Because ‘Publishing Is Not a Crime,’ Major Newspapers Push US to Drop Assange Charges

Original article from Common Dreams republished under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” The Guardian, The New York Times, and other media outlets warned.

JAKE JOHNSONNovember 28, 2022

The five major media outlets that collaborated with WikiLeaks in 2010 to publish explosive stories based on confidential diplomatic cables from the U.S. State Department sent a letter Monday calling on the Biden administration to drop all charges against Julian Assange, who has been languishing in a high-security London prison for more than three years in connection with his publication of classified documents.

“Twelve years after the publication of ‘Cablegate,’ it is time for the U.S. government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets,” reads the letter signed by the editors and publishers of The New York TimesThe GuardianLe MondeDer Spiegel, and El País. “Publishing is not a crime.”

The letter comes as Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, is fighting the U.S. government’s attempt to extradite him to face charges of violating the draconian Espionage Act of 1917. If found guilty on all counts, Assange would face a prison sentence of up to 175 years for publishing classified information—a common journalistic practice.

Press freedom organizations have vocally warned that Assange’s prosecution would pose a threat to journalists the world over, a message that the five newspapers echoed in their letter Monday.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” the letter reads. “Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”

The “Cablegate” leak consisted of more than 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that offered what the Times characterized as “an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world.”

Among other revelations, the documents confirmed that the U.S. carried out a 2009 airstrike in Yemen that killed dozens of civilians. Cables released by WikiLeaks showed that then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh assured U.S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus that the Yemeni government would “continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”

The media outlets’ letter notes that “the Obama-Biden administration, in office during the WikiLeaks publication in 2010, refrained from indicting Assange, explaining that they would have had to indict journalists from major news outlets too.”

“Their position placed a premium on press freedom, despite its uncomfortable consequences,” the letter continues. “Under Donald Trump, however, the position changed. The [Department of Justice] relied on an old law, the Espionage Act of 1917 (designed to prosecute potential spies during World War One), which has never been used to prosecute a publisher or broadcaster.”

Despite dire warnings from rights groups, the Biden administration has decided to continue pursuing Assange’s extradition and prosecution.

In June, the United Kingdom formally approved the U.S. extradition request even after a judge warned extradition would threaten Assange’s life.

Assange’s legal team filed an appeal in August, alleging that the WikiLeaks founder is “being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions.”

Original article from Common Dreams republished under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Additional video is a little dated: Jun 17, 2022 and refers to former UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Continue ReadingBecause ‘Publishing Is Not a Crime,’ Major Newspapers Push US to Drop Assange Charges

The Highway to (Climate) Hell

The Highway to Hell was a short poem published by me to oppose the USUK-Iraq War 2003.

THE HIGHWAY TO HELL

I respect all religions
And belief-systems worldwide

But
I have no time
for those b******s

That claim to be Christians
That claim Divine guidance
On the Highway to Hell

dt

Continue ReadingThe Highway to (Climate) Hell

Labour MPs hand letter to Belmarsh prison governor demanding meeting with Assange

Labour MPs hand letter to Belmarsh prison governor demanding meeting with Assange

LABOUR MPs Richard Burgon and Diane Abbott handed a letter to the governor of HMP Belmarsh today, demanding permission for a meeting with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The two socialist MPs joined Mr Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris outside the prison to deliver the letter on behalf of a parliamentary working group.

Mr Assange remains locked up at the Covid-hit south London prison pending an appeal after he beat an extradition case brought by the US.

The letter is signed by 20 parliamentarians including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy, John McDonnell, Zarah Sultana, Caroline Lucas, Claudia Webbe and members of the House of Lords.

Julian Assange is a ‘journalist of distinction’ & has to be set free, Jeremy Corbyn tells RT outside UK’s Belmarsh Prison

Julian Assange’s case should’ve ended as soon as a UK judge denied his extradition to the US, Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader, told RT as he joined other MPs to demand a meeting with the WikiLeaks founder in a London prison.

Corbyn described Assange as “somebody that has stood up for truth around the world. He’s helped us to understand what happened in Guantanamo Bay and so many places around in the world where the US military has done terrible things. We think that he’s a journalist of distinction.”

FBI Fabrication Against Assange Falls Apart

Continue ReadingLabour MPs hand letter to Belmarsh prison governor demanding meeting with Assange

US bombers arrive at Airstrip One RAF Fairford

B-52s moved to RAF Fairford as US sends warning to Russia (paywall)

A range of strategic aircraft has been deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire

The US has deployed its full range of strategic bombers to Britain for the first time in history amid growing tensions with Russia.

Two bat-winged B-2 stealth bombers, three B-52H Stratofortress aircraft and three B-1B Lancers are now lined up in Cold War pose at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

They are capable of delivering a nuclear strike, although none of those sent to Britain is armed with a nuclear weapon.

The Pentagon considered it necessary to remind Moscow of America’s capability at a time when Russia is adopting an increasingly aggressive military stance, including persistently sending strategic bomber patrols close to US, British and other Nato airspace.

… (paywall)

American B-52 bombers to fly into UK this week amid mounting Russia tensions

RAF Fairford Movements

Continue ReadingUS bombers arrive at Airstrip One RAF Fairford