By Mathew Carr
July 11-16, 2022
–Some of the recent Assange news summarized at bottom
–US, UK relationship lopsided against Britain: serving British MP Davis
John Shipton has been on a mission for months, and it’s starting to pay off.
He’s trying to get his son out of jail by adjusting narratives.
One narrative: Middle East wars the past 20 years or so were needed to protect peace and fossil fuel supplies.
Shipton’s version: the military deployments were huge war crimes and the perpetrators have gotten off without accountability, or even scrutiny.
Western forces targeted civilian installations, such as water purification plants, as they deployed war in the Middle East the past two decades or so, he said. Millions died from those war crimes, said Shipton, the biological father of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange (who took on his stepfather’s name and is now languishing in Belmarsh prison in London).
The apparent and untried war crimes were highlighted by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in that period, as Assange sought to draw attention to the injustice involved in the rolling military conflicts, which in that region were largely related to protecting crude oil and natural gas production.
Shipton was speaking last week in London at the launch of Ithaka, a new movie about Assange’s plight — he’ll potentially be extradited to the U.S., where he may theoretically face 175 years in prison.
Shipton said 6 million died unnecessarily in Iraq alone because of the conflicts, citing acadmic work by avoidable-mortality expert Gideon Polya (formerly of La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia).
Targeting environmental infrastructure is an increasingly prevalent form of war-making in the Middle East and North Africa, with long-term implications for rebuilding states, sustaining livelihoods, and resolving conflicts, according to this 2017 research by University of New Hampshire academics and others.
Further, Assange has contended that poor media behavior has contributed to nearly every recent war:
The officials, generals and politicians responsible for the deaths caused by the wars have the nerve to say Assange may have caused harm by exposing the war crimes, Shipton said on Thursday July 7 in London, before the UK premier of Ithaka. Stella Moris, legal advisor and now Assange’s wife, also spoke at the event.
Assange and his team carefully redacted the documents published to protect people needing protection, they said.
While Assange was careful, the politicians and generals “sent the soldiers there, in the case of Iraq 4,000 (U.S. armed forces) of them dead. They did it — those who administer these foul crimes that we in the West have to carry upon our consciousness,” Shipton said. There was another 4,000 or so dead from other coalition forces, according to Wikipedia (Note: Wikipedia itself is peridocially criticised for being inaccurate).
Shipton’s message is winning supporters — he’s beginning to successfully demonstrate that Assange’s trial is effectively a show trial designed to torture and attack the messenger. Indeed, it’s attacking press freedom. Yet the warmongering criminals are not being pursued.
There’s now a wave of support for the people bidding for Assange’s freedom.
Three weeks ago, Julian Assange’s father and brother called on the German government to ask US President Joe Biden to drop the case against the WikiLeaks founder.
“The German government should express to President Biden their concern about this case and they should request that it should be dropped,” said Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, at a press briefing in Berlin.
That was after the British government approved Assange’s extradition to the United States, to the dismay of his supporters and free-press campaigners.
Last week, more than 70 members of the German parliament from four political parties called on the US and UK governments to stop the impending deportation of Assange to the U.S.
Some French politicians are pushing to grant Assange asylum there.
On July 12 – see this snip from Skwarkbox:
Andrés Manuel López Obrador demands US President Biden intervene and that US media join the fight to free ‘the best journalist of our time’
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has demanded that the US end its pursuit of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange – and has said that if the country persists, it should dismantle the Statue of Liberty.
And Obrador condemned the Americans’ determination to use the Espionage Act to go after journalists who embarrass it by revealing US crimes that it would rather keep secret, warning that it will damage journalism, which would have a profound impact on even the notion of democracy.
Previously in the U.S., a coalition of civil liberties organizations, including Freedom of the Press Foundation, asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to drop the case against Assange in the name of protecting the rights of journalists everywhere — so, too, have the editors of major news outlets such as The New York Times and Washington Post, according to freedom.press.
Yet the major publishers Wikileaks’ information are not being pursued by the US government like Assange is, highlighting the injustice of that pursuit, Shipton told CarrZee on Thursday.
The anger at the injustice — where those who committed the crimes remain unaccountable — would make anyone “tremble,” he said.
“The relief to the burden that they’ve thrust upon us with this ongoing catastrophe — our relief — is to ensure Julian gets out of the jail and goes home to his wife and family,” he said. When that finally happens, that will be the “beginning of the untangling of the last 20 years,” Shipton said.
“By continuing to extradite Assange, the Biden Department Of Justice is ignoring the dire warnings of virtually every major civil liberties and human rights organization in the country that the case will do irreparable damage to basic press freedom rights of U.S. reporters,” freedom.press said last month. The prosecution, which includes 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, covers events that took place more than a decade ago, but was brought only under the Trump administration — “after the Obama Department of Justice reportedly considered charges but dismissed them for their dangerous First Amendment implications.”
Nils Melzer, UN special rapporteur on torture, has massively changed his stance on Assange and he this year published a book: A story of persecution: The Trial of Julian Assange.
Melzer admits in the Ithaka film and in his book he took far too long to realise he had been conned by the mainstream media messaging on Assange.
From his book, he said the false narrative included this: “Assange, the cowardly rapist refusing to turn himself in to the Swedish authorities. Assange, the hacker and spy evading justice in the Ecuadorian embassy. Assange, the ruthless narcissist, traitor and bastard.”
(Assange was accused of rape, but the allegations didn’t go anywhere.)
The sleeve of his book summarises Melzer’s “explosive” about face. Another false narrative shot down.
Explosive – Seeing Through Deception
‘Through secrecy, impunity and public indifference, unchecked power has spun out of control and risks annihilating Western democracy and the rule of law.’
Secrecy Threatens Democracy
I asked Moris and Shipton whether the failure to deal with the whistleblowing highlighted by WikiLeaks, the failure to deal with secrecy and lack of accountability, contibuted to the militaristic culture that helped stoke the Russia-Ukraine war.
They didn’t quite answer, but indicated a few answers, as mentioned above. I’ll finish this article for now with Morris, below.
Moris said Assange was, indeed, motivated in 2010 by the reform that he thought publication of his warlogs would bring to USA policy and behavior.
“And maybe that was the most threatening part of it, that maybe the US would have to hold itself accountable in light of all these misdeeds and crimes being out in the open,” Moris said. “And that is perhaps why there was such an aggressive response, because of the implications that such reform would have.”
The “tainting” of Assange remains an unbroken false narrative, but cracks are appearing amid that excalating wave of support for him, she said.
For now, that accountability for the Anglo-American show trial hasn’t happened …and indeed, messenger Assange, rather than those who are truly responsible for harm, remains under attack.
(Updates with tweets, Mexico, Wikileaks tweet, I removed an incorrect extra R from Moris’s name as I published this last week. It’s a common misspelling. Still, I should know better because of my single T)
I’m adding this review of another, less-flattering, documentary about Assange, where the documentary maker changed the focus of her film to be more negative toward the Wikileaks founder. It includes this passage:
I included this partly because it’s firmly an example of how whistleblowers are often made the story in the media, instead of reporters focussing on what they are blowing the whistle about (which are often difficult subjects). There is a (blame-the-victim / gaslight-the-whistleblower) problem in the media — it’s about news judgment or the lack of it … which I contend hurts other victims, such as those alleging abuse / rape. It also highlights how Assange is a flawed person, like all of us are.
Wikileaks sought to expose deliberate climate inaction:
(Section of unedited press release by Wikileaks before last year’s UN climate summit in Glasgow):
The WikiLeaks publisher is being prosecuted for, among other things, informing the public about the ways in which powerful nations have undermined meaningful action in the face of a climate crisis.
The US indictment represents a full-frontal assault on the public’s right to impart and receive information; thereby undermining the very basis of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the First Amendment to the US constitution.
In September of this year, it was revealed that the CIA drew up plans to kidnap or assassinate Assange after he published documents revealing how the spy agency targets iPhones, Androids and other devices, from a covert CIA hacker base in the US consulate in Frankfurt.
The multi-award-winning journalist remains incarcerated in Belmarsh prison in the UK, in pre-trial detention, separated from his wife and two young children.
On 4 January 2021, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the US government’s extradition request on the grounds that extradition would be “oppressive” and would result in his death.
Nobody should face a single day in prison, let alone a life sentence, for their journalistic work which, in this case, has helped to inform environmental activists and civil society organisations the world over.
The prosecution against Julian Assange is an attack on the publics right to know – the truth about the environment, and our future, and what powerful countries want to keep hidden from the public.
Although Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are perhaps best known for the release of the Afghanistan Diaries, Iraq War logs, and Guantanamo Bay detainee files the materials published by the award-winning investigative news outlet go far beyond this.
As the latest climate change summit, COP 26, due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, fast approaches, it is worth remembering some of the key environment-related documents published by Assange.
Such revelations as government spying and surveillance of diplomats and negotiators. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, drafted a detailed “human intelligence” directive calling on all manner of biographical and even biometric data (e.g. fingerprints, DNA) belonging to UN workers to be obtained.
Spying and surveillance is done in order to gain a competitive edge between countries. During environmental summits, human and electronic intelligence gathering methods are used in order to determine what the bargaining positions of even ‘friendly’ governments are. An NSA intercepted conversation between German and Japanese diplomats, for example, revealed that the US was pressuring the Germans to drop their demand for a 25-45% reduction in carbon emissions, and that the lobbying would likely be successful.
Spying is also being used to help bribe, blackmail or coerce governments into acting as desired. Meanwhile, even as climate negotiations proceed from year to year, separate treaty negotiations such as TPP, TTIP and TiSA, all have provisions that would preference the rights of corporations over the ability of governments to protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy.
Diplomatic cables published by Assange also exposed that an environmental “marine reserve” pushed by the UK government in the Chagos Islands was actually designed to prevent the people of those Islands from ever returning (the British government forcibly removed the Chagos Islanders from their homes against their will in the 1960s and 70s). The UK was admonished by the International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly, its greenwashing of a major colonial crime was exposed thanks to the cable.
Worrying developments, such as the melting of the polar ice caps, are shown in other cables, as offering positive economic opportunities to US, Russian and European government ministers who see “new shipping routes” and the possibility of previously infeasible resource. A former Danish foreign minister described the new mood optimistically as a scramble to “carve up” the Arctic.
Serious corruption and “neocolonial exploitation” of mining resources by multinational corporations was also laid bare by documents focusing on the Central African Republics mining resources. As was a suppressed report into the devastating toxic dumping of waste in the Ivory Coast by commodities trader Trafigura.
All this and more has been brought to light by documents revealed by Julian Assange and then provided to the public at large.
Disclosure: I’m a whistleblower who’s having trouble showing it and I’m in my third year of litigation against my former employer Bloomberg LP.
And see these fascinating revelations, which appear to add to evidence there’s been an Anglo-American showtrial:
Justice Dept declines but she did get a visit or two:
And from July 13:
Daily Mail’s Assange timeline