WATCH: Death Penalty for Assange?

Australian Sen. David Shoebridge spoke of the danger of the death penalty for Julian Assange in this discussion after a Sydney screening of the new film, The Trust Fall. (w/transcript)

Taking part in the discussion last Wednesday were Senator David Shoebridge, military whistleblower David McBride, blogger Maria Zeee, director of The Trust Fall, Kym Staton and Cathy Vogan, executive producer of Consortium NewsCN Live!, who hosted the panel.

Transcript (extracts)

Cathy Vogan [Consortium News]

David [Shoebridge], I would like you to start talking about this possibility of the death penalty, because this is probably the most serious thing. Could this possibly be now the linchpin, the thing that Britain can’t actually agree to?

Senator David Shoebridge

Well, it’s unlawful for the U.K. to extradite anybody to a third country where they may face the death penalty. And that’s just meant to be a black and white law. But of course, I think many of us have seen with some deep consternation why things we thought would be like a line in the law don’t seem to apply in Julian’s case.

I think there are other critical arguments that have been argued in the appeal case as well, and one of the most obvious ones is that the courts should just not accept what a government says to them about what will happen to somebody when they’re extradited. The courts have an obligation to independently investigate.

And of course, the trial judge, when they reviewed the evidence on the first occasion, said there was a very real likelihood that Julian would die if he was extradited. Not from capital punishment. In that case, it wasn’t a legal case, but the medical evidence was compelling. And we’ve seen that I think pretty starkly presented in Kym’s film [‘The Trust Fall’]. 

That went on appeal, the United States government appealed it. And they said it’s not for the courts to inquire into what the U.K. government says. It’s not for the courts to review this. They just have to accept what the United States and the U.K. Government say, and they’re not allowed to inquire behind it.

And the first appeal court said, Yep, that’s right, we’re not going to review it. And rather remarkably, that was at the same time that other cases were running through the court system about the U.K.’s efforts to extradite refugees to Rwanda without any legal review. And one of the arguments that’s being run in the current appeal is, the courts there said: Well you can’t just take governments at their word. That’s not what courts are for. You’re meant to actually test the evidence. 

And I suppose that’s the real test, if they are going to uphold that in Julian’s case. Are they going to say courts will just accept whatever a government says and not test it? Or is it the court’s job to actually test evidence? I hope that the rule of law has some substance.

Cathy Vogan

Yes, but with this landmark decision from the Supreme Court, where they have said it must be evidence-based a decision like that, maybe there’s hope. 

Senator David Shoebridge

Well of course there’s hope. That’s why the appeal is being run. But I think many of us fear that if this case is lost, literally within hours Julian could be on a C.I.A. plane being taken to the United States. And one of the things we asked the Home Secretary Cleverly in the U.K., on behalf of the now growing group of parliamentary friends of Assange, was to give Julian the time, if the case is lost, to make a final appeal to the European Court of Justice. We have not had a response from the U.K. Home Secretary, which is troubling.

Cathy Vogan

Still no response? That’s disgraceful. 

Question from the Audience

How do we save [Assange’s] life? Where is the leadership? What do we do? 

Senator David Shoebridge

One thing you would expect your government to do is, not just do quiet, almost invisible diplomacy. And one thing we’ve seen in the last little bit was finally we got a vote at the Lower House where we saw the government kinda shamed into voting for a resolution saying that Julian should come home.

It still didn’t say the charges should be dropped. It didn’t say that. But we finally got a vote. One thing I would have expected our government to do if they really cared about bringing Julian home, was to actually put some assets on the table.

And actually, instead of just saying to the United States, well, we’re going to be a little bit noisy about it, or we might finally say something about it, actually say, well do you know what? Some of our cooperation is on the table.

If you’re going to treat one of our citizens like this and want to put him in jail for life, or potentially kill him for just spilling your dirty secrets, well, I’m sorry, your U.K..S. Marines are going to have to go home from Darwin. [Applause] Or the B52s need to go home from Darwin.

Actually put an asset on the table and put some pressure on. But, you know, both Labor and the Coalition just seem utterly incapable of pushing back at all against the United States.

I was sitting there, it’s the second time I’ve seen the film [‘The Trust Fall’], and I was actually looking at some of the analysis of power and about how power operates and how we’re so supine to the United States, and as we see it in our relationship over AUKUS or military bases…

We’re seeing it at the moment in refusing to call out the United States and Israel over Palestine, you know, in that utterly, I think bankrupted approach we’ve shown for that as a government…

But then I was also reflecting on one of the characters you see fleetingly through this, the former Prime Minister Scott Morrison. And you see fleetingly the former C.I.A., Trump’s former C.I.A. director Pompeo.

And of course he was the one who wanted options on how to kill Julian Assange; sought the briefing on that. Apparently Morrison and Pompeo had a very close relationship, they catch up every week, and while Morrison was prime minister.

And if you really want the icing on the cake of that, our relationship with the United States, Morrison has now resigned from the Australian Parliament and one of the two high profile jobs he has taken is as a non-executive director with Pompeo’s U.S. consulting firm, stepped straight into that from being in the Australian parliament, straight into that job.

The other job he has taken is as a consultant with Dyne Maritime, which is a company that is established solely to suck money out of the AUKUS deal. The AUKUS deal he signed, as a prime minister, with the United States, handing over billions of dollars of Australian tax dollars to the United States.

So, you know, I think we should analyse the power and we should demand our government actually have an independent foreign policy; demand our government be independent and actually stand up for an Australian citizen, and that means putting assets on the table. [Applause]

Cathy Vogan

I think it’s a different answer for each person. There are people like Kym [Staton] who make films. I make films too. I report from the courtroom as well.

There are musicians who write songs; there are are lawyers who keep their eye on the ball, and it’s the work of all of us together that is making things change. Short answer.

Maria Zeee

It’s very, very crucial for everyone to be very informed, everyone to be informed, about legislation that’s coming down the pipeline, the goals of government, things like digital ID and misinformation, Disinformation Bill, things like this.

When I talk to people about where that will lead, from an educated perspective, for example, look at what the U.K. has done with the Online Safety Act and you know, every, every personal message that you send will be tracked by the government.

Nothing that you do on your phone will not be tracked by the government. And then you bring in things like hate speech. What’s hate speech? No one knows. You can’t define it because it doesn’t exist. You bring things like hate speech in and then all of a sudden everyone’s a criminal and a thought criminal.

The Bill C63 in Canada is absolutely terrifying. It actually seeks to put regular people, like all of us, under house arrest if they might one day say something that offends someone.

This is an actual bill that’s in existence in Canada right now. So I think that from an education perspective, it’s very important to keep our finger on the pulse and monitor the things that government are bringing in, governments all around the world, so that we can show people that, like I said before, anyone could end up like Julian, literally anyone.

Kym Staton [Director of ‘The Trust Fall’]

You know, the last time I was in this cinema – I realised when I was on the way here – I was probably eight years old and it was my birthday and I came here to watch ‘The Never-Ending Story’. And this is the same.

Like Stella says in her interview, all of these years and everyone has failed Julian. We feel like we’re in this stagnant situation despite the small developments in the Australian political sphere. But, you know, I agree with what everybody said about what we can do, and use whatever talents you have. It all adds up.

Every little drop of water becomes a part of this wave. And my point of view as an educator with this documentary, it reminds me back to this quote of Julian that I always share, which is, he says, I believe that education is the way to justice and let’s remember that WikiLeaks was about educating the world. And so as an educator, this film is meant to raise much awareness.

And maybe that’s the answer, that awareness will actually create change. 

3 comments for “WATCH: Death Penalty for Assange?

  1. LeoSun
    March 21, 2024 at 12:36

    Bravissimo! Bravissimo!! Bravissimo!!!

    Once, again, the Universe, is in the company of Julian Assange’s friends, “Living & Loving, Out Loud.”

    …… “You catch me if I’m fallin’. You can catch me if I’m fallin’. [WILL YOU CATCH ME]? ‘Cause I’m fallin’ down on you. I said, I’m under the gun, ’round here. I’m innocent. I’m under the gun, ’round here; AND, I can’t see nothin’. Nothin’. ’round here.” Adam Duritz’ Counting Crows, “Round Here.”

    “WILL YOU CATCH ME?” Absophfknlutely, i.e., “The Trust Fall.” Trust is everything, the tears, the cheers, the fears, i.e., “Death Penalty for Assange?”

    Imo, it’s best, before going there > Joe Lauria’s, 3.20.24, “Report: Assange in Plea Deal Talks,” to listen here, “Death Penalty for Assange?,” and, here, “Resistance.” Chris Williamson’s channel. His guest, Kym Stanton talking about, all of it! Julian Assange’s years of isolation, deprivation, incarceration w/No f/Charges b/c Julian Assange committed No Crimes! 15 years! ENOUGH! Julian Assange has taken the bullet, year after year, for the Beast that holds the power to set him FREE! Free, from the Beast’s dirty, grubby, infected, bloody claws & tentacles that have squeezed & squandered a good man’s, Julian Assange’s, life!

    The universe implores the Beast, the “powers that be,” “AUKUS,” to “Make It Rain,” SET Julian Assange, FREE!!!

    TY, CN, Cathy Vogan, David McBride, David Shoebridge, Kym Stanton, Maria Zee. Concluding, “Some people dream of great accomplishments while others stay awake to do them.” Thank You!

    …p.s., Congratulations, David McBride. “Living, Free!” Fingers crossed, forever!

    “KEEP IT LIT.” Ciao

  2. JonT
    March 20, 2024 at 09:38

    Only just seen this. Fascinating, interesting, and horrifying all at once.


  3. CaseyG
    March 19, 2024 at 19:28

    To me, Julian Assange is the last honest man on the planet—but the horror players are from the USA and the UK.
    What was done to him for all these years is like hiring the mafia to make him cringe and lie —– but that’s not Julian Assange—-it is however much of how the US government operates.

    I am horrified with so many in high government positions who seem to specialize in the art of lying and when to dissemble.I’ve read a lot about American history and it seems that today we really don’t have patriots—these current people are merely focusing on climbing higher into their own version of power. That’s how America will end —and sooner rather than later. Biden and Trump are useless and clueless about what governments could and should be. I keep hearing that old poem in my head: ” This is the way the world ends—not with a bang–with a whimper.” : (

    should be.

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