Chris Hedges and Joe Lauria, Editor-in-Chief of Consortium News both followed this week’s extradition hearing for Julian Assange via video link. On Saturday 30th, with the ruling from the proceedings still pending, they discussed the case on Chris Hedge’s RT show On Contact:
On the same day, Afshin Rattansi spoke with UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, about the trial and the treatment of Julian Assange. They discuss Melzer’s assessment that Julian Assange has been psychologically tortured by UK authorities; why it has become harder for the UK courts to refuse the US extradition request; the parallels between the video of the murder of George Floyd and Julian Assange’s revelations; and what Julian Assange’s persecution means for the average citizen’s rights:
The original article begins below.
“If they can do it to anyone, they can do it to us,” Marianne Williamson recalls her father warning. As Julian Assange faced his extradition hearing and Steven Donziger lost his appeal and had to report to prison, Marianne Williamson spoke with independent journalist Katie Halper about the “viciousness of the system”. She reminds us that this anyone who takes on corporate and state power will be gone after by corporations and state institutions or a combination, which is why we need to stand up and speak out.
The last week was a terrible week for justice.
After two and a half years of detention inside HMP Belmarsh maximum security prison, Julian Assange, who appears to be seriously ill, is facing extradition to America where he is expected to receive a 175 year sentence; guilty of the grave crime of practising journalism. As Chris Hedges writes:
Assange’s “crime” is that he exposed the more than 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians.
He exposed the torture and abuse of some 800 men and boys, aged between 14 and 89, at Guantánamo.
He exposed that Hillary Clinton in 2009 ordered US diplomats to spy on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other U.N. representatives from China, France, Russia, and the UK, spying that included obtaining DNA, iris scans, fingerprints, and personal passwords, part of the long pattern of illegal surveillance that included the eavesdropping on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He exposed that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the CIA orchestrated the June 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya, replacing it with a murderous and corrupt military regime.
He exposed that George W. Bush, Barack Obama and General David Petraeus prosecuted a war in Iraq that under post-Nuremberg laws is defined as a criminal war of aggression, a war crime, which authorized hundreds of targeted assassinations, including those of US citizens in Yemen.
He exposed that the United States secretly launched missile, bomb, and drone attacks on Yemen, killing scores of civilians.
He exposed that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $657,000 to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe, and that she privately assured corporate leaders she would do their bidding while promising the public financial regulation and reform.
He exposed the internal campaign to discredit and destroy British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party.
He exposed how the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency permits the wholesale government surveillance of our televisions, computers, smartphones and anti-virus software, allowing the government to record and store our conversations, images and private text messages, even from encrypted apps.
He exposed the truth. He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption and mendacity that defines the global ruling elite. And for these truths alone he is guilty.
Click here to read Chris Hedges full article entitled “The Most Important Battle for Press Freedom in Our Time” published by Sheerpost on Thursday 28th Oct.
This week Julian Assange was back in court for the final decision on his extradition hearing. In response the stenographers of power with feet tucked comfortably under their desks, politely sat back and said absolutely nothing.
This was the home page on the BBC website late on October 27th (following the first day of Assange’s hearing):
And this is the BBC politics page:
There was also no mention at all on the BBC world events page, although Assange does finally manage to grab a column inch on their UK page:
On the second and last day of the hearing, BBC News did at least manage to produce a brief résumé of the case (embedded below) which is truly a masterpiece in how to mislead an audience by means of clever changes in tone and a disconnected series of half-truths:
Lies of omission abound. So although it reminds us that Assange had originally skipped bail telling the world his extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations (charges were later dropped) would inevitably result in his deportation to America, the report entirely fails to then put two and two together. Clearly Assange had been telling the truth all along and wasn’t making excuses.
Still more negligent is the BBC’s abject failure to mention how a de facto regime change in Ecuador first enabled the British to arrest him inside the embassy; or that private meetings with his lawyers were illegally bugged; or how the central allegations against him that led to charges of hacking and espionage are discredited by the dodgy witness who made them; or even the truly staggering revelations that the CIA actually formed plans to kidnap and assassinate Assange in London.
Nonetheless Channel 4 News still managed to outdo the BBC and on Wednesday failed to provide any mention whatsoever of Assange’s trial on any of its pages – here’s a glimpse of their main UK page:
And here is a screenshot of Channel 4 News’ Youtube channel showing uploads for the entire week – stories that cover Ethiopia, Welsh ambulances, COP26, Frances Haugen and Facebook, Rishi Sunak’s budget, UK police abuse, Nigerian bronzes “looted” by British Museum, Sudan, the Met Police… but once again, no mention at all of Julian Assange:
Meanwhile, the Guardian, which once worked extremely closely with Assange, supplied their readership with a small offering on what is undoubtedly the trial of the century:
Coincidentally, on the very same day that Julian Assange was fighting for justice and hoping to avoid extradition and the hell of an American jail, the environmental lawyer Steven Donziger whose case I have detailed here had his own appeal rejected by a court in New York and faced imprisonment too. Once again, none of the mainstream outlets either in the UK and America has devoted any attention to this story.
Instead, the Guardian environmental page looked like this:
And if you had typed Steven Donziger into Google this is all you would see – reports from The Nation and Democracy Now! but no coverage whatsoever by any newspapers or major TV channels in America or Europe:
Here is one of the few post-judgement reports on Donziger’s imprisonment that I can find uploaded on Youtube:
To loosely paraphrase Martin Niemöller’s famous entreaty once more: first they came for the journalists, next they came for the lawyers…
So the last week has been a terrible week for Julian Assange and Steven Donziger, and more generally a terrible week for freedom and democracy.
So far, it has been a terrible week for all of us full stop.
Outside the High Court on day two, Julian Assange’s partner Stella Moris, Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, and Jeremy Corbyn arrive to speak to the crowd of protesters and with RT journalists:
Awaiting the decision on Julian Assange’s extradition at the end of the two-day hearing, on Thursday evening [Oct 28th] Roger Waters, shared his thoughts in an interview with RT: