Assange and Ecuador: no monopoly on hypocrisy

Now isn’t this interesting. Keane Bhatt of the Manufacturing Contempt blog on the website of the venerable North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) calls out the mainstream media, e.g. The Economist and the Los Angeles Times, for hypocrisy in pointing out that Rafael Correa’s Ecuador, where Julian Assange is seeking asylum, has a less than stellar record on press freedom. By contrast, Bhatt notes, no eyebrows were raised when Emilio Palacio, an editor at the Guayaquil daily El Universo who was convicted of libel against Correa in Ecuador,  fled to Miami last year—despite the fact that the USA doesn’t have a stellar record on press freedom either. Bhatt points to the case of Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera cameraman who was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay for over six years before being released without charge. He also points to Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a Yemeni journalist imprisoned on dubious charges of al-Qaeda collaboration after reporting on US missile strikes. According to Jeremy Scahill in The Nation, Obama pressured the Yemeni regime to keep him locked up.

At issue in the libel case was an editorial Palacio wrote accusing Correa of “crimes against humanity” by ordering his troops to fire on a civilian hospital during the 2010 coup attempt. Bhatt notes the favorable coverage Palacio has received, e.g. on National Public Radio. But he also downplays the nature of the case against him in Ecuador, writing only that he was “sued by Correa.” In fact, as Huffington Post and BBC News noted, he was convicted of criminal charges, and faced prison time in his home country, as well as millions of dollars in damages.

Bhatt also says Palacio’s claim was made “without a shred of evidence.” In fact, the hospital in question was that in which Correa was being held during the abortive coup, and shots were exchanged when he was rescued by forces loyal to him—although no patients were hit. So, there were certainly no “crimes against humanity,” but neither was there “no evidence” for the claim that Correa’s forces had fired on a hospital. Bhatt also calls out Palacio’s editorial for referring to the democratically elected Correa as a “dictator.” He doesn’t note that Correa used the same rhetorical abuse, hailing the conviction of Palacio as a blow against Ecuador’s “media dictatorship” (NYT, Feb. 27).

Bhatt also links to a commentary in The Guardian which notes that Palacio and three co-defendants from El Universo were finally pardoned by Correa, and accuses human rights groups of “inventing a media crackdown in Ecuador.” Sorry, we can’t go along with that. Palacio’s case is actually the least egregious, but there is indeed a media crackdown underway in Ecuador. And as we (but few others writing in English, alas) have noted, its primary targets have not been bourgeois organs like El Universo, but Ecuador’s indigenous and campesino movement that opposes the Correa government over the free hand it has granted the resource extraction industries.

Glenn Greenwald had a similar but still more problematic piece in The Guardian last month, in which he actually rushes to the defense not only of Correa but of Vladimir Putin in accusing media critics in the West of “jingosim” in their “new-found devotion to defending civil liberties” in Latin America and Russia, even bashing Pussy Riot, one of whose singers apparently participated in “a public orgy at a Moscow museum in 2008.” Greenwald favorably quotes Russian writer Vadim Nikitin in a New York Times op-ed, who wrote that such behavior “would get you arrested just about anywhere, not just in authoritarian Russia.” Which is rather beside the point, because that’s not what Pussy Riot were charged with. And, much more to the point, progressives should be rallying around those who push the limits of free expression, not making excuses for those who repress them. Whether in the US, Russia, Latin America, or anywhere else. Those who (legitimately) point out media double standards should be wary of a slippery slope towards making excuses for repression when it is committed by the “other” side.

Which brings us back to Assange. Bhatt contrasts the sleazy Emilio Palacio with an heroic Julian Assange:

Assange has been responsible for providing the public with evidence that U.S. helicopter pilots gunned down over a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists; that Secretary of State Clinton ordered U.S. diplomats to collect private information and biometric data on key UN officials; that Yemen deceitfully took responsibility for missile attacks that the United States actually carried out; and that the Obama administration pressured Spain to terminate its torture probe of Bush officials. In response to these and many other WikiLeaks revelations of wrongdoing and dishonesty at the highest levels of government, the U.S. media either yawned or gushed.

Well, we wish we could go along with the portrayal of Assange in simple heroic terms. But again: Sorry, we can’t do that. We are still waiting for Assange and Wikileaks to give us a forthright accounting on charges of collaboration with the Belarus dictatorship. (No quotation marks necessary this time; the Minsk regime is well and truly a dictatorship.) We have aired claims that cables containing intelligence on dissidents were turned over to the security services of strongman Alexander Lukashenko during the harsh wave of repression in 2010. Index on Censorship has been virtually alone among rights watchdogs in pressing WikiLeaks and Assange on this matter, and he has still failed to come clean. When will he do so? World War 4 Report has no intention of letting this matter drop until there has been full disclosure. And until then, we will consider all the talk about “human rights” and “transparency” from Assange’s defenders to be so much empty prattle.

Finally, there is one other little matter that none of Assange’s boosters want to acknowledge: that his asylum bid is certifiably bogus, because there is no greater likelihood that he would be extradited to the US from Sweden than from Britain. We recently cited the excellent case made to this effect by legal affairs columnist David Allen Green in the New Statesman. Greenwald in The Guardian last month claims to have caught Green in a narrow error about whether Sweden could guarantee Assange no extradition to the US. Green in the New Statesman stands behind his conclusions. You judge. But we will point out that the supposed error is beside the main point anyway, and merely dodges the question of whether Sweden would be more likely to extradite than Britain

So one more time: Sorry, folks. We calls ’em as we sees ’em.

  1. Extremely dishonest article
    Once again, this writer ignores statements from the Free Belarus campaign that Assange has been helping them for many years, and well before the Guardian smear article on which Index on Censorships “questions” about the allegation here – that Wikileaks passed cables to the Lukashenko regime – was written. In fact, the Free Belarus dissidents invited Assange to the screening of their film “Europe’s Last Dictator”. The British ex-Ambassador to Belarus – also at the screening – entirely concured with their view of Assange’s support for Belarussan dissidents.

    The writer has also ignored evidence that the original smear piece kicking off this matter was published by two Guardian journalists, David Leigh and Luke Harding, the day before – literally one day before – their book in which they libelled Assange claimed he’d said “they’re informants, they deserve to die” came out. This libel has now been proven to be false by an independent witness who was at the dinner at which Leigh claimed the remark was made coming forward with a signed witness statement. This statement is now in the public record and has been sent to the Leveson Inquiry regarding another Guardian journalist’s perjury to the Inquiry. Obviously, this smear claiming that Wikileaks passed cables to the Belarussan dictator was a preemptive measure to distract and fend off a damages suit against the journalists.

    I notice this article makes no mention of Israel Shamir – the supposed associate of Wikileaks that the Guardian claims was the one who passed the cables to Lukashenko’s regime. A few points: 1) please produce the evidence that Shamir is part of Wikileaks, 2) please produce the evidence that Shamir passed the cables over to the Belarus government, 3) please discuss the fight that the Guardian has with Shamir about his articles claiming that the Guardian made wholly unnecessary redactions to the Wikileaks cables to protect vested interests.

    1. The dishonesty is yours —and Assange’s
      I will thank you to link to the statements from the Free Belarus campaign claiming Assange has been helping them. I Googled extensively for them and came up empty. In any case, this wouldn’t let Assange off the hook for collaborating with Lukashenko—it would merely make him more of a hypocrite.

      According to the article in the New Statesman on the screening of Europe’s Last Dictator, it was the film-maker’s decision to invite Assange. But it doesn’t much matter. Whoever was responsible, they should have known better. New Statesman’s writer Kapil Komireddi also quoted Tatsiana Shaputska, a Minsk journalist who was arrested in the 2010 round-up, who said it a “shame to invite Assange to the film.”

      Using the sobriquet “smear piece” to dismiss reportage your find inconvenient is beneath contempt. Again, I’ll thank you to provide a link substantiating your libel claims against Leigh and Harding, but it is hardly relevant. The evidence of WikiLeaks’ collaboration with Lukashenko goes far beyond their journalism.

      If you would click on the link we provided (perish the thought) you would find that we certainly know all about the vile Israel Shamir. The burden of proof is not on me that he is affiliated with WikiLeaks. Shamir has repeatedly made the claim himself, and the burden is on Assange and WikiLeaks to state the facts of their relationship with Shamir. The evidence that Shamir passed information on to Lukashenko is also provided at the link above. Happy reading. I fail to see how Shamir’s purported squabble with the Guardian is relevant to the assertions of his collaboration with Lukashenko.

      1. No, I’m not being dishonest
        I attended the screening of “Europe’s Last Dictator” myself, so I know what was said there.

        This link is an accurate description of the evening. It also contains a link to the freebelarusnow.org website, from where you should be able to contact Irina Bogdanova yourself about Assange’s role and his helpfulness to Belarussian dissidents.

        http://nowthenmagazine.com/issue-50/europes-last-dictator/

        As to providing proof about Leigh and Harding’s libel against Assange and the timing of this ‘Belarus’ smear against Assange, note the dates on these two links:

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/31/wikileaks-holocaust-denier-handled-moscow-cables

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/gnm-press-office/guardian-books-publishes-wikileaks-book

        The actual release date of the book was 1 February 2011. You’ll see this article too repeats the “they’re informants, they deserve to die” libel.

        Here’s the signed witness statement from an independent witness at the dinner, Der Spiegel journalist John Goetz, which has been submitted to the Leveson Inquiry concerning another Guardian journalist committing perjury at the Inquiry over the same issue:

        wlstorage.net/file/cms/Folder%204/1.%20Signed%20statement%20by%20John%20Goetz.pdf

        Sorry I didn’t provide links before. I wasn’t sure this site accepted them in comments. Tell me, have to spoken to John Kampfner at Index on Censorship directly about this? Has his view changed at all since IoC first asked these questions back in 2011? I know they were also worried that Wikileaks had endangered Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe by releasing a cable – but that was probably before the Guardian posted the correction you can see here at the bottom of this article:

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/03/zimbabwe-morgan-tsvangirai

        Now I don’t like some of the views expressed by Israel Shamir as much as the next person – both the ones about Jews and the ones about Belarus – but I think he is entitled to express them as long as he only does so on his own website and not in wider forums such as newspapers. As far as I’m aware, that’s the case. I’ve also heard he claims some of his family are Belarussan peasant stock, so possibly his favourable views of the Belarus regime are 30 years out of date (ie. from a time before Lukashenko totally lost the plot/got dictatorial. This would seem to align with the view of the British Ambassador at the screening too – that Lukashenko’s early reforms did improve the lives of the rural poor). None of which, of course, has any bearing on the fact that there is NO proof that Shamir is – or ever was – closely aligned to Wikileaks. Any more than any other journalist passed cables has been. Please PROVE that – beyond one photo taken of Assange standing next to the bloke. And please do NOT take James Ball’s – another Guardian journalist word for it.  Ball is particularly close to Leigh, or was – he seems to be distancing himself now – and is the “staffer” referred to in the first link I’ve provided here. Ball himself started writing articles claiming Assange was anti-Semetic and had passed cables to Lukashenko via Shamir as early as March 2011 but that’s been scotched now by Shamir, who says it was James Ball himself who passed him the cables on Belarus and “the jews”. See for yourself:
        http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Ball.htm

        When challenged about this Ball finally admitted – in May 2012 – that yes, it was him:
        https://twitter.com/jamesrbuk/status/175644469855662084

        though he tries to say (now) that he was only following orders…

        Bear in mind that for a full year he hid the vital details about his own involvement from readers and simply told them Assange had given cables to Shamir. Why not give the FULL facts if he was indeed ‘under orders’? Even if you don’t like Shamir, if Ball himself has now confirmed the facts, surely there’s no doubt any more? What concerns me most though is that journalists – like Leigh, like Ball – can get away with misinforming their readers for a full year before they finally cough up the truth.

        1. Thanks for the links, but…
          The Guardian’s “correction” re. Zimbabwe is pretty narrow, given that the newspaper got the cable from WikiLeaks.

          With all due respect to Irina Bogdanova, she lives in the UK. Tatsiana Shaputska, who was quoted by the New Statesman dissenting from the decision to invite Assange to the screening, lives in Minsk and was imprisoned there. I don’t think her views should be dismissed.

          I reiterate that whatever the sins of Leigh and Harding, it doesn’t change the fact that Shamir was boasting in Counterpunch that WikiLeaks cables exposed the Belarus opposition as State Department astroturf at the same time that Lukashenko was boasting in the state-controlled media of receiving WikiLeaks intelligence that revealed who was “working behind the scenes” in the 2010 protests. Assange owes us a full accounting on this: I am saying no more, and no less.

          Again: When Shamir is publicly presenting himself as “accredited” with WikiLeaks, the burden is not on me to “prove” his affiliation with the group. The burden is on Assange to explain the nature of the relationship.

          I’m not sure I’m following the controversy around James Ball and his ambiguous tweet. Smells to me like Shamir trying to scapegoat a journalist. Where is Ball supposed to have got the cables from? What motive would he have in sharing them with Lukashenko? Not adding up. Anyway, again: It doesn’t change the fact that Assange owes us an accounting on this. And the silence has been deafening.

          I object to neutral language like “don’t like” to refer to a crypto-Nazi. (And just barely crypto…) You are cutting Shamir, and Lukashenko (“lost the plot”?), way too much slack.

          There is nothing on the Index on Censorship website to indicate they have rethought the Belarus affair.

          1. That’s pretty disrespectful
            That’s pretty disrespectful to Irina, isn’t it? She “lives in the UK” because she’s in exile because her brother Andrei Sannikau is the main opposition leader of Belarus. He was very badly beaten at a rally in Minsk, arrested and imprisoned and now he’s been “disappeared”. Irina was in tears at the screening, she doesn’t know whether he’s alive or dead.

            I’m sorry for my neutral language, but actually “lost the plot” was the British Ambassador to Belarus’s line about Lukashenko. I’ve stolen that phrase from him. To a British person, it implies that you think someone’s a raving lunatic – and I agree with the Ambassador, whatever Lukashenko’s reforms were like early on he’s now a power-crazed dictator. Please don’t think I take any other view. And I’m no apologist for holocaust denial either – my neutral language wasn’t meant to imply that.

            For the rest, we may have to agree to disagree. You think it’s Wikileaks that owes the full accounting. I think it’s James Ball who does, given that he’s now admitted that he was the person who passed the cables to Shamir and he has previously lied about that – in print, over and over again for a whole year. I don’t like being lied to, especially not by journalists who work for powerful mainstream newspapers. That’s my main beef with all this, and where I think the disagreement between us stems from. You see Bill, I’m just a newspaper reader and I rely on these people to inform me about the world (so I’ve realised that nowadays I have to hunt around quite a bit on the internet in order to find the truth) but you are a journalist, you’re able to just phone John Kampfner of IoC up to find out what his latest views are, or contact Tatsiana Shaputska or other Belarussan journalists and dissidents directly to find out how the relevations in the Wikileaks cables are seen by activists in Belarus. But I can’t do those things. So I get angry when journalists in positions of power at powerful newspapers lie to readers to cover up their own sins. Because they can do so much damage with those lies – if they persist with them long enough they can create myths, they can literally ‘write’ history. How many people in the US believe that Assange didn’t give a shit about Afghan informants and thought they deserved to die because they’d read in a respectable newspaper like the Guardian that he’d said that? And it was a lie, a nasty bit of libel. By a newspaper journalist. And a lie that potentially has life-threatening consequences. There is a clause in the US espionage statute about the death penalty applying in cases where there is “intent to harm” US informants. Look it up – it’s 18 USC 794(a).

            Last thing, you seem puzzled about James Ball’s part in all this so, just to fill you in, James Ball originally trained as a journalist under David Leigh at City University (Leigh has a professorship there), then went to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism unit at CityU for a short while. Then he was an intern at Wikileaks for two months (Nov/Dec 2010, so he spent at least one month working on Cablegate) before leaving to join the Guardian, again directly under David Leigh. He started at the Guardian mid-January 2011. Do these facts help things make a little more sense to you now?

          2. No disrespect, except possibly yours
            I said “With all due respect to Irina Bogdanova,” and I meant it. You are the one who is disrespecting Tatsiana Shaputska by not even acknowledging the legitimacy of her viewpoint. In a report for Tablet magazine, Kapil Komireddi quotes other dissidents in Belarus who blame WikiLeaks for complicity with their repression, e.g.:

            “This is my country, I want to stay here, but I don’t want to die,” Sergey said as he explained that his parents were now looking for work in Ukraine and Poland. “I really hate WikiLeaks. How can they do this?” What did WikiLeaks have to do with the situation, I asked. Sergey replied: “The KGB is telling these people, ‘Your name is in the American cables and you are a traitor, an American agent, and you will be treated like an enemy of the country.’ “

            Ball’s “admission” seems ambiguous at best, but just because he may owe us an accounting hardly means WikiLeaks doesn’t.

            With a paid assignment, I’d call Irina Bogdanova for a quote, or even go to Belarus. When I am blogging for a few pennies in ad revenue, I digest secondary sources, like every other blogger. Komireddi’s legwork on the ground in Minsk is quite impressive, tho I am curious about Bogdanova’s reaction. If you have an email address for her, I will try to make contact. If she is affiliated with Free Belarus Now, I note that Index on Censorship is listed on the front page as one of their “partners.” So they seem not to have had a parting of the ways over this question.

            I’m not familiar with the Afghan controversy. Do fill me in.

          3. Thank you for wanting to
            Thank you for wanting to engage with this subject Bill, that’s appreciated – and I do understand the constraints you operate under now you’ve explained your situation. I meant no disrespect to Tatsiana Shaputska’s viewpoint – of course that counts too. I have no idea who Sergey might be. And I’m afraid I don’t have a direct email for Irina but I’m sure you will be able to contact her via the freebelarusnow.org site, and yes, I agree her view will be particularly valuable if Free Belarus Now has a partnership with IoC.

            The Afghan controversy is HUGE; so huge I really don’t know where to start… It’s to do with the redaction of informant names from WikiLeaks’ Afghan War Diaries, which got released 25 July 2010 and on which Wikileaks, the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel worked together. Apparently the newspaper journalists were supposed to identify which records likely needed redacting but 100 names of Afghan informants slipped through this check and were then published by Wikileaks – that’s when all the “they’ve got blood on their hands” quotes from US politicians and pundits happened – and the journalists (well, the Guardian and NYT) wrote quite a few articles blaming Wikileaks for it instead. My view is that the US government made so many of these “blood on hands” statements precisely because of that espionage statute I mentioned about “intent to harm” US informants, 18 USC 794(a). It’s worth looking at the actual wording of the document to see why Leigh’s libel that Assange said “they’re informants, they deserve to die” (Leigh’s allegation was that it was at a dinner in London on 21 July 2010 to discuss the redaction of the Afghan War Diaries – now completely refuted by Der Spiegel journalist John Goetz’ witness statement, who was at the dinner) is a potentially life-threatening one. It’s on page 15 of this Congressional Research Service survey of available legislation with which to prosecute WikiLeaks:

            http://t.co/knzcVbPW

            A few points to bear in mind: 1) who commissions the Congressional Research Service? That’s right, Congress. This survey was published in June 2012, I think. Not sure when it was commissioned exactly, but it does suggest there is still a very high-level push in the US to extradite Assange. So I believe the evidence of this document rather than all the mainstream newspaper articles telling me there’s absolute no danger at all of onward extradition from Sweden, the US has shown no interest, blah, blah, etc… 2) the Guardian is one of the most respected newspapers in the world so this “they’re informants, they deserve to die” libel got re-reported globally – so many media outlets carried the story most people now believe it’s true. And jury pools for any future US espionage trial have been poisoned by that, obviously. 3) David Leigh claimed this remark was made in July 2010 but he never says a peep about it at the time it’s supposedly said – the first time he ever mentions it is on 1 February 2011 in his book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy (and in the 31 January Guardian article announcing the book publication I’ve provided in a previous post here). The significance of that is that WikiLeaks and the Guardian did not fall out until 1 November 2010, when Der Spiegel alerted them to a plot between the Guardian and the New York Times to cut Wikileaks out of the deal to publish Cablegate; the two newspapers were planning to go ahead without Wikileaks. Twitter comments from Holgar Stark of Der Speigel:

            https://twitter.com/#!/holger_stark/status/169830954980999169
            https://twitter.com/#!/holger_stark/status/169831313300398080
            https://twitter.com/#!/holger_stark/status/169831748933402624

            (He means, of course, October/November 2010 not 2011, which he corrected in a subsequent tweet)

            Are you managing to keep up with all this, Bill? I know – it’s bloody labryinthine, isn’t it? But I promise you I can back every single word I’m telling you with stone-cold, hard evidence. The Guardian has been playing a very dirty game – well, not the whole Guardian, that’s unfair; a few key figures at the Guardian, but most specifically David Leigh. And he’s got form as a very dirty journalist, I’m afraid. He’s responsible for the now-discredited Cash for Questions scandal, which ruined a British MP Neil Hamilton but was based on a pack of lies by Leigh. He also committed contempt of court by breaking an injunction in the Trafigura case by ‘leaking’ the injunction into Parliament to take advantage of parliamentary privilege (ie. immunity from prosecution) to get the story out. Ok, that story needed to get out but the injunction was only for 10 days so it would’ve got out anyway – Leigh just wanted his ‘scoop’. Heck, that’s just an illustration of how dirty he plays, take it as you will…

            I’m not sure exactly where you’re based Bill – I’m guessing the States, yes? – so perhaps you are not aware of just how small and incestuous the power circle of the UK mainstream media is. One way to illustrate that perhaps is to show you how many of what you think of as separate sources for this “Belarus smear” (sorry, I’m going to carry on calling it that) all lead back to one single source, David Leigh (just like the “they’re informants, they deserve to die” smear does). To see that, of course, you do need to check dates of articles very closely, to make sure you’ve got them all in the correct chronological order. So now, I’ll show you the links:

            Kapil Komireddi’s article history at the Guardian (Yes, he’s a freelance journalist but also can be considered a tame Guardian stooge):
            http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/kapil-komireddi?INTCMP=SRCH

            John Kampfner’s (CEO of Index on Censorship) article history at the Guardian (Not a stooge, but a close friend of David Leigh):
            http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/johnkampfner?INTCMP=SRCH

            Remember the “Assange is an anti-Semite” story that went global? Well, that one started from Ian Hislop’s report in Private Eye (1 March 2011) about a telephone conversation he’d received from Assange two weeks earlier. Now, bear in mind that Private Eye put the story on page 8 of its print edition (publication fortnightly, circulation 600,000) and DID NOT put it on their website at all, ever. So, how did the story go global? The Guardian ‘planted’ the story in the Liberal Conspiracy online site. Well, James Ball did, actually. His twitter handle is @jamesrbuk. Check the hat-tip at the top of this article, and note the date:

            http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/01/assange-goes-off-deep-end-blaming-jews-and-guardian-in-private-eye/

            If the issue of Assange’s ‘anti-Semiticism’ and supposedly ‘close’ association with Shamir is so important to James Ball, why not write about it first in his own employer’s newspaper, the Guardian? Why just give the story away to another media outlet? The answer is that if the story is reported elsewhere first, the Guardian can simply repeat it (and they have – endlessly) with total impunity – they didn’t create it, they don’t have to take responsibility for it. Look, it’s already been widely reported; it already has ‘credibility’ as a story.

            Favourite trick of David Leigh and Co. They play very dirty.

            Well, I hope I’ve given you enough background on this for your further research with Irina and Free Belarus Now on the Wikileaks/Belarus story, Bill. I can see the oppression in Belarus is an issue you care passionately about and I’m right with you on that. I just hate to see good people get the wool pulled over their eyes, so I wish you the very best of luck with your research. I hope you find all the answers you need.

  2. Did WikiLeaks address the Belarus imbroglio?

    A few readers have now brought to my attention a supposed statement from WikiLeaks on the Shamir affair which is so ambiguous that I thought it probably wasn’t worth mentioning. But in the interests of fairness, I will do so. It is on the website of TwitLonger, which seems to be for tweets that exceed 140 characters, dated March 2, 2011. Neither signed nor titled, it seemingly originates form the WikiLeaks Twitter feed. It does not appear to be on the WikiLeaks website or the Index on Censorship website. It purports to be a “WikiLeaks statement that was given to, but not used by, the UK satirical current-affairs magazine, Private Eye” after it ran an exposé on Assange’s connection to Shamir. It starts: “Israel Shamir has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever.” It then goes on to contradict itself, stating that Shamir was given access to a “limited portion” of the WikiLeaks cables, ostensibly to cull the material for journalistic purposes. It provides no definition for this vague locution, nor any details of what the material concerned, much less explain why any information should have been shared with a neo-Nazi. It takes no responsibility for the blowback to dissidents in Belarus. (Assuming it was “blowback,” and not intentional collaboration, as seems more likely.) And it repeats utterly implausible claims that Shamir worked for the BBC, implicitly legitimizing a neo-Nazi.

    Cynically, it makes no mention of the fact that Shamir repeatedly presented himself as “accredited” with WikiLeaks–making it seem like this was some baseless accusation of the Media Conspiracy against Assange. 

    In a word: a masterpiece of obfuscation.

    Finally, the statement was apparently not sent to the New York Times after
    the story they ran on the Private Eye claims
    . Seems more like it was designed to assuage the Assangistas who might be feeling some pangs of guilt over the Belarus affair—not to actually clear the air. It certainly falls far short of the full accounting demanded in February 2011 by Index on Censorship.
     

  3. Julian Assange and Chen Guangcheng
    Glenn Greenwald in his piece in The Guardian calling out media double standards in the Assange case also makes hay out of Chen Guangcheng, to wit:

    Apparently, activists should only seek asylum from countries with pristine human rights records, whichever countries those might be: a newly concocted standard that was conspicuously missing during the saga of blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at the US embassy; I don’t recall any western media outlets accusing Guangcheng of hypocrisy for seeking refuge from a country that indefinitely imprisons people with no charges, attacked Iraq, assassinates its own citizens with no due process on the secret orders of the president… [bla bla bla]

    Well, World War 4 Report is probably too small to count as a “western media outlet,” but when Chen landed at New York University back in the spring, we did ask if he would (at least) take issue with NYU’s neighborhood-crushing redevelopment plan that Greenwich Village is in an uproar over. We will now note that Chen (one of whose activist campaigns in China was access for the disabled) has voiced at least cautious criticisms of Washington’s failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled (see his July 17 interview with WNYC’s The Takeaway). Will Assange do even that much if he ever makes it to Ecuador? On the basis of his squishy-soft, sycophantic interview with Rafael Correa on Russia Today TV back in June, it seems doubtful.

    We will also point out that Chen was fleeing very real persecution in China. His family was threatened, his brother and nephew detained in a “black jail” (clandestine prison), and he broke a foot jumping over a wall to escape incommunicado house arrest in his Shandong village (he is blind, recall), sleeping in pig pens and fields before reaching contacts who risked their own freedom to help him reach Beijing and the US embassy. (It is pretty annoying that it is mostly accounts on conservative outlets like The Economist and the Daily Mail that have detailed this heroism.)

    Assange, in contrast, faces no persecution, despite the fantasies of his supporters. There is lots of basically empty speculation that a “secret indictment” has been issued against him by the US Justice Department (see Rolling Stone, Politico, Center for Constitutional Rights); it all goes back to completely unsubstantiated claims by the perennially overheated Stratfor, which purports to have received an email to that effect from a typically anonymous “US government source.” But this merely raises the question of why the indictment would be secret—on the contrary, if the US wanted to extradite Assange it would make more sense for it to make the request now, while he is still in the UK, Washington’s closest ally. Contrary to the utterly bogus conventional wisdom, officially neutral Sweden would be—at least slightly—less likely to extradite than Britain. At a minimum, it is about even, so the notion that the US is waiting till he is on Swedish soil to pounce with an extradition request is no less hallucinatory for its ubiquity.

    So unless you buy the “honey trap” thesis that the rape charges are bogus (which is utterly condescending to the women making the accusations), there is simply no reason to believe that Assange faces any persecution whatsoever.

    In conclusion: We are far more forgiving of Chen Guangcheng’s reluctance to criticize his hosts, thank you. And he has already done more criticism than we have heard (or are likely to hear) from Assange.

    1. Wow, i didn’t know those
      Wow, i didn’t know those details about Chen’s escape, thank you. That’s an amazing story, isn’t it, when you consider that he’s blind? What a terrible experience it must have been.

      Can I pick up on two other points, though. The reason the possible sealed indictment would still be ‘secret’ is that it’s a criminal offense for a US official to reveal the existence of a sealed indictment until the subject of it is in custody. I know Stratfor are generally thought to be flaky, but wasn’t Fred Burton at one time the Deputy Chief of Counter-Terrorism at the Diplomatic Security Service? Presumably his contacts with old buddies would still be pretty good. The Diplomatic Security Service is one of the agencies involved in the Grand Jury investigation into Wikileaks – that came out in the Government witnesses’ testimony at Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing.

      I’m not even going to go there about the “honey trap/rape charges” issue (we’ll be here all night, haha…), except to say I don’t believe it’s a honey trap but I do think there’s lots of problems around the Swedish prosecutor’s behaviour that make me view the allegations as they’ve been presented to the UK courts – I want to stress that, as they’ve been presented to the UK courts – with suspicion (I’m a woman, btw, who got raped and reported it to the police but my case never reached the courts, unfortunately). One issue I do feel strongly about though is that I think the protection of anonymity should have been applied to both sides, complainants and accused. Yes, I know AA did out herself to the Swedish press the day after she went to the police, but I don’t approve generally of women’s names getting public in a case like this. OTOH, Assange has had no protection in either the bloggosphere or the press for the last two years, and the way the reporting has gone down has destroyed the presumption of innocence, which I feel is a vital concept to maintain in due legal process because of the effect of negative media reporting on jury pools. As it would equally be if the women were being negatively reported in the press (instead of just in the bloggosphere/social media). Wrong on both sides, I guess. Oh, this case is just bloody wrong, all round, don’t you agree? What a mess.

      But, on the subject of extradition courts, I believe the reason the US didn’t/doesn’t apply direct to the UK for extradition is that 1) they hadn’t had time to prepare a case for extradition that was strong enough to bear scrutiny by the time the Swedish had already got theirs in, ie. it was Cablegate – published 27 November 2010 – which really got the US upset; the Swedish EAW was already issued on 29 November. And 2) for the US to then ask Britain for extradition when there’s already an opposing one in existence would put their ‘greatest ally’ in a really awkward position politically, having to choose between the two: go with Sweden and piss off your “special relationship” ally, the US; or go with the US request and piss off the huge percentage of your voting public who are opposed to the UK/US extradition treaty anyway (it’s HATED here in England) and 50% of your population (women). Plus putting one extradition request on top of another would bung the whole thing up for YEARS in the courts. That’s why it’s not being done from Britain – because the UK is the ‘greater ally’, do you see?

      1. Maybe WikiLeaks should hire you
        You’ve at least ventured a plausible explanation as to why the US could be holding back on an extradition request—so as not to force the UK to choose between honoring Washington’s request or Sweden’s. But that isn’t what Assange’s supporters are saying. They are assuming that Sweden is somehow more likely to extradite than the UK, which doesn’t make a lick of sense. Your theory militates against the assumption that the Swedish extradition is a subterfuge for US extradition.

        Saying the sealed indictment is secret because it’s a sealed indictment is rather begging the question.

        I am heartened by your assumption that British women overwhelmingly want Assange sent to Sweden.

        1. Extradition from the UK to the US was never an option
          “I am heartened by your assumption that British women overwhelmingly want Assange sent to Sweden.”

          Me too – but it’s important to remember that the reason for this is not particulalrly ‘Assange-related’

          As Arbed explains, “the UK/US extradition treaty … it’s HATED here in England” – and it’s hated because it is a one sided treaty, not a reciprocal agreement; poor law in international terms. The differences in conditions (depending whether the request is eastbound or westbound) can be summarised, pretty accurately, as follows – a person may be extradited from the US to the UK if there is a probability of guilt; a person may be extradited from the UK to the US if there is a suspicion. As it happens, most of the high-profile cases (including Assange’s), would have qualified even if the law WAS evenhanded – but it’s got to the satge that anyone up for extradion to the states is automatically a civil rights hero, and (of course!) as innocent as the driven snow.

          Another good reason the US hesitates to give Assange that particular martyrdom (heck he’s a hero of the left for simply walking into a dictator’s embassy, despite breaking bail conditions!). Assange has single-handedly discredited the ‘liberal left’ and the civil rights movement by his selfishness – and cowardice.

          1. Why was extradition never an option?
            You don’t explain your reasons for this assertion. Certainly the terms of the extradition treaty pose no obstacle. I do think it is likely the White House has measured the political costs of making Assange a martyr and decided against it. 

            Rafael Correa displays a growing authoritarian streak, but it is an abuse of the language to call him a dictator. Save the word where for where it really applies (e.g. Lukashenko).

        2. Um, no, that’s not my
          Um, no, that’s not my impression from talking to women here. British women overwhelmingly would like the allegations answered, but most simply can’t get their heads around why on earth the prosecution is refusing to do the questioning. They don’t see or know about the complexities of the Swedish system over here, they just look at it from the perspective of how the British system works, obviously. What would get 50% of the population/women really irate is if the UK govt was asked to choose between a US and a Swedish extradition and the government chose against the one dealing with crimes against women; that would have a very potent symbolism, do you see?

          Most women seem to want the Swedish prosecutor to come to the UK and ask those questions. That’s what so strange and suspect about the whole extradition for most. Why has the prosecutor refused every opportunity to do that? I don’t know. It could be just that she’s an over-zealous prosecutor who pushed too hard on a case that’s too weak who hadn’t banked on Assange’s high profile putting the whole thing under much greater scrutiny than she would normally have to play with (and, of course, the actual police witness statements getting leaked onto the internet in Februay 2011, which ruined everything for her) and now she’s got herself into a real tight corner. Apparently, she is set to retire at the end of this year. What happens then? I don’t know. What a mess.

          So, can I qualify that assumption that I don’t think it’s a subterfuge? I don’t think it necessarily is one – the underlying case could be a genuine one and prosecutor could’ve lied to the UK courts out of her own self-interests (which would still mean it’s become a politicised case, in my view). She HAS lied, btw, I’m not just saying that, I can offer solid evidence on that. And there have been some very wooky and twisted interpretations of British law (the 2003 Extradition Act) at all three levels of the court appeal in the UK. The case is definitely a politicised one in this country, I suppose from the political desire to get this extremely tricky situation the hell off its turf as soon as possible (there are Freedom of Information documents from the Crown Prosecution Service saying everything in this case has been pushed through “at break-neck speed” – and saying much more than just that – you should get hold of those; they’re really revealing). Well, that plan failed rather spectacularly, didn’t it? Britain now has 10 times the political embarrassment on its plate, n’est pas?

          OTOH, it could be that the reason she’s behaving so illogically is because she is ‘under orders’. We just don’t know, do we? Jury’s out on that one, haha. But I am very certain that the US will request extradition from Sweden if Assange gets there and Sweden will drop its sex investigation and comply. That’s just based on what I know about the Grand Jury investigation and debates in Congress about “off-shoring” Assange (yes, literally named in a detailed discussion on how to move the case via a FISA court ruling that he’s an “enemy of the US” and therefore out of the federal court system down to military jurisdiction in Guantanamo. It’s on C-Span and in the Congressional record) and suchlike (formal attempt to get Wikileaks designated as an FTO – Foreign Terrorist Organisation; formal request by Rep Peter King to the Secretary of State that she liaise with Sweden to get Assange extradited to the US; a letter from Dept of Justice General Counsel Harold Koh setting the grounds for indictment, etc – all in the public record; confirmation in June 2012 that there’s still about 16 federal and military law enforcement agencies currently working on the Wikileaks Grand Jury (from testimony at Manning’s hearings, etc)), and the geo-politics of Sweden’s position.

          So, a subterfuge? Not necessarily. A stepping stone? Yup.

          Well Bill, you’ve probably guessed that I’m a bit of a fan, both of Wikileaks and rather pro-Assange, at least when it comes to this case (my own personal history of being a rape survivor has made me very interested in it, obviously, so I’ve looked into it very closely, and I have a very strong streak for justice and fairness in me). But I hope not to – well, I try not to – let that become ‘blind loyalty’ in any way. I’ve done my damnedest to be very diligent in my research and aim for the truth as it is, rather than looking for what I would like to find. But, you know, I think one of the best things about being a Wikileaks fan (hopefully, not an ‘Assangista’ – I hate that term) is that it’s turned into an education. It really has. I’ve had to dig so hard to uncover what’s really going on underneath the ‘media narrative’ – to get as close to the truth as I possibly can – that I have learned SO much; about archives and the historical record; about censorship and the media industry; about British and European law (and US Constitutional law); about geo-politics and trade deals; oil; copyright issues; arms deals; the history of wars, how they were fought and why; and so much more. SO much. Have you found the same thing – that’s it’s been an absolute education – from the other side of the coin, being an anti-fan as it were (hope I’m not making too much of an assumption there – that’s just the impression I’ve formed from your posts here)?

          1. Assange is accused of crimes on Swedish soil…
            …and he should have to answer for them in Sweden, not England. That’s how it works. Sorry. I fail to see why Assange should get special treatment in this regard, especially as the notion that he could be extradited to the US more easily from Sweden than Britain is utterly baseless.

            Please do share your evidence that the Swedish prosecutor lied.

            So some gasbag spewed on the floor of Congress about sending Assange to Gitmo? Post the link. But it doesn’t make Assange’s touting the Gitmo threat any less absurd—or perverse. Obama is trying to clear out Gitmo. Not a single new prisoner has been sent there under his presidency. The notion that anyone, much less a high-profile figure like Assange, would be sent to Gitmo nowadays is an absurdity. Please read what the WP’s Fact Checker blog had to say on it, and don’t fall for Assange’s shameless self-aggrandisement.

            And I reiterate: There aren’t even any charges again him in the US!

            “Anti-fan”? Do I think Assange is an insufferable ass, and (with the exception of the “Collateral Murder” video) the importance of the WikiLeaks revelations overblown? Absolutely.

          2. Oh, ok, here goes… First, I
            Oh, ok, here goes… First, I should mention that I have personally attended all the UK court hearings. What you have to understand about this case is that the Swedish prosecutor has lied to and misled the UK courts.

            To start with, there’s the matter of her telling both the Swedish and international press that under Swedish law it was illegal for her to question Assange in the UK. This has now been debunked but the UK District Court (February 2011 hearing) bought it. One example (there’s more):

            http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2035032,00.html#ixzz1PNBMEASW

            Second, a condom was handed in to police by Anne Ardin on 25 August 2010 (12 days after the event to which it relates) as evidence of her claims that Assange “did something” to deliberately tear it halfway through sex. The condom was sent by police to the SKL (Sweden’s National Forensic lab) the same day. The first set of results could find no chromosonal DNA – male or female – on it at all, although it did have a tear in it and look ‘used’ (there are pictures, if you really must…). The lab did find a tiny speck of ‘something’ on it so the police requested a second test. Apparently this tiny speck did contain mitochondrial DNA but bear in mind two things: 1) Mitochondrial DNA, if there is no chromosonal DNA present, can ONLY come from hair or nails, 2) any condom used for sex should be awash with chromosonal DNA from both parties. I will forego saying what I personally think this lab result does to the credibility of Anne Ardin’s allegations and instead restrict myself to what it does to the credibility of the Swedish prosecutor’s action. The 2nd set of results arrived back from the lab on 25 October 2010, at least three weeks before the Swedish prosecutor described the ‘deliberate tearing’ of this condom on the EAW extradition warrant (18 November) as the offence of “sexual molestation”. All in the Swedish lab report, here (it’s in the pdf attached to the bottom of this article; in Swedish, I’m afraid but the lab report and attached correspondence have very little text – it’s basically charts – so Google translate suffices):

            http://wlcentral.org/node/2325

            Please don’t dismiss this because it’s on a pro-Assange site. Ignore the article if you like, just look at the Swedish forensics report attached.

            As regards one of Anne Ardin’s other allegations – the ‘forced pinning down’ to stop her from reaching a condom as she twisted her legs sideways to prevent penetration – described on the EAW extradition warrant as sexual assault and unlawful coersion, what seems to have been overlooked is that the very next sentence of her witness statement describes Assange asking what on earth she was doing. She explained for the first time that she wanted him to use a condom. He let go. She fetched one. He put it on and they resumed.

            The second woman’s witness statement describes being “half asleep”, which the prosecutor has bumped up to “fully asleep” on the extradition warrant.

            As the warrant itself, rather than the underlying evidence, is all the UK court is allowed to decide on, this constitutes a clear case of the Swedish prosecutor lying to the UK court about the severity of the allegations. She also bumped up “half asleep” in the police witness statements to “fully asleep” on that extradition warrant to reach the minimum potential sentence for which extradition is allowed.

            (The above three examples are what I was referring to when I said I could produce solid evidence that the Swedish prosecutor had lied to the UK courts. Forgive me if I don’t supply all the links – there would be rather a lot of them, but you can check for yourself. All that’s required is to compare the offences as listed on the EAW warrant presented to the British courts with the two women’s statements contained in the police file on the internet, plus the above-linked forensics report.)

            Third, the Swedish prosecution claimed that the only reason charges had not been formally brought was that that happened at a much later stage in Sweden and she was seeking extradition because she was definitely intending to prosecute, she merely needed Assange’s presence on Swedish soil for the second questioning at which formal charges are laid. That was in a late statement faxed to the court, but which she refused to fly over to be cross-examined on. Here:

            https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:fZz_6LH_ls8J:www.fsilaw.com/cms/documents/MarianneNysStatement040211.pdf+&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShofawsnaBh672_u5rVxkJZM0l2VxKD_WiWtslxbuNTk1E0DGD2tpZ6j2lLSWqGB–73ZXVhoz4tn5TsR1knDvai9EVyU2j-YDo1Ye7AfCFu9oYBR2YD79T0EAuql6nzdWRZVl1&sig=AHIEtbQaNQp_Nxy8yXtI-gjezARbT0K4VA&pli=1

            She had to say that (in February 2011) because she’d realised EAWs are not allowed for questioning to further an investigation. That statement swung the District Court hearing. This ignored the testimony of Sven-Erik Ahlem, Swedish ex-Director of Public Prosecutions, who testified that under Swedish law it is forbidden for a prosecutor TO DECIDE whether to prosecute until all questioning and the preliminary investigation is over. I heard this testimony with my own ears but, AFAIK, there’s no transcript of the proceedings available, only the final judgment has been released. But here, these are copied word-for-word from live tweets of the proceedings:

            Brita Sundberg-Weitman (former Swedish judge): the decision to prosecute can only be taken after the preliminary investigation has closed.

            and
            Sven-Erik Ahlem (former Swedish chief prosecutor): The last thing that happens as part of the preliminary investigation is that the suspect has a right to see all the material collected and also comment on whether he/she wants to hear more witnesses.
            JJ (Assange junior lawyer): The prosecutor cannot make the decision on whether to prosecute until then?
            SEA: That’s correct, unless there’s a risk of prescription (?)

            I couldn’t get David Allen Green to answer me about the point revealed by this testimony.

            It also ignores that Assange has not been questioned even a first time over Sophie Wilen’s experience because those allegations were formally dropped at the time of his interrogation in Sweden (30 August 2010).

            Look what the Swedish prosecutor is saying now about which stage the process is at. This is from a Swedish Foreign Office blog a couple of weeks ago:
            http://blogg.ud.se/blog/2012/08/23/om-fallet-julian-assange-del-2/

            “Some people are wondering why Mr Assange cannot be questioned at Ecuador’s Embassy in London. It is the Swedish Prosecution Authority that processes matters concerning surrender to Sweden under a European Arrest Warrant. In this case, the Prosecutor has made the assessment that Mr Assange needs to be available in Sweden during the preliminary investigation, hence the arrest warrant. A more detailed account of this can be found on the Swedish Prosecution Authority’s website. In brief, the Swedish Prosecution Authority writes that there is a need, during interviews with Mr Assange, to be able to present, and question him about, the evidence that has emerged in the investigation, and to be able to carry out supplementary interviews with him and other persons involved as the investigation continues.”

            “As the investigation continues”… Do you see what she has done there? The process is now back to preliminary investigation, well ahead of any formal charges being laid – to bring it back in line with Swedish law. But an extradition has been achieved which is illegal by anyone’s standards. The EU Framework Directive is quite clear: extradition is NOT for the purposes of furthering an investigation. The Irish Supreme Court ruled unanimously against extradition without charge a few months ago, but the UK High Court has allowed it. The UK’s parliament when drafting the UK Extradition Act 2003 specified that a ‘judicial authority’ meant a court or judge – precisely to avoid this kind of scenario where an INVESTIGATING prosecutor orders an extradition – but the UK Supreme Court overruled parliamentary intent (blatantly!). The Cambridge Law Review tore apart the judges’ use of a clause of the Vienna Convention (on the basis that the VC, being a bilateral treaty, does not apply to EU Framework Directives because the EU is not a nation, it’s a self-governing community. This has already been clearly ruled by the European Court of Justice, apparently). Here:

            http://www.cjicl.org.uk/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=22&Itemid=102

            http://www.cjicl.org.uk/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=23&Itemid=102

            Please do not rely on the UK court rulings in this case as having been fair, proper and impartial – they are all judgments driven by the underlying politically desired outcome.

            The UK court rulings all the way through this case show the heavy hand of ‘politics’ to anyone who has been watching closely, who has read the evidence file on the internet, who has been to sit and listen to the hearing, and then read through the tortured and twisted logic of the judgments, seen the new and dangerous precedents for us all these judgments have blithely waved in – proportionality doesn’t matter, as the District Court decided – compare and contrast with this Swedish expert legal witness:

            Extradition without charge is now ok (fine by our High Court, unanimously rejected by the Irish Supreme Court recently), an INVESTIGATING prosecutor is an ‘impartial judicial authority’ (Supreme Court), the usurping of parliamentary sovereignty (because they don’t know what they intend when they draft our laws – Supreme Court), the court can reach its conclusions using legal points never argued in court or three lots of post-hearing submissions requested by that court (Supreme Court) and – my favourite – French is now the ‘preferred’ language of our courts.

            You ask, Bill, why should Assange be treated any differently?; he should go to Sweden. But I say he has already been treated very, very differently to any other suspect in similar circumstances. In fact, it’s worth looking at what happened with the submission to have the Supreme Court case re-opened. The fact that the Supreme Court had based its decision on an obscure clause of the Vienna Convention concerning subsequent practice superseding any intended meaning parliamentarians might have had when drafting a law, when these legal points had not been argued in court – nor had they been raised at all in the three post-hearing submissions requested by the court – Assange’s defence team felt was manifestly unfair, and a contravention of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to a fair trial. Do you know the reason given by the Supreme Court for refusing to even look at re-opening the case? During the hearing one judge had queried “doesn’t that have a bearing on the Vienna Convention?” Second judge: “No, that’s not applicable here”. “Well, there you go”, said the Supreme Court, “you had your chance to raise these issues and you didn’t. Application dismissed. Without merit”. I kid you not. I was there.

            Are you aware of what actually triggered Assange’s flight into the Ecuadorian embassy? The Supreme Court gave him a 14-day grace period in which to appeal to the ECHR, after which the 10-day extradition process would begin. Assange heard that the UK Crown Prosecution Service, on behalf of the Swedish prosecutor, had asked the Court to reduce that 14-day grace period to ZERO days. I guess the Swedish prosecutor had taken one look at the arguments contained in the submission to get the Supreme Court case re-opened and realised she needed to block an appeal to Europe very promptly. Hence, too, the Supreme Court’s own summary dismissal.

            An attempt by the UK/Swedish authorities to deny Assange any chance to appeal to Europe – by requesting that his grace period in which to submit such an appeal was reduced from 14 days to ZERO days? Sure looks like political manoeurvring to me and a very, very serious abuse of due process and of someone’s human rights. ZERO days? That’s – surely – a pretty blatant attempt to make it impossible for someone to take their case to the ECHR, isn’t it? What on earth could have motivated the UK Crown Prosecution Service to even contemplate participating in such egregious behaviour? This, to me, more than anything else gives credence to Assange’s claim that the whole case is politically motivated and that there have been bad faith actions on the part of both Sweden and the UK – hence the need to seek political asylum against what he calls ‘political persecution’ right here, right now in the UK.

            Fair trial? Pfft.

            Postscript: Have you seen this? Just out today:
            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2203920/Condom-used-evidence-Assange-sex-case-does-contain-DNA.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

            I haven’t thought through yet what the emergence of this ‘no DNA on key evidence’ story into the mainstream press (finally!) means in terms of the politics of the UK press, or the wider implications for the political negotiations around safe passage and/or extradition to Sweden. I wonder if it means the UK is manoeuvring to throw Sweden under the bus? Meaning, being ‘seen’ to have the correct stance re extradition to its “special relationship” ally, but meanwhile setting up the groundwork to take a more pragmatic approach. Hmm… what do you think?

          3. Irony of Assange’s defenders
            They keep arguing that the rape charge is transparently spurious, yet they support the extreme measures Assange has taken to avoid answering for them. If the case is so flimsy, let him go to Sweden and clear his name.

            Too much cognitive dissonance for me here.

          4. Answers to your queries on
            Answers to your queries on the US extradition side of things:

            Three gasbags, actually. Haha! Here’s the link:

            http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2010-11-30/pdf/CREC-2010-11-30-pt1-PgH7743-8.pdf#page=1

            There was also the Shield Act, which specifically mentions Wikileaks, that they attempted to get passed in the Senate, though it didn’t get through:

            http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2010/s4004.html

            And here’s those formal attempts to get Wikileaks designated a Foreign Terrorist Organisation I mentioned. Actually, there’s two letters here from Rep Peter King (Chair of the Homeland Security Committee), one to Eric Holder Attorney-General, demanding prosecution under the Espionage Act, one to Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State about the FTO designation and negotiation with Sweden (scroll down):

            http://observer.com/2010/11/peter-king-on-why-wikileaks-should-be-declared-a-terrorist-organization-video/

            Presumably, you don’t think the Obama administration’s determination to appeal the permanent injunction US District Circuit Judge Katherine Forrest has just placed on using the NDAA Section 1021 authorisation for the Executive to place anyone who “gives material support” to Al-Queda or “associated forces” in indefinite military detention (which Obama swore he had no intention of using as he signed it into law on New Year’s Eve) bears any relation to Assange’s chances of ending up in Gitmo?

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/ndaa-case-indefinite-dentention_n_1885204.html

            Chris Hedges and the other Freedom 7 appellants might disagree with you – they think it’s vague enough to catch journalists and publishers in its net.

            But if you really want to know why I think onward extradition from Sweden to the US is virtually certain, have another look at that link I gave you of the Congressional Research Service survey of US legislation options with which to prosecute Assange/Wikileaks.

            http://t.co/knzcVbPW

            Count the number of ostensibly ‘criminal’ rather than ‘political’ charges in there – computer-related crimes, theft of documentation, etc. A US extradition request will clear the Swedish judicial system – with all its checks and balances against extradition for ‘political’/death penalty crimes – with NO problems whatsoever.

            Likewise, there is a way for the UK to agree to onward extradition to a third country AND avoid that decision going through judicial review in the UK courts. The Home Secretary (Theresa May, currently) simply has to waive the ‘specialty’ clause, Section 58, of the 2003 Extradition Act. It’s all in here:

            http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/41/section/58

            There ya go, all done at the stroke of a pen! How to achieve desired political outcomes by utilising our treasured, impartial and fair, legal and judicial systems.

             

             

          5. Assangistas jump the gun
            Peter King is the most extremist voice in the House of Representatives (OK, not counting Michele Bachmann and maybe Jim Sensenbrenner). Despite the Assangistas’ wet dreams, there is no way WikiLeaks is making the FTO list, at least not under an Obama administration. And even if it did, that is a far cry from sending Assange to Gitmo. This is crying wolf, and nothing else.

            The Justice Department brings criminal charges, not Congress.

            Chris Hedges and the “Freedom 7” likely made matters worse, BTW.

          6. Haha, have to agree with you
            Haha, have to agree with you about Peter King and yes, the FTO designation got knocked down pretty swiftly, didn’t it? Ok, Peter King too extremist for you, how about Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee and her 2 July 2012 call for Assange’s prosecution for espionage:

            http://www.smh.com.au/national/us-senator-calls-to-prosecute-assange-20120701-21b3n.html

            Or, you want Dept of Justice people? Ok, here’s their General Counsel’s letter about Assange/Wikileaks I mentioned earlier:

            http://www.cfr.org/media-and-foreign-policy/legal-case-against-wikileaks/p23618

            Or perhaps something more recent? Here’s DoJ spokesman Dean Boyd confirming on 2 July 2012 there “continues to be an investigation into Wikileaks”:
            http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/fresh-call-on-assange-espionage-20120701-21b59.html

            You do know about the 4 or 5 subpoenas to the Grand Jury already issued to Wikileaks-related people, don’t you?

            http://www.salon.com/2011/06/09/wikileaks_27/singleton/

            And there are all sorts of subpoenas still under seal that have been identified, including to Birgitta Jonsdottir, the Icelandic MP. Read what she has to say about her own State Dept’s advice not to travel to the US, despite US assurances that all was fine, she had nothing to fear:

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/03/evidence-us-judicial-vendetta-wikileaks-activists-mounts

            Or the Grand Jury case number: 10GJ3793 – guess what that 793 stands for… How about the FBI [DoJ-led criminal enquiry, as requested] Wikileaks investigation file of 42,135 pages mentioned at Bradley Manning’s hearings, only 8,741 pages of which relate to Manning, according to the US government prosecutors? (By the way, I think I probably agree with you that Gitmo for Assange is unlikely – too politically difficult – and now Quantico’s been closed that’s out too. But I’m sure the US has plenty of other onshore military brigs in which to hold someone in indefinite military detention.)

            I know, perhaps this will convince you: The full list of US law enforcement agencies that it’s been confirmed are STILL working on the Wikileaks Grand Jury case:

            Department of Defense (DOD): including CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA); the US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) for US Army Cyber Command and the 2nd Army and US Forces Iraq (USFI), as well as US Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU). Within that or in addition to that three military intelligence investigations.

            Department of Justice (DOJ) Grand Jury and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigations

            Department of State (DOS) and Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)

            Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Office of the National CounterIntelligence Executive (ONCIX), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

            Investigations into WikiLeaks have also been conducted by the House Oversight Committee, National Security Staff Interagency Committee and the PIAB (President’s Intelligence Advisory Board).

            Phew! That’s an awful lot of resources to expend if you have absolutely no intention of indicting someone…

            Ok, I feel I’ve made my point now, so over and out. I did really enjoy this conversation with you, Bill – I mean that. You’re obviously very well-informed and clearly passionate about your beliefs, and I think it’s great when two people from opposite sides of an issue can debate in a friendly way. So I was a little bit annoyed that you resorted to calling me an Assangista when I’d asked you – politely – not to. Please don’t do that next time, if I come back on here again.

          7. Prosecution for espionage…
            …is perfectly plausible. They don’t send people to Gitmo for that. And it hasn’t happened yet in any case.

            If the grand jury investigation is still open, that means no indictment has been brought yet. I never said the DoJ had no intention of indicting Assange. I said the notion that he could be sent to Gitmo is utterly implausible.

            I didn’t actually call you an Assangista. (And you didn’t actually ask me not to.)

  4. Israel Shamir gives Pol Pot a wet kiss…
    …in CounterPunch.

    Still waiting for Assange to forthrightly repudiate Shamir, and disclose the full details of the Belarus affair.

    And I’m still waiting for the “left” to repudiate the evil rag CounterPunch, which still appears to be held in wide esteem despite its relentless reactionary stupidity.

    Alas, I think I’m going to be waiting a long time.