Will coronavirus kill imprisoned Assange for Trump?

Protesters outside Westminster Magistrates Court, London, England demanding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be released from Belmarsh prison – 150 prison staff are feared to have the coronavirus

From daily News Line in Britain, 14 April 2020:

Coronavirus ripping through Belmarsh

BELMARSH High Security prison is suffering from an outbreak of coronavirus to such an extent that it is ‘barely functioning’, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has revealed to a friend.

Assange has been languishing in the UK maximum security prison since April 2019.

British freelance video journalist Vaughan Smith revealed this shocking state of affairs, after talking with him by phone.

As many as 150 prison staff members have been forced into self-isolation as they might have contracted the coronavirus, Smith said. The prison admitted in mid-March that the disease had already reached its premises and even reported one coronavirus-linked inmate death.

Assange told Smith that the real death toll might well be higher, since ‘the virus is ripping through the prison.’

The WikiLeaks founder has to spend almost 24 hours alone in his cell as the prison apparently strives to limit any contact to stem the spread of the disease.

Yet Assange and other inmates spend the half an hour of exercise they are still allowed in a yard crowded with others, according to his friend.

Smith has reported on the WikiLeaks founder’s condition in Belmarsh before.

The journalist, who has known Assange for years, raised the alarm about his health back in 2019 following another phone call, which made Smith think he had been drugged in jail.

The Prison Governors’ Association recently said that 15,000 non-violent inmates should be released from British jails to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The Justice Department then suggested releasing just 4,000 of them. But only some 100 people have been set free, Smith notes, adding that Assange apparently did not make the list.

Assange’s treatment by the British authorities is nothing short of a ‘national disgrace’, the journalist said.

The UK has refused to set him free despite repeated pleas from various activists, doctors, Australian MPs and even the UN torture rapporteur.

The British government has also carried on with Assange’s extradition hearings, at a time when he is unable to consult with his lawyers to properly prepare his defence, Smith added.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange’s lawyer and mother of his two children, Stella Morris, warned that his ‘life is on the brink’ and she does not believe he would ‘survive infection with coronavirus’.

This 11 April 2020 WikiLeaks video says about itself:

Julian Assange’s fiancée (and children) talks to camera for the first time on the one year anniversary of his imprisonment.

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

The News Line article continues:

In an interview over the weekend, Morris said that she had met Assange in 2011 when she joined his legal team.

She visited him in the embassy almost every day and ‘got to know Julian very well’. The couple fell in love in 2015 and got engaged two years later.

She said that Assange had watched both boys being born via video link and they had visited their father at the embassy.

Three-year-old Gabriel and one-year-old Max speak to their father via video calls, she says.

‘Forming a family was a deliberate decision to break down those walls around him and imagine a life beyond that of prison’, she said.

‘Stop torture, imprisonment of Julian Assange’

A pedestrian passes pro-Assange graffitti outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

By Laura Tiernan:

The Lancet publishes letter from doctors: “End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange

18 February 2020

This week’s edition of the Lancet—the world’s pre-eminent peer-reviewed medical journal—carries a letter from 117 medical doctors in 18 countries, renewing their call for urgent action to save the life of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Their letter appears less than one week before the start of the US extradition hearing in London that may decide Assange’s fate.

The doctors’ two-page letter appears in the correspondence section of the Lancet under the heading “End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange.” It was written by Dr Stephen Frost (UK), Dr Lissa Johnson, clinical psychologist (Australia), Dr Jill Stein (former leader of the US Green Party) and William Frost (UK).

“The case of Assange… is multifaceted,” the doctors write. “It relates to law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, journalism, publishing, and politics. It also, however, clearly relates to medicine and public health. The case highlights several concerning aspects that warrant the medical profession’s close attention and concerted action.”

Nearly three months ago, on November 22, more than 65 doctors issued an open letter to the UK government challenging the illegal and arbitrary detention of Assange. A follow-up letter to the Australian government was issued on December 16. Neither government has responded.

Issuing their appeal to medical colleagues throughout the world—the Lancet has 1.8 million subscribers—the letter’s authors describe multiple human rights violations by the US, UK, Swedish, Ecuadorian and Australian governments against Assange. This includes nearly a decade of “illegal and arbitrary detention” and relentless state persecution amounting to “prolonged psychological torture.”

Readers of the Lancet might be shocked to learn that doctors treating Assange in London have faced intimidation and state surveillance—methods commonly employed by military dictatorships. “There was… a climate of fear surrounding the provision of health care in the Embassy,” the letter recounts, with treating doctors forced to report their identity to police.

“Disturbingly,” they write, “it seems that this environment of insecurity and intimidation, further compromising the medical care available to Assange, was by design. Assange was the subject of a 24/7 covert surveillance operation inside the embassy, as the emergence of secret video and audio recordings has shown.

“He was surveilled in private and with visitors, including family, friends, journalists, lawyers, and doctors. Not only were his rights to privacy, personal life, legal privilege, and freedom of speech violated, but so, too, was his right to doctor–patient confidentiality.”

The signatories state emphatically, “We condemn the torture of Assange. We condemn the denial of his fundamental right to appropriate health care. We condemn the climate of fear surrounding the provision of health care to him. We condemn the violations of his right to doctor–patient confidentiality. Politics cannot be allowed to interfere with the right to health and the practice of medicine.”

Doctors for Assange (as the doctors are collectively known) have launched a new website, and their letter to the Lancet links to this, “We invite fellow doctors to join us as signatories to our letters to add further voice to our calls. Even as the world’s designated authorities on arbitrary detention, torture, and human rights added their calls to doctors’ warnings, governments have sidelined medical authority, medical ethics, and the human right to health.

“This politicisation of foundational medical principles is of grave concern to us, as it carries implications beyond the case of Assange. Abuse by politically motivated medical neglect sets a dangerous precedent, whereby the medical profession can be manipulated as a political tool, ultimately undermining our profession’s impartiality, commitment to health for all, and obligation to do no harm.”

The doctors issue a stark warning, “Should Assange die in a UK prison, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has warned, he will have effectively been tortured to death. Much of that torture will have taken place in a prison medical ward, on doctors’ watch. The medical profession cannot afford to stand silently by, on the wrong side of torture and the wrong side of history, while such a travesty unfolds.”

Yesterday, Doctors for Assange sent copies of their letter to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne. “Mr Assange’s human rights to health care and freedom from torture must be upheld. At this late hour, we call on you to act decisively,” the doctors wrote.

Their letter to the Lancet concludes, “Our appeals are simple: we are calling upon governments to end the torture of Assange and ensure his access to the best available health care before it is too late. Our request to others is this: please join us\.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

The Prosecution of Julian Assange and Its Impact on the Freedom of the Press | National Press Club

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 counts of Espionage and 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime for WikiLeaks’ 2010 publications of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, and State Department cables leaked to WikiLeaks by US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. On Jan. 30th 2020, these legal and academic experts discussed the impact of Assange’s prosecution on the freedom of the press, at the National Press Club’s First Amendment Lounge in Washington DC.

-Jameel Jaffer, Director, Knight First Amendment Institute
-Amy Jeffress, Attorney, former US Department of Justice
-Ben Wizner, Director, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project

-Mary-Rose Papandrea, Constitutional Law Professor, UNC

The Courage Foundation supports whistleblowers and the public’s right to know. Courage hosts Julian Assange’s defense site at defend.wikileaks.org.

By Fred Mazelis in the USA:

Courage Foundation holds public meeting in New York City in defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

18 February 2020

An audience of about 150 heard a panel of speakers in New York City on February 15 at a meeting in defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He is now being held under harsh conditions in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh prison pending the outcome of a request for extradition to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years in prison on trumped-up charges of violating the 1917 Espionage Act. Assange’s real crime is his courageous exposure of secrecy, corruption and imperialist war crimes.

The extradition hearing in London is scheduled to begin on Monday, February 24. A rally has been called at the British Consulate in New York City, at Second Avenue and 47th St., for 11 a.m. on that day.

The February 15 meeting, held at the City University of New York Law School in Queens, New York, was organized by the Courage Foundation. Other sponsors included the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

The panel of speakers included James Goodale, the former general counsel of the New York Times during the Pentagon Papers case of 1971; Renata Avila, a member of the defense team for Julian Assange and a close friend of the journalist and publisher; Glen Ford, the executive editor of the Black Agenda Report; and Max Blumenthal, the editor of The Grayzone website.

Several others appeared on video, including Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press nearly 50 years ago; linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky; and author Alice Walker.

The meeting opened with brief video greetings from Jennifer Robinson, a leading member of the Assange defense team, who stressed the international significance of the attempt to railroad the WikiLeaks publisher into an American prison. Robinson pointed to the recent attempt by the fascistic government headed by Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to bring charges against journalist Glenn Greenwald that are virtually identical to those facing Assange.

The first speaker, James Goodale, related the experience of the Pentagon Papers case, which was at first a civil action attempting to enjoin the Times and the Washington Post from publishing the classified government study of the quagmire facing US imperialism in Vietnam. Goodale explained that Richard Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, who was later jailed in the Watergate scandal, directed that the Times and reporter Neil Sheehan be criminally prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act for the publication of the Pentagon Papers. However, that the effort collapsed in the face of the deepening scandal and crisis that would lead eventually to Nixon’s resignation.

Speaking of the indictment facing Assange, Goodale warned that if it is successful, it means the end of investigative journalism. “This is a case I have dreaded for 50 years. It is a case that we must all fight.”

A high point of the meeting was the appearance on video of Daniel Ellsberg. He warned that if the prosecution of Assange succeeds, “the public will know essentially what the government chooses to tell them, however untrue and however selective and misleading. … It’s hard to call that a democratic republic.”

Ellsberg explained that both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump had used the Espionage Act to silence dissent. Along with the other speakers, he also stressed the importance of coming to the defense of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who had already served seven years in prison when she was thrown back in jail last March, where she has been held in contempt for nearly a year after she refused to participate in the attempt to frame up Assange.

Noam Chomsky declared that the vendetta against Assange reminded him of Italy under the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who silenced the voice of Italian Marxist and Communist Party leader Antonio Gramsci, who was imprisoned in 1926 and remained there under brutal conditions until his death 11 years later, at the age of 46.

The second member of the panel to speak was Renata Avila, who brought greetings from Assange. “He’s one of us, he should be here,” she declared. Assange “has a very long list of enemies. … His most important ally is the people.” Avila explained that most of the newspapers that had partnered with WikiLeaks in the publication and exposure of corruption and war crimes had now abandoned him. Assange was a political prisoner, she said, who had dedicated his life to the public interest, to resisting secrecy and censorship, rather than using his enormous talents to become wealthy. She warned that the extradition case could drag on until the summer of 2021, and that a powerful movement in defense of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning must be developed and strengthened during this period.

Glen Ford declared that Assange and Manning are being punished because the images made available by WikiLeaks of a massacre in Iraq “demolished the image of the US military as a force for good in the world. … They have contributed materially to the weakening of the US war machine.” US imperialism claims “the power, the right to police the world, imprisoning and killing anyone who opposes its global supremacy,” he added

Ford also related the attack on Assange to “Russiagate”, the campaign to use alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election to portray Assange as an agent of a foreign power in order to frame him under the Espionage Act, while launching a campaign of censorship and other attacks on democratic rights. While Washington lies about its concern for human rights at home and abroad, “the United States meddles in the internal affairs of every nation on the earth,” currently targeting elected governments in Syria, Venezuela and elsewhere. “Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were put at the top of the empire’s hit list. … Assange is of course not a US citizen, he is Australian, but none of that matters” in the campaign to punish him, Ford declared.

The final speaker was Max Blumenthal. He spoke about the years of public demonization of Assange, speaking ironically of his portrayal as “a far-right libertarian, a far-left anarchist, a Russian asset wrecking the otherwise perfectly democratic Democratic Party. …” Blumenthal referred to the fact that the vicious persecution of Assange is now being ignored by the mainstream press and public officials, who are complicit in the attempt to silence and destroy him. The attack on Julian Assange threatens “the survival of critical, courageous, adversarial journalism.”

This author spoke from the floor in the brief question period after the speakers, stressing that the WSWS, the most widely read online socialist publication, has, along with the Socialist Equality Parties around the world, been in the forefront of the campaign in defense of Assange and Manning.

In the past three months alone, more than 100 separate reports, statements and interviews on this campaign have been published by the WSWS. Earlier this month, the SEP held a meeting in defense of Assange in Montreal; and over the next two weeks, a series of rallies are being held by the Australian SEP and the New Zealand Socialist Equality Group, in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia, as well as Wellington, New Zealand. The British SEP is holding a meeting in London next Sunday, the day before the start of the extradition hearing there.

The campaign in defense of Assange and Chelsea Manning must be armed with a political strategy. Max Blumenthal, concluding his remarks on Saturday night, advanced the call for support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the current Democratic Party presidential primary campaign, along with a pressure campaign to convince him to drop the charges against Assange once elected.

As the WSWS has insisted from the outset, there is only one social force that can successfully lead the fight to free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The defense of these political prisoners is part of the struggle of the international working class against the preparations for world war and dictatorship.

Trump ordered Assange’s seizure by British police and wanted him dead: here.

Free Julian Assange, Mexican president, Australian say

This 4 January 2020 video, in Spanish, is about the Mexican president demanding freedom for Julian Assange.

Another, 3 January 2020, video used to say about itself:

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday (January 3) called for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be released from prison in London, urging an end to what he described as his “torture” in detention.

Assange is also battling U.S. attempts to extradite him over Wikileaks’ publication of vast caches of leaked military documents and diplomatic cables. He faces a lengthy prison term if extradited to the United States.

A U.N. human rights investigator last year said Assange has suffered psychological torture from a defamation campaign and should not be extradited to the United States where he would face a “politicized show trial”.

Lopez Obrador, a leftist who has close ties with Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, expressed his solidarity with Assange and said he hoped the former hacker and activist is “forgiven and released” from prison.

“Hopefully consideration will be given to this, and he’s released and won’t continue to be tortured.”

Assange’s presence in London, holed up in Ecuador’s embassy and then in jail, has been a diplomatic irritation for Britain, affecting domestic politics and relations with several countries.

Corbyn, who was a guest of honor at Lopez Obrador’s inauguration in December 2018, said Assange should not be extradited to the United States “for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

By Kevin Reed:

Mexican president calls for Julian Assange’s freedom

4 January 2020

Speaking at a press conference in Mexico City on Friday morning, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be “pardoned and freed” from prison in Britain. Lopez Obrador called for an end to the “torture” of Assange.

In response to a question from a reporter about Assange during a scheduled government media briefing conference, the Mexican president said the secret US cables published by WikiLeaks about unlawful US interventions in Mexico were “accurate.”

“There are cables that came to light from when we were in opposition and they spoke about our struggle and I can corroborate that they are true, that is to say what is in them was accurate. They revealed illegal relationships, illegitimate acts, violations of sovereignty, contrary to democracy, against freedoms. This is what is in there.”

Speaking of Assange, Obrador stated: “I don’t know whether he has recognized that his actions were confrontational to norms or to the political system, but what the cables demonstrated is the workings of the global system and its authoritarian nature. These are like state secrets that have become known thanks to this investigation, thanks to these cables, and I hope that this is taken into consideration and he is freed and he is no longer tortured.”

Assange is currently being held in a UK prison outside London awaiting a hearing, scheduled for February 24, on an extradition request from the US that the WikiLeaks founder be handed over to face violations of the Espionage Act. Assange has been charged with 18 offenses that carry a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.

Assange is guilty of nothing other than acting as a courageous journalist. He published extensive information that had been concealed from the public about the criminal practices of the US military and American corporations in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

Lopez Obrador’s reference to WikiLeaks’ publication of “the cables”, i.e. the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs and the “Cablegate” files, as exposing the “workings of the global system” and “its authoritarian nature” are significant. There have been reports of public support in Mexico for the freedom of Assange.

In 2012, for example, a report was published in the Economic Times saying that a group of Mexican citizens had organized a vigil in defense of Assange in front of the US embassy. Dozens of people were involved in the campaign, which also included multiple embassies in Mexico.

The WikiLeaks founder was arrested on April 11 by British police following his forced eviction from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been in asylum for seven years. The regime of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno illegally terminated Assange’s asylum status and invited the British police into the embassy to assault and carry him off to Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh on the basis of a purported bail violation.

Acting as a vassal of the Trump administration, the Moreno government participated—along with that of UK Prime Minister Theresa May and then Boris Johnson—in the violation of Assange’s rights, one after another. Among these was the installation of illegal 24/7 video surveillance throughout the Ecuadorian embassy. Everything that Assange did and everyone he met with—including his lawyers and doctors—was monitored and observed by the CIA via live video link.

Lopez Obrador’s reference to torture is also important. Over the past year, Assange’s family, friends and supporters have grown increasingly alarmed that the courageous journalist is being slowly tortured to death by the combined assault on his rights by the British and American governments.

On November 4, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer issued a warning that Assange was being mentally and physically tortured in Belmarsh prison and was in imminent danger of dying behind bars. Others, such as British rock musician Roger Waters, have stated that the UK and US governments are trying to kill Assange while he is in prison.

The international campaign to demand the freedom of Julian Assange must be stepped up now. If Assange is extradited to the US in February, he will not get a fair trial or face an impartial judge or jury. He will be framed and railroaded straight into a US federal prison.

The fact that the president of Mexico is calling for Assange to be released indicates that the popular demand for his freedom is continuing to reach a wider audience. The struggle for freedom of the press, in defense of journalists from state repression and all fundamental democratic rights, is the task of the international working class.

This 19 November 2019 video says about itself:

#Justice4Assange – EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY GROUP GUE/NGL hosts meeting with Nils Melzer, Bob Carr

Clare Daly talks about the Assange Landmark Case | Journalism is not a crime – the Assange extradition case (c) European Parliamentary Group GUE/NGL – copy uploaded to youtube

Sign a Petition to the Australian Government (200k+ Supporters)

GUE/NGL is the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left which brings together left-wing MEPs in the European Parliament.

1- Mick Wallace (MEP)
2- Luke Ming Flanagan (MEP)

1- Clare Daly
2- David Greene
3- Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
4- Bob Carr, Former Foreign Minister of Australia (via video link)
5- John Shipton (Julian Assange’s Father)

Since April this year, Julian Assange has been in Belmarsh high-security prison in London. He has been charged by US prosecutors with 17 counts under the US Espionage Act of 1917. The charges relate solely to the 2010 publication of US government documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and from the US Department of State. Topics include possible war crimes, government collusion with the private sector and diplomatic interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

Assange is now fighting extradition to the United States, where he will face up to 175 years in prison.

By Mike Head in Australia:

In a revealing intervention, former Foreign Minister Bob Carr has urged the Australian government to ask the Trump administration to drop its extradition proceedings against imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, for fear of further eroding public support for the US military and intelligence alliance.

Carr’s call, published today as an opinion column in Nine (previously Fairfax) Media newspapers, is expressed in the most deferential language. Canberra is a “good ally” to Washington, he emphasises, to the point of dispatching a warship to the Persian Gulf, risking a conflict with Iran, and hosting “two communications bases that probably make Australian territory a nuclear target

“All said, we are entitled to one modest request: that in the spirit with which Barack Obama pardoned Chelsea Manning, and given President Trump’s own objection to ‘endless wars’ in desert sands, it would be better if the extradition of Assange were quietly dropped.”

In Defence of Julian Assange, edited by Tariq Ali and Margaret Kunstler: here.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution last Tuesday which demands the “prompt release” of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and warns that his threatened extradition from Britain to the US, for lawful publishing activities, “sets a dangerous precedent” for all journalists. PACE is the parliamentary wing of the Council of Europe, an international assembly with 47 nation-members that was established in 1949. The organisation, which oversees the work of the European Court of Human Rights, states that its role is to serve as “Europe’s guardian of human rights and democracy”: here.

Further detailed evidence has been produced in a Spanish court that the CIA systematically and illegally recorded conversations between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his lawyers, and all other visitors, while he was trapped inside Ecuador’s London embassy before he was dragged out and arrested last April to face extradition to the US: here.

Assange would be held in “darkest corner of the prison system” if extradited to the US: here.

Free war crimes whistleblower Assange, London meeting

The platform at the London Free Assange meeting

From the World Socialist Web Site in London, England:

Hundreds attend London meeting to demand freedom for Julian Assange

By our reporters

30 November 2019

Hundreds packed the St Pancras New Church in Euston Thursday night for a meeting demanding freedom for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

The largest meeting held in London to date reflects growing opposition to plans by the US government to extradite and imprison Assange for exposing war crimes, illegal mass surveillance and state corruption.

Headlined “Free the Truth”, speakers included United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, former UK ambassador Craig Murray and veteran investigative journalist John Pilger.

An accompanying art exhibition featured paintings, drawings and sculpture, while the meeting opened with a piano recital of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”—a favourite of Assange. The meeting was organised by academics Deepa Driver and Iain Munro, with the support of the Julian Assange Defence Committee.

This 28 November 2019 video from the London meeting is called “Turkeys voting for Christmas” – Lowkey has stark warning for “stenographers” in the press.

Rap artist Lowkey began by quoting the words of jailed Chartist leader Ernest Jones: “Because I tried to extend your liberties, mine were curtailed. Because I tried to rear the temple of freedom for you all, I was thrown into the cell of a felon’s jail… Because I tried to give voice to truth, I was condemned to silence.” These words, Lowkey explained, were taken from an article by Karl Marx written in 1852 for the New York Herald Tribune. Marx was then a political refugee in London.

“Julian Assange is not being punished for anything he has done wrong. He is being punished for everything he has done right,” Lowkey said to applause. The brutal treatment of Assange was a “slow-motion crucifixion… what they are trying to crucify is the truth.”

Condemning the mainstream media’s vilification of Assange, Lowkey said its journalists were just “stenographers.”

“Those who have joined in this demonization of Julian Assange are like turkeys voting for Christmas. How much profit did you generate off of Julian’s three million cables that WikiLeaks revealed?… Today Julian Assange, tomorrow you.”

This video is called Fidel Narvaez: “Julian’s case sets a precedent for the institution of political asylum”.

Fidel Narvaez, former Ecuadorian counsel at the Ecuadorian Embassy, said that Assange was “along with Chelsea Manning, the most important political prisoner in the world today.”

The allegations against Assange in Sweden had never been credible and the investigation had been “opened and shut more times than a fridge door.” Assange was being “denied the chance to adequately prepare his defence against the fiercest persecution of a journalist so far this century, which is a powerful reason to demand due process for Julian Assange.”

Narvaez said, “Julian’s case is also a precedent for the institution of political asylum, because he, along with Edward Snowden, was the most important political asylee in the world.” His treatment was an attack on a small country, Ecuador, by some of the most powerful nations in the world.

Ecuador had every sovereign right to determine whether Julian Assange was being politically persecuted in 2012. In order to protect him from the odious persecution of a Grand Jury…that can open a secret investigation against you and indict you on secret charges that will only be revealed once you are arrested. That is what happened to Julian Assange this April.”

“This Grand Jury wants to sentence a journalist to 175 years in prison for publishing truthful information about war crimes,” he said. For years the world’s media had attacked the warnings made by Assange about the existence of a Grand Jury “as paranoia…an excuse to hide from Swedish justice.”

The United Nations had ruled that Assange was being subject to arbitrary detention and the UK should free him and provide compensation. Lenin Moreno’s government had “committed the crime of delivering a political refugee to those who persecuted him.” This had broken the “sacred principle of asylum.”

This video is called “This is mob rule!” Top Women’s Group spokesperson Lisa Longstaff makes defense of Julian Assange.

Lisa Longstaff from Women Against Rape addressed the meeting. “The pursuit of Julian Assange is not about rape. It’s the US government weaponising and distorting rape in order to punish him for the WikiLeaks exposés of war crimes, rape and torture.”

“In 2010 and 2012, we pointed to the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange was being pursued. It’s unlike any other rape investigation we’ve seen anywhere… In his case the judicial process was corrupted from the beginning.”

“Evidence emerged that the UK ordered Sweden not to drop the case sooner,” Longstaff explained, “so it’s clearly politically motivated.”

Longstaff said, “Rape and sexual allegations have been used to pursue a political agenda from the start, intent on actually hiding rape, hiding torture and hiding murder committed by the state. They are the rapists, they are the racists, they are the murderers.”

This video is called “I am extremely concerned for his life” – Nils Melzer describes Assange’s “Psychological Torture”.

Professor Nils Melzer was given a prolonged standing ovation. He explained that his mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture was to report to states when their actions contravened international law. He had assumed that signatories to international law would “act in good faith.”

“In my investigation I found that this isn’t about the law…because if it was about the law, then Julian Assange would not be sitting in extradition detention, accused of espionage for having exposed serious misconduct on the part of states, including war crimes.”

Assange, he explained, would not have been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for a bail violation for seeking and receiving political asylum, or had his asylum terminated and his citizenship withdrawn by Ecuador without explanation, or been portrayed as a suspected rapist by Sweden for more than nine years with no charges ever brought.

He would have been granted the right to prepare his defence and would not be detained in a high security prison, “under oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance” and facing extradition for a political offence in contravention of UK law, “to a country where he will be exposed to a politicised trial, with secret evidence, behind closed doors, facing draconian punishments that is unlawful under US law and the First Amendment and sentencing to a supermax prison for the rest of his life.”

Assange’s persecution, he stressed, “is about setting an example, about scaring other journalists away, of instilling fear, preventing others from following the example of Julian Assange and of WikiLeaks, and to show to the world what happens when you expose the misconduct of the power of a state.”

During his May 9 visit with Assange at Belmarsh Prison, he had “found typical evidence of someone who has been exposed to a prolonged period of psychological torture,” Melzer explained. “Psychological torture is not ‘torture lite.’ Psychological torture aims to wreck and destroy the person’s personality and identity…to make them break.”

“We were able during our medical examination to confirm that this ill-treatment had already had neurological consequences. If that is not stopped, it can end up having irreversible consequences on the cardiovascular system and the neurological system. This is extremely serious… Today I am extremely concerned for his life.”

Melzer had written to the UK, Sweden, the US and Ecuador to present his conclusions and ask them to take urgent measures to alleviate the pressure on Julian Assange and protect his human rights. All refused to do so: “If they no longer engage with the institutions that they have created to report their compliance with human rights, then I only see a very dark future for us and our human rights and for the rights of our children.”

This video is called Lissa Johnson: “You can’t adequately medically treat a torture victim while continuing to torture them”.

Clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson spoke on behalf of more than 60 medical doctors who have issued an open letter calling for Assange’s urgent transfer from Belmarsh Prison to a tertiary care hospital: “If the UK government fails to heed their advice there will be very serious consequences, including that Julian Assange may die in prison.”

Johnson cited the findings of medical experts led by Nils Melzer who examined Assange inside Belmarsh on May 9: “Julian does show signs typical for someone exposed for a prolonged time to psychological torture… the doctors know that is very serious physically for Julian’s life and survival.”

Pointing to the public’s response to worldwide media coverage of the doctors’ open letter, she observed, “There’s a lot more public support for Julian than the media’s censorship and antagonism toward him suggests.”

“While institutions are failing us, while authorities are failing us, while the courts are failing us, here’s a group of people who took a matter of weeks to get this letter together. I think that’s where the pressure and the change is going to come.”

This video is called “We live in what has become a rogue state!” – Craig Murray.

Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, began his remarks by pointing to the meeting’s magnificent venue. At the rear of the church were monuments erected to honour those families—the Burnleys of Barbados, the Beale family of Canton, the Page family of Bombay—who gave funds to build the church and who were doubtless involved in the slavery and opium trade.

This building is like the British Establishment itself—on the surface it is beautiful, solid and harmonious, but inside it is rotten and corrupt to the core.”

“We are seeing illegality in the treatment of Julian Assange. The abuses of process by the British justice system throughout the last decade have been absolutely astonishing,” Murray recounted. “There is no legality, there is no justice.”

“It is not only that he is the victim of torture. It’s not only that his life is at stake. It is not only that we need to save him from this dreadful injustice. We also want to save him because the world needs Julian Assange as a symbol of resistance!”

This video is called Historian Mark Curtis: Corbyn’s media treatment “The biggest propaganda campaign since the war”.

Historian, author and journalist Mark Curtis told the audience, “Julian has support all over the world.” He suggested actions that people could take to fight for Assange’s freedom, beginning with information available on the defend.wikileaks.org website. “Obviously there’s no point in relying on the establishment media, not unless you want to brainwash yourself.”

Curtis attacked the “propaganda tropes” employed by the media against Assange—that he is a “rapist”, a “Russian asset”, a “supporter of Trump”—singling out the Guardian ’s November 2018 fabrication that Trump’s lawyer Paul Manafort had met Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.

He called for mass pressure on human rights organisations to actively defend Assange … He called on MPs to follow the lead of former Labour MP Chris Williamson who has campaigned publicly in Assange’s defence. …

“These are the people who are meant to represent us and hold the executive to account. I know I’m confusing the UK with a democracy… In our system, which we clearly see in this case, the law has been stitched-up, the media is a platform for the elite and the political class is an appendage of the executive. That’s why we, as ordinary people, need to take action on these issues.”

He urged the audience to become involved in grassroots organisations such as the Julian Assange Defence Committee and to take part in events being organised in the weeks ahead, “culminating in a global day of protest in February when the extradition hearing will be held.”

The final speaker, Australian journalist John Pilger, told the audience he had visited Assange in Belmarsh Prison earlier that day. He described his visit with Julian and the draconian security regime inside the prison for visitors and inmates. A transcript of Pilger’s report is posted separately.

Spanish judge to question Assange over illegal CIA spying in Ecuadorian embassy. By Oscar Grenfell, 2 December 2019. British authorities had previously sought to block the interview, because the spying operation exposes the illegality of the entire US-led campaign against the WikiLeaks publisher.

UK Socialist Equality Party national committee member Linda Slattery addressed a November 26 meeting of the Greater Manchester Unite Community branch on the international campaign to prevent WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s rendition to the US. In September, the branch took a principled stand by passing a resolution demanding the immediate release from prison of Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning: here.

Corporate media silence on Roger Waters, Assange

This 21 November 2018 AFP news agency video says about itself:

In Ecuador, rock icon Waters defends Julian Assange

Rock icon Roger Waters, a founding member of the British band Pink Floyd, expresses support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whom he says “needs to be protected“.

By Oscar Grenfell in Australia:

Media blacks out Roger Waters’ performance in defence of Assange

5 September 2019

On Monday evening, Roger Waters and John Pilger staged a powerful event in defence of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the British Home Office in central London.

Waters delivered a moving rendition of Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Wish You Were Here”, dedicated to Assange, while Pilger issued a scathing denunciation of the British government’s attempts to facilitate his extradition to the US, where the WikiLeaks founder faces life imprisonment for exposing war crimes.

In his first public appearance, Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, outlined the brutal conditions in which his sibling is imprisoned in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison and made an appeal for his freedom.

The event was attended by around 1,000 workers, students and defenders of democratic rights. It was an objectively significant and newsworthy event, bringing together Waters, a famous musician, and Pilger, an acclaimed investigative journalist, in defence of the most prominent political prisoner in the world today.

However, if one judged solely on the basis of coverage in the major corporate publications in Britain, continental Europe, the US and Australia, the event simply did not take place. In an extraordinary act of political censorship, none of the major news outlets even carried a brief report on the rally.

A search of Google News indicates that the number of publications that have covered the event can be counted on two hands. They primarily include the World Socialist Web Site and other alternative and anti-war websites.

The non-corporate British daily The Morning Star of 4 September 2019 has this report: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performs outside Home Office. Also, this report in the non-corporate British daily News Line of 5 September 2019.

The censorship is most stark in Britain, where Assange is imprisoned. The Guardian and the [Rupert Murdoch owned] Times have not said a word about the protest, which was within walking distance of their plush London offices. In Europe, France’s Le Monde and Germany’s Der Spiegel, both trumpeted for their supposedly “liberal” editorial inclination, have not said a word.

In the US, the New York Times, the [Rupert Murdoch owned] Wall Street Journal and the [Amazon billionaire boss Jeff Bezos owned] Washington Post have published nothing. …

In Australia, the blackout of the Waters/Pilger protest has extended from “liberal” outlets, such as the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, to the Murdoch-owned Australian, Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun. The lack of any reportage in that country is all the more glaring, given that Assange is the most well-known Australian imprisoned abroad and that his plight is the direct outcome of the refusal by successive Labor and Coalition governments to meet their responsibility to defend a persecuted citizen.

There is no innocent explanation for the almost universal media blackout.

The Guardian, for instance, has published four articles this year extensively referencing Waters’ stance on a host of political issues, including his defence of children trapped in Syria; his opposition to the Israeli regime’s persecution of the Palestinians; and condemnations of the right-wing shift in the political life of South America.

In October last year, the publication featured an on-the-spot report of a Waters’ concert in Brazil, which occurred amid the singer’s condemnations of the country’s reactionary government. Apparently, the Guardian was able to dispatch a reporter to Rio de Janeiro to cover a performance by the former Pink Floyd singer, but not to central London, within a stones’ throw of its headquarters.

The blackout of the London protest goes hand-in-hand with the silence in the corporate press on recent statements by Pilger and Gabriel Shipton that the conditions in which Assange is being detained in Britain amount to torture, and warning that his health is deteriorating.

It is also paralleled by the silence on the plight of Chelsea Manning, who is being detained for refusing to give false evidence against Assange before a secret US grand jury.

The media has also said next to nothing about the fact that Manning has now been joined in the holding pen for Trump’s kangaroo court by Jeremy Hammond, an online activist who released documents exposing government and corporate spying to WikiLeaks. Hammond, like Manning, is being pressured to commit perjury so the US government has a pseudo-legal pretext to condemn Assange to prison for the rest of his life.

For years, the New York Times, the Guardian and virtually every other media outlet has slandered and maligned Assange. No ink has been spared to present the WikiLeaks founder as a dubious, and even criminal individual.

Until April, all of these publications presented WikiLeaks’ warnings that Assange faced extradition to the US as a “conspiracy theory”. They instead promoted the Swedish investigation into manufactured sexual allegations against Assange, obscuring the fact that he has never been charged in that country and a “preliminary investigation” has been dropped twice.

The establishment media has also repeatedly accused Assange of being a “Russian agent” because WikiLeaks published in 2016 newsworthy leaked emails which exposed corruption in the Democratic Party and the militarist, pro-big business policies of its presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In August, a US federal court threw out a civil case brought by the Democratic National Committee, rejecting “with prejudice” the false assertion that Assange conspired with Putin and Trump against Clinton and upholding WikiLeaks’ right to publish under the First Amendment. The response of the American press has been to simply not report the ruling.

In other words, the media silence on Monday’s rally is part a broader, conscious political agenda. For coming on nine years, the establishment media has actively sought to assist the US, British and Australian governments and state apparatus retaliate for the exposure of their crimes by doing everything possible to undermine support for Assange and WikiLeaks. …

Monday’s event, and the responses to it, confirm that the movement in defence of Assange, Manning and democratic rights must continue to develop independently of, and in opposition to, the entire political and media establishment.

World-famous fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood visited Julian Assange in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison yesterday. She gave impassioned comments afterwards condemning the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder and calling for his freedom: here.

Actress Pamela Anderson says imprisoned journalist Julian Assange is “depending on all of us to save him,” declaring, he “cannot die in prison!” In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site this week, Anderson explained that Assange, who she has known for years, “created WikiLeaks so that people could find a way to be informed,” and to “end these awful wars and bring us all closer together.” Anderson said that the US government’s attempt to prosecute Assange is a fundamental attack on democratic rights: here.

UK “justice” system tortures Julian Assange, treats fascist Tommy Robinson with kid gloves: here.

A defense and security firm based in Spain that was hired to protect the Ecuadorian embassy in London provided secret audio and video recordings of Julian Assange to US intelligence: here.

In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site last week, John Shipton, the father of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, spoke of his fear that his son “may die” as a result of the conditions under which he is being imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison in London: here.

Yesterday marked six months since WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange was expelled from Ecuador’s London embassy and arrested by the British police. The sight of a persecuted journalist being manhandled by five burly police in the capital of a supposedly democratic country shocked millions of people around the world: here.

For nearly five decades, the iconic rock musician Roger Waters has made it clear that he has something to say about big social and political questions. Going back to the 1970s, when he was the bassist and primary creative force of the rock band Pink Floyd, Waters has consistently voiced from the recording studio, concert stage and interview chair his opposition to imperialist war, state repression, inequality and bigotry: here.

Over the past week, several prominent public figures, including federal members of parliament, have called on the Australian government to fulfil its obligations to defend WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange, including by taking steps to prevent his extradition from Britain to the US. The statements come in the lead-up to British extradition hearings in February, that will decide whether Assange is dispatched to the US. He faces a maximum sentence of 175 years in an American prison for exposing US war crimes and diplomatic intrigues: here.

Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London yesterday—only his third public appearance since UK police seized him from the Ecuadorian embassy on April 11 and imprisoned him in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison. Assange, whose exposure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan garnered worldwide attention and multiple journalism awards in Australia, the United States, Europe and Latin America, arrived at court in a Serco prison van: here.

THE EXTRADITION hearing of Julian Assange at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday morning brought a crowd of over a hundred demonstrators which was doubled by the arrival of 120 Yellow Vests protesters who had travelled overnight from France: here.

Around 200 demonstrators assembled outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Monday to oppose the extradition of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges carrying a 175-year prison sentence: here.

In a blatant attempt to obstruct justice, British judicial authorities are stymying an investigation into the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) illegal spying on WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange. El Pais reported on Wednesday that a request by Spanish judge José de la Mata to interview Assange via videolink had been rejected by the United Kingdom Central Authority last month. De la Mata is investigating a complaint by Assange’s lawyers alleging that UC Global, the private company hired to provide security to Ecuador’s London embassy, illegally surveilled him on behalf of US authorities while he was protected with political asylum inside the building: here.

SWEDEN dropped its investigation into alleged sexual offences by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today: here.

Swedish prosecutors announced yesterday that, after almost 10 years, they were finally abandoning a “preliminary investigation” into allegations of “sexual misconduct” against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Sweden’s deputy chief prosecutor, Eva-Marie Persson, told a press conference that there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed: here.

Roger Waters, John Pilger, pro-WikiLeaks whistleblower Assange

This video from England says about itself:

Roger Waters Performs “Wish You Were Here” live at London rally in defense of Julian Assange

Roger Waters speaks and performs at rally called on 02/09/2019. Sign up today to help build a global defense committee to stop WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, and to secure both his and whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s freedom.

From the World Socialist Web Site, in London, England:

Roger Waters and John Pilger make powerful defence of Julian Assange in London

By our reporters

3 September 2019

Up to 1,000 people gathered last night in central London to hear internationally acclaimed musician Roger Waters deliver a musical tribute to imprisoned WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.

Performing outside the UK Home Office, just miles from Belmarsh Prison where Assange is being held as a Category A prisoner, Waters sang Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Wish You Were Here.” He was accompanied by guitarist Andrew Fairweather Low.

Supporters filled the forecourt and pavement on both sides of Marsham Street, many carrying banners and placards demanding Assange’s freedom and the release of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Spontaneous chants rang out, “Free, Free Julian Assange!” and “There’s only one decision: No extradition!”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”

Pilger said he had spoken with Assange over the weekend: “When I asked Julian what he would like me to say today, he was adamant. ‘Say it’s not just me. It’s much wider. It’s all of us. It’s all journalists and publishers who do their job who are in danger’.”

The meaning of Assange’s extradition could not be clearer, Pilger said, “no matter who you are or where you are, if you expose the crimes of governments you will be hunted down, kidnapped and sent to the US as a spy.”

This 2 September 2019 video is called Journalist John Pilger’s remarks at rally in defense of Julian Assange.

Pilger concluded: “Seventeen out of the 18 charges that Julian faces in America refer to the routine work of an investigative journalist, which is protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution…. The whole thing is a sham. The US prosecutors know it’s a sham, the British government know it’s a sham, the Australian government know it’s a sham.

“That’s why Julian is locked up for 21 hours a day in a maximum-security prison and treated worse than a murderer. He is to be made an example of. What happens to Julian Assange and to Chelsea Manning is meant to intimidate us, to frighten us into silence.

“By defending Julian Assange, we defend our most sacred rights. Speak up now or wake up one morning to the silence of a new kind of tyranny. The choice is ours.”

Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton was warmly received as he spoke from the stage. He recounted his visit to Belmarsh Prison last month. “I hugged him, and he told me that this place he was in, was hell.”

This 2 September 2019 video is called Julian Assange’s brother speaks at London rally.

Shipton continued: “Afterwards, my daughter wanted to know why her uncle was locked up. ‘Has he done something bad, dad?’, she asked. I struggled to explain in a way a five-year-old could understand. As Julian’s brother, and on behalf of his children, other brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, mother and father, I call on the UK home secretary to block extradition to the USA.”

Waters took to the stage just after 6.30 p.m. He told the sea of supporters: “To see all you people here today is deeply, deeply moving. How do we put ourselves in the position of a Julian Assange in solitary confinement? Or with that kid in Syria, or Palestine or a Rohingya being blown to bits by these people in this building here [pointing to the Home Office]?”

Waters introduced “Wish You Were Here”, the title track from Pink Floyd’s 1975 chart-topping album, explaining the meaning of the song’s lyrics, “would you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?” He replied, “Well, no, I wouldn’t. This is my walk-on part in this war, and I would much prefer to be here with all of you, who are also making a walk-on part in a war than accepting a lead role in a cage.”

The audience standing in the road that was closed to traffic opposite the Home Office as its size grew

As Waters sang, the audience joined in, the lyrics taken up as a statement of political solidarity with Julian Assange.

Concluding the event, Waters thanked the audience and called out, “Julian Assange we are with you! Free Julian Assange!”, with the crowd responding “Free Julian Assange! Free Julian Assange!”

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson spoke to the WSWS after the event: “I was heartened by how many people showed up. When you’re trying to take part in the campaign to free Julian it’s so important to meet the people who actually do support him. My feeling is that despite the hostility of the mainstream media, the support is growing. We have a fight ahead of us and Julian knows that, but for him to get this message is so important. It gives me hope and optimism.”

Hrafnsson saw Assange 10 days ago and spoke over the phone with him for the first time the night before: “It took all this time to clear my number with the prison authorities. He’s not in a good place and he’s definitely not in a place where he should be—and this has to change.”

He added: “We can’t rely on the mainstream media, we can’t rely on politicians, we certainly can’t rely on the judiciary here. People really have to understand how important this is.”

John Pilger

John Pilger told the WSWS shortly before the rally that the concert was Waters’ idea: “Roger emailed me and said he’d like to play ‘Wish You Were Here’ for Julian outside Belmarsh prison. But we had a look and it’s just not possible. The closest you can get is the motorway, so we decided the next best thing was the Home Office.”

Pilger warned that Assange’s condition was a matter of grave concern. “I worry a great deal about him if he spends many months in Belmarsh,” he said. “The regime there is imposing a kind of isolation on him that is deeply psychologically wounding. He’s in a small cell in the hospital ward. They seem not to know what to do with him. Of course, what they should be doing is letting him out. He certainly should not be in a maximum-security prison.”

Emmy Butlin from the Julian Assange Defence Committee (JADC) also spoke with the WSWS.

“John Pilger and Roger Waters stirred our emotions tonight with their amazing words and song of solidarity with Julian Assange,” Butlin said. “They spoke of empathy, of peace, against war and its profiteers whose interests WikiLeaks has challenged. We are very grateful for the wonderful turnout, a testament of the support we always find in the streets of Britain and we continue our solidarity work on Saturday the 28th of September at 2:00 p.m. outside Belmarsh Prison.

“As the JADC, we are very grateful for the work the SEP is doing globally for the Free Assange campaign and for the constant participation and assistance they offer to our events. The WSWS offers accurate reporting in the Assange case and helps spread the solidarity campaign internationally far and wide. A very big thank you.”

A section of the audience at the event

Underscoring the point made by Kristinn Hrafnsson about the mainstream media, no major British television station reported on the event on their evening news broadcasts. Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

The non-corporate British daily The Morning Star today has this report: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performs outside Home Office. So has the non-corporate daily News Line of 5 September 2019.

Via social media and publications such as the WSWS, however, reports and video of Waters’ performance, Pilger’s speech and the statements of Gabriel Shipton are circulating widely and will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people internationally over the coming days.

Supporters of Julian Assange demanding that he is released from Belmarsh Prison and that he is not extradited to the USA

From daily News Line in Britain, 26 August 2019:

‘THERE is only one decision: No extradition! – free Julian Assange’ chanted a demonstration of over 50 supporters of the jailed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange outside Stratford station on Saturday.

Clara Campo, from the Julian Assange Defence Committee who organised the ‘Stand for Assange’ demonstration, told News Line: ‘We are taking the campaign into the public domain and that is why we are here in Stratford and not in central London where there are crowds of tourists.

‘Julian Assange has been in prison since 11th April and in October he will have served half of his year-long sentence.

‘Any other person in prison would be placed on remand but we are sceptical this will be the case with Julian as the courts seem to apply different rules for Mr Assange.

‘He is currently in Belmarsh prison and suffering terribly, he is in isolation and is physically very ill.

‘We are very concerned as one of his legal team, Gareth Pierce, wrote to the prison authorities on June 2nd and to date has not had any reply.’

Anna Price came to the protest with her young son and said: ‘This is the most important political issue of our time.

‘It is about the relationship with Britain to the US and making decisions on what is right.

‘The public need to have transparency about what those in power are doing.

‘Julian Assange has not committed any crime, but has merely revealed the crimes of those in power.

‘And for that he is being punished in a harsh and degrading manner.

‘Anyone who speaks out should be very concerned and they should stand up now and fight to stop his extradition to the US.’

Also on the protest, Katrina Jaye said: ‘This issue affects all of us, if Julian Assange is silenced for telling the truth, they will not stop there.

‘They will continue with their war crimes.

‘The TUC must become involved and fight for his release instead of trying to prop up this shaky government.’

On the demonstration, Belgica Guaña, from the Ecuador community in London, criticised the role of Ecuadorian President Moreno for allowing the police to enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 11th.

Assange had been granted asylum in the embassy where he had stayed since 2012.

Belgica said: ‘We are here because people need to know the truth about Julian Assange and we are demanding his immediate release.’

Joe Brack said: ‘I will be going to lobby the TUC on September 9th because they should be 100 per cent behind Julian, and they represent millions of workers.

‘’We are seeing the greatest constitutional crisis in over 50 years.

‘We need a socialist Brexit as the only way forward.

‘All the issues we are facing here of austerity, privatisation and de-industrialisation are happening throughout Europe.

‘Just look at how Portugal, Spain, France and especially Greece are suffering under the EU bankers.’

‘I feel the freedom of the press is essential’ said Miriam Ojeda.

‘The media have manipulated events that happened during the Iraq war and afterwards.

‘Journalists such as Assange who have published documents of public interest should not be condemned and sent to prison.

‘I am afraid if Julian is extradited to the US he may be killed.’

Another protester, Hadia Hudoudia said: ‘Julian Assange has been proved right about so many things.

‘The destabilisation of the Middle East, about the war on Syria…

Those in prison should be Blair and his supporters who went to war over the lies about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.’

Zoe, from west London, said: ‘Julian Assange has not done any harm to anyone, in fact, he has done a great service to humanity by exposing the crimes of the US government and their military.

‘He should be rewarded not facing extradition to the US or Sweden.

‘He should be freed immediately, especially as his health has deteriorated after being confined in the Ecuadorian embassy for years and now in Belmarsh prison.’

Jeff Conibear from Croydon, said: ‘I have come here to spread the word because there has been silence in the main media since Julian Assange was pulled out of the Ecuadorian embassy.

‘I was concerned to hear from John Pilger who said that Assange might be in danger of his life and he is still in the prison hospital.

‘I will be going to lobby the TUC to demand the unions speak out for a great journalist, Julian Assange, and it is shocking that they have been silent so far.’

Travelling from Germany to take part in the ‘Stand 4 Assange’ protest, Isabell Pforr from Leipzig told News Line: ‘I have taken part in protests in Germany against the fascists but there are not many actions in support of Julian Assange.

‘I have travelled here to support the Assange campaign for his release as his imprisonment is such an important issue that affects us all.’

‘I will be attending another protest on September 7th at Australia House and a lobby of the TUC on September 9th before I return.’

New York resident Anna Kard also made it her business to be at the protest on her holiday in the UK.

She said: ‘I have arranged my holiday around attending this protest, I needed to be here for this event.

‘It’s good to see such a good crowd here, we must step up the fight for the release of Julian Assange.’

Maria Modesto from Wandsworth said: ‘This protest is a contribution towards the release of Julian assange from prison.

‘I am concerned about his treatment and fear he may not survive and it is important to step up the campaign for his release.’

After the protest, Emmy Butlin from the Julian Assange Defence Campaign told News Line: ‘Today’s action here in Stratford was a great success with a lot of people showing great interest in the situation regarding Julian Assange’s seizure from the embassy and his current imprisonment and supported our demand for his immediate release.’

Malware attack on program on Wikileaks

This 13 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

CN LIVE! Episode 1

Featuring Francis Boyle, Marjorie Cohn, Mike Gravel, Nils Melzer, George Szamuely & Aaron Maté.

Consortium News launched its first live show, CN Live!, on July 12, 2019 at 2pm EDT, to provide weekly insights into WikiLeaks, the Middle East, the US presidential elections and other topics in the news.

Hosted by Joe Lauria, Elizabeth Vos. Executive producer, Cathy Vogan. Technical production, Ebon Kim.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

Consortium News website taken down by a malware attack after streaming program defending Julian Assange

20 July 2019

Consortium News—a news website devoted to investigative journalism founded by the late Robert Parry and which has steadfastly defended WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange—was the target of a malware attack last Monday that took down the site for more than five hours.

That the site was rendered inoperable was initially reported in a Consortium News Twitter post, “Our website is completely down. Our media host said we have been attacked by malware. They actually tried to blame ‘the Russians’! Every article published since 2011 now gets a 404 Not Found. They are working on it. Problem started slowly on Friday first day of CN Live!”

A report published after the site was restored explained that the malicious attack shut down Consortium News “days after the premiere episode of the outlet’s live-streamed show, CN Live!” and “followed on the heels of the suspension of pro-Assange account Unity4J from Twitter.”

On July 11, the Unity4J account—a Twitter feed dedicated to circulating information and advocacy for Julian Assange, who remains incarcerated at London’s Belmarsh Prison while awaiting extradition to the US—was arbitrarily suspended by Twitter. After one week of being taken down, the account was abruptly restored on Thursday with no explanation provided by Twitter for their act of censorship.

The Consortium News report identified the attack on their website with the Twitter censorship because they had conducted Unity4J online vigils over the previous months. Consortium News and other independent news outlets denounced the Unity4J ban along with the rock musician Roger Waters who called Julian Assange a “great hero of freedom of the press” and attacked Twitter as “Big Brother” and “an arm of the Thought Police” and “an arm of the forces of oppression.”

ConsortiumNews.com was founded in 1995 by Robert Parry, a former journalist for the Associated Press who became distressed by “the propaganda that had come to pervade American journalism”. Parry was a reporter who helped expose the Iran-Contra scandal to the public in the mid-1980s and subsequently—after the founding of Consortium News—wrote to expose the war crimes and lies of successive US administrations both Democratic and Republican.

The timing of the attack on the Consortium News website shows—whoever was behind the malware assault—that the forces of reaction are seeking to silence anyone who wishes to tell the truth about the ongoing criminal persecution of both Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Manning is currently locked up in a federal prison in Virginia and being fined $1,000 per day for refusing to testify before a grand jury empaneled for the purpose of bringing further frame-up charges against Assange.

Significantly, the inaugural episode of Consortium News’ CN Live! video broadcast included a 26-minute segment on Julian Assange that was mostly an interview with the UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer. Melzer spoke about the inhumane conditions of imprisonment facing Assange and explained in detail the political reasons why the WikiLeaks publisher has been tortured and denied his legal rights.

In his interview, Melzer denounced the US, British, Swedish and Ecuadorian governments for their “mistreatment and misuse of judicial powers against a single individual” as well as the so-called human rights advocates who have refused to come to Assange’s defense.

Melzer said, “This is the first time in twenty years that I see democratic states ganging up and isolating a single individual and systematically violating his fair trial guarantees, his human rights in every aspect and even ill-treatment mobbing that amounts to psychological torture cumulatively. That’s very serious.”

When asked by CN Live! Editor Joe Lauria if Assange has any chance of a fair trial in the US, Melzer replied, “The public prejudice against Assange is monumental in the United States. He is being perceived as public enemy number one. He has been described as a public enemy by the current Secretary of State and former CIA director. Other public figures have called for his assassination.”

“So, you have this environment and you send him to a court where to my knowledge no national security defendant has ever been acquitted—I think it’s the same court and the same judge who has been responsible for the trial against Chelsea Manning where she has been sentenced to thirty-five years originally, which is a draconian punishment … where are the investigations and prosecutions of all the other crimes and activities that have been exposed by this whistle-blower and by WikiLeaks? If you don’t prosecute the war crimes, then clearly you don’t have equality before the law, clearly there is no chance of having a fair trial, clearly then prosecution becomes persecution.”

Consortium News also reported that the Twitter accounts and websites of activists associated with Unity4J had also been suspended and hacked around the same time. The report said, “Aaron Kesel, who also writes as an independent journalist, said in an interview that they were locked out of their accounts within minutes of publishing an article covering the Catalonian public’s celebration of Assange’s birthday. Activist Post, the site on which the article was published, was likewise reportedly hacked in recent weeks.”

There is no doubt that international public access to this kind of independent reporting is of great concern to the military-intelligence state behind the persecution of Assange and Manning. It is the exposure of these important facts that is behind the ongoing online censorship of socialist and oppositional websites that has been identified by the World Socialist Web Site going back to the spring and summer of 2017.

The coordinated attacks on defenders of free speech and those fighting for the freedom of Assange and Manning is a sign that the apparatus of the state repression fears that mass support is building against this unprecedented international conspiracy against the truth. At the same time, it is a warning that the drive to silence and punish them for exposing the crimes of US imperialism is being extended to others in an effort to browbeat anyone who dares take up the fight for his defense and freedom.

The international working class will not be intimidated by these tactics. The demand for the freedom of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning must be expanded on a world scale and taken up in every country, workplace, neighborhood and school. As has been shown by striking workers, peasants and students in Ecuador, the fight for the rights of Julian Assange is key to the struggle of the working class for socialism and against the entire capitalist system.

The author also recommends:

For a worldwide campaign to prevent Julian Assange’s rendition to the US!
[20 June 2019]

The vindictive campaign against Chelsea Manning, America’s political prisoner
[18 July 2019]

Ecuadorian workers strike for Assange’s freedom, Galapagos

Protesters in Ecuador [Credit: Twitter @KolectiVOZ]

By Andrea Lobo:

National strike against Ecuadorian government demands Assange’s freedom

17 July 2019

Workers, peasants and youth in Ecuador began a five-day strike Monday against the draconian policies of the Lenín Moreno administration, which is seeking to strengthen its ties to Washington and its military-intelligence apparatus.

The strike constitutes the first major industrial action in the world demanding the freedom of Julian Assange. The demand is presented in the framework of growing opposition to the attacks against social and democratic rights associated with the Moreno administration’s totally servile policy toward US imperialism.

While the corporate media outlets … have sought to bury the issue during the strike itself, one of the few specific issues that the official call for the strike protests is the “rendition of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to the United States, placing his life in danger.”

This refers to the withdrawal of Assange’s asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he was seeking refuge from US efforts to capture him and process him under espionage charges potentially carrying the death penalty, for publishing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and other files exposing US and NATO war crimes, mass spying and diplomatic conspiracies around the world.

As millions of workers enter into the class struggle globally to oppose deepened social austerity, attacks on living standards, imperialist wars and the move toward dictatorship, the banner and example being raised by Ecuadorian workers for the liberation of the persecuted journalist needs to be embraced by every fight for social equality and against imperialism.

Beyond the immediate treachery of the Ecuadorian ruling class, the persecution of Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning is a crucial battle for workers as Washington and its partners use their vengeful campaign as a spearhead to silence all opposition and future exposures of war crimes, mass repression and dictatorship in every continent—imperialism’s only response to the deepening crisis of global capitalism.

The organizers of the strike include the Peasants National Movement (FECAOL), the main Workers Union Federation (FUT), dozens of activist organizations grouped in the National Citizens’ Assembly (ANC), and Social Compromise, the new party of ex-president Rafael Correa. They claim this is the broadest strike in 14 years.

On Tuesday, the main day of planned demonstrations, protesters set up dozens of roadblocks—from the coastal highways of Manabí, Guayas and El Oro, surrounding the port city of Guayaquil, to the capital of Quito, east on the PanAmerican Highway to Colombia and south to the Morona Santiago province and Perú along the Andean range—that brought the country to a virtual standstill.

Most of the signs of protesters were hand-made and focused on firings, social cuts and the role of the “International Misery Fund,” as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is labelled, in the cities, and on land, water rights and mining concessions in the rural areas. Ecuadorian migrants in Bolivia, Spain, the United States and other countries carried out rallies in support of the strike.

About 11,800 public employees, mostly in the health care sector, were fired during Moreno’s first year in office as part of the austerity conditions of a $4.2 billion loan approved by the IMF in March.

Another issue raised in the strike call is “the rejection of the handing over of the Galapagos for the interests of North American imperialism”, referring to a recent agreement with the Pentagon to use the Ecuadorian archipelago, designated by the UN as a biosphere reserve and World Heritage Site, as an air base. …

Nonetheless, the continued prominence of Assange’s defense in demonstrations reflects the profound social anger toward a historical watershed in the domination of imperialism over Ecuador and Latin America as a whole.

When the Moreno administration opened the doors of its embassy in April to a British snatch-squad to arrest Assange, in the process violating international asylum laws and protections in the Ecuadorian constitution, up to 20,000 protesters marched through Quito under banners of “world disgrace” to demand the freedom of the WikiLeaks founder. The protest was met with batons, attack dogs, and tear gas by the riot police.

Moreno has since responded to the ongoing popular outrage over the handing over of Assange to imperialism by continuing to criminalize WikiLeaks, attack democratic rights and cover up his government’s corruption.

In April, Moreno absurdly charged Assange, in spite of the regime of isolation he was being subjected to, with hacking the Ecuadorian president’s communications and leaking documents exposing his family’s involvement in laundering millions of kickbacks and his lavish personal lifestyle. Furthermore, without any formal charges or evidence, the Moreno administration arrested Assange’s friend Ola Bini, a Swedish programmer living in Quito, for 70 days, based on vague allegations that he was involved in the corruption scandal.

Now, on Monday, CNN made a slanderous report based on documents provided by the Moreno government and collected by a Spanish firm hired by the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Again without presenting any actual evidence and despite consistent denials by WikiLeaks, it claims that Assange collaborated with the Russian government in leaking Democratic Party e-mails during the 2016 elections.

Last month, the International Committee of the Fourth International and the World Socialist Web Site launched a global campaign “to politically arouse and mobilize the international working class—the overwhelming majority of the population and the most powerful social force on the planet—in defense of Julian Assange and, in fact, the democratic and social rights of all workers.”

As demonstrated by the protests and recent strike in Ecuador, the only social basis for the defense of Assange, freedom of speech and all democratic rights is the international working class. All seriously committed with this struggle should sign up to build the Global Defense Committee.

Indian auto workers speak out in defence of Assange and Manning: here.

USA: A federal court ruling last Tuesday dismissing a Democratic National Committee (DNC) civil suit against Julian Assange “with prejudice” was a devastating indictment of the US ruling elite’s campaign to destroy the WikiLeaks founder. It exposed as a fraud the entire “Russiagate” conspiracy theory peddled by the Democratic Party, the corporate media and the intelligence agencies for the past three years: here.

A state delegates’ meeting of the New South Wales Greens last weekend passed a motion condemning “the Australian government’s failure to defend” persecuted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and calling for him to be “brought home and given the support and services he needs.” The motion reflects an emerging groundswell of opposition to the US-led persecution of Assange and the Australian government’s refusal to uphold his rights as a citizen and journalist. It is undoubtedly also a response to anger at the protracted silence of the Greens over Assange’s plight, and the organisation’s failure to mount any campaign in his defence: here.

Ecuador has been rocked by a nationwide strike and widespread protests following the announcement Tuesday by the right-wing government of Lenín Moreno of an austerity package involving $1.4 billion in annual cuts. The specific measure that unleashed the demonstrations was the elimination of gas subsidies, which went into effect at midnight Wednesday and increased gas prices from $1.85 to $2.30 per gallon and diesel prices from $1.03 to $2.27 per gallon. Since Wednesday, transportation workers have been on strike. They have been joined by workers and students across the country, who have set up roadblocks and held demonstrations. The price hike is particularly incendiary in a country whose main product is petroleum, which accounts for 30 percent of exports: here.

English Durham miners’ gala and Julian Assange

This video from England says about itself:

Saturday the 13th of July 2019 saw the 135th Durham Miners’ Gala – County Durham’s community heritage & working class solidarity in full colour. Congratulations to all involved.

From the World Socialist Web Site in England:

UK: SEP wins support for Julian Assange at Durham Miners’ Gala

By our reporters

15 July 2019

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) took the campaign to free imprisoned WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange to the 135th Durham Miners’ Gala on Saturday, winning support from former miners, their families and the many workers present.

A section of the crowd at the Durham Miners Gala

The Durham Miners’ Gala is an annual labour movement event. Held for the first time in 1871, it attracts an estimated 200,000 attendees in celebration of the town’s coal mining heritage. It features a banner parade with brass bands, a cathedral service and political speeches. Delegations travel there from across England and abroad, from former mining communities, trade unions and political parties.

Members of the SEP campaign team for Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange at the Gala

SEP campaigners distributed copies of the June 20 call by the World Socialist Web Site, “For a worldwide campaign to prevent Julian Assange’s rendition to the US!” Over 600 copies of the statement were distributed as a four-page colour brochure. More than 20 people signed up to support or join the campaign.

Jim Clark

Jim Clark, a former Durham miner, said, “I’ve been acquainted with the Assange case for many years. He came to prominence with his disclosure of the lies we’re being told. The way information is being suppressed for many decades this comes as no surprise to me. As soon as the ruling class are threatened in any way, they will use whatever power they’ve got—the control over the media, over state institutions—to destroy people. This is what working people have got to realise.”

Asked about the role played by Labour and the trade union bureaucracy, he said, “I’m familiar with the origin and development of the Labour Party in particular. Of course, it was never a socialist party to start with. There were socialists involved in its origination, but the Labour Party is a reformist party. It believes in making little bits of reforms and accepting the few crumbs that are falling from the table. It has never been prepared, even today, to challenge the international power which rests with the financial classes.

The 1984-85 miners’ strike was a threat to the ruling class; the whole power of the state was employed to destroy the miners and the communities and their organisations. It’s the same with journalism. The majority of journalists in the UK are working for press barons such as Murdoch and the Barclay brothers, tax evaders.

“I’m an old-fashioned class warrior and make no apology for it. When Marx was writing about the state in the latter part of the 19th century, the same problems exist today as they did then.” He concluded saying, “You’re doing a great job!”

Derek Richardson at the SEP stall

Derek Richardson, who comes from a mining family, said, “It’s a disgrace that press freedom has been destroyed. There is no press freedom for Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning is back in prison. There were illusions in the Global Conference for Media Freedom, but this was a party-political broadcast for full control of the media by the state.”

Susan Simpson

Susan Simpson is from a mining family in Wakefield. She said, “It is appalling what is happening to Assange. If this happened in a Third World country for exposing the truth, they [Assange and Chelsea Manning] would be celebrated. Did they really need all those police officers to drag him out, when he was clearly ill? It’s one of the biggest travesties ever. There should be more people up in arms.”

Ex-miner John and his wife Linda supported the campaign to free Assange. Linda said, “He’s done nothing wrong but tell the truth! He should be free, it’s Tony Blair that should be behind bars for war crimes.”

John and Linda

David Lindsay, a freelance journalist, said, “Julian Assange must not be extradited anywhere, and Jeremy Corbyn must say so.”

David Lindsay

Barry White, a journalist who represented the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) on the European Federation of Journalists board until 2016, said, “I support the call for Julian Assange to be freed, without a shadow of doubt. What he did was reveal the great injustices, great violence against ordinary people and conspiracies by states against ordinary people. He revealed it and newspapers published it, they were quite happy to take that information.

“You mentioned the Espionage Act charges the Americans want to bring against him. They’ve been planning this for years. There will be no action taken against the newspapers that published the revelations that he made with others. It will be him alone because they want to make an example of people who blow whistles against the rich and powerful and reveal what they are up to.

WikiLeaks revealed a range of abuses that go on behind closed doors, and of course within the institutions of the state, whether they are the judiciary, parliamentary or whatever. There are people who don’t want to be found out, either directly or indirectly by those revelations. It’s those people who should be in the courts, not Julian Assange.

“The media freedom conference was hypocrisy by the British state, a government which seeks to wash its hands of any responsibility for Julian Assange and make sure he’s shipped off to the United States. To then talk about protecting the media is just eye-watering hypocrisy. These people want to protect powerful media owners and not people who reveal some very unsavoury, unpleasant aspects of the society we live in.”

Labour MP Chris Williamson

Labour MP Chris Williamson was asked about his attitude to Assange’s imprisonment. He said, “I’m a big supporter of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. He is the most important journalist in the world right now. We must demand his freedom.

“I was down at the prison to show my solidarity with him, shortly after he had been incarcerated. It brings shame on Great Britain that we’ve treated this really important figure in the way in which we have, when he was thrown out of the Ecuadorian embassy. Frankly, he’s an ill man. I said at the time, he should have been put in the back of an ambulance and given medical treatment rather than being taken to a high-security prison.

“Given the nature of the work he’s been involved with, he has exposed the grotesque abuse of state power by Britain and the US, we must get behind him and show our support for him. That is why we need a socialist government under Jeremy Corbyn, because there would be a very, very different approach to what we are seeing under the present Tory administration.” …

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the rally

UNISON union head Dave Prentice tacked “left”, demanding Trident nuclear submarines are scrapped and the money poured into public services. …

Some of the day’s loudest applause followed National Union of Teachers General Secretary Kevin Courtney’s denunciation of war preparations against Iran. …

Unite union General Secretary Len McCluskey appealed to growing disgust among workers towards the Brexit crisis, saying there was “no solution via Remain or Leave”. He rejected “the culture war” between both camps, calling for a “return to the class struggle.” …

In his own address to the Gala, Corbyn said a Labour government would investigate police violence during the 1984-85 miners’ strike and cited the persecution of the Shrewsbury pickets, jailed in 1972 for industrial action the previous year. …

Corbyn warned that the rise of the far-right as a “very, very serious threat indeed” and won a standing ovation from his colleagues on the platform for attacking anti-Semitism.

UK: Strong support for Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning at Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival: here.

Facebook censors advertisement on war crimes whistleblowers

This 11 August 2010 video from British daily The Guardian says about itself:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – ‘There appears to be evidence of war crimes

Iraq war: 10 years on

Thousands of leaked US military papers from Afghanistan contain evidence of possible war crimes that must be urgently investigated, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says at press conference in London.

By Alex Lantier in France:

Facebook blocks ad for PES meeting in Paris to defend Assange

22 June 2019

On Thursday morning, members of the Parti de l’égalité socialiste (PES) received an email from Facebook, stating that it was suspending a paid advertisement for the June 23 PES meeting in Paris calling for freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

PES members campaigning for the meeting have met a warm response among workers, youth and “yellow vest” protesters in Paris. By Thursday, over 700 people had clicked “interested” on the meeting event page, a common form of expressing political solidarity with or support for an event. This points to the broad popular support in France for the courageous journalist and principled whistleblower, who have played central roles in exposing imperialist war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, amid growing working class opposition to President Emmanuel Macron.

Last week, Facebook had approved the purchase by PES members of advertising for the meeting’s Facebook page, which made the meeting’s page appear on the Facebook feeds of users who have expressed relevant interests. Yesterday, Facebook reversed course, blocking further purchases of ads for the meeting.

The notice from Facebook stated: “We have reviewed your ad more closely and have determined it doesn’t comply with our Advertising Policies. This ad will not be active any longer until you edit it to comply with policy.” This would require creating an authorized account, a process that can take 48 hours, during which time the advertising has been cancelled.

Under Facebook’s Advertising Policies, adopted after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential elections, anyone posting a political ad is required to undergo an onerous authorization process. This includes submitting images of a state-issued ID, verifying their address and providing further personal information.

These events underscore that the fight to free Assange and Manning and prevent Assange’s extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison and threats of further charges carrying the death sentence, is the focal point of a campaign to defend the democratic rights of working people internationally against the growing danger of capitalist police-state rule.

Facebook now censors and manipulates posts of its billions of users around the world. Under orders from Zuckerberg to Facebook to push its users to have “personal moments” not political discussion, including by demoting “viral videos” because they are not “good for people’s well-being and for society”, a vast censorship campaign is underway. Facebook Artificial Intelligence algorithms and its army of thousands of “content reviewers” now scour social media for content to remove and report to police and intelligence agencies.

Apart from the US government itself, the French government is among the most closely tied to Facebook censorship. Last November, as “yellow vest” protests against social inequality began in France, Macron hailed France’s World War II-era fascist dictator Philippe Pétain as a great soldier and launched an unprecedented collaboration on social media censorship with Facebook. Countless “yellow vest” social media posts have been deleted since, as police detained over 7,000 protesters in the largest wave of mass arrests in metropolitan France since the Nazi Occupation.

On May 10, Zuckerberg personally met with Macron to review six months of this collaboration, in which French officials are invited directly into Facebook “content moderation” offices to monitor and examine posts culled from Facebook users’ feeds. The French state also issued a social media report co-written by Google France executive Benoît Loutrel, denouncing “unacceptable content” and “individuals pursuing political or financial objectives”, and calling for “struggle against content that is damaging for users and for social cohesion.”

Shortly after Zuckerberg’s visit to France, the 350,000-member France en colère (Angry France) “yellow vest” Facebook page was frozen for a day, during the European elections.

The decisions leading Facebook to reverse its approval of the PES meeting ad are shrouded behind a veil of corporate secrecy. But what is clear is that the company works intimately with the intelligence agencies of the US government who are seeking to destroy Assange and Manning. As for the French regime, it is so terrified of the workers that it sees all criticism of the despised “president of the rich”, including of its own acquiescence to US persecution of Assange and Manning, as a mortal threat to “social cohesion”—that is, to its enforcement of the banks’ austerity diktat.

The meeting organized by the PES is part of a worldwide campaign to free Assange and Manning and mobilize the vast social opposition in the working class against austerity and the growing threat of authoritarian danger and war. The PES appeals to its supporters to share the announcement of its meeting and its material in defense of Julian Assange and Manning, as well as the “yellow vests,” to discuss these issues broadly in workplaces and schools, and to attend its meeting in Paris:

Sunday, June 23, 3 p.m.


177 rue de Charonne, 75011, Paris

Métro: Charonne, Alexandre Dumas.

The author also recommends:

For a worldwide campaign to prevent Julian Assange’s rendition to the US!

[20 June 2019]

Last Thursday, lawyers for the courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning issued a legal challenge to punitive fines that were imposed upon her by a federal district court judge last month. Her legal team has warned that the unprecedented financial penalties threaten her with imminent bankruptcy: here.

Last Thursday, without notice or explanation, Twitter arbitrarily suspended the account of @Unity4J, a platform dedicated to circulating information and advocacy for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. As of this writing, the account has been gone for two days: here.

FACEBOOK has been accused of censorship for deleting posts on social media platform Instagram that show support for assassinated Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. Users of the Facebook-owned platform reported the removal of posts sympathetic to Gen Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone attack at Baghdad airport in January. At least 15 Iranian journalists have had their accounts suspended, according to the International Federation of Journalists: here.

In a major escalation of online censorship, Google, Facebook and Twitter have deleted accounts and removed social media posts on multiple platforms that are opposed to the criminal assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani by the Trump administration in a drone missile strike on January 3. There are indications that these censorship moves have been carried out at the direction of the US government: here.