Donziger: Assange Case a Fraud From A to Z

The rule of law is not being applied in Julian Assange’s case, just as it was not applied in mine, says lawyer Steven Donziger. 

Donziger gave the following address to the Belmarsh Tribunal on Friday night at the National Press Club in Washington. A transcript follows. 

Amy Goodman

Our next speaker is the American human rights attorney, Steven Donziger, who is part of a team that won a historic $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corporation, for polluting the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 2019, hee was targeted in New York with the first corporate prosecution in the history of the United States. Overall, he would serve 993 days under house arrest and in prison for a charge where the maximum sentence under law was 180 days: Steven Donziger.

Steven Donziger

Thank you, Amy and Srecko. And this wonderful panel, you know, half the battle when you sort of deal with the attacks – and I and I don’t mean to compare in any way my situation to the cruelty that Julian is enduring right now – but half the battle is this, you know, it’s the solidarity. There’s so many people here.

When I was in this long, you know, this long period of detention that I never could have imagined would happen in this country, because maybe I was a little naive. So many people came through for me and my family, just like people are here today for Julian. And I cannot tell you how completely uplifting that was. You know, part of the challenge when truth tellers speak truth to these entrenched pools of power is how to turn the attacks into opportunities.

And as I sort of watch the trajectory of Julian’s case, and I really hadn’t dug into it very deeply until the last year or two, by the way, when I read a book by Nils Meltzer. I don’t know if you folks know the book [from the] former U.N. special rapporteur on Torture, who has completely and meticulously documented that the U.S. government narrative about Julian is a complete fraud.

It is a complete fraud from A to Z. And Nils is not someone who comes at this from a movement perspective, like he’s a serious clinical lawyer. And I would recommend, by the way, to all the journalists out there watching this that if you have doubts about Julian and if you have doubts about the case, and if you’ve been sort of maybe a little bit taken with like, well, I don’t know about that guy, that you read Nils’s book, because I can tell you as someone who, you know, represented indigenous people, peoples in Ecuador for many, many years against Chevron – and for those who don’t know there’s a bunch of stuff online – but Chevron, over a period of years through Texaco, deliberately dumped billions of gallons of cancer-causing waste into the Amazon.

And, you know, I went down there as a young lawyer in 1993, just like Julian started WikiLeaks. You know, you start thinking, hey, man, we can do these big things and make a big difference in the world. And when you’re a little too effective at what you do, suddenly these entrenched interests of power, whether they be the national security apparatus or the fossil fuel industry, they figure out ways to just forget the rule of law. 

The rule of law, as is normally understood to be applied – and I get the fact that in this country, we’ve had a lot of problems through history of not applying the rule of law, not just recently – but as normally understood, the rule of law is not being applied to Julian’s case.

It was not applied to my case. I am the first person in U.S. history, the first lawyer ever to be detained pretrial on a misdemeanor charge. And my misdemeanor charge was that Chevron had figured out a way to get a judge to order me to turn over my computer to their lawyers in the middle of the case, with all this confidential information.

And when I appealed that order to a higher court, the judge charged me with criminal contempt of court, he took his charges to the federal prosecutor in New York who refused to prosecute me. And then the judge appointed a private corporate law firm to prosecute me in the name of the U.S. government without disclosing the fact that that corporate law firm had Chevron as a client.

I was prosecuted in the name of the U.S. government by a corporation. And when I go through the experience, and I’m so happy to be through that piece of it, although I’m still dealing with a lot from Chevron, but I don’t have my ankle bracelet. And I look at what Julian is dealing with. All I can say is it is absolutely vital that we understand the importance of Julian feeling all of our love and, and that we continue to spread the word.

It is critical. And I will say, as I look at Julian – I met Julian one time, by the way, a few years ago in the Ecuadorian embassy when he was there – but there is something big happening, whether he realizes it or not, through the process of fighting for his freedom. You know, it is a process of consciousness raising around the world.

It can be seen as an opportunity to strengthen our freedoms, to strengthen freedom of the press as is happening. And I just want to point out before closing, that there is an increasing corporatization of these types of attacks happening in this country. Just this week, just this week in the United States, we had the first police killing of a climate activist in Atlanta.

I don’t know if folks know about this Cop City project. And there are now 15 people, by my count, peaceful climate activists who have been charged with domestic terrorism in the United States of America. We see three the protests in Minnesota, the pipeline company pouring millions of dollars into public police to arrest protesters. So whether it’s the national security state, the fossil fuel industry or other elements of the corporate class, we have a serious problem with our government in this country, essentially being co-opted by elements that couldn’t give a damn about freedom for the rest of us.

And a few blocks from here at the Supreme Court, the show, which by the way, is meeting today to discuss whether they’re going to take my appeal of my misdemeanor contempt conviction. But that court, if you really think about it, has six justices now, four of whom were appointed by presidents who did not win their elections. They’re unelected and they’re making decisions about almost every critical issue related to the freedom for 330 million people, including what happens, by the way, in Julian’s case ultimately.

So we need to fight harder – and I don’t mean to leave a message that might demoralize people – because whenever I’m asked to talk about my experience, like the law students, I’m like, “No, no, no. You can really do this work. This work must be done”. And it must be done. And as we see this increasing oppression, we must continue to organize, fight, spread the word, and really try to turn the resistance into opportunities to advance the cause of justice. So I call on President Biden to step up. Come on, this is ridiculous. Drop the charges and free Julian Assange. Thank you very much.


4 comments for “Donziger: Assange Case a Fraud From A to Z

  1. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    January 26, 2023 at 02:02

    Donziger is clearly very lucky to have a highly sensible and ethical federal prosecutor very responsibly sticking up for him against the corporate cabal heavily invested in misusing the judicial mechanism against him, others elsewhere are not so lucky. Actually, the global rule of law project struck an unassailable international wall when the half-baked “globalization” they launched ran aground for want of universal bouyancy. Eversince that cabal has tried to impose their new-fangled “rules based order” instead as a sort of diplomatic cockring to hold up their drooping international rampancy ! The reorienting world is no longer buying into that bullshit anymore, so go America get Assange out to make a fresh restart.

  2. robert e williamson jr
    January 25, 2023 at 17:49

    I’ve been reading Bob Parry’s “AMERICAN DISPATCHES “.

    Mr. Donzinger is turns out is someone I have heard about earlier while reading one of my three favorite magazines. An article about TEXACO & CHEVRON poisoning the Amazon. Donzinger’s last paragraph here hit home here.

    I’ve been reading “AMERICAN DISPATCHES” which I believe should be required reading in high school and taught with equal importance as the U.S. Constitution. The constitution in in great peril at this moment in time and this book explains how it happened and why. Pretty heady stuff actually!!

    On page 139 of AMERICAN DISPATCHES Bob wrote, “In a way, I’ve grown to despair at the possibility of reforming some of these organizations. Maybe it can happen, but I think ultimately, we’re going to have to see a new king of media to replace this old one.” He was right then and still is. His despair didn’t last long.

    Page 140 of “ADs”, Part One “Boring Details (July/August 1993) – Originally published in Mother Jones magazine.

    Bob had to have known the best defense is a great offense and he let the words fly. Simply brilliant!

    What does any of this have to do with Julian Assnage. Bob proves beyond any shadow of doubt how corrupt GHW Bush, Reagan & administration, Casper Weinberger and General Colin Powell were. Remember Bush used a pardon to clear Weinberger and others of the crimes they committed. The MSM rubber stamping approval and doing “hit jobs” on all who protested. Mob mentality on display to intimidate the masses.

    He did it writing only four pages of text. Four pages, you got that? Julian is only guilty of telling the truth.

    The system treated senile Ron Reagan with kid gloves and damaged this countries reputation beyond description in the process. By way of presidential pardons. This type of Deep State influence is a corrupting mechanism and must be eliminated. No further use of a pardon to free evil doers who damage the county so seriously. No justice was served here only the suppression of information that would have ruined the reputations of all involved.

    That would have been true justice but the public got robbed by the crooks in government because they were allowed to wait justice out. This has got to stop, now would be perfect. Release Julian now!

    Hating the communist is evidently an addiction that draws the worst from these idiots. Julian isn’t a communist, he is instead a truth teller.

    Get this book and read it you owe it to Bob! We all owe GAry Webb, Danny Casolaro and others also.

    Joey has some serious issues and should in no way be allowed to play Russian Roulette risking world peace. I have written Sen. Dick Durbin about Julian and he replied. Same ole Same ole, “we have to let this work it’s way through the (courts) system. I responded telling him Julian published, that’s all, use of the legal system against him is in no way warrented.

    Julian did nothing as damaging as, 41, 40, Casper “the ghost” windbagger, Colin Powell and “Ollie”. All liars protecting their own asses and not acting in this country’s best interest. In the end Ronnie’s brain gave out, so be it and it appears the Deep Staters are using or have used up Joey’s brain also.

    That new media Bob referred to would be something like CN and the rest of us have him to that for an opportunity to help out.


    • Piotr Berman
      January 26, 2023 at 11:25

      “The system treated senile Ron Reagan with kid gloves and damaged this countries reputation beyond description in the process. ” This was so successful that to be a serious Presidential candidate, you have to be either genuinely stupid like Bush Jr. or Biden, or just prattle like an idiot. In few cases, a candidate went too far and in a way that was too funny.

      For example, a former governor of Texas made the reduction of “bureaucracy and waste” his main schtick and was proposing to eliminate three departments from his Administration. Asked by reporters which ones, he could name only one. He withdrew shortly afterwards. Now we have a president who speaks with two department heads behinds him, and can recall only one of two department names, “State and … eh … behind me … department of the military”. I guess he could ask “Austin, what is your department” if only he remembered his name. But on the reputation front, allies have their share of idiots on top positions, so USA does not look that bad in comparison.

      • robert e williamson jr
        January 26, 2023 at 14:10

        Piotr do you not think that the U.S. needs to do much better?

        I wonder if the Deep State actors don’t get the leadership They desire in many counties.

        Everyone should know enough by now to understand CIA has just such a history. Agents traipsing the world over seeking out key individuals to be used to overthrow democratically elected governments. Either way the U.S. citizens should expect much better performance from it’s leaders, especially those in the most powerful positions in government.

        Comparison to which allies, Israel? Seems to me both countries the U.S. and Israel could do themselves a great service to clean up their respective acts.

        Thanks CN

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