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.

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.’

Free Julian Assange, worldwide calls


This 11 April 2019 video by United States Congresswoman from Hawaii and one of the Democratic party presidential election candidates, Tulsi Gabbard, says about itself:

Wikileaks/Assange. Be quiet or else

Tulsi Gabbard: The purpose of arresting Julian Assange is to send a message to the people, especially journalists, to be quiet and don’t get out of line. If we, the people, allow the government to control us through fear, we are no longer free, we are no longer America.

WHAT ASSANGE’S ARREST MEANS FOR PRESS FREEDOM U.S. prosecutors’ indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could trigger a protracted fight over press freedom in the United States, warn First Amendment experts. If Assange is convicted based on the indictment alleging he assisted Chelsea Manning in cracking a Defense Department computer password, it may give the government a dangerous precedent to use against journalists in the future. [HuffPost]

‘Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom’ (quoted from Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka, Friday, April 12, 2019).

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

Worldwide outrage over arrest of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange

12 April 2019

Outrage is mounting after the arrest Thursday morning of journalist and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange was dragged from the embassy by a mob of British police officers and thrown into a jail cell after his political asylum was illegally cancelled by Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno.

After nearly seven years of confinement to the embassy Assange now faces the possibility of a year in a UK prison and extradition to the US. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Agnes Callamard, warned that the move to expel Assange and his possible extradition to the United States put him at risk of “serious human rights violations”.

Protests called by the Socialist Equality Party in Assange’s home country of Australia were attended by hundreds of people in Sydney and Melbourne to denounce Assange’s arrest and demand his freedom. The Socialist Equality Party’s rallies were live-streamed via Facebook, and had been watched by thousands of people within hours. A protest was also held outside the British embassy in Washington, D.C.

This video is about Free Assange protest in Australia.

Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, cautioned that, “Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for WikiLeaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.”

Independent American journalist Chris Hedges wrote that the publisher’s arrest “eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press.” While Australian journalist and documentarian John Pilger declared that Assange’s forced expulsion from the embassy and the Ecuadorian governments complicit were “crimes against the most basic natural justice”, and marked a warning to all journalists.

Assange was first convicted by a British magistrate judge Thursday of violating bail conditions which were set over trumped-up sexual assault allegations in Sweden, which have long since been dropped by prosecutors. His sentencing date has not yet been set.

Then, in a move which confirmed the fears that drove Assange to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, his arrest on bail charges was followed by the unsealing of a criminal indictment against him by the Trump administration. The indictment was filed by prosecutors more than a year ago on March 6, 2018.

“Since 2010, we’ve warned that Julian Assange would face prosecution and extradition to the United States […] unfortunately, today, we’ve been proven right”, Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, told reporters at a press conference after meeting with him in police custody Thursday afternoon. “I’ve just been with Mr. Assange in the police cells. He wants to thank all of his supporters for their ongoing support—and he said, ‘I told you so.’”

Assange will now have to wait in jail until May 2 for an extradition hearing which will determine if he can be flown to the United States to stand trial.

He has been charged by the US Department of Justice with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, alleging that the publisher tried, but failed to assist whistleblower Chelsea Manning in cracking a password which would have allowed her to obscure her identity when accessing secret information on a Department of Defense computer network.

The charge stems from unpublished webchat logs allegedly in the possession of the US government between Manning and an individual within WikiLeaks who went under the pseudonym “Ox” and “preassociation” which the government alleges was Assange. On the basis of the conversations in these secret logs the government claims Assange sought to enter in to a criminal conspiracy with Manning to “collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a statement declaring that Assange’s indictment was “at root, an attack on the publication of leaked material and the most recent act in an almost decade-long effort to punish a whistleblower and the publisher of her leaked material… if Assange is indeed extradited, the government can issue superseding indictments. It should not do so. Leaks are a vital part of the free flow of information that is essential to our democracy. Reporting on leaked materials, including reporting on classified information, is an essential role of American journalism.”

Manning leaked a massive trove of secret information exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks in 2010, including the infamous Collateral Murder video, which shows a helicopter gunship attack in Baghdad which killed at least 12 civilians, including 2 Reuters journalists. The documents which WikiLeaks published were published by news outlets all over the world, including the New York Times and the Guardian.

Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research in Europe, released a statement demanding that the UK refuse to extradite “or send in any other manner” Assange to the United States as he confronts “a very real risk that he could face human rights violations, including detention conditions that would violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment and an unfair trial followed by possible execution, due to his work with WikiLeaks.”

The UK government’s assurance to the Moreno government that Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could be tortured or face the death penalty is worthless.

While the conspiracy charge could bring a maximum five-year prison sentence, it cannot be ruled out that the US government has additional indictments waiting to be unsealed once Assange is in US custody, including on espionage charges that carry the death penalty. The Obama administration ing subjected Manning to torture through solitary confinement, driving her to attempt suicide on multiple occasions.

Manning has been in jail since March 8 in Alexandria, Virginia after she refused to testify in a grand jury convened to bring trumped-up charges against Assange, including 28 days in solitary confinement. Her attorneys filed an appeal Thursday based on the unsealing of the charge against Assange, arguing that compelling her to testify would have been “duplicative of evidence already in the possession of the grand jury.” Furthermore, this proved that her continued detention was not coercive but “purely punitive” in violation of the law.

This 11 April 2019 video is called Spain: Ecuador ‘did not tell the truth’ when justifying Assange’s expulsion – Defense team.

Protest outside Assange trial at Westminster Magistrates Court

Westminster Magistrates Court: Former UK ambassador Craig Murray denounces arrest and conviction of Julian Assange: here.

Amid corruption scandals and deals with IMF and Washington, Ecuador’s government betrays Assange: here.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Jeremy Corbyn has said Julian Assange should not be extradited to the US following his forcible removal from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The Labour leader urged the UK government to oppose the attempt to put the 47 year-old WikiLeaks founder to trial for obtaining classified information from former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. …

Nearly 12 hours after Assange’s arrest on Thursday morning, Mr Corbyn tweeted: “The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.”

Julian Assange: Chelsea Manning says arrest of WikiLeaks founder strengthens claim she is victim of judicial abuse. The 31-year-old was jailed indefinitely for refusing to cooperate with WikiLeaks probe [in a secret trial]: here.

Trump attacks war crimes whistleblowers Assange, Manning


This 11 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Assange and Manning Under Arrest: Trump Admin Goes All Out Against Whistleblowers (Pt 1/2)

Shortly before Assange’s arrest in London Thursday morning, we spoke to former National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn about Manning’s refusal to testify against Assange and the precarious situation Assange is in.

This 11 April 2019 video from the USA is the sequel.

FOX NEWS HOST LOBBIED TRUMP TO PARDON WAR CRIMINALS News broke at the weekend that Trump is preparing to pardon several U.S. servicemen involved in high-profile cases of gunning down civilians or killing detainees. “Fox & Friends” co-host Pete Hegseth has pressed the president for months to support accused and convicted servicemen. [Daily Beast]

SENATORS SLAM TRUMP PLAN TO PARDON WAR CRIME VETS President Donald Trump’s reported plan to pardon several U.S. servicemen accused or convicted of war crimes elicited bipartisan criticism in the Senate Tuesday. “It’s a terrible idea to pardon someone who is legitimately convicted of committing war crimes,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told HuffPost. [HuffPost]

Wikileaks’ Assange arrested for revealing war crimes


This 11 April 2019 video from London, England says about itself:

Assange arrested & escorted out of Ecuadorian Embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has spent the last six years. Ecuador’s president has announced that the country has withdrawn asylum from Assange.

By Oscar Grenfell:

British police arrest Julian Assange in Ecuadorian embassy

11 April 2019

On Thursday morning, the regime of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno illegally terminated Julian Assange’s political asylum, inviting British police into the country’s London embassy to arrest him.

Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy by a group of British police officers. Even as he was being brutally manhandled into a police van, Assange challenged his persecutors, “The UK must resist this attempt by the Trump administration… The UK must resist!”

“Assange’s expulsion from the embassy and his arrest are unprecedented crimes,” said James Cogan, the national secretary of the SEP (Australia). “A journalist and publisher, who has committed no crime, has had his asylum terminated and has been dragged off to prison in violation of repeated UN rulings upholding his status as a political refugee.”

“The attack on Assange is directed against the democratic rights of the working class. It is aimed at creating a precedent for the suppression of mass opposition to war, austerity and dictatorship,” Cogan added.

“The arrest of Julian Assange by a Metropolitan Police snatch squad is a political crime for which the Conservative government of Theresa May and the Ecuadorian government of Lenin Moreno are politically responsible,” said Chris Marsden, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in Britain.

“The arrest took place after police were invited into the Ecuadorian embassy by the ambassador and following what UK Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan said was ‘extensive dialogue between our two countries.’ Behind the scenes the Trump administration in the United States is orchestrating events.

“The Socialist Equality Party denounces this conspiracy. We will do everything in our power to mobilise the broadest protest movement by workers and youth against what are preparatory moves to extradite the Wikileaks founder to the US in clear violation of international law.”

At around 5:37 a.m. US Eastern time, WikiLeaks confirmed Assange’s arrest, tweeting: “URGENT: Ecuador has illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.”

Several minutes later, WikiLeaks tweeted: “URGENT: Julian Assange did not ‘walk out of the embassy’. The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.”

British [Conservative] Home Secretary Sajid Javid immediately took to Twitter to declare: “Nearly seven years after entering the Ecuadorian embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation & @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law.”

The bail charges against Assange are politically motivated and were resolved years ago.

The transparent purpose of the WikiLeaks founder’s detention by the British authorities is to facilitate his extradition to the US. This was confirmed by Assange’s lawyers, who stated that he was arrested not only for the bogus bail violations, but also after an extradition request from the US on fabricated conspiracy charges.

The Trump administration, with the support of the Democrats, is seeking to prosecute Assange for his role in WikiLeaks’ exposure of war crimes, mass surveillance and illegal diplomatic intrigues.

The Moreno regime has declared that it terminated Assange’s asylum because he had violated an arbitrary “protocol” that it imposed in October last year. In violation of international law, the protocol banned Assange from making any political statements, including about his own plight.

Julian Assange was arrested Thursday morning at the Ecuadorian embassy in London

As WikiLeaks has repeatedly stated, the protocol was a transparent pretext for violating Assange’s asylum. Moreno’s government has functioned as a vassal of the Trump administration, subjecting Ecuadorian diplomats to interrogation by the US Department of Justice and spying on Assange on behalf of the CIA.

“The Democratic Party is fully collaborating with the Trump administration in this outrageous attack on Assange,” said Joe Kishore, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States. “It has been a central purpose and outcome of the Democrats’ reactionary anti-Russia campaign. The arrest of Assange and Chelsea Manning is an attack on the democratic rights of all workers and must be opposed.”

Assange’s arrest has triggered widespread popular revulsion and condemnation from leading journalists. “The action of the British police in literally dragging Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy and the smashing of international law by the Ecuadorean regime in permitting this barbarity are crimes against the most basic natural justice,” wrote Australian journalist John Pilger on Twitter. “This is a warning to all journalists.”

SEP Australia National Secretary James Cogan concluded: “The Moreno regime, the British government of Prime Minister Theresa May and all those involved in the conspiracy to force Assange from the embassy have committed a violation of international law that will brand them forever as criminals and gangsters.

“The SEP will do everything it can to mobilise the immense support that exists for Assange. We condemn the Australian government and the entire political establishment for abandoning Assange, an Australian citizen, and collaborating in the attacks on his fundamental rights.

“Now more than ever, the SEP will fight to build a mass movement to force the Australian government to fulfil its obligations to Assange. It must compel the British government to allow Assange to leave the country and return to Australia, with a guarantee against extradition to the US.”

The SEP (Australia) will hold rallies tomorrow, Friday April 12, at 1 p.m. at the Martin Place Amphitheatre in Sydney and at 4 p.m. outside the Victorian state library in Melbourne to demand that the Australian government take immediate action to defend Assange.

Christine Assange, Julian’s mother and the most determined campaigner for his freedom, issued the following statement endorsing the rallies: “I urge everyone currently in Australia, citizens or visitors, to attend the rallies tomorrow to demand that the Australian government act urgently to protect Julian and bring him home. We are in election mode and it is a very good time to use your people power.”

We appeal to all workers, young people and defenders of democratic rights to attend.

Trump threatens to jail Chelsea Manning again


This 1 October 2018 British TV video says about itself:

Chelsea Manning interview on Trump, running for office, and prison life

Chelsea Manning gives her opinion that it’s time to “dismantle many of these authoritarian systems that we assume we need.” There’s no love lost between her and President Trump, who has called her an “ungrateful traitor”.

By Mike Head:

US government threatens to jail whistleblower Chelsea Manning for refusing to testify against WikiLeaks

8 March 2018

In a heroic and principled stand in defence of fundamental democratic rights, former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning yesterday refused to answer questions before a grand jury in Virginia. Manning stood firm and refused to incriminate WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange—or any other media organisation and individual—over her courageous 2010 disclosure of hundreds of thousands of documents that exposed US war crimes and diplomatic conspiracies.

For refusing to give evidence that prosecutors hope to use in their prosecution of Assange, Manning has been ordered to appear at a contempt hearing today. She could be jailed again, barely two years after being released from close to seven years’ incarceration on espionage-related charges.

Manning’s bravery underscores how much is at stake in defending Assange against the intensified operation by the Trump administration and the US Justice Department to railroad the WikiLeaks leader to jail, or onto death row, for broadcasting to the world’s people the truth—which was only brought into the light of day by Chelsea Manning—about US militarism and foreign policy.

The threat to jail Manning marks a further escalation of Washington’s drive to force Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he was granted political asylum in 2012. The Trump administration is moving to publicly unveil charges against him and demand the Ecuadorian and British governments comply with a warrant to extradite him to the US on false allegations of espionage or conspiracy.

Joseph Kishore, the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in the US, has issued the following statement:

“The Socialist Equality Party unequivocally condemns the US government’s vindictive and criminal persecution of Chelsea Manning.

“Chelsea suffered solitary confinement, abuse and torture, and over six years of imprisonment for letting the American and world population know the truth. Yesterday, she once again stood firm to fundamental democratic principle and refused to assist the Trump administration in its vendetta to falsely incriminate WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. She is a heroic figure and she must be defended.

“Working people all over the world will never forget Chelsea’s courageous exposure, at vast personal cost, of the crimes of American imperialism. Amid a growing global strike wave, the Socialist Equality Party will do everything in its power to mobilize the working class to defend Chelsea, and free Julian Assange and all other class war prisoners.”

Although Manning was offered immunity in exchange for testimony—a device employed to entice witnesses to assist prosecutors—she refused to answer any of the Trump administration’s questions, citing her rights under the US Constitution.

Manning, in a press release issued after the hearing, stated:

“Yesterday, I appeared before a secret grand jury after being given immunity for my testimony. All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010—answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013. I responded to each question with the following statement: ‘I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.’

“On Friday, I will return to federal court in Alexandria, Virginia for a closed contempt hearing. A judge will consider the legal grounds for my refusal to answer questions in front of a grand jury. The court may find me in contempt, and order me to jail.

“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available. My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”

A more principled and heroic statement could not be expected of anyone.

Judge Claude M. Hilton could now remand Chelsea Manning, after all she has suffered, into custody as a recalcitrant witness. She could be held in contempt and jailed for as long as 18 months, or until the end of the life of the grand jury.

Earlier this week, Hilton, who was appointed to the Federal District Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, rejected motions by Manning’s attorneys to quash the subpoena or make the full record of her testimony public.

Horrified by what she saw of US military and diplomatic crimes following her deployment to Baghdad in 2009, Manning leaked a vast array of “classified” documents to WikiLeaks. These included the Collateral Murder video showing US helicopter gunships shooting down civilians, including children and two Reuters journalists.

During her 13-week court-martial in 2013, Manning testified that she acted on her own, anonymously, to send documents to WikiLeaks. She refused to incriminate Assange or WikiLeaks, despite the brutal treatment she was forced to endure. This included prolonged solitary confinement and other abuses that were condemned internationally as torture.

Manning was convicted by the military court under the US Espionage Act for leaking portions of 227 documents. With Barack Obama in the White House, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison—more time than anyone has ever received for disclosing classified US government records.

In one of his last acts, Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in 2017, but refused to grant her a pardon, ensuring that her conviction remained on her record. A spokesman for Trump, who was about to take office, called the decision to release Manning “disappointing” and “troubling”.

The renewed persecution of Manning confirms that the vendetta against Assange has nothing to do with the fabricated claims that WikiLeaks colluded with the Russian government to secure Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election.

Manning was subpoenaed by the same Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Virginia that was convened in 2010 to decide whether to file charges against Assange over WikiLeaks’ publication of the Manning leaks.

Various sources have reported that the Grand Jury did charge Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act and sealed the indictment. A court document dated August 22, 2018, apparently mistakenly divulged in an unrelated case, specifically stated the case was sealed in order to “keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

Another judge, in the same court, this year declined a reporters’ group motion to unseal those charges. The federal prosecutor who tried that case, Gordon D. Kromberg, also requested the subpoena compelling Manning’s testimony.

David House, who reportedly befriended Manning in 2010, testified under immunity before the grand jury last July. He said he, too, was asked about the war logs Manning shared with WikiLeaks.

The Obama administration apparently pulled back from charging Assange over Manning’s disclosures because some of the material was published in partnership with leading corporate media organs, including the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Under Trump, the US authorities are seeking to overcome that problem by coercing Manning into saying that WikiLeaks conspired in the leaking of the documents.

The threat to Manning is part of a bipartisan offensive against freedom of speech, aimed at suppressing critical and independent journalism. She has taken an essential stand, in contrast to the corporate media outlets and pseudo-left groups that have turned cynically against Assange.

Manning’s plight underscores the importance of the Socialist Equality Party’s campaign to demand that the Australian government immediately intervene to secure the right of Assange—an Australian citizen—to leave the Ecuadorian embassy and return to his home country, with guaranteed protection from any US extradition request.

Support is growing. Hundreds of people participated in a demonstration in Sydney last Sunday to demand Assange’s freedom, which won the endorsement of a number of well-known intellectuals and artistic figures, including Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, journalist John Pilger, and civil rights activist Stuart Rees.

The working class must come to the defence of Manning and Assange. As the line-up in Washington against them demonstrates, essential democratic rights—including freedom of speech—can be defended only by the independent political mobilisation of the working class in opposition to the pro-capitalist political parties and capitalist state.

We appeal to our readers in Australia and the UK to take part in the demonstration called to free Assange and now, defend Chelsea Manning, this Sunday, March 10, at the State Library in Melbourne at 1:00 p.m. and in the vigil outside Ecuador’s London embassy on the same day, starting at 3:00 p.m. in London.

The author also recommends:

US court upholds subpoena of whistleblower Chelsea Manning
[6 March 2019]

The political lessons of the March 3 Free Assange rally
[5 March 2019]

Chelsea Manning jailed for refusal to testify against WikiLeaks: here. And here.

Trump’s lawyer differs from Trump administration on persecuting whistleblowers


This 1 January 2019 video from the USA is called Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s Lawyer, Says Julian Assange Should NOT Be Prosecuted.

This blog has noted before that United States President Trump is a broken clock. Wrong nearly all of the time, but right two small moments a day. Like his sometimes rival, sometimes friend, Turkish President Erdogan, a dictator and a warmonger, is right at some small moments.

Trump and Erdogan are not the only two ‘broken clock’ politicians. Take United States President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder deserves lots of criticism for not doing enough to stop police brutality, for undermining civil liberties while persecuting whistleblowers, etc. However, when he was no longer Attorney General, he admitted that the whistleblower on the NSA attacks on liberties, Eric Snowden, was right.

Now, after Obama, another president, Donald Trump. And another broken clock politician, Rudy Giuliani, on civil liberties and on another whistleblower: Julian Assange. Giuliani is notTrump’s Attorney General, but his lawyer. Interestingly, on Assange, Trump’s lawyer differs from the Trump administration on persecuting whistleblowers, threatening media freedom.

By James Cogan in the USA:

Silence follows Trump attorney’s statement that Julian Assange did nothing “wrong”

4 January 2019

During a December 30 interview on the US cable television talk show “Fox and Friends,” Rudy Giuliani, the right-wing Republican former mayor of New York and now attorney for President Donald Trump, blurted out some basic truths about WikiLeaks and its founder and publisher, Julian Assange.

Giuliani said: “Let’s take the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon Papers were stolen property, weren’t they? It was in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Nobody went to jail at the New York Times and the Washington Post.”

Giuliani was referring to the 1971 publication of a mass of leaked documents that exposed decades of lies and crimes committed by successive American governments throughout the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration went to the US Supreme Court to outlaw the publication but the court ruled that the US Constitution’s First Amendment, guaranteeing free speech, protected the media outlets.

Once leaked information was provided to a “media publication”, Giuliani stated, “they can publish it for the purpose of informing people.”

He continued: “You can’t put Assange in a different position. He was a guy who communicated. We may not like what he communicated, but he was a media facility. He was putting that information out. Every newspaper and station grabbed it and published it.”

Giuliani was discussing, not the 2010 leaks published by WikiLeaks exposing US war crimes and diplomatic intrigues, but the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Lurid and absurd allegations have been made that WikiLeaks was part of a nefarious conspiracy with Russia to assist the Trump campaign.

In July 2016, WikiLeaks published leaked emails revealing that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had sought to undermine self-styled “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders and ensure that Hillary Clinton was nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

In October 2016, WikiLeaks published leaked emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, which included transcripts of speeches Clinton had given to corporate audiences during which she pledged support to Wall Street and boasted of her role in organising the murderous US-led war on Libya in 2011.

WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of the leaks and, in November 2016, Assange correctly defended its decision to publish them in the public interest.

Giuliani categorically denied there was ever any relationship or contact between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. He stated on “Fox and Friends”: “I was with Donald Trump day in and day out throughout the last four months of the campaign. He was as surprised as I was about the WikiLeaks disclosures, sometimes surprised to the extent of ‘oh my God, did they really say that?’ We were wondering if it was true or not. They never denied it.

“The thing that really got Hillary is not so much that they were revealed, but that they were true… She really did completely screw Bernie Sanders. Every bit of that was absolutely true. Just like the Pentagon Papers put a different view on Vietnam, this put a different view on Hillary Clinton.”

He continued: “No press person or person disseminating that, for the purpose of informing, did anything wrong.”

Nothing Giuliani said is new or can be honestly disputed. Assange is a journalist and editor. WikiLeaks is a media organisation. When it was entrusted by whistleblowers with leaked information, WikiLeaks published it “for the purpose of informing people.” Assange has committed no crime. The attempts under Obama’s administration and now Trump’s to have him extradited to the US to stand trial on charges of espionage or conspiracy constitute a fundamental attack on freedom of speech and an independent and critical media.

Since 2010, when the American state apparatus launched its vendetta, every genuine defender of democratic rights has been obliged, as a matter of political principle, to stand behind Assange and WikiLeaks, and the fight for his unconditional protection from US-led persecution.

Indeed, from this standpoint, the most noteworthy aspect of Giuliani’s statements is that they were made by a ruthless representative of the American financial and corporate elite, and on Fox News, the station that in 2010 broadcast calls for Assange

and for Chelsea Manning, WikLeaks’ source for the Iraq war revelations

to be assassinated.

Giuliani, a fervent supporter of Trump’s fascistic “America First” agenda of war with China and the destruction of workers’ rights and civil liberties in the US itself, does not have the slightest concern for freedom of speech or democracy. His only motive in telling the truth about Assange and WikiLeaks is to rebut the claims circulating around the Mueller investigation and the possible use of accusations of collusion with Russia to impeach the president and replace him with Vice President Mike Pence.

A wing of the American ruling class, represented by the Democratic Party, factions of the Republican Party and sections of the military-intelligence apparatus, are outraged by Trump’s seeming lack of concern with confronting Russia. Even before he was inaugurated, that wing of the establishment demanded that Trump escalate a confrontational policy against Moscow, from the standpoint that conflict with China could be best pursued if Beijing were denied any ability to seek assistance from Russia. They believe Pence, a Christian fundamentalist and extreme right-wing ideologue, would be a more malleable figure than the erratic and unstable billionaire real estate speculator.

On a world scale, the allegations of Russian “interference” have been used as the pretext for a massive campaign of censorship, directed by companies such as Google and Facebook against, above all, left-wing, anti-imperialist and anti-war websites and social media postings.

The American state apparatus also has used them to bully the Ecuadorian government, which in 2012 provided Assange with asylum in its London embassy, to turn against the WikiLeaks publisher. In April 2017, Mike Pompeo, then CIA director and now Trump’s secretary of state, declared—after WikiLeaks published the explosive “Vault 7” leaks exposing criminal CIA operations—that the media organisation would be treated as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors such as Russia.”

In March 2018, on the dictates of Washington, Ecuador cut off Assange’s right to communicate with the outside world and has taken other punitive measures to try and pressure him to leave the embassy and hand himself over to British police to face imprisonment and extradition to the US.

Predictably, not a word about Giuliani’s statements has been said by the political and media establishment in the US, Europe or Australia.

The silence in Australia is of particular significance. Assange is an Australian citizen. In the face of persecution by the governments of other states, he has always been entitled to, but denied, the full diplomatic, legal and political support of the Australian government.

The categorical statement by a figure as repellent as Giuliani, that there are no grounds to prosecute Assange, serves only to expose the perfidy of the current Liberal-National Party Coalition government, … as well as the media … . Their refusal to defend Assange testifies to the utter rot of democracy in the country.

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Australia announced last month that it will organise and seek the broadest support for political demonstrations in Sydney on March 3 and Melbourne on March 10.

The rallies will demand that the Australian government end its collaboration with the US-led persecution of Assange and immediately intervene, using the full scope of its diplomatic and legal powers, to insist that the British government allow the WikiLeaks publisher to leave the Ecuadorian embassy and unconditionally return to Australia, if he chooses to do so. Assange must be given a blanket guarantee that any request by the Trump administration to extradite him from Australia to the US would be rejected out of hand.