Monday, April 15, 2019

Free Julian, End The Persecution

Last week, news publisher Julian Assange was arrested.  Julian is the publisher and the founder of WIKILEAKS.  Julian has published the truth and, as Jonathan Turley has pointed out, this caused the US government discomfort, "Of course, there is not crime of embarrassing the establishment but that is merely a technicality."

For the US government, the first extreme bit of discomfort came on Monday April 5, 2010, when WIKILEAKS released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two REUTERS journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.  Not only was the US government responsible for that attack, they were responsible for the lies and the coverup that followed.  When WIKILEAKS published the video, the truth was known.  That was only one of WIKILEAKS many news reports that broke new ground.  The US government is now attempting to criminalize journalism.  As Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers (THE REAL NEWS NETWORK) note:

The arrest of Julian Assange not only puts the free press in the United States at risk, it puts any reporters who expose US crimes anywhere in the world at risk. As Pepe Escobar wrote
Let’s cut to the chase. Julian Assange is not a US citizen, he’s an Australian. WikiLeaks is not a US-based media organization. If the US government gets Assange extradited, prosecuted and incarcerated, it will legitimize its right to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere, anytime.”

The Assange prosecution requires us to build a global movement to not only free Julian Assange, but to protect the world from the crimes and corruption of the United States and other governments. The reality is that Freedom of Press for the 21st Century is on trial.

Former WIKILEAKS employee James Ball spoke with Ari Shapiro (NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED) about the arrest, "The charge on the table relates to material leaked by Chelsea Manning. She was an ideologically motivated whistleblower. The charge around Assange is that he offered some help in cracking a password that might have made it easier for her to hide her actions. There's actually no evidence that was even successful. And so it doesn't change the fact that we're dealing with a public interest whistleblower. And the material that was published was judged to be in the public interest by The New York Times, by The Guardian, by Le Monde, by Der Spiegel and more."

And speaking on SKY NEWS, Assange's attorney Jennifer Robinson stated, "This indictment that has come from the United States relates to his communications with a source about a major public interest publication. This is about… US spying on UN and European politicians. This is about human rights abuses and corruption the world over. This is about evidence of US war crimes, killing journalists. These are the publications that he is now facing extradition and prosecution over."

More points were raised by the ACLU's Ben Wizner and the Knight First Amendment Institute's Jameel Jaffer: "The indictment characterizes everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal conspiracy. Cultivating a source, protecting a source’s identity, communicating with a source securely -- the indictment describes all of these activities as the 'manners and means' of the conspiracy."  Today, First Amendment attorney James Goodale spoke with Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian on LAW AND DISORDER RADIO.

James Goodale: You got to think of Assange this way, he's a digital age reporter.  [. . .]  So therefore if you can prosecute press entities for their reporting, particularly investigative reporting, this case represents a huge threat to that type of journalism.  The theory that the government may use in this case is that Assange conspired as an individual.  [. . .] So the government's theory is that the two of them are conspiring with respect to the release of classified information.  So that means that they can say that any time there is a classified leak.  They can go after the reporter at THE NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, PACIFICA, anywhere and say that that reporter's conspired with a source and that if they are successful asserting that against Assange, they can be successful against the establishment press.  End of investigative reporting because no one wants to go to jail.

Heidi Boghosian:  Now speaking of the established press, why do you think major outlets like THE TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST have not come to Julian's defense?

James Goodale: Snobbery.  THE WASHINGTON POST and THE NEW YORK TIMES think that they are the only ones who do journalism.

There are many discussions taking place.  Hopefully, you're participating -- maybe even leading -- some in your own circles.

Naomi Wolf (above) is standing up.  In fact, many people are defending Julian Assange and journalism -- including John Pilger, Pamela Anderson, Oliver Stone, US House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former-US Senator Mike Gravel, Jonathan Turley, Jason Raimondo, Aaron Mate, Caitlin Johnstone, Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald.  In addition, "six eminent public intellectuals in India" have signed a statement calling out this attack on the press:

The statement was signed by N Ram, the former editor-in-chief of The Hindu Group of Publications, writer Arundhati Roy, former Additional Solicitor General of India Indira Jaising, former West Bengal Governor and writer Gopalkrishna Gandhi, journalist and People’s Archive of Rural India founder P Sainath, and historian and writer Romila Thapar.

Julian Assange has zero possibility of a fair trial in the US. "US lawmakers from both parties cheered the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange."

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