WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested, Activists Rally to Stop US Extradition

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested, Activists Rally to Stop US Extradition

By Aaron Kesel

It’s a sad day for journalism and press freedoms. International journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by British police and faces US extradition charges of “conspiracy with Chelsea Manning” related to acquiring and publishing evidence of US war crimes.

Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in violation of 2 UN rulings, following the withdrawal of his asylum status by the Ecuadorian government. As a result, activists are organizing to oppose extradition and to free Assange.

“The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested,” Wikileaks tweeted.

London’s Metropolitan Police on Thursday removed Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy where he’s been trapped for almost seven years, in violation of 2 UN rulings stating for him to be freed immediately.

WikiLeaks has consistently highlighted that its founder and former editor Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained 8+ years without charge by the UK Govt (6+ years within the Ecuador Embassy in London where he was granted asylum from U.S. threats) and 2 years house arrest.

RT affiliate Ruptly captured his arrest, as several UK police officers dragged him out of the embassy into a police van.

In the video, Julian Assange can be heard screaming, “The UK must resist this attempt by the Trump administration” as he was hauled into the van.

This follows rumors of Assange’s arrest after Ecuador falsely accused Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange of hacking him, despite taking away his rights to the internet and other forms of communication a year ago in March, making it impossible, AP reported.

WikiLeaks vehemently denied association to the publication of the INA Papers.

WikiLeaks in a statement called Moreno’s charges “completely bogus,” stating they reported on the accusations of corruption against the president only after Ecuador’s legislature had said he was being investigated.

“If President Moreno wants to illegally terminate a refugee publisher’s asylum to cover up an offshore corruption scandal, history will not be kind,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.

In the wake of allegations of corruption by the Moreno government, the President of Ecuador has decided to distract from his own scandal by blaming Assange for the leak. Consortium News reported Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s use of the scandal to deflect his own problems and move to evict Assange.

“Moreno has accused WikiLeaks of leaking documents allegedly implicating him and his family in a corruption scheme with a Panamanian investment firm, INA Investments Corp. WikiLeaks has denied being behind the leaks and no documents related to the scandal appear on its website. Moreno said the alleged leak by WikiLeaks is a breach in a “protocol” with Assange that allows him to remain in the London embassy in exchange for his public silence on all political matters. Assange has never agreed to the protocol. His social media accounts were shut down by Ecuador in March 2018.”

Moreno ironically somehow seems to have got Wikileaks and the CIA confused when he accused the journalism institution without evidence of intercepting phone calls and private conversations as well as “photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance.”

All things possible that were revealed by the Vault 7 leaks and Edward Snowden’s own disclosures about spying.

Last week, Wikileaks reported on Twitter that an inside source told them that its founder and former editor in chief, Julian Assange is set to be expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London within “hours to days.”

“A high-level source within the Ecuadorian state has told WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within “hours to days” using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest,” Wikileaks tweeted.

Yesterday, WikiLeaks held an emergency press conference, revealing riveting information that Assange had been spied on and that unknown suspects had tried to extort 3,000,000 million euro from the journalism organization for the destruction of the videos and pictures. Which included videos of private situations such as doctors visits and lawyers meetings, Reuters reported.

Less than 48 hours later Assange’s asylum status was revoked and he was removed by police.

It’s important to note, that Assange’s arrest has nothing to do with Robert Mueller’s investigation or Russia gate. WikiLeaks tweeted that its founder’s arrest is tied to an extradition request for “conspiracy with Chelsea Manning” for publishing Iraq War Logs, Cablegate, Afghan War Logs, precisely the persecution for  which he was granted asylum under the 1951 Refugee Convention in 2012.”

Assange was arrested on behalf of the United States authorities for an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible with no date given.

Assange’s lawyer Jen Robinson confirmed that he was arrested in connection with an extradition warrant and not just breach of defunct bail conditions in a tweet on Twitter.

Assange’s health conditions were made abundantly obvious when he was removed from the embassy you can see the deterioration in his face. Assange’s own mother Christine preached on Unity4J last year warning of her son’s deteriorating health.

In November of last year, Christine Assange used Unity4J to urge officials to allow access to medical attention for her son, and for the UK and Ecuador to end Assange’s illegal detainment that is heading into the 9th year (2 years of virtual house arrest, into 7th year confined inside the Ecuadorian embassy) without charge as determined by the UN.

For the past 6 years, soon to be 7 in the embassy, the UK government has refused Assange’s request for access to basic health needs: fresh air, exercise, sunshine for vitamin D and access to proper medical and dental care according to Christine Assange and Julian Assange’s lawyer, Greg Barns.

“The slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes in the embassy in London,” Christine expressed.

Assange’s doctor, Sean Love, has previously stated in an opinion piece that depriving him of medical care is “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” Adding, “It is time for Australia to intervene.”

Other doctors who examined Assange, Sondra Crosby, an associate professor at Boston University’s school of medicine and public health, and Brock Chisholm, a clinical psychologist in London have stated much the same.

All three called on safe passage for Assange to a hospital in an article for the Guardian, they wrote:

While the results of the evaluation are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.

The above health concerns are coupled with surveillance technology that was a requirement for Assange to remain in the embassy, including signal jammers and all of the additional technology that is emitting various electromagnetic waves.

Assange’s doctors recently examined him in December of last year warning about the ongoing dangers to his health.

A lawyer for Assange stated last year he did not know the results of the medical tests, while further calling on Ecuador to produce documentation proving that the UK would not extradite Assange to any country where his life would be at risk. Most notably, an at-risk country would be the United States, which WikiLeaks noted just tortured a former CIA agent and suspected alleged WikiLeaks Vault 7 leaker Joshua Schulte by bolting him to the floor, video-monitoring and strip-searching him. Which, if we are being honest, if they got their hands on Assange, would probably do worse to the WikiLeaks founder for exposing numerous crimes by the U.S. government through various releases over the years.

While the mainstream press will push all types of falsehoods about Assange’s arrest here are the facts.

Allegations against Assange in Sweden have long been dropped, and he is facing only a minor infraction in the UK for failing to turn up to a court hearing, a police bail warrant. The warrant issued in question arose 12 days after Julian entered the Ecuador Embassy seeking asylum from U.S. threats against his life and liberty. So that warrant should never have been issued in the first place, as Asylum/international law overrides domestic (UK) law.

Instead, the Bail warrant should have been dropped after Sweden dropped its preliminary investigation and Julian wasn’t charged as the warrant was attached to the European Arrest Warrant on that case.

The U.S. has been on a relentless crusade against WikiLeaks since May 2010 and considers Julian Assange’s arrest a priority, while several politicians have threatened Assange’s life. It has been 8 years now since Assange was arrested and detained under one form or another, with 2 years of virtual house arrest, 6 years confined inside the Ecuadorian embassy and now he can add unjustified solitary confinement to the long laundry list.

The international non-profit whistleblowing organization has leaked at least 10 million classified documents to date from various governments including the United States. In 2016, the group published a number of documents and emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta that suggested the DNC deliberately tried to discredit presidential candidate Bernie Sanders over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

As both the current and former administrations continue forward with an ongoing nine-year investigation into WikiLeaks since their 2010 leak of almost 100,000 State and Defense Department secret documents dubbed Cablegate pertaining to U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither administration has been able to charge a single member of WikiLeaks with a criminal indictment.

In that case, only the alleged source of the leak was punished: former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who spent seven years in prison before former U.S. President Barack Obama commuted 28 years of her 35-year sentence on his way out of office, calling it “very disproportionate relative to what other leakers have received” and that “it makes sense to commute and not pardon her sentence.”

Now, Chelsea Manning is back in prison in solitary confinement for refusing to testify against Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Despite, the Fifth Amendment stating that no person can be tried twice for the same crime.

The Fifth Amendment reads in part: “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb”. This is known as the Double Jeopardy Clause.

A justice DOJ press release states that Assange is being accused of a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.

“According to court documents unsealed today, the charge relates to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.

During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience.”

Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison,” the press releases reads.

However, as Edward Snowden tweeted, the charge is weak, not fresh and has been known for nearly a decade as the Obama DOJ refused to charge him stating it “endangered journalism.”

In October of last year, Wikileaks tweeted that Ecuador was being pressured to end Assange’s asylum and citizenship so he can be arrested by British police and extradited to the U.S. to presumably face charges under the Espionage Act — the federal law often used to punish whistleblowers. This is due to the fact that under the Ecuadorian constitution extradition is forbidden.

Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa tweeted today that Moreno is the “greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history”.

In November, the U.S. accidentally revealed sealed charges it had against Assange, so it’s a far-fetched lie to state “Assange won’t be extradited to face the death penalty.” The truth is no one knows what the U.S. has planned for Assange if somehow they got their hands on him in a U.S. court. Who knows what the sentencing would be. What’s for certain is that they would surely try to make an example out of him.

The arrest comes after two UN officials criticized the U.S., Ecuador and the UK for potential human rights violations expressing worry for Julian Assange.

Both the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joe Cannataci, and UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer have expressed alarm to the situation at hand as WikiLeaks’ journalist who worked on all current releases Stefania Maurizi tweeted.

While Cannataci planned to meet the Wikileaks founder on the 25th of April to investigate the situation himself.

Even the former President of Ecuador Rafael Correa is stating his country must protect Julian Assange as an Ecuadorian citizen. Which, Assange received Ecuadorian citizenship last year.

This also confirms earlier suspicions that Ecuador was trying to sell out Assange in a “deal” with the U.S. for debt relief loans, as WikiLeaks tweeted.

Many saw this coming as former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden noticed the interesting timing of a tweet by the Foreign Minister of Ecuador Jose Valencia, tweeting “about mechanisms for unilaterally revoking asylum claims.”

The Trump administration is threatening to step over a never-crossed line – applying the secret documents provision of the Espionage Act to journalistic practices, according to the EFF, which in 2017 condemned the threats of prosecution against WikiLeaks and Assange.

Former CIA, John Kiriakou explains what would happen if Assange was extradited to the U.S. and why he would never stand a chance in the rigged Washington courts. Which, Kirakou notes that no one has ever won an “Espionage Act case.”

Earlier this year, lawyers for Julian Assange filed an urgent application to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), based in Washington D.C., to demand the Trump Administration unseal the charges it has secretly filed against Assange.

The Australian activist’s lawyers are further asking the Commission to compel Ecuador to cease its espionage activities against Assange, to stop the isolation imposed on him and to protect Assange from U.S. extradition.

The request was a whopping 1,172-page application for “precautionary measures” directed at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.

Assange’s lead international coordinator lawyer, Baltasar Garzón, is requesting that the IACHR make an urgent intervention in favor of Assange and is calling for “international solidarity for this case in which the right to access and impart information freely is in jeopardy.”

“The revelation that the U.S. has initiated a prosecution against Assange has shocked the international community,” the legal submission states. The U.S. government “is required to provide information as to the criminal charges that are imputed to Assange in full,” it adds.

The application also alleges that U.S. prosecutors have begun approaching people in the U.S., Germany, and Iceland and pressed them to testify against Assange in return for immunity from prosecution.

Those approached, it is said, include people associated with WikiLeaks’ joint publications with other media about U.S. diplomacy, Guantánamo Bay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s worth noting that this is corroborated by an article in Icelandic media interviewing the new Editor In Chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, who told the publication that Iceland authorities offered him immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against Julian Assange, according to a translated article. However, translating articles can always be faulty, but Hrafnsson’s quote appears to state that he isn’t the person who was interrogated and offered immunity.

“I can confirm from the first hand that this has been done. No one has contacted me this way. However, I myself am investigating this issue and I know that data has been downloaded to a private company with secrecy, ”says Kristinn in a conversation with Fréttablaðið.

Assange’s lawyers say the Trump administration has pressured Ecuador to hand over Assange. In December, The New York Times reported that Ecuador’s new president, Lenín Moreno, tried to negotiate handing over Assange to the US. in exchange for “debt relief.”

In 2017, Moreno vowed to stop Assange from revealing further corruption about the United States for the duration of his stay at the embassy, stating he would “gag Assange from revealing further corruption about the U.S.”

Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno is scheduled to fly to Washington DC in 12 days time. Among official meetings, he is scheduled speak at the Inter-American Dialogue, 1155 15 Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC, Registration 4:30pm – 5:00pm, Wikileaks tweeted.

WikiLeaks as an organization has recently faced increased pressure from authorities. In 2017, the U.S. Senate considered a bill that would classify WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” bundled as part of the 2018 Intelligence Authorization Act. Presumably, that classification would authorize the use of force against WikiLeaks and presumably its supporters.

Then, in late December of 2017, the Head Legal Office in Madrid of former judge and WikiLeaks’ chief counsel, Baltasar Garzón, was raided by masked men dressed in all black and the security cameras were taped. Despite the break-in, nothing was taken and the operation was referred to as being “professionally done” by police.

Grassroot’s movement Unity4J will be holding an immediate vigil/round table discussion on the events that just unfolded involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at 12 p.m. EST today.

Protesters are encouraged to assemble immediately in front of the Westminster magistrates court, everyone is reminded to remain peaceful.

Meanwhile, activists affiliated with and are set to hold an Emergency Rally outside the UK Embassy in Washington DC today.

For up-to-date accurate pertinent information on Julian Assange’s plight, see @Wikileaks, @AssangeMrs, and @Unity4J and — @AssangeLegal the editor of Justice 4 Assange.

Supporters are asked to donate to the numerous defenses for WikiLeaks by visiting this link or purchasing merchandise from the WikiLeaks Shop, which goes towards Assange and other WikiLeaks volunteers’ defenses and future releases.

Freedom of the press is under attack; first, it’s WikiLeaks, but overall this could set a monstrous precedent for journalists all over the world — ironically in a country that has a First Amendment designed to protect freedom of the press, as the ACLU has previously said.

In a twilight zone meets George Orwell’s 1984, it’s interesting to note the EU is trying to pass an Orwellian law disguised as a copyright initiative which would silence publications like WikiLeaks and stifle the free and open internet, as well as freedom of information with link taxes and an upload filter, as Activist Post reported.

All eyes are on the skies watching rendition planes leaving London.

If Assange is allowed to be extradited to the U.S. and charged under the Espionage Act, government corruption and criminality will no doubt rise due to journalists being afraid to report crimes in the media. So far, an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump on behalf of Assange published by Defend WikiLeaks calling to close the Grand Jury investigation and drop any charges planned against any member of WikiLeaks has received 4,560 signatures of everyone from journalists, and academics, to activists in Assange’s defense.

       

  

Alternative News & Independent Views

Related posts

Leave a Comment