ONE of the first tasks for Bob Carr as foreign affairs minister, if he is to show the robust stance within the US alliance he has urged from outside government, is to demand a basic respect in the treatment of Australian citizens. The case of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in the light of leaked material from the well-connected US corporate intelligence firm Stratfor, is of concern.
Stratfor’s internal messages, provided to WikiLeaks and just published, claim the US Department of Justice has already issued a secret indictment against Assange more than a year ago, after an earlier, secret, grand jury hearing. Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice-president for intelligence and a former deputy chief of counterterrorism in the State Department, is the source. Stratfor also assures us the sexual assault charges being investigated against Assange in Sweden, the cause of extradition proceedings in Britain, are contrived.
There is doubt that espionage or other charges against Assange can ultimately be made to stick in the US, given the constitutional guarantee of free speech and his likely journalistic status, but Stratfor seems confident he can just be moved ”from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years”, bankrupted and jailed for conspiracy.
Even more disturbing, the Australian government has been unable to obtain clarification from Washington about what charges are being pressed against a citizen who is not even in the US jurisdiction. It recalls the case of Mamdouh Habib, the Australian citizen ”rendered” from Pakistan to Egypt for alleged torture on suspicion of terrorism without Canberra being able to find out from the US what was happening to him. Dennis Richardson, the same official who was trying to find that out as head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is now secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. When Carr arrives in his new role, he should demand of him: are we being tough enough?
The Assange case could shake the Australia-US alliance in two significant ways. First, the WikiLeaks material will reinforce to many the lessons from the Iraq debacle: that US intelligence is not always reliable or even honest, and that routinely following America into dubious and unwinnable conflicts is too high an insurance premium. Second, Assange has all the makings of a countercultural martyr, especially among young people of the social media generation who tend to see secrecy and privacy as protecting privilege. In the contest for hearts and minds, Assange will beat the likes of Stratfor’s Burton hands down.
Monday 5 December: Solidarity Vigil for Julian Assange at the High Court in London | #FreeBradley #FreeManning
From 8.30am at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London
An anti-war solidarity vigil will be held outside the High Court/Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London on Monday Dec 5th against the extradition of Julian Assange. The vigil is organised by Veterans for Peace and London Catholic Worker .
For more information vigil updates, phone/text 079 392 90576
Previous solidarity vigil
Julian Assange, Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, became the latest enemy of the U.S. Government following WikiLeaks distribution of this “collateral murder” footage of a massacre of two Reuters journalists and other civilians in Baghdad (watch it here:)
and Wikileaks’ subsequent release of U.S. embassy cables exposing the nature of U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. The British government opposed his release from HMP Wandsworth last December. Julian has now spent 356 days under virtual house arrest without charge, is presently facing extradition without charge to Sweden and eventual rendition to the U.S.
Lawyers for Assange recently filed an application for the chance to persuade judges he should be allowed one last appeal in the Supreme Court.
The bid was lodged two weeks after High Court judges rejected the 40-year-old hacker’s challenge to an order that he be extradited to Sweden to face questioning. Assaange has been willing to face questioning by Swedish authorites in Britain.
His lawyers now must try to persuade High Court judges at hearing on 5 December to rule that his case raises a question of general public importance and should be considered by the Supreme Court.
High Court judges dismissed defence arguments in their ruling on 2 November in which they upheld his extradition.
If Assange’s request for a Supreme Court appeal is turned down, he could be extradited to Sweden within 10 days.
Swedish prosecutors have not charged Assange with any crime, but have demanded that he return to Scandinavia to face questions.
More background on the case at Sweden Versus Assange.
Bradley Manning Support Network » National Call-in Week November 15th-18th! - #FreeBrad #FreeManning #FreeBradley - #Wikileaks
Occupy military phone lines! Let the UN meet with Bradley!
Please join us, and our partners, on this important action every day this week. We’ll update this page Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with contact info for more people we need to influence.
On October 18 2011, UN chief investigator on torture issues, Juan Mendez, confirmed that the Department of Defense has blocked his requests for an unmonitored meeting with PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower. Mendez requested the meetings so that he could investigate what occurred during the 10 months that Bradley Manning was kept isolated in the military brig at Quantico, VA, under conditions condemned as illegal by 300 top U.S. legal scholars.
The White House has so far refused to respond to our requests for explanation as to why Mendez is not being allowed to complete an investigation. Our petition on the White House website, http://www.wh.gov/40y, calls for the Administration to stop blocking Mendez’s attempts to conduct an official visit as required by his office. The petition achieved the number of signatures necessary for a response on October 13th, yet still has not been addressed.
We want to put pressure on the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff to comply with the United Nations’ demand. Juan Mendez has requested unmonitored meetings with Bradley so as to insure that international protocol for prisoner treatment and justice are followed. (The UN’s original statement on this issue is here.)
Please make two phone calls for Bradley:
- Call Secretary of the Army Public Affairs Officer Lt. Anne Edgecomb: 703-697-3491
- Call Army Chief of Staff Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col Alayne Conway: 703-693-4961
When you call, please urge Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Chief of Staff Raymond T. Odierno to respect the UN Convention Against Torture and to allow UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez to conduct an official visit with Bradley Manning.
After calling, you can also e-mail them:
- If you live outside of the United States, you can call the US embassy or consulate in your country and ask them to note your request. You can find US embassies here.
Then please spread the word! Ask your friends and family to call as well by sharing this action on Facebook and Twitter and by emailing them the link to this page.
Thank you for supporting Bradley. Check this page Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for additional numbers and e-mails of people we need to reach in our defense of Bradley’s rights.
Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old US Army intelligence analyst, is accused of sharing a video of the killing of unarmed civilians—including two Reuters journalists—by a US helicopter in Baghdad. He is also charged with blowing the whistle on the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and embarrassing US diplomatic cables (including the Guantanamo Files). The video and documents have illuminated details of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, human rights abuses and atrocities, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy.
Prior to his transfer to Fort Leavenworth, PFC Manning had been held in solitary confinement in the military brig of Quantico, VA for ten months. While in prison in Quantico, Manning was not allowed to exercise, with the exception of being allowed to walk shackled for one hour each day. He was denied exposure to sunlight. He was not allowed to sleep between 5am and 8pm, and he had to respond verbally to guards every five minutes. Although the Quantico officials said these rules were necessary because of a “Prevention of Injury” order, the brig’s own psychiatrists confirmed that Bradley was not suicidal. In March of 2011, Quantico officials began forcing Bradley to strip naked each night before bed, and to sleep in a “suicide smock.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, opened an investigation into PFC Manning’s treatment conditions. Unfortunately, he was denied the ability to make an official visit to investigate the situation. Although PFC Manning has been transferred to a new prison, Mendez is still requesting to visit PFC Manning to complete his investigation as required by his position as chief UN officer on torture. His requests continue to be denied.