WATCH: Home Run for Assange

John Shipton is on a tour around Australia rallying support for his son, Julian Assange. Consortium News was in Sydney and streamed live from Canberra for Shipton’s Home Run event.

Julian Assange, the still imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher, had his extradition request from the United States denied by British judge Vanessa Baraitser because of Assange of fear of suicide if he were sent to a U.S. prison.  But the Trump administration is appealing to the High Court in London, an appeal that the Biden administration is continuing.

On the road with the father of Julian Assange, John Shipton, are friends from Melbourne to Sydney and Canberra via regional centres along the way. They’re travelling as a small convoy of vans and support vehicles in a series of street SpeakOuts, meetings with local supporters, photo ops and campfire conversations.

The Canberra event was live streamed on Sunday here on CN Live! Speaking in Canberra: John Shipton, Caroline Le Couture, Bernard Colleary & David McBride.

On Friday the tour stopped at Martin Place in the Central Business District of Sydney: The speakers were Shirley Lomaz, Jacob Grech, Lissa Johnson, John Shipton, Alison Broinowski and CN Editor Joe Lauria. You can watch the event here:

Joe Lauria’s remarks:

It would be sufficient reason to come out here in numbers today to defend a man who has been cruelly treated by two Western states and abandoned by another. It would have been enough to be here to defend a son and a father.

But we know this case is much bigger than one man’s life. It goes to the very core of whether Western democratic institutions, in particular the justice system and the press, survive.

Having had remote access to the Old Bailey, we at CN heard Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser pronounce the word “discharge” as in: “I order the discharge of Julian Paul Assange.” Those who want to see the man free, for personal reasons or on principle, were right, for that fleeting moment, to rejoice.

It was only later that I questioned whether the word “discharge” had a different legal meaning than it does in plain English. For, as we know, Baraitser inexplicably sent Assange back to the hellhole of Belmarsh, after barring his extradition because of the state of his mental health.

And then we contemplated what Baraitser’s judgement meant for journalism, even if Assange should defeat the American appeal. She upheld the criminalization of journalism contained in Assange’s indictment.

This is an immensely historic case because it is an historic first. It is the first time a publisher and a journalist has been indicted for espionage in the United States for the act of publishing defense information.

The espionage laws in the U.S. and Britain were written not only to outlaw classic foreign espionage, but so broadly as to make it possible to indict a journalist.

FDR and Nixon came close before, in the 1942 against journalists at the Chicago Tribune, and in 1973 against reporters at the NYT in the Pentagon Papers case. Obama nearly indicted Assange in 2011 but pulled back because his administration knew that to prosecute a journalist for publishing could invite a constitutional crisis with the First Amendment and turn the media against him.

Well Trump took that chance. And how has the media reacted? On the day of Assange’s arrest there were editorials that recognized the lethal threat to a free press. After that there has been mostly silence.

After all, Assange has shamed the media profession. He has done the job they should have been doing and scooped them badly. For decades, with few exceptions, the media have cozied up to power and covered up their crimes. They’ve explained away the coups and the invasions and the surveillance as good for spreading democracy and “protecting” the West—especially America– from hyped up or non-existant threats.

This is why so many people in the West find it so hard to support a journalist who exploded so many myths about their leaders, about their country and about themselves. They have been led to believe that political repression and extreme secrecy only takes place in those other countries: the Soviet Union, Russia, China and any developing country that objects to American bullying.

Assange helped make it possible for Westerners to understand what is wrong with their governments and their foreign aggression. But many don’t want to know. They are attached to their national identities and turn on him for making them doubt what they believe are their governments’ good intentions—to spread democracy, for instance, instead the reality of its geo-strategic and economic influence.

It’s time for people to shed this fake innocence and embrace universal human values—not the so-called Western values—and to defend Assange and the profession of journalism as it should be practiced—and as he has.

13 comments for “WATCH: Home Run for Assange

  1. John OCallaghan
    March 15, 2021 at 22:46

    Have not seen or heard any reports on this story down here in our media and do not expect to.

  2. Rex Williams
    March 15, 2021 at 16:02

    As bad as it was that the UK government saw fit to place Julian on trial in the first place. Add to that the failing empire of the USA objecting to the verdict as it was,. They are all bad enough. The saddest fact however in this whole disgusting undemocratic charade has been the lack of interest and action by the feeble government in Australia, once again grovelling in an endeavour to do what they are told by the USA and the previous puppet- master, the UK. Until we extract ourselves from the influences of that now failed democracy, the fate of people like Julian Assange will be a dark place. Thank you Bernard Colliery for your ongoing support.
    You are a credit to your country.

  3. Westley Wood
    March 15, 2021 at 14:53

    When Julian learns of this
    it will be wonderful news

  4. Cal Lash
    March 15, 2021 at 14:43

    Biden and Harris will not free Assange without a full court press from the political progressives and the press.

  5. rosemerry
    March 15, 2021 at 14:35

    Murdochry and the rest of the “free media” have the gall to pretend they care about free speech and truth.

    For a partisan magistrate,under the thumb of Lady Arbithnot whose family participated in the military activities exposed by Assange, was able to lie her way to keep Julian in the hellhole admitted to be the cause of his “mental fragility” while he awaits a worse fate is unconscionable.

  6. Marlena Santoyo
    March 15, 2021 at 14:06

    Agreed! Assange should be & is praised & rightly so, for revealing the truth of the US War Killing Machine.

  7. David Otness
    March 15, 2021 at 12:19

    My comment on the YouTube streaming of this:

    Thank you for your ongoing support for Julian, Joe, Cathy, John Shipton and all the speakers and supporters at this event, everyone who continues to uphold the values we were all raised to believe in, and which are under such dire and I’ll say it—diabolical attack by the usurpers of our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and our much-battered democracy. Those human evil purveyors of violence upon innocents worldwide.
    Solidarity against them and their neo-Dark Age!

  8. Ron Paulson
    March 15, 2021 at 10:34

    Thanks Joe, and thanks CN! Every day that passes tin which I’m not putting up Free Assange flyers or engaging with people in order to bring awareness to the injustice and immense implications of his ordeal, I feel guilty. Please folks, do all you can– for Julian, and for the free flow of ideas!

  9. Alexander Sinclair Mehdevi
    March 15, 2021 at 09:45

    Dear Consortium,
    Thank you for your enlightening reporting. I have forgotten who said: ” One can understand why children are frightened by tthe dark;what is incomprehensible is why adults are frightened by the light.”

    Aleander Sinclair Mehdevi

  10. Frank Knowles
    March 15, 2021 at 09:37

    Your coverage of this and other important events is absolutely essential.

  11. Andrew Nichols
    March 15, 2021 at 01:07

    Not a single scintilla of coverage of this in the state friendly corporate media. No surprises there…

  12. March 14, 2021 at 12:44

    Man I would love to take to tour around the land down under and cross the whole country. I’ll keep it simple.
    * It would start in Margaret River
    * After travels, we would get to Finke – truly out in the middle of nowhere….
    * Then an island on Lake Eyre – hopefully there will be water in the lake, and
    * Finally as sad history lesson in Comooweal on the way to Cairns.

    I applaud this effort and wish all the travelers nothing but the best.
    May their message resonate~

    • Tom
      March 15, 2021 at 11:37

      Just have to ensure a close relative is so despised by the U.S. government that he/she gets locked up at Belmarsh; then you’ll be well on your way to making your dream come true! ;)

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