It is no accident that Julian Assange, the digital transparency activist and journalist who founded WikiLeaks to help whistleblowers tell us what Western governments are really up to in the shadows, has spent 10 years being progressively disappeared into those very same shadows.
His treatment is a crime similar to those WikiLeaks exposed when it published just over a decade ago hundreds of thousands of leaked materials – documents we were never supposed to see – detailing war crimes committed by the United States and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These two Western countries killed non-combatants and carried our torture not, as they claimed, in the pursuit of self-defense or in the promotion of democracy, but to impose control over a strategic, resource-rich region.
It is the ultimate, ugly paradox that Assange’s legal and physical fate rests in the hands of two states that have the most to lose by allowing him to regain his freedom and publish more of the truths they want to keep concealed. By redefining his journalism as “espionage”– the basis for the US extradition claim – they are determined to keep the genie stuffed in the bottle.
Eyes off the ball
Last week, in overturning a lower court decision that should have allowed Assange to walk free, the English High Court consented to effectively keep Assange locked up indefinitely. He is a remand prisoner – found guilty of no crime – and yet he will continue rotting in solitary confinement for the foreseeable future, barely seeing daylight or other human beings, in Belmarsh high-security prison alongside Britain’s most dangerous criminals.
The High Court decision forces our eyes off the ball once again. Assange and his supposed “crime” of seeking transparency and accountability has become the story rather than the crimes he exposed that were carried out by the US to lay waste to whole regions and devastate the lives of millions.
The goal is to stop the public conducting the debate Assange wanted to initiate through his journalism: about Western state crimes. Instead the public is being deflected into a debate his persecutors want: whether Assange can ever safely be allowed out of his cell.
Assange’s lawyers are being diverted from the real issues, too. They will now be tied up for years fighting endless rearguard actions, caught up in the search for legal technicalities, battling to win a hearing in any court they can, to prevent his extradition to the United States to stand trial.
The process itself has taken over. And while the legal minutiae are endlessly raked over, the substance of the case – that it is US and British officials who ought to be held responsible for committing war crimes – will be glossed over.
But it is worse than the legal injustice of Assange’s case. There may be no hacksaws needed this time, but this is as visceral a crime against journalism as the dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials back in 2018.
And the outcome for Assange is only slightly less preordained than it was for Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. The goal for US officials has always been about permanently disappearing Assange. They are indifferent about how that is achieved.
If the legal avenue is a success, he will eventually head to the US where he can be locked away for up to 175 years in severe solitary confinement in a supermax jail – that is, till long past his death from natural causes. But there is every chance he will not survive that long. Last January, a British judge rejected extraditing Julian Assange to the US over his “suicide risk“, and medical experts have warned that it will be only a matter of time before he succeeds.
That was why the district court blocked extradition – on humanitarian grounds. Those grounds were overturned by the High Court last week only because the US offered “assurances” that measures would be in place to ensure Assange did not commit suicide. But Assange’s lawyers pointed out: those assurances “were not enough to address concerns about his fragile mental health and high risk of suicide”. These concerns should have been apparent to the High Court justices.
There is no need to speculate about the Americans’ bad faith. It is only too apparent in the myriad get-out clauses in the “assurances” they provided. Those assurances can be dropped, for example, if US officials decide Assange is not being cooperative. The promises can and will be disregarded the moment they become an encumbrance on Washington’s ability to keep Assange permanently silenced.
‘Trapped in a cage’
But if losing the extradition battle is high stakes, so is the legal process itself. That could finish Assange off long before a decision is reached, as his fiancee Stella Moris indicated at the weekend. She confirmed that Assange suffered a small stroke during a hearing in October in the endless extradition proceedings. There are indications he suffered neurological damage, and is now on anti-stroke medication to try to stop a recurrence.
Assange and his friends believe the stroke was brought on by the constant double strain of his solitary confinement in Belmarsh and a legal process being conducted over his head, in which he is barely allowed to participate.
Nils Melzer, the United Nations expert on torture, has repeatedly warned that Assange has been subjected to prolonged psychological torture in the nine years since he fled into Ecuador’s embassy in London seeking asylum from US efforts to persecute him.
That form of torture, Melzer has pointed out, was refined by the Nazis because it was found to be far more effective at breaking people than physical torture. Moris told the Daily Mail:
“[The stroke] compounds our fears about [Assange’s] ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on. … Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian.”
And that indeed looks to be the prize for US officials that wanted him assassinated anyway. Whatever happens to Assange, the lawless US security state wins: it either gets him behind bars forever, or it kills him quietly and quite lawfully, while everyone is distracted, arguing about who Assange is rather what he exposed.
In fact, with each twist and turn of the proceedings against Assange we move further from the realities at the heart of the case towards narrative distractions.
Who remembers now the first extradition hearings, nearly two years ago, at which the court was reminded that the very treaty signed by Britain and the US that is the basis for Assange’s extradition explicitly excludes political cases of the kind being pursued by the US against Assange?
It is a victory for state criminality that the discussion has devolved to Assange’s mental health rather than a substantive discussion of the treaty’s misapplication to serve political ends.
And similarly the focus on US assurances regarding Assange’s well-being is intended to obscure the fact that a journalist’s work is being criminalized as “espionage” for the first time under a hurriedly drafted, draconian and discredited piece of First World War legislation, the 1917 Espionage Act. Because Assange is a political prisoner suffering political persecution, legal arguments are apparently powerless to save him. It is only a political campaign that can keep underscoring the sham nature of the charges he faces.
The lies of power
What Assange bequeathed us through WikiLeaks was a harsh light capable of cutting through the lies of power and power of lies. He showed that western governments claiming the moral high ground were actually committing crimes in our name out of sight in far-off lands. He tore the mask off their hypocrisy.
He showed that the many millions who took to the streets in cities around the world in 2003 because they knew the US and UK would commit war crimes in Iraq were right to march. But he also confirmed something worse: that their opposition to the war was treated with utter contempt.
The US and UK did not operate more carefully, they were not more respectful of human rights, they did not tread more lightly in Iraq because of those marches, because of the criticism beforehand. The western war machine carried on regardless, crushing the lives of anyone who got caught up in its maw.
Now with Assange locked up and silenced, western foreign policy can return comfortably to the era of zero accountability that existed before Assange shook up the whole system with his revelations. No journalist will dare to repeat what Assange did – not unless they are ready to spend the rest of their days behind bars.
The message his abuse sends to others could not be clearer or more chilling: what happened to Assange could happen to you too.
The truth is journalism is already reeling from the combined assaults against Khashoggi and Assange. But the hounding of Assange strikes the bigger blow. It leaves honest journalism with no refuge, no sanctuary anywhere in the world.
Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. This originally appeared in the Middle East Eye.
More than 2.5 years have passed since WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after 7 years in hiding from British authorities, during which time Assange has struggled through a lengthy court battle, all while remaining imprisoned. And yet it seems Assange’s real nightmare is only just beginning as Britain’s high court ruled Friday that he could be extradited to the US to face charges that could see him imprisoned for the rest of his life.
Assange can appeal the ruling, but it’s clear at this point that the chips are stacked against him. The US government has been quietly pursuing charges against the Wikileaks founder under the Espionage Act for years. According to what’s been publicly revealed, Assange is facing an 18 count indictment in the US with most of the charges focused on violating the Espionage Act. Should he be found guilty, Assange could be imprisoned for up to 175 years.
In response to the ruling, WikiLeaks slammed the US for trying to avoid accountability by covering up the “collateral murder” incident where two Reuters journalists were killed in Iraq, along with innocent civilians, by the US military. The infamous footage from that incident, which was first published by Assange after being leaked by Chelsea Manning (back when she was an army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning).
As Axios reminds us, Assange’s case has serious implications for journalists in the US, and around the world.
The case has raised significant questions about First Amendment protections for publishers of classified information, as Assange argues he was acting as a journalist when he published leaked US government documents on Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a statement, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said “Julian’s life is once more under grave threat, and so is the right of journalists to publish material that governments and corporations find inconvenient.”
Assange’s fiancee, Stella Morris, called the ruling “dangerous and misguided” and said his legal team intends to appeal – something his lawyers also claimed in a letter that has been shared on social media.
In its petition to overturn the lower court’s decision to block Assange’s extradition, the US managed to assuage the judges’ concerns about Assange’s mental and physical health, and that Assange’s risk of suicide would be greatly reduced. The US authorities have given assurances that Assange will not be placed in the most highly restrictive conditions unless he does something in the future to warrant it.
Giving the judgment, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said: “That risk is in our judgment excluded by the assurances which are offered.”
“It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”
Judge Timothy Holroyde said he was satisfied with the assurances given by the US about Assange’s treatment in custody. Holroyde said the case must now be remitted to Westminster Magistrates’ Court with the direction that judges send it to the British government to decide whether or not Assange should be extradited.
To be sure, all is not yet lost for Assange. Reuters reported that Assange’s inevitable appeal would likely send the matter of his extradition to the UK’s Supreme Court.
As we mentioned above, lawyers for the US offered the British high court four assurances, including that Assange would not be subject to solitary confinement before or after his trial, and that he would not be detained at the ADX Florence Supermax jail in Colorado – a federal prison that’s home to some of America’s most infamous criminals. In light of reports about Assange’s deteriorating health, the US also promised that he would receive all necessary clinical and psychiatric help.
They argued Assange’s mental illness “does not even come close” to being severe enough to prevent him from being extradited, but also reassured the British that Assange would be allowed to transfer to Australia to serve any prison sentence he may be given closer to home.
The US has insisted that by publishing thousands of pages of classified documents, Assange put American lives in danger. It’s not clear when Assange will be extradited, but now that the High Court has ruled, it’s likely he will be moved across the Atlantic to stand trial in the US very soon. That trial will likely be closely covered by the international press, just like every other chapter of Assange’s nearly decade-long legal battle.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, writing on her Telegram channel, blasted the UK high court’s judgment while pointing out the irony that it happened on International Human Rights Day.
“This shameful verdict in this political case against a journalist and public figure is another manifestation of the cannibalistic worldview of the Anglo-Saxon tandem,” she said.
Assange’s loyal band of supporters gathered outside of the court after the ruling, chanting “free Julian Assange” and “no extradition.” They tied hundreds of yellow ribbons to the court’s gates and held up placards saying “journalism is not a crime”.
Was the government of Australia aware of the US Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist arrested and now imprisoned under unrelentingly bleak, harsh conditions in the UK?
Why have the country’s elected leaders refused to publicly advocate for one of its citizens, who has been held on dubious charges and subjected to torture by a foreign power, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer? What does Canberra know about Julian’s fate and when did it know it?
The Grayzone has obtained documents revealing that the Australian government has since day one been well-aware of Julian’s cruel treatment inside London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, and has done little to nothing about it. It has, in fact, turned a cold shoulder to the jailed journalist despite hearing his testimony of conditions “so bad that his mind was shutting down.”
Not only has Canberra failed to effectively challenge the US and UK governments overseeing Assange’s imprisonment and prosecution; as these documents expose in stark detail, it appears to have colluded with them in the flagrant violation of an Australian citizen’s human rights, while doing its best to obscure the reality of his situation from the public.
On knowledge of CIA plot against Assange, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs issues snide non-denial denial
In the wake of Yahoo News’ startling September revelations of CIA plans to surveil, kidnap, and even kill WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which confirmed and built upon a May 2020 exposé by The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal, officials in the NATO-oriented ‘Five Eyes’ global spying network struggled to get their stories straight.
William Evanina, Washington’s top counterintelligence officer until his retirement in early 2021, told Yahoo the Five Eyes alliance was “critical” to Langley’s dastardly plot, and “we were very confident” that Julian’s potential escape from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London could be prevented, by hook or by crook.
When asked whether the US had ever briefed or consulted the government of Julian’s native Australia on the operation, however, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) dodged the question. For his part, Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister at the time of these deadly deliberations, claimed, “the first I heard about this was in today’s media.”
It is certainly possible that elected officials in Canberra were kept in the dark about the CIA’s proposals. Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unaware of the very existence of Five Eyes until 1973, 17 years after his country became a signatory to the network’s underpinning UKUSA agreement, following police raids on the offices of domestic spying agency the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, due to its withholding of information from the government.
Whether or not Turnbull was aware of the operation, DFAT’s response when a member of Julian’s family contacted the Department demanding Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne ask the Biden administration to drop the charges against him, and seeking comment on the Yahoo article, was disturbingly flippant.
“Just because it’s written in a newspaper doesn’t mean it’s true…the CIA has been accused of a lot of things, including faking the Moon landing,” a DFAT official quipped in a classic non-denial denial.
These crude remarks were recorded in a letter sent to Payne by John Shipton, Julian’s father. The missive is just one of many documents provided exclusively to Grayzone by Kellie Tranter, Julian’s legal authority in Australia.
For years, Tranter has filed freedom of information requests with the Australian government in a campaign to uncover its true position on Julian, and to what extent its intimate alliance with Washington has limited its ability or willingness to push for his freedom.
The documents acquired by Tranter expose Canberra as anything but an advocate for Assange, the Australian citizen. Instead, throughout Julian’s time in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and imprisonment at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in Belmarsh high security prison – “Britain’s Gitmo” – the Australian government has been determinedly committed to seeing, hearing, and speaking no evil in his regard, despite possessing clear evidence of his dramatically waning physical and mental health, and the torturous conditions of his confinement.
Assange informs Canberra of US violations of his rights: ‘This action was illegal’
The records of a brief visit by Australian consulate officers to Belmarsh on May 17th 2019, one month after Assange’s dramatic expulsion from the Embassy, are especially illustrative of Canberra’s attitude. Over the course of that meeting, Assange spoke in detail about prison conditions and his 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement.
“He remains in his cell most of the day, with 40 minutes allocated each day for ‘associations’,” the Australian consular officials noted. “He is allowed outside for 30 minutes each day, although he said at times this does not happen,” for reasons unstated. Unable to eat at all “for a long period,” he was now ingesting “small amounts”, collecting meals from the kitchen and returning to his cell.
Permitted just two personal visits each month, plus legal consultations, Assange mentioned his recent meeting with Nils Melzer and two medical experts specialized in examining potential victims of torture and other ill-treatment, and that he had so far been unable to speak to his family.
The WikiLeaks co-founder eschewed work programs “which would afford him the opportunity to get out of his cell more often,” according to the diplomats, on the grounds that he refused to engage in “slave labour” and needed time to prepare his legal case. Prisoners in British jails earn an average of $13 per week for hard, thankless toil on behalf of big business, which in turn profits immensely from their rank exploitation.
While mercifully prescribed antibiotics and codeine by prison doctors for an infected root canal, which can be life-threatening in the event the infection spreads, Assange was still waiting on reading glasses and had yet to see an optometrist. The jailed journalist went on to describe how one senior officer “has it in for me,” showing his visitors a charge sheet indicating that a search of his cell uncovered a razor blade, and he’d failed to tidy it after an inspection.
A third infraction of any sort “would result in exercise privileges being withdrawn,” the document states. Possibly fearing reprisal, Assange asked that officials not raise these matters with prison authorities. Evidently, what might typically be considered an unambiguous indication of suicidal intentions was instead logged as a simple disciplinary matter.
Adding to his psychological toll, Assange reported that he had undergone blood tests, and been advised he was HIV-positive, a shocking diagnosis. However, subsequent examinations confirmed the test result to be a false positive, forcing Assange to wonder if the misdiagnosis was a mere error, or “something else.” It could well have been a grotesquely sick mind game, perhaps alluding to the bogus sexual assault allegations he had faced in Sweden, and intended to drive him toward madness.
Assange also presented the Australian consular officials with a recently-published UK Home Office deportation notice, informing him then-Secretary of State Sajid Javid had determined under the 1971 UK Immigration Act that his presence in the UK “was not conducive to the public interest, and he would be removed from the UK without delay,” with no chance of appealing the decision.
“Mr. Assange expressed concern about surviving the current process and fears he would die if taken to the US. He claimed the US was going through his possessions that had remained at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He said that this action was illegal,” the officers wrote. “He stated that his possessions included two valuable artworks he planned to sell to raise funds for his legal defence, the manuscripts of two books, and legal papers. He expressed concern his legal material would be used against him by the US.”
Assange was correct that sensitive documents were stolen by US authorities. Immediately following his arrest, his attorney Gareth Peirce contacted the Ecuadorian Embassy regarding this privileged material, demanding it be handed over as a matter of urgency. When at last his property was collected, all legal papers were missing save for two volumes of Supreme Court files “and a number of pages of loose correspondence,” making his extradition defense an even greater challenge than it already was.
Over the course of Julian’s initial extradition hearings in early 2020, assistant US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg implausibly pledged a “taint team” would excise material from these files so it would not be used in any resultant trial. Similarly feeble “assurances” of this ilk were offered during the recent appeal proceedings.
Conversely, there has so far been no unconvincing public guarantee against the abuse of any information illicitly obtained by UC Global, a CIA contractor, from its extensive surveillance of the Embassy. The Spanish private security firm went as far as bugging the building’s female bathroom, where the WikiLeaks founder conducted discussions with his lawyers, away from prying ears and eyes – or so he hoped.
Despite his situation, Julian somehow retained a vague shred of optimism about the future in discussions with consular officials, suggesting that the result of Australia’s federal election, which was held the very next day, “may present a window for a new government to do something supportive for his case,” asking that Marise Payne be briefed on developments.
As it was, Scott Morrison’s Liberal National Coalition retained its grip on power – and no alarm was publicly raised about anything learned over the course of the consular visit. Indeed, remaining tight-lipped on Julian’s suffering, no matter how horrendous, was to be a matter of dedicated policy.
Australia’s DFAT denies any role in “progressively severe abuse” of Assange
On May 30th that year, WikiLeaks’ made the shock announcement that Julian had been moved to Belmarsh’s medical ward, expressing “grave concerns” about the state of his health. Almost immediately, DFAT’s Global Watch Office fired off an internal email drawing attention to the post.
The following day, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Nils Melzer proclaimed “the collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!” The international legal veteran added that, “in 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution,” he had “never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”
Next, Melzer fulminated against a “relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation” by the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador, which had subjected him to “persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy.”
In response, Australia’s DFAT issued a statement rejecting any suggestion Canberra was “complicit in psychological torture or has shown a lack of consular support” in Assange’s regard, claiming to be “a staunch defender of human rights and strong advocate for humane treatment in the course of judicial processes,” and expressing confidence that he was “being treated appropriately.”
Due to “privacy considerations” allegedly extended to all consular clients, the Department declined to divulge any further details related to his physical or mental state.
It added that the Australian High Commission in London “previously raised any health concerns identified with Belmarsh prison authorities and these have been addressed,” with further inquiries made following Julian’s move to the health ward.
The documents provided to The Grayzone indicate Canberra did indeed make repeated enquiries to Belmarsh by phone and mail in the wake of Wikileaks’ announcement, all of which went unanswered for six straight days. So why did Australia’s High Commissioner not intervene, and demand immediate clarity on an issue of literal life-and-death urgency?
Whatever the reason for the Australian government’s foot-dragging, a consular file dated August 8th that year records how Shipton wrote to advise that Julian had been readmitted to Belmarsh’s sick bay, and a lawyer was drafting a letter to Marise Payne, requesting DFAT “use its diplomatic sources to seek an independent medical assessment (ie outside the prison).”
Then, 11 days later, Shipton mentioned that Julian’s brother, Gabriel, had recently visited the prison and was distressed by Assange’s “deteriorating condition,” leading him to write letters to both Australian Governor General David Hurley and Morrison raising his fears.
On October 21st, Assange appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing in his extradition case. As was widely reported in the mainstream media, he appeared frail and discombobulated, struggling to recall his own name and date of birth when asked by the judge. When the presiding justice enquired whether he even knew what was happening, Assange responded, “not exactly,” indicating conditions in Belmarsh left him unable to “think properly.”
“I don’t understand how this is equitable,” the imprisoned journalist stated. “I can’t research anything, I can’t access any of my writing. It’s very difficult where I am.”
Assange’s attorney, Mark Summers, argued that his initial extradition hearing, scheduled for February 2020, should be delayed by three months due to the complexity of the case – “the evidence…would test the limits of most lawyers,” he said, and discussed the immense difficulty of communicating with his client in the jail, given he lacked access to a computer.
The judge denied the request. As a result, Julian would be deprived of “the most basic of access to the bare minimum needs for proper representation” until just weeks prior to the hearing.
Assange attorney warns Australia’s DFAT of “impending crisis”
Three days later, Assange attorney Gareth Peirce wrote to the High Commission, asserting that if consular representatives had attended court, “they will have undoubtedly noted what was clear for everyone present in court to observe” – that her client was “in shockingly poor condition…struggling not only to cope but to articulate what he wishes to articulate.”
Unbelievably, a DFAT report on the proceedings unearthed by Tranter made no mention whatsoever of Julian’s disheveled appearance, or his clearly frayed mental state.
Peirce went on to argue that under the circumstances, it was unsurprising Julian had not authorized prison officials to provide the Australian government with information regarding his medical treatment, which had been “been grossly and unlawfully compromised over some time, including, disturbingly, even whilst he has been in Belmarsh prison, false information on at least one occasion having been provided to the press by very obviously internal sources.”
“We hope that what we are able to say…will be accepted by you as having been based on close observation, including by independent professional clinicians..Every professional warning provided to the prison, including by at least one independent doctor called in by Belmarsh, has been ignored,” she wrote. “We would be pleased to meet with you at any stage if by intervention in what is now an impending crisis [emphasis added], you can contribute to its amelioration and avoidance.”
And so it was that consular officials visited Belmarsh November 1st. In their exchange, Assange criticized false statements made to the media by DFAT which suggested he had rejected offers of their support.
Next, he revealed that a prison doctor was “concerned” about his condition. In fact, Assange said his psychological state was “so bad that his mind was shutting down,” with his near-permanent isolation making it impossible for him “to think or to prepare his defence.”
He did not even have a pen with which to write, was unable to do any research, could not receive documents during legal visits, and all his mail was read by prison officials before it was given to him.
The next month, Professor Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, prepared a report on Julian’s psychiatric state based on meetings throughout his first six months in Belmarsh, conversations with his parents, friends, colleagues and Stella Morris, his partner and mother of his two children.
As was revealed in Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s January ruling on the US extradition request, Kopelman diagnosed Julian with a severe recurrent depressive disorder, which was occasionally accompanied by psychotic features such as hallucinations, and frequent suicidal thoughts.
His symptoms furthermore included loss of sleep and weight, impaired concentration, a persistent feeling of being on the verge of tears, and state of acute agitation in which he paced his cell until exhausted, punching his head or banging it against the wall.
Assange commented to Kopelman that he believed his life was not worth living, he thought about suicide “hundreds of times a day,” and had a “constant desire” to self-harm or commit suicide, describing plans to kill himself that the professor considered “highly plausible.”
Calls to The Samaritans, a UK charity helpline providing emotional support to those in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide, were “virtually” a nightly occurrence, and on occasions when he had not been able to reach them, Assange had slashed his thigh and abdomen to distract from his sense of isolation.
Kopelman concluded that, if Assange was held in solitary confinement in the US for a prolonged period, his mental health would “deteriorate substantially resulting in persistently severe clinical depression and the severe exacerbation of his anxiety disorder, PTSD and suicidal ideas,” not least because various “protective factors” available to him in the UK would be absent Stateside.
“For example, he speaks to his partner by telephone nearly every day and, before lockdown, was visited by her and his children, various friends, his father, and other relatives…[Kopelman] considered there to be an abundance of known risk factors indicating a very high risk of suicide,” Baraitser recorded. “He stated, ‘I am as confident as a psychiatrist ever can be that, if extradition to the US were to become imminent, Mr. Assange will find a way of suiciding.’”
The professor’s reports were fundamental to the extradition order’s rejection – a surprising outcome, given Baraitser previously approved extradition in 96% of cases upon which she has ruled.
Nonetheless, she accepted every other argument and charge put forward by the Department of Justice, in effect criminalizing a great many entirely legitimate journalistic activities, and setting the chilling precedent that citizens of any country can be extradited to the US for alleged breaches of its national laws, therefore implying Washington’s legal jurisdiction is global in scale.
Files on Australia’s DFAT discussions with US Secretary of State redacted in full
In response to the ruling, Australia’s Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus issued a forceful statement, declaring the opposition Labor party believed “this has dragged on for long enough,” particularly given Julian’s “ill-health,” and demanding the Morrison administration “do what it can to draw a line under this matter and encourage the US government to bring this matter to a close.”
Conversely, DFAT published a characteristically laconic, soulless note, stating merely that Australia was “not a party to the case and will continue to respect the ongoing legal process,” and rehashing previous false claims that Julian had rejected multiple offers of consular assistance.
Canberra was simply silent when in June, the Icelandic publication Stundin revealed in detail how a “superseding indictment” levelled against Assange in September 2020, which charged that he and others at WikiLeaks “recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions,” was based largely on the admittedly false testimony of fraudster, diagnosed sociopath and convicted pedophile Siggi Thordarson, who had previously embezzled vast sums from WikiLeaks and been recruited by the FBI to undermine its founder from within.
There is good reason to believe the Australian government knew the indictment was coming. In July that year, Foreign Minister Payne met with CIA director Mike Pompeo at an Australia–US Ministerial Consultations convention, “the principal forum for bilateral consultations” between the country and the US.
Tranter submitted freedom of information requests for details of that rendezvous, but the documents she received in return were fully redacted. As were files released to her relating to the Foreign Minister’s summit with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May 2021.
It was almost certain that Assange was a subject of these meetings. DFAT claims Payne “raised the situation” when she met Blinken again in September, and the minister herself alleges she specifically discussed Australia’s “expectations” regarding Assange’s treatment with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab when he visited Canberra in February 2020. Tranter requested records related to this meeting too, but was told none existed.
Upon Julian’s arrest, Prime Minister Morrison alleged he would receive “the same treatment that any other Australian would get.”
“When Australians travel overseas and then find themselves in difficulties with the law, they face the judicial systems of those countries,” Morrison said. “It doesn’t matter what particular crime it is that they’re alleged to have committed, that’s the way the system works.”
However, an internal email dated April 5th 2019 secured by Tranter from the Australian Attorney General’s office was shot through with contempt for the Wikileaks co-founder. The note asserted, “FYI – Assange might be evicted. Not sure if his lawyers will make any (not very convincing) [emphasis added] arguments about Australia’s responsibilities to him but thought it was worth flagging.”
As usual, Australian officials said nothing in public about Assange’s imminent abduction.
Assange’s treatment, and the total lack of outrage over his incarceration, prison conditions, blatant procedural abuses engaged in by Washington in their relentless pursuit of him, and CIA plans to kidnap and/or murder the WikiLeaks founder, diverges starkly from Australia’s approach to Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic jailed in Iran for 10 years on questionable charges of espionage in September 2018.
Behind the scenes, Australian diplomats struggled for almost two years to secure her release, eventually brokering a prisoner swap, under which she was traded for three Iranian inmates in Thailand – two of whom were convicted in connection with a 2012 bombing plot in Bangkok. In a statement, Foreign Minister Payne expressed relief that Moore-Gilbert was finally free as a result of “professional and determined work,” noting Canberra had “consistently rejected” the grounds on which she was detained.
Meanwhile, the Australian government has consistently reinforced Washington’s position on Assange. In fact, officials have on occasion gone even further than their US counterparts in publicly condemning him and his actions.
In December 2010, then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared WikiLeaks’ release of US diplomatic cables meant Assange was “guilty of illegality,” and that Federal Police were investigating, to offer “advice about potential criminal conduct of the individual involved.” To be fair to Canberra though, elected representatives there may effectively have no choice in the matter.
According to investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, each Five Eyes member theoretically has the right to veto a request for signals intelligence collected on an individual, group or organization collected by another. However, Campbells explained, “when you’re a junior ally like Australia or New Zealand, you never refuse,” even in situations when there are concerns about what ostensible allies may do with that sensitive information.
The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit.
Despite being spied on and having their privacy invaded by the UC Global firm that targeted Assange, reporters from major US news outlets have said nothing in protest. Meanwhile, new evidence of that firm’s CIA links has emerged.
A Spanish security firm apparently contracted by US intelligence to carry out a campaign of black operations against Julian Assange and his associates spied on several US reporters including Ellen Nakashima, the top national security reporter of the Washington Post, and Lowell Bergman, a New York Times and PBS veteran.
To date, Nakashima and her employers at the Washington Post have said nothing about the flagrant assault on their constitutional rights by UC Global, the security company in charge of Ecuadorian embassy in London, which seemingly operated under the watch of the CIA’s then-director, Mike Pompeo. PBS, the New York Times, and other mainstream US outlets have also remained silent about the US government intrusion into reporters’ personal devices and private records.
The Grayzone has learned that several correspondents from a major US newspaper rebuffed appeals by Wikileaks to report on the illegal spying campaign by UC Global, privately justifying the contractor’s actions on national security grounds.
UC Global spied on numerous journalists with the aim of sending their information to US intelligence through an FTP server placed at the company headquarters and through hand-delivered hard drives.
Nearly all of those reporters have so far ignored or refused invitations to join a criminal complaint to be filed in Spanish court by Stefania Maurizi, an Italian journalist whose devices were invaded and compromised during a visit to Assange.
Proof of UC Global’s illegal spying campaign and the firm’s relationship with the CIA emerged following the September 2019 arrest of the company’s CEO, David Morales. Spanish police had enacted a secret operation called “Operation Tabanco” under a criminal case managed by the same National Court that orchestrated the arrest of former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet years before.
Morales was charged in October 2019 by the Spanish court with violating the privacy of Assange and abusing his attorney-client privileges, as well as money laundering and bribery. A mercenary former Spanish special forces officer, Morales also stood accused of illegal weapons possession after two guns with the serial numbers filed off were found during a search of his property.
The documents and testimony revealed in court have exposed shocking details of UC Global’s campaign against Assange, his lawyers, friends, and reporters. Evidence of crimes ranging from spying to robberies to kidnapping and even a proposed plot to eliminate Assange by poisoning has emerged from the ongoing trial.
In an investigation for The Grayzone this May, this reporter detailed how the Las Vegas Sands corporation of Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson functioned as an apparent liaison between UC Global and Pompeo’s CIA, presumably contracting the former on behalf of the latter. It was the second time Adelson’s company had been identified as a CIA asset. (The first was in 2010, when a private intelligence report sponsored by gambling competitors alleged that his casino in Macau was sending footage of Chinese officials gambling so they could be blackmailed into serving as CIA informants).
The story placed the Trump organization at the center of a global campaign of surveillance and sabotage that ruthlessly targeted journalists, including Assange and virtually every reporter he came into contact with since 2017.
For the past four years, the Washington press corps has howled about Trump’s angry browbeating of the White House press pool, treating his resentful outbursts as a grave threat to press freedom. At the same time, it has reacted with a collective shrug to revelations that a firm that was, by all indications, contracted by the Trump administration’s CIA to destroy Assange had spied on prominent American national security reporters.
More revealingly, some of the reporters who had their personal information and notes stolen by UC Global, the apparent CIA contractor, have not said a word about it.
Maurizi, the Italian reporter who is filing a lawsuit against UC Global and serving as a witness in the current case before the Spanish judge, told this reporter she was stunned by the mainstream US media’s passive attitude. “Imagine if Putin had done anything like this. Just imagine what a scandal this would be,” she remarked to the Grayzone. “It would be a giant scandal all around the world. But instead, [US media] is saying nothing.”
Randy Credico, a comedian, social justice activist, and longtime advocate for Assange’s freedom, also attempted to generate media interest in the spying scandal when he learned that UC Global had snooped on him in the embassy. “I went to everybody, I went to MSNBC, to the Wall Street Journal, CNN, to journalists I knew, and I couldn’t get anyone interested,” Credico complained to The Grayzone.
“The agency of the stars and stripes wants to see us”
In his first public address as CIA director, Mike Pompeo branded Assange’s Wikileaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” and outlined a “long term” campaign of counter-measures against the crusading media organization. At the time, Assange was trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and hosting regular visits there from his legal team, friends, and an array of reporters.
Throughout 2017, UC Global’s Morales traveled frequently from Spain to the US to orchestrate the campaign against Assange. At several points, he issued spying directives from inside the Venetian hotel belonging to Adelson’s Sands. He boasted to his employees that he was working for “the dark side,” and referred to the forces that had contracted his services as his “American friends.”
“Sometimes, when I insistently asked him who his ‘American friends’ were, on some occasions David Morales answered that they were ‘the US intelligence,’” a former UC Global business partner testified before the Spanish court.
During a January 2017 visit to Adelson’s Las Vegas-based Venetian hotel, Morales and an employee exchanged several texts on Telegram about an important trial run for UC Global’s new client. “I want you to be alert because according to what they tell me they may be controlling us so that everything that is confidential so make it encrypted,” Morales said.
“Everything is related to the London issue…” he continued, making reference to the Ecuadorian embassy that housed Assange. “Those who control [it] are the friends of the USA.”
In May 2017, Telegram messages by Morales show him making further references to his apparent work for the US government: “I am on a subject in which I foresee that they are going to start monitoring us…” he remarked to an employee. “How are we protected for that?” After his worker outlined UC Global’s systems, Morales replied that he did not expect any problems “for those who want to see us.”
“We can do that if the agency of the stars and stripes wants to see us,” the UC Global CEO continued.
“I imagined I was going to go there,” the employee replied.
That July, Morales was in Miami, on a mission to provide “the agency of the stars and stripes” with a budget for the hidden microphones UC Global planned to place inside the CCTV system at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
In his Telegram chats, Morales responded with Trump badges to several messages from a UC Global employee – a seeming reference to the US administration that had contracted his services.As this reporter revealed in May, Morales not only oversaw the secret installation of microphones in the embassy’s CCTV system and hidden microphones under a fire extinguisher in its conference room, he attempted to establish a feed to a separate, exterior storage server managed from the US, doing his best to keep the operation hidden from Ecuador’s intelligence services. He referred to the entity on the receiving end of the CCTV footage and audio as “the American client.”
In a December 2017 email sent from Adelson’s Venetian hotel, Morales ordered his employees at the embassy to inform him if any visitors “carry mobile phones, pen drives, computers, or any electronic equipment,” and to “make sure the protocol is maintained and they leave their electronics at the entrance.”
By this point, UC Global’s spying dragnet had ensnared practicaly everyone who entered the embassy to visit Assange. Among the most prominent victims was then-US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who was allegedly dispatched by Trump in August 2017 to offer a presidential pardon in exchange for Assange providing concrete evidence the Russian government did not hack the DNC’s email server. Assange, who has never revealed a source, refused the offer.
Pamela Anderson, the Canadian-American actress and close friend of Assange, had her email hacked into by UC Global when a guard took advantage of a moment when she left the room to photograph a Gmail password she had written on a notepad. UC Global not only spied on Assange’s legal team, violating attorney-client privilege, it hounded Stella Morris, a member of the Wikileaks legal team who became Assange’s romantic partner, hatching a failed plot to steal her infant son’s diapers from a trash bin in a bid to obtain his DNA and prove his genetic link to Assange.
In December 2017, UC Global learned that Assange and his legal team were formulating a plan for him to exit the embassy under the protections granted to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Morales ordered his employees to act aggressively to sabotage it, demanding copies of all video recordings, presumably for delivery to US intelligence.
Ellen Nakashima, a national security reporter for the Washington Post, visited the Ecuadorian embassy to interview Assange on December 15. According to notes by a UC Global guard named Jose Antonio Torre, Nakashima arrived with Souad Mekhennet, a colleague at the Post who was not allowed inside because she did not have her passport. The two reporters were working on a profile of Andy Müller-Maguhn, a German cyber expert and one of Assange’s closest confidants, who escorted them to London. (UC Global employees photographed the contents of Müller-Maguhn’s backpack and the secret number inside his encrypted phone.)
When Nakashima entered the meeting with Assange, Torre held her voice recorder and cellphone. He recounted in notes to Morales how he removed the battery from the phone, then photographed her device.
Those notes contained a remarkable admission: as Nakashima left the embassy, Torre said, “I tried to keep her tape recorder but the woman remembered it at the exit.”
Notes by UC Global employee “Jose Antonio” detailing Ellen Nakashima’s visit and his attempt to steal the Washington Post reporter’s voice recorder
In her January 17, 2018 report on her visit to the embassy, Nakashima made reference to a warning by Assange about spy cameras and his use of a white noise machine to foil hidden surveillance devices like the hidden microphone that was later revealed under the fire extinguisher in the room. The Washington Post reporter made no mention, however, of the UC Global guard’s attempt to pocket her voice recorder.
Nakashima did not respond to a request for comment sent to her publicly listed Washington Post email by The Grayzone.
She was not the only reporter illegally snooped on by UC Global spies posing as embassy guards. Lowell Bergman, the award-winning investigative reporter and New York Times and PBS veteran, had his phone opened and SIM card removed without his permission by a UC Global employee when he met with Assange on October 6, 2017.
Journalist Lowell Bergman’s phone (above) was opened and photographed by a UC Global employee without his permission.
The Grayzone obtained footage and audio of Bergman’s meeting with Assange that was captured by UC Global’s spy cameras and likely delivered to the CIA.
Left: A UC Global spy pats Lowell Bergman down at the entrance to Ecuador’s embassy in London. Right: Footage secretly recorded by UC Global of Bergman’s meeting with Assange.
Intercept senior correspondent Glenn Greenwald and his husband, David Miranda, were secretly videotaped by UC Global spies, during a September 16, 2017 meeting with Assange.
While Greenwald was in the conference room with Assange, a UC Global employee opened his passport and photographed a visa showing he had visited Russia, a flagrant violation of his privacy carried out under orders from Morales. (The Grayzone has viewed a UC Global photograph taken of Greenwald’s visa that was sent to company headquarters).
UC Global footage of Greenwald and Miranda’s meeting with Assange, who is seen in the upper right-hand corner activating a white noise machine.
Over two years later, when Greenwald learned of the violation of his constitutional rights, he protested on Twitter, “This is the US Government/CIA spying on its own citizens, including our phones, with no warrants.”
Unlike Greenwald, Bergman has said nothing in public about being spied on by an alleged CIA contractor. However, he has agreed to serve as a witness in the trial of UC Global’s Morales, according to a member of Wikileaks’ legal team. He did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
US reporters justify CIA spying on Assange
Throughout 2019 and during the first several months of this year, Wikileaks and its allies worked phone lines and raced across timezones to generate media interest in the CIA spying scandal they had uncovered through the Spanish prosecution of UC Global’s Morales.
Correspondents from a major US newspaper were presented with detailed evidence of UC Global spying on Assange and his associates, and documentation of the firm’s relationship with the CIA and Sheldon Adelson, a Wikileaks source told The Grayzone.
Not only were the reporters initially uninterested in the spying scandal, the Wikileaks source said one correspondent justified the CIA’s surveillance on national security grounds. “He said, well, that’s what an intelligence service is supposed to,” the source recalled, describing the experience as “crazy.”
In December 2019, the New York Times covered the CIA operation against Assange in a single article by Raphael Minder. Framing the case in terms of “conflicting interpretations,” Minder claimed “it remains unclear whether it was the Americans who were behind bugging the embassy.”
Omitted in Minder’s article were all the obvious signs of UC Global’s collaboration with US intelligence, from Morales’ comment that “the agency of the stars and stripes will see us” to witness testimony that explicitly stated the company had been contracted by the CIA.
“The New York Times was basically saying there was no evidence that US intelligence was involved,” Maurizi commented to The Grayzone. “What do they want? A text message from the CIA saying, ‘we did it?’”
One reporter’s lonely fight for justice
Maurizi was among the reporters who produced the most critical coverage of the political persecution of Assange and Wikileaks over the years. While reporting for Italy’s La RepuBblica, Maurizi visited Assange frequently at the Ecuadorian embassy. When she met him there in December 2017, UC Global guards invaded her personal devices after seizing them at the entrance of the diplomatic facility.
“They took my two telephones, one which was encrypted; my iPod, and many USB sticks,” Maurizi told The Grayzone this May. “There was no way to get my backpack back. The guard told me, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be fine, no one will access your materials or open your backpack.’ I was very suspicious. I wasn’t even allowed to bring a pen inside to take notes.”
The reporter learned later that UC Global employees photographed the unique International Mobile Equipment Identity number and the SIM card number inside the her phone. This seemed to be what they needed to hack into the device.
Maurizi later found that calls, emails, and texts from her editors, then at the Italian daily La Repubblica, were failing to go through. “No one could explain this disruption,” Maurizi said. “I wonder if it had anything to do with these espionage activities. To this day I cannot say.”
UC Global photo of journalist Stefania Maurizi’s mobile phone
Maurizi plans to file a criminal complaint against UC Global in Spain’s National Court this October on behalf of journalists victimized by the security firm. So far, she has been unable to find any reporters willing to sign on to her complaint.
She said she asked the Washington Post’s Nakashima to join, but never received a reply. Bergman, for his part, told her he was not interested in participating.
“I couldn’t get anybody interested” in the CIA spying on US journalists
Like Maurizi, Randy Credico was spied on by UC Global during a visit to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. When he learned his meeting had been secretly videotaped, he embarked on a frenetic campaign to generate media coverage of the violation of his constitutional rights by the CIA.
Credico is a comedian, award-winning criminal justice reformer, and advocate for Assange’s freedom who emerged as a player in the Russiagate saga when Robert Mueller’s investigative team called him as a witness.
After being falsely accused of serving as a “backchannel” between Wikileaks and former Trump advisor Roger Stone, Credico made numerous high-profile appearances on MSNBC and CNN, and rubbed shoulders with Beltway media honchos as a guest at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner.
Credico told The Grayzone he attempted to convince his contacts in mainstream media to cover the UC Global-CIA spying scandal. But in every instance, he was met with a cold shoulder.
“I went to everybody,” he recalled. “I went to MSNBC, to the Wall Street Journal, CNN, to journalists I knew, and I couldn’t get anyone interested. I mean, all these reporters hate Trump, and here you had Pompeo and Sheldon Adelson, the guy who finances Trump, breaking the law. You would think this would be a big deal to these lean forward progressives. And they haven’t said shit. It’s appalling that they haven’t come forward and said something about this.”
To be sure, CNN Español published a lengthy December 2019 report on the UC Global spying ring. But it relied heavily on the perspective of the firm’s disgraced former CEO, Morales. “No, I am not a double agent and it is absurd [to say] that I traveled to the US to personally hand over information to the CIA,” Morales claimed to CNN.
The article was co-authored by Arturo Torres, a right-wing Ecuadorian journalist who was hostile to both Assange and his country’s leftist former president, Raphael Correa. His work has been sponsored by Transparency International, a supposed anti-corruption NGO funded by the US State Department and British government.
Months earlier, in June 2019, CNN’s Torres used material illegally gathered by UC Global to publish a malicious attack on Assange asserting that “there was ‘no doubt that there is evidence’ that Assange had ties to Russian intelligence agencies.”
The article provided no such evidence, however, while falsely claiming that UC Global’s surveillance reports were “compiled for the Ecuadorian government” – not the CIA.
In reality, UC Global’s Morales was desperate to elude Ecuador’s SENAIN intelligence agency, instructing his employees in an email from Adelson’s Venetian hotel, “Nobody can know about my trips, mainly my trips to the USA, because SENAIN is onto us.”
Washington Post owners “look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA”
The hysteria triggered by Trump’s victory in 2016 goes a long way toward explaining US mainstream media’s hostility towards Assange. Immediately after conceding defeat, Hillary Clinton blamed “Russian Wikileaks,” deepening the hostility among partisan Democrats toward a dissident journalist then-Vice President Joseph Biden had already branded as a “high-tech terrorist.” Mainstream US media followed in lockstep.
On April 11, 2019, the day Assange was arrested by British police in the Ecuadorian embassy, the New York Times editorial board celebrated with two cheers: “The [Trump] administration has begun well by charging Mr. Assange with an indisputable crime.”
The Washington Post editorial board was more enthused by the publisher’s arrest, proclaiming, “Mr. Assange’s case could conclude as a victory for the rule of law, not the defeat for civil liberties of which his defenders mistakenly warn.” The Post even demanded Assange’s extradition to the US, hoping that he could be coerced into becoming a “cooperating witness” and potentially provide information about “Russian intelligence’s efforts to undermine democracy in the West.”
While the loathing of Assange in Trump-era Washington helps explain mainstream media’s shunning of the jailed journalist, the increasingly cozy relationship papers like the New York Times and Washington Post enjoy with the US intelligence apparatus offers a more substantial basis for understanding the media’s silence on the UC Global scandal.
Throughout the Trump-Russia investigation and the various intrigues that comprised Russiagate, the legacy publications of US media fed audiences with an endless stream of stories based on “high confidence” assessments and often dubious narratives furnished by anonymous US intelligence agents. In the Trump era, the corporate news media became a de facto bulletin board for the intelligence apparatus. The New York Times even admitted it sent a June 2019 story on US cyber-attacks against Russia’s electric grid to the government for approval before publishing.
The Washington Post, where Nakashima covers national security issues, is owned by the big tech corporation, Amazon. In 2014, Amazon signed a $600 million contract with the CIA to host its cloud server. “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA,” Amazon declared in an official statement. Four years later, Amazon was awarded a $10 billion contract from the Pentagon to oversee its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program.
Notably, when Nakashima sought a meeting inside the Ecuadorian embassy in 2017, her request form listed her company not as the Washington Post, but as Amazon.
While Assange’s lawyers fought his extradition in a London courtroom this September 15, Nakashima was live-tweeting coverage of ThreatCon 2020, a conference of top US intelligence officials and private spies gathered on a private island off the coast of Georgia. Her colleague, Washington Post assistant editor David Ignatius, and New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger, participated directly in the exclusive spook-fest. Among the sponsors of the conference was InQTel, the CIA-sponsored research and development firm.
This September, the US Department of Justice issued a letter to the Spanish judge overseeing the UC Global trial that obstructed any possibility of cooperation. Like much of the US media, the government in Washington wants nothing to do with the devastating evidence tumbling out of a courtroom in Madrid.
Julian Assange has been warned by the judge in his extradition case that he could be removed from court with the case continuing in his absence after he interjected while a lawyer for the US sparred with a high-profile witness in favour of assange. Why do people like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden face such a harsh backlash from Governments? If governments and elite corporations aren’t doing anything wrong, what do they have to hide? Why are the censoring so much information?
What Happened: Julian Assange’s legal battle to avoid US extradition to the United States for leaking classified information has begun. The latest news is that “English judge Vanessa Baraitser warns the most famous publisher/journalist in the world – Julian Assange, tortured by UK authorities according to the UN – not to speak again or be removed entirely from the court and be tried for his life in his absence,” according to Afshin Rattansi, a British broadcaster, journalist and author.
Over the years Assange has faced a number of smear campaigns and character assassinations that have been debunked, when in reality there are so many ‘high profile’ people around the word that support him and see quite clearly what is going on.
According to The Guardian, “Julian Assange has been warned by the judge in his extradition case that he could be removed from court with the case continuing in his absence after he interjected while a lawyer for the US authorities sparred with a high-profile witness giving evidence in support of the WikiLeaks founder.”
Why This Is Important: Most of the world knows why they hunted him, and why he’s been treated the way he’s been treated and tortured in prison. The same goes for people like Edward Snowden, it’s because they expose lies, corruption, deceit, immoral and unethical actions that their own governments, as well as governments around the world have participated in. He exposed these characteristics that seem to represents the backbone of the Western military alliance and the American empire. He exposed, in the words of John F. Hylan, former Mayor of New York City, the “real menace of the Republic”, the “invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation.” He exposed the ones “who virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes.” (source)(source)
“National Security” has become an umbrella tool to protect a number of unethical and immoral actions by governments, big corporations as well as those that take place in the world of finance.
How far have we sunk if telling the truth becomes a crime? How far have we sunk if we prosecute people that expose war crimes for exposing war crimes? How far have we sunk when we no longer prosecute our own war criminals? Because we identify more with them, than we identify with the people that actually expose these crimes. What does that tell about us and about our governments? In a democracy, the power does not belong to the government, but to the people. But the people have to claim it. Secrecy disempowers the people because it prevents them from exercising democratic control, which is precisely why governments want secrecy. – Nils Melzer, Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of Int Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Prof of Int Law at the University of Glasgow, UN Rapporteur on Torture and Other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Wilikleaks has never had to retract a single story.
Politics has become a cesspool of corruption, and it’s now corporations and big banks that seem to dictate political policy. What we are presented with on our TV when it comes to geopolitical issues and war is far different from what’s happening in reality, and this is what Julian Assange made evident. Whether it’s the funding, arming and creation of terrorist organizations like ISIS or Al-Qaeda by our governments, creating problems so they can propose the solutions, or documents showing the influence Big Pharma has on global health policy, obtaining this information and using it to inform the public is not a “threat” to the people, it’s a threat to to the people in power. These people in power are using “national “security as they always due to justify the locking Assange up for the rest of his life.
The Takeaway: Do we really live on a planet right now where those who expose truth, expose corporate corruption, and those who want what’s best for the world and want to change the world, are locked away, murdered, silenced, censored, and thrown in jail? Furthermore, what time of ‘machine’ is required to justify his jailing in the minds of the masses? What kind of propaganda tools are used and how powerful are they if they have the ability to completely control human consciousness and perception in a way that best fits their interests?
The extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to resume in London on Monday, September 7th. Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh Prison, and if extradited to the US, the publisher faces up to 175 years in prison.
The US has indicted Assange on 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiring with a source to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The charges are related to WikiLeaks’ dissemination of a trove of documents released in 2010 that revealed classified information about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.
The information was provided to WikiLeaks by former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning, who spent more almost seven years in prison for the leaks before President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017. Manning was jailed again in March 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and was not released until March 2020.
If Assange, an Australian citizen, is extradited to the US and prosecuted, it will be the first time a journalist is tried under the 1917 Espionage Act, and it will set a grave precedent for press freedom in the US and around the world.
Consortium News will be reporting on the hearing and live-tweeting throughout the process. Journalist Joe Lauria will be recapping each day on the CN Live! YouTube channel. The channel will also host a panel of experts every weekend while the hearing is ongoing; the trial is expected to last three to four weeks.
The April 11 arrest of Julian Assange has resurrected the narrative that emails stored on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were not hacked by Russia, but leaked by a disenchanted employee, Seth Rich, who wanted to expose how Bernie Sanders was systematically undermined during the 2016 primaries by the DNC. According to this narrative, Rich communicated with Assange and handed over the DNC emails through Wikileaks’ secure online drop box.
Assange first stated in a June 12, 2016, interview that Wikileaks had more of the missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server during her time as Secretary of State: “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton … We have emails pending publication, that is correct.”
Two days later, the computer security company “Crowdstrike” published a report that the DNC email servers had been hacked by Russia. The mainstream media quickly embraced the Russia hacking narrative to explain why Clinton and DNC emails were in the hands of Wikileaks.
Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.
However, multiple sources pointed out major problems with Crowdstrike as a competent and impartial investigator into the alleged Russian hacking:
The Nakamura [Nakashima] piece marked the first salvo in the Russian hacking meme. But the claim was not backed up by independently verified forensic evidence—it rested solely on the conclusions of a computer security company—Crowdstrike. The pro-Ukrainian politics of Crowdstrike’s founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, and his strident opposition to Russia cast a pall of bias over the findings of Crowdstrike. No U.S. Federal Law Enforcement official or agency was given access to the DNC servers. Neither the FBI nor Homeland Security were permitted to examine the servers and the alleged evidence of a hack.
In his 2019 best-selling book, Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump, Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service officer, detailed the multiple flaws in the Crowdstrike investigation and the puzzling decision to deny the FBI access to the allegedly hacked DNC email server.
Almost a month after Assange’s interview that Wikileaks had more Clinton emails and was vetting them for eventual release, Rich was murdered on July 10, 2016, in very strange circumstances. Nearly two weeks later, on July 22, Wikileaks dumped 20,000 DNC emails on its website.
In an August 2016 Dutch television interview, Assange firmly hinted that Rich’s murder was related to his leaking of DNC emails to Wikileaks:
Assange: Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often significant risks. There was a 27-year old that works for the DNC who was shot in the back… murdered.. for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.
Host: That was just a robbery wasn’t it?
Assange: No. There’s no finding.
Host: What are you suggesting?
Assange: I am suggesting that our sources take risks and they become concerned to see things occurring like that.
Wikileaks then offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible, fueling the rumors that Rich was Wikileaks source.
Those who claimed that Rich was responsible for the release of the DNC emails were vilified and forced to backtrack on their claims. Here’s how Wikipedia summarized the situation:
Fact-checking websites like PolitiFact.com,Snopes.com, and FactCheck.org stated that these theories were false and unfounded.The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post wrote that the promotion of these conspiracy theories was an example of fake news.
Influential figures such as Fox News and Sean Hannity were forced through litigation to abandon their investigations into Rich’s murder due to his parents leading the charge condemning “conspiracy theories”.
Rich’s parents condemned the conspiracy theorists and said that these individuals were exploiting their son’s death for political gain, and their spokesperson called the conspiracy theorists “disgusting sociopaths”.
Even Bongino’s book, Spygate, failed to mention the Rich connection and what this meant to the whole Russia hacking narrative, which he uncritically endorsed as valid.
After Fox News reporters and Hannity suspended their investigations into Rich leaking the DNC emails, only alternative news sources were willing to investigate the available evidence. Most prominent among them was National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, William Binney, who was among the first to conclude that Rich was responsible for the leaking and that Russia was being framed by the Deep State.
We stand by our main conclusion that the data from the intrusion of July 5, 2016, into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, an intrusion blamed on “Russian hacking,” was not a hack but rather a download/copy onto an external storage device by someone with physical access to the DNC.
After Q Anon publicly emerged in late October 2017, Seth Rich was soon mentioned in several posts alluding to his role as the true source for the Wikileaks DNC email leaks, and that he was murdered as a result by hitmen tied to the MS-13 criminal gang and the Clintons.
The alternative news investigation into Rich’s role in leaking the DNC emails subsequently languished but gained renewed life a year later on October 4, 2018, when the NSA responded to a Freedom of Information request that showed Rich had indeed been communicating with Assange. In their response to a FOIA request filed by attorney Ty Clevenger about information concerning Seth Rich and Julian Assange, the NSA wrote:
Since the FOIA request and the NSA response were not released, the NSA’s startling admission received no attention by the mainstream media, and only a few alternative media sources picked up the story. One of these was an April 19, 2019, article by Mark McCarty who cited a blog post published six months earlier (October 23, 2018) that first discussed the NSA FOIA response.
McCarty raised important questions over the precise language used in Clevenger’s FOIA request and what this meant in terms of documents being withheld. In his April 19, 2019, article he pointed out that many of these questions were resolved by Binney in an April 17 interview:
“Ty Clevenger has FOIAed information from NSA asking for any data that involved both Seth Rich and also Julian Assange.
And they responded by saying we’ve got 15 files, 32 pages, but they’re all classified in accordance with executive order 13526 covering classification, and therefore you can’t have them.
That says that NSA has records of communications between Seth Rich and Julian Assange. I mean, that’s the only business that NSA is in — copying communications between people and devices.”
Binney’s interpretation of what the NSA had admitted through FOIA is astounding in its implications. The single issue that has come to dominate analyses of the 2016 election is that Russia hacked the DNC and interfered with the integrity of the US Presidential election by passing this on to Wikileaks.
This spawned the nearly two-year Mueller investigation into Trump’s collusion with Russia, which generated reams of anti-Trump and anti-Russia stories in the mainstream media. Both Trump and Russia were vilified by a hostile media that was anxious to promote the Russia hacking narrative, and ridiculing anyone suggesting that Rich was the true source of the DNC info being released to Wikileaks, not Russia.
The NSA’s admission is the first concrete sign that the Deep State and the mainstream media are about to be exposed for willfully lying and misrepresenting the truth. Assange is all but certain to be extradited to the USA, and will reveal what he knows about Rich and his connection to the DNC email dumps.
While the questioning and extradition of Assange are likely to take an extended period of time, it’s worth emphasizing that the truth is already known to the NSA, which is keeping this classified for the moment. It is not known when and how this information will be released, and whether it will be done through Assange, the NSA or some other process.
Despite knowledge of the Rich and Assange connection, the NSA and its two directors since the DNC hacking – Admiral Mike Rogers (2014-2018) and General Paul Nakasone (2018-) – have done very little to publicly alter the mainstream news narrative that Russia had hacked the DNC servers; and that Rich’s murder was unrelated to the DNC documents that Wikileaks released less than two weeks after his murder.
Why did the NSA stand by and allow the accusations of Russian hacking to grow to the extent that relations with Russia have been severely damaged, economic sanctions imposed, and a two-year long investigation was established into potential collusion between the Trump Presidential Campaign and the Russians?
One answer worth exploring is that the Deep State had much to fear about a potential collaboration between Trump and Putin in revealing many advanced technology secrets possessed by their respective intelligence services; secrets which President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev unsuccessfully attempted to unlock 56 years ago, with tragic consequences for both.
[Update 4/25/2019 – A May 16, 2017 article published by the Free Thought Project discussed reports about alleged email communications between Julian Assange and Seth Rich provided by a former homicide detective, Rod Wheeler, from confidential FBI sources. A week later, Wheeler’s comments were retracted. It’s important to note that the 2018 NSA FOIA release confirms that the email correspondence did take place and was being tracked by the NSA]
The Facts: A document published by Wikileaks clearly implies that the United States had a “secret” base on the Moon that was destroyed by Russia. It’s one of many interesting documents that suggest strange things are and have been happening on the Moon.
Reflect On: Is our world really as it’s been presented? There are millions of pages of documents that are classified by multiple countries every single year, how is it possible to really determine what’s going on behind the scenes? Why does secrecy rule?
“The Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects, and one of them is the effort of governments, and it’s not just the US government… The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about… That’s basically what happened. Wikileaks was producing things that people ought to know about those in power, people in power don’t like that. So therefore we have to silence it” . – Noam Chomsky (source)
The idea that something strange may be happening on the Moon is not far fetched at all. In fact, given all of the information that’s now available within the public domain on the subject, it’s hard to see how it’s not a fact. We’ll get to some of that information later in this article; but first, let’s draw our attention to a strange Wikileaks document titled, “Report That UR Destroyed Secret Moon Base.”
Unfortunately, the document is not an electronic document, therefore access to its full contents is not available online. For anybody truly interested in reading the entire thing, a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) may be in order.
Without speculating here, we can conclude that this is what it says it is, a report regarding possible space wars that are taking place in the classified world. The document title alone not only exposes the reality of these alleged wars, but the possibility of a “Secret Moon Base” belonging to the United States that apparently was in operation until it was destroyed by “UR.” (Soviet Union)
So, what other information exists, besides this document, showing that something strange is and has been happening on the Moon? There’s a lot of information, so it’s hard to know where to begin.
First of all, the idea of bases on the Moon have been an open discussion within the government for a long time, although the information isn’t easy to find, but it’s definitely out there. A document from the government’s own publishing office is a great example. It clearly shows one of the goals of the United States government is to build a base on the Moon, and this is as far back as 1966. (source)
A portion of the document reads, with reference to presidents Kennedy and Johnson in a statement by HON. George P. Miller:
I also believe that we can and will achieve the goal set by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson: a manned landing on the moon before 1970. My own confidence in our rapidly advancing science and technology is such that I can visualize many more dramatic achievements ahead, although I will fix no timetable for them. 1. The exploration of the lunar surface, and possibly the establishment of one or more permanent bases there.
Furthermore, decades old documents have been declassified discussing this topic, showing just how serious and far possible advancements with these intentions have gone.
Take a look at the screen shot below, taken from the CIA electronic reading room in the form of a memorandum that was addressed to the CIA director regarding “Military Thought (Top Secret)” by Lieutenant General Korenevskiy.
The document above really goes into detail regarding the importance of weaponizing space. This brings to mind another document from Wikileaks, in the form of an email that was sent to politician John Podesta from Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, and Dr. Carol Rosin. It reads as follows:
Dear John, Because the War in Space race is heating up, I felt you should be aware of several factors as you and I schedule our Skype talk. Remember, our nonviolent ETI from the contiguous universe are helping us bring zero point energy to Earth. They will not tolerate any forms of military violence on Earth or in space. The following information in italics was shared with me by my colleague Carol Rosin, who worked closely for several years with Wernher von Braun before his death. Carol and I have worked on the Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, attached for your convenience.
A declassified report by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center from June 1959 shows just how seriously they considered a plan called Project A119. In general, they wanted to investigate the capability of weapons in space as well as gain further insight into the space environment and the detonation of nuclear devices within it.
Interesting to say the least, but it’s important to recognize the intentions behind the letter, and that is the recognition that humans have brought and will continue to bring their destructive ways into space by weaponizing it or attempting to weaponize it.
With all of this documentation, it’s also interesting to look into witness testimonies from credible sources.
In the 1950s, Colonel Ross Dedrickson was responsible for maintaining the inventory of the nuclear weapon stockpile for the AEC, and for accompanying security teams testing the security of the weapons, among many other duties. When it comes to weaponizing space, which is clearly outlined within multiple documents linked above, this is what he had to say:
“I also learned about incidents involving nuclear weapons, and among these incidents were a couple of nuclear weapons sent into space that were destroyed by the extraterrestrials… At the very end of the 70s and the early 80s, we attempted to put a nuclear weapon on the Moon and explode it for scientific measurements and other things, which was not acceptable to the extraterrestrials. They destroyed the weapon before it got to the Moon.” (source)
Dedrickson is one of hundreds of whistleblowers with verified, credible and impressive backgrounds to speak up about an extraterrestrial presence. In that same interview, he went on to state that:
A spacecraft went to the rescue of Apollo 13, and they accompanied Apollo 13 on their voyage around the Moon back to Earth. And on two occasions they thought they might have to transfer the crew to their spacecraft, but they saw them safely back to Earth.
This may explain why several astronauts have also been quite outspoken about an extraterrestrial presence, like Edgar Mitchell, Brian O’Leary, Story Musgrave, Gordon Cooper and many others.
Another document from 1965 regarding the CIA keeping tabs on Soviet space plans reads as follows:
Keep in mind, this was more than 50 years ago.
Below is an interesting quote from Carl Sagan:
It is not out of the question that artifacts of these visits still exist, or even that some kind of base is maintained (possibly automatically) within the solar system to provide continuity for successive expeditions. Because of weathering and the possibility of detection and interference by the inhabitants of the Earth, it would be preferable not to erect such a base on the Earth’s surface. The Moon seems one reasonable alternative. Forthcoming high resolution photographic reconnaissance of the Moon from space vehicles – particularly of the back side – might bear these possibilities in mind. (source)
George Leonard’s 1976 book, Somebody Else is on the Moon, and Fred Steckling’s 1981 book, We Discovered Alien Bases on The Moon, also come to mind when discussing this subject.
Members of the Society For Planetary SETI Research (SPSR) recently published a paper in the Journal of Space Exploration about certain features on the far side of the Moon that appear in the crater Paracelsus C. Titled “Image Analysis of Unusual Structures on the Far Side of the Moon in the Crater Paracelsus C,” it argues that these features might be artificial in origin.
The study makes a great point when it comes to the extraterrestrial hypothesis:
A decidedly conservative mainstream scientific establishment often rejects anomalies based on subject matter alone, i.e., there cannot be alien artifacts on the moon because there are no alien artifacts on the moon (or other planets). Such a view is an example of circular reasoning, based on the belief that extraterrestrials do not exist, or if they do exist that they could not have traveled to our solar system.
The truth is, “there is abundant evidence that we are being contacted, that civilizations have been visiting us for a very long time.” – Dr. Brian O’Leary, former NASA astronaut and Princeton Physics Professor (source)
When it comes to the Moon, man-made bases may not be the only ones there.
As far as our own bases are concerned, Karl Wolfe, who was a precision electronics photograph technician at Langley Air Force Base, became well-known when he provided his testimony at National Press Club in Washington, D.C. as part of Dr. Steven Greer’s disclosure project.(source)
Wolfe’s testimony revealed that he was taken into a dark room where images from NASA’s Lunar Orbiter were being developed and stitched together into composite images called “mosaics.”
“They were doing 35 mm strips of film at the time which were then assembled into 18 ½ x 11 mosaics. Those strips were from successive passes around the Moon and they would build up a photograph ,” Wolfe said.(source)
“We walked over to one side of the lab and he said, ‘By the way, we’ve discovered a base on the backside of the moon.’”
Dr. John Brandenburg, the Deputy Manager of the Clementine Mission to the Moon, which was part of a joint space project between the Ballistic Missile Defence Organization (BMDO) and NASA, has also made some fascinating revelations. The mission discovered water at the Moon’s poles in 1994 (Source: page 16 of 18)(source)(source). But, according to Dr. Brandenburg, the Clementine Mission had an ulterior agenda:
“The Clementine Mission was a photo reconnaissance mission basically to check out if someone was building bases on the Moon that we didn’t know about. Were they expanding them?… Of all the pictures I’ve seen from the Moon that show possible structures, the most impressive is a picture of a miles-wide recto-linear structure. This looked unmistakably artificial, and it shouldn’t be there. As somebody in the space defence community, I look on any such structure on the Moon with great concern because it isn’t ours, there’s no way we could have built such a thing. It means someone else is up there.” (Quote from the documentary, “Aliens on the Moon.”)
There are other strange facts about our Moon that’ve been pointed out by some very credible sources. I go into more detail regarding the actual structure of the Moon and what it is as well as the evidence suggesting it could be artificially made in the article linked below:
A Michigan State University economist teamed up with multiple researchers, including Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development. They found trillions of unaccounted for dollars missing from housing & D.O.D and going towards black budget programs. You can read more about that here.
We are talking about Special Access Programs (SAP). We have unacknowledged and waived SAPs. These programs do not exist publicly, but they do indeed exist. They are better known as ‘deep black programs.’ A 1997 US Senate report described them as “so sensitive that they are exempt from standard reporting requirements to the Congress.” (source)
I am mentioning this stuff because, whatever is happening with regards to the Moon, you can bet that it’s being funded by trillions of dollars from within these deep black budget programs. These are our tax dollars hard at work.
We don’t really hear about black budget programs, or about people who have actually looked into them. However, the topic was discussed in 2010 by Washington Post journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin. Their investigation lasted approximately two years and concluded that America’s classified world has:
Become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. (source)
CE founder Joe Martino recently went deep into this subject on an episode of CETV, it will be airing soon!
Our world is not how it’s been presented. Many subjects once and that still are deemed as a “conspiracy” are clearly not a conspiracy. Strange things happening on the moon and UFOs, for example, are one of several great examples.
It’s OK to explore these things, but it’s vital that we examine good sources and present good sources when we do so.
I joined the CE team in 2010 shortly after finishing university and have been grateful for the fact that I have been able to do this ever since 🙂 There are many things happening on the planet that don’t resonate with me, and I wanted to do what I could to play a role in creating change. It’s been great making changes in my own life and creating awareness and I look forward to more projects that move beyond awareness and into action and implementation. So stay tuned 🙂 email@example.com
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police and carried out of the Ecuadorian Embassy on April 11 after his host country revoked his asylum, paving the way for his extradition to the United States.
The United States alleged Assange engaged in a 2010 conspiracy with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning), who served seven years in military prison for leaking classified data, and charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, with a maximum penalty of five years.
Assange was caught on camera as he was carried head first out of the embassy shortly after 10 a.m. by seven men to a waiting police van.
“UK must resist. UK resist. Resist these attempts by the Trump administration. UK must resist,” he’s heard shouting in the video posted on social media.
Compared to pictures from two years ago, Assange looked noticeably aged on April 11, now with a full white beard. He flashed a wink and a thumbs-up, as well as the victory sign, through the van’s window.
He spent seven years in the few rooms provided to him at the embassy.
“The whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange, arrested for breach of bail after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy,” Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament to cheers and cries of “Hear, hear!” from lawmakers.
Police said they arrested Assange, 47, after being invited into the embassy following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum. Once brought to the police station, he was rearrested on an extradition request from the United States. He later appeared in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
The UK warrant stemmed from Assange’s skipping bail in a case in which a Swedish woman accused him of sexual assault. Swedish authorities dropped the charge in 2017, but the breach of bail warrant in the UK remained.
In the United States, Assange was indicted in March 2018 for conspiring with Manning to breach the Army’s computer system in 2010. Manning provided Assange with nearly 750,000 classified or sensitive military and diplomatic documents, which Assange then published on Wikileaks, the online disclosure platform he founded in 2006.
The indictment, released April 11, alleges that Assange encouraged Manning to steal more documents, saying that “curious eyes never run dry.” He also allegedly agreed to help Manning crack a password that would have allowed Manning to access the Army computer system under a different username, which “would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.” The indictment doesn’t disclose if Assange was successful in cracking the password.
Manning was arrested in March and remains in custody for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.
‘Hostile Intelligence Service’
Some journalists have come to Assange’s defense, saying the charge is an affront to journalistic freedom.
But the U.S. government has long drawn a distinction between Wikileaks and news media.
“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is—a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” State Secretary Mike Pompeo, then-CIA director, said in April 2017.
“Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators” and “do not care about the causes and people they claim to represent.
“If they did, they would focus instead on the autocratic regimes in this world that actually suppress free speech and dissent. Instead, they choose to exploit the legitimate secrets of democratic governments—which has, so far, proven to be a much safer approach than provoking a tyrant.”
Russian Hacking Link
On July 13, 2018, special counsel Robert Mueller filed charges against a group of Russian operatives for allegedly hacking files of the employees of the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The documents and emails were released through two fictional personas—DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0—as well as a third entity not named in the indictment, though, based on the context, is likely Wikileaks.
Assange has denied all along that the DNC emails came from a Russian hack, instead, saying that it was a leak. He has also alluded that the source may have been Seth Rich, voter expansion data director for the DNC. In the early hours of July 10, 2016, Rich was gunned down about a block from his Washington home in what police called a possible robbery attempt. None of his valuables appeared to have been stolen and the police never identified a suspect.
Adam Waldman, a lawyer to Assange in 2017, also represented Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, as well as interests of former British spy Christopher Steele. In early 2016, Steele appeared to be lobbying Justice Department official Bruce Ohr on Deripaska’s behalf and dropped Waldman’s name in the process. Later that year, he was paid by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to produce a dossier of unsubstantiated claims about Trump–Russia ties, which was then used by the FBI to obtain a spying warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The circumstances of surveilling the Trump campaign are now under investigation by the Justice Department.
Assange stayed at Ecuador’s London embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning in the sexual assault investigation.
A friend of his said the stay was hard to bear because of the solitude combined with, paradoxically, a lack of privacy.
“It was a miserable existence and I could see it was a strain on him, but a strain he managed rather well,” said Vaughan Smith, a friend who visited Assange. “The thing that was most difficult for Julian was the solitude.
“He was very tough, but the last year in particular was very difficult. He was constantly being surveilled and spied upon. There was no privacy for him.”
Reuters contributed to this report.Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab
"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair." C. S. Lewis