The role of the BBC in the state-sponsored persecution of Julian Assange, Part 2 – Impunity

On the 19th October 2021, Nina Cross reported in The Indicter This is the second of now three articles looking at the different ways the BBC manipulates our perception of Julian Assange.  Part 1 looks at how the BBC helped the government to present Assange as a serious criminal after he was arrested in 2019.  Part 2 focuses … Continue reading “The role of the BBC in the state-sponsored persecution of Julian Assange, Part 2 – Impunity”

On the 19th October 2021, Nina Cross reported in The Indicter

This is the second of now three articles looking at the different ways the BBC manipulates our perception of Julian Assange.  Partlooks at how the BBC helped the government to present Assange as a serious criminal after he was arrested in 2019.  Part 2 focuses on the ways the BBC has helped to grow a culture of impunity towards him, impunity which has taken hold inside British public institutions and courts, and which could result in his death if it is not stopped.

The upcoming US appeal against January’s court ruling that Assange would not be extradited has in essence nothing to do with extradition, but will focus on his character and psychology.  It is designed to discredit his name further, diminish his suffering and downplay the risks he faces in the US. We can see how the BBC has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for this.

A picture of prejudice and propaganda

We can see the corporate media smear campaign of Assange has not bypassed judges.  We know that Judge Snow, convicting Assange for bail violation, accused him of being a narcissist who could not get beyond his own self-interest after Assange simply said “I plead not guilty”.  We know Judge Taylor claimed Assange had been charged with rape and had to be corrected.  Sentencing him to 50 weeks in prison for bail skipping she dismissed his fears of persecution, ignored the appearance of the US indictment and claimed he had fled to the embassy to “evade justice”. This was illogical given the first US indictment against him was unsealed the day of his arrest, the official reasonsEcuador gave for granting asylum and the pile of threats against Assange’s life by US officials.  Judge Taylor repeated the same narrative of “evading justice” that the BBC and other corporate media had pushed for the years between Assange’s arrival at the embassy and the date of her sentencing.

The recent revelation of the CIA plot to kidnap and assassinate Assange in 2017, ignored by the BBC unless you live in Somalia, is vindication of Assange’s fears and shows Judge Taylor’s sentencing statement for what it was: politically motivated propaganda.  Judge Baraitser in turn was observed ruling significantly in favour of the requests made by the US prosecution,  arbitrarily barring trial monitors and opining that possible CIA plots to assassinate Assange back in 2010 were not unreasonable.

Even if we excluded the reality of allegiances and political influences, the fact judges have likely followed BBC and other corporate media news for the last decade means they have very likely acquired a negative and distorted view of Assange and historical facts around him.  The following are some of the ways the BBC has smeared Assange.

Discrediting Assange as a journalist

The BBC always describes Assange as the ‘founder of Wikileaks’ but for Jamal Khashoggi, Roman Protasevich, Anna Politkovskaya, and countless others, whose work does not threaten US military impunity but is considered ideologically acceptable, they qualify as journalist, activist journalist, dissident journalist, campaigning human rights journalist.  

But the journalist who exposes US war crimes is an “attention seeker“,  “definitely a bad house guest – that much we’re sure of,” an empty man, mischief-maker, wanting attention, a played Putin stooge, trouble-maker,  an activist hacker,  a narcissist – according to a “widely held opinion”, Russia’s useful idiotunhygienic, uncaring towards his cat, noisy, rude and anti-sociala cyberterrorist with disgusting habitssomeone who avoided extradition to Sweden to avoid being interviewed about sexual allegationsa fugitive,   a smirk-faced irresponsible hack who ha ha will be murdered by the CIA,  

But these form just a segment of output on Assange.  The BBC has greatly invested in his character assassination, which takes various forms, including news articles, videos and podcasts. Repetition is important if you want to programme your audience to dislike someone or worse see them as a danger, a public enemy.   And while we are busy being programmed that Assange is the enemy, we slip into a comatose state and forget who should be in the dock.  The BBC wants us to think the crimes against humanity, the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, the dissolution of entire countries, programmes of rendition and torture and state-sponsored military war crimes all pale into insignificance when compared to evil Assange.  The smearing of his character, designed to inspire disgust, has likely influenced judges just as much as it has other BBC licence payers.

Parallel to the nurturing of disgust towards Assange by the BBC, there is a growing disdain towards journalists not receiving corporate salaries.  The precedent-setting case of Craig Murray, sentenced by a High Court, shows that a tiered justice system is in the making in Britain, that journalists not in the corporate club do not have the same protections. The BBC’s long term toxic Assange-bashing output, reinforced by other corporate media, put together with a culture of disdain for ‘not proper journalists means that while he remains subjected to the will and whim of the British courts Assange’s life is in danger.

Airbrushing and hiding abuses of process 

The abuses of process and ill treatment inflicted upon Assange have been well-documented by the UN Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer,  the United Nationspolitical leaderslawyershuman rights advocatesdoctors and NGOs.  Instead of practising journalism and exposing these abuses, the BBC has hidden the corruption of public institutions.

The BBC will tell you that the two initial investigations concerning Assange in Sweden were dropped by the public prosecutor but picked up later by another, Marianne Ny.  It won’t tell you that police changed witness testimony to give the appearance a possible rape had been committed.  It won’t tell you that the women involved went to the police station only to inquire if they could compel Assange to take an STD test.

The BBC will tell you that the Swedish prosecutors issued a red alert but won’t tell you this was issued along with a European arrest warrant after the prosecutor gave Assange permission to leave Sweden.  It will not tell you that Former Stockholm chief district prosecutor, Sven-Erik Alhem, described Ny’s steps to extradite Assange as:

“… unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate.” providing a statement on the abuses of process she had engaged in.

The BBC will tell you the Supreme Court ordered Assange to be extradited in 2012 but it will not tell you that the law was changed in 2014 so that extradition requests could not be issued in the same way Assange’s had been by Marianne Ny.

The BBC will tell you that Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was wanted for questioning regarding sexual allegations, implying reluctance to cooperate with the Swedish authorities.  It won’t tell you Assange made repeated attempts to meet with the prosecutors but they stone-walled him.  Connecting political asylum to sexual violence does not make legal or common sense, except to Judge Taylor. What civilised countries give political asylum to suspects of sexual violence?  

The BBC sometimes tells you Assange sought asylum to avoid onward extradition from Sweden to the US, but this is not enough to counter its prolific fugitive rhetoric.  It will not tell you of the evidence indicating Sweden would extradite him to the US.

It will tell you that one of the two cases of allegations against Assange was dropped as the statute of limitations for the offence had expired while he was in the embassy.  It will not tell you that Marianne Ny had only to walk into the embassy or switch on the video link but refused, caving into the pressure from the CPS because Assange was “not just another extradition case.”

This BBC article published in 2012 – after Assange had sought refuge in the embassy – tells us the Swedish authorities accused Ecuador of halting the Swedish judicial process:

“The accusations… are serious, and it is unacceptable that Ecuador would want to halt the Swedish judicial process and European judicial co-operation,” said Anders Joerle, spokesman for the Swedish foreign ministry”.

but then the article tells us:

A subsequent offer by Ecuador to allow Swedish investigators to interview Mr Assange inside the embassy was rejected.” 

What it does not tell you is that hanging an arrest warrant over someone and refusing to interview them is not normal practice.  This contradiction shows the suspect motives by the Swedish authorities; the intention was extradition not investigation. 

Assange himself told the BBC:

The Swedish government refuses to behave in a way that is at all normal, rational or reasonable and that is why I have been granted political asylum”.

But instead of exposing the inconsistencies, contradictions and abnormal behaviours, the BBC has buried them as seen here: hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing.

The Swedish authorities continued this abuse and in 2015 it was a factor in the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) that Assange was arbitrarily detained.

The BBC will tell you Assange cost the British taxpayer many millions through surveillance by not leaving the Ecuadorian embassy but it will not tell you this was a misuse of public funds and of the police service. Hundreds of uniformed men and women stood bored outside the embassy in essence on ceremony, saluting the Whitehouse, while Theresa May slashed the policing budget during a period of soaring knife crime in London.

The BBC will tell you Assange is in Belmarsh prison but it won’t tell you that he was held in indefinite solitary confinement, contrary to the government’s agreement to comply with the UN convention against torture.

The impunity to persecute Assange has been enabled by the BBC through omission and silence. Instead of practising journalism it has turned a blind eye to abuses of the British authorities and those of its allies.    The BBC’s behaviour is contrary: anti-journalism, anti-truth.

Disinformation to defamation

Imagine being a judge and listening to BBC News the day Assange was arrested in April 2019. In this video chief BBC diplomatic reporter, James Landale:

  • not only confuses the 2010 extradition request from Sweden with an extradition request not yet made by the USA, but his odd comment about “information and what we now call Wikileaks” appears to be a desperate attempt to avoid saying “US war crimes
  • claims “rape charges had lapsed but could be restarted if the Swedish authorities wished to do that.” Landale was most likely here referring to the statute of limitations for allegations as charges were never brought against Assange.

The Eton-educated Landale swings between allegations and charges, typical of corporate media’s disregard for factual accuracy.  Perhaps Etonian confidence is enough to persuade most judges he knew what he was talking about.  Landale plugged the government narrative, and whitewashed the Ecuadorian government’s abuses of process, claiming it “formally” withdrew asylum when in practice Assange was stripped of asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship without any due process. It was a catalogue of disinformation. During the video words appearing on the screen included “discourteous aggressive behaviour”.

A demonstration of how to cover abuses of process

In this 2019 BBC article we are told the Swedish prosecutors closed the case because:

“ the time they felt they were unable to take the case forward while Assange was inside the Ecuadorean embassy.” 

This is how the BBC hides abuses of process. Procedures do not depend on the feelings of prosecutors; they are carried out according to laws and norms. Stone-walling your own investigation is an abuse and was a factor in the UNWGAD decision of arbitrary detention.

This BBC article in March 2015 quotes Ny on her U-turn decision to finally interview Assange to avoid completely sabotaging her own investigation. She shows no sense of urgency or responsibility towards the case she was supposedly investigating:

My view has always been that to perform an interview with him at the Ecuadorian embassy in London would lower the quality of the interview,’”  

Yet when the BBC reported that Swedish prosecutors finally dropped the supposed investigation in 2019 because: 

“…the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.” 

we have to question, because neither the BBC nor the courts have, is it normal for Swedish prosecutors to arrest someone, refuse to interview them for years then complain about having poor evidence? But we are in the fictitious world of the BBC where the fancy of prosecutors takes priority over law, which is presumably the same world inhabited by Judge Taylor.

Its behaviour shows that the BBC does not serve the interests of the public but of the Foreign Office, the British elite and its allies in the US security state, the true beneficiaries of the culture of impunity cultivated towards Assange.   Critical facts are buried or manipulated by the BBC, and arbitrarily ignored by the British courts, so we have a non-sensical distorted version of reality where the rulings of the courts reflect what is peddled in BBC output: disinformation, the abnormal presented as normal and gross contempt towards Assange. 

Logically judges and other professionals watch and read beyond BBC News, although likely digest other corporate media propaganda about Assange from outlets such as the Guardian.  And as recognised, many things influence judges.  However, the courtroom prejudice Assange has faced cannot be ignored, and a trial by media has run parallel to legal proceedings for years.

Neither can the power of the BBC be ignored, as David Clementi, former head claimed:

“No other national asset has the potential to serve Britain so powerfully”

In Assange’s case it has served the interests of the British state apparatus, enabling a culture of impunity by spoon feeding its audience government narratives, manipulating perception, and promoting ridicule and disdain.   The persecution of Assange that increasingly looks like a slow assassination by the UK and US authorities could not be so conceivable without a servile media.  The BBC stepped up.  It is time the trial by media ended.

Read original article in The Indicter

The Role of the BBC in the State-Sponsored Sersecution of Julian Assange. Part 1

On the 28th September 2021, Nina Cross reported in The Indicter This is the first of two articles analysing the role of the BBC in the state-sponsored persecution of Julian Assange.  It analyses how the British government used the BBC to present Assange as a criminal following his arrest on 11th April 2019.  It then … Continue reading “The Role of the BBC in the State-Sponsored Sersecution of Julian Assange. Part 1”

On the 28th September 2021, Nina Cross reported in The Indicter

This is the first of two articles analysing the role of the BBC in the state-sponsored persecution of Julian Assange.  It analyses how the British government used the BBC to present Assange as a criminal following his arrest on 11th April 2019.  It then examines how the BBC helped to control the narratives around the stripping of Assange’s asylum, a violation of international law.

Some BBC background – how Britain’s most powerful ‘national asset’ helps keep the British people in check while serving imperialism

To understand the position the BBC has taken towards Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, award-winning journalist, publisher, fiancé, father, son, brother, human being, it is useful to know some basic BBC facts.

The heads of the BBC are cherry-picked by the government.  They often have long and close links to the Prime Minister, such as Chris Patten who was a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet in 1989 and David Clementi, former deputy head of the Bank of England, advisor to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.  The current head is Richard Sharp, former advisor to Boris Johnson when Johnson was Mayor of London. Sharp was also the manager of the billionaire Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak when Sunak worked at Goldman Sachs bank. A political ally of the government, Sharp has donated £400,000 to the Tory party. He is so rich he can afford to work for the BBC for free.

It remains a criminal offence in Britain to have a TV and not pay for a TV licence, which provides the main source of income for the BBC.  People have served time, and still can, for not paying the licence fee.

In 2020 the licence fee income amounted to £3,750,000,000, more than the UK spent on its prisons in 2019.  Its commercial activities generate more income. The BBC’s funding position, described by the regulator OFCOM as privileged,  provides senior journalists, news anchors and news presenters with lucrative salaries.

The Foreign Secretary controls the objectives, priorities, targets and languages in which the World Service is delivered.

The BBC World Service is not regulated, it is exempt from official scrutiny despite the BBC having a far greater international audience than domestic. The BBC’s global news could possibly reach a weekly target of 500 million by 2022.

The World Service is funded by licence fees and by the government.  In 2015 it was allocated £289 million from the National Security and Defence budget under the then PM David Cameron, to be spread over five years.  This may very possibly be continued. 

Last year the previous head of the BBC, David Clementi, commented:

No other national asset has the potential to serve Britain so powerfully – uniting us as one nation at home, and representing global Britain abroad… The BBC is a great national asset; a diminished BBC is a weakened United Kingdom.” 

In short, the BBC helps the British elite to control the narrative at home and abroad.  With the BBC on board, conjointly with other corporate media servile to the powerful, tyranny can be exported to countries targeted by the Foreign Office in the form of military, economic or proxy wars, façade managed as ‘humanitarian’ or wars against terror.  Julian Assange has helped us to understand this tyranny. 

How the British government used the BBC to manage Assange’s arrest

Within an hour and a half of Assange’s arrest on 11th April 2019, the BBC broadcasted a statement by Jeremy Hunt, the then Foreign Secretary.  The BBC refused to answer any FOI questions about this interview, and so far the Foreign Office has denied any correspondence exists around it (a review is supposedly in progress).  It was likely filmed in a room in the Foreign Office, indicated by this image of former junior Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan, apparently taken in the same place.  This suggests that Hunt invited the BBC to the Foreign Office explicitly to manage the narrative around the Ecuadorian government stripping Assange of his asylum.

Hunt made no reference to any crime, charge or conviction; by implication he painted Assange as a dishonest, despicable and cowardly character “Assange is no hero” “…has been hiding from the truth for years” “…has held the Ecuadorian embassy hostage…”

At the time the statement was broadcasted all Assange was known to be wanted for was a 7-year old breach of police bail which was not attached to any charge, but which had resulted from him seeking asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy.  In essence, Hunt used Britain’s most powerful ‘national asset’ to create a sense of grievous criminal behaviour over a minor violation of law,.  This made no legal or logical sense

Jeremy Hunt had not been known to use Britain’s most powerful ‘national asset’ to make similar speeches about the thousands of people who have skipped bail over the years in Britain, or about known serious offenders but on 11thApril 2019 he decided to single out Julian Assange for such treatment.

Hunt’s treatment of Assange can be compared to the case taken to the ECHR against Vladimir Putin by Mikhail Khodorkovsky when Putin was the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.  Khodorkovsky claimed Putin violated his right to the presumption of innocence by making certain comments, including “a thief should be in jail” prior to Khodorkovsky’s second trial for financial crimes.  However, the ECHR ruled that Putin did not violate the presumption of innocence as:

  • his comments were spontaneous, unrehearsed
  • they were made during a presser covering many topics – not coordinated around Khodorkovsky
  • Putin clarified the comments related to Khodorkovsky’s first conviction

We now compare the same criteria to Hunt’s comments about Assange and we see the opposite applies:

  • they implied criminal behaviour without reference to any charge or conviction
  • they formed a statement, pre-written and likely rehearsed
  • the filming of his statement was likely engineered by Hunt using Britain’s most powerful ‘national asset’, for the purpose of encouraging the public to see Assange in a particular way
  • no other media outlet was invited by Hunt to pose questions or challenge Hunt’s narrative
  • as the only journalist in a position to ask questions or challenge Hunt, the BBC journalist did not go there, instead his question invited Hunt to pick up a different point

In Khodorkovsky’s case the ECHR explained both defamation and violation of the right to the presumption of innocence:

The Court reiterates that Article 6 § 2 will be violated if a statement of a public official concerning a person charged with a criminal offence reflects an opinion that he is guilty before he has been proved so according to law. It suffices, even in the absence of any formal finding, that there is some reasoning to suggest that the official regards the accused as guilty.

The Court has previously held that Article 6 § 2, in its relevant aspect, is aimed at preventing the undermining of a fair criminal trial by prejudicial statements made in close connection with those proceedings. Where no such proceedings are, or have been in existence, statements attributing criminal or other reprehensible conduct are relevant rather to considerations of protection against defamation and raising potential issues under Article 8

Other ministers, including the then PM Theresa May, the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the then junior Foreign Minister Alan Duncan, all piled in with statements that Assange was “rightly facing justice”.  Yet all they could muster between them was a minor police bail skipping offence, showing a wildly disproportionate use of their high-ranking public offices, two of them using the ready-to-serve-empire BBC, available on tap.  In Hunt’s case he used both the BBC and Twitter.  Of all the statements on Assange’s arrest it was Theresa May’s that referenced the charge of bail skipping. Following this she claimed “…this goes to show that in the UK, no one is above the law, another phrase employed throughout the day by this group of ministers.

This reference to UK law was by design: Assange had been in the Ecuadorian embassy legitimately under international laws of asylum.   In 2015 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNGWAD) stated the UK “refused to honour its obligations to respect Mr. Assange’s asylum under either the 1951 Refugee Convention, or customary international law” and that  Assange was being held in arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorian embassy.  So, on the day of his arrest, Britain’s top ministers engaged in a campaign of buzz words to bury any noise that could be made about the UNGWAD statement and cover the crimes of the Ecuadorian government in removing Assange’s asylum.  

All this before Assange had even entered court over the bail charge.  Assange had no hope of the presumption of innocence.  Their behaviour was an example of public mobbing’ , a term used by the UN Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, to describe how public institutions and officials have attacked Assange.

And it was not just the general public who made up the BBC audience: many judges would have listened to the BBC and other corporate news reporting ministers’ statements that day.

A few days later Assange received the harshest sentence possible in Britain for this minor offence: 12 months in prison.   He was sent to Britain’s most secure prison, where he remains almost two and a half years later as a favour to the US government.

How the BBC helped the governments of Ecuador and the US to manage Assange’s arrest

By the day of Assange’s arrest, the same day the US requested his extradition from Britain, the BBC had published multiple articles on Assange’s fears about this happening.  Examples are hereherehere here and here. Yet a few days after Assange’s arrest, reporter Jon Sopel, on a £245,000 BBC salary, sat with the President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, and ignored almost a decade of BBC articles on the subject.  Instead, Sopel fed Moreno lines that allowed him to spread whatever defaming and damning narratives he wanted:


  • How did he treat staff? 
  • I heard reports that he was spying on your staff, what does that mean?
  • His claim is that he is a champion of open government, of freedom of information, that he is a journalist and deserved asylum
  • Do you believe he is an agent for Russia?
  • So he was on the Russian side?
  • Were you under pressure by the British and from the Americans to revoke his asylum?
  • Are you relieved that he is gone?

Moreno’s answers painted a filthy faeces-smearing , physically violent, unhinged cyber-terrorist spy working for Russia.  All of Moreno’s narratives have been debunked.  This ‘piece’ by the BBC is titled ““Assange smeared faeces in the Ecuador embassy” says president’”

Such narratives served to dehumanise Assange and to contain his support.  Not only did it shield the US from public scrutiny, but it also enabled Moreno to promote unhinged claims by leading US politicians including Jo Biden (“Assange is a hi-tech terrorist”) and Mike Pompeo when head of the CIA  (“Wikileaks is a non-state hostile intelligence service”). It is now known that using the narratives of ‘hostile’ and ‘terrorist’ individuals inside the Trump government including Pompeo considered assassinating Assange.

Sopel reported back home on his ‘interview’, repeating the stories peddled by Moreno. He delivered the defaming and debunked stories to BBC World News which even then had a weekly audience of hundreds of millions. 

We see that the BBC is the propaganda tool of choice for the British government to assault Assange.  It is on tap to the government, it can stream their false statements, it can send a team up at the snap of a Foreign Office finger, it can be relied upon to not ask intelligent questions or challenge narratives, it can feed useful lines, it can promote defaming narratives on its huge BBC World News platform, there are no stories it will not peddle: faeces, cat abuse.  All of these have been used on Assange. 

Part 2 of the role of the BBC in the persecution of Julian Assange will look at:

BBC disinformation, its sustained campaign to ignore historical facts, its sustained campaign to delegitimise Assange as a journalist, character assassination, repetition and promoting of US narratives.

The appeal hearing at the High Court which will decide Julian Assange’s fate has been set for Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th October.   On Saturday 23rd October, there will be a demonstration in support of Julian Assange assembling at the BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place at 1 pm for a march to the High Court.

Read original article in The Indicter

Also covering media bans and biased reporting of the Assange Saga by Mainstream Media Britain’s Guardian publishes 78 articles on Nalvany to 16 on Assange

Britain’s Guardian publishes 78 articles on Nalvany to 16 on Assange

Editors Note: Interest in recent articles analysing the press coverage of Nalvany who it appears is a white supremacist with significant Western government backing and is in jail convicted for embezzlement. Also raises concern for Julian Assange who is self funded and is in jail on remand for exposing war crimes that have yet to … Continue reading “Britain’s Guardian publishes 78 articles on Nalvany to 16 on Assange”

Editors Note: Interest in recent articles analysing the press coverage of Nalvany who it appears is a white supremacist with significant Western government backing and is in jail convicted for embezzlement. Also raises concern for Julian Assange who is self funded and is in jail on remand for exposing war crimes that have yet to be investigated. It would be interesting to see a motion in the European Parliament to sanction the UK over Julian’s maltreatment.

On the 20th April 2021 Thomas Scripps wrote ‘Navalny vs Assange, or the geopolitics of selective outrage

Since January this year, the Guardian, Britain’s leading nominally liberal paper, has published 78 articles and videos on Navalny. It published 16 on Assange, with just one since February. It only belatedly adopted a for-the-record opposition to Assange’s extradition in a November 2019 editorial, after waging a decade-long smear campaign against him. It wrote another in December 2020 and then again in January this year. It has written three on Navalny this year alone.

On the 27th April 2021 Glenn Diesen, Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal wrote ‘Russia needs liberals in politics, but failure of Navalny movement shows futility of street protests & reliance on foreign backers

Since January this year, Britain’s Guardian has published 78 articles and videos about Alexey Navalny and 16 on Julian Assange. A strange distribution of coverage for a British newspaper given that Assange is jailed in Britain for conducting journalism, and Navalny is a foreign activist in a far-away state.

For years, journalists cheered Assange’s abuse. Now they’ve paved his path to a US gulag

On the 2nd September 2020, Jonathan Cook reports Court hearings in Britain over the US administration’s extradition case against Julian Assange begin in earnest next week. The decade-long saga that brought us to this point should appall anyone who cares about our increasingly fragile freedoms. A journalist and publisher has been deprived of his liberty … Continue reading “For years, journalists cheered Assange’s abuse. Now they’ve paved his path to a US gulag”

On the 2nd September 2020, Jonathan Cook reports

Court hearings in Britain over the US administration’s extradition case against Julian Assange begin in earnest next week. The decade-long saga that brought us to this point should appall anyone who cares about our increasingly fragile freedoms.

A journalist and publisher has been deprived of his liberty for 10 years. According to UN experts, he has been arbitrarily detained and tortured for much of that time through intense physical confinement and endless psychological pressure. He has been bugged and spied onby the CIA during his time in political asylum, in Ecuador’s London embassy, in ways that violated his most fundamental legal rights. The judge overseeing his hearings has a serious conflict of interest – with her family embedded in the UK security services – that she did not declare and which should have required her to recuse herself from the case.

All indications are that Assange will be extradited to the US to face a rigged grand jury trial meant to ensure he sees out his days in a maximum-security prison, serving a sentence of up to 175 years.

None of this happened in some Third-World, tinpot dictatorship. It happened right under our noses, in a major western capital, and in a state that claims to protect the rights of a free press. It happened not in the blink of an eye but in slow motion – day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

And once we strip out a sophisticated campaign of character assassination against Assange by western governments and a compliant media, the sole justification for this relentless attack on press freedom is that a 49-year-old man published documents exposing US war crimes. That is the reason – and the only reason – that the US is seeking his extradition and why he has been languishing in what amounts to solitary confinement in Belmarsh high-security prison during the Covid-19 pandemic. His lawyers’ appeals for bail have been refused.

Severed head on a pike

While the press corps abandoned Assange a decade ago, echoing official talking points that pilloried him over toilet hygiene and his treatment of his cat, Assange is today exactly where he originally predicted he would be if western governments got their way. What awaits him is rendition to the US so he can be locked out of sight for the rest of his life.

There were two goals the US and UK set out to achieve through the visible persecution, confinement and torture of Assange.

Story hiding in plain sight

When he hurried into Ecuador’s embassy back in 2012, seeking political asylum, journalists from every corporate media outlet ridiculed his claim – now, of course, fully vindicated – that he was evading US efforts to extradite him and lock him away for good. The media continued with their mockery even as evidence mounted that a grand jury had been secretly convened to draw up espionage charges against him and that it was located in the eastern district of Virginia, where the major US security and intelligence services are headquartered. Any jury there is dominated by US security personnel and their families. His hope of a fair trial was non-existent.

From Sweden to Clinton

First, it was claimed that Assange had fled questioning over sexual assault allegations in Sweden, even though it was the Swedish authorities who allowed him to leave; even though the original Swedish prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the investigation against him, saying “There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever”, before it was picked up by a different prosecutor for barely concealed, politicised reasons; and even though Assange later invited Swedish prosectors to question him where he was (in the embassy), an option they regularly agreed to in other cases but resolutely refused in his.

It was not just that none of these points was ever provided as context for the Sweden story by the corporate media. Or that much else in Assange’s favour was simply ignored, such as tampered evidence in the case of one of the two women who alleged sexual assault and the refusal of the other to sign the rape statement drawn up for her by police.

The story was also grossly and continuously misreported as relating to “rape charges” when Assange was wanted simply for questioning. No charges were ever laid against him because the second Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny – and her British counterparts, including Sir Keir Starmer, then head of the prosecution service and now leader of the Labour party – seemingly wished to avoid testing the credibility of their allegations by actually questioning Assange. Leaving him to rot in a small room in the embassy served their purposes much better.

Guardian fabricates a smear

Those on the authoritarian right have shown little concern over Assange’s lengthy confinement in the embassy, and later jailing in Belmarsh, for his exposure of US war crimes, which is why little effort has been expended on winning them over. The demonisation campaign against Assange has focused instead on issues that are likely to trigger liberals and the left, who might otherwise have qualms about jettisoning the First Amendment and locking people up for doing journalism.

Assange’s torture ignored

All of this made possible what has happened since. After the Swedish case evaporated and there were no reasonable grounds left for not letting Assange walk free from the embassy, the media suddenly decided in chorus that a technical bail violation was grounds enough for his continuing confinement in the embassy – or, better still, his arrest and jailing. That breach of bail, of course, related to Assange’s decision to seek asylum in the embassy, based on a correct assessment that the US planned to demand his extradition and imprisonment.

None of these well-paid journalists seemed to remember that, in British law, failure to meet bail conditions is permitted if there is “reasonable cause” – and fleeing political persecution is very obviously just such a reasonable cause.

A power-worshipping media

Last year British police, in coordination with an Ecuador now led by a president, Lenin Moreno, who craved closer ties with Washington, stormed the embassy to drag Assange out and lock him up in Belmarsh prison. In their coverage of these events, journalists again played dumb.

They had spent years first professing the need to “believe women” in the Assange case, even if it meant ignoring evidence, and then proclaiming the sanctity of bail conditions, even if they were used simply as a pretext for political persecution. Now that was all swept aside in an instant. Suddenly Assange’s nine years of confinement over a non-existent sexual assault investigation and a minor bail infraction were narratively replaced by an espionage case. And the media lined up against him once again.

The death of journalism 

Right now every journalist in the world ought to be up in arms, protesting at the abuses Assange is suffering, and has suffered, and the fate he will endure if extradition is approved. They should be protesting on front pages and in TV news shows against the endless and blatant abuses of legal process at Assange’s hearings in the British courts, including the gross conflict of interest of Lady Emma Arbuthnot, the judge overseeing his case.

Careers and status, not truth

The vast majority of western journalists, of course, never uncover one significant secret from the centres of power in their entire professional careers – even those ostensibly monitoring those power centres. These journalists repackage press releases and lobby briefings, they tap sources inside government who use them as a conduit to the large audiences they command, and they relay gossip and sniping from inside the corridors of power.

That is the reality of access journalism that constitutes 99 per cent of what we call political news.

Nonetheless, Assange’s abandonment by journalists – the complete lack of solidarity as one of their number is persecuted as flagrantly as dissidents once sent to the gulags – should depress us. It means not only that journalists have abandoned any pretence that they do real journalism, but that they have also renounced the aspiration that it be done by anyone at all.

A sacrificial offering

Briefly, Assange raised the stakes for all journalists by renouncing their god – “access” – and their modus operandi of revealing occasional glimpses of very partial truths offered up by “friendly”, and invariably anonymous, sources who use the media to settle scores with rivals in the centres of power.

Instead, through whistleblowers, Assange rooted out the unguarded, unvarnished, full-spectrum truth whose exposure helped no one in power – only us, the public, as we tried to understand what was being done, and had been done, in our names. For the first time, we could see just how ugly, and often criminal, the behaviour of our leaders was.

Assange did not just expose the political class, he exposed the media class too – for their feebleness, for their hypocrisy, for their dependence on the centres of power, for their inability to criticise a corporate system in which they were embedded.

Read whole article on Jonathan’s Blog

UN Reporting on Torture of Assange Banned from Corporate Media

On the 26th June 2020, marking International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Ray McGovern writes Nils Melzer, UN Rapporteur on Torture, belatedly learned that Julian Assange was being tortured.  Meltzer came to realize that he had been misled by the “news” about Assange in the Establishment media, so he did his own investigation. With … Continue reading “UN Reporting on Torture of Assange Banned from Corporate Media”

On the 26th June 2020, marking International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Ray McGovern writes

Nils Melzer, UN Rapporteur on Torture, belatedly learned that Julian Assange was being tortured.  Meltzer came to realize that he had been misled by the “news” about Assange in the Establishment media, so he did his own investigation.

With his findings and impressions in hand, Melzer thought that June 26, the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, would be a fitting occasion to publish an op-ed on the results of his investigation.  It turned out that his draft was as welcome as the proverbial skunk at a picnic.  Here is a note that Melzer appended to his op-ed once it was finally posted — in Medium:

“This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek. None responded positively.”

The title given his op-ed in Medium on June 26, 2019 was Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange: On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Torture Victims.  (See: .). Here’s a sample:

Beginning of text of Melzer op-ed, (with thanks to Medium):

I know, you may think I am deluded. How could life in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard ever amount to torture? That’s exactly what I thought, too, when Assange first appealed to my office for protection. Like most of the public, I had been subconsciously poisoned by the relentless smear campaign, which had been disseminated over the years. So it took a second knock on my door to get my reluctant attention. But once I looked into the facts of this case, what I found filled me with repulsion and disbelief.

Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence.

True, soon after the United States had encouraged allies to find reasons to prosecute Assange, Swedish prosecution informed the tabloid press that he was suspected of having raped two women. Strangely, however, the women themselves never claimed to have been raped, nor did they intend to report a criminal offence. Go figure.

Moreover, the forensic examination of a condom submitted as evidence, supposedly worn and torn during intercourse with Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever — neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure again. One woman even texted that she only wanted Assange to take an HIV test, but that the police were “keen on getting their hands on him”. Go figure, once more.

Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show-trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Alright, I thought, but surely Assange must be a hacker! But what I found is … (For the rest, click on ( .)

Baby Steps in Truth

Expect to find almost nothing in the U.S. or other Western media about how a publisher of authentic documents has been set up to spend the rest of his live in prison, but there were some glimmers of truth shining through German, Swiss, and Austrian media early this year.  In February, one of the main German TV channels (ZDF) did a highly unusual, and instructive, interview with Melzer, focusing on the sexual allegations in Sweden.

Melzer is fluent in Swedish — a big help as he personally poured through the relevant documents, some of which had been “fixed”.  On hearing of the ZDF programs, Ray published “German TV Exposes the Lies That Entrapped Julian Assange”: , February 6, 2020.

His article begins:

Truth has broken through for those confused about how a publisher ended up in a maximum security prison in London with a one-way extradition ticket to court in the U.S. and the rest of his life behind bars.
One of the main German TV channels (ZDF) ran two prime-time segments on Wednesday night exposing authorities in Sweden for having “made up” the story about Julian Assange being a rapist. 
Until last night most Germans, as well as other consumers of “major media” in Europe, had no idea of the trickery that enmeshed Assange in a spider-web almost certainly designed by the U.S. and woven by accomplices in vassal states like Sweden, Britain and, eventually, Ecuador. 
ZDF punctured that web by interviewing UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer. One ZDF “Heute Sendung” segment (in German) is especially telling from minute 13:00 to 15:30 . The second is ZDF “Heute Journal” (minute 25:49 to 30:19.)
Both ZDF programs show Melzer being interviewed, with minimal interruption or commentary, letting his findings speak for themselves about how allegations against Assange were “made up” and manipulated to hold him captive. 
The particularly scurrilous allegation that led many, including initially Melzer, to believe Assange was a rapist — a tried and tested smear technique of covert action — was especially effective.  The Swedes never formally charged him with rape — or with any crime, for that matter.  ZDF exhibited some of the documents Melzer uncovered that show the sexual allegations were just as “invented” as the evidence for WMD before the attack on Iraq. …
Melzer’s indefatigable efforts to expose what Assange has gone through, including “psychological torture”, met with some modest success ( See: ) in the days before the German ZDF aired their stories. Embedded in that Swiss article (in English) is by far the best interview (See: ) of Melzer on Julian Assange.

Read post and see more articles on Ray McGovern’s Web Site