, Mexico City’s Ombudsman’s office and in government in the area of human rights. Guevara is the recipient of the Open Society Foundation’s New Executives Fund leading the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights.
    Seong-Phil Hong (Chair-Rapporteur, Republic of Korea) An expert member of the Asian Council of Jurists of the Asia Pacific Forum and legal academic, Seong-Phil Hong has specialised in the case for reparations regarding Japan’s Enforced Sex Slavery during the Second World War and accountability for human rights violations by the North Korean regime.
    Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine) A legal academic and practitioner whose expertise lies in international criminal justice and procedure. Tochilovsky was part of the Preparatory Committee and Commission that drafted the guidelines on criminal procedure for the International Criminal Court.
    Leigh Toomey (Australia) An expert in the UN Human Rights system, Toomey has taught at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and has served as a UN human rights expert both in the capacity as an NGO representative and as a representative for Australia at the UN General Assembly and Commission for Human Rights.
    It is worth noting that the UN decision accords very closely with the minority verdicts of the two dissenting UK Supreme Court judges in the deeply split UK Supreme Court decision on the case. So by calling the UN panel “ridiculous”, Hammond is saying the same of two UK Supreme Court justices.
    You will not recall much media coverage of the dissenting verdicts in the UK Supreme Court decision. There was almost none. By contrast, the media are showing an obsessive interest in the dissenting Ukrainian member’s opinion in this UN decision.
    Norwegian Professor Mats Andenas, the chair of the Working Group who started the work, has today stated that the UK and US put enormous political pressure on the members of the UN working group, which they had resisted courageously. Can anybody think of a reason why the dissenting Ukrainian member might have been less able to resist enormous pressure from the UK and US governments?

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archi...tonishing-lie/
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  6. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Magda Hassan View Post
    Can anybody think of a reason why the dissenting Ukrainian member might have been less able to resist enormous pressure from the UK and US governments?
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  7. #17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Magda Hassan View Post
    Can anybody think of a reason why the dissenting Ukrainian member might have been less able to resist enormous pressure from the UK and US governments?
    Hehehehe thought you may like that one. Doesn't take Einstein does it?
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  8. #18

    Default

    John Pilger writes:

    One of the epic miscarriages of justice of our time is unravelling. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention - the international tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations - has ruled that Julian Assange has been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden.


    After five years of fighting to clear his name - having been smeared relentlessly yet charged with no crime - Assange is closer to justice and vindication, and perhaps freedom, than at any time since he was arrested and held in London under a European Extradition Warrant, itself now discredited by Parliament.

    The UN Working Group bases its judgements on the European Convention on Human Rights and three other treaties that are binding on all its signatories. Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. It would fly contemptuously in the face of international law if they did not comply with the judgement and allow Assange to leave the refuge granted him by the Ecuadorean government in its London embassy.

    In previous, celebrated cases ruled upon by the Working Group - Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma, imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in Iran - both Britain and Sweden have given support to the tribunal. The difference now is that Assange's persecution and confinement endures in the heart of London.

    The Assange case has never been primarily about allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. The Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the case, saying, "I don't believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape" and one of the women involved accused the police of fabricating evidence and "railroading" her, protesting she "did not want to accuse JA of anything". A second prosecutor mysteriously re-opened the case after political intervention, then stalled it.

    The Assange case is rooted across the Atlantic in Pentagon-dominated Washington, obsessed with pursuing and prosecuting whistleblowers, especially Assange for having exposed, in WikiLeaks, US capital crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of civilians and a contempt for sovereignty and international law. None of this truth-telling is illegal under the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistleblowers as "part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal".

    Obama, the betrayer, has since prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the US presidents combined. The courageous Chelsea Manning is serving 35 years in prison, having been tortured during her long pre-trial detention.

    The prospect of a similar fate has hung over Assange like a Damocles sword. According to documents released by Edward Snowden, Assange is on a "Manhunt target list". Vice-President Joe Biden has called him a "cyber terrorist". In Alexandra, Virginia, a secret grand jury has attempted to concoct a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted in a court. Even though he is not an American, he is currently being fitted up with an espionage law dredged up from a century ago when it was used to silence conscientious objectors during the First World War; the Espionage Act has provisions of both life imprisonment and the death penalty.

    Assange's ability to defend himself in this Kafkaesque world has been handicapped by the US declaring his case a state secret. A federal court has blocked the release of all information about what is known as the "national security" investigation of WikiLeaks.

    The supporting act in this charade has been played by the second Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny. Until recently, Ny had refused to comply with a routine European procedure that required her to travel to London to question Assange and so advance the case that James Catlin, one of Assange's barristers, called "a laughing stock ... it's as if they make it up as they go along". Indeed, even before Assange had left Sweden for London in 2010, Marianne Ny made no attempt to question him. In the years since, she has never properly explained, even to her own judicial authorities, why she has not completed the case she so enthusiastically re-ignited - just as the she has never explained why she has refused to give Assange a guarantee that he will not be extradited on to the US under a secret arrangement agreed between Stockholm and Washington. In 2010, the Independent in London revealed that the two governments had discussed Assange's onward extradition.

    Then there is tiny, brave Ecuador. One of the reasons Ecuador granted Julian Assange political asylum was that his own government, in Australia, had offered him none of the help to which he had a legal right and so abandoned him. Australia's collusion with the United States against its own citizen is evident in leaked documents; no more faithful vassals has America than the obeisant politicians of the Antipodes.

    Four years ago, in Sydney, I spent several hours with the Liberal Member of the Federal Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. We discussed the threats to Assange and their wider implications for freedom of speech and justice, and why Australia was obliged to stand by him. Turnbull is now the Prime Minister of Australia and, as I write, is attending an international conference on Syria hosted the Cameron government - about 15 minutes' cab ride from the room that Julian Assange has occupied for three and a half years in the small Ecuadorean embassy just along from Harrods. The Syria connection is relevant if unreported; it was WikiLeaks that revealed that the United States had long planned to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. Today, as he meets and greets, Prime Minister Turnbull has an opportunity to contribute a modicum of purpose and truth to the conference by speaking up for his unjustly imprisoned compatriot, for whom he showed such concern when we met. All he need do is quote the judgement of the UN Working Party on Arbitrary Detention. Will he reclaim this shred of Australia's reputation in the decent world?

    What is certain is that the decent world owes much to Julian Assange. He told us how indecent power behaves in secret, how it lies and manipulates and engages in great acts of violence, sustaining wars that kill and maim and turn millions into the refugees now in the news. Telling us this truth alone earns Assange his freedom, whereas justice is his right.

    John Pilger, 5 February 2016
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  9. #19

    Default

    Just to remind us what this is all about.

    Embarrassment. And the blatant misuse of power.

    The call sign Crazyhorse is so apt:



    And



    As Pilger makes clear, the "weapons" were cameras...
    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

  10. #20

    Default

    The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian

    By Jonathan Cook


    At what point do we cry foul when we witness the abuse of a political dissident, one who dares to take on mighty vested interests?
    When his own state, the local legal system and the media all turn on him? When he is forced to seek sanctuary in a foreign embassy for many years, surrounded by state security forces threatening to arrest him if he leaves? When the world's highest arbiter on the matter of his confinement, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, supports his case? When the state, legal authorities and the media ignore the ruling and continue to demand his arrest?
    If this were China or Russia, at some point along this trajectory most of us would have been forced to concede that this was a clear case of political persecution; that the best he could hope for was a show trial; and that the local media were failing in their role as watchdogs on power.
    But this is not China or Russia. This is the UK, the dissident is Julian Assange and it suddenly seems that the world's leading experts on arbitrary detention have no clue what they are talking about.
    Today the UN panel on arbitrary detention ruled that Assange, who has spent more than three years confined to a tiny room in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, is being arbitrarily detained and that he should be allowed to walk free.
    The panel comprises leading experts in international human rights law from around the world who have been studying his case since 2014. It is probably safe to assume they know much more about the details of the case than most journalists.
    Assange was convicted by the British corporate media, including its supposedly liberal outfits, from the moment allegations of sexual offences in Sweden surfaced six years ago. August media outlets like the BBC, which carefully presume innocence in prosecutions of those accused of everyday crimes, repeatedly made grossly erroneous claims about Assange, including that he had been charged with rape when no charges have yet been laid. Assange is being investigated.
    Even now, when the UN panel is on his side, it seems the British media are not about to stop.
    What has been so infuriating about the coverage of Assange's case is that supposedly critical journalists have simply peddled allegations and arguments advanced by the parties involved -- the UK, Sweden, and the United States -- without making even cursory efforts to check them.
    Film-maker Alex Gibney, for example, spent many months putting together a cinema-released documentary on the Assange case that made such elementary mistakes that anyone who had spent even a little time watching the case unfold could pick apart basic flaws in Gibney's argument, as I did here.
    Although the UN panel has backed Assange, as it has other prominent dissidents such as Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, Britain's most esteemed liberal mainstream newspaper, the Guardian, has barely paused for breath in continuing to pursue its campaign against him.
    An editorial today dismisses the UN ruling as a "publicity stunt." It ignores the weight of the UN panel's decision, and yet again makes claims and assertions about the case that are patently mistaken.
    The core of its argument is this: Assange cannot have been arbitrarily detained because, by denying Swedish prosecutors the chance to interview him, he has blocked them from advancing the case. In other words, his detention is self-inflicted.
    The Guardian puts it this way:
    "Since Mr Assange left Sweden in 2010 before he could be questioned and has resolutely refused to return, no such interview has taken place."
    That short sentence contains two deceptions.
    Assange was interviewed in Sweden when the allegations were initially made. And he was allowed to leave the country after the first prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the case, saying: "I don't believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape."
    It is not even true that an interview cannot take place because Assange will not return to Sweden. Remember Assange has not returned because he is seeking asylum in Ecuador's embassy to prevent his extradition to Sweden and what he fears will be an onward extradtion to the US, where he is likely to be tried for Wikileaks' activities, which have deeply embarrassed the White House.
    It is quite possible for Marianne Ny, the Swedish prosecutor who revived the case after Finne dismissed it, to travel the short distance to London to interview him. It has happened before in much less high-profile cases. She knows where to find him, after all.
    But despite Ny's aggressive pursuit of other angles to this case, she has dragged her feet for years over this simple and essential stage of her investigation to determine whether there is any substance to the claims against Assange.
    Now judge for yourself the Guardian's seriousness in considering Assange's plight from this single sentence:
    "[Assange] was granted bail [in the UK] while he fought extradition to Sweden and he broke his bail conditions, at great expense to those friends and supporters who had backed him financially, by fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy."
    Assange is claiming asylum from political persecution, and has been backed by the world's authority on the matter -- the UN panel whose similar rulings in the the detentions of Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia have been enthusiastically upheld by the Guardian.

    - Advertisement -

    Assange is not paranoid. A grand jury has been secretly arraigned in Virginia, the home of the CIA, that is dredging up long-discarded laws to charge him with espionage, even though he is not a US citizen.
    And in spite of all this, the Guardian thinks that the most pressing matter is Assange violating his bail conditions. Should this argument not be considered risible? Would the Guardian have dared raise it in relation to Suu Kyi, Anwar Ibrahim or the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei? Had they sought asylum in a foreign embassy from political persecution, as the UN panel's ruling at the very least implies is the case for Assange, would the Guardian be arguing that they should still have handed themselves over to the authorities so as not to break their bail terms?
    The Guardian's truly Kafka-esque worldview is revealed in its editorial's concluding line:
    "WikiLeaks was founded on exposing those who ignored the rule of law. Surely its editor-in-chief should recognise his duty to see it upheld."
    Wikileaks was most certainly not founded to expose those who have violated local, state-based law. Wikileaks does not believe Suu Kyi should have spent many years under house arrest because she broke Burma's laws, or that Anwar Ibrahim should be in jail because he violated Malaysian laws. Or that George Bush and Tony Blair should live as respected multi-millionaires rather than face long jail sentences as war criminals because their local legal systems do not function properly.
    Wikileaks was founded on another idea: that a fairer world requires transparency.
    The secret machinations of the US grand jury, the endless obfuscations and hidden agenda of Sweden's second prosecutor, and the Guardian's own financial reliance on major corporations are all relevant to understanding why Assange remains arbitrarily detained -- and why the Guardian won't give him a fair hearing.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •