Update 21 Oct. 20:
Marking 10 Years since the Iraq War Logs
Consortium News VIDEO
The Guardian’s Silence Let UK Trample on Assange’s Rights in Effective Darkness
On the eve of a demonstration outside the paper’s office in London, Jonathan Cook issues a statement about The Guardian’s abandonment of its former media partner.
WISE Up, a solidarity group for Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, is due to stage ademonstrationoutside The Guardian offices on Oct. 22 to protest the paper’s failure to support Assange as the U.S. seeks his extradition in an unprecedented assault on press freedom.
The date chosen for the protest marks the 10th anniversary of The Guardian’s publication of the Iraq war logs, leaked by Manning to Assange and which lie at the heart of the U.S. case to reclassify journalism exposing crimes against humanity as “espionage.”
Here is my full statement, part of which is due to be read out, in support of Assange and castigating The Guardian for its craven failure to speak up in solidarity with its former media partner:
Julian Assange has been hounded out of public life and public view by the U.K. and U.S. governments for the best part of a decade.
Now he languishes in a small, airless cell in Belmarsh high-security prison in London — a victim of arbitrary detention, according to a UN working group, and a victim of psychological torture, according to Nils Melzer, the UN’s expert on torture.
If Judge Vanessa Baraitser, presiding in the Central Criminal Court in London, agrees to extradition, as she gives every appearance of preparing to do, Assange will be the first journalist to face a terrifying new ordeal — a form of extraordinary rendition to the United States for “espionage” — for having the courage to publish documents that exposed U.S. war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Guardian worked with Assange and WikiLeaks on vitally important documents – now at the heart of the U.S. case against Assange – known as the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. The latter were published exactly a decade ago today. They were a journalistic coup of global significance, and the paper ought to be profoundly proud of its role in bringing them to public attention.
— Emmy Butlin (@greekemmy) October 20, 2020
During Assange’s extradition hearing, however, The Guardian treated the logs and its past association with Assange and WikiLeaks more like a dirty secret it hoped to keep out of sight. Those scoops furnished by Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning enriched the paper financially, and bolstered its standing internationally. They also helped to pave its path into the lucrative U.S. market.
Unlike Assange and Manning, The Guardian has suffered no consequences for publishing the logs. Unlike Assange and Manning, the paper has faced no retribution. While it profited, Assange continues to be made an example of — to deter other journalists from contemplating following in his footsteps.
The Guardian owes Assange.It owes him a huge debt for allowing it to share in the journalistic glory of WikiLeaks’ revelations.
It owes him a duty of care as its partner in publishing the logs.
It owes him its voice loudly denouncing the abuse of a fellow journalist for doing the essence of journalism — holding the powerful to account.
It owes him and its own staff, and the young journalists who will one day take their place, its muscle in vigorously defending the principle of a strong and free press.
It owes him, and the rest of us, a clear profession of its outrage as the U.S. conducts an unprecedented assault on free speech, the foundation of a democratic society.
And yet The Guardian has barely raised its voice above a whisper as the noose has tightened around Assange’s — and by extension, our — neck. It has barely bothered to cover the dramatic and deeply disturbing developments of last month’s extradition hearing, or the blatant abuses of legal process overseen by Baraitser.
The Guardian has failed to raise its editorial voice in condemnation either of the patently dishonest U.S. case for extradition or of the undisguised mistreatment of Assange by Britain’s legal and judicial authorities.
The paper’s many columnists ignored the proceedings too, except for those who contributed yet more snide and personal attacks of the kind that have typified The Guardian’s coverage of Assange for many years.
It is not too late for the paper to act in defence of Assange and journalism.
Assange’s rights are being trampled under foot close by The Guardian’s offices in London because the British establishment knows that these abuses are taking place effectively in darkness. It has nothing to fear as long as the media abdicates its responsibility to scrutinize what amounts to the biggest attack on journalism in living memory.
Were The Guardian to shine a light on Assange’s case — as it is morally obligated to do — the pressure would build on other media organizations, not least the BBC, to do their job properly too. The British establishment would finally face a countervailing pressure to the one being exerted so forcefully by the U.S.
The Guardian should have stood up for Assange long ago, when the threats he and investigative journalism faced became unmistakable. It missed that opportunity. But the threats to Assange — and the causes of transparency and accountability he champions — have not gone away. They have only intensified. Assange needs the Guardian’s support more urgently, more desperately than ever before.
Jonathan Cook is a former Guardian journalist (1994-2001) and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. He is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support.
This article is from his blog Jonathan Cook.net.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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Update 21/10/2020: #Twitterstorm Commemorating the #WikiLeaks #IraqWarLogs 10th publication Anniversary
Protest Call Out! Thursday 22/10/20 at 12 noon The Guardian’s Role in the Persecution and Prosecution of Julian #Assange
Please join us in calling out The Guardian for its role in the persecution and prosecution of Julian Assange publisher of WikiLeaks on 22/10/20, on the day of the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq War Logs. We shall hold a small peaceful socially distancing demonstration in accordance to our covid risk assessment. We’ll wave banners, posters, distribute flyers, read out satements of support and give speeches take videos and later on go flyering in the vicinity. Here is a copy of our Guardian leaflet Oct 2020 front (1) and Guardian leaflet Oct 2020 back (1) if you wish to download and distribute in your neighbourhood of place of work. It’s written by JADC’s Maxine Walker. read it below!
The Guardian’s Role in the Persecution and Prosecution of Julian Assange – A Disgrace to Journalism and a Mortal Danger to a Free Press
By Maxine Walker
Julian Assange is responsible for publishing the most massive and important leaks of US government documents showing the reality of its (and UK/NATO partners) wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These 2010 leaks created a tidal wave of disgust at the revelations of war crimes, corruption, torture, rendition and death squads. The US/UK were determined to annihilate Assange and ensure that such exposure would never happen again.
Consequently, today Julian Assange, a journalist and publisher, sits, silenced in Belmarsh Maximum Security prison, awaiting a ruling on his extradition to the USA on charges of espionage carrying a 175-year sentence. He is a victim of years of ‘arbitrary detention’ and psychological torture according to UN organisations and experts.
A journalist and publisher charged with espionage for publishing the truth? Surely you would expect other journalists – seeing the danger to honest journalism – to rally to his defense. Especially the Guardian which claims to stand for liberal values and benefited greatly by collaborating with Assange and WikiLeaks on publishing the Afghan and Iraq material.
Think Again. They did the Opposite.
The oh so liberal Guardian has in fact taken the lead media role for the past 8 years in smearing, lying about and ridiculing Julian Assange. More than any other media outlet, it has shaped and weaponised mainstream liberal opinion into an Anti-Assange lobby. By doing this the Guardian has given enormous support to a massively well-resourced US/UK campaign to ‘Get Assange’ and has helped to pave the way for his imprisonment in the USA.
Since 2012 they have printed a stream of half-truths, outright lies and smears accusing Assange of being variously: A Russian agent and Putin Ally – PROVABLY FALSE A Trump supporter – PROVABLY FALSE A narcissist/Egotist/ A bail absconder/an outlaw – PROVABLY FALSE
The Guardian has ignored repeated violations of his human and legal rights. They have shown not a flicker of curiosity about his prison conditions (effectively solitary confinement); his psychological torture; his court cases (he appears in court in a glass box as though a dangerous prisoner) or about US intelligence agencies extraordinary and illegal surveillance of Assange (24-hour video and audio recordings of his meetings with lawyers, doctors, journalists etc) in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Instead they have waged warfare against Julian Assange.
Guardian gutter journalism- No smear too low
The following is a just a small proportion of the Guardians gutter journalism: In 2015 the UN Working Group Arbitrary Detention (a body of eminent lawyers and experts) ruled that Julian Assange had been arbitrarily detained since 2012, a ruling made against enormous pressure from the US and UK governments. The Guardian’s Marina Hyde (who later called Assange “the biggest arsehole in Knightsbridge”) taking the Government line wrote:” I don’t want to go out on too much of a limb here, but my sense is that the finest legal minds are not drawn to UN panels as a career path. … Perhaps UN panellists are like UN goodwill ambassadors, and even Geri Halliwell could be one. …” She was happy to torch not only Assange’s rights but also the last hope of those illegally detained by repressive governments.
After the Ecuadorian and UK governments illegally breached Assange’s asylum and dragged him out Ecuadorian Embassy in 2019, the Guardian’s Hadley Freeman wrote mockingly: “I love stories about badly behaved houseguests and Julian Assange has raised the bar” followed by her recycling of the most insulting and unfounded insults about his behaviour.
In 2018 Luke Harding and other Guardian writers began a concerted campaign to link Assange with the Kremlin. Offering no evidence whatsoever, Harding and others simply increasingly referred to his ‘ties to the Kremlin.” Kathleen Hall Jamieson asserted that “it now clearer than ever” that “the Russian cyber-theft” of thousands of Democratic Party emails was “abetted by Assange’s WikiLeaks” Harding and others wrote the fictional: ‘Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK.’ Finally, Harding invented an entire episode in which he claimed that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had held three secret talks with Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. This was strenuously denied by all and, given that the Embassy was amongst the most surveilled building in London, evidence would have existed. Any functional journalist would have known these stories were intelligence plants designed, as we now see, as part of the softening up process for Julian Assange’s 2019 ejection from the Embassy and current Extradition proceedings against him.
Most recently the Guardian has barely covered his Extradition hearing at the Old Bailey nor the enormous threat to press freedom represented by his case. They covered Jonny Depp’s court case more.
The Guardian has lied so much it is now part of the US Prosecution case
The US Extradition case against Assange is wholly politically motivated but the US Prosecutors have to pretend crimes have been committed by Julian Assange. One of their accusations is that Assange risked lives and caused harm by failing to redact names. At the Old Bailey they repeatedly quoted from a book about WikiLeaks authored by Guardian journalists, David Leigh and Luke Harding which claims that Assange was recklessly indifferent to the safety of US informants named in leaked files. This not true. Serious journalists who had worked with Assange on the leaks testified at the Old Bailey that Assange was scrupulous about risk minimisation and redaction. The Leigh/Harding book also, unforgivably revealed a complex password entrusted to Leigh by Assange that provided access to an online cache of unredacted documents. Assange is now in the dock for this and still the Guardian continues to lie.
If a plane takes off from the UK with Assange shackled on board destined for life in a US supermax prison – the Guardian will bear a large part of the blame.
Free Julian Assange
Dump the Guardian