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Liveblog: Julian Assange under threat

Julian Assange Faces Extradition, Donate to the Campaign Now

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Background: Julian Assange arrested, indicted, facing extradition

Julian Assange is detained in HMP Belmarsh, a high-security prison in southeast London, where he faces an extradition request from the United States, which has charged him on 18 counts threatening 175 years in jail. The charges include 17 counts of Espionage, the first ever such charges for a journalist, Geand 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime for allegedly attempting to protect a source’s anonymity. Press freedom groups, US presidential candidates, UK/EU politicians, and top newsrooms have condemned the US prosecution of Assange, warning of the grave threat it poses to journalistic freedoms around the world.

Courage is liveblogging daily updates, recapping legal, political and other developments in Assange’s case. See Courage’s fact sheets on various aspects of Assange’s case and WikiLeaks’ here, resources including legal documents and UN rulings & opinions here, a timeline of WikiLeaks’ releases and major events here, an archive of the 2018 version of this liveblog here, and ways to donate to Assange’s defense here.

14 April 2022

PEN America highlights Assange’s persecution

PEN America has released its annual ‘Freedom to Write’ index, a catalogue of bloggers, journalists and other writers who have been killed, prosecuted, or otherwise threatened for carrying out their work. 

In its section on the United Kingdom, PEN highlights the detention and indictment of Julian Assange, noting:

“Assange, publisher of WikiLeaks, was imprisoned in the U.K. in 2019 for violating bail terms. Since September 2019 he is jailed facing possible extradition to the U.S., including on 17 counts under the Espionage Act, charges with worrying implications for press freedom.”

In the full report, PEN expounds on Assange’s journalism and the charges against him, noting

PEN International calls on the United States to drop charges against Assange. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest. PEN International further calls on the United Kingdom to reject extraditing Julian Assange to the United States. PEN Action: statement April 2019, resolution September 2019.

13 April 2022

Julian Assange awarded the Audálio Dantas trophy for Indignation, Courage and Hope

The Audálio Dantas trophy for Indignation, Courage and Hope was awarded to the Australian journalist, founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange, and given to Carmen Diniz, coordinator of the Brazil Chapter of the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity to Peoples by historian José Luis Del Royo. Both explained the Assange case and the situation in which the journalist is. The representative undertook to send the trophy received to Assange and his family, as well as information on all the activities carried out there and their importance. She also stressed that “the worst that can happen to someone who is in prison is to think they are alone.”

12 April 2022

Australian independent Senator Rex Patrick: Action to Free Assange is Vital

Independent Senator Rex Patrick today called on both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to commit to new diplomatic efforts to encourage the US government to drop its bid to extradite Australian publisher Julian Assange.

Senator Patrick further announced his intention to seek a Senate Committee inquiry into the failure of the Australian Government to provide proper support for Mr Assange through the long years of his detention and imprisonment.

“Three years on from his arrest for claimed espionage offences against the United States, the prosecution of Julian Assange poses a major threat to press freedom around the world,” Senator Patrick said.

“Dictators and authoritarians jailing journalists are already able to respond to their critics with an easy line: ‘What about Julian Assange?’ Freedom of the press will be further diminished if Mr Assange stands shackled in an American court before disappearing into the horror of a US maximum security prison.”

“Mr Assange’s case is now at a critical point. The next court hearing is expected on 20 April after which an extradition order will be sent to the British Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval. While Mr Assange has further limited opportunities for appeal, the Australian Government should heed the earlier concern expressed by Judge Vanessa Baraitser over Assange’s precarious health situation and ask the Home Secretary to deny the US extradition request.”

11 April 2022

Three years since Julian Assange’s arrest

April 11 marks three years since WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange had his political asylum revoked by the Ecuadorian government, which then allowed British police into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to arrest Assange, as the United States unsealed its indictment against him. Assange has spent the entire interim in the maximum-security Belmarsh prison, where experts have visited him and determined him to have suffered psychological torture. 

He has been all but barred from participating in his own extradition proceedings, in which a district judge initially ruled against sending Julian to the United States on grounds that doing so would put him at undue risk of suicide. A High Court later overturned that ruling after accepting belated, caveated “assurances” from the United States government regarding the prospective prison conditions Assange would face.

Human rights organizations, press freedom groups, leading politicians, and top newspaper editors across the board have condemned the U.S. indictment against Assange and marking the third anniversary of his incarceration called upon the US to drop the charges against Assange and on the UK to immediately release him from prison.

Australian media union (MEAA): Three years in prison is too long; Assange must come home

“Australia must step up diplomatic efforts to encourage the US government to drop its bid to extradite Julian Assange who has now been imprisoned for three years.

“On this day, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance calls on the Biden Administration to drop the charges against Assange, which pose a threat to press freedom worldwide. The scope of the US charges imperils any journalist anywhere who writes about the US government.

“MEAA Media Federal President Karen Percy urged the Australian Government to use its close ties to both the US and the UK to end the court proceedings against him and have the charges dropped to allow Assange to return home to Australia, if that is his wish.”

International People’s Assambly: Progressive leaders call on US President Biden to drop the charges against Assange

Progressive leaders, intellectuals, and former heads of state from across the world including Dilma Rousseff, Yanis Varoufakis, Roger Waters, Rafael Correa, among others sent a letter to US President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to demand that US officials drop the 18 charges against Julian Assange.

We join our voices with journalists around the world, who know that their profession will be even more dangerous if Julian Assange is extradited, and that freedom of expression and freedom of the press will face even more relentless persecution.

But above all, we unite our voices to the hundreds of thousands of victims in the countries that were invaded, attacked by the military forces of powerful States, to all the voices silenced by the brutality of war, of all the victims of those crimes whose authors, to this day, remain unpunished.

The persecution and imprisonment of Assange seeks to not only silence his work, but attack all good journalism and those that raise their voices to share the truth about violence and attempts of domination and war of imperialist countries.

Julian Assange must not be extradited, Julian Assange must be free.

Amnesty Australia: Call your MP, support Julian Assange 

On the third anniversary of Julian Assange’s incarceration, Amnesty Australia has called on Australian citizens to make contact with their federal member of parliament and advocate for Julian.

Reporters Without Borders

International Federation of Journalists

Defending Rights and Dissent

Stella Assange: Julian’s continued imprisonment is “a criminal act”

Speaking to Press Association, she said:

“The UK Government could end Julian’s imprisonment at any time by obeying its treaty obligations. The US extradition request violates the US-UK extradition treaty Article 4, which prohibits extraditions for political offences. The UK Government can and should obey the word of the treaty and put an end to the extradition process once and for all. Julian’s incarceration and extradition process is an abuse in itself.

“The UK is imprisoning a publisher on behalf of the foreign power who conspired to murder him. There is no way of concealing any more that Julian is the victim of a vicious political persecution. His continued imprisonment is not only a national disgrace, it is a criminal act.”

Protests held around the world to free Assange

Protests are being held to mark the third anniversary of the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Demonstrations were organized in Washington D.C., Milwaukee, Denver, Tulsa, Bay Area, Minneapolis, and more.

9 April 2022

International Journalism Festival: Julian Assange and Wikileaks: freedom of information on trial

The most consequential trial against journalism is reaching a critical point as UK courts are set to issue the order to extradite the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to face a 175-year sentence for WikiLeaks’ renowed publications exposing war crimes, torture, abuse and illegality in Guantanamo Bay and in the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Every major press freedom group has raised the alarm that the case against him sets a precedent that will be used against other journalists the world over and has started a global race to the bottom on press freedom.

Speaking:

  • Stella Assange, human rights lawyers and wife of Julian Assange
  • Joseph Farrell, Wikileaks ambassador
  • Stefania Maurizi, investigative journalist

7 April 2022

PEN Australia centres, in conjunction with PEN International call for the British Government to immediately release Julian Assange and halt the US case for extradition

PEN International together with the Australian PEN centers has written an Open Letter Regarding Mr Julian Assange asking for his release. The letter is signed by numerous journalists and writers, and delivered to the British Consul General.

PEN Australia Centres, in conjunction with PEN International, call for the British Government, as an independent democracy, to immediately release Julian Assange and to halt the US case for extradition.

They have also written an open letter to the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne calling for justice for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

We are appealing to you as a representative of the Australian people to assert the rights of an Australian citizen by taking up his case with your counterparts in the United Kingdom government. It is the responsibility of Australian government representatives to advocate for Australian citizens.

5 April 2022

Collateral Murder video published 12 years ago

12 years ago Wikileaks published Collateral murder video, a document of a war crime. 12 years later Julian Assange is imprisoned for revealing the truth about war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

2 April 2022

New Hearing Announced: April 20th at Westminster Magistrates Court

The magistrate will issue the order to extradite Julian Assange to the United States. The order will then go to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval.
 
Assange’s defence will make submissions to Patel, before the hearing, the deadline is 18 May.

1 April 2022

Chris Hedges comments on new developments in the Assange Case

30 March 2022

Speaking in UK Parliament Richard Burgon MP has called on the UK Home Secretary to refuse to sign Julian Assange’s extradition warrant

29 March 2022

Priti Patel was part of CIA-linked lobby group with husband of Assange judge | Declassified UK

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who will soon decide whether to extradite Julian Assange to the US, has been a political adviser to – and been funded by – a right-wing lobby group which has attacked Assange in the British media for a decade, writes Matt Kennard.

Priti Patel sat on the Henry Jackson Society’s (HJS) advisory council from around 2013-16, although the exact dates are unclear as neither the HJS nor Patel responded to Declassified’s requests for clarification. 

After the UK Supreme Court said this month it was refusing to hear Assange’s appeal of a High Court decision against him, the WikiLeaks founder’s fate now lies in Patel’s hands. He faces life in prison in the US. 

The HJS, which was founded in 2005 and does not disclose its funders, has links to the CIA, the intelligence agency behind the prosecution of Assange and which reportedly developed plans to assassinate him. 

28 March 2022

Andrew Wilkie, Australian MP calls on Australia’s Prime Minister to free Julian Assange

Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie has long campaigned for Julian Assange’s release, and is demanding the Australian government step in to save him from the UK’s brutal Belmarsh Prison.

23 March 2022

Julian Assange and Stella Moris marry at Belmarsh prison

Stella Moris married her fiancé, political prisoner and Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, at Belmarsh Prison today after months of negotiations with prison authorities. Stella was accompanied by Julian’s father and brother, John and Gabriel Shipton. Legendary fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood custom-designed Stella’s dress and a tartan kilt for Julian, a nod to his Scottish heritage. 

Stella wrote an op-ed for the Guardian on the fight to get married and what today’s occasion means to her:

“Today is my wedding day. I will marry the love of my life. My husband to be is the father of our two sons, he is a wonderful man, intelligent and funny, he has a deep-seated sense of right and wrong and he is known the world over for his work as a courageous publisher. At lunchtime today, I will go through the gates at the most oppressive high security prison in the country and be married to a political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“Of course, this is not the wedding we should be having. Julian has spent nearly three years unjustly detained on behalf of the foreign power that plotted to kill him in the streets of London.

“This is not a prison wedding, it is a declaration of love and resilience in spite of the prison walls, in spite of the political persecution, in spite of the arbitrary detention, in spite of the harm and harassment inflicted on Julian and our family. Their torment only makes our love grow stronger.”

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Chris Hedges was a guest of Julian Assange and Stella Moris for their wedding, and gave a powerful speech supporting Julian’s fight for freedom:

A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth, extinguishes the capacity to live in justice, and this is why we are here today.

Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian decry his prolonged suffering and the suffering of his family.

Yes, we demand that the many wrongs and injustices that have been visited upon him be ended.

Yes, we honour him for his courage and his integrity, but the battle for Julian’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher.

It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era, and if we lose this battle it will be devastating not only for Julian and his family, but for us.

Julian Assange posed PR problem for UK government’s media campaign | John McEvoy

UK officials were worried about public reaction to their hosting a media freedom event a few miles from Belmarsh prison, where Assange is incarcerated. The Foreign Office monitored activity online, developed ‘lines to take’ and warned ‘we should be ready’, emails show.

The UK’s treatment of Julian Assange posed a public relations problem for the Foreign Office’s media freedom campaign, files seen by Declassified UK show.

The conference was held just months after WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. 

He was transferred to Belmarsh prison, “the closest comparison in the United Kingdom to Guantánamo”, as a UK parliamentary report has described it.

Rebecca Vincent, the Director of International Campaigns for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), commented:

“It is disappointing that rather than looking to address the very serious substantive concerns about the case of Julian Assange, the UK Foreign Office seems to have treated the matter as only a public relations inconvenience as it prepared to host the Global Media Freedom Conference and launch the Media Freedom Coalition.

“But the truth is that no communications strategy can make this go away. As long as Assange remains detained in the UK and as long as the US continues to seek his extradition and prosecution for publishing information in the public interest, this case will serve as a thorn in the sides of both governments and the Media Freedom Coalition itself.”

22 March 2022

“It is outrageous that Biden has continued to pursue Julian Assange’s prosecution”: Stefania Maurizi interviews Daniel Ellsberg

“A fair trial? Oh, there’s no chance for him to have a fair trial, any more than any of the other people charged and convicted under the Espionage Act, or even me”, says Ellsberg.

“I am the only one who, in a way, ‘got away with it’, in the sense of not being put in prison for life or for a long time by the administration, and that was because of a very unusual set of events, but they’re the same as we’ve learned about Julian. Just as they were considering kidnapping him from the Ecuadorian embassy, possibly killing him, possibly poisoning, but also even considering shoot-outs of various kinds that would get him, I [too] had thirteen men, twelve or thirteen, brought from Miami, CIA assets, one of them at least a CIA agent right at that time, but they had all worked for the CIA in the Bay of Pigs. They were brought up with orders to ‘incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg, totally’. When I asked the prosecutor: ‘What did that mean? Kill me?’, he said: ‘Well, the words were ‘incapacitate you totally’, but you know, those who work for the CIA never use the word ‘kill’”.

“If Julian Assange is extradited and prosecuted in America, I would say, with the mood now, since 9/11, with these last twenty years, he might well be convicted, although he shouldn’t be. The First Amendment would then be eliminated. What that means is: not only sources, but journalists would then have to fear being prosecuted and convicted for doing their job in questioning the government, putting out information the top government doesn’t want. This is a government that we know conducts aggressive wars, criminal aggressive wars, as in Iraq, absolutely, clear-cut aggression, and has very, very little concern for the people of those areas, as they are showing in Afghanistan, right now. It’s shocking that they are subjecting the Afghans now, punitively, to a regime of hunger and cold, in keeping their funds frozen, showing how little concern they have ever had for the Afghan people, as they showed for 20 years, bombing them, with drones and raids and all that. In short: it’s a government that needs to be exposed, and it won’t be very much if…if Julian’s case is a real turning point here, then we will essentially have a press like that of Stalin’s Russia.”

17 March 2022

Set Julian Assange Free! In support of Julian Assange, Wikileaks and freedom

A tribute to Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the freedom of publication and a celebration of freedom and hope at Jakob Culture Church in Oslo.

Nils Melzer, UN rapporteur on torture in dialogue with professor Mads Andenaes, writer Günter Wallraff, author, and anti-corruption lawyer and EU-politician, Eva Joly, Wikileaks’ editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, Former Interior Minister of Iceland Ögmundur Jónasson, Deepa Govindarayan Driver professor and observer at the Old Bailey-trial against Julian Assange and Gisle Selnes, professor & author of “The Persecution of Julian Assange” (forthcoming).

The delegation of Assange supporters has also met with Norwegian MPs

15 March 2022

Assange’s Extradition Would Be a Nail in the Coffin of Press Freedom | John Rees

John Rees writes about the UK Supreme Court refusal to hear Julian Assange’s appeal and the consequences it has for the free press.

If Julian Assange had been convicted of manslaughter, he would very likely be out of jail by now. Manslaughter convictions can result in as little as two years served in jail. The maximum is ten. Those sentences are typically not be served in a high security prison.

Julian Assange, convicted of no crime, has not been at liberty for over a decade and is currently about to enter his fourth year imprisoned in the UK’s most draconian jail, the high security Belmarsh prison.
The decision of the Supreme Court to refuse to hear Assange’s latest appeal virtually ensures that he will spend at least the next year in jail.

The Supreme Court have just (…) essentially ruled that such assurances must be taken at face value whenever they are given, and that there is no necessity for them to be argued in front of a judge.

That decision creates a dangerous precedent that can be used by any regime from Saudi Arabia to China as they pursue political dissidents here in the UK. At a stroke, it makes political opponents of authoritarian regimes unsafe in Britain.

Extradition Looms for Assange After UK Supreme Court Refuses to Hear His Appeal | Marjorie Cohn

Marjorie Cohn writes about the Julian Assange case in the light of the decision of the UK Supreme Court to refuse to hear his appeal.

With no explanation of its reasoning, the Supreme Court denied Assange “permission to appeal” the High Court’s decision, saying that Assange’s appeal did not “raise an arguable point of law.” The court remanded the case back to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which is the same court that denied the U.S. extradition request on January 4, 2021.

In all likelihood, the magistrates’ court will refer the case to the British Home Office where Home Secretary Priti Patel will review it. Assange’s lawyers then have four weeks to submit materials for Patel’s consideration. If she orders Assange’s extradition — which is highly likely — his lawyers will file a cross-appeal in the High Court asking it to review the issues Assange lost in the magistrates’ court.

14 March 2022

UK Supreme Court refuses to hear Assange appeal

On 24 January 2022, the High Court (the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Justice Holroyde) certified that a point of law of public importance had been raised by Mr Assange following its rejection of his appeal.

The point certified for the potential consideration by the Supreme Court was
“In what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings.”

A panel of three judges of the Supreme Court has considered the application on paper, and this afternoon (14 March 2022) refused permission to appeal on the basis that “the application does not raise an arguable point of law.”

“We regret that the opportunity has not been taken to consider the troubling circumstances in which Requesting States can provide caveated guarantees after the conclusion of a full evidential hearing. In Mr Assange’s case, the Court had found that there was a real risk of prohibited treatment in the event of his onward extradition” said Assange’s legal team, Birnberg Peirce Solicitors

“Now the extradition will formally move to a political stage. Julian’s fate now lies in the hands of Home Secretary Priti Patel. This is a political case and she can end it. It is in her hands to prove that the UK is better than all of this. Patel can end Britain’s exposure to international ridicule because of Julian’s incarceration. It takes political courage but that is what it needed to preserve an open society that protects publishers from foreign persecution”, said Julian Assange’s fiancee and lawyer Stella Moris.

Once again numerous media freedom and human rights organisations have protested the UK High Court decision and called for charges to be dropped and Julian Assange released immediately.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Home Office to block Assange extradition following Supreme Court refusal to consider appeal

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): We urge the U.K. Home Secretary to block his extradition.

Article 19: Julian Assange must not be extradited

International Press Institute (IPI) renews call on U.S. government drop prosecution under Espionage Act

Amnesty International: Refusal by Supreme Court to grant Assange right to appeal is “a blow for justice”

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed its disappointment at the decision and called once again for the immediate release of Julian Assange

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) renewed its call for UK government intervention in Assange’s case

Defending Rights and Dissent (DRAD): The Biden Administration should withdraw its request for extradition and drop all charges against Assange.

Austrian Journalists’ Club (ÖJC) protests in the strongest possible terms against Assange’s decision by the British Supreme Court

PEN International

MEAA

13 March 2022

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will marry fiancee Stella Morris in Belmarsh prison on March 23

Stella Moris will marry Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison on March 23, just weeks before the third anniversary of his dramatic arrest when he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in the capital in April 2019.

Ms Moris said that just four guests and two witnesses will be allowed to attend the ceremony, as well as two security guards.

Ms Moris said: ‘Obviously we are very excited, even though the circumstances are very restrictive.

‘There continues to be unjustified interference in our plans. Having a photographer for an hour is not an unreasonable request.

‘All the guests and witnesses must leave as soon as the ceremony is over, even though that will be before normal visiting time ends.

3 March 2022

Julian Assange appeals to the Supreme Court

Cate Goold, expert in complex and serious crime and extradition cases, gives her assessment of the Assange appeal.

In December 2021, the High Court ruled that Julian Assange could be extradited to the USA, reversing a previous decision of Westminster Magistrates’ Court that extradition would be unjust or oppressive due to Mr Assange’s mental condition.

The ruling of the High Court was based on a package of diplomatic assurances provided by the US government about how and where Mr Assange would be detained if extradited and/or convicted.

Crucially, however, these assurances were subject to the caveat that the US retained the power to impose such conditions if Mr Assange were to commit any future act that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX.

28 February 2022

Julian Assange awarded Dr Karl Renner Solidarity prize by Austrian Journalists’ Club ÖJC

The Austrian Journalists’ Club (ÖJC) presented the 2021 Journalist Awards, as part of Austrian Media Day, Dr Karl Renner Solidarity prize to Julian Assange. His partner and fiancée Stella Moris accepted the award in Vienna on Monday evening saying “There is a dark cloud hanging over Europe, over Belmarsh prison in London, over the whole world. As long as Julian Assange is imprisoned, there will no longer be freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

Stella Moris accepts award on behalf of Julian Assange:

Kristinn Hrafnsson speech at the Austrian Journalists Club:

27 February 2022

Stand-Ups for Assange

A Night of Comedy and Satire in Support of Julian Assange featuring: Marianne Williamson, Jesselyn Radack, Margaret Kunstler, Lee Camp, Katie Halper, Jaffer Khan, Naomi Karavani and Eleanor Goldfield and hosted by Randy Credico.

25 February 2022

The Belmarsh Tribunal in New York

Inspired by the Russell-Sartre Tribunals of the late 1960s, which put the US government on trial for its war crimes in Vietnam, the Belmarsh Tribunal will expose the crimes of the so-called War on Terror 20 years after the first prisoners were brought to Guantánamo Bay — and call for Assange’s freedom.

The event — convened in partnership with DiEM25, the Courage Foundation, The People’s Forum, DSA International Committee, The Intercept, People’s Dispatch and the International People’s Assembly — will be chaired by philosopher Srećko Horvat and civil rights attorney Margaret Kunstler. Witnesses will include: Angela Richter, Austin González, Chip Gibbons, Chris Hedges, Claudia De la Cruz, Cornel West, Deborah Hrbek, Jeremy Scahill, Milo Rau, Nancy Hollander, Nathan Fuller, Nick Estes, Roger Waters, Srećko Horvat, Steven Donziger, Vijay Prashad, and others.

24 February 2022

The U.K. Wanted to Extradite Julian Assange to the U.S. From the Start | Guillaume Long

Former foreign minister of Ecuador Guillaume Long writes about the long-lasting intenet of the UK government to extradite Julian Assange.

Many pundits and politicians talk of the extradition proceedings against Assange as if they were an unforeseen legal outcome that came about as Assange’s situation unfolded. This is not true. My experience as the foreign minister of Ecuador — the South American country that granted Assange asylum — left me in no doubt that the U.K. wanted Assange’s extradition to the United States from the very beginning.

One encounter I had with Alan Duncan, the former British minister of state for Europe and the Americas, in October 2016 really let the cat out of the bag. At our meeting in the Dominican Republic, Duncan went on extensively about how loathsome Assange was. While I didn’t anticipate Duncan to profess his love for our asylee, I had expected a more professional diplomatic exchange. But the most important moment of the meeting was when I reiterated that Ecuador’s primary fear was the transfer of Assange to the United States, at which point Duncan turned to his staff and exclaimed something very close to, “Yes, well, good idea. How would we go about extraditing him to the Americans?”

I was particularly surprised by Duncan’s candor because my June 2016 meeting with his predecessor, Hugo Swire, in Whitehall, had been quite different. It’s not that Swire wasn’t equally contemptuous of the irritating South American country that had granted Assange asylum; it is more that Swire actually knew the case well.

Swire stuck to the U.K.’s position: Nobody wanted to extradite Assange to the United States. The Ecuadorian government was “deluded” and “paranoid.”

Events since have demonstrated that the British argument that Assange was “holed up” in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden was deceitful. The case was always about Assange’s publishing activities as the head of WikiLeaks. In fact, my government had made it clear to both its British and Swedish counterparts that if Ecuador received guarantees of nonextradition from Sweden to the United States, Ecuador would have no problem with Assange traveling to Sweden to face questioning. Assange himself agreed to this. But Sweden refused to offer such guarantees, which obviously further heightened Ecuador’s suspicions that Assange was being persecuted.

18 February 2022

Press Briefing: Nils Melzer The Trial of Assange

Nils Melzer discusses his new book ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: A Story of Persecution.’

No legal basis for leaving Assange in high security prison – human rights expert | Alan Jones

Accusations of the psychological torture of Julian Assange have not been addressed, with no legal basis for leaving the WikiLeaks founder locked up in solitary confinement in a high security prison, a human rights expert has claimed.

Nils Melzer, United Nations special rapporteur on torture, said Mr Assange’s health is being “destroyed” as he remains in Belmarsh prison in London as the United States continues to try to extradite him.

Mr Assange does not have access to his lawyers and is prevented from preparing his legal case, said Mr Melzer.

The UN official, speaking about his book The Trial Of Julian Assange, said allegations that Mr Assange hacked sensitive information were based on fabricated evidence.

12 February 2022

Nils Melzer: the political persecution of Julian Assange

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is being made an example of by the US government to deter investigative journalists from exposing state abuses, the current UN Special Rapporteur on torture says.

“Espionage Act has the advantage for the US that it does not allow any form of defence on the part of the accused,” Melzer says.

“As soon as the accused is proven to have disclosed classified information protected by the Espionage Act, then he’s basically to be convicted for espionage.

“So, then he can’t raise a defence of public interest for example, saying ‘well the information I disclosed is evidence for serious misconduct if not war crimes on the part of the authorities and therefore cannot be protected by secrecy.”

The US has never proven that lives of military personnel were put under threat because of Wikileaks, he points out. Much of those false accusations serve to mask the true intent of the US government’s actions against Wikileaks.

“It’s not the actual content of the actual information that has been disclosed, but the mechanism that has been developed – that was revolutionary.

“We’ve had before massive leaks, such as that of the Pentagon Papers, for example. But because there was no internet at the time there was a natural limit to the amount of information you could leak and make available to the public. Through the Wikileaks platform that allows whistleblowers to remain anonymous and at the same time leak millions of pages of secret information from all over the world.

“If that replicates, if that would proliferate as a model and a few years later you might have 20,000 Wikileaks for all over the world, well, that would be the end of the business model of governments based on secrecy and impunity.”

He says he’s been so outspoken about the case because of the way political interests have been allowed to neutralise the judiciary and legal process.

“They [Sweden and the UK] simply refused to engage in a dialogue with me or to even provide any counter evidence of why my interpretation of those facts would be wrong and that really is something that I would not expected.”

11 February 2022

Rebecca Vincent of RSF calls out leading Media Freedom Coalition countries for their persecution of Julian Assange

“We call on these states, to lead by example and put a stop to Assange case and set him free,” she said speaking at the MFC conference in Estonia. 

9 February 2022

‘Cypherpunks have rallied to Assange’: NFT auction raises $52m for WikiLeaks founder

An online auction of digital art raised more than $52m worth of cryptocurrency to help fund Julian Assange’s legal defense, the winning bid coming from a group of supporters who had pooled their money.

3 February 2022

Julian Assange nominated for the Nobel Piece Prize

Journalist and Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, as the movement calling for his unconditional release and against his extradition to the United States grows louder. Assange was nominated by several individuals, including members of parliament and former peace prize winners, responding to calls from Assange’s partner Stella Moris.

On January 29, a nomination was filed by German politicians Martin Sonneborn, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), and Sevim Dağdelen, a member of the German Bundestag.
In their letter to the Nobel Committee, they explained that the nomination of Assange was “in honor of his unparalleled contributions to the pursuit of peace, and his immense personal sacrifices to promote peace for all.” They further highlighted that the work of Assange and Wikileaks has contributed to international mechanisms for truth and justice such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has the mission to “end impunity by prosecuting ‘the worst atrocities known to mankind’: war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.”

In addition to Sonneborn and Dağdelen, nominations were also filed by Markéta Gregorová and Patrick Breyer, MEPs from the Pirate Party, Sabrina Pignedoli, an Italian MEP, and several others.

Biden DOJ’s Prosecution of Assange Shows an Abject Failure to Protect the Freedom of The Press | Tarang Saluja

Tarang Saluja recounts the history of Assange case and warns about its implications for press freedom and democracy.

“Whether Assange is prosecuted under the criminalization of national security reporting and a likely bullshit hacking charge in the U.S., or dies in the UK by suicide or illness, it will not only mark the cruel, systematic, extra-legal destruction of a man’s life, but will also act as a direct attack on our freedom of speech and ability to hold powerful institutions accountable. It is already horrible that whistleblowers like Snowden, Manning, and Hale are treated like criminals for exposing criminal activity; it is even worse if nobody can publish criminal activity without fear that the U.S. security state will retaliate. If Assange is not affirmatively freed, pardoned, and compensated before it is too late, a deeply chilling message will be sent to the next person who receives leaked documents or a video of U.S. military malfeasance.”

31 January 2022

Journalist groups: Chancellor must stand up for Assange in USA

Journalist and press freedom organizations from Germany, Switzerland and Austria – Reporter ohne Grenzen, Deutscher Journalisten Verband and Geneva Press Club – called for immediate release of Julian Assange in a press conference held today in Berlin and demand that he not be extradited to the US.

Before Chancellor’s Olaf Scholz’s visit to the USA, the major German-speaking journalist organizations called on the SPD politician to make a determined commitment to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

28 January 2022

UK court should slap down the US Justice Department in the Assange case | James C. Goodale

As the lead attorney for the New York Times in the “Pentagon Papers” case in 1971, I’ve been doing a slow burn ever since over the government’s behavior in that instance: lies, disregard of court rules, arrogance, destruction of documents. All of this was brought to mind earlier this week when a British court hinted in the Julian Assange case that the U.S. government has acted in the same way once again, writes James Goodale, former general counsel and vice chairman of the New York Times.

“I do not believe the U.S. government’s assurances are worth the paper on which they have been written. Its behavior in this case has been rampant. Most outrageously, the CIA discussed a plot to kidnap Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was holed up, and to kill him. The CIA also tapped into conversations in the Ecuadorian Embassy, including those with Assange’s lawyers.

“There is not much question whether all of this is true. There was testimony about it in open court, and Mike Pompeo, the CIA director at the time and later secretary of State during the Trump administration, has conceded that there is “some truth” in the foregoing.

“This is the very same arrogance that was on display in the Pentagon Papers case, in which then-U.S. Solicitor General Erwin Griswold said the usual rules of evidence did not apply. His view of the law manifested itself in his introduction of new evidence in the case anytime the government was so moved.

“We do not know if the U.K.’s supreme court will take the Assange case to determine the issue of the timing of the U.S. government’s filing. Let’s hope that it does and then decides the U.S. government should not get away with the latest example of its less than appropriate behavior in a national security case.”

Panel: Assange case & Supreme Court Appeal Decision

On January 24 the UK’s High Court announced that it has certified a point of law for Julian Assange to be able to apply to appeal to the Supreme Court. The decision comes after Assange raised three points of law of general public importance that have an impact on the procedural and human rights safeguards of a wide range of other types of cases. However it’s still up to the Supreme Court to decide whether it will review the case. 

Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner, Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief discuss the newesr developments in the case and Suzie Gilbert is moderating the conversation.

25 January 2022

Marianne Williamson speaks with Stella Moris

Williamson speaks to the fiancé of Julian Assange about him, his case, and what we all need to know about it.

24 January 2022

Assange extradition argument certified for UK Supreme Court appeal

The UK’s High Court announced that it has certified a point of law for Julian Assange to be able to apply to appeal to the Supreme Court. The High Court ruled not to allow the appeal itself but to certify the question of what stage in the extradition hearing process ‘assurances’ can or should be introduced. Assange is now allowed to apply to appeal on that specific point to the UK Supreme Court.

Media freedom and human organisations have welcomed the decision but criticised High Court’s ruling to limit the scope of the appeal.

Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Research Director for Europe, said:

“While we welcome the High Court’s decision to certify one narrow issue related to the US’s assurances as being of ‘general public importance’, and so to allow the Supreme Court to consider granting an appeal on this issue, we are concerned the High Court has dodged its responsibility to ensure that matters of public importance are fully examined by the judiciary.

“The Supreme Court should have had the opportunity to deliberate and rule on all of the points of law raised by Assange at this crucially important point but the High Court has limited its scope to do so. If the question of torture and other ill-treatment is not of general public importance, what is?

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the UK’s National Union of Journalists said:

“Welcome as this decision is, this case is damaging media freedom every day that it drags on. The US is seeking Assange on charges that relate to the very business of gathering and processing news. For so long as this is treated as a potentially indictable offense, reporters, doing important work, will be looking over their shoulders.”

Robert Mahoney, Deputy Executive Director of The Committee to Protect Journalists said:

“We are glad that Julian Assange will be allowed to apply to appeal his extradition in the UK’s Supreme Court. The prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder in the United States would set a deeply harmful legal precedent that would allow the prosecution of reporters for news gathering activities and must be stopped. We strongly encourage the U.S. Justice Department to halt extradition proceedings and drop all charges against Assange.” ”

International Federation of Journalists

Freedom of the Press Foundation

Article 19

PEN America Welcomes British Court Ruling on Julian Assange Appeal

PEN America today welcomed the news of the British High Court’s decision to permit Julian Assange to appeal a lower court ruling allowing his extradition to the U.S. to move forward, while reiterating its long-held position that charges against Assange risk unacceptable limitations on press freedoms.

“Today’s decision in the ongoing Assange case is a reprieve, but the specter remains of prosecution in the U.S. based on an indictment that encompasses conduct regularly and rightfully undertaken by the media in holding government to account,” PEN America’s CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

“The Justice Department’s relentless determination to prosecute Assange sounds a warning bell to journalists around the world, legitimizing foreign governments’ efforts to stretch the bounds of the law in order to menace their critics. At a time of encroaching authoritarianism and mounting threats to a free press, the Biden Administration has rightly signaled its intent to stand up for independent journalism and directly support news outlets and reporters who come under fire for doing their jobs. But the pursuit of Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange undermines this leadership role. It is long past time for the administration to acknowledge the danger these charges pose to First Amendment freedoms and to drop them.”

PEN Germany sends an open letter to German Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock asking her to work for the release of Julian Assange

“The German PEN center has been campaigning for the release of journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for years. It is with growing concern that we follow the deteriorating health of our honorary member.

The conditions of detention in England are deeply shameful and go against the rule of law. Assange is not only denied access to the media, but also to the trial files.

Against this background, allow me to remind you that, as an opposition politician, you spoke out clearly in favor of the release of Julian Assange on September 14, 2021: “Due to serious violations of fundamental freedoms of the European Convention on Human Rights in dealing with Julian Assange – above all against the prohibition of torture (Art. 3), against the right to liberty and security (Art. 5), against the right to a fair trial (Art. 6) and against the right not to be punished without the law (Art. 7) – we join the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of January 27, 2020 and the appeal of the UN Special Envoy Nils Melzer and call for the immediate release of Julian Assange.”

There is nothing to add to these unequivocal words. Now that you are in charge of government, action should follow. Especially given today’s decision by the UK High Court that Assange can appeal the extradition order to the UK Supreme Court. The German PEN Center therefore asks you, as Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, to work emphatically for the immediate release of Julian Assange and to offer him political asylum in Germany.

23 January 2022

Julian Assange awarded the French anticorruption group Anticor’s ethics prize

20 January 2022

Peace and Justice Organizations call for Freedom for Julian Assange

A host of peace and justice organizations has called for the realease of Julian Assange in their joint letter.

“The persecution of Julian Assange by the U.S. government is a threat against free speech and free press. It is also a threat to the Peace Movement and all movements for social change since without information and the ability to speak and write freely about U.S. wars and war crimes we are greatly limited, and the people of the world are kept in the dark.

Therefore, Peace and Justice organizations and activists demand: Free Julian Assange!”

18 January 2022

‘The Julian Assange Case’ panel

While a decision regarding right to appea UK High Court’s ruling that allows extradition to the US is expected SAOS ICOP organized an online panel to discuss the current status of the case of Julian Assange.

Speakers:

  • John Rees, Journalist, political activist, academic
  • Stella Moris, Wikileaks legal team & fiancée of Julian Assange
  • John McDonnell, Labour MP, campaigner for Julian
  • Tim Dawson, Chair of the International Federation of Journalists’ Expert group on Surveillance and Former NUJ President
  • Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver, Legal observer, trade unionist and academic

13 January 2022

The Committee to Protect Journalism (CPJ) report on Biden and the press

The Committee to Protect Journalism (CPJ) has issued a report on the Biden administration’s relationship with the press thus far, including the Justice Department’s handling of the Assange case.

CPJ closes the report with recommendations for the Biden administration, including:

“Stop the misuse of the Espionage Act to hinder press freedom: Drop the espionage charges against Julian Assange and cease efforts to extradite him to the U.S. Put into place legislation that would prevent the use of the Espionage Act as a means to halt news gathering activity.”

The report emphasizes the concern all media freedom organizations have regarding the indictment:

“Press freedom advocates also remain concerned about what the Biden Justice Department will do with the long-standing indictment of Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act, which was used by both the Obama and Trump administrations for many of their prosecutions of government employees and contractors for leaking classified information to the press. The Trump-era indictment charged Assange with conspiring with U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to acquire and publish classified military and diplomatic information on WikiLeaks. Many organizations fear that successful prosecution of him could hamper investigative reporting around the world by labeling as espionage the ways that reporters often work in seeking information from government sources.”

Is US extradition inevitable for Julian Assange? | Al Jazeera’s The Stream

In this episode of The Stream, Femi Oke discusses with Stella Moris and Rebecca Vinsent the outlook for Assange’s case and its broader implications for press freedom worldwide.

Why Biden Administration’s prosecution of Julian Assange is a serious mistake | James Miller and Peter S. Fosl

“Journalists not only frequently encourage sources to divulge information; they also help sources hide their identities. Indeed, journalists are obligated to do so when sources face ‘danger, retribution or other harm,’ according to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

Many have claimed that Assange placed U.S. personnel and agents in danger, but the government acquitted Manning of aiding the enemy. And while a few diplomatic careers were damaged, no evidence shows that the leak resulted in deaths or injuries.

On the other hand, the documents Manning gave Assange detail apparent war crimes, such as the torture of prisoners and unlawful attacks on Iraqi civilians. That information clearly serves U.S. citizens as a brake on state power.

It’s also important to remember that foreigners are not U.S. vassals. While it may be unpleasant for us to acknowledge, as a foreigner politically opposed to the U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, Assange is under absolutely no obligation to respect the U.S. military’s secrecy classifications.”

10 January 2022

The board of the Slovenian PEN centre has unanimously elected Julian Assange an honorary member of the organisation

The centre said that this step has been taken in the hope that its backing, alongside international support, will help Assange on his judicial journey. The centre considers him to be “the most courageous journalist and publicist of the last two decades, for which he is paying an extremely high personal and professional price”.

“To imprison someone simply for publishing the truth is contrary to all democratic arrangements, based on freedom of speech and journalism as the fourth branch of government,” the Slovenian centre wrote in a public letter.

“When we condemn the prosecution of Julian Assange, we condemn the prosecution of every journalist across the world, including Slovenia, when they come under pressure from people in power who want to hide the truth,” the centre stressed.

7 January 2022

What I Got Wrong About Julian Assange | Dean Yates

Dean Yates, former Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad, writes about Wikileaks’ redaction efforts that he previously was not aware of. 

“The problem was I also wrote that Assange dumped the Iraq and Afghan war logs on the internet without redacting names. I was wrong and lazy in repeating that slur which appeared whenever you Googled Assange’s name. That must make it true, right? Two of Assange’s well-known Australian supporters tried to correct me. To my shame, I brushed them off.

Their overtures nagging at the back of my mind, I recently did what I should have done at the time: read the submissions Assange’s legal team made at his extradition hearings and transcripts of witness testimony. I soon realized how mistaken I was.”

5 January 2022

After 1,000 Days in Belmarsh Prison, Campaigners Demand Freedom for Julian Assange

5th Jan marks 1000 days publisher Julian Assange has spent in the UK highest security prison for his journalistic work But its well over a decade in detention of one form or another – simply for choosing to expose the truth

Press freedom campaigners marked Julian Assange’s 1,000th day of imprisonment in London’s Belmarsh Prison with renewed demands for the WikiLeaks publisher’s freedom ahead of his looming potential extradition to the United State

Assange’s partner Stella Morris said in a statement: “It will be 1,000 days this Wednesday that Julian Assange has spent in the harshest prison in the U.K. His young children, ages two and four, have no memory of their father outside the highest security prison of the U.K.”

German Journalists Union marked 1000 days of Julian Assange’s imprisonment by issuing a statement: “One thing is clear: Wikileaks has shown the world American war crimes. Julian Assange is owned thanks and recognition for this, and not a life sentence”

Die Linke has called on German government to urge Britain to stop the extradition of Julian Assange and offer journalists persecuted by the US political asylum in Germany on the occasion of his arrest 1000 days ago

3 January 2022

Mexico president says he sought Assange pardon from Trump, renews asylum offer

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he had sought a pardon for Julian Assange from former U.S. President Donald Trump before he left office last year and repeated his offer of asylum for the Wikileaks founder on Monday.

Lopez Obrador reiterated the asylum offer he had made for Assange a year ago, and said that before Trump was replaced as U.S. president by Joe Biden last January, he had written him a letter recommending that Assange be pardoned.

Mexico did not receive a reply to the letter, Lopez Obrador told a regular government news conference.

“It would be a sign of solidarity, of fraternity to allow him asylum in the country that Assange decides to live in, including Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said.

Extraditing Julian Assange Threatens Journalists Worldwide | Hasan Ali

In countries where the press faces restriction and persecution, US interference sets a dangerous precedent, writes Hasan Ali.

“The victory of the Biden-Harris ticket was meant to realign the United States toward a foreign policy based on values rather than the pragmatism of their predecessors. Under the leadership of President Trump, whose transactional approach towards foreign engagement led him to absolve the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for his involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, freedom of the press was a nuisance at home and not much more than a talking point abroad.

Sadly, what we have witnessed in the first 11 months of Biden’s premiership is a continuation of the same policy… Julian Assange, is being tormented for doing what any courageous reporter with access to the same information would have done in a heartbeat. 

If the United States were to free Assange, it would send a powerful message to the political establishment of repressive regimes around the world that the US has ceased to believe that journalism is a crime.

Otherwise, things will carry on as they are. My colleagues will continue to be abducted in broad daylight; many will return to tell the tale to police officers who won’t register their complaints out of fear; some, like Mudassar Naaru, will disappear altogether. Others, like Saleem Shahzad, will be found dead in a ditch.”

1 January 2022

The insufferable hypocrisy of Western governments hell-bent on destroying Julian Assange | Yonden Lhatoo

In his New Year’s message, Yonden Lhatoo demands Western governments free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before preaching press freedom to everyone else.