Sunday 12th of July 2020

a deliberate attempt by the "democratic" states to isolate, demonise and abuse individuals...


WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is due to appear in court on Friday, as the United States seeks extradition for the publisher who faces up to 179 years in jail on charges of espionage. But not everyone agrees with the way that the Wikileaks co-founder is being treated - as John Steppling, journalist and philosopher, explains. 

Friday’s court case comes after an open letter was compiled last week, condemning the treatment of Julian Assange by US and UK authorities. Entitled "Journalists Speak Up for Julian Assange"- the statement includes the signatures of hundreds of top academics and journalists in the field, opposing Assange’s continued detainment and potential extradition to the States.

Sputnik: Do you consider Assange’s case to be, as the letter states, a ‘deliberate attempt by the democratic states to isolate demonise and abuse an individual’?

John Steppling: Well, of course, it's a monstrous attack against journalism. Assange and WikiLeaks have been absolutely impeccable and accurate in everything they have released, and the hypocrisy in all of this is staggering. I mean, when you consider the disinformation and propaganda that is disseminated on a daily basis by the United States and the UK. It is just colossal hypocrisy that Assange has been so demonised and so smeared in Western media. Papers like the Guardian, who have used WikiLeaks material for stories that won them awards and plaudits. They routinely demonise and smear Assange. They publish falsehoods about him. But they are not alone. We see the New York Times doing the same thing, the Washington Post and on and on. There has been a concerted and really kind of coordinated attack against Assange and a demonising of him personally. And we can look at the trumped-up rape case in Sweden, that the Swedish authorities never wanted to pursue in the first place. But we're told very clearly by the United States that they dare not abandon the case. So yeah, of course, it's just a story of colossal hypocrisy, but also cruelty and sadism. Really Assange has been treated barbarically through this entire process- the Australian Government has completely abandoned one of its citizens. So yeah, to describe it as Orwellian doesn't even begin to fully describe what is going on.

Sputnik: The letter refers to how 'dangerous times call for fearless journalism'. Is that what Julian Assange was engaged with when powering WikiLeaks- fearless journalism? Or is he guilty of state endangering espionage?

John Steppling: I will pick door number one- fearless journalist. Look. What is interesting in the media response to this (and I'm talking about mainstream media), is that so little time is devoted to what was exposed. The war crimes, the illegality, state illegality, disinformation and lies from the United States and the UK and other governments. You look at the crimes of Tony Blair and George Bush, and later Obama- and now Trump and back to Bill Clinton. Look at the crimes, look at the blood on the hands of these men, but they are protected. The ruling classes are always protected. Assange released emails between John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. Very rarely do you hear anything about what was in those emails. Are Podesta and Clinton held to account? No. Does anyone ask them hard questions about those emails? The ruling classes are protected. One of the interesting stories that WikiLeaks released was the Chagos Island story from the 60s and 70s. Do you ever hear about that? What did the British government do? No, people are not interested in that.

The public has been conditioned over and over again, to see the 'democratic states' as virtuous- and somehow the US has a god-given right to foment coups and orchestrate the cheating of elections all over Africa and in Latin America. I mean, we've recently seen in Bolivia, the US's thinly disguised orchestration of a violent coup d'etat in Bolivia. They tried it in Venezuela, and they did succeed in Honduras. These are all stories that WikiLeaks had, and released vital information about, and yet, the content of those stories that WikiLeaks released is rarely talked about. It's only "Oh, was Assange a real journalist?"... If he's not a real journalist, then I don't know who is. He's being charged under the Espionage Act, and he joins Eugene Debs and Emma Goldman, so he's in very good company there. Of course, he is a journalist, and he has been courageous and he has suffered for it.

I keep coming back, when I think about this story, to the absolutely colossal amount of propaganda that the US disseminates. We know the CIA is tied in with Hollywood. Watch American TV and see that jingoistic militarism, the valorising of US state violence against the poor nations of the world. And that's what the public has been conditioned to accept as the truth. We are seeing a global rise in fascism and an attack against indigenous people and the poor. And they are resisting, in many places, stories that are also buried. WikiLeaks was on the right side of history and all of this. They were blowing the whistle on the crimes and lies of the state, over and over and over again, and that is simply not permissible. The ruling class, in all of these countries, see themselves as protected, and in truth, they are protected. Their misdeeds are usually virtually invisible to the public. And it was only Assange and WikiLeaks that exposed them, to their great embarrassment and shame, but they are not going to be held to account for any of it. Assange will be.

Sputnik: With that in mind, if that is the case, can you envision a time when the tables will turn- and to ‘whistle blow’ will also mean to be ‘heard’?

John Steppling: Well, I'd like to believe that I'm an optimist about these things. We see resistance in Bolivia, among the indigenous people. We see protests in France, the yellow vests; we see protests in Chile and Colombia and across the world. At the same time, we see that the governments of the West, the imperialist United States with their colonialist, foreign policy vision- I mean, they have 900 military bases around the world. They lie about Iran, they target Iran, Syria, and they’ve openly said that they want to remove Assad. At the same time they protect a nation like Saudi Arabia, a mediaeval monarchy, they protect Israel. The double standards are astounding, and I think there are a lot of people- probably more people than one would really think, that understand this and are resisting. But so concentrated is the power, just look at the US military machine, the US and NATO war machine. That is very frightening, but there are glimmers of hope. Peter Handke just won the Nobel Prize, Pinter also won. These are men of enormous integrity and courage. Handke has been smeared in the media, just as Assange was. Why? Because he told the truth about NATO and the overthrow of Yugoslavia, and defended Milosevic and called out the lies that were disseminated around Clinton's bombing of Belgrade and overthrow of Yugoslavia. So, there are people that understand this- perhaps more and more actually- but they are being rendered invisible in media. The power of mainstream media, mass media, is enormous- it's almost difficult to gauge. One of the aspects of that power is to simply erase opposition.

If there is a success- the Yellow Vests are having success and traction and making changes- that will not be reported on. We don't hear about that. So people have to be encouraged to dig and uncover the truths that were the bread and butter of WikiLeaks. They served an enormous service to the entire planet really, by calling out these crimes- the crimes of the ruling states. And if Assange is disappeared into some super-max-purgatory and not heard from again, it will be tragic, and it will be a blow to that resistance that I would like to remain optimistic about.


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Free Assange today!


exposing the naked despots of the demonic states...


free assange... free assange... free assange...

Nils Melzer*, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, has again called for an end to the torture of Julian Assange

Thank you very much for the invitation to participate in this event and to contribute to it. I think we have to divide the question [about the psychological consequences of the detention] into two parts. I visited Julian Assange with my medical team on 9 May in Belmarsh. That was about three or four weeks after his arrest on 11 April, and we have found, medically, in a three-hour examination and a one-hour talk between him and me, that he showed all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture. These are very serious symptoms that were physically measurable, neurologically measurable. And at this time, on 9 May, we could also ask ourselves where these symptoms came from, what had caused them.

This man was detained for more than six years in a totally controlled environment, in the Ecuadorian embassy. It would be possible to determine with high certainty which the factors were that had actually triggered these symptoms because he was exposed only to this limited environment. It is an environment that has mainly been created by four states. Here, I believe, it is the US that must be mentioned first, as the US wanted to achieve Julian Assange’s extradition from the beginning. Of course, they did not publicise that. Julian Assange said it was his great fear that he would be extradited and then subjected to a show trial and most likely sentenced to life imprisonment in a high security prison, a so-called supermax prison which has been classified both by me and my predecessor as utterly inhumane. He was terrified of this – and was accused of being paranoid – but on the day he first left the embassy, just an hour later, the United States handed the extradition request to the United Kingdom. It was not paranoia at all, he was very realistic about how to see his situation and what threat he faced. This is the basic threat scenario.

In addition, there were the Swedish trials in 2010 and, as I have put forward in several public statements to the Swedish Government and elsewhere, they were carried out severely arbitrarily, a preliminary investigation which for nine years was incapable of bringing in a charge and which, after nine years, was quietly abandoned. This procedure forced Julian Assange to go to this [Ecuadorian] embassy and apply for asylum. He was a refugee in this embassy and therefore could not get out of the area. He offered the Swedish authorities that he would attend the criminal proceedings that he would come to Sweden if only he would be guaranteed not to be extradited to America, which actually had nothing to do with the Swedish trial. The Swedes refused to do so for reasons that are unacceptable. Thus, Sweden has contributed crucially to Julian Assange’s situation not to get out of the embassy any more. The British have been instrumental in supporting this policy and even, when the Swedes wanted to give it up, encouraged them not to “get cold feet” and end the trial, by a correspondence known to us today. It seems they finally got “cold feet” after nine years.

In this situation, 2017 saw the change of government in Ecuador. A new president, Moreno, came to power, with the goal of reconciling with the US, and Assange’s extradition was certainly a topic of negotiation. Since that time, the bullying within the embassy started, by the embassy staff and the security staff at the embassy, who made life very difficult for Julian Assange. Today we also know a great deal about the heavy surveillance that he was constantly subjected to: in his private space, during his visits to lawyers, doctors, etc. You have to imagine being monitored 24 hours a day. This is an element used in psychological torture, that you have no room for retreat, that you are constantly driven into a kind of paranoia, which then is actually no paranoia, but reality.

These four states, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ecuador and Sweden, have worked together to bring out the result we have today. On 11 May, Julian Assange was deprived of asylum and citizenship without any legal procedures, which is against Ecuadorian constitutional law. And, as we know, he was arrested by British police, brought before a judge within hours and convicted in a 15-minute trial, before which he did not even have time for a preparatory talk to his lawyer.
Since then, there has been the second phase, which has led to a deterioration of his state of health, to a dramatic deterioration since my visit, as the doctors and myself predicted in our report. We concluded: If the pressure on Julian Assange is kept up, if the situation does not improve, if the arbitrariness does not end, he may very quickly enter a downward spiral, both psychologically and physically. Finally, on 1 November, I rang the alarm bell once again and said that I was seriously concerned that this might cost his life. That is no exaggeration.

Psychological torture does not mean torture “light”. Psychological torture directly affects a person’s personality and it aims at destabilising the person by arbitrarily shaping his environment, making things unpredictable, isolating him, depriving him of his social contacts and of all possibilities for preserving his human dignity. The victim of torture is systematically withdrawn from all this over a long period of time. Finally, this kind of abuse leads to circulatory collapse, nervous breakdown, neurological damage no longer curable. These are very serious mistreatments. However, they are carried out in such a way that they might look harmless as single parts, but as a whole they are murderous.

This is still happening to him in Belmarsh today. He was convicted of violating bail terms, an offence for which in Great Britain, in principle, you will be fined and won’t have to go to prison. If someone doesn’t commit a crime while violating bail terms, there won’t happen much. However, he was sentenced to almost maximum penalty, 50 weeks instead of 52, for violation of bail terms he had to commit in order to get political asylum. Political asylum is, if not a justification, then monumental grounds for mitigating the penalty.

The very fact that he was sentenced to prison in the first place demonstrates the arbitrariness of this trial. I do not want to list everything now, all the arbitrary steps that have been taken in every procedural step of the trial, whether it was a question of violating bail terms or of extradition.

There are conflicts of interests. There is a very clear partiality of judges, which is documented by insults in the courtroom and verbal abuse. Step by step, Julian Assange deprived from access to his documents, he wasn’t able to prepare his defence. So, where is the constitutional state? How far have we come, if a defendant isn’t allowed to read his indictment before he has to allocute? It just cannot be true! Well, I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. 

As we had predicted, nine days after our visit he was transferred to the medical department of the prison and he has been there ever since. And as his father said, he is very strictly isolated, although he meanwhile has served his sentence for violating bail terms. It’s just preventive detention for the American extradition procedure. There is no need for a maximum security prison, nor for isolation. It could be done under house arrest. It could be an open regime, where he would have access to his family, to his lawyers, where he could prepare his defence, where he also could correspond with the press, but that is exactly what they do not want.

No one should point the spotlight on what all this is really about. It’s about the rule of law, it’s about democracy, it’s about the fact that we can’t afford to leave state power uncontrolled. We can’t afford it, and this is why we have separation of powers. If separation of powers no longer works, then we need the press. And if the press no longer works, then WikiLeaks comes up with all these uncoverings. This is very important! This is about basic elements of state policy, and they must be protected.
Furthermore, I would like to mention that in Germany the Federal Foreign Office, the government, has been repeatedly asked what they think of my reports. The Federal Foreign Office invited me to a meeting yesterday. The meeting took place with the human rights department. It was not very productive. I was told that my reports had still not been read.
I urged the Federal Foreign Office to read my reports before discussing them with me. I hope that this will really be taken seriously and that it will take place, because that is PRECISELY the purpose of my reports, that they should JUST be read.  


*    Since November 2016, the Swiss international law expert Prof. Dr Nils Melzer has been the Special Rapporteur on Torture and thus an expert on the so-called Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN employees and receive no salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual function. Earlier, Nils Melzer worked for twelve years at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in various crisis regions as a delegate, deputy head of mission and legal advisor. In addition to his UN mandate, he holds a chair in international humanitarian law at the University of Glasgow and teaches at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
(Translation Current Concerns)



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release assange now !...

A Spanish judge will question Julian Assange on a Spain-based security firm thought to have spied on him in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His lawyer hopes it may help thwart the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the US.

Set for next week, the questioning is part of a criminal inquiry the Spanish High Court is carrying out into UC Global, a private security company suspected of gathering surveillance on Assange and passing it further to US intelligence services.

“December 20 is an important day,” Aitor Martinez, a lawyer in charge of defending Assange in Spain, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. The Spanish judge will go to Westminster Magistrates Court “to receive a video conference testimony from Mr Assange as a victim of the alleged spy plot,” he revealed.

The firm’s name surfaced this summer when El Pais newspaper reported that it was eavesdropping on Assange during his exile at the Ecuadorian diplomatic mission in London. Citing recordings it has had access to, the paper alleged that the firm – tasked to guard the embassy – specifically focused on Assange’s legal matters discussions.

Now, Assange’s input is invaluable as it can pave the way to shooting down US efforts to try the publisher on their soil, Martinez explained. “Obviously, once Spanish justice receives such testimonies from Mr. Assange ... the British justice should rethink the usefulness of his extradition [to the US],” he argued.

It can become a reason for the United Kingdom to deny an extradition request issued by the country where basic legal guarantees are not ensured.

As the inquiry progressed, the Spanish High Court arrested the company’s owner David Morales, a former member of the Spanish military, believed to have liaised with the US side. He was released on bail, but his company’s premises were searched and his bank accounts frozen. 

As the story unfolded, it emerged that UC Global operatives also monitored Russian and American visitors to Assange, handing their profiles to US intelligence.

Morales himself didn’t try to hide his ties to the “American friends.” According to Germany’s NDR broadcaster, which filed a complaint against UC Global for having targeted one of its journalists who visited Assange, Morales allegedly told one of his employees: “From now on, we play in the first league… We are now working for the dark side.”

He is said to have traveled up to twice a month to the US to deliver intelligence taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy.



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a pissy article in "the conversation"/ABC...

Tony Walker is an Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University's School of Communications. His article originally appeared on The Conversation. It's weak as piss....


Gus: To say the least, this article is akin to letting Assange quietly hang with a limp disinterested argument that wishy-washily analyses Assange's predicament while using the "law", but not justice, nor common sense... I find it quite poor. Tony Walker starts with an odious apologetic view of Assange which does nothing to endear him towards us and towards Assange's integrity:


Julian Assange may be an odious character in the eyes of some. He may not be a journalist in the estimation of others. 

He may be regarded as a serial pest by his detractors, but his case in the British courts has become a cause celebre for free speech and civil liberties advocates.

Gus: This is a very poor "I am washing my hand of whatever happens, but I have a pissy/mediocre opinion one way or the other, on this affair which is a "cause celebre" (Tony speaks French, obviously)...


... Walker continues:


In a London magistrate's court on Friday, early shots will be fired in the Assange defence team's efforts to block his extradition to the United States on 17 charges under the Espionage Act with a separate indictment under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Assange is facing a jail sentence of 175 years on alleged breaches of the Espionage Act, and further penalty under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

It's a complex case

At issue, and separate from the extradition proceedings, is whether an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency spied on Assange during his seven years in the Ecuador embassy, after taking refuge there in 2012.

He sought Ecuadorian diplomatic protection to avoid extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual misconduct. Those charges have been cancelled.



Gus: No. It's not a complex case. Some journalists do not like Assange for showing them off with some of the greatest scoops of the century, so they prefer to rabbit on about the "complex case". It's not complex. Quantum bio-mechanics is complex. The Assange case is simple: Assange exposed the dirty tricks of the USA by using their own documents. The USA don't like it. The way Assange got these documents is irrelevant and does not hide the fact the documents clearly express an ill-intent from the USA to either hide their misdeed, or disguise their intention of a misdeed. Is this clear?

Get a life. Grow up. 


Walker continues:


Rusbridger defends Assange against attempts to extradite him on grounds that "whatever Assange got up to in 2010-11, it was not espionage".

He alludes to perhaps the strongest argument against Assange's removal to the US to face charges under the Espionage Act. 

This is that he is not a US citizen and his alleged crimes were committed outside the US. This is the extraterritorial argument.

Rusbridger quotes Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists who observed:

Under this rubric anyone anywhere in the world who publishes information that the US government deems to be classified could be prosecuted for espionage.

It is a good point.



It's more than "a good point"... It's an essential point. We need to get and protect proper information from interference from governments — especially hidden information about government's mischiefs.