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Liveblog: Julian Assange in jeopardy

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Julian Assange’s status in the Ecuadorian embassy has been in jeopardy over the past months, particularly since Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno came to power, with Ecuador and the UK believed to be engaged in negotiations to bring his stay to an end. In a recent interview, Moreno said, “Let’s not forget the conditions of his asylum prevent him from speaking about politics or intervening in the politics of other countries. That’s why we cut his communication.”

Isolated without internet access since March, Julian Assange will have been arbitrarily detained by the UK in the Ecuadorian Embassy for six years on 19 June 2018. The UN has condemned his detention; leading intellectuals, academics, and artists around the world have called for an end to his isolation; and the UK refuses to guarantee safety from extradition should he step outside the embassy.

Due to the seriousness of the current situation, Courage will be live blogging daily updates on the situation at the Ecuadorian embassy and support actions planned worldwide. The website Justice4Assange has published a template to encourage NGOs to take a stand for Assange.

3 July 2018

Today marks Julian Assange’s 47th birthday. Supporters worldwide have been drawing attention to his plight.

1 July 2018

Geoffrey Robertson QC: Julian Assange faces a US extradition request if he has to leave the embassy

Renowned human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, discusses Julian Assange’s case in a new interview:

Julian Assange has exposed a great deal of the secrets of the modern establishment. When he was in court, in fact when I was acting for him, he performed a service to journalists by getting a ruling that they could tweet from court, which they’d never been allowed to previously.

There’s no doubt [that he is wanted by the United States]. We never hear about that from Downing Street, we hear it from the White House.

I think this is working up to be a major free press issue. He’s been in the Ecuadorian embassy for six years, the charges brought against him in Sweden have been withdrawn. He only has America to fear.

If he leaves the embassy, he will be arrested, held for a short time for a breach of bail and in that time the US foreign secretary will order an extradition request that will keep him in prison for years fighting a US extradition request to prosecute him as a spy.

30 June 2018

Ecuador refutes claims of US influence

Ecuador’s new foreign minister Jose Valencia Amores said it’s not up to the US to determine the fate of Julian Assange, who was granted Ecuadorian citizenship earlier this year.

According to the Associated Press:

“Ecuador and the United Kingdom, and of course Mr Assange as a person who is currently staying, on asylum, at our embassy” will decide the next steps, Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told reporters.

“It does not enter, therefore, on an agenda with the United States.”

29 June 2018

White House confirms US and Ecuador are coordinating over Assange

Earlier this week, ten US Democratic Senators sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, as he was traveling to Ecuador. The letter urged “him to raise concerns with President Moreno about Ecuador’s support for Mr. Assange at a time when WikiLeaks continues its efforts to undermine democratic processes around the world.”

The following day, the White House released a statement to reporters confirming Pence did bring up Assange’s situation: “The vice president raised the issue of Mr. Assange. It was a constructive conversation. They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

Independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone comments on the letter and response:

Why would US Senators care that Assange is receiving political asylum if his belief that the US government is trying to extradite him was a paranoid fantasy? The only known existing charge that Assange could be arrested for if he leaves the embassy is a bogus bail violation he was charged with a full 12 days after he applied for political asylum; nobody actually believes ensuring that Assange is prosecuted for that nonsensical charge is an urgent matter, let alone one so urgent it necessitates the full attention of ten sitting US Senators and the Vice President of the United States. Continuing to pretend that we don’t all know that the same government which tortured Chelsea Manning is trying to extradite Assange is a farce, and the correct response to anyone denying it is to laugh in their face.

27 June 2018

Comey killed discussions over Assange’s immunity deal

The Hill reported this week that a lawyer for Julian Assange, Adam Waldman, and the US Department of Justice were in talks in March 2017 to reach an immunity deal for Assange.

Waldman wrote to a DOJ rep:

Subject to adequate and binding protections, including but not limited to an acceptable immunity and safe passage agreement, Mr. Assange welcomes the opportunity to discuss with the U.S. government risk mitigation approaches relating to CIA documents in WikiLeaks’ possession or control, such as the redaction of agency personnel in hostile jurisdictions and foreign espionage risks to WikiLeaks staff.

Derived directly from this discussion of risk mitigation, Mr. Assange is also prepared to discuss (within the source protection boundaries expected of a journalist and publisher operating at the highest level of integrity) (i) a description of CIA information in the possession or control of WikiLeaks; (ii) the risks of third parties who may have obtained access to such information (not withstanding the foregoing, for the avoidance of doubt this category specifically and others generally will not include any information that may effect WikiLeaks obligations to protect its sources) and (iii) information regarding the timing of further publications in so far as they relate to the risk mitigation approaches developed.

But just the next day, The Hill reported that former FBI Director James Comey intervened, through Senator Mark Warner, to kill those discussions.

 

Chilean Political Refugee Cristina Godoy Navarrete Speaks in Support of Julian Assange

“Today 20 June is World Refugee Day. My mum arrived in the UK as a political refugee in 1976 after being imprisoned and tortured by the US-government supported Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.”

Assange Is a Journalist, Should Not Be Persecuted for Publishing the Truth

Kevin Zeese writes:

The threat of prosecution against Julian Assange for his work as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks will be a key to defining what Freedom of the Press means in the 21st Century. Should people be allowed to know the truth if their government is corrupt, violating the law or committing war crimes? Democracy cannot exist when people are misled by a concentrated corporate media that puts forth a narrative on behalf of the government and big business.

20 June 2018

Yesterday rallies were held in major cities around the world, calling for Julian Assange’s freedom.

Human Rights Watch was barred from visiting Assange in the Embassy, and its general counsel Dinah PoKempner has argued, ‘UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to US.’

The publication of leaks—particularly leaks that show potential government wrongdoing or human rights abuse—is a critical function of a free press in a democratic society. The vague and sweeping provisions of the Espionage Act remain ready to be used against other publishers and journalists, whether they be Wikileaks or the New York Times.

19 June 2018

Sixth anniversary rallies and media

Supporters rally in London for the 6th anniversary of Assange’s detention

Today marks six years since Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, seeking asylum from US/UK persecution. Assange lawyer and Courage Trustee Renata Avila remarked on the anniversary:


Rallies for Assange are being held around the world

At the Embassy in London (livestream), Diem25 co-founder Srecko Horvat spoke about WikiLeaks’ importance:


At Mintpress News, Whitney Webb writes, ‘The Implications of Assange’s Persecution for Journalism and Democracy’:

Assange’s case means much more than the severe mistreatment – torture, as some have said – of a single man whose commitment to bringing the dark deeds of government crimes to light has forced him to sacrifice seeing the outside world – even his own children – for the better part of a decade. Though his mistreatment has no place in any civilized “democracy,” the outcome of Assange’s case – if his extradition to the United States does come to pass – will have a powerful impact for journalism as a whole. Indeed, if the U.S.-led campaign to extradite and silence Assange is successful, it will invariably become the blueprint used by powerful governments like the U.S. to silence independent journalists the world over, and bludgeon them into submission.

At Consortium News, former CIA officer Ray McGovern writes, ‘Julian Assange and the Mindszenty Case’:

Where is the voice of conscience to condemn what is happening to Julian Assange, whose only “crime” is publishing documents exposing the criminal activities and corruption of governments and other Establishment elites? Decades ago, the U.S. and “civilized world” had nothing but high praise for the courageous Mindszenty. He became a candidate for sainthood.

And Assange?  He has been confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years —from June 19, 2012—the victim of a scurrilous slander campaign and British threats to arrest him, should he ever step outside. The U.S. government has been putting extraordinary pressure on Ecuador to end his asylum and top U.S. officials have made it clear that, as soon as they get their hands on him, they will manufacture a reason to put him on trial and put him in prison. All for spreading unwelcome truth around.

Vault 7 charges brought

Meanwhile, Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charges have been brought against Joshua Schulte, the alleged source of the Vault 7 leak of CIA hacking tools published by WikiLeaks.

18 June 2018

Tomorrow, 19 June 2018, marks six years since Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Rallies in support of Assange’s freedom, and freedom to use the internet, are planned around the world. See here for a list of global actions, and get in touch with us here to add your event or send us photos from your local action.

Tomorrow the UN Human Rights Council will hear a discussion of “Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and the Future of Rights and Freedoms in the West,” with Judge Baltasar Garzon, head of Assange’s legal team; Stefania Maurizi, the Italian journalist who uncovered important documents about Assange’s persecution; and Micol Savia, from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

John Pilger and others speak at Australian rally

Courage trustee and investigative journalist John Pilger spoke at the Sydney Town Hall rally for Julian Assange. An abridged transcription of his talk, ‘Bring Julian Assange Home,’ can be found here.

 

Lawyers speak out for Assange’s rights

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about Julian’s case.

 

Julian Assange’s Lawyer on 6 Years of Arbitrary Detention

Lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter highlights the Australian government’s selective willingness to protect human rights.

the Australian government says it is ‘fully committed’ [to upholding international human rights law] but simultaneously cherry picks the human rights it wants to uphold or agitate for, depending upon what is politically advantageous to itself or its allies. In Assange’s case this “commitment” has never been translated into any sort of action.

14 June 2018

An exit without “trauma”

Ecuador’s new foreign minister Jose Valencia Amores replaces Maria Fernando Espinosa, the new President of US General Assembly who granted Julian Assange with Ecuadorian citizenship. Amores said on Wednesday, 13 June, that Ecuador seeks a solution to Assange’s situation “that gives us an exit that is not traumatic, an exit that can not provoke a dissonance with international law (and that) serves the interest of the Ecuadorian State.”

UN meeting on Assange

Julian Assange’s Twitter account, run by campaign members while he remains without internet access, announced that on 19 June, the sixth anniversary of Julian entering the embassy, the UN will hold a meeting on his persecution:

New details on Ecuadorian surveillance

Spanish newspaper El Diario has uncovered new details about Operation Hotel, Ecuador’s long effort to spy on Julian Assange’s every move within the embassy, unveiled by the Guardian last month. Based on confidential government intelligence reports, El Diario explains:

The parties of the security company do not limit themselves to detailing the incidents that were registered during those dates outside the embassy, ​​where there were concentrations and some manifestations not too numerous, they also detail and photograph what happens inside the government building, where a network of security cameras  registered all Assange activity. These  images came  to screens located in an apartment located 100 meters from the embassy in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in London . The cameras allowed the Ecuadorian Government to document a meeting that took place on April 4, 2017. “The Guest – as they refer to Assange – receives the visits of Praxis Film”, begins the extraordinary report dedicated to that appointment.

However, El Diario notes ample incorrect information within the reports:

The intelligence reports to which eldiario.es has had access are filled with errors and incorrect statements. Some names of visitors Assange received are not correct, there are misspellings and on some documents, and the Ecuadoran embassy is referred to as the Colombian Embassy. There are also mistakes in identifying the people with whom the WikiLeaks founder has access, like when the report speaks of Renata Avila, who it refers to as one of his Spanish lawyers from the office of Baltasar Garzon. Avila is not Spanish and she is not a lawyer in Garzon’s office.

More support

Filmmaker Ken Loach is the latest to add his voice of support for Assange, with this statement:

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. To force him to remain in the Ecuadorian Embassy for fear of extradition to the USA is clearly political.

He is right to be fearful. In the current febrile atmosphere people in the US have called for his execution.

He has defended the public’s right to know what is done in their name when others who now attack him have run for cover.

It is time that Julian Assange is free to leave without fear.

The Washington Post mark the upcoming six-year anniversary of Julian Assange taking refuge in the embassy.

Free Julian Assange NZ have announced a Wellington protest in support of Julian Assange on 19 June, with a march planned from the Australia High Commission to the US Embassy to the UK Embassy.

John Jiggens writes in Independent Australia that ‘the long siege of Julian Assange’ is “ongoing and unfair”, with extensive comments from  Irish-Australian Catholic Worker activist Ciaron O’Reilly, who said:

lf you marched against the Iraq War and over a million people marched in London alone, then what you did by marching is you incited people like Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. So if you serious about being anti-war then you have to accompany the people you incited, whether they be military resisters or whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning or publishers like Julian Assange.

I know from my own experiences of imprisonment for anti-war activity that the most minute expressions of solidarity carry a lot of weight in terms of nourishing resisters and I have been in the embassy with Julian when he’s received support mail from people and I’ve seen how he has been sincerely nourished by that and I would encourage everyone to write to him.

There’s an old saying that truth is the first casualty of war. Well maybe, as Julian points out, peace can be founded on telling the truth.

13 June 2018

Courage Trustee and investigative journalist John Pilger was interviewed by Dennis Bernstein about the ‘Curious Case of the Left’s Silence on Julian Assange.’ Pilger said:

They have not won, not yet, and they have not destroyed the man. Only the silence of good people will allow them to win. Julian Assange has never been more isolated. He needs your support and your voice. Now more than ever is the time to demand justice and free speech for Julian. Thank you.”

WISE Up Action have published a new interview with James Cogan, ;The Fight to Free Julian Assange is a question of political principle.’

Artists Tony Garnett, Davide Dormino and Costantino Ciervo demand freedom for Julian Assange.

Former high-ranking UN official Alfred M. de Zayas issued a statement of support:

Assange, whom I visited at the Ecuador Embassy in London, deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace. He and fellow whistleblower Eduard Snowden have done more for democracy, rule of law and peace than the many hypocritical politicians and journalists who attack and defame them.

12 June 2018

Australians take notice after High Commission visit

Following the news that Australian officials visited the Ecuadorian Embassy, Australians are showing their support for Julian Assange. Australian public high school teachers signed a resolution in support of the campaign for Assange’s freedom.

At Mintpress News, Whitney Webb says that the outcome of Assange’s situation could set a precedent for all Australians, calling on the Aussie government to protect him:

if Australia reneges on its obligations to protect Assange and fight for his rights, the implications such actions would hold for every other citizen of the country are as vast as they are chilling. It would set the legal precedent for Australia to allow any of its citizens to be detained, imprisoned and/or silenced by another government without charges, greatly weakening the rights of any Australian national living or traveling abroad. Essentially, it would mean that many of the rights granted to an Australian by right of one’s citizenship would evaporate the second he or she set foot on foreign soil.

11 June 2018

Australia providing consular assistance

Over the weekend it was confirmed that Australia was providing consular assistance in Assange’s situation after two officials from the High Commission in London visited the Ecuadorian Embassy. 7 News Melbourne spoke with Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson:


Postcards for Assange

Inspired by John Pilger’s statement calling for support, WISEUP Action has launched a postcard campaign, providing postcards emphasizing Assange’s right to free speech and his right to healthcare available for download.

5 June 2018

Ecuador’s foreign minister elected President of UN General Assembly

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador’s foreign minister who approved Julian Assange’s citizenship and gave him diplomatic status, has been elected President of the United Nations’ General Assembly.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Espinosa said there was no set date for Assange to regain internet access.

Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, said last week that Espinosa made the decision to grant Assange citizenship. “I told the foreign minister she should, with complete freedom, choose how to solve the problem. And she chose that system. It wasn’t the most suitable, but I respected it,” Moreno said.

4 June 2018

Investigative journalist and Courage Trustee John Pilger has released a statement about Julian’s situation and the need for widespread grassroots support, entitled “Justice and freedom for Julian Assange mean free speech for us all.”

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou explained the importance of supporting Assange in a recent video message. “I feel like we’re heading into an international crisis if we turn our backs on Julian Assange,” he said.

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters displayed a huge message of support at a  performance over the weekend:

Assange supporter Emmy Butlin, whose group WISEUP Action organizes vigils outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, recently gave an interview to World Socialist Website.

Vigils planned in support of Julian Assange

17 June – Sydney, Australia, Town Hall’s Square, 1pm

19 June – London, Ecuadorian Embassy, 6-8pm