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Nederlog

April 12, 2019

Crisis: Assage Arrested, Assange & Press Freedom, Assange as Martyr, Assange & Freedom, More


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.







Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 12, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, April 12, 2019.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from April 12, 2019:
1. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Arrested in London
2. Indictment of Julian Assange Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedoms

3. The Martyrdom of Julian Assange

4. Critics Warn Assange Indictment an 'Obvious' Ploy With Deeper Dangers

5. Discuss: Julian Assange Arrested
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Arrested in London

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London. Earlier today, British police forcibly removed Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living since 2012. London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that Assange was arrested on behalf of the United States authorities. The U.S. has charged Assange with helping Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning hack a government computer. The indictment was unsealed shortly after his arrest. We speak to Renata Ávila, a member of Assange’s legal team, as well as British human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald and former Justice Department attorney Jesselyn Radack.

Yes indeed. I think the above report is correct, but I also think that the statements that "Assange was arrested on behalf of the United States authorities. The U.S. has charged Assange with helping Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning hack a government computer." while correct as statements of accusation are not correct or not valid in law. More on this below.

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange’s U.S. attorney, Barry Pollack, said, quote, “It is bitterly disappointing that a country would allow someone to whom it has extended citizenship and asylum to be arrested in its embassy. First and foremost, we hope that the UK will now give Mr. Assange access to proper health care, which he has been denied for seven years. Once his health care needs have been addressed, the UK courts will need to resolve what appears to be an unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information,” Barry Pollack wrote. That’s Julian Assange’s U.S. attorney.

Christophe Deloire, the head of Reporters Without Borders, tweeted, “Targeting Assange because of Wikileaks’ provision of information to journalists that was in the public interest would be a punitive measure and would set a dangerous precedent for journalists or their sources that the US may wish to pursue in future,” unquote.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted, “Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of—like it or not—award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books. Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.”

Yes indeed. And Pollack addressed the U.S. government's accusation (reported above) by saying that "the UK courts will need to resolve what appears to be an unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information”, while Deloire did something similar, by saying that "targeting Assange because of Wikileaks’ provision of information to journalists that was in the public interest would be a punitive measure and would set a dangerous precedent for journalists or their sources that the US may wish to pursue in future”.

Both points appear valid to me (and there is more below).

Then there is this:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Renata, can you explain: Is it in any way legally justified or legal at all for Ecuador to rescind his asylum in this way?

RENATA ÁVILA: It is completely illegal. And on top, adding insult to injury, Julian was granted Ecuadorean nationality. So, it is not only illegal before international law, it’s not constitutional before constitutional law in Ecuador. So, it is a multiple, multilayer violation of human rights and constitutional rights of Julian.

I think Ávila has a point as well, although I do not know to what extent the English courts will consider Ecuadorian laws.

Here is some more:

GLENN GREENWALD: I think the most important fact is that the arrest warrant, according to Assange’s longtime lawyer Jennifer Robinson, is based on allegations that Assange conspired or collaborated with Chelsea Manning with regard to the 2010 leaks of Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and diplomatic cables—a theory that the Obama Justice Department tried for a long time to pursue, but found no evidence for, in order to be able to justify prosecuting Assange and not face the accusation that they were endangering press freedoms by prosecuting Assange for something The New York Times and The Guardian and every other media outlet in the world routinely does, which is publish classified information.

Yes indeed. Here is more:

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think that is one of the remarkable aspects of this, is that Julian Assange is not an American citizen. I think he visited the U.S. once for about three days. WikiLeaks is a foreign-based media organization. So, the idea that the U.S. government can just extend its reach to any news outlet anywhere in the world and criminalize publication of documents or working with sources is extremely chilling. That would mean, for example, that China or North Korea or Iran could do the same thing if a U.S. news outlet published its secrets, which sometimes they do. It would mean that Iran would have the ability, or China, to issue an international arrest warrant and demand that the reporters who work for the U.S. news outlets be extradited to those countries.

Quite so. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what do you expect, Jesselyn, that will happen now? I mean, in effect, a 45-year sentence—I mean, the charges that he has against him in the U.S. could lead to up to 45 years in prison. Is that what you understand?

JESSELYN RADACK: That’s my understanding. And this would be an incredibly chilling precedent that would put at risk all journalists and publishers, including Democracy Now!, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian, for reporting truthful information, classified or not, which is in the public interest.

Quite so again. And this is a strongly recommended article in which there is considerably more than I quoted.


2. Indictment of Julian Assange Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedoms

This article is by Glenn Greenwald and Micah Lee on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

The indictment of Julian Assange unsealed today by the Trump Justice Department poses grave threats to press freedoms, not only in the U.S. but around the world. The charging document and accompanying extradition request from the U.S. Government, used by the U.K. police to arrest Assange once Ecuador officially withdrew its asylum protection, seeks to criminalize numerous activities at the core of investigative journalism.

So much of what has been reported today about this indictment has been false. Two facts in particular have been utterly distorted by the DOJ and then misreported by numerous media organizations.

The first crucial fact about the indictment is that its key allegation – that Assange did not merely receive classified documents from Chelsea Manning but tried to help her crack a password in order to cover her tracks – is not new. It was long known by the Obama DOJ and was explicitly part of Manning’s trial, yet the Obama DOJ – not exactly renowned for being stalwart guardians of press freedoms – concluded it could not and should not prosecute Assange because indicting him would pose serious threats to press freedom. In sum, today’s indictment contains no new evidence or facts about Assange’s actions; all of it has been known for years.

The other key fact being widely misreported is that the indictment accuses Assange of trying to help Manning obtain access to document databases to which she had no valid access: i.e., hacking rather than journalism. But the indictment alleges no such thing. Rather, it simply accuses Assange of trying to help Manning log into the Defense Department’s computers using a different user name so that she could maintain her anonymity while downloading documents in the public interest and then furnish them to WikiLeaks to publish.

In other words, the indictment seeks to criminalize what journalists are not only permitted but ethically required to do: take steps to help their sources maintain their anonymity.

Yes indeed, and I think Greenwald's point - the key allegation that Assange is supposed to have helped Manning by hacking, which is probably not true - is probably quite valid.

Then again, I think I should add that I am also quite worried that there seems to be progressively fewer and fewer honest journalists in the world, seeing that most in fact "
misreported" the facts I just commented on, which has happened in "numerous media organizations".

In April, 2017, Pompeo, while still CIA chief, delivered a deranged speech proclaiming that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” He punctuated his speech with this threat: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.” 

From the start, the Trump DOJ made no secret of its desire to criminalize journalism generally. Early in the Trump administration, then-Attorney General Sessions explicitly discussed the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information.

Yes indeed. And consider what Pompeo wants:

(1) that no journalist, of any nationality, living anywhere, may publish anything that the U.S. government does not like to see published, and (2) that if any
journalist, of any nationality, living anywhere, nevertheless does so, he or she must be arrested and delivered to the U.S. to stand trial.

This would mean the end of all truthful journalism from anywhere, for Greenwald (reported in the first article) is correct in saying that if the prosecution of Assange is justified in the USA, then "
That would mean, for example, that China or North Korea or Iran could do the same thing if a U.S. news outlet published its secrets, which sometimes they do. It would mean that Iran would have the ability, or China, to issue an international arrest warrant and demand that the reporters who work for the U.S. news outlets be extradited to those countries."

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The indictment tries to cast itself as charging Assange not with journalistic activities but with criminal hacking. But it is a thinly disguised pretext for prosecuting Assange for publishing the U.S. Government’s secret documents while pretending to make it about something else.

Whatever else is true about the indictment, substantial parts of the document explicitly characterize as criminal exactly the actions that journalists routinely engage in with their sources, and thus constitutes a dangerous attempt to criminalize investigative journalism.

Yes indeed: Quite so. And this is a strongly recommended article with much more text.

3. The Martyrdom of Julian Assange

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The arrest Thursday of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.

Yes indeed, and I agree with all of this, except for the last statement that says that Assange's arrest "marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives": I do not think so, for "the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives" started with the internet, that allows everyone everywhere with an internet computer to be fully tracked and fully known, both by the spies from any government and by anyone rich enough to pay for the plundering and theft of anybody's privacy.

Here is some more:

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did President Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?

Precisely - and the answer is: Under no law. Here is more:

I am sure government attorneys are skillfully doing what has become de rigueur for the corporate state, using specious legal arguments to eviscerate enshrined rights by judicial fiat. This is how we have the right to privacy with no privacy. This is how we have “free” elections funded by corporate money, covered by a compliant corporate media and under iron corporate control. This is how we have a legislative process in which corporate lobbyists write the legislation and corporate-indentured politicians vote it into law. This is how we have the right to due process with no due process.

Quite so, again. And this article ends as follows:

We must, in every way possible, put pressure on the British government to halt the judicial lynching of Assange. If Assange is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Trump repeatedly has called “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging by corporations of the nation and the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the bank accounts of the rich and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will not only expand, but will no longer be part of public debate. First Assange. Then us.

Yes again, and this is a strongly recommended article with substantially more than I excerpted.

4. Critics Warn Assange Indictment an 'Obvious' Ploy With Deeper Dangers

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for a "computer hacking conspiracy," a charge some corporate talking heads and reporters immediately touted as evidence that journalism is not under threat.

"Indictment of Assange charges him with hacking, not publishing, a crucial difference for First Amendment concerns," tweeted David Lauter, Washington bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times.

But press freedom advocates, Assange's attorneys, WikiLeaks staff, and other critics warned that the exact opposite is the case—and argued Assange's extradition to the U.S. would set a dangerous precedent for journalists everywhere.

"This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the U.S.," Jen Robinson, Assange's attorney, told reporters during a press conference in London on Thursday.

Yes indeed - and I agree with Assange's attorneys and Jen Robinson, much rather than with the first two "sources" of "information" that is in fact propaganda.

Here is some more:

The Justice Department alleges in its indictment (pdf) that Assange conspired with U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer network.

The indictment also states that Assange "encouraged Manning to provide information and records" from U.S. agencies, worked to "conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure," and used an encrypted chat service to "collaborate" on the release of classified information related to Guantanamo Bay as well as U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a statement, Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, noted that while the Justice Department "has so far not attempted to explicitly declare the act of publishing illegal, a core part of its argument would criminalize many common journalist-source interactions that reporters rely on all the time."

"Requesting more documents from a source, using an encrypted chat messenger, or trying to keep a source's identity anonymous are not crimes; they are vital to the journalistic process," added Timm.

Yes, I think Timm is right and this is a recommended article.


5. Discuss: Julian Assange Arrested

This article is by Kit Knightly on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:

This morning, officers of the Metropolitan police were invited into the Ecuadorian embassy by President Lenin Moreno. They proceeded to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and literally drag him out of the building.
    (..)
The important facts of the case are as follows:

  • Julian Assange is not wanted for ANY CRIME, except skipping his bail. This carries a maximum sentence of 6 months under UK Law.
  • The Swedish authorities have dropped all their investigations of him for sexual assault. Read more on that here.
  • Assange has said, many times, that above all else he is avoiding being extradited to the US. US officials have, in the past, referenced the idea of assassinating him, and their intelligence services are known to use “enhanced interrogation” techniques (aka torture).
  • The UN has found, multiple times, that Assange’s detention was inhumane and illegal under international law.

Yes indeed, and I think all of the above four points are correct. Here is some more:

Take a moment to imagine Assange was Chinese, Iranian, Russian. Any “enemy” nation.

Imagine a journalist had published leaked documents proving Vladimir Putin’s complicity in war crimes, imagine he had been hiding out in an embassy in Moscow for 8 years, despite the UN finding his detention to be “arbitrary” and calling on Russia to end his “deprivation of liberty”.

And then imagine a whole bunch of FSB officers carried him out like a hunting trophy, threw him in a van and drove him off to God know’s where.

How would our media cover that?

Yes, I think the above is also correct - and the same holds for the Chinese government and any other government.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

So the important questions become:

  • Will the US attempt to extradite him?
  • Will the Swedish prosecutor re-open the rape case, as has been hinted?
  • Will the media do their job properly? Or will they just publish more smear pieces?
  • Will Julian Assange ever be seen alive again?

Well... here are my answers to the above questions:

One. In fact, it has done so already.

Two. I do not think so.

Three. Well... "the media" is too comprehensive a term, for there are - at least - the corporatist media, that mostly lie and propagandize, and that are read or viewed by most people, and the alternative media, that mostly try to tell the truth. I take it the above two questions relate to the corporatist media, and I am pretty sure they will continue their lying.

Four. I suppose the answer is yes, at least as long as Assange is locked up in England. After that, it is an open question.

And this is a strongly recommended article.


Note
[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 3 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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