Julian Assange is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks is a site created for whistleblowers to safely leak information of wrongdoing and criminality. One of the most famous leaks was released in 2010 labelled “Collateral Murder”. It showed US soldiers shooting at and murdering Iraqi civilians – including journalists and children. Since 2010 when WikiLeaks started publishing evidence of war crimes and torture committed by US forces, there has been a sustained and concerted effort by several nations to extradite Assange to the United States for prosecution.
Assange came to international attention in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, including leaks that showed war crimes committed with the knowledge of the US government. After the 2010 leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and is now seeking his extradition to prosecute him in the US. Assange was in exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for seven years. He is currently held in H.M. Belmarsh prison in London.
Assange is an accredited member of the press. He has won the Amnesty International, Walkley Award and Times Magazine award for his work, as well as countless international accolades. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on several occasions.
A new book argues Julian Assange is being tortured. Will our new PM do anything about it? is an article published on June 6, 2022. It points out that the investigation of Assange’s case by Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, has been laid out in forensic detail in his new book The Trial of Julian Assange.
The article explains:
“The 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council directly appoint special rapporteurs on torture. The position is unpaid – Melzer earns his living as a professor of international law – but they have diplomatic immunity and operate largely outside the UN’s hierarchies.
Among the many pleas for his attention, Melzer’s small office chooses between 100 and 200 each year to officially investigate. His conclusions and recommendations are not binding on states. He bleakly notes that in barely 10% of cases does he receive full co-operation from states and an adequate resolution. He received nothing like full co-operation in investigating Assange’s case. He gathered around 10,000 pages of procedural files, but a lot of them came from leaks to journalists or from freedom-of-information requests. Many pages had been redacted. Rephrasing Carl Von Clausewitz’s maxim, Melzer wrote his book as ‘the continuation of diplomacy by other means’.
What he finds is stark and disturbing: The Assange case is the story of a man who is being persecuted and abused for exposing the dirty secrets of the powerful, including war crimes, torture and corruption. It is a story of deliberate judicial arbitrariness in Western democracies that are otherwise keen to present themselves as exemplary in the area of human rights. It is the story of willful collusion by intelligence services behind the back of national parliaments and the general public. It is a story of manipulated and manipulative reporting in the mainstream media for the purpose of deliberately isolating, demonizing, and destroying a particular individual. It is the story of a man who has been scapegoated by all of us for our own societal failures to address government corruption and state-sanctioned crimes.”
“The shocking story of the legal persecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the dangerous implications for the whistleblowers of the future.
In July 2010, Wikileaks published Cablegate, one of the biggest leaks in the history of the US military, including evidence for war crimes and torture. In the aftermath Julian Assange, the founder and spokesman of Wikileaks, found himself at the center of a media storm, accused of hacking and later sexual assault. He spent the next seven years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fearful that he would be extradited to Sweden to face the accusations of assault and then sent to US. In 2019, Assange was handed over to the British police and, on the same day, the U.S. demanded his extradition. They threatened him with up to 175 years in prison for alleged espionage and computer fraud.
At this point, Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, started his investigation into how the US and UK governments were working together to ensure a conviction. His findings are explosive, revealing that Assange has faced grave and systematic due process violations, judicial bias, collusion and manipulated evidence. He has been the victim of constant surveillance, defamation and threats. Melzer also gathered together consolidated medical evidence that proves that Assange has suffered prolonged psychological torture.
Melzer’s compelling investigation puts the UK and US state into the dock, showing how, through secrecy, impunity and, crucially, public indifference, unchecked power reveals a deeply undemocratic system. Furthermore, the Assange case sets a dangerous precedent: once telling the truth becomes a crime, censorship and tyranny will inevitably follow.
The Trial of Julian Assange is told in three parts: the first explores Nils Melzer’s own story about how he became involved in the case and why Assange’s case falls under his mandate as the Special Rapporteur on Torture. The second section returns to 2010 when Wikileaks released the largest leak in the history of the U.S. military, exposing war crimes and corruption, and Nils makes the case that Swedish authorities manipulated charges against Assange to force his extradition to the US and publicly discredit him. In the third section, the author returns to 2019 and picks up the case as Ecuador kicks Assange out of the embassy and lays out the case as it currently stands, as well as the stakes involved for other potential whistleblowers trying to serve the public interest.”
The article adds:
“Melzer retraces what has happened to Assange since then, from the accusations of sexual assault in Sweden to Assange taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in an attempt to avoid the possibility of extradition to the US if he returned to Sweden. His refuge led to him being jailed in the United Kingdom for breaching his bail conditions. Sweden eventually dropped the sexual assault charges, but the US government ramped up its request to extradite Assange. He faces charges under the 1917 Espionage Act, which, if successful, could lead to a jail term of 175 years.
Two key points become increasingly clear as Melzer methodically works through the events. The first is that there has been a carefully orchestrated plan by four countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and, yes, Australia – to ensure Assange is punished forever for revealing state secrets. The second is that the conditions he has been subjected to, and will continue to be subjected to if the US’s extradition request is granted, have amounted to torture.”
The article points out: “It is distressing to read the conditions Assange has endured over several years. A change in the political leadership of Ecuador led to a change in his living conditions in the embassy, from cramped but bearable to virtual imprisonment.
Since being taken from the embassy to Belmarsh prison in 2019, Assange has spent much of his time in solitary confinement for 22 or 23 hours a day. He has been denied all but the most limited access to his legal team, let alone family and friends. He was kept in a glass cage during his seemingly interminable extradition hearing, appeals over which could continue for several years more years, according to Melzer.”
The article explains:
“Assange’s physical and mental health have suffered to the point where he has been put on suicide watch. Again, that seems to be the point, as Melzer writes:
‘The primary purpose of persecuting Assange is not – and never has been – to punish him personally, but to establish a generic precedent with a global deterrent effect on other journalist, publicists and activists.’
So will the new Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, do any more than his three Coalition and two Labor predecessors to advocate for the interests of an Australian citizen? In December 2021, Guardian Australia reported Albanese saying he did ‘not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange’ and that ‘enough is enough’. Since being sworn in as prime minister, he has kept his cards close to his chest.
The actions of his predecessors suggest he won’t, even though Albanese has already said on several occasions since being elected that he wants to do politics differently. Melzer, among others, would remind him of the words of former US president Jimmy Carter, who, contrary to other presidents, said he did not deplore the WikiLeaks revelations. They just made public what was the truth. Most often, the revelation of truth, even if it’s unpleasant, is beneficial. […] I think that, almost invariably, the secrecy is designed to conceal improper activities.”
Film — Ithaka: A Fight To Free Julian Assange
The first in the two-part series Ithaka: A Fight to Free Julian Assange aired on ABC TV June 7.
The article says:
“Binge the 2-part series on ABC iview from Tuesday 7 June.
A moving and intimate portrayal of one father’s fight to save his son,Ithaka: A Fight to Free Julian Assange exposes the brutal realities of the campaign to free Julian Assange. ABC and Screen Australia are delighted to announce that this special 2x60mins ABC factual series will air from Tuesday 7 June at 8.30pm on ABC TV, with both episodes available to stream on ABC iview the same day.
Written and directed by the award-winning Ben Lawrence (Ghosthunter, Hearts and Bones), produced by Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton and with an original score by Brian Eno, Ithaka was filmed over two years across the UK, Europe, and the US, and follows 76-year-old retired builder, John Shipton’s tireless campaign to save his son, Julian Assange.
The world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has become an emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes. Now with Julian facing a 175-year sentence if extradited to the US, his family members are confronting the prospect of losing Julian forever to the abyss of the US justice system.
This David-and-Goliath struggle is personal – and, with Julian’s health declining in a British maximum-security prison and American government prosecutors attempting to extradite him to face trial in the US, the clock is ticking.
Weaving historic archive and intimate behind-the-scenes footage, this story tracks John’s journey alongside Julian’s wife Stella Moris, as they join forces to advocate for Julian. We witness John embark on a European odyssey to rally a global network of supporters, advocate to politicians and cautiously step into the media’s glare – where he is forced to confront events that made Julian a global flashpoint.
Ithaka provides a timely reminder of the global issues at stake in this case, as well as an insight into the personal toll inflicted by the arduous, often lonely task of fighting for a cause bigger than oneself.
A Shipton House Production. Principal Production funding by Screen Australia in association with Film Victoria. Produced in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Produced by Gabriel Shipton and Adrian Devant. Written and Directed by Ben Lawrence. Executive Producer Roger Savage. Original Music by Brian Eno. ABC Manager of Documentary Stephen Oliver. Head of Factual and Culture Jennifer Collins.
Watch the ITHAKA trailer
A Father’s Fight To Free His son
“Filmed over two years across the UK, Europe and the US, this two-part documentary follows 76-year-old retired builder, John Shipton’s tireless campaign to save his son, Julian Assange.”
“A moving and intimate portrayal of one father’s fight to save his son, Ithaka exposes the brutal realities of the campaign to free Julian Assange. The world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has become an emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes.
Now with Julian facing a 175-year sentence if extradited to the US, his family members are confronting the prospect of losing Julian forever to the abyss of the US justice system. This David-and-Goliath struggle is personal – and, with Julian’s health declining in a British maximum-security prison, the clock is ticking.
Now it’s up to Julian’s father, John Shipton, and fiancé Stella Moris, to join forces to advocate for Julian on this international odyssey. As they rally a world-wide network of supporters and politicians, they cautiously step into the media’s glare – and are forced to confront the events that made Julian a global flashpoint.”
Assange’s Wife and Sons
Julian Assange’s Wedding Day and Status shows that on March 23, Assange was finally able to marry Stella Morris, the mother of his two young sons. The wedding took place in the Belmarsh prison where Assange has been held for three years. There was a very limited guest list and no photos were allowed.
Stella, a South African lawyer and legal researcher, joined WikiLeaks in 2011 after its release of documents about Iraq. She said she felt fortunate to meet the person who had changed the world with WikiLeaks. Because her family spent time in Sweden, Stella became a Swedish national and is fluent in Swedish. So, she was able to help litigate Assange’s case in Sweden which was rescinded in 2019. Stella is also fluent in Spanish and facilitated Assange’s seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012.
By 2015, Assange and Stella were in love and by 2017, they were engaged. They planned to get married, but he was arrested before that happened. Assange (49) and Stella (38) have two sons: Gabriel (4.5 years) and Max (3 years). Stella is a very powerful spokesperson for Assange. She and their two sons have helped give him a reason to live despite the torturous conditions in prison.
Stella refers people to the site https://dontextraditeassange.com/ for more information and to donate.
By Neenah Payne