ASSANGE EXTRADITION: UK Minister Who Approved Trump’s Request to Extradite Assange Spoke at Secretive US Conferences with People Calling for Him to be ‘Neutralized’

Britain’s former home secretary attended “starlight chats” and “after-dinner cocktails” in off-the-record conferences involving high-level U.S. military and intelligence figures, report Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard. 

Britain’s then Chancellor of Exchequer Sajid Javid (L) welcomes then U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton (R) to 11 Downing Street. (Office of U.S. National Security Advisor, Wikimedia Commons)

By Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis
Declassified UK

Sajid Javid, who was Britain’s home secretary from April 2018 to July 2019, attended “starlight chats” and “after-dinner cocktails” in a series of off-the-record conferences involving high-level U.S. military and intelligence figures at a five-star island resort off the coast of Georgia. Many of those attending have been exposed in WikiLeaks publications and have demanded the organization be shut down. 

Javid signed the Trump administration’s extradition request for Assange in June 2019. He was Britain’s chancellor until his recent resignation. One of the criteria under which a British home secretary can block extradition to the U.S. is if “the person could face the death penalty.”  

The month before being appointed home secretary in April 2018, Javid visited Georgia for the “world forum” of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — an influential neoconservative U.S. organization with close ties to the U.S. intelligence community. The AEI has run a campaign against WikiLeaks and Assange since 2010. 

It can now be revealed [this article was first published on Feb. 22, 2020] that Javid spoke at the 2018 meeting, as did Jonah Goldberg, a fellow at the AEI who has called for Assange to be “garroted.” In a column published on the AEI website, Goldberg wrote: “WikiLeaks is easily among the most significant and well-publicised breaches of American national security since the Rosenbergs gave the Soviets the bomb. So again, I ask: Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago? It’s a serious question.”

Bill Kristol, a close associate of the AEI who also spoke in Georgia with Javid, has written a column titled “Whack WikiLeaks” in which he asked: “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can’t we disrupt and destroy WikiLeaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible?” Kristol’s article was promoted on social media by another AEI fellow who spoke in Georgia with Javid. 

Both Goldberg and Kristol spoke at all four of the AEI’s world fora that Javid attended from 2014 to 2018. 

On the panel with Javid in 2018 was Elliott Abrams, a key neo-conservative architect of the Iraq war of 2003 best-known for his conviction during the Iran-Contra scandal in the Reagan administration. Abrams has lamented WikiLeaks’ document releases. Also on Javid’s panel was Fred Kagan, a senior AEI staffer who served as an adviser to the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

Javid’s signing of the U.S. extradition request was a controversial decision opposed at the time by the Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott. “Julian Assange is not being pursued to protect US national security, he is being pursued because he has exposed wrongdoing by US administrations and their military forces,” Abbott told the British parliament in April 2019 after Assange had been grabbed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. 

The Trump administration’s extradition request is unprecedented in that the U.K. has never extradited a journalist and publisher to a third country for prosecution. 

The deliberations within the U.K. Home Office about Assange’s extradition and incarceration in Belmarsh maximum-security prison, where he is currently held, are opaque. Declassified sent a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office asking for any telephone call or email mentioning Assange sent to or from Sajid Javid while he was running the department. The Home Office replied: “We have carried out a thorough search and we have established that the Home Office does not hold the information that you have requested.” 

It is unclear if Javid only discussed the Assange extradition request in person while home secretary or if he used a private email or phone to do so. 

Aerial view of the The Cloister hotel at the Sea Island resort where Sajid Javid attended six secretive conferences with an array of high-level military and intelligence figures who have been exposed by WikiLeaks. (lns1122, Flickr)

 Secret Intelligence-Linked Meetings

The attendees, agenda and even the dates of the AEI world forum are a tightly-guarded secret. But Declassified is now publishing the attendance lists and agendas — marked “confidential” — of the last four conferences Javid attended: in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 (see end of article). Declassified could not obtain information on Javid’s first two AEI meetings in 2011 and 2013. 

Since attending his first “world forum” at the AEI in 2011, within a year of becoming an MP, Javid subsequently visited six out of eight AEI annual conferences up to 2018. From June 2012 until today, Javid’s parliamentary register of interests records that he has made no overseas trips paid by a third-party except those funded by the AEI. In total, Javid has received £31,285.19 ($40,800) in gifts from the AEI. 

Javid is the most frequent British guest of the U.S. organization, and in most years has been one of only a few British invitees. The only other British regular is Michael Gove, another senior figure in Boris Johnson’s cabinet. 

Adm. Michael S. Rogers, then director of NSA, speaks during Fort Meade’s 100th anniversary gala, June 17, 2017, at Club Meade. (Steve Ruark/Flickr)

The AEI has access to the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence community. Guests at the events Javid attended included two former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and two sitting directors of the National Security Agency (NSA). In 2018, President Donald Trump’s then National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster spoke alongside Javid. Any discussions between the British minister and the intelligence chiefs have remained secret.

The CIA made clear that it is “working to take down” WikiLeaksafter the latter published the largest-ever leak of classified CIA material in 2017. It was recently revealed that the CIA was provided with audio and video of Julian Assange’s private meetings, including privileged conversations with lawyers, in the Ecuadorian embassy by a Spanish security company. The NSA has also been extensively exposed byWikiLeaks

The AEI’s 2016 event saw Javid speaking on a panel titled, “The Challenge Abroad and Implications for the United States,” alongside U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham who called for Assange to be indicted in 2010 solely for receiving leaks. 

Another panel, “Wargaming the Next Attack on the United States,” featured former CIA Director Michael Hayden alongside Marc Thiessen and Gary Schmitt, two AEI staffers who have written extensively on shutting down Assange and WikiLeaks. Also speaking in 2016 was Senator Mitch McConnell, who has called Assange a “high-tech terrorist,” and Congressman Mike Rogers, who called for WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning to be executed

Javid spoke at the 2015 event with Paul Wolfowitz — an AEI scholar who has been extensively exposed in WikiLeaks releases — about the threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group. Karl Rove, a former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, also spoke at the 2015 event. It was reported in 2010 that Rove was advising Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on how Sweden could help the Obama administration prosecute WikiLeaks

Another panel at the 2015 forum was titled, “Fighting a Cyberwar: Is Defense the Only Option?” and featured the former director of the NSA, Keith Alexander; the then director of the NSA, Michael S. Rogers; as well as former CIA director Michael Hayden. 

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz listens to a reporter’s question in the Pentagon on March 1, 2001. (DoD photo by R. D. Ward. )

“Much talk about the insecurity of the cybersphere has focused on well-publicised breaches,” the panel briefing outlined, “but the reality of the cyberthreat is much broader and more devastating than most assume.” The question posed was: “Is our only choice to bar the doors, or has the time come to take it to the enemy? And what will that mean?” 

David Petraeus, another former CIA director, spoke at the AEI’s 2014 event alongside former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, a member of the AEI’s board, and John Bolton, often seen as the most belligerent pro-war figure in Washington, who was a senior fellow at the AEI before becoming Trump’s national security adviser. While at the AEI, Bolton wrote ambiguously: “As for WikiLeaks itself, and anyone cooperating with its malicious enterprise, now is the time to test our cyber-warfare capabilities. Fire away.” 

American Enterprise Institute headquarters in the Daniel A. D’Aniello Building, also called the Andrew Mellon Building, in Washington, D.C. (Jonathunder, Wikimedia Commons)

Assange and the AEI

The AEI has been running a campaign against WikiLeaks—and Assange specifically — throughout the U.S. media since 2010. The organization’s website lists 20 articles or events tagged with “Julian Assange” and 43 articles tagged with “WikiLeaks,” all of which are negative.

AEI resident fellow Marc A. Thiessen has written numerous articles demonizing Assange and the work of WikiLeaks. One article titled,  “WikiLeaks must be stopped,” which is published on the AEI website, concludes, “If left unmolested, Assange will become even bolder and inspire others to imitate his example.” Another article in May 2019, also on the AEI website, is titled, “Assange is a spy, not a journalist. He deserves prison.” Thiessen attended all the same annual AEI fora as Javid from 2014-18. 

In 2012, the AEI sponsored an event in Washington, D.C., called “Assange’s asylum in Correa’s Ecuador: Last refuge for scoundrels?” hosted by the AEI’s visiting fellow Roger F. Noriega, another figure critical of Assange. The question to be answered was listed as, “Can Ecuador’s president successfully whitewash his image by advancing Assange’s anti-American crusade?”

Sajid Javid and the American Enterprise Institute did not respond to requests for comment. 

Matt Kennard is head of investigations and Mark Curtis editor, of Declassified UK, a media organization investigating U.K. foreign, military and intelligence policies. They tweet at @DCKennard and @markcurtis30. Follow Declassified on twitter at @DeclassifiedUK

This article is from Declassified UK.

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22 comments for “ASSANGE EXTRADITION: UK Minister Who Approved Trump’s Request to Extradite Assange Spoke at Secretive US Conferences with People Calling for Him to be ‘Neutralized’

  1. May 23, 2020 at 13:47

    An article in the Grayzone has a Spanish translation, and the title phrase, “los amigos americanos”, deserves a wider circulation. As in any banana republic, if you want to advance in political career in UK, it is important to be useful to “los amigos americanos”.

  2. Sam F
    May 22, 2020 at 21:00

    An excellent article indeed, thanks to all.
    This information should be used to indict Javid as a foreign agent and free Mr. Assange.

    The AEI consists of low demagogues waving the flag and inventing enemies to pose falsely as protectors.
    These are the tyrants against whom Aristotle warned, not defenders but the worst enemies of democracy.
    An ignorant populace, fearful of its economic and social dependencies, rejects the truth as too dangerous.

    A map of the cashflows to politicians and parties would show the US to be a tyranny, and is the darkest secret.

  3. Me Myself
    May 22, 2020 at 12:49

    This is great reporting!

    It all seems to fall in place to who is really running the show.

    From the look at the accommodations deep-sixing the truth pays off.

    How to make truth competitive?

    • Sam F
      May 22, 2020 at 22:16

      How to make truth competitive? I suggest:
      1. Constitutional amendments to restrict funding of elections and mass media to limited registered individual donations;
      2. Monitoring of public officials and associates for life with confiscation and penalties for unlawful or suspect income;
      3. Abolition of secret agency and military operations not specifically approved by popular vote;
      4. Modification of NATO as strictly defensive, with prohibition of treaties permitting any offensive or secret operation;
      5. A College of Policy Debate CPD to protect all viewpoints in expert textual debates, producing public summaries.
      6. Possible replacement of Congress by CPD with popular vote on all policies by those with minimum quiz scores.
      All comments and criticism will be appreciated.

  4. Cheryl
    May 22, 2020 at 11:50

    Thank you for a well researched article demonstrating the devious nature of US power and the hit-men whose willingness to subjugate anyone exposing US powers. The list of actors meeting at Sea Island amount to a who’s who of soulless bullies. Assange suffers for publishing the truth while others are rewarded to silence him. What can an American do to convince fellow citizens their view regarding Assange is a result of continuous MSM propaganda. I will post this article on FB as I continue my support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks which falls on deaf ears. The commentary from my “liberal” friends always mount-up against support for Assange; these “liberal” friends are only interested in their communal hatred for Trump…truth about the US military, DNC, American imperialism, First Amendment…all be damned.

  5. Cyen
    May 22, 2020 at 07:22

    Why are his lawyers not screaming bloody murder over this? In thier compliance with such flagrant abuses of process, what they’re effectively doing is legitimizing this show trial. It would help even if one of them had the courage to publically call it out and condemn the brazen, baldfaced bias of the magistrates, for one thing. Assange’s treatment is not simply “cruel” as Geoffrey Robertson says – it is clearly *criminal*. It’s way past time for them to all get off the damned fence about that.

    • Ash
      May 22, 2020 at 14:50

      Perhaps they are (it’s not like the media ever ignores stories that damage its narratives or anything…)

  6. Francis Lee
    May 22, 2020 at 05:17

    If we didn’t know already it is becoming increasingly apparent that the neo-con lunatic cabal are pushing for total global dominance, a policy which will perforce result in full-scale nuclear war. This is not some crackpot clique, crazies in the basement, fringe element. It is at the heart of the American/Israeli establishment and set on carrying through its deranged policies. A full-on Dr Strangelove. When will America wake up? When will the world wake up?

  7. May 22, 2020 at 00:04

    What a sad sad world.
    Whats the recent word in Assange’ health?

  8. doris
    May 21, 2020 at 21:03

    The list of speakers and attendees reads like the Project for a New American Century playlist, the evil bastages who planned the militaristic hell we’ve been in since Baby Shrub came to power in their scam election of 2000. (The same F-wads who’ve been orchestrating the deaths of thousands for decades.) They stop at nothing to complete their mission of Full Spectrum Dominance/Total Global Domination. This list of the PNAC gallery’s “Key Positions” was written over 20 years ago. Julian is by far the most dangerous man in the world to them. Judging by how many heroes they’ve already “neutralized,” I’m surprised he’s lasted this long. I wish like hell we could do something to help the most amazing journalist in the world. (sobs…)

    www (dot) sourcewatch (dot) org/index.php/Project_for_the_New_American_Century#Original_25_signatories_were:

    “Key positions
    Among the key conclusions of PNAC’s defense strategy document (Rebuilding America’s Defenses) were the following [4]:

    “Develop and deploy global missile defenses to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.”
    “Control the new ‘international commons’ of space and ‘cyberspace,’ and pave the way for the creation of a new military service–U.S. Space Forces–with the mission of space control.”
    “Increase defense spending, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually.”
    “Exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs’ [transformation to high-tech, unmanned weaponry] to insure the long-term superiority of U.S. conventional forces.”
    “Need to develop a new family of nuclear weapons designed to address new sets of military requirements” complaining that the U.S. has “virtually ceased development of safer and more effective nuclear weapons.”
    “Facing up to the realities of multiple constabulary missions that will require a permanent allocation of U.S. forces.”
    “America must defend its homeland” by “reconfiguring its nuclear force” and by missile defense systems that “counteract the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.”
    “Need for a larger U.S. security perimeter” and the U.S. “should seek to establish a network of ‘deployment bases’ or ‘forward operating bases’ to increase the reach of current and future forces,” citing the need to move beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia to increased permanent military presence in Southeast Asia and “other regions of East Asia.” Necessary “to cope with the rise of China to great-power status.”
    Redirecting the U.S. Air Force to move “toward a global first-strike force.”
    End the Clinton administration’s “devotion” to the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.
    “North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or similar states [should not be allowed] to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies, or threaten the American homeland itself.”
    “Main military missions” necessary to “preserve Pax Americana” and a “unipolar 21st century” are the following: “secure and expand zones of democratic peace, deter rise of new great-power competitor, defend key regions (Europe, East Asia, Middle East), and exploit transformation of war.”
    According to the PNAC report, “The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable, and durable. Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time: even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself.” To preserve this “American peace” through the 21st century, the PNAC report concludes that the global order “must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence.” The report struck a prescient note when it observed that “the process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event–like a new Pearl Harbor.”

    Many of PNAC’s conclusions and recommendations were reflected in the White House’s National Security Strategy document of September 2002, which reflects the “peace through strength” credo that shapes PNAC strategic thinking.”

    • Linda Furr
      May 25, 2020 at 13:32

      Thanks for reminding me of this list of horrors. And let’s not forget the PNAC’s justification for these obviously international illegalities: US “Exceptionalism.”

  9. May 21, 2020 at 18:53

    Sadly, Julians only hope was Corbyn and thus we see another reason Corbyn was politically assassinated.

  10. William H Warrick III MD
    May 21, 2020 at 18:52

    Where is Julian’s Lawyer???!!!

  11. Annie
    May 21, 2020 at 18:14

    Bill Kristol, and John Goldberg with their violent remarks aimed at Assange sound like a bunch of hit men as do other neocons, and that’s what they are. They have been around the White House for decades pushing their agenda of death, and destruction and although they claim their agenda benefits America, I don’t see it that way. Lately I’ve heard Trump referencing our wars in the Middle East as a total waste of money which has driven up the deficit, and given us nothing in return. True, but I wish he would have added that we have brought only destruction and death to that part of the world. The neocons appear to have embraced the democrats, and I wonder if Biden wins will there be another war, and will Assange more likely be extradited to this country to be tried and convicted? Biden did say some 10 years ago that Julian Assange was like a hi-tech terrorist, when others in the White House were not saying much about him. Or to be mean, maybe Biden has forgotten about him all together.

  12. Fred
    May 21, 2020 at 16:40

    Julian Assange is infinitely more worthy of freedom and liberty than the ghouls in uniforms and suits who planned and waged the serial, ongoing wars-of-aggression, proxy wars, hypocritical sanctions, and assassinations. From George Washington to Robert H. Jackson, to anyone with the slightest discernment, Uncle Sam is possessed by racist, supremacist demons and it these ghouls in suits who deserve to be given the justice they themselves have meted out to whole countries and tens-of-millions of innocent victims.

    “Though heavens fall, let justice be done.”

    IOW, ‘Fire away’, indeed and with godspeed.

    • Daniel P
      May 22, 2020 at 11:49

      Perfectly stated. From the article: “…“Assange is a spy, not a journalist. He deserves prison.”” Exactly wrong. It is those whose crimes Wikileaks has exposed that deserve prison.

    • Digby
      May 22, 2020 at 15:22

      Quite right. Dave Emory (Spitfire List) should be ashamed for writing this hit piece against WikiLeaks:


      WikiLeaks is a fascist, “Alt-Right” institution that aided Trump’s election. Facebook, one of whose largest stockholders is Trump supporter Peter Thiel, also helped aid the election of “The Donald.”

      I don’t understand – Assange manages to expose American war crimes, and this is how Emory thanks him?

    • May 22, 2020 at 17:10

      Exactly. How can Julian be extradited without a fair trial ?It is the virus that is preventing the trial. He will not be treated humanely in the U.S:. He should have an opportunity to present his case against extradition. Jane Christ

  13. Andrew Thomas
    May 21, 2020 at 16:08

    Thank you for a very informative and brave piece of work. It should be of enormous importance to every person in the US and U.K. who fancies him or herself to be a journalist. So far, it includes the men and women on the letterhead of the Consortium News. We will see the others when they step forward and attempt to give it the “resonance” that it deserves. Bravo to all of you. Thank you for all of your work.

  14. GMCasey
    May 21, 2020 at 16:00

    Well YOU, wanna be masters of the world—-we are indeed in deep trouble when the Truth Telling of Wikileaks is seen as a crime. I guess a lot of people have been wondering since Ben Tillman’s murder was lied about by the military why there is such a penchant for lying by people in high positions. And there is even a group dedicated to the proposition that LYING is the way to conquer the world.

    There are people in every nation of the world who believe governments govern best when they lie the least. Now that we know that so many seem to savor murdering Julian Assange——I am truly appalled. So many around the world love and admire Julian—and I truly fear for those who wish Julian harm.

    REVENGE too, is a horrible action——but to those who feel that they are above the law —in the end— they never are. TRUTH, in a strange way , is like Covid 19 –like reaching into every soul and finding the weakest point. The agreed upon lies among governments is a virus all its own, and like Covid can strangle its own host. Julian Assange should be freed and you wanna be masters of the world need to be jailed.

  15. Mark Thomason
    May 21, 2020 at 15:42

    While she was Sec of State, Hillary Clinton asked in official communication if it was possible for the US to murder Assange while he was in Britain. We know this because Assange obtained a copy, and leaked it.

    Since then, Democrats dislike Assange even more, because he is seen as aiding Trump.

    The Trump Admin in turn is right wing. There is no safety there for Assange, even if he might have aided Trump.

    It is not just a question of the death penalty. Assange faces murderous hostility from all parts of the US government. Turning him over to the Americans is no different from turning over people to Stalin at the end of WW2.

    • doris
      May 21, 2020 at 20:21

      Julian aided Trump by default, as he aided everyone else because he reported the truth without regard to politics.

      So true about your “Stalin” comment.

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