Consortium News has asked the National Press Club in Washington to join other leading press freedom organizations in calling for Julian Assange’s release.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
As part of its mission, the U.S. National Press Club defends the rights of persecuted journalists around the world. Despite being lobbied before, the Press Club has so far refused to add its name to a growing list of prestigious press freedom organizations publicly opposing imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States.
At its general membership meeting on Friday, the club’s president, Jen Judson, was asked by member Skip Kaltenheuser why the club was not defending Assange. A club officer responded that Assange’s case was discussed at a public club meeting on cyber-security “more than five years ago.”
Without saying why, she admitted that the Press Club has not spoken out on Assange’s case. “We continue to keep track of the legal issues around the case, even if we haven’t spoken about it, but it’s not that we are not aware of what’s going on.” (Watch the video of the question and answer at 1:00:11.)
Assange appeared at the U.S. National Press Club in April 2010 where he revealed the Collateral Murder video.
Also on Friday, CN Editor Joe Lauria, who is a National Press Club member, wrote to club president Judson to appeal to the club to publicly oppose Assange’s extradition.
The text of the letter follows:
“Dear President Judson,
The Club deserves much credit for standing up for journalists like Austin Tice and Emilio Gutierrez.
Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, PEN International, the British National Union of Journalists, Amnesty International, the European Council’s human rights commissioner, the ACLU, Nobel laureates as well as editorials in The New York Times, The Guardian and other leading newspapers have all spoken out clearly against the imprisonment and possible extradition of the multi-award winning publisher Julian Assange.
The National Press Club should not be left off this list of august defenders of press freedom and human rights.
Assange is imprisoned in London for publishing accurate information that he received from a source in 2010. Then Vice President Joe Biden told Meet the Press in December of that year that Assange could not be prosecuted if it could not be proven that he took part in obtaining classified materials and if he only acted as a publisher to receive them. The Obama Department of Justice then declined to indict Assange. It was the Trump administration, whose C.I.A. discussed kidnapping and poisoning Assange, according to Yahoo News‘ exhaustive report, that indicted him anyway.
Assange’s prosecution has nothing to do with WikiLeaks‘ releases regarding the 2016 U.S. presidential election but only 2010 releases about the Iraq and Afghan wars.
Charging a publisher with espionage for the routine practice of receiving classified information and encouraging that source to provide more would endanger the freedom of any journalist who engages in the exact same activity. Amnesty International said: “If the Home Secretary certifies the US request to extradite Julian Assange it will violate the prohibition against torture and set an alarming precedent for publishers and journalists around the world.”
As Assange’s fate hangs with the British home secretary, it behooves the National Press Club, with its long tradition of defending press freedom, to publicly oppose his extradition and thereby defend the rights of all journalists everywhere.
Membership # xxxxxx
Former Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe correspondent, currently editor-in-chief of Consortium News.”
No doubt they’ve all been threatened with less or more subtlety
Very thoughtful comments, I hope the National Press Club takes note. And thank you, LeoSun, for transcribing what was audible of my pitch to the club.
Having lobbied the club hard in the past on the plight of Julian Assange, (and also of Palestinian journalists), I can attest to it not being easy to thread the bureaucratic needles, or to get rationales one can push back on.
I have some theories as to why, most of which I won’t carelessly toss about. There are multiple moving parts involving a variety of players and I don’t know what’s in their heads. Perhaps the insecurities of an increasingly precarious profession play a role. In any case, the lobbying is resumed, including with Joe Lauria’s excellent statement on Assange, with the hope that the new slate of officers might be more receptive.
Both matters, Julian Assange and Palestinian journalists, are ones in which the press club has unique potential for impact because of its location in Washington, DC and its proximity to politicians that take note of what the press pays attention to.
Regarding Palestinian journalists, it’s encouraging that the club immediately reacted to the slaying of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American. Perhaps the club will now be more open to condemning the treatment of Palestinian journalists who aren’t Americans, just as the club speaks up for Mexican journalists who are under grave threat.
I have been startled by the uninformed views of a number of people in media regarding Julian Assange. Credit part of this to the most powerful disinformation operations in the world, including some that waltzed us into the invasion of Iraq. I tried to crystalize the threats to both Assange and to journalism with this essay from a year ago, .
For those wishing to dig deep into the case, I highly recommend the book The Trial of Julian Assange, by Nils Melzer. Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, initially skeptical on Assange due to his acknowledged success of the disinformation campaigns, methodically studied the allegations against Assange and ended up taking them apart with a screwdriver. Along the way, he reveals the alarming coordination and complicity of organizations charged with protecting our rights, including multiple governments and an alarmingly pliable media.
Apologies, I mugged the link to the essay I referred to.
Julian Assange: The Man Who Knew Too Much.
It appeared in the LA Progressive on June 9, 2021
It’s clear the NPC must be under cia control like so many other media outlets. That’s the only sane conclusion one can draw as to why they haven’t jumped on board yet.
Why doesn’t Biden do anything about assange? Put pressure on him, not the sold out NPC.
Thank you! You are very, very welcome. Absolutely!!! Imo, this Q & A oughta be broadcast, worldwide, on the hour every hour.
You’re spot flippin on, Skip Kaltenheuser, “pitch perfect!!!”
“It’s easy to stand in a crowd. It takes courage to stand alone.” TY. Ciao.
What is wrong with this picture?
NPC fails to support The most important member of the truth to power movement in history ?
The idea that strength comes from numbers seems lost on all those members.
I have one thing to say to this misguided group. Take a long hard look in the mirror and remember this, you have accelerated your own demise. Your position on Assange has poisoned your pens, this lead to the death of journalism. You will be held responsible by history for falling to cowardliness. Good riddance!
As with many things since 911 none of this makes any sense. Time to start anew?
Here’s a start on who they are and which newspapers/companies they work for:
on another note, if it hasn’t already been noted here:
Grayzone published this article on the leaked behind the scenes pressures MI6 may be exerting on Priti Patel re: Julian Assange.
It is never-ending cowardice – a deafening silence. But just wait until this fate hits them…the howls to be heard the planet over.
Thank you Joe Lauria!!!!!
I agree with everyone’s comments.
U.S. MSM too scared to face and publish the truth and do their jobs under the constitution. No self respect.
Julian published what they didn’t dare publish. They’re paid to lie. To make excuses for wrongdoing. To put their heads in the sand. Show us their asses.
The liars have won. The war mongers have won. The profiteers have won. The torturers have won.
The war criminals avoid accountability.
It’s a Fuck You to the people of this country.
“U.S. MSM too scared to face and publish the truth and do their jobs under the constitution”.
If they (US MSM) actually published truth they wouldn’t be in their positions.
Sometimes there ARE small victories. The British state tried to silence a report about an abuse of power by an MI5 agent.
All the US and other Western media comments on the whole “war on Ukraine”/SMO have been word for word from Ukrainian government sources or witnesses echoing the same stories. None of the “Russian atrocity” stories are ever investigated, let alone corroborated, and are becoming more and more bizarre (note Ze’s sudden change on Azovstal when real facts could not be hidden). The clear explanations from the Russian MOD, and of course 20 years of President Putin’s description of Russia’s demands, desires, needs are ignored as obfuscation from the Ukrainian government is acclaimed by the US media. To pretend any of this has any relation to truth or free speech is laughable, and Assange’s treatment, coupled with the compliance of “UK Justice” reminds us that the US has no right at all to claims of freedom of speech or human rights for most of us.
“It’s like a window in our heart. Everybody feels the wind blow.”
“WHERE IS YOUR VOICE?!?” ..i.e., “the video”
“TY. I’m concerned The Club hasn’t addressed the issue of Julian Assange. You can argue about whether he is a journalist or not. He is. Certainly, a publisher. He is being persecuted by our own govt. THE U.S. Government.”
“They’d like to get him here & throw away the key.”
It’s a threat to journalists. This really is another issue that puts a target on every journalist’s back. Especially to those covering the M.I.C & National Security.
!!!“This oughta be a real critical issue for this PRESS Club; looking out, not after Julian Assange; but, for journalists, generally.” Skip Kaltenheuser
The facilitator, “Uh. Umm. Ugh,” deflects to NPC’s “Bill.” Bill hits the “Shut It Down” button, “The Club or Institute have NOT made a public statement about this, this case…..…Did you want to say something?”
NPC’s “Rachel,” “More than 5 yrs ago, we held an event highlighting the risks to journalists & sources, in some way, the Julian Assange case raised, to better inform our members about encryption and things like that. We, definitely, over the years, have been very focused on the issues his case has arisen.
We continue to keep track of the legal issues around the case, even if we haven’t spoken about it, but it’s not that we are not aware of what’s going on.”
Joe Lauria, fuhgeddabout ‘em. Obviously, The National Press Club has locked arms w/the Executioners.
EVERYBODY, knows, “Assange committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Labour. Trump or Biden. It does not matter. The goons who oversee the empire sing from the same Satanic songbook. Empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds.” Chris Hedges, DECEMBER 14, 2021
The persecution of Julian Assange must end. STOP the Extradition. STOP the Execution. Justice for Julian Assange.
“The one who wants to do something, finds a way; the one who doesn’t, finds an excuse.” Thank you, Joe Lauria, et al! Onward & Upwards.
youtube videos have a “show transcript” button displaying subtitles as clickable/copyable text. Alternatively, you can download them with 4k Video Downloader or a similar program. Makes transcribing easier. Of course it doesn’t work well when subtitles are inaccurate or incomplete.
The U.S. National Press Club and the word spineless go hand in hand.
Squalid little imperial sycophants
The National Press Club welcomed Biden’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to speak in April. To me that suggests close ties with the Biden administration. No wonder they won’t help Julian!
For all of the attention and opposition that the Assange case has fortunately received from a surprising array of generally astroturfy, partially compromised sources and entities, the National Press Club is sadly not the only mealy-mouthed, toothless (or even passive-aggressive) advocacy NGO to actively avoid acknowledging the adverse, authoritarian implications for domestic and global press freedoms augured by a successful extradition and prosecution of Assange.
“Transparency International has been vocal in defending jailed opposition activists in states like Zimbabwe, Russia, and Venezuela. But when it comes to Assange – far-and-away the world’s most prominent imprisoned transparency activist – the NGO has not said a word since a week after his arrest in April 2019.
When Transparency International did mention Assange’s arrest, it came in the form of a mealy-mouthed blog post that referred to the Wikileaks founder as ‘polarizing’ and failed to condemn his persecution.
Transparency International happens to be funded by the UK government which is currently jailing Assange, and by the US State Department.
Unlike Transparency International, several other large NGOs have been vocal about the case within the last year. Those groups include Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Courage Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. A total of 40 rights groups recently signed an open letter urging Assange’s release.”
Patrick Maynard, “State Dept-funded Transparency International Goes Silent on Jailed Transparency Activist Julian Assange,” The Grayzone, July 21, 2020
“PEN America is typical of the establishment hijacking of an organization that was founded and once run by writers, some of whom, including Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer, I knew. [PEN America CEO Suzanne] Nossel is a former corporate lawyer, listed as a ‘contributor’ to the Federalist Society, who worked for McKinsey & Company and as vice president of U.S. business development for Bertelsmann. Nossel, who has had herself elevated to the position of CEO of PEN America, also worked under Hillary Clinton in the State Department, including on the task force assigned to respond to the WikiLeaks revelations.
Nossel and PEN America have stated that the prosecution of Assange raises “grave concerns” about press freedom and lauded the decision by a British court in January 2012 not to extradite Assange. Should Nossel and PEN America have not taken this stance on Assange, it would have left them in opposition to most PEN organizations around the world.
But Nossel, at the same time, repeats every slanderous trope and lie used to discredit the WikiLeaks publisher who now faces extradition to the United States to potentially serve a 175-year sentence under the Espionage Act. She refuses to acknowledge that Assange is being persecuted because he carried out the most basic and important role of any publisher, making public documents that expose the multitudinous crimes and lies of empire. And I have not seen any direct appeals to the Biden administration on Assange’s behalf from PEN America.”
Chris Hedges, “PEN America, the ‘Human Rights’ Careerists and the Betrayal of Julian Assange,” Salon, December 28, 2021
It would be useful to know who the Officers of the Press Club are and maybe even it’s Board members.
Their silence is, perhaps, linked to today’s phenomenon in the Sussman trial. Once Sussman gave the facts to the court that Hillary knew and was active in the planning of the Russiagate lie, suddenly there were others who spoke up. A lot of people with “Important Titles” and the pay that goes with it, live in fear of making a mistep and losing it all.
If we knew who they are, perhaps many people, journalists and readers, might write them an encouraging letter about taking a stand-positive that would vaccinate them against fear of the free press and being fired.
I watched the clip and then did a search for Assange on the NPC website. Only 6 hits; 3 of them offered free tickets to see Gibney’s agitprop depiction of Wikileaks (We Steal Secrets) while another hit referred me to Rusbridger’s lying interview in which he tells Marty Baron that Julian dumped unredacted stuff into the media. Such chutzpah! As far as I remember, it was Luke Harding and the Guardian that did that. The only surprise for me, after all of this, is the fact that any person devoted to Assange and a free press, as Joe Lauria has surely been, remains a member of such a flim-flam organization. I would like to imagine, by now, the NPC would have lost at least half of its membership.
The truth must always be well hidden.
We live life full of illusions, if not self-delusion.
Some illusions are, however, reasonable, if not necessary, to maintain a harmonious collective, group or tribe.
Danger only arises when we forget or deny they are only illusions.
This self-forgetfulness or denial can be understood, but not accepted as a form or type of self medication.
Why the need for self-medication?
Simply, human beings’ emotions, passions and actions create a mean, ugly and brutal reality.
Consequently, we easily fall prey to self-gratifying illusions, if not self-delusion.
Thank you Joe Lauria and Consortium News for covering the Julian Assange case.
You and he are heroes.
Thanks to folks like Joe Lauria, CN and others for demonstrating the qualities and practices of a true journalist. Fellow journalist, and political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal has spoken in favor of Julian Assange as well (although from prison).
The Sycophantic Stenographers Club has demonstrated its gross hypocrisy and callous disregard for journalists not favorable to the Oligarchy. The record is crystal clear, Joe gave them one last chance to redeem themselves.
At least we know where we stand: the Ministry of Truth will shove all unapproved information down the Memory Hole, unless the last vestiges of journalism hold fast. We see that here at CN and a few other places
As usual, the comments here are great as well.
No surprise there, it is the antithesis of journalism as Julian Assange is its brightest example.
If a national organization that professes to uphold the integrity & best practices of a profession meant to stand as a bulwark for the public against government overreach, injustice, even tyranny fails to do so then what does that say?
If the press self-censors or shies away from thorny issues and allows itself to be cowed by corporate power then does that make it cowardly? Or does it merely stand mute to graze in well tended pastures in bovine ignorance?
Maybe Joe Lauria could also write a letter to Antony Blinken asking to drop Julian Assange’s extradition request. Either Blinken should follow through or eat the words from his speech on December 8, 2022 on Media Freedom: Safety and Sustainability:
“I’d like to recognize the extraordinary work of journalists and media workers around the world. Your reporting plays an indispensable role in informing the public, holding governments accountable, and telling stories that otherwise would not be told. All of which is critical to the health of democracies like ours……
And yet, as we all know, for too many journalists, doing this work means having to endure threats, harassment, and attacks….
More than 350 journalists are currently being imprisoned in connection to their work, according to Reporters without Borders.
Of course, these aren’t the only ways press freedom is under assault. Governments are using libel, defamation, and counterterrorism laws to go after reporters who shine a spotlight on corruption and abuse…..
At the Summit for Democracy this week, we’re asking governments to make concrete commitments to strengthen free, independent media and help tackle the diverse challenges they face.
Today, I’d like to highlight four ways the United States is doing that, among others….
So I want to make crystal clear: the United States will continue to stand up for the brave and necessary work of journalists around the world. And I look forward to hearing the commitments other governments will make in the Summit – not only to ensure justice for past attacks, and to prevent future attacks…but also to shore up the vibrant, independent press our democracies depend on for years to come.”
The full speech can be read here:
More or less confirms the irrelevancy of the NPC.
It’s not just the US National Press Club.
The Stralya Penal Colony continues on with local vassal warden pimps continuing to execute the cruel dictates of their u$a and British Royal overlords.
Julian’s fate is but just one clear example of the perfidy that these petty violent snakes who lord over Stralya’s untermenschen are willing and eager to implement.
The ongoing genocide of Australia’s First Nation Peoples, the slaughter of innocent Afghans, Iraqis, and Syrians, the barbarous Refugee concentration camps, and the rapacious pillage of Earth’s oldest continental biosphere reveal the utter depravity of Australia’s politician penal goon squad.
Barring a miracle, Julian’s fate seems to be sealed.
If they bring Assange to the Alexandria Federal Court for trial, I intend to get arrested protesting.
Chris, that’s exactly what an American martyr for first
amendment press freedom would do
Free press? Is that an Oxymoron?
You think its bad now. Wait until Ginni Thomas is running tje US with Leonard Leo as her hit man.
I asked a media organization in Quebec years ago if they were taking action on the Assange case and I got a smug reply about it being «international » and not really relevant to Quebec issues.
It could be that their pen ran out of ink?
Some advice may be helpful.
1.) If the nib of your pen contains dried ink, you can release it with heat or by scribbling on a piece of paper. If your cartridge leaks inside the barrel then you should soak the pen, after removing the cartridge, in a cup of water.
2.) Fill your bowl with rubbing alcohol and put the Sharpie, tip down, in the liquid.
Let it sit until you see a little ink running out into the alcohol. …
3.) Stop writing altogether?
Yep, not only have their pens dried up, there’s no lead in their pencils either.
The American press has also stood down on the recent Israeli sharpshooter assassination of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Here’s an excellent article on the pattern of American press coverups for the pattern of Israeli assassinations of journalists.
Silence is Zionism’s only defense
Israel’s glaring crimes are irrationally sacred to Americas corporate press and politicians. The most rational explanation is fear. Naturally, nobody in the press club or Congress wants to be treated like Shireen Abu Akleh or Julian Assange.
Thank you for article.
Thanks Joe for keeping Julian’s lonely fight for authentic journalism alive.
Consortium News has always been in fore front of Assange’s battle against
CIA operations. America’s secret police fears his documentation of
American/UK war crimes and ending their impunity from prosecution.
America’s deep state has been successful at propaganda and deceit because
our nation’s media is complicit in keeping the public in darkness and hiding the truth.
Maybe those comfortable media employees at the National Press Club would consider
reading Nils Melzer’s, The Trial of Julian Assange: UN Special Rapporteur on Torture,
and leave Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.
You don’t have to be a country to be a vassal.
If the US National Press Club cannot or will not explain why its members won’t join to protest what is happening to Assange, does that perhaps point to the fact that our Main Stream Media is wholly owned by the oligarchs who control our government? Should we not all be terrified by that prospect? Bravo to Joe Lauria and Consortium for standing up, and is there no major mainstream reporter willing to do so? What a sad day we have reached when no one with the standing of a Cronkite or any of dozens of other past reporters will so much as question the Us Press Club’s cowardly stand, let alone speak out about the horrors of the UK /Us treatment of Assange.
Yes, US mass media are “wholly owned by the oligarchs who control our government.”
Oligarchy control is the downfall of democracy. It is understandable that the US Constitutional Convention neglected to protect federal institutions from money power, as the largest concentrations of economic power in the 18th century were plantations and small ships. The emerging middle class was too preoccupied to take decisive action as economic concentrations grew, and by 1947 the situation was pretty hopeless. Since the Vietnam War, consolidation of the mass media by our anti-constitutional oligarchy has been completed.
If democracy is ever restored in the US, it must be stabilized by amendments to protect elections and mass media debate from economic power, better checks and balances within the government branches, purging the corrupt judiciary and Congress, monitoring of government officials for corruption, and regulation of business so that oligarchic bullies and scammers do not rise to control economic power. It also needs a fourth branch to publicly debate all policy issues, the Congress of Policy Debate (see CongressOfDebate dotcom) which will also model the structural reforms needed.
Thank you Ranney!!! I’m forwarding your comment to lefty activists whose heads are bloodied and almost bowed. There IS such a thing as ‘justice, and we must demand that it be practiced in the USA. That means we honor guardians of truth like Julian Assange. We don’t snuff them out.
Their silence is deafening. There is no reason for them to be silent , it’s shameful
Cowardly and shameful behaviour from the National Press Club, who seem willing, to watch Assange be locked
away for the rest of his life…for doing his job!
After Priti Patel s latest idea, to send refugees to RWanda, its clear to all of us, that this is not Justice, but,
a spiteful response, from someone, who had previously, tried to sell, a huge wave machine, to push refugees away
from UK shores..to this Government!
I can t bear to imagine the furore that would take place, if she handed Julian to the US, as her career would be
over, because thousands of us would make sure of that and Boris Johnson, would bear, some of the blame!
Sadly, the Guardian has continued its silence!
The Guardian today (21 May): “Peter Oborne: Extraditing Julian Assange would be a gift to secretive, oppressive regimes. In the course of the next few days, Priti Patel will make the most important ruling on free speech made by any home secretary in recent memory. She must resolve whether to comply with a US request to extradite Julian Assange on espionage charges.
The consequences for Assange will be profound. Once in the US he will almost certainly be sent to a maximum-security prison for the rest of his life. He will die in jail. The impact on British journalism will also be profound. It will become lethally dangerous to handle, let alone publish, documents from US government sources. Reporters who do so, and their editors, will risk the same fate as Assange and become subject to extradition followed by lifelong incarceration.”
Why the silence, why the holding back?? Are American Journalists now living in fear?? Just what is making them scared we should be told other wise its ” BYE BYE American pies you’ve sold out your cherished values…..
Yes indeed, American “journalists” are now living in fear or so brainwashed that the only opinions valid to them are those of the Establishment….Julian’s torture and coming extradition is a threat to their own lives….Remember, the CIA tried to assassinate him….Free Speech, Free Press is finished in the US.
Yes indeed. Has the persecution of Julian Assange by the US and others worked? Is the National Press Club now so cowed that they dare not say anything? Why are they not at the frontline making as much noise as possible? Why are they not acting like journalists? This whole affair affects them. What is the point of the National Press Club?
A bit of fear (See the assassination of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh) but a lot of greed. They have taken sides with the oligarchs against the common people.