Sunday 11th of April 2021

one wonders how they sleep at night while treating justice with such contempt...

not a lady...  – Emma Arbuthnot is the chief judge who conducted the trial for the extradition of Julian Assange in London to the USA, where a 175 year prison sentence awaits him for “espionage,” that is, for having published evidence of US war crimes, including videos of civilians’ killings in Iraq and Afghanistan, as an investigative journalist. At the trial, assigned to Judge Vanessa Baraitser, every defense request was denied.


by Manlio Dinucci


In 2018, after Sweden’s sexual assault charges fell through, Judge Arbuthnot refused to cancel the arrest warrant, so that Assange could not obtain asylum in Ecuador. Arbuthnot rejected the United Nations Working Group’s findings on the arbitrary detention of Assange. The UN Officer’s remarks against torture also went unheard:

“Assange is detained in extreme conditions of unjustified isolation, and shows the typical symptoms of prolonged exposure to psychological torture.” 

In 2020, while thousands of detainees were transferred to house arrest as an anti-Coronavirus measure, Assange remained in prison, exposed to the infection in compromised physical condition.

 In court, Assange cannot consult with lawyers, but is kept isolated in an armored glass cage, and threatened with expulsion if he opens his mouth. What is behind this persistence?

Being Lord James Arbuthnot’s wife, married to a well-known Tory “hawk,” former Minister for Defense Procurements, linked to the Military-Industrial Complex and to the Secret Services, Judge Arbuthnot has the title of “Lady.” Lord Arbuthnot is, among other things, Chairman of the British Advisory board of Thales, a French multinational specialized in aerospace military systems, and a member of Montrose Associates, specialized in Strategic Intelligence (highly paid positions). Lord Arbuthnot is also part of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), an influential transatlantic think-tank linked to the US Government and Intelligence Agency. Last July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at a round table of the HJS in London: since he was the CIA Director in 2017, he accused WikiLeaks, founded by Assange, of being “an enemy spy service.”

The Henry Jackson Society led the same campaign accusing Assange of “sowing doubts on the moral position of Western democratic governments, with the support of autocratic regimes.” Ms. Priti Patel, current United Kingdom Secretary of the Interior, who is responsible for the extradition order of Assange was until recently on the political board of the HJS, alongside Lord Arbuthnot. 

Lady Arbuthnot is essentially connected to this pressure group that is conducting a pounding campaign for the extradition of Assange, directed by Lord Arbuthnot and other influential characters. She was appointed by the Queen as chief magistrate in September 2016, after WikiLeaks published the most compromising documents for the USA in March. These documents included emails from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealing the true purpose of the NATO war on Libya: to prevent Libya from using its gold reserves to create a pan-African currency alternative to the dollar and the CFA franc, the currency imposed by France on 14 former colonies.

The real “crime” for which Assange is being tried is that of opening cracks in the political-media silence wall that covers the real interests of powerful elites who, operating in the “Deep State,” play the war card. It is this occult power that subjects Julian Assange to a trial, instructed by Lady Arbuthnot, who recalls those of the Holy Inquisition as to how the accused is treated.

If Assange is extradited to the US, he would be subjected to “special administrative measures” much harsher than those in Britain: he would be isolated in a small cell, unable to contact his family or speak, not even through lawyers who would be indicted if they brought forth his message. In other words, he would be sentenced to death.


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on the freedom of the press...

BBC News correspondent Orla Guerin got more than she bargained for when her questioning of President Aliyev about the supposed lack of media freedom in his country ended up with him grilling her on Julian Assange’s imprisonment.

Guerin’s interview with Aliyev on Monday took an unexpected turn when the journalist alleged that the Azerbaijani people lacked access to non-state-sanctioned media and could not enjoy their human rights to the fullest, As evidence, she cited “many independent sources,” but did not name them.

The remark drew an angry rebuke from the president, who said the UK had “no moral right” to “lecture” other nations on the issue of freedom and human rights, particularly in light of the treatment of Julian Assange, who has suffered at the hands of British justice.

“Let’s talk about Assange. How many years [had] he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy? And for what? And where is he now? For journalistic activity, you kept this person hostage, actually killing him morally and physically. You did it, not us,”Aliyev said.

Assange spent seven years in the embassy in London until the asylum he was granted by Ecuador in 2012 was withdrawn. He was then arrested and transferred to the British capital’s Belmarsh maximum-security prison pending his US extradition trial.

The Wikileaks founder stands accused by the US of various computer crimes, including of aiding former US Army soldier turned whistleblower Chelsea Manning in her leaking of classified military documents in 2010.

Assange had previously also faced sexual assault charges in Sweden, but those have since been dropped. He viewed them as a pretext on which to politically persecute him and a lever by which to extradite him.


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on the freedom to protest about injustices...

Civil liberties and human rights groups have warned that police in England and Wales have become increasingly hostile to people engaged in legally protected protests amid the various restrictions imposed in the name of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four supporters of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange were arrested by the Metropolitan Police Service at the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus, on 7 September 2020. This is despite the fact the group were engaged in a static protest, which has been conducted every Saturday for a number of months, and for which organisers had submitted a risk assessment that was approved by the local council.

Jill Everett is a published author, Yoga teacher and personal instructor who lives in London and New York. Ms Everett is one of the four protesters who was detained by police. She now faces charges of assault despite the fact that she says it was in fact she who was assaulted by the police whilst participating in a lawful protest.

Sputnik: Explain what exactly you were doing in Piccadilly Circus on 7 November.

Jill Everett: We have set up a fixed protest at Piccadilly Circus for many months on Saturday from 4-6pm on the Eros statue steps. We give speeches to inform the public about who Julian Assange is and about his plight. We see this is as our most important role as mainstream media has been deliberately silent regarding the massive injustice that his kidnap and jailing represents to what little remains of world press freedom and the public’s right to know. We give out a grassroots newspaper and flyers and speak to people.

Sputnik: You had been granted permission for this protest?

Jill Everett: We have registered a risk assessment for the protest with Westminster Council for every Saturday, which, we were told, was approved by both the council and the police.   

Sputnik: What happened after you set up your protest?

Jill Everett: When we arrived we were approached by a male police officer who had been standing with a female police officer near shops at the side of the statue. He asked what we were doing there and he was told we were doing our usual static display and he said that it was fine to set up our banner and placards as long as we didn’t “go marching down the street”. We also followed social distancing guidelines.

Approximately five minutes after that four police vans turned up and police surrounded our small group of 15 protestors and were extremely aggressive, telling us to leave immediately, saying we could not be out protesting, not even in groups of two even though [UK Home Secretary] Priti Patel had said was okay. Protestors began to pack up belongings and discuss this point with police, but none of the protesters flat out said 'no, we won't leave'. We were on our way towards the street when the sergeant gave the order to move it along and suddenly the cops started demanding our addresses, and grabbing arms and pulling and pushing people, threatening arrest.

I was grabbed and handcuffed by two of these thugs before they even said I was arrested, and I repeatedly asked "why are you taking my backpack? Why are you arresting me? What are you arresting me for?", with no answer. One officer intentionally stepped on my foot repeatedly. The other thug twisted my arm behind my back and simultaneously ripped my backpack off my back, and had a handcuff on me before even saying I was arrested. I have bruised and cut arms and pain in my arm and foot.

After this police brutality and thuggery they said I was charged with assaulting them. I was arrested for “assault and beating of an emergency worker”, and transported to Charing Cross station where I was checked in and had DNA, prints and mug shots taken and I was put in a cell for seven hours. It was irregular behaviour and there were many unprofessional actions by the police. I was never read my rights at the time of arrest and at the police station was again not given the rights to which I am entitled, such as a soundproof room to talk with a solicitor in private.

I was offered a phone in an open waiting room next to a desk of four police officers, until I demanded a soundproof meeting room. My phone message to a friend to alert them to my stay in jail was never delivered, nor was I permitted to call the US embassy, despite notifying requesting and notifying them of my dual UK/US citizenship. The desk sergeant said that they would call the embassy for me and inform them instead of allowing me the call. I asked several times if they called the embassy and a woman finally told me that they called and no one was there so I should call myself when I get out. 

After initially being told they could participate in a static protest police arrested 4 supporters of #JulianAssange at Piccadilly Circus. 

The demo has been conducted every Saturday, for many months, with a risk assessment submitted to & acknowledged by the local council.

I complained about my heavily bruised and bleeding arm and they later sent a doctor to my cell who offered antidepressants and painkillers, but wouldn’t give me ice for the bruising or antiseptic dressing for the wounds. There was no sink in my cell and no toilet paper and the toilet appeared to be in full view of CCTV camera. When I received my belongings back, on check out from the station, the sealed plastic blag which contained my belongings was ripped open before I received it. I do not know when they ripped it open or why.

The desk Sergeant also said something to the effect of "so you are American and think anybody should just be free to do whatever they want? America is a mess right now, its anarchy over there, they have no control. It's lost. Terrible". The other desk sergeant also told me a few times during check in process that "it is not like the American system here in police stations and prisons and laughed". I'm not sure what was meant by that.

Sputnik: Did the police explain or justify their actions?

Jill Everett: No.

Sputnik: Are there criminal prosecutions expected?

Jill Everett: They charged me with assaulting and beating an emergency worker [ie a police officer]. I have to go to Westminster Magistrates Court Dec 30th then the trial date is set and trial will be in new year. The other three protesters that were arrested have also been released pending an investigation for alleged breach of COVID lockdown restrictions.

Sputnik: Why do you think they behaved in the manner in which they did?

Jill Everett: They are obviously trying to scare people out of activism. They were on a mission, it seems, to be very aggressive from the start and the boss was telling them where to go and what to do. Perhaps they were training those who had not worked protests before? Or sending a message to other protestors? It seems to me to be about power and control and trying to keep up with protestors getting more angry and more savvy with tech, body cams and knowing their rights

Sputnik: How are you and the other protesters going to proceed now that you have all been released? 

Jill Everett: It has made us stronger and more resolved to continue our work exposing the injustices meted out to Julian Assange. We are seeking legal advice to challenge in court the legality of wiping out a fundamental human right – the right to protest – as the public now knows the change to laws and the second lockdown was premised on lies and outdated statistics. This is even more vital a right for Julian’s supporters because every part of UK justice has been perverted by the state to disadvantage an innocent man; two years in a supermax prison for not reporting while on bail for a matter that was wholly a construct of corrupt officials such as [former Director of Public Prosecutions and current Labour Party leader] Keir Starmer in the Crown Prosecution Service, part of a corrupt international cabal of political figures..

At the helm of this cabal is the CIA which was listening to Assange’s every conversation through bugging the embassy where he sought asylum from the warlords who called for him to be drone attacked and poisoned and seek to jail him for 175 years. This group includes the [former] Chief Magistrate [Lady Emma Arbuthnot] with her family’s arms dealing and cyber security vested interests that is overseeing the extradition case in a low level court by a puppet magistrate who has denied Julian his basic human rights. This man is an innocent journalist and charged with nothing. We can see in Julian Assange’s case that all of our basic human rights can be breached when a country which seeks to have universal jurisdiction, the United States, can arrange for another country to trash its legal system to punish an innocent man by the pollution of due process. And the last vestige of our ability to inform the public about this travesty of justice is now being taken away from a grassroots collective of people who see our job as educating the public about the case on a person by person basis through our actions in the street.


We are more determined than ever. Out of adversity comes creativity. We can always improve and reach out to the world in a variety of ways, and we can continue with demonstrations during lockdown with groups of one or two at various key locations around London. More of us will wear bodycams and do legal observer trainings and study protest law with legal advisors. We will not be stopped. We are reaching out to government bodies to request that police know the current legislation and have proper training before working protests and making unlawful arrests with assault and police brutality. We will not accept that! We demand out rights. And we demand that the UK release Julian Assange and USA drop all charges. Free Julian Assange!


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Free Julian Assange!

at the whim of her majesty's covid infected prisons...

The prison block in which Julian Assange is being detained under extradition proceedings has been locked down following an outbreak of coronavirus.

Three prisoners are understood to have tested positive for Covid-19 in House Block 1 at Belmarsh prison in south-east London, prompting prison and public health officials to place the building under increased restrictions.

The number of coronavirus cases within the prison estate increased significantly last month, with positive results returned at 45 jails across England and Wales, including 10 prisons that have never reported outbreaks.

Assange’s public relations agency issued a release confirming the prison governor at Belmarsh had written to inmates in House Block 1 to inform them of the outbreak.


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Read from top and FREE ASSANGE TODAY !

the shame of our undemocratic inaction...


by Benedetta Brevini


As a journalist, scholar and media reformer, I have been following the activities of WikiLeaks for over a decade, assessing the disrupting force of new radical platforms for disclosure. WikiLeaks is a crucial example of a digital platform that exposes the contradictions of the internet as a tool for openness and secrecy, freedom and surveillance, free speech and censorship. But it is much more. I don’t think that anyone would dispute the incredible impact that WikiLeaks revelations have had, not just to disconcert and embarrass power elites, not just to expose crimes in the public interest, but also for bringing renewed debates on free speech, digital encryption and quests for better protections for whistleblowing to the mainstream.

When I moved to Australia about six years ago, with the first academic book on WikiLeaks hot in my hands, I genuinely expected to find Julian Assange hailed as patriotic and a global, tech-savvy freedom of speech star. After all, how could liberal Australians possibly not be proud of a citizen who exposed war crimes and human rights violations?

Assange was by then the winner of The Economist New Media Award 2008, the popular vote for Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ 2011 and Le Monde’s ‘Man of the Year’, as well as receiving the Sydney Peace Foundation’s Gold Medal in 2011.

Surely, I thought, most Australian media outlets, if not regular citizens, would be grateful for the huge reserve of leaked documents providing an immense treasure for Fairfax newspapers leading to an array of major exclusives for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

I also distinctly remember reading an essay in 2011, when living in London, by Australian emeritus professor of politics Robert Manne, reassuring readers that ‘if Rupert Murdoch, who turns 80 this month, is the most influential Australian of the post war era, Julian Assange, who will soon turn 40, is undoubtedly the most consequential Australian of the present time’

During the months spent editing an early collection, Beyond WikiLeaks, I became even more convinced of the incredible importance of WikiLeaks for journalism, international relations, transparency activism, human rights and social justice. I was sure the Australian public and leaders would share a similar understanding.

WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 as an online platform for whistleblowers and the publication of information censored by public authorities and private actors. Its goal was to harness the speed, interactivity and global reach of the internet to provide a fast and secure mechanism to anonymously submit information that would then be accessible to a global audience.

WikiLeaks: Background

In its first few years of existence, WikiLeaks electronically published a range of documents of varying significance in mixed media. The revelations included: secret Scientology texts; a report documenting extensive corruption by the family of former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi; proof that British company Trafigura had been illegally dumping toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire (a story that the British media was legally barred from reporting); the financial dealings of Icelandic banks that led to the collapse of the country’s economy (a story the local media, too, were banned by court order from reporting); the private emails of then US Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin; member lists of a British right-wing party; the internet filter lists of several countries; and many other disclosures of information that were previously hidden from the public eye.

These releases, occurring between 2006 and 2009, were only the warm-up acts for the torrent of information that WikiLeaks unleashed in 2010, the year when the global interconnected public sphere discovered the disruptive power of the platform. On 5 April 2010, WikiLeaks published a video online evocatively titled ‘Collateral Murder’. It was an edited version of a classified US army video taken from an Apache helicopter depicting a controversial 2007 US Baghdad airstrike that resulted in the deaths of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters employees. On 25 July – in collaboration with established newspapers The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel – WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Diary before releasing the Iraq War Logs on 22 October.

Altogether, the two dispatches comprised almost 500,000 documents and field reports, providing a comprehensive and unprecedented account of the two wars, and revealing thousands of unreported deaths, including many US army killings of civilians.

Finally, on 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and its partner newspapers began publishing select US diplomatic cables in what became known as ‘Cablegate’. Taken from a pool of over 250,000 cables, the communications offered a fascinating perspective on international diplomacy. They revealed many backroom deals among governments and between governments and companies, as well as US spying practices on UN officials, cover-ups of military airstrikes and numerous cases of government corruption, most notably in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries, where the revelations fueled the population’s growing anger towards their national elites.

Nine months after the first releases were published in its partner newspapers, WikiLeaks made the full tranche of cables available on its website. It has since published other materials, such as the ‘Guantánamo Bay Files’, information about the digital surveillance industry (Spy Files) and emails from political figures and companies tied to Syria (Syria Files).

As I was editing the collection, due for publication in 2013, it became clear how 2010 was the critical turning point that changed the fate of WikiLeaks and the dominant narratives about it.

In fact, precisely in the wake of Cablegate, WikiLeaks’ operations became increasingly hampered by government investigations into its staff (particularly founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange), internal frictions, and extralegal economic blockades that have choked WikiLeaks’ access to financial resources. As I detailed in an essay on the political economy of WikiLeaks, WikiLeaks’ then funding model had at its core a German foundation, the Wau Holland Foundation, which processed personal donations to WikiLeaks.

As Cablegate brought WikiLeaks to the mainstream, the platform has seen constant attacks from both public and private actors, sustained attempts to shut down its operations and even calls for Julian Assange’s assassination. WikiLeaks clearly enraged Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that exposed critical US appraisals of world leaders, from Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron, to members of the Saudi royal family. Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, famously declared that ‘Wikileaks’ deliberate disclosure of these diplomatic cables is nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States, as well as that of dozens of other countries’.

WikiLeaks’ activities resumed after a prolonged financial struggle, exacerbated by the legal difficulties of Assange who from 2012 had to take refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, fearing extradition to the US.

Disclosures had another major peak during the US election campaign, on 22 July 2016, when WikiLeaks released over 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the governing body of the US Democratic Party, including key DNC staff members. Later in October the same year, WikiLeaks began releasing emails from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. In 2017, WikiLeaks published internal CIA documents concerning sophisticated clandestine hacking programs, and spy software targeting cell phones, smart TVs and computer systems in cars.

US and UK media responses

As we discussed in Beyond WikiLeaks, it was not just politicians who were disgruntled with the platform; it was also the media organisations most openly associated with the WikiLeaks exposés that quickly became its primary critics. As Benkler recalled:

It was The Times, after all, that chose to run a front page profile of Assange a day after it began publishing the Iraq War Logs in which it described him as ‘a hunted man’ who ‘demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own the way other men change shirts’ and ‘checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends’.

And the UK press, following Cablegate, was certainly overall unsupportive as well. After very successful collaborations with him at The Guardian, for example, many editors fell out with him, with David Leigh and Luke Harding describing him as having a ‘damaged personality’. They continued by explaining that ‘collaborators who fell out with him – there was to be a long list – accused him of imperiousness and a callous disregard for those of whom he disapproved. Certainly, when crossed, Assange could get very angry indeed.’

However, although Assange could not count on sympathetic media support in the UK and in the US, I was not fully prepared for what I thought was extraordinary of Assange’s own country: the striking absence of a solid debate on WikiLeaks in Australian mainstream public discourses, especially in light of the growing legal complications following his granted asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Surely, I thought, there would be a discussion of his request for asylum?

Surely, the Australian government was negotiating behind the scenes to avoid an extradition to the US, to make sure that an Australian citizen had adequate legal protection, also in consideration of the global relevance of the leaks?

While I could not make sense of the blackout then, I am now sure there are two major factors that contributed to this silence.

Firstly, Australia’s strong political ties to the US: politicians and civil servants have considered Assange a problem, rather than a facilitator of US/Australia diplomatic relations. Additionally, Australia’s membership in the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance on intelligence cooperation between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States adds to the hostility towards activities that challenge state secrets. Five Eyes countries have notoriously built one of the most sophisticated international systems of mass surveillance and intensification of government secrecy: Australia is no exception in this rush to intensify its surveillance capabilities. After WikiLeaks and the Snowden leaks challenged the status quo, the Australian government hurried to implement new metadata laws through three major pieces of new national security legislation in 2014 and 2015.

As Attorney-General George Brandis explained during the reading of the bill amending the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO Act) and the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (IS Act), the reform was justified by a clear intent to curb whistleblowing activities:

As recent, high-profile international events demonstrate, in the wrong hands, classified or sensitive information is capable of global dissemination at the click of a button. Unauthorised disclosures on the scale now possible in the online environment can have devastating consequences for a country’s international relationships and intelligence capabilities.

The second and crucial factor explaining the lack of a thorough and sustained debate on WikiLeaks and Assange is the fact that Australia has one of the most concentrated media markets in the world.


Without even considering the recent upheaval of the Australian media markets, with the takeover of Fairfax Media by Nine and the planned closure of 100 local and regional newspapers (although owned by the same company, News Corp), the biggest study on media ownership and concentration in the world conducted by Eli Noam at Columbia University found that Australia has the most concentrated newspaper industry out of any country studied, with the exception of China and Egypt which are not liberal democracies.

Excessively concentrated media power in the hands of few owners does not just entail unchecked ties between political and media elites, as the UK Leveson inquiry demonstrated.

The exercise of such power also entails the establishment of a system of control that does not allow space for dissent, for resistance, for minority voices.


This is why it has been so difficult for Assange’s supporters to bring the debate to the mainstream, to generate an informed public discussion, to question political leaders on their inaction

As Barnett explains, ‘The fewer owners or gatekeepers, the fewer the number of voices and the more damaging the consequences for diversity of expression’. As a result, ‘the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear and think about, and to “manage” public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns’.

With the few notable exceptions of Crikey, The Saturday Paper and The Guardian (due to its UK ties), and the relentless efforts of Philip Dorling, Phillip Adams, Geoffrey Robertson and Mary Kostakidis, an informed public sphere discussion about Assange and WikiLeaks failed to materialise in his own country.

The request for Assange’s extradition to the US and the global debate on the violation of freedom of speech safeguards

When Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April 2019, in violation of political asylum, the global debates about Assange and his arrest picked up again. Lawyers, politicians, freedom of speech advocates and activists saw his arrest, pushed by the Trump administration, as a clear attack on press freedom. A year later, we are becoming accustomed to the harassment of journalists by police and authorities of the Trump administration. Police brutality and racism in the US are rightly challenged with protests that have spread across the globe, starting with the demands for justice for the murder of George Floyd. Continuous arrests and persecution of journalists are occurring during the protests, and US Press Freedom Tracker has registered at least 74 reports of journalists being physically attacked, with 21 arrested and many more targeted by police using rubber bullets.

In April 2019, Assange was indicted by the US Justice Department of the same Trump administration with 18 charges, of which 17 are under the Espionage Act, for his role in receiving and publishing classified defence documents both on the WikiLeaks website and in collaboration with major publishers. Not even the Obama administration, notoriously rapid in making use of the Espionage Act, dared to cross the line of free speech protection to prosecute a non-American citizen for his activities as a journalist.


Clearly, if Assange is extradited to the US for espionage, it will establish a worrying precedent that could then be used against reporters and editors of major publications, generating a chilling effect for any news organisations that dare to publish classified US government documents in the public interest, regardless of their country of origin.


Reporters Without Borders has written that the arrest would ‘set a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistleblowers, and other journalistic sources that the US may wish to pursue in the future’. In January 2020, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europevoted to oppose Assange’s extradition to the US. Both Agnes Callamard, the United States human rights expert, and Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, spoke of severe risks of human rights violations if Assange were extradited to the US. In particular, there are new disconcerting aspects of the UK hearing and possible US extradition that make it hard to believe in the possibility of a fair trial for Assange in the US. In a Spanish court at the end of last year, it was alleged that a Spanish security firm hired by the Ecuadorian Embassy illegally recorded Assange’s meetings with his team of lawyers and passed these recordings on to the US intelligence services. During those meetings, Assange prepared his legal defence against an extradition request to the US, so any such recording would be in breach of legal professional privilege.

In the months before the June 2020 hearing, politicians from the UK and Europe also joined the fight against the extradition of Assange, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said that Assange had revealed ‘atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan’ and that his extradition ‘should be opposed by the British government’.

Australian media response to extradition hearings 

One would have expected that considering the gravity of the recent developments, and the documented health problems of Assange, this animated international discussion would have been reflected by Australian mainstream media. However, it is rarely featured in mainstream news outlets, being mainly covered by outlets that have a small audience share compared to the colossal News Corp, Fairfax and the ABC, which have been spasmodic in their coverage of WikiLeaks.

Despite the unfavourable media landscape, in October 2019 eleven federal MPs created a cross-party group to put pressure on the Australian government to intervene in defence of Assange. Additionally, just before the extradition hearing of June 2020, over 100 Australian politicians, lawyers, activists and journalists wrote to Foreign Minister Marise Payne asking her to request the UK government to have Assange released on bail, because of his serious and ongoing health issues.

Why do I need to follow Assange’s mother on Twitter to hear about these crucial debates? Why aren’t the major television news shows more willing to engage with a topic – protecting freedom of speech – that should be top priority for the Australian public, especially in light of the recent AFP raids against ABC and News Corp journalists?

For Australia the combination of this anti-democratic media concentration and the old colonial habit of passivity to the (now declining) US empire is perhaps too arduous to overcome.



Benedetta Brevini is a journalist and media activist. Dr Brevini lectures in the political economy of communication at the University of Sydney.

This is an edited extract from A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks exposés, edited by Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau, available December 1 from Monash University Publishing


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Read from top.


TIME FOR DONALD TO DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST JULIAN ASSANGE (in whatever form, including a pardon if it's possible for a president to pardon a non-US citizen). FREE ASSANGE TODAY.


yes, mrs derrida, assange should be free...


Revealed by the Wikileaks exposé: The fragile, thieving ‘un-Australian’ lie

By Helen Razer


There is this idea about language that they used to torture us students with in the West.

All meaning, the air-wank explanation went, is a case of absence. We only know what a word signifies by knowing that it does not signify something else.

Cat is only cat, they would say while I calculated how many schooners the change in my pocket would buy at the Union bar, because it is not bat. So, you see, said Mrs Derrida, what we’re really saying is nothing at all.

When I had asked for a beer, which was only a beer because it was not a deer or a bear or an onion, I would sometimes bother to think about this stuff. Frankly, I did not, and do not, believe that meaning is something produced by friction between the clouds.

Meaning rises first from the ground beneath our feet; only those who can afford to live in high places believe that it does not. But I did think that this language theory could help me search for certain things that just seemed missing – a case that I made to my tutor when my essay on semiotics went, mysteriously, undelivered.

I failed this course, I think. But every so often, the bits I had remembered from 20th century nonsense came back. There were times where you could only declare what a thing was by describing it in the terms of what it wasn’t. When the phrase ‘un-Australian’ made it into popular use, I remembered those seminars a lot.

It was, I think, around the time of the late 1990s that ‘un-Australian’ was first non-mockingly said. This was a time when mean conditions hit here, and the feet beneath the ground of many Australians forced them up to produce foul words in angry clouds. ‘Un-Australian’ has always been, to my ears at least, a joke of solidarity; blokes would say it to other blokes on my dad’s building site to gently chide them for working at too efficient a pace. To be ‘un-Australian’ meant to please the boss.

Then, suddenly, it meant obedience to an unspoken ideal.

Australia, never clearly defined as a thing, became known within its borders for what it was not. You can say this of any place, I guess. It is only sketched in the terms of the things that surround it. But, this is so particularly true of our nation-state, which is a place founded so very recently on such a fragile, thieving lie.

No one knows what a right-wing politician means when they say ‘un-Australian’ in the present, least of all the politician saying it. It is not even a negation, but blanker than that. It reduces the meaning of Australian-ness down to whatever might, or might not, live inside the unconscious borders of the speaker at that particular time. ‘This is so postmodern’, I thought, the first time I heard one of the crazies say it, and I could almost smell the stale Union beer.

I had heard Julian Assange, a man who holds an Australian passport, called un-Australian by these crazies. They have conveniently revised their opinion in recent times – you know, now that WikiLeaks is perceived, wrongly and by nearly everyone, as a servant of nostalgic right-wing order.

Now, some of the crazies, so persistent in describing their nation by its lack, think of him and of WikiLeaks as very Australian – or ‘Strayan’, to be phonetically faithful, for the un-Australian reader. It was in 2016 that one of our most despicable politicians made the case for this Australian’s return.

While local crazies have embraced the thing they once excluded, the reverse is true for our nation’s liberals. Such people are, of course, too finely educated to ever take the refuge of patriotism. The new liberal, like the movement of trade she admires, is ‘global’.

Assange and WikiLeaks were seen as ‘global’ at the time of their major public debut. Assange was a mysterious international good guy – conceived in the liberal political unconscious as halfway between, I don’t know, a figure in a le Carré novel and one of those twits from Silicon Valley. A real disruptor, our Julian. But caring, you know. Like a younger, much poorer, more promiscuous Bill Gates.

To be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention to WikiLeaks at the time. I figured that others were doing that for me when, in 2010, a guy that helped me reverse a robot checkout mistake at the Elsternwick Coles joked, ‘WikiLeaks has hacked your chicken thighs’.

WikiLeaks seemed to be doing good work in what I now knew was a terrible era, but they didn’t need my help. Besides, I always felt uneasy with the postmodern local liberals who were always mystifying the man’s ‘global’ posture. ‘Global’, as far as I was concerned, had come to conceal a dysphoria made otherwise plain in a cruel utterance like ‘un-Australian’.

The years passed and the robots got smarter. The liberals, though, got dumber when their own systems started to fail. The crazies sniffed a glitch – or a ‘feature’ as they say in Silicon Valley – and they began to wrest control.

What this meant in the Australian perception of Assange was interesting, even if it was frustrating. The liberals, who had once offered him their most uncritical support, no longer thought of their countryman as ‘global’, a great ambassador, as they had it, for their international trade ideals.

They began to find a way to signify him that would not misrepresent their own noble goals. They certainly couldn’t call him ‘un-Australian’, even if they no longer thought of him as a younger, global Gates. They couldn’t say he was ‘Australian’ either, because that speech act might ease his passage home.

They came up with a good compromise: They began to call him Russian.

I am just the right age to find this very funny. I am just the right age to find this un-f–king-believable. When I was at school, in that po-mo dust kicked up by the fall of the Berlin Wall, we joked, much in the way the guys on my dad’s building site had, that you should ‘Just go and live in Russia’. This was a reference to the newly ended Soviet experiment, which we, being affectionately post-communist postmodernists, thought hilarious. If someone didn’t hand their essay in on time, they were charged with the defunct idea of being Russian.

Look, I know – we thought it was funny. You probably had to be there. Remember, this was the time of maximum Foucault, and our gags were all about diffuse power and, ergo, very bad.

So, I, being around the same age as Assange, have the sense of Russia as something that once was a true threat to liberal order, and now as a place with a GDP roughly equivalent to that of Italy.

Sensitive reader, this doesn’t mean I disrespect the place – in recent times, I find myself drawn in unnatural affection to the idea of it. It just means that I see it, as many realist foreign policy thinkers see it, as a nation that we don’t really have to worry about; well, not until it starts having cosy conversations with Iran and China.

This dead menace. This grey state. This failed rejoinder to all of our Western declarations is the thing to which they now compare Assange. Look, I don’t know the guy and I know no WikiLeaks business – beyond the use of the ‘share’ button, I have never given it a moment of my labour.

Maybe these liberals have intuited something that will turn out to be true, however much I doubt this, and we will find that the slightly Slavic-looking man has a Cold War microfilm lodged between his arse cheeks.

I don’t know, I don’t care. The only thing I do care to know from WikiLeaks is how to use its search button better. Man, those Podesta emails. It will take me another six months to read them all, and another few years to make journalistic sense of the truths, both cynical and naive, the language of the powerful has come to conceal.

This is the code I want to crack. This is the secret, before me in plain sight. When I decipher the soft language shared between the Citigroup c-suite and the White House, between Goldman Sachs and a presidential nominee, I’ll let you know. I might even let Mrs Derrida know. But for the minute, I am searching in the absences.

I wish I could do this in some sort of peace. Every so often, I publish an article based on my hours in the inbox of John Podesta, preparing for the time I’ll write that one big thing. I offer a look at a particular turn of phrase, a particularly polite way a company director has recommended cabinet appointments with clear connections to Wall Street by claiming that these are ‘diverse’. It is difficult to read through the mystification, and I really wish I’d paid more attention in school. But I really wish my liberal peers would shut the f— up with their nonsense that Julian Assange is ‘Russian’ and that I, therefore, am his useful Russian idiot. Too stupid, too Slavic, to know she’s being fooled.

I do not always know, I’ll own, when I am being fooled. It takes time for mystification to fall away. I know that I have written, way back when, in mild support not so much of President Obama’s policies, but for the sheer idea of what he promised. It would be a lie to tell you that I won’t get fooled again. But, it is a lie to tell those of us, looking for absence in the search bar, that what we are doing is foolish.

To keep looking through the last documents of an era is not, I sense, especially foolish. It’s possibly even a little bit wise. I do not expect this reading to reveal that One Weird Trick that will explain power, end liberalism or restore the Soviet experiment to a more viable stage. What WikiLeaks gives us is not an easy hack. What WikiLeaks gives us is something like the hazy feeling I had back in the 1990s. That language and its clouded meaning was important, sure, but that its interaction with the ground was the real story.

Because I did go to school at a time when people said ridiculous postmodern things, I can never believe that there is a story that is entirely real. There is no post-truth. There is no fake news. These rely on an imaginary precondition of pure truth and fact and news; a liberal nostalgia as noxious as that held by the hard right and its invented golden age.

This is not the ‘post-fact’ age more than any other. There are still facts, but many new ways to conceal them. How did they disguise that fact with the language? What language can we use to describe the fact of this new disguise?

What WikiLeaks gives us is the chance to find those means of concealment. What WikiLeaks gives us is the same frustrating answer history always has: Look for the truth and dare yourself to describe it.

If the ‘truth’ turns out to be that Assange is Russian, that he’s utterly un-Australian or as Australian as snake bite and savoury pies, I don’t care. It’s an easy truth to tell, an easy one to refute, and, either way, tells us little, if nothing, about the nature of power.

Mrs Derrida would probably be quite pleased to see me suffer at, challenging me at every turn with its interplay of truth and meaning. Me, defying her, reading between the lines for the interweaving of the cloud of ideas with the ground. Her reminding me that what I am looking for are things that are not there, as much as I am looking for things that are present. Me, asking the 1990s, that orgy of liberalism, to please get out of my head.

We only know what WikiLeaks means by knowing what it is not, she tells me. I agree. What it is not is in any way knowable. What it is not is a Russian nested doll set with a single truth at its centre. What it will not be defined by, at any point, are its enemies or its friends.

And it is not un-Australian, in the old sense of that absurd and wonderful compliment. WikiLeaks will rarely please the boss.


Helen Razer is a  broadcaster and writer whose work also appears in The Saturday PaperThe Age, SBS online, and The Big Issue

This is an edited extract from A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks exposés, edited by Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau, available December 1 from Monash University Publishing


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snowden asks trumps to save assange...

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, faces a possible 175-year prison sentence, accused by the United States of violating the Espionage Act through “unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence.”

Edward Snowden, who, similar to Assange, faces accusations in the US of violating the Espionage Act, took to Twitter on Friday to call for clemency for the founder of WikiLeaks, asking US President Donald Trump to grant pardon for Julian Assange.

"Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life. @realDonaldTrump", Snowden tweeted.

Assange could face up to 175 years in prison if he is extradited to the US and convicted of charges of breaching the Espionage Act. The WikiLeaks founder is accused of disclosing classified documents and conspiring to hack government computers.

Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life. @realDonaldTrump

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 3, 2020

Snowden appeared to not be alone in calls for Trump to pardon Assange, as he was joined, among others, by American film director Oliver Stone, who has sought clemency for both whistleblowers.

"A pardon of @Snowden and #Assange would be a great shock to this world, and reflect well on @realDonaldTrump. Despite all the negatives he’s created, it will be seen as a purely merciful action. It will not be forgotten", Stone tweeted earlier in the week.

Stone was joined by Stella Moris, Assange's partner, who took to Twitter to plead that Trump "bring him home for Christmas".

These are Julian's sons Max and Gabriel. They need their father. Our family needs to be whole again.

I beg you, please bring him home for Christmas @realDonaldTrump.#PardonAssange#FreeAssangeNOW

— Stella Moris (@StellaMoris1) November 26, 2020

​Hearings regarding Assange's potential extradition to the United States started in February and were initially scheduled to continue in May, but were later postponed to September. His legal team has repeatedly called for him to be granted bail, citing the risk of Assange contracting COVID-19, with preexisting conditions of respiratory and heart problems.

Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong and sought asylum in Moscow after being accused of violating the Espionage Act through his release of classified documents on illegal US surveillance programs. Last month, Snowden announced that he and his wife were seeking Russian citizenship.

In September, when asked about the possibility of pardoning Snowden, Trump said that he would "take a very good look at it".



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she's doing all she can...


With a mere weeks to go in the Trump presidency, the clock is running out on the potential for a last-minute presidential pardon of either Edward Snowden or Julian Assange. Most see this as the last chance before Biden and his deep state national security state hawks begin their administration and slam the door on the possibility.

In Snowden's case, Trump actually discussed the possibility of a pardon during an August interview with the NY Post, saying it's "certainly something I could look at".

Especially in Assange's case, had he not founded and put everything on the line for WikiLeaks we wouldn't know about intrusive government surveillance programs, the United States' aggressive drone strike program, or that Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign manager and his brother are apparently into 'spirit cooking' with a satanic performance artist.

And now longtime Assange friend and previously rumored ex-girlfriend Pamela Anderson is getting creative in her direct appeals to Trump, tagging the president in a Twitter post featuring a stripped-down bikini photoshoot of herself holding a sign that reads "Bring Julian Assange home".

⁦⁩ ⁦@POTUS⁩ please #pardonjulianassange

— Pamela Anderson (@pamfoundation) December 7, 2020

Well, that's certainly one way to get the president's attention.

The former Baywatch star and ex-wife of Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee has previously blasted Trump for not intervening to save Assange's life sooner. His health has reportedly been deteriorating amid harsh confinement at London's notorious Belmarsh Prison.

She's previously called Assange a "hero" and said he's being held by the UK while awaiting potential extradition to the United States as a "political prisoner".

Last week former NSA analyst whistleblower Edward Snowden also made a direct appeal to Trump from his place of asylum in Russia. 

Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life. @realDonaldTrump

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 3, 2020

"Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life," Snowden said in a tweet, tagging the president.

We expect, however, that Anderson's steamy photo could grab the president's eye quicker. As for Snowden's message, it's since gone viral with over 44,000 retweets.



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FREE ASSANGE. thank you george...

Australian MP George Christensen called on Donald Trump to pardon WikiLeaks founder and fellow Australian citizen Julian Assange while he still can, as it seems to be the US president’s last month in the Oval Office.

Christensen – a member of the Liberal National Party who represents Dawson, Queensland – launched a petition this week encouraging the president to pardon the journalist, who faces up to 175 years in prison for publishing classified material. Christensen also appeared on Sky News Australia to make his case. He told the network that Assange “has been a target of the Democrats,” noting that his persecution started under the administration of former president Barack Obama.

“I mean Hillary Clinton hates his guts, obviously, for exposing who the real Hillary was, and you’ve had a war on Assange by the Democrats and the deep state,” he claimed, pointing out that projected president-elect Joe Biden has called Assange a criminal and a “hi-tech terrorist.”

The MP argued that a pardon is “one way that Donald Trump can stand up for free speech,” and against the Democratic establishment, and would also allow him to “poke the deep state in the eye.”

At the center of the United States’ “great document of democracy that is the United States Constitution” is free speech and freedom of the press, Christensen declared, before concluding, “So I’m hoping that he will pardon Julian Assange. It’s the right thing to do.”

During his Sky News appearance, Christensen also sided with Trump’s allegations of 2020 election voter fraud, claiming that the Democrats have “successfully stolen an election from Donald Trump.”

Also on Saturday, Stella Morris, Assange’s partner and the mother of his children, told the Australian government in her own Sky News Australia interview to “pick up the phone and speak to its closest allies” in order to get Assange freed.


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free reality, edward and julian...

Critics chided the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and accused the group of “sexism” after it tweeted a call for Donald Trump to pardon Edward Snowden but not other NSA whistleblower Reality Winner.

“Pardon Snowden,” the civil rights non-profit’s Twitter account wrote late on Sunday. “Edward Snowden blew the whistle on illegal government activity kept secret for years,” the ACLU continued, adding, “Our democracy is better off because of him.”

The ‘pardon Snowden’ tweets were likely prompted by some members of Congress increasingly calling on the president to do so in his last days in office. A few hours prior to the ACLU’s posts, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz made headlines with his own tweet reporting that Trump “is listening to the many of us who are urging him to Pardon Snowden.”

Despite the ACLU’s reasons for tweeting specifically about Snowden seeming clear, some Twitter users took umbrage with the group not also mentioning fellow whistleblower Reality Winner, who was sentenced to five years and three months in prison in 2018 for revealing classified NSA materials


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