International Federation of Journalists Secretary General “Assange’s crime? Exposing the atrocities of others”

Google translation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Secretary General, Anthony Bellanger, given to the Council of Europe on January 27, 2020 in Strasbourg (France).

The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, was at the heart of an event this Monday, January 27 at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Andrej Hunko, German MEP, invited the IFJ Secretary General, Anthony Bellanger, John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, and Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, to attend.

Here is the IFJ Secretary General’s full speech:

“On behalf of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s leading organization for the profession with 600,000 members in 146 countries, I would like to sincerely thank MEP Andrej Hunko for organising this extradition event (most unfortunately) for Julian Assange.

Founder and former editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange is a member of MEAA, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the IFJ affiliate in Australia. And as a member of the MEAA, he is by extension a member of the IFJ and even the holder of our International Press Card (ICC).

But Julian Assange is still the man under attack. The remarkable investigation published Sunday evening (January 26) by my colleagues from Mediapart is so enlightening: Julian Assange has become the number one public enemy of the United States, of President Donald Trump in particular. Thanks to the complicity of the CEO of the company UC Global, in charge of security at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Mediapart explains that Trump and his services have spied on the slightest gestures of Julian Assange within the embassy , as well as those of those close to him, his family and his supporters. A surveillance device worthy of a spy film with in particular the very expensive placement of laser microphones, a device allowing to listen to a conversation through a window, thanks to the laser measuring the vibrations of the glass! We are almost in the last James Bond!

But the CEO of UC Global did not stop there. He photographed then sent all the information concerning the visitors of Julian Assange: he extracted the personal data of the mobile phones left at the entrance, copied the emails, the SMS exchanges, but also the identification numbers of the phones, allowing remote monitoring and hacking.

The whole was of course sent to the American services, which paid the director of the company handsomely.

Among these spied visitors, we find the journalist Sarah Harrison, close collaborator of Julian Assange, Jennifer Robinson, his English lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, his Spanish lawyer, or Renata Avila, Guatemalan activist and member of his defence team.

On the side of the IFJ and its affiliates, the mobilization has never weakened since our last intervention in November in Brussels, at the European Parliament, with John Shipton, Julian’s father, and Nils Melzer, the special rapporteur of the United Nations on torture.

After having received the editor of Wikileaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, during our world congress in Tunis, we are in discussion with the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CoE), Dunja Mijatovic, in order to verify with her if the arrest of Julian Assange and his detention comply with the criteria of the European Convention on Human Rights.

With the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), we have published an alert on the Platform to strengthen the protection of journalism and the safety of CoE journalists. Here again we denounce the arbitrary and scandalous conditions of detention of Julian Assange, obviously relying on the report of Nils Melzer, who visited him in May 2019 in his cell.

Obviously, the United Kingdom did not respond to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who challenged the British government immediately after the publication of this alert.

And on Wednesday, still in the company of John Shipton, I will participate on behalf of the IFJ in two major events in Brussels dedicated to Julian Assange and whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden among others.

We dare to hope that all this mobilization will bear fruit, in particular due to the deterioration of the state of health of Julian Assange: last week, the English prison administration agreed to remove him from the isolation district where he was imprisoned since April 2019 and transfer him to a wing where he can socialize with other prisoners. A Wikileaks member told me this morning that his fellow prison inmates also mobilized for him, because they did not understand the emergency regime that was imposed on him!

But it is more likely that this sudden decision by the prison administration is linked to the hearings which begin on February 24. Better to question a man in a decent state of health …

So it is not all over because we are very worried about the outcome of these hearings in February and May, which should lead to a possible extradition, given the political connections between the American President and the English Prime Minister.

Finally, the current editor of Wikileaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, told us a few days ago that the American justice system had added a new document to the file of Julian Assange. This piece specifies that non-American citizens cannot benefit from the first amendment to the American Constitution, which protects freedom of expression and freedom of the press!

All is said.

The IFJ reminds each time it has the opportunity, here again at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg: “Journalism is not a crime. Julian Assange must be released ”.

His only crime was to expose the embezzlement and atrocities of others! Atrocities committed in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan by the American army.

The IFJ pursues its international mission and is at the disposal of all of you, European parliamentarians, United Nations special rapporteurs, activists for human rights and freedom of expression, to continue this essential fight for democracy.

Thank you for your attention

Full speech in French International Federation of Journalists’ web site