Latest news

Minister claims “consular assistance” given to Assange. PEN Melbourne members appalled by response; John Pilger on Assange and other Updates:

September 03, 2021 IN WIP
Share this
PEN Melbourne committee members were appalled at the response they received (below) from the office of Foreign Minister Marise Payne to the letter they sent urging the Australian Government to protect Julian Assange from the continued torture he endures in a British prison and to help stop his extradition to the USA.
We publish a response by Arnold Zable to call out the callousness of the Australian Government towards Assange.
We also recommend Payne, Morrison and their Government watch this short compilation youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18LfJ5yGMoc
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
This is why I regard Kafka as the greatest writer of the twentieth century. His stories and novels, especially ‘The trial’, exposed this bureaucratic brutality — how innocent people could be tortured and left in legal limbo, and driven to madness, while the perpetrators camouflaged the crime, and their own consciences, by hiding behind the cold, lifeless language of procedure. Behind this short letter, lies so much real life agony, and it can be applied to all too many contemporary scenarios. Assange is ‘the other.’ He has been ‘othered’ And if he is driven mad, and driven to suicide, or committed to a virtual lifetime in prison, those who have driven him mad, and destroyed his life, will shrug their shoulders and wash their hands of it, and issue statements such as this. I bet the word they will use, if the worst happens, will be ‘regret’. Another one of those weasel words. The horror. The horror.
Arnold 
*
Here is the response from Minister Payne’s DFAT:
Here is the letter sent to Minister Payne, the Prime Minister and other members of the government:
August 25, 2021
Attention: We urge the Australian Government to protect Julian Assange and stop his extradition to the USA
Prime Minister of Australia
Honorable Scott Morrison
Dear Prime Minister,The Melbourne Centre of PEN International is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of Julian Assange.We are deeply disturbed by your Government’s apparent inaction to protect an Australian citizen who has shown immense courage as a journalist and a publisher.We urge you to utilise all your Government’s diplomatic strength and will with Australia’s strongest allies, the US and the UK, to free Assange from UK’s Belmarsh High Security Prison and to prevent his extradition to the US, before the US appeal to the UK High Court in late October, 2021.PEN Melbourne is a human rights organisation committed to advocating for freedom of expression, and supporting writers who are imprisoned in political contexts of tyranny. As presented in the open letter[1] by Lawyers for Assange to the UK Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson: “There is broad international consensus that political offences should not be the basis of extradition.[2] This is reflected in Art. 3 of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, Art. 3 ECHR, Art. 3(a) of the UN Model Treaty on Extradition, the Interpol Constitution and every bilateral treaty ratified by the US for over a century”.

We are sure that you and your government have been following the changing judicial circumstances of Julian Assange. We reiterate here what has taken place in 2021 and urge your action.

On 4 January, 2021 the District Judge of the Westminster Magistrate’s Court ruled against the US request to extradite Assange on medical grounds relating to his poor mental health.  As you are aware the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and medical experts had previously visited Assange in 2019, and his report said the following, ‘’Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture…”.[3] The Westminster Magistrate Judge’s decision earlier this year relied on evidence from Michael Kopelman, a professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, who told the court he believed Assange would take his own life if extradited.

The US appealed the January decision to the UK High Court on 11 August, 2021.

US Counsel has been granted permission to appeal on five grounds, including a reassessment of the expert evidence used to evaluate Julian Assange’s risk of suicide.

The full appeal will be heard at the High Court on 27 and 28 October.

We urge you to protect this Australian writer in prison. Up to now you have compromised your duty of care to Mr. Assange whose case sets a dangerous precedent for journalists everywhere.  In this time available we urge you to use your full diplomatic force and relations with Australia’s allies and immediately make a strong representation to the UK government to release Julian Assange from prison. We ask you to work with the US leadership and urge them to drop the appeal to extradite Julian Assange.

 

These actions are the basic measures required to provide protection of Julian Assange’s most fundamental human rights and dignity.

Thank you

 

Jackie Mansourian and Josephine Scicluna

Co-Convenors of Writers in Prison, PEN Melbourne

 

[1] https://www.lawyersforassange.org/en/open-letter.html#_edn9

[2] R. Stuart Phillips, ‘The Political Offence Exception and Terrorism: Its Place in the Current Extradition Scheme and Proposal for Its Future’, 15 Dickinson Journal of International Law, (1997) p. 342.

[3] United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘UN expert says “collective persecution” of Julian Assange must end now, (31 May 2019)’, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24665.

—————————————————————————–

JOHN PILGER: A Day in the Death of British Justice

The reputation of British justice now rests on the shoulders of the High Court in the life or death case of Julian Assange.

Extracts of an article by  John Pilger in London
Special to Consortium News, 12 August, 2021

For those who may have forgotten, WikiLeaks, of which Assange is founder and publisher, exposed the secrets and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the murderous role of the Pentagon in dozens of countries, the blueprint for the 20-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, the attempts by Washington to overthrow elected governments, such as Venezuela’s, the collusion between nominal political opponents (Bush and Obama) to stifle a torture investigation and the CIA’s Vault 7 campaign that turned your mobile phone, even your TV set, into a spy in your midst.

WikiLeaks released almost a million documents from Russia which allowed Russian citizens to stand up for their rights. It revealed the Australian government had colluded with the U.S. against its own citizen, Assange. It named those Australian politicians who have “informed” for the U.S. It made the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the rise of jihadism in American-armed states in the Gulf.

About Those Who Take Us to War

There is more: WikiLeaks disclosed the U.S. campaign to suppress wages in sweatshop countries like Haiti, India’s campaign of torture in Kashmir, the British government’s secret agreement to shield “U.S. interests” in its official Iraq inquiry and the British Foreign Office’s plan to create a fake “marine protection zone” in the Indian Ocean to cheat the Chagos islanders out of their right of return.

In other words, WikiLeaks has given us real news about those who govern us and take us to war, not the preordained, repetitive spin that fills newspapers and television screens. This is real journalism; and for the crime of real journalism, Assange has spent most of the past decade in one form of incarceration or another, including Belmarsh prison, a horrific place.

———-

If you can unravel the arcane logic of this, you have a better grasp than I who have sat through this case from the beginning. It is clear Kopelman misled nobody. Judge Baraitser – whose hostility to Assange personally was a presence in her court – said that she was not misled; it was not an issue; it did not matter. So why had Lord Chief Justice Holroyde spun the language with its weasel legalise and sent Julian back to his cell and its nightmares? There, he now waits for the High Court’s final decision in October – for Julian Assange, a life or death decision.

In the Land of Magna Carta

And why did Holroyde send Stella from the court trembling with anguish? Why is this case “unusual”? Why did he throw the gang of prosecutor-thugs at the Department of Justice in Washington — who got their big chance under Trump, having been rejected by Obama – a life raft as their rotting, corrupt case against a principled journalist sunk as surely as Titantic?

This does not necessarily mean that in October the full bench of the High Court will order Julian to be extradited. In the upper reaches of the masonry that is the British judiciary there are, I understand, still those who believe in real law and real justice from which the term “British justice” takes its sanctified reputation in the land of the Magna Carta. It now rests on their ermined shoulders whether that history lives on or dies.

To read the full article, follow this link:
Another Consortium News article containing a lot of detail about the US appeal is:

LETTER FROM LONDON: Worrying Turn in Assange Case

The U.S. victory in court on Wednesday makes the prospects for Julian Assange at October’s appeal hearing murky at best, writes Alexander Mercouris.
————————————————————————————————————

Ryan Grim: State Dept DODGES Question On Julian Assange, Support Of Free Press

In this Youtube, Ryan Grim breaks down the state department’s hypocritical support of international press freedom while attempting to prosecute Julian Assange.
———————————————————————————————————————

PEN International urges United Kingdom and USA: Immediately release Julian Assange and drop extradition case

Responding to the news, Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:

‘The charges faced by Julian Assange in the US represent a huge threat to media freedom and investigative journalism everywhere. Our position is clear. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest. We once again urge the US authorities to drop the case against Assange and to withdraw their extradition appeal.’

Daniel Gorman, Director of English PEN, said:

‘The UK authorities must uphold their commitment to press freedom and prevent Julian Assange’s extradition to the US. Assange has been held in Belmarsh High Security Prison for over two years. This case has deeply concerning implications for press freedom and as such he should be released as a matter of urgency.’

https://pen-international.org/news/united-kingdom-usa-immediately-release-julian-assange-and-drop-extradition-case

Subscribe for news & updates from PEN Melbourne.

People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International