Archive | Human Rights

Nine Palestinians Detained by Nazi occupation Forces in the West Bank

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS), Sunday night and at down on Monday, Nazi forces detained nine Palestinian civilians from various parts of the West Bank.

From the northern West Bank city of Jenin, soldiers detained three Palestinians; Yazan Abd al-Raziq Muhammad Hanoon, 19, Saber Muhammad Shaqfah, 20, and Mahmoud Kamel al-Aya. From Nablus, Nazi troops detained Anan Abu Duhair.

Northeast of Ramallah, in the central occupied West Bank, Nazi forces detained Abdullah Zaghloul Abu Alia, 25, in Al-Mughayyir village, where a Palestinian child was recently killed.

Meanwhile, in al-‘Isawiya neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, namely; Omar Marwan Obaid and Amin Omar Hamed, also on Sunday, Nazi soldiers detained Ahmed Yunis Al-Ghoul, from Silwan town in Jerusalem.

Furthermore, from Dhahiriya town in Hebron, southern West Bank, Muhammad Bassam Al-Battat was detained by Nazi occupation forces.

The PPS added that the former prisoner, Muhammad Ahmad al-Najjar, from Hebron, was summoned by Nazi intelligence services for questioning.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS)

Israeli Forces Shoot, Injure One Palestinian, Detain others in West Bank |

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Nazi Soldiers Kill A Palestinian Teen In Jerusalem

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Nazi soldiers shot and killed, on Monday evening, a young Palestinian man near Bab Hutta Gate, in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, after he reportedly ‘opened fire’ at them.

The slain Palestinian was later identified as Mahmoud Omar Sadeq Kamil, 17, from Qabatia town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

One Nazi soldier was mildly injured when he fell while chasing the Palestinian, and was moved to Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.

Palestinian worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque said they heard the shots before dozens of Nazi soldiers stormed the courtyards of the holy site and were extensively deployed around it after closing all of its gates, preventing the residents from entering or leaving it.

Dozens of Nazi police and security officers also arrived at the scene and installed many iron barriers to close the area.

The Nazi Police also stopped and interrogated dozens of young Palestinian men in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa and near it, in addition to assaulting and violently searching some of them.

On Monday at night, the soldiers invaded Qabatia town, before storming the home of Omar Kamil, the father of the slain teen, searched the property, and summoned him for interrogation in Salem military base and security center, west of Jenin.

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Palestinian Injured After Nazi Jewish Colonist Rammed Him With Car In Hebron

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Palestinian medical sources said a man was injured, Monday, after an illegal Nazi Jewish colonist rammed him with his car, east of Sa’ir town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The sources said that man, Sobhi Mohammad Abdul-Fattah Shalalda, 32, suffered various cuts and bruises to different parts of his body, when the colonist rammed him with his car east of Sa’ir.

The Nazi assailant is from the illegal Afsar (also known as Metzad) Nazi Jewish colony, built on Palestinian lands owned by the villagers of al-Qanoub, east of Sa’ir.

Shalalda received treatment by Palestinian Red Crescent medics, who were called to the scene, before they moved him to the Hebron Governmental Hospital, suffering moderate wounds.

The incident took place on a bypass road, one of the numerous roads used by illegal Nazi Jewish colonists, and witness dozens of similar incidents over the years.

Also on Monday, Nazi Jewish colonists carried out dozens of attacks against the Palestinians and their cars in various main roads in the occupied West Bank, resulting in damage to scores of cars, and the injury of at least three Palestinians near Nablus, in northern West Bank.

The attacks took place near Nablus, Qalqilia, Hebron, and various other areas in the West Bank.

Dozens of colonists also closed the Deir Sharaf village junction, west of Nablus, Huwwara junction, south of Nablus, Kidumim junction near Qalqilia, and started throwing rocks at the Palestinians and their vehicles, causing damage to dozens of vehicles, and injured at least three Palestinians.

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Nazi Jewish Settlers Assault, Injure Palestinians in the West Bank

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Palestinian civilians were injured, on Saturday night and Sunday in different settler attacks in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.

On Sunday, illegal Nazi Jewish colonists, assaulted farmers in Susya village, a part of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, in the southern West Bank.

The settlers not only blocked the Palestinian farmers’ access to plow their own agricultural land, but also physically attacked the farmers, resulting in bruises, but no serious injuries were reported.

Also on Sunday, in Kifl Hares village, west of Salfit, in central West Bank, Nazi Jewish settlers invaded a plot of land owned by Amjad Sultan, and destroyed several olive saplings.

In the Ein El-Hilweh area of the northern Jordan Valley, on Sunday, Nazi Jewish colonists hurled stones at Palestinian herders, causing one injury.

On Saturday night, a Palestinian man, in Huwara village, south of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, was injured as a result of an assault by illegal colonists.

Local official, Ghassan Daghlas, told WAFA that a crowd of Nazi Jewish settlers attacked and injured the man, identified as Nasser Mohammad Samara, who was transferred to hospital for medical care. No further information was available at the time of this report.

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Press Release: Nazi forces carry out a land incursion and threaten to remove Palestinian farmers’ crops

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Al Mezan condemns the act and calls for international intervention – Al Mezan Center For Human Rights 18-12-2020 14:01On Wednesday morning, 16 December 2020, Israeli military bulldozers crossed the perimeter fence into the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis, reaching up to 200 meters into agricultural lands in Abasan al-Kabira, Khuza’a, and al-Fukhari. For hours, Israeli troops razed and leveled Palestinian lands and crops—some of which had been prepared for planting—and eventually left placards written in both Arabic and Hebrew demanding that the Palestinian farmers uproot their crops in the area “within a certain time frame” otherwise the military “is going to remove them.”

During a similar incident on Thursday, 17 December 2020, farmers in the Rafah district also reported that they had found similar placards on their farmlands located 100 meters from the perimeter fence.

Israel, the Occupying Power, continues to carry out land incursions and to maintain its closure policy over the Gaza Strip even against the backdrop of the COVID-19 global health crisis and related concerns for the financial situation and food insecurity in the Strip, directly violating its obligation to protect the human rights of civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip.

These regular incursions and movement restrictions in the Israeli-imposed buffer zone in Gaza are not only life-threatening, but they also severely harm the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinian farmers. For instance, Israel periodically conducts aerial spraying of herbicides over Palestinian farmlands to destroy vegetation adjacent to the perimeter fence and has often employed lethal force to ward off farmers. At a time when families across the whole Gaza Strip are at higher risk of food insecurity and poverty, the impact of Israel’s relentless attacks on farmlands in the buffer zone has increased.

Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s targeting of Palestinian farmers and warns of the grave repercussions it has on their lives, most notably, the role such attacks play in stifling the Strip’s economic development and exacerbating the dire living conditions of Gaza’s population, especially during the pandemic.

Accordingly, Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold its moral and legal obligations towards the Palestinian people by exerting pressure on Israel to cease all the attacks against Palestinian farmers and lift the blockade and closure unilaterally imposed on the Gaza Strip, in addition to ensuring accountability for all suspected violations of international law perpetrated in the occupied Palestinian territory.

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Hundreds of Zio-Nazi’s disrupt prayers in oldest Christian monastery In Palestine

Hundreds of Israelis disrupt prayers in oldest Christian monastery In Palestine

IFAMERICANSKNEW.ORG  

Hundreds of Israelis disrupt prayers in oldest Christian monastery In Palestine

The Greek Orthodox monastery of St Sabbas, also known as Mar Saba, overlooks the Kidron Valley in the West Bank, south of Bethlehem. (imemc.org)

Hundreds of Israeli assailants strive to intimidate monks who gathered to pray at Saint Saba Monastery in a deliberate attempt to stop the prayers.

Reposted from International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC):

Hundreds of illegal Israeli colonialist settlers gathered, Thursday, near Mar Saba (St. Saba) Christian Monastery, east of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem, and attempted to disrupt prayers.

Hundreds of colonists descended to the ancient holy site, the older Christian Monastery in occupied Palestine, during the celebration of the feast of St. Saba, eyewitnesses said.

They added that the Israeli assailants then attempted to intimidate the monks who gathered there to pray, in a deliberate attempt to stop the prayers.

Palestinian Christian groups denounced the serious violation, especially since such violations continue to be ignored by countries around the world, while the so-called Christian-Zionist groups that provide cover for Israel’s constant violations, crimes, and intimidation targeting the Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, and their holy sites, in occupied Palestine.

Photo By Bashar Qumseya
Photo By Bashar Qumseya

Background: Al-Monitor: At the foot of a mountain peak in the Kidron Valley desert, the Mar Saba Monastery sits 1,500 meters (roughly a mile) away from the town of al-Obeydiyya, east of Bethlehem.

The monastery dates back to the fifth century. Saint Saba, among other monks, founded it in 484 based on a unique engineering plan to become one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world.

The monastery is one of the most prominent Palestinian archaeological monuments. It is surrounded by magnificent natural sceneries showing the twists and turns of the valley.

An 18-meter (59 feet) high tower called the Justinian Tower was erected next to the monastery in the sixth century and was used for observation.


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The UK’s hidden hand in Julian Assange’s detention

Julian Assange
Nazareth-based Jonathan Cook writes:

It now emerges that the last four years of Julian Assange’s effective imprisonment in the Ecuadorean embassy in London have been entirely unnecessary. In fact, they depended on a legal charade.

Behind the scenes, Sweden wanted to drop the extradition case against Assange back in 2013. Why was this not made public? Because Britain persuaded Sweden to pretend that they still wished to pursue the case.

In other words, for more than four years Assange has been holed up in a tiny room, policed at great cost to British taxpayers, not because of any allegations in Sweden but because the British authorities wanted him to remain there. On what possible grounds could that be, one has to wonder? Might it have something to do with his work as the head of Wikileaks, publishing information from whistleblowers that has severely embarrassed the United States and the UK.

In fact, Assange should have walked free years ago if this was really about an investigation – a sham one at that – into an alleged sexual assault in Sweden. Instead, as Assange has long warned, there is a very different agenda at work: efforts to extradite him onwards to the US, where he could be locked away for good. That was why UN experts argued two years ago that he was being “arbitrarily detained” – for political crimes – not unlike the situation of dissidents in other parts of the world that win the support of Western liberals and leftists.

According to a new, limited release of emails between officials, the Swedish director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, wrote to Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service on 18 October 2013, warning that Swedish law would not allow the case for extradition to be continued. This was, remember, after Sweden had repeatedly failed to take up an offer from Assange to interview him in London, as had happened in 44 other extradition cases between Sweden and Britain.

Ny wrote to the CPS:

We have found us to be obliged to lift the detention order… and to withdraw the European arrest warrant. If so, this should be done in a couple of weeks. This would affect not only us but you too in a significant way.

Three days later, suggesting that legal concerns were far from anyone’s mind, she emailed the CPS again: “I am sorry this came as a [bad] surprise… I hope I didn’t ruin your weekend.”

In a similar vein, proving that this was about politics, not the law, the chief CPS lawyer handling the case in the UK, had earlier written to the Swedish prosecutors: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”

In December 2013, the unnamed CPS lawyer wrote again to Ny: “I do not consider costs are a relevant factor in this matter.” This was at a time when it had been revealed that the policing of Assange’s detention in the embassy had at that point cost Britain £3.8 million. In another email from the CPS, it was noted: “Please do not think this case is being dealt with as just another extradition.”

These are only fragments of the email correspondence, after most of it was destroyed by the CPS against its own protocols. The deletions appear to have been carried out to avoid releasing the electronic files to a tribunal that has been considering a freedom of information request.

Other surviving emails, according to a Guardian report last year, have shown that the CPS “advised the Swedes in 2010 or 2011 not to visit London to interview Assange. An interview at that time could have prevented the long-running embassy standoff.”

Assange is still holed up in the embassy, at great risk to his physical and mental health, even though last year Sweden formally dropped an investigation that in reality it had not actually been pursuing for more than four years.

Now the UK (read US) authorities have a new, even less credible pretext for continuing to hold Assange: because he “skipped bail”. Apparently, the price he should pay for this relatively minor infraction is more than five years of confinement…

Remember too that, according to the UK Foreign Office, Ecuador recently notified it that Assange had received diplomatic status following his successful application for Ecuadorean citizenship.

As former British ambassador Craig Murray has explained, the UK has no choice but to accept Assange’s diplomatic immunity. The most it can do is insist that he leave the country – something that Assange and Ecuador presumably each desire. And yet the UK continues to ignore its obligation to allow Assange his freedom to leave. So far there has been zero debate in the British corporate media about this fundamental violation of his rights.

One has to wonder at what point will most people realise that this is – and always was – political persecution masquerading as law enforcement.

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Julian Assange and the fate of journalism

WikiLeaks

By Lawrence Davidson

Julian Assange

Julian Assange is the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to the public’s right to know what governments and other powerful organisations are doing. WikiLeaks pursues this goal by posting revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behaviour that results in wars and other man-made disasters. Because WikiLeaks’ very existence encourages “leaks”, government officials fear the website, and particularly dislike Julian Assange.

Essentially, WikiLeaks functions as a wholesale supplier of evidence. Having identified alleged official misconduct, WikiLeaks seeks to acquire and make public overwhelming amounts of evidence – sometimes hundreds of thousands of documents at a time – which journalists and other interested parties can draw upon. And since the individuals and organisations being investigated are ones ultimately responsible to the public, such a role as wholesale supplier of evidence can be seen as a public service.

Unfortunately, that is not how most government officials see the situation. They assert that government cannot be successful unless aspects of its behaviour are conducted in secret. The fact that those aspects in question thereby lose any accountable connection to the public is discounted. The assumption here is that most citizens simply trust their governments to act in their interests, including when they act clandestinely. Historically, such trust is dangerously naive. Often government officials, even the democratic ones, feel no obligation to their citizens in general, but rather only to special interests.

One reason for this is that large and bureaucratic institutions that last for any length of time have the tendency to become standalone institutions – ones with their own self-referencing cultures, loyalty to which comes to override any responsibility to outside groups other than those with particular shared interests. In other words, long-lasting institutions/bureaucracies take on a life of their own.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that many governments look upon WikiLeaks as a threat to institutional wellbeing. And so, in an effort to cripple WikiLeaks and have their revenge on Assange, the United States and the United Kingdom, with the cooperation of Sweden, first sought to frame Assange (2010) on a sexual assault charge. This having failed, Assange was still left liable for jumping bail in the UK in order to avoid seizure and deportation to the US, where he would certainly be put on trial for revealing secrets. He escaped to the Ecuadorian embassy in London (2012), where he was given asylum. As of this writing, he is still there. However, a recent change in government in Quito has led to discussions between Ecuador and the UK that may well lead to Assange’s eviction from the embassy.

The ideals of journalism

Some of the anger over Assange’s fate has been directed at the journalistic profession which he has sought to serve. After all, Assange has ardently supported the notions of free speech, free press and the public’s right to know. Nonetheless, as the documentary filmmaker John Pilger, a supporter of Assange, has noted,

@@There has been no pressure [in support of Assange] from media in the United States, Britain, Australia or pretty much anywhere except in [media] programmes… outside the mainstream… “The persecution of this man has been something that should horrify all free-thinking people.@@

He is quite right. Unfortunately, there never have been many brave free-thinkers about, so no one should be surprised at Assange’s poor prospects.

This brings up the difference between the ideals of the journalistic profession and the reality within which it operates. There is a model of journalism that presents it as a pillar of democracy. The journalist is a tough and persistent person who digs up facts, asks hard questions and explains the truth to his or her readers/viewers. Few seem to have noticed that, to the extent that this picture is accurate, the ideal model has alienated those readers/viewers who cannot tell the difference between “the truth” and their own opinions. Recently, this alienation has opened the entire media industry to the charge that it is really the “enemy of the people” because it peddles “fake news” – that is, news that belies one’s opinions.

To bring the idealistic journalist in line with real public expectations, editors put pressure on media workers to compromise their professional ideals. The result is most often manipulated reports aimed at fitting the particular outlook of the particular media operation’s target audience. Thus, it is simply wrong to think that, on the average, those who investigate, do research, write about things, and report through the various media are any braver or, ultimately, any more principled than the rest of the population. As Julien Benda showed us in his 1928 book, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals, while it is in fact the job of those who research and report to remain independent of the ideologies and biases of both their community and their government, the truth is that most often these people end up serving power. This is particularly the case when there is an atmosphere of patriotic fervor, or just plain pressure from sources that can hurt one’s career. At that point you will find that bravery does exist but it is the exception and not the rule – and the brave will, more often than not, stand alone.

That is what is happening in the case of Julian Assange. Many American news outlets are willing to selectively use the documented evidence made available by WikiLeaks. To do so is to draw on what the website has placed in the public domain. But they will not stand up and publicly defend the “whistleblower” who makes the information public. I imagine publishers, editors, and media moguls, and the vast majority of those they employ, just don’t have the courage to support the individual who breaks some unprincipled law or regulation designed to enforce silence in relation to official crimes and hypocrisy.

A shared problem

The United States is certainly not the only country facing this dilemma. To one extent or another this is a shared problem in all those lands claiming to have a free press. For example, a similar problem has long existed in Israel. Here one finds a whole ethnicity whose journalists are open to persecution.

Take the case of Omar Nazzal, a member of the board of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. In a 10 August 2016 report appearing in the online blog +972 Magazine, and entitled “Israeli journalists silent as their Palestinian colleagues are jailed”, we are told that Nazzal was taken into custody by Israeli forces in April 2016, without charges. Like Assange, there has been an attempt, after the fact, to claim that Nazzal is a criminal. The Shin Bet, one of those Israeli security forces that only the naive or venal take at face value, claims that he is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which they consider to be a terrorist organisation. No proof of this charge has been publicly presented (Shin Bet claims the “proof” is secret) and Nazzal denies any affiliation. As it turns out, the real reason he was arrested somewhat parallels Assange’s activity. At the time of his seizure, Nazzal was on his way to Sarajevo for a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists. No doubt, the Israelis did not want him telling true, documentable, stories to an organisation of European journalists. Most Israeli Jewish journalists, like their American counterparts, remain silent. So do their respective publics.

Conclusion

One might ask just how seriously “the public” wants a media that tells them “the truth”. The most watched cable news channel in the US is Fox News, a media ally of Donald Trump that has no demonstrable interest in objective facts. It is more likely that Americans (and others) chose their news outlets on the basis of which one most often tells them what they want to hear – in other words, the search for “accurate” reporting is really driven by a desire for confirmation of bias.

Under these circumstances it is easy to understand why a for-profit media industry need not be beholden to the general citizenry or any ideal of supplying fact-based news. This situation puts truth tellers like Assange, and in the case of Israel, Omar Nazzal, in a bad position. They will have their defenders but they will be outside the mainstream – because truth itself is also outside the mainstream. That is their predicament, and ours as well.

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Guardian escalates its vilification of Julian Assange

Guardian and Assange
By Jonathan Cook

It is welcome that finally there has been a little pushback, including from leading journalists, to the Guardian’s long-running vilification of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Reporter Luke Harding’s latest article, claiming that Donald Trump’s disgraced former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly visited Assange in Ecuador’s embassy in London on three occasions, is so full of holes that even hardened opponents of Assange in the corporate media are struggling to stand by it.

Faced with the backlash, the Guardian quickly – and very quietly – rowed back its initial certainty that its story was based on verified facts. Instead, it amended the text, without acknowledging it had done so, to attribute the claims to unnamed, and uncheckable, “sources”.

The propaganda function of the piece is patent. It is intended to provide evidence for long-standing allegations that Assange conspired with Trump, and Trump’s supposed backers in the Kremlin, to damage Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.

… damaging contents of the emails. show that [Democratic] Party bureaucrats sought to rig the primaries to make sure Clinton’s challenger for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, lost.

The Guardian’s latest story provides a supposedly stronger foundation for an existing narrative: that Assange and WikiLeaks knowingly published emails hacked by Russia from the Democratic Party’s servers. In truth, there is no public evidence that the emails were hacked, or that Russia was involved. Central actors have suggested instead that the emails were leaked from within the Democratic Party.

Nonetheless, this unverified allegation has been aggressively exploited by the Democratic leadership because it shifts attention away both from its failure to mount an effective electoral challenge to Trump and from the damaging contents of the emails. These show that party bureaucrats sought to rig the primaries to make sure Clinton’s challenger for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, lost.

To underscore the intended effect of the Guardian’s new claims, Harding even throws in a casual and unsubstantiated reference to “Russians” joining Manafort in supposedly meeting Assange.

Manafort has denied the Guardian’s claims, while Assange has threatened to sue the Guardian for libel.

“Responsible for Trump”

The emotional impact of the Guardian story is to suggest that Assange is responsible for four years or more of Trump rule. But more significantly, it bolsters the otherwise risible claim that Assange is not a publisher – and thereby entitled to the protections of a free press, as enjoyed by the Guardian or the New York Times – but the head of an organisation engaged in espionage for a foreign power.

The intention is to deeply discredit Assange, and by extension the WikiLeaks organisation, in the eyes of right-thinking liberals. That, in turn, will make it much easier to silence Assange and the vital cause he represents: the use of new media to hold to account the old, corporate media and political elites through the imposition of far greater transparency.

The Guardian story will prepare public opinion for the moment when Ecuador’s right-wing government under President Lenin Moreno forces Assange out of the embassy, having already withdrawn most of his rights to use digital media.

It will soften opposition when the UK moves to arrest Assange on self-serving bail violation charges and extradites him to the US. And it will pave the way for the US legal system to lock Assange up for a very long time.

…  Assange and his supporters have been proved right once again. An administrative error this month revealed that the US justice department had secretly filed criminal charges against Assange.

For the best part of a decade, any claims by Assange’s supporters that avoiding this fate was the reason Assange originally sought asylum in the embassy was ridiculed by corporate journalists, not least at the Guardian.

Even when a United Nations panel of experts in international law ruled in 2016 that Assange was being arbitrarily – and unlawfully – detained by the UK, Guardian writers led efforts to discredit the UN report. See here and here.

Now Assange and his supporters have been proved right once again. An administrative error this month revealed that the US justice department had secretly filed criminal charges against Assange.

Heavy surveillance

The problem for the Guardian, which should have been obvious to its editors from the outset, is that any visits by Manafort would be easily verifiable without relying on unnamed “sources”.

Glenn Greenwald is far from alone in noting that London is possibly the most surveilled city in the world, with CCTV cameras everywhere. The environs of the Ecuadorian embassy are monitored especially heavily, with continuous filming by the UK and Ecuadorian authorities and most likely by the US and other actors with an interest in Assange’s fate.

The idea that Manafort or “Russians” could have wandered into the embassy to meet Assange even once without their trail, entry and meeting being intimately scrutinised and recorded is simply preposterous.

According to Greenwald:

If Paul Manafort… visited Assange at the embassy, there would be ample amounts of video and other photographic proof demonstrating that this happened. The Guardian provides none of that. 

Former British ambassador Craig Murray also points out the extensive security checks insisted on by the embassy to which any visitor to Assange must submit. Any visits by Manafort would have been logged.

In fact, the Guardian obtained the embassy’s logs in May, and has never made any mention of either Manafort or “Russians” being identified in them. It did not refer to the logs in its latest story.

Murray says:

The problem with this latest fabrication is that [Ecuador’s President] Moreno had already released the visitor logs to the Mueller inquiry. Neither Manafort nor these “Russians” are in the visitor logs… What possible motive would the Ecuadorean government have for facilitating secret unrecorded visits by Paul Manafort? Furthermore, it is impossible that the intelligence agency – who were in charge of the security – would not know the identity of these alleged “Russians”.

No fact-checking

It is worth noting it should be vitally important for a serious publication like the Guardian to ensure its claims are unassailably true – both because Assange’s personal fate rests on their veracity, and because, even more importantly, a fundamental right, the freedom of the press, is at stake.

Given this, one would have expected the Guardian’s editors to have insisted on the most stringent checks imaginable before going to press with Harding’s story. At a very minimum, they should have sought out a response from Assange and Manafort before publication. Neither precaution was taken.

I worked for the Guardian for a number of years, and know well the layers of checks that any highly sensitive story has to go through before publication. In that lengthy process, a variety of commissioning editors, lawyers, backbench editors and the editor herself, Kath Viner, would normally insist on cuts to anything that could not be rigorously defended and corroborated.

It appears the Guardian has simply taken this story, provided by spooks, at face value. Even if it later turns out that Manafort did visit Assange, the Guardian clearly had no compelling evidence for its claims when it published them.

And yet this piece seems to have been casually waved through, given a green light even though its profound shortcomings were evident to a range of well-placed analysts and journalists from the outset.

That at the very least hints that the Guardian thought they had “insurance” on this story. And the only people who could have promised that kind of insurance are the security and intelligence services – presumably of Britain, the United States and / or Ecuador.

It appears the Guardian has simply taken this story, provided by spooks, at face value. Even if it later turns out that Manafort did visit Assange, the Guardian clearly had no compelling evidence for its claims when it published them. That is profoundly irresponsible journalism – fake news – that should be of the gravest concern to readers.

A pattern, not an aberration

Despite all this, even analysts critical of the Guardian’s behaviour have shown a glaring failure to understand that its latest coverage represents not an aberration by the paper but decisively fits with a pattern.

Glenn Greenwald, who once had an influential column in the Guardian until an apparent, though unacknowledged, falling out with his employer over the Edward Snowden revelations, wrote a series of baffling observations about the Guardian’s latest story.

First, he suggested it was simply evidence of the Guardian’s long-standing (and well-documented) hostility towards Assange.

The Guardian, an otherwise solid and reliable paper, has such a pervasive and unprofessionally personal hatred for Julian Assange that it has frequently dispensed with all journalistic standards in order to malign him.

It was also apparently evidence of the paper’s clickbait tendencies:

They [Guardian editors] knew that publishing this story would cause partisan warriors to excitedly spread the story, and that cable news outlets would hyperventilate over it, and that they’d reap the rewards regardless of whether the story turned out to be true or false.

And finally, in a bizarre tweet, Greenwald opined, “I hope the story [maligning Assange] turns out true” – apparently because maintenance of the Guardian’s reputation is more important than Assange’s fate and the right of journalists to dig up embarrassing secrets without fear of being imprisoned.

Deeper malaise

What this misses is that the Guardian’s attacks on Assange are not exceptional or motivated solely by personal animosity. They are entirely predictable and systematic. Rather than being the reason for the Guardian violating basic journalistic standards and ethics, the paper’s hatred of Assange is a symptom of a deeper malaise in the Guardian and the wider corporate media.

Even aside from its decade-long campaign against Assange, the Guardian is far from “solid and reliable”, as Greenwald claims. It has been at the forefront of the relentless, and unhinged, attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for prioritising the rights of Palestinians over Israel’s right to continue its belligerent occupation. Over the past three years, the Guardian has injected credibility into the Israel lobby’s desperate efforts to tar Corbyn as an anti-semite. See herehere and here.

Similarly, the Guardian worked tirelessly to promote Clinton and undermine Sanders in the 2016 Democratic nomination process – another reason the paper has been so assiduous in promoting the idea that Assange, aided by Russia, was determined to promote Trump over Clinton for the presidency.

The Guardian’s coverage of Latin America, especially of populist left-wing governments that have rebelled against traditional and oppressive US hegemony in the region, has long grated with analysts and experts. Its especial venom has been reserved for left-wing figures like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, democratically elected but official enemies of the US, rather than the region’s right-wing authoritarians beloved of Washington.

The Guardian has been vocal in the so-called “fake news” hysteria, decrying the influence of social media, the only place where left-wing dissidents have managed to find a small foothold to promote their politics and counter the corporate media narrative.

The Guardian has painted social media chiefly as a platform overrun by Russian trolls, arguing that this should justify ever-tighter restrictions that have so far curbed critical voices of the dissident left more than the right.

Heroes of the neoliberal order

Equally, the Guardian has made clear who its true heroes are. Certainly not Corbyn or Assange, who threaten to disrupt the entrenched neoliberal order that is hurtling us towards climate breakdown and economic collapse.

Its pages, however, are readily available to the latest effort to prop up the status quo from Tony Blair, the man who led Britain, on false pretences, into the largest crime against humanity in living memory – the attack on Iraq.

That “humanitarian intervention” cost the lives of many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and created a vacuum that destabilised much of the Middle East, sucked in Islamic jihadists like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State group, and contributed to the migrant crisis in Europe that has fuelled the resurgence of the far-right. None of that is discussed in the Guardian or considered grounds for disqualifying Blair as an arbiter of what is good for Britain and the world’s future.

The Guardian also has an especial soft spot for blogger Elliot Higgins, who, aided by the Guardian, has shot to unlikely prominence as a self-styled “weapons expert”. Like Luke Harding, Higgins invariably seems ready to echo whatever the British and American security services need verifying “independently”.

Higgins and his well-staffed website Bellingcat have taken on for themselves the role of arbiters of truth on many foreign affairs issues, taking a prominent role in advocating for narratives that promote US and NATO hegemony while demonising Russia, especially in highly contested arenas such as Syria.

That clear partisanship should be no surprise, given that Higgins now enjoys an “academic” position at, and funding from, the Atlantic Council, a high-level, Washington-based think-tank founded to drum up support for NATO and justify its imperialist agenda.

Improbably, the Guardian has adopted Higgins as the poster-boy for a supposed citizen journalism it has sought to undermine as “fake news” whenever it occurs on social media without the endorsement of state-backed organisations.

The truth is that the Guardian has not erred in this latest story attacking Assange, or in its much longer-running campaign to vilify him. With this story, it has done what it regularly does when supposedly vital Western foreign policy interests are at stake – it simply regurgitates an elite-serving, Western narrative.

Its job is to shore up a consensus on the left for attacks on leading threats to the existing, neoliberal order: whether they are a platform like WikiLeaks promoting whistle-blowing against a corrupt Western elite; or a politician like Jeremy Corbyn seeking to break apart the status quo on the rapacious financial industries or Israel-Palestine; or a radical leader like Hugo Chavez who threatened to overturn a damaging and exploitative US dominance of “America’s backyard”; or social media dissidents who have started to chip away at the elite-friendly narratives of corporate media, including the Guardian.

The Guardian did not make a mistake in vilifying Assange without a shred of evidence. It did what it is designed to do.

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Endless procedural abuses show Julian Assange case was never about law

Julian Assange after leaving Ecuadorian embassy
Jonathan Cook writes:

It is astonishing how often one still hears well-informed, otherwise reasonable people say about Julian Assange: “But he ran away from Swedish rape charges by hiding in Ecuador’s embassy in London.”

That short sentence includes at least three factual errors. In fact, to repeat it, as so many people do, you would need to have been hiding under a rock for the past decade – or, amounting to much the same thing, been relying on the corporate media for your information about Assange, including from supposedly liberal outlets such as the Guardian and the BBC.

At the weekend, aGuardian editorial – the paper’s official voice and probably the segment most scrutinised by senior staff – made just such a false claim:

Then there is the rape charge that Mr Assange faced in Sweden and which led him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the first place.

The fact that the Guardian, supposedly the British media’s chief defender of liberal values, can make this error-strewn statement after nearly a decade of Assange-related coverage is simply astounding. And that it can make such a statement days after the US finally admitted that it wants to lock up Assange for 175 years on bogus “espionage” charges – a hand anyone who wasn’t being wilfully blind always knew the US was preparing to play – is still more shocking.

Assange faces no charges in Sweden yet, let alone “rape charges”. As former UK ambassador Craig Murray recently explained, the Guardian has been misleading readers by falsely claiming that an attempt by a Swedish prosecutor to extradite Assange – even though the move has not received the Swedish judiciary’s approval – is the same as his arrest on rape charges. It isn’t.

Also, Assange did not seek sanctuary in the embassay to evade the Swedish investigation. No state in the world gives a non-citizen political asylum to avoid a rape trial. The asylum was granted on political grounds. Ecuador rightly accepted Assange’s concerns that the US would seek his extradition and lock him out of sight for the rest of his life.

Assange, of course, has been proven – yet again – decisively right by recent developments.

Trapped in herd-think

The fact that so many ordinary people keep making these basic errors has a very obvious explanation. It is because the corporate media keep making these errors.

These are is not the kind of mistakes that can be explained away as an example of what one journalist has termed the problem of “churnalism”: the fact that journalists, chasing breaking news in offices depleted of staff by budget cuts, are too overworked to cover stories properly.

British journalists have had many years to get the facts straight. In an era of social media, journalists at the Guardian and the BBC have been bombarded by readers and activists with messages telling them how they are getting basic facts wrong in the Assange case. But the journalists keep doing it anyway. They are trapped in a herd-think entirely divorced from reality.

Rather than listen to experts, or common sense, these “journalists” keep regurgitating the talking points of the British security state, which are as good as identical to the talking points of the US security state.

What is so striking in the Assange coverage is the sheer number of legal anomalies in his case – and these have been accumulating relentlessly from the very start. Almost nothing in his case has gone according to the normal rules of legal procedure. And yet that very revealing fact is never noticed or commented on by the corporate media. You need to have a blind spot the size of Langley, Virginia, not to notice it.

If Assange wasn’t the head of Wikileaks, if he hadn’t embarrassed the most important western states and their leaders by divulging their secrets and crimes, if he hadn’t created a platform that allows whistleblowers to reveal the outrages committed by the western power establishment, if he hadn’t undermined that establishment’s control over information dissemination, none of the last 10 years would have followed the course it did.

If Assange had not provided us with an information revolution that undermines the narrative matrix created to serve the US security state, two Swedish women – unhappy with Assange’s sexual etiquette – would have gotten exactly what they said in their witness statements they wanted: pressure from the Swedish authorites to make him take an HIV test to give them peace of mind.

He would have been allowed back to the UK (as he in fact was allowed to do by the Swedish prosecutor) and would have gotten on with developing and refining the Wikileaks project. That would have helped all of us to become more critically aware of how we are being manipulated – not only by our security services but also by the corporate media that so often act as their mouthpiece.

Which is precisely why that did not happen and why Assange has been under some form of detention since 2010. Since then, his ability to perform his role as exposer of serial high-level state crimes has been ever more impeded – to the point now that he may never be able to oversee and direct Wikileaks ever again.

His current situation – locked up in Belmarsh high-security prison, in solitary confinement and deprived of access to a computer and all meaningful contact with the outside world – is so far based solely on the fact that he committed a minor infraction, breaching his police bail. Such a violation, committed by anyone else, almost never incurs prosecution, let alone a lengthy jail sentence.

So here is a far from complete list – aided by the research of John Pilger, Craig Murray and Caitlin Johnstone – of some of the most glaring anomalies in Assange’s legal troubles. There are 17 of them below. Each might conceivably have been possible in isolation. But taken together they are overwhelming evidence that this was never about enforcing the law. From the start, Assange faced political persecution.

No judicial authority

  • In late summer 2010, neither of the two Swedish women alleged Assange had raped them when they made police statements. They went together to the police station after finding out that Assange had slept with them both only a matter of days apart and wanted him to be forced to take an HIV test. One of the women, SW, refused to sign the police statement when she understood the police were seeking an indictment for rape. The investigation relating to the second woman, AA, was for a sexual assault specific to Sweden. A condom produced by AA that she says Assange tore during sex was found to have neither her nor Assange’s DNA on it, undermining her credibility.
  • Sweden’s strict laws protecting suspects during preliminary investigations were violated by the Swedish media to smear Assange as a rapist. In response, the Stockholm chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, took charge and quickly cancelled the investigation: “I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” She later concluded: “There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever.”
  • The case was revived by another prosecutor, Marianne Ny, during which time Assange was questioned and spent more than a month in Sweden waiting for developments in the case. He was then told by prosecutors that he was free to leave for the UK, suggesting that any offence they believed he had committed was not considered serious enough to detain him in Sweden. Nonetheless, shortly afterwards, Interpol issued a Red Notice for Assange, usually reserved for terrorists and dangerous criminals.
  • The UK supreme court approved an extradition to Sweden based on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) in 2010, despite the fact that it was not signed by a “judicial authority”, only by the Swedish prosecutor. The terms of the EAW agreement were amended by the UK government shortly after the Assange ruling to make sure such an abuse of legal procedure never occurred again.
  • The UK supreme court also approved Assange’s extradition even though Swedish authorities refused to offer an assurance that he would not be extradited onwards to the US, where a grand jury was already formulating draconian charges in secret against him under the Espionage Act. The US similarly refused to give an assurance they would not seek his extradition.
  • In these circumstances, Assange fled to Ecuador’s embassy in London in summer 2012, seeking political asylum. That was after the Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, blocked Assange’s chance to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Australia not only refused Assange, a citizen, any help during his long ordeal, but prime minister Julia Gillard even threatened to strip Assange of his citizenship, until it was pointed out that it would be illegal for Australia to do so.
  • Britain, meanwhile, not only surrounded the embassy with a large police force at great public expense, but William Hague, the foreign secretary, threatened to tear up the Vienna Convention, violating Ecuador’s diplomatic territory by sending UK police into the embassy to arrest Assange.

Six years of heel-dragging

  • Although Assange was still formally under investigation, Ny refused to come to London to interview him, despite similar interviews having been conducted by Swedish prosecutors 44 times in the UK in the period Assange was denied that right.
  • In 2016, international legal experts in the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which adjudicates on whether governments have complied with human rights obligations, ruled that Assange was being detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden. Although both countries participated in the UN investigation, and had given the tribunal vocal support when other countries were found guilty of human rights violations, they steadfastly ignored its ruling in favour of Assange. UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, flat-out lied in claiming the UN panel was “made up of lay people and not lawyers”. The tribunal comprises leading experts in international law, as is clear from their CVs. Nonetheless, the lie became Britain’s official response to the UN ruling. The British media performed no better. A Guardian editorial dismissed the verdict as nothing more than a “publicity stunt”.
  • She finally relented on interviewing Assange in November 2016, coming to London after six years of heel-dragging. However, she barred Assange’s lawyer from being present. That was a gross irregularity that Ny was due to be questioned about in May 2017 by a Stockholm judge. Apparently rather than face those questions, Ny decided to close the investigation against Assange the very same day.
  • In fact, correspondence that was later revealed under a Freedom of Information request shows that the British prosecution service, the CPS, pressured the Swedish prosecutor not to come to the London to interview Assange through 2010 and 2011, thereby creating the embassy standoff.
  • Also, the CPS destroyed most of the incriminating correspondence to circumvent the FoI requests. The emails that surfaced did so only because some copies were accidentally overlooked in the destruction spree. Those emails were bad enough. They show that in 2013 Sweden had wanted to drop the case against Assange but had come under strong British pressure to continue the pretence of seeking his extradition. There are emails from the CPS stating, “Don’t you dare” drop the case, and most revealing of all: “Please do not think this case is being dealt with as just another extradition.”
  • It also emerged that Marianne Ny had deleted an email she received from the FBI.
  • Despite his interview with Ny taking place in late 2016, Assange was not subseqently charged in absentia – an option Sweden could have pursued if it had thought the evidence was strong enough.
  • After Sweden dropped the investigation against Assange, his lawyers sought last year to get the British arrest warrant for his bail breach dropped. They had good grounds, both because the allegations over which he’d been bailed had been dropped by Sweden and because he had justifiable cause to seek asylum given the apparent US interest in extraditing him and locking him up for life for political crimes. His lawyers could also argue convincingly that the time he had spent in confinement, first under house arrest and then in the embassy, was more than equivalent to time, if any, that needed to be served for the bail infringement. However, the judge, Emma Arbuthnot, rejected the Assange team’s strong legal arguments. She was hardly a dispassionate observer. In fact, in a properly ordered world she should have recused herself, given that she is the wife of a government whip, who was also a business partner of a former head of MI6, Britain’s version of the CIA.
  • Assange’s legal rights were again flagrantly violated last week, with the collusion of Ecuador and the UK, when US prosecutors were allowed to seize Assange’s personal items from the embassy while his lawyers and UN officials were denied the right to be present.

Information dark ages

Even now, as the US prepares its case to lock Assange away for the rest of his life, most are still refusing to join the dots. Chelsea Manning has been repeatedly jailed, and is now facing ruinous fines for every day she refuses to testify against Assange as the US desperately seeks to prop up its bogus espionage claims. In Medieval times, the authorities were more honest: they simply put people on the rack.

Back in 2017, when the rest of the media were still pretending this was all about Assange fleeing Swedish “justice”, John Pilger noted:

In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally. The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.” …

According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington’s bid to get Assange is “unprecedented in scale and nature”. …

The US Justice Department has contrived charges of “espionage”, “conspiracy to commit espionage”, “conversion” (theft of government property), “computer fraud and abuse” (computer hacking) and general “conspiracy”. The favoured Espionage Act, which was meant to deter pacifists and conscientious objectors during World War One, has provisions for life imprisonment and the death penalty. …

In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the “national security” investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was “active and ongoing” and would harm the “pending prosecution” of Assange. The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show “appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security”. This is a kangaroo court.

All of this information was available to any journalist or newspaper  that cared to search it out and wished to publicise it. And yet not one corporate media outlet has done so over the past nine years. Instead they have shored up a series of preposterous US and UK state narratives designed to keep Assange behind bars and propel the rest of us back into the information dark ages.

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