How Many Times Must Assange Be Proven Right?

The espionage charges against Assange bear out what he’s been saying and should open ears to what he’s also said about the non-Russian source of the DNC emails, says Caitlin Johnstone.  

By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

And there it is. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged by the Trump administration’s Justice Department with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act, carrying a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. Exactly as Assange and his defenders have been warning would happen for nearly a decade.

The indictment, like the one that preceded it last month with Assange’s arrest, is completely fraudulent, as it charges Assange with “crimes” that are indistinguishable from conventional journalistic practices. The charges are based on the same exact evidence that was available to the Obama administration, which, as journalist Glenn Greenwald noted last year, declined to prosecute Assange citing fear of destroying press freedoms.

Hanna Bloch-Wehba, an associate professor at Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law, has called the indictment “a worst-case, nightmare, mayday scenario for First Amendment enthusiasts.” Bloch-Wehba explains that the indictment’s “theories for liability rest heavily on Assange’s relationship with Manning and his tendency to encourage Manning to continue to bring WikiLeaks material” in a way that “is not readily distinguishable from many reporter-source relationships cultivated over a period of time.”

One of the versions of The New York Times‘ report on the new Assange indictment, which has since been edited out but has been preserved here in a quote by Slate, said that “officials would not engage with questions about how the actions they said were felonies by Mr. Assange differed from ordinary investigative journalism. Notably, The New York Times, among many other news organizations, obtained precisely the same archives of documents from WikiLeaks, without authorization from the government.”

Press freedom organizations have been condemning these new espionage charges in stark and unequivocal language.

“Put simply, these unprecedented charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century,” reads a statement by Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm. “The Trump administration is moving to explicitly criminalize national security journalism, and if this prosecution proceeds, dozens of reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere would also be in danger. The ability of the press to publish facts the government would prefer remain secret is both critical to an informed public and a fundamental right. This decision by the Justice Department is a massive and unprecedented escalation in Trump’s war on journalism, and it’s no exaggeration to say the First Amendment itself is at risk. Anyone who cares about press freedom should immediately and wholeheartedly condemn these charges.”

Attack on First Amendment

“The indictment of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing classified information is an attack on the First Amendment and a threat to all journalists everywhere who publish information that governments would like to keep secret,” reads a statement by Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon. “Press freedom in the United States and around the world is imperiled by this prosecution.”

“For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges under the Espionage Act against a publisher for the publication of truthful information,” reads a statement by the ACLU. “This is a direct assault on the First Amendment. These charges are an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism, establishing a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets. The charges against Assange are equally dangerous for US journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations. If the US can prosecute a foreign publisher for violating our secrecy laws, there’s nothing preventing China, or Russia, from doing the same.”

Also opposing the new indictment, far too late, have been popular pundits from mainstream liberal news outlets.

“The Espionage indictment of Assange for publishing is an extremely dangerous, frontal attack on the free press. Bad, bad, bad,” tweeted MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

“Today the Trump DOJ becomes the first administration to ever charge a publisher with *espionage* — an assertive, unprecedented legal crackdown on the traditional rights and protections for publishers,” tweeted MSNBC’s Ari Melber. “That is a legal fact, regardless of one’s views of Julian Assange. The new Trump DOJ indictment treats activities most top newspapers engage in — gathering and publishing classified material — as criminal plotting, claiming Assange ‘conspired’ with and ‘aided and abetted’ his source in the pursuit of classified material.”

Late Condemnations

One need only to look at the outraged “this is a horrible take” comments underneath these tweets to see that these condemnations are coming long after the propaganda they’ve helped advance against WikiLeaks has seeped well into the bloodstream. It’s impossible to tell the same group of people day after day that Assange is an evil Nazi Putin puppet rapist who smells bad and mistreats his cat, and then persuade them to respond to a depraved Trump administration agenda against that same person with an appropriate level of resistance.

“I find no satisfaction in saying ‘I told you so’ to those who for 9 years have scorned us for warning this moment would come,” tweeted WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson. “I care for journalism. If you share my feeling you take a stand NOW. Either you are a worthless coward or you defend Assange, WikiLeaks and Journalism.”

Indeed, WikiLeaks staff and their supporters have been warning of this for many years, only to be dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theorists and rape apologists by smearers who insisted Assange was merely avoiding rape charges by taking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London back in 2012. There are many tweets by the WikiLeaks Twitter account warning that the U.S. is trying to charge Assange under the Espionage Act all the way back in 2010, and they’ve been warning about it over and over again ever since, but nobody’s listened.

“The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride,” blared a Guardian headline last year by the odious James Ball, with the sub-header “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the U.S., charges in Sweden have been dropped – and for the embassy, he’s lost his value as an icon.”

Assange has been warning for years that this was coming. He’s been unequivocal about the fact that he was perfectly willing to participate in the Swedish investigation from the beginning and was only taking asylum with Ecuador due to fear of extradition and political prosecution in the U.S., which Ecuador explicitly stated were its reasons for granting him asylum. He was absolutely correct. He’s been correct the entire time. History has vindicated him. He was right and his critics were wrong.

We are also already seeing Assange vindicated in his warnings of what his prosecution would mean for the free press. He hasn’t even been extradited yet and we’re already seeing a greatly escalated war on journalism being implemented, with new developments in just the last few days like a San Francisco journalist now being charged with conspiracy for receiving internal documents from the San Francisco Police Department, and a prominent French journalist being summoned by police for reporting on corruption in the Macron government.

All this of course begs the question: what else has he been right about? Anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty who has previously had their doubts about Assange will necessarily begin asking themselves this question now. It’s worth reviewing the things Assange has been saying about Russia not being the source of the 2016 Democratic Party emails that WikiLeaks published, about what really happened in Sweden, and about his general understanding of what’s going on in the world with opaque and unaccountable power structures leading us all down a very dark and dangerous path.

If you open your mind to the possibility that Assange has been right about more than you’ve given him credit for previously, the implications can shatter your world. Give it a try. There’s no longer any legitimate reason not to.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” This article was re-published with permission.




Assange Espionage Act Indictment: Watch 31st Vigil Live

Tune in here at 4 pm EDT Friday for a webcast discussion about Julian Assange’s indictment under the Espionage Act and the grave implications for the future of American journalism.

Join John Kiriakou, Caitlin Johnstone, Daniel Ellsberg, Senator Mike Gravel and more.




Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act on 17 New Counts

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was indicted on Thursday under the Espionage Act, the first time a journalist has been charged under the Act for possessing and disseminating classified information.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

A journalist was indicted under the Espionage Act for the first time in U.S. history on Thursday when the Department of Justice charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with 17 counts of violating the Act in a move that opens the way for prosecution of anyone who publishes classified information.

The 37-page indictment charges Assange under four sections of the Act, including Section E for possessing and disseminating classified matter. It charged him with acts common to any investigative journalist:

“(i)circumvent(ing) legal safeguards on information; (ii) provid(ing) that protected information to WikiLeaks for public dissemination; and (iii) continu(ing) the pattern of illegally procuring and providing protected information to WikiLeaks for distribution to the public.”     

Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in London’s Belmarsh prison for skipping bail and seeking asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in 2012 because he feared onward extradition from Sweden to the United States and prosecution under the Espionage Act. He was arrested on April 11 when Ecuador illegally lifted his asylum and let British police onto Ecuadorian territory to carry Assange from the embassy.

The U.S. had until June 12 to add additional charges in its extradition request to Britain. The decision on extradition rests with British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who WikiLeaks said “is now under enormous pressure to protect the rights of the free press in the UK and elsewhere.”

Not a Journalist

John Demers, head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, in announcing the indictment told reporters: “Some say that Assange is a journalist and that he should be immune for prosecution for these actions.  The department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy and we thank you for it. It is not and has never been the department’s policy to target them for reporting.”

But Demers said Assange wasn’t a journalist. “No responsible actor, journalist or otherwise, would purposefully publish the names of individuals he or she knew to be confidential human sources in a war zone, exposing them to the gravest of dangers,” he said.  

Assange’s attorney in the U.S.,  Barry Pollack,  responded:

“Today the government charged Julian Assange under the Espionage Act for encouraging sources to provide him truthful information and for publishing that information. The fig leaf that this is merely about alleged computer hacking has been removed. These unprecedented charges demonstrate the gravity of the threat the criminal prosecution of Julian Assange poses to all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions that have taken by the U.S. government.”

Assange would face a maximum of 175 years in jail if convicted on all charges. The Espionage Act carries a potential death penalty if the publication of classified information takes place during wartime. Some of WikiLeak‘s most prominent releases related to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which prima facie evidence of U.S. war crimes was revealed.

WikiLeaks criticized in a statement the global reach of U.S. law: “The Department of Justice wants to imprison Assange for crimes allegedly committed outside of the United States. This extraterritorial application of US law is explicit throughout the indictment… thereby classifying any territory in the world as subject to US law.” A 1961 amendment to the Espionage Act extended its jurisdiction from U.S. territory to the entire world.

A key part of the indictment alleges that Assange published in the Iraq, Afghanistan and State Dept. cables releases the unredacted names of informants and other persons, putting their lives at risk. The indictment does not name this as a violation of a specific statute, however, and appears to be  an attempt to win public sympathy for the new charges.  

According to a WikiLeaks source, Assange was forced to reveal certain names in the Cable-gate releases in September 2011 to actually help individuals escape when two Guardian journalists in February of that year published a password to material containing their names that only intelligence agencies could access. Assange has repeatedly said that there is no known case of harm coming to anyone whose names were revealed and the indictment only says that informants were “vulnerable” to retribution.

The indictment accuses Assange of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal classified documents. But it clearly states that Manning already had legal “access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst” and that Assange’s efforts to help Manning with a password was intended to help hide her identity as the source. The indictment appears to be criminalizing what is a routine act of journalism.

“Had Manning retrieved the full password hash and had ASSANGE and Manning successfully cracked it, Manning may have been able to log onto computers under a user name that did not belong to her,” the indictment said. “Such a measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.”

Manning, who is portrayed throughout the indictment as WikiLeak‘s source only at Assange’s behest, (and who remains imprisoned for refusing to testify against Assange), issued this statement:

“I continue to accept full and sole responsibility for those disclosures in 2010. It’s telling that the government appears to have already obtained this indictment before my contempt hearing last week. This administration describes the press as the opposition party and an enemy of the people. Today, they use the law as a sword, and have shown their willingness to bring the full power of the state against the very institution intended to shield us from such excesses.”

Press Freedom at Risk

The indictment under the Espionage Act demolishes a democratic pretense of freedom of the press in the U.S. and makes all news organizations —indeed any citizen — liable for prosecution for disseminating classified information.

“Notably, The New York Times, among many other news organizations, obtained precisely the same archives of documents from WikiLeaks, without authorization from the government — the act that most of the charges addressed,” the Times reported.

“Though he is not a conventional journalist, much of what Mr. Assange does at WikiLeaks is difficult to distinguish in a legally meaningful way from what traditional news organizations like The New York Times do: seek and publish information that officials want to be secret, including classified national security matters, and take steps to protect the confidentiality of sources,” the Times report on the indictment said.

 In a tweet WikiLeaks called the indictment “madness.”

The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted:

“These charges are an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism, establishing a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets.

The charges against Assange are equally dangerous for US journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations. If the US can prosecute a foreign publisher for violating our secrecy laws, there’s nothing preventing China, or Russia, from doing the same.”

In a statement, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristin Hrafnsson said:

“This is the evil of lawlessness in its purest form. With the indictment, the ‘leader of the free world’ dismisses the First Amendment — hailed as a model of press freedom around the world — and launches a blatant extraterritorial assault outside its borders, attacking basic principles of democracy in Europe and the rest of the world.”

In a tweet, Hrafnsson added that he took “no satisfaction” in having correctly warned of the Espionage Act prosecution of Assange.

Former British ambassador Craig Murray tweeted that “the poison is out.”

A guide to the new charges against Assange.

Elizabeth Vos and Catherine Vogan contributed to this article.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .




Now, the Swedish Arrest Warrant for Assange

Craig Murray spots the latest phase of judicial and media bias against the publisher of WikiLeaks.

By Craig Murray
CraigMurray.org.uk

In Sweden, prosecutors have applied to the Swedish courts to issue a warrant for Julian Assange’s arrest. There is a tremendous back story to that simple statement.

The European arrest warrant must be issued from one country to another by a judicial authority. The original Swedish request for Assange’s extradition was not issued by any court, but simply by the prosecutor. This was particularly strange, as the chief prosecutor of Stockholm had initially closed the case after deciding there was no case to answer, and then another, highly politically motivated, prosecutor had reopened the case and issued a European arrest warrant, without going to any judge for confirmation.

Assange’s initial appeal up to the U.K. Supreme Court was in large part based on the fact that the warrant did not come from a judge but from a prosecutor, and that was not a judicial authority. I have no doubt that, if any other person in the U.K. had been the accused, the British courts would not have accepted the warrant from a prosecutor. The incredible and open bias of the courts against Assange has been evident since day 1.

My contention is borne out by the fact that, immediately after Assange lost his case against the warrant in the Supreme Court, the British government changed the law to specify that future warrants must be from a judge and not a prosecutorThat is just one of the incredible facts about the Assange case that the mainstream media has hidden from the general public.

The judgement against Assange in the U.K. Supreme Court on the point of whether the Swedish prosecutor constituted a “judicial authority” hinged on a completely unprecedented and frankly incredible piece of reasoning. Lord Phillips concluded that in the English text of an EU treaty “judicial authority” could not include the Swedish prosecutor, but that in the French version “autorite judiciaire” could include the Swedish prosecutor. The two texts having equal validity, Lord Phillips decided to prefer the French language text over the English language text, an absolutely stunning decision as the U.K. negotiators could be presumed to have been working from the English text, as could U.K. ministers and parliament when they ratified the decision.

I am not making this up – you will find Phillips amazing bit of linguistic gymnastics here on page nine, paragraph 21 of his judgement. Again, it is impossible that this would have been done to anybody but Julian Assange; and had it been, the outcry from the mainstream media against the preference given to French wording and thus French legal tradition would have been deafening. But given the state’s opne animus against Assange, it all was passed quietly with the law simply amended immediately thereafter to stop it happening to anybody else.

The law having been changed, this time the Swedes have to do it properly and actually go to a court to issue a warrant. That is what is now happening. As usual, The Guardian on Monday could not resist the temptation to tell an outright lie about what is happening.

The main headline is completely untrue. Sweden has not filed a request for arrest. Sweden is going through its judicial processes – which it skipped the first time – in order to decide whether or not to file a request for arrest. This gives Assange the opportunity to start the process of fighting the allegations, which he strenuously denies, in the Swedish courts. However, at present his Swedish lawyer cannot access him in London’s Belmarsh high-security jail, which is typical of the abuses of process to which he is subject.

It is not political correctness that prevents the U.K. mainstream media from investigating the extraordinary nature of the allegations against Assange in Sweden. For example, in the case of Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel housekeeper who brought charges against prominent Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the U.K. media had no compunction whatsoever in publishing the name of the alleged victim from the very first moment of the allegations against DSK. The entire story was raked through in detail by every single national newspaper, and extensively by the BBC.

I have never heard anybody even attempt to explain why it was OK for the MSM to look in detail at Diallo’s accusations and use her name, but Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen must never be named and their story must never be doubted. The answer is not the position in Swedish law – the Swedish law states that neither the accuser nor the accused may be named, which law has been gleefully broken in Assange’s case every day for nine years. When it comes to Assange, he is simply to be reviled. He is provably treated differently by both state and MSM at all points. It does not matter to them that his arrest warrant was not from a judge, or that the media apply entirely different rules to investigating his case, enforced by a feminist mantra they do not believe or uphold in other cases. He is simply to be hated without question.

Why has there never been a documentary in the U.K. like the brilliant “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange” from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship Four Corners programme? Please do watch if you have not done so already.

Julian Assange revolutionized publishing by bringing the public direct access to massive amounts of raw material showing secrets the government wished to hide. By giving the public this direct access he cut out the filtering and mediating role of the journalistic and political classes. Contrast, for example, the “Panama Papers,” which — contrary to promises —only ever saw less than 2 percent of the raw material published and where major western companies and individuals were completely protected from revelation because of the use of MSM intermediaries. Or compare WikiLeaksto the Snowden files, the vast majority of which have now been buried and will never be revealed, after foolishly being entrusted to The Guardian and The Intercept. Assange cut out the intermediary role of the mediating journalist and, by allowing the people to see the truth about how they are governed, played a major role in undercutting public confidence in the political establishment that exploits them.

There is an interesting parallel with the reaction to the work of Reformation scholars in translating the Bible into vernacular languages and giving the populace direct access to its contents, without the mediating filters of the priestly class. Such developments will always provoke extraordinary venom from those whose position is threatened. I see a historical parallel between Julian Assange and William Tyndale in this respect. It is something worth bearing in mind in trying to understand the depth of the state’s hatred of Julian.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. This article first appeared on his website.




For the Latest News on WikiLeaks Watch the 30th Online Vigil

Host Elizabeth Vos led a discussion with author George Szamuely on Chelsea Manning returning to prison; Sweden reopening its case against Assange and the other big headlines of the week.




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The Revelations of WikiLeaks: No. 3—The Most Extensive Classified Leak in History

The “Iraq War Logs” disgorged an unprecedented profusion of documents, military reports and videos, reports Patrick Lawrence. 

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

For WikiLeaks, 2010 was an exceptionally eventful year. In April the transparency organization released “Collateral Murder,” the video of U.S. Army helicopters as they shot more than a dozen Iraqis in Baghdad. That proved a worldwide shock and put the 4-year-old publisher on the global media map.

“Afghan War Diaries,” a cache of 75,000 documents, followed in July.

Three months later, on Oct. 22, 2010, WikiLeaks released an even more explosive trove: 391,831 documents and videos it named Iraq War Logs.” This superseded “Afghan War Diaries” as by far the most extensive leak of classified material in U.S. history. It shone a stark light on the U.S.–led coalition’s conduct in Iraq after its 2003 invasion, when the nation had erupted into a violent sectarian war. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, said the Logs “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”

The source for the “Iraq War Logs” was once again Chelsea Manning, who by then was in a military prison awaiting trial on charges connected to “Collateral Murder” that wound up including 22 counts of theft, assisting the publication of classified intelligence and aiding the enemy.

The Documents

With the publication of  the “Iraq War Logs,” WikiLeaks disgorged an unprecedented profusion of documents, military reports and videos.

The Logs cover the six-year period from Jan. 1, 2004, (a matter of months after the 2003 invasion) to Dec. 31, 2009.  WikiLeaks  partnered with The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Al Jazeera and Le Monde to disseminate the Iraq Logs. 

Taken together, the Logs portray Iraq under allied occupation as the scene of lawless mayhem and violence. Codes of conduct were routinely ignored, shootings were often indiscriminate and torture of detainees was regularly treated as acceptable practice. Innocent civilians were under constant threat of U.S.-led coalition gunfire and arrest, interrogation, and mistreatment by allied military units and the Iraqi army and police.

Among the Logs’ most significant revelations:

Torture of Detainees

The Iraqi military and police systematically tortured prisoners — including women, children and other civilians — with the tacit approval (and at times the complicity) of U.S. forces. On numerous occasions U.S. troops were directly responsible for the torture of detainees. Here is a typical report of prisoner abuse by a Special Operations unit. The incident occurred on Feb. 2, 2006; the report conveys the routine fashion in which the coalition treated such events. The detainees name, the Special Operations unit’s name, and the location of the incident are deleted:

ALLEGED DETAINEE ABUSE BY TF ___ IN ___ 2006-02-02 17:50:00

AT 2350C, IN ___, WHILE CONDUCTING OUT-PROCESSING, DETAINEE # ___ REPORTED THAT HE WAS ABUSED DURING HIS CAPTURE. DETAINEE IS MISSING HIS RIGHT EYE, AND HAS SCAR___ ON HIS RIGHT FOREARM. DETAINEE STATES THAT HIS INJURIES ARE A RESULT OF THE ABUSE THAT HE RECEIVED UPON CAPTURE. DIMS INDICATE THAT THE DETAINEE WAS CAPTURED ON ___ IN ___, AND THE CAPTURING UNIT WAS TASK FORCE ___. THE DETAINEES CAPTURE TAG NUMBER IS ___. IN PROCESSING PERSONNEL STATE THAT THE DETAINEE___ CAPTURE PHOTO DEPICTS A BANDAGE OVER HIS RIGHT EYE, AND INJURY TO HIS RIGHT FOREARM. THE DETAINEE HAS COMPLETED THE DETAINEE ABUSE COMPLAINT FORM, AND WE ARE SEEKING A SWORN STATEMENT FROM THE DETAINEE. PER ORDER OF Task force ___, THE DETAINEE ___ TRANSFERRED AS SCHEDULED, AND CONTINUE CID INVESTIGATION UPON ARRIVAL AT ___ GHRAIB.

There are many thousands of similar reports detailing the violent misconduct of coalition and Iraqi forces.

Among WikiLeak’s key revelations, scarcely mentioned in U.S. media reports, were the American army’s secret orders effectively requiring U.S. military units to ignore thousands of cases of “green-green” torture, violence and murder — incidents involving Iraqi detainees held at Iraqi army bases, police stations and prisons. The list of common green-green practices makes repellent reading. Accounts of such incidents, sometimes accompanied by video shot as they occurred, detail beatings of blindfolded prisoners; stabbings; electrocutions; whippings with wires; and sodomy with hoses, water bottles and other objects.

The first U.S. orders covering these incidents were issued in June 2004, two months after the torture practices of U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib broke into the news. The orders were called Frago 242, meaning “fragmentary orders.” Providing there was no U.S. involvement in an incident, American forces were told not to investigate it “unless directed by higher headquarters,” or HHQ. Frago 039, a subsequent order issued in April 2005, required U.S. troops to report green-green incidents; U.S. troops would report more than 1,300 cases of green-green torture to their commanding officers. But, once again, they were ordered to take no further action. Frago 242 and 039 were clear breaches of U.S. responsibility in Iraq.

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Here is an example of the reports U.S. forces routinely filed after Frago 242 and Frago 039 were issued. It recounts the apparent murder of a detainee while in Iraqi custody. The incident occurred on Aug. 9, 2009, in Ramadi. Iraqi officials termed the detainee’s death a suicide, while the U.S. report found the detainee’s injuries “consistent with abuse.” The U.S. military closed the case the following October; there is no indication any action was taken:

Date: 2009-08-27 09:00:00

Type: Suspicious Incident

Category: Other

Tracking no.: 20090827090038SLB413998

Title: (SUSPICIOUS INCIDENT) OTHER RPT RAMADI IRAQI CTU : 1 UE KIA

Summary: WHO: RAMADI PGC TT

WHAT: Reports possible detainee abuse

WHEN: 270900C AUG 09

WHERE: Iraqi CTU in Ramadi IVO (38S LB 413 998)

HOW: At 270900C AUG 09, the PGC TT reports possible detainee abuse IVO (38S LB 413 998). On 26 Aug 09, a PGC TT (which included a USN Corpsman) conducted a post mortem visual examination of JASIM MOHAMMED AHMED AL-SHIHAWI, an individual arrested in conjunction with a VBIED interdicted NE of Camp Taqaddum (SIGACT Entry DTG: 241130CAug09). The detainee was transferred from the IHP in Saqlawiah to the Iraqi CTU in Ramadi for questioning and while in custody, reportedly committed suicide. The PGC TT personnel conducting the post mortem examination found bruises and burns on the detainee`s body as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs, and neck. The PGC TT report the injuries are consistent with abuse. The CTU/IP have reportedly begun an investigation into the detainees death. An update will be posted when more information becomes available. The SIR is attached.

CLOSED 20091019

On Oct. 24, 2010, two days after WikiLeaks published the “Iraq War Logs,” Al Jazeera released “U.S. Turns a Blind Eye to Torture.” The video details the Frago 242 and 039 stipulations as revealed in the Logs. While some incidents were eventually investigated — apparently including the one in Ramadi — there is no record of Iraqi personnel receiving a sentence for misconduct. The Al Jazeera report traces knowledge of the orders to “the highest levels of the U.S. government” — including, the video makes plain, Donald Rumsfeld, then defense secretary.

Civilian Deaths

For the first two years following the 2003 invasion, U.S. military authorities denied keeping records of civilian deaths in Iraq. Only in 2005, when the Defense Department began reporting statistics to Congress, did it emerge that the military had in fact compiled such records. But the DoD’s reports were too imprecise to constitute a reliable record: Deaths and injuries were combined, as were civilian and Iraqi army casualties. And the official numbers were consistently lower than other contemporaneous figures, according to Iraq Body Count, an investigative nongovernmental group based in London. In the five-year period the Logs cover, U.S. military logs put the number of Iraqi casualties at 109,032, some 60,000 of whom were civilians.

The “Iraq War Logs” did much to clarify the casualty question. In a detailed report, Iraq Body Count said the Logs made it possible, for the first time, to combine disparately sourced data to build a significantly more complete picture.

Iraq Body Count estimated that the Logs “will add in the order of 15,000 previously unrecorded Iraqi civilian deaths to the public record.” It concluded: “A final accounting of the human tragedies contained in the Iraq War Logs will require much time and painstaking effort, but it is now at least possible.”

Checkpoint Incidents

“Iraq War Logs” include nearly 14,000 incidents the U.S. military labeled “escalation of force” events. This principle requires military units to take a series of non-lethal steps before resorting to deadly force. These incidents occurred in a variety of circumstances. The Logs underscore the frequency of them at U.S. military checkpoints or near U.S. convoys and patrols. These incidents appear to reflect the U.S. military’s often random, undisciplined use of force during the period covered in the Logs.

The Logs reveal that some 680 Iraqi civilians were fatally shot in such incidents; roughly 2,000 others were injured. Casualties included families, pregnant women, and physically or mentally impaired Iraqis. These incidents commonly involved innocent people who unwittingly strayed too close to a U.S. checkpoint. They very often reflected disproportionate use of force by U.S. troops.

Al Jazeera published a thorough report on checkpoint shootings on Oct. 23, 2010, the day after WikiLeaks released the Logs. The Daily Telegraph published a report on Oct. 24 detailing numerous similar cases. Both noted an incident described in the Logs and dating to September 2005. It is more typical than exceptional. Here is a portion of Al Jazeera’s report:

“In September 2005, after going through an appropriate escalation, two soldiers from the 1–155thinfantry opened fire on an approaching vehicle with M249 machine guns. Both poured 100 bullets into the car—five or six seconds of sustained fire from a gun capable of shooting 1,000 rounds per minute.”

The shooting killed a man and a woman in the car’s front seat and wounded children aged 6 and 9 in the rear seat. “Relatives of those killed,” Al Jazeeranotes, “were later awarded $10,000 compensation from the U.S. military, which found the soldiers violated their rules of engagement.”

Al Jazeera’s analysis of the Logs indicated that the number of escalation-of-force incidents fell sharply in 2008, to fewer than 1,600 from more than 3,500 the previous year. “That was due, in part, to new rules intended to protect civilians—but also because Iraqi security forces, instead of Americans, had taken over an increasing number of checkpoints,” Al Jazeeera’s Gregg Carlstrom wrote. “‘Escalation of force’ incidents by Iraqi troops are not often reported by the U.S. military.”

Shootings from Helicopter Gunships

The Apache helicopter videotaped and featured in “Collateral Murder” was known as Crazy Horse 18. The Logs reveal that several Apaches in the Crazy Horse unit  conducted a series of fatal attacks in addition to the July 2007 incident recorded in the video released as “Collateral Murder” in April 2010. The most noted of these sheds light on the legal rationale U.S. forces often claimed to justify their conduct.

The incident occurred near Baghdad on Feb. 22, 2007, when Apache 18’s crew identified two insurgents on the ground below the aircraft who were trying to surrender. While tracking the two men, Apache 18’s crew radioed a military attorney at a nearby air base to seek legal guidance. “Lawyer states they cannot surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets,” the Logs entry reads. Crazy Horse first launched a Hellfire missile at the insurgents. They were killed by a 30mm cannon in a subsequent strafing run.

“Iraq War Logs” comprises reports and other documents detailing a very wide range of incidents during the five years of military engagement they cover. In releasing the Logs, WikiLeaks classified them under various headings, indicating the number of incidents in each category. “Enemy Action” records 104,272 events. There were 31,234 “Criminal Events” and 1,328 reports of “Friendly Fire.” The WikiLeaks site includes a search engine that greatly facilitates research in the vast trove of documents it sent into the public domain on Oct. 22, 2010.

Official Reaction

Because Assange  had announced the imminent publication of “Iraq War Logs,” U.S. officials were able to brace for their release, although none knew the size and contents of the Logs or the planned date of publication. A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Dave Lapan, told CNN  the Pentagon had a team of 120 experts “who are poised to immediately begin reading any documents on the WikiLeaks site.” He added: “We don’t know how these documents might be released, when these documents might be released, in what number they might be released. So we’re sort of preparing for all eventualities.”

Once the Logs were published, official reactions were mixed. While some American and British officials did focus on the troubling contents, most resorted to what amount to boilerplate condemnations of WikiLeaks for endangering the lives of military personnel serving in Iraq.

James F. Jeffrey, Washington’s ambassador to Baghdad at the time, said some of what WikiLeaks published “may or may not be 100 percent correct.” As quoted by The Associated Press, he added, “We are very troubled by any claim of any action undertaken — first of all by our own forces, or by our allies and partners, the Iraqi forces.” Jeffrey, it is to be noted, made these remarks before an audience of Iraqis.

Human rights officials at the U.N. called for the U.S. and Iraq to investigate the many indications of torture found in the Logs, including evidence that U.S. forces continued to turn over detainees to Iraqi authorities despite knowledge that Iraqis were torturing them. In London, Nick Clegg supported calls for an investigation. Speaking on a BBC talk show, the deputy prime minister at the time added, “We can bemoan how these leaks occurred, but I think the nature of the allegations made are extraordinarily serious. I think anything, anything that suggests that you know basic rules of war and conflict and of engagement have been broken or that torture has in any way been condoned are extremely serious and need to be looked at.”

Many other officials summarily condemned WikiLeaks for releasing “Iraq War Logs” — typically without addressing the revelations. In a videotaped statement, Hillary Clinton, as U.S. secretary of state, asserted, “We should condemn in the most clear terms the disclosure of any classified information … which puts the lives of United State and partner service members at risk.” In a Twitter message the day of the release, Mike Mullen, then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, stated flatly, “Another irresponsible posting of stolen classified documents by WikiLeaks puts lives at risk and gives adversaries valuable information.”

Elsewhere, Britain’s Defense Ministry released an emailed statement. “We condemn any unauthorized release of classified material,” it read. “This can put the lives of UK service personnel and those of our allies at risk and make the job of Armed Forces in all theaters of operation more difficult and more dangerous. It would be inappropriate to speculate on the specific detail of these documents without further investigation while the Iraq Inquiry is ongoing. There is no place for mistreatment of detainees and we investigate any allegation made against our troops….”

In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused WikiLeaks of attempting to undermine his effort to form a new government by provoking public animosity “against national parties and leaders, especially against the prime minister.” The Interior Ministry responded more directly to the contents of the Logs. “We will not turn a blind eye to any of these matters,” Deputy Minister Hussein Kamal stated in a Reuters interview. “Everyone responsible for any crimes will be prosecuted and justice will take its course.”

Media Response

The reactions of global media to “Iraq War Logs” were also mixed. All of the media given advance access to the Logs reported on their findings in multiple stories and videos. Notable among these were Al Jazeera and The New York Times.

The New York Times set up an interactive site called “The War Logs,” which featured a search mechanism enabling readers to sift through the Logs’ immense inventory of documents according to topic.

At the same time, the Times’ treatment of the Logs was in important respects defective. Alone among major global media, it effectively erased the complicity of U.S. forces in the torture of Iraqi detainees, sanitizing its reports of such incidents to suggest Iraqi military and police units acted autonomously and without the knowledge of U.S. authorities. 

Al Jazeera featured print and video pieces, an index by subject, and a glossary to help readers and viewers decipher often-difficult military terminology.

In the run-up to the release of the “Iraq War Logs,” many news outlets began to focus as much on the WikiLeaks organization and Assange’s personality as they did on the publisher’s latest (and most extensive) release — a pattern that has been evident ever since. “Since the publication of the ‘Afghan War Diaries,’ internal strife has wracked WikiLeaks,” CNN reported the day the Iraq documents were published. “Some in the mostly secretive group of volunteers — computer security specialists, journalists, aid workers, many with day jobs — have quit, citing disagreements with the way the group conducts business.”

Such reports were numerous and consistently portrayed WikiLeaks and its founder in the most unfavorable light possible. Assange and those around him acknowledged “growing pains,” as Assange put it shortly before releasing “Iraq War Logs.” In addition to staff and organizational changes, money had become a challenge by this time. Examining leaks is “a very expensive process,” Assange said at an August press conference in London. Assange’s reference was to roughly 15,000 documents that were withheld awaiting review when WikiLeaks released the initial 75,000 documents comprising the “Afghan War Diaries.”

Two pieces of journalism deserve to be singled out.

On the day before WikiLeaks published “Iraq War Logs,” Democracy Now! countered the widespread official accusations that WikiLeaks’ publications endanger Americans and U.S. national security. “WikiLeaks sparked condemnation from the U.S. government when it released the 91,000 Afghan war logs in July,” host Amy Goodman noted. “The White House and the Pentagon accused the website of irresponsibility. They claimed they were putting people’s lives in danger. But The Associated Press recently obtained a Pentagon letter reporting that no U.S. intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the leak.”

The featured guest on the program that day was Daniel Ellsberg, who was passing through New York en route to London, where he was to join Assange in a press conference. The Democracy Now! program’s virtue lay in connecting WikiLeaks to the history of whistleblowing in the U.S. 

The man who in 1971 leaked the hidden history of the Vietnam War was eloquent in his defense of Assange and WikiLeaks in this context. “I’ve waited 40 years for a release on this scale,” he told Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. “I think there should have been something on the scale of the Pentagon Papers every year. How often do we need this kind of thing? We haven’t seen it. So I’m very glad that someone is taking the risk and the initiative to inform us better now.”

On the day the Logs were released, The New York Times sent Iraqi journalists working in its Baghdad bureau around the country to record the reactions of ordinary Iraqis. The Times was careful to explain that it was not a scientifically conducted opinion poll, but “rather a snapshot of the feelings expressed by some ordinary Iraqis on the streets in the first few hours after the publication.”

The results were published in the Times’ “At War” blog. They constitute a brief but salient record of how events appeared among people on the receiving end of them — a rarity in American reporting from abroad. Not surprisingly, the Times reporters found that most of the Iraqis they interviewed — reports on 34 were published —were grimly aware of the events the “Iraq War Logs” documented and saw justice in their release into the public realm.

“I do not think that what is there is a surprise to Iraqis,” Umm Taha, a 30-year-old translator, said. “What is important is that the facts have become legally installed, and there are documents that no one can deny.”

“These are shameful crimes, and I am sure that the worst were hidden,” said Yahoo Raaid,38, an engineer in Mosul. “America said that it sent its troops from afar to spread democracy and freedom for Iraqis, but what happened is that Iraq became a center and base for terrorists to settle their problems with their enemies in Iraq.”

Zubaida Hatem, a pharmacist aged 26, said, “I was not shocked by what I heard. Of course it will be a big deal in other countries, but the reason we see it as it is, not as something huge, is because of what we are suffering here inside Iraq. We have witnessed terrible things, so this is nothing compared with the reality on the streets …. It made [me] remember the ones that I lost. My uncle died in the sectarian violence during 2006, and this reminded me of him. Whenever we want to forget something happens and brings back all the pain.”

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is www.patricklawrence.us. Support his work via The Floutist.

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Russia-gate’s Monstrous Offspring

Russia-gate has shed any premise of being about Russian interference, writes Daniel Lazare,  but the idea that America may in anyway be responsible for its own fate is of course unthinkable.     

By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News

Americans used to think that Russia-gate was about a plot to hack the 2016 election.  They were wrong.  Russia-gate is really about an immense conspiracy to do four things:

No. 1: Ratchet up tensions with Russia to ever more dangerous levels;

No. 2: Show that Democrats are even more useless than people imagined;

No. 3: Persecute Julian Assange;

No. 4: Re-elect Donald Trump as president.

This was the takeaway from Mitch McConnell’s devastating case closed speech last week in which the Senate majority leader jeered at President Barack Obama for mocking Mitt Romney’s claim (seven years ago now) that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”  As Obama famously replied during that presidential debate: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

But that was so 2012.  Now, says McConnell, it looks like Romney was right:

“We’d have been better off if the administration hadn’t swept [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion and occupation of Georgia under the rug or looked away as Russia forced out western NGO’s and cracked down on civil society.  If President Obama hadn’t let Assad trample his red line in Syria or embraced Putin’s fake deal on chemical weapons, if the Obama administration had responded firmly to Putin’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine in 2014, to the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015, and to Russia intervention in Syria — maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened, maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn’t have seemed so very tempting. 

“Instead,” McConnell went on, “the previous administration sent the Kremlin a signal they could get away with almost anything, almost anything.  So is it surprising that we got the brazen interference detailed in special counsel Mueller’s report?”

Lies and Distortions

Like so much out of Congress these days, this was a farrago of lies and distortions.  It wasn’t Moscow that started the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, but Tbilisi.  While Russia has indeed cracked down on U.S.-backed NGO’s, Washington has done the same by forcing Russia’s highly successful news agency RT to register as a foreign agent and by sentencing Maria Butina, a Russian national studying at American University, to 18 months in prison for the crime of hobnobbing with members of the National Rifle Association. The charge that Syrian President Bashar al Assad “trampled” Obama’s red line by using chemical weapons is hardly as clear-cut as imperial propagandists like to believe – to say the least – while the agreement between Putin and former Secretary of State John Kerry to rid Syria of chemical weapons was not fake at all, but an example, increasingly rare unfortunately, of diplomacy being used to prevent an international crisis from getting out of hand.

And so on ad nauseum.  But what could Democrats say in response given that they’ve spent the last three years trying to out-hawk the GOP?  Answer: nothing.  All they could do was try to turn tables on McConnell by charging him with not being anti-Russian enough.  Thus, New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer accused him of aiding and abetting Moscow while Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin accused him of running interference for Putin because he “feels the Russians were on the side of the Republicans in 2016 and just might be again in 2020.”

Democrats Feed the Super Hawks 

The result: a Democratic consensus that Russia can’t be trusted and that America must put itself on a war footing to prevent Putin from “toppl[ing] the mighty oak that has been our republic for two hundred years,” as Schumer put it. It’s an across-the-board agreement that the long-awaited Mueller report has only strengthened by regurgitating the intelligence-community line that “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and then cherry-picking the facts to fit its preconceived thesis.  (See Top Ten Questions About the Mueller Report,” May 6.)

Democrats claim to oppose National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, but the anti-Russian hysteria they promote strengthens the hand of such super-hawks.  It makes military conflict more likely, if not with Russia then with perceived Russian surrogates such as  Venezuela or Iran. 

Simultaneously, it backfires on Democrats by making them look weak and foolish as they argue that even though the Mueller report says “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” somehow “significant evidence of collusion” still exists, as an increasingly unhinged Rep. Adam Schiff maintains.  In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of congressional Democrats, no evidence does not mean no evidence.  In fact, it means the opposite. 

Voters are unmoved.  Ten times more Americans – 80 versus 8 percent – care about healthcare than about Russia according to a recent survey.  When CNN pollsters asked a thousand people in mid-March to name the issues that matter most, not one mentioned Russia or the Mueller probe. If they didn’t care when collusion was still an open question, they care even less now that the only issue is obstruction plus a phony constitutional crisis that desperate Democrats have conjured up out of thin air.

Trump the Chief Beneficiary

Besides Fox News – whose ratings have soared while Russia-obsessed CNN’s have plummeted – the chief beneficiary is Trump.  Post-Mueller, the man has the wind in his sails.  Come 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders could cut through his phony populism with ease.  But if Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post succeeds in tarring him with Russia the same way it tried to tar Trump, then the Democratic nominee will be a bland centrist whom the incumbent will happily bludgeon.  Former Vice President Joe Biden – the John McCain-loving, speech-slurring, child-fondler who was for a wall along the Mexican border before he was against it – will end up as a bug splat on the Orange One’s windshield. 

Beto O’Rourke, the rich-kid airhead who declared shortly before the Mueller report was released that Trump, “beyond the shadow of a doubt, sought to … collude with the Russian government,” will not fare much better.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren meanwhile seems to be tripping over her own two feet as she predicts one moment that Trump is heading to jail, declares the next that voters don’t care about the Mueller report because they’re too concerned with bread-and-butter issues, and then calls for dragging Congress into the impeachment morass regardless.

Such “logic” is lost on voters, so it seems to be a safe bet that enough will stay home next Election Day to allow the rough beast to slouch towards Bethlehem yet again.

Assange Convicted in Eyes of Press

Then there’s Julian Assange, currently serving a 50-week sentence in a supermax prison outside of London after being ejected from the Ecuadorian Embassy.  By claiming that the WikiLeaks founder was “dissembling” by denying that Russia was the source of the mammoth Democratic National Committee leak in July 2016, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has effectively convicted him in the eyes of Congress and the press. 

The New York Times thus reports that Mueller has revealed that Russian intelligence was the source while, in a venomous piece by Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger, The Washington Post declared that Assange “is neither whistleblower nor journalist,” but someone who helped Russian intelligence interfere in “the American electoral process.”

Schumer thus greeted Assange’s April 11 arrest by tweeting his “hope [that] he will soon be held to account for his meddling in our elections on behalf of Putin and the Russian government,” while, in a truly chilling statement, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared that “[i]t will be really good to get him back on United States soil [so] we can get the facts and the truth from him.”

Assange is guiltier than ever.  If Washington gets its hands on him, he’ll no doubt be hauled before some sort of Star Chamber and then clapped in a dungeon somewhere until he confesses that Russian intelligence made him do it, even though a careful reading of the Mueller report strongly suggests the opposite. (See The ‘Guccifer 2.0’ Gaps in Mueller’s Full Report,” April 18.)

Assange languishing behind bars, war breaking out in Latin America or the Persian Gulf, Trump in the Oval Office for four years more – it’s the worst of all possible worlds, and the Democratic Party’s bizarre fixation with Vladimir Putin is what’s pushing it.

Ultimately, Russia-gate is yet a variation on the tired old theme of American innocence.  If something goes wrong, it can’t be the fault of decent Americans who, as we all know, are too good for our deeply flawed world.  Rather, it must be the fault of dastardly foreigners trying to hack our democracy.  It’s a deep-rooted form of xenophobia that has fueled everything from the criminalization of marijuana (smuggled in by evil Mexicans) to the 1950s Red Scare (a reaction to Communism smuggled in by evil Russians), and the war on terrorism (the work of evil Muslims).  The idea that America may in anyway be responsible for its own fate is of course unthinkable.

But Russia-gate may be the greatest delusion of all.  After decades of celebrating Donald Trump as the essence of American flash and hustle, the corporate media have decided that the only way he could have gotten into the White House is if Putin put him there.  The upshot is a giant conspiracy to force Americans to turn their back on reality, an effort that can only end in disaster for all concerned, Democrats first and foremost.

Daniel Lazare is the author of “The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy” (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics.  He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nationto Le Monde Diplomatiqueand blogs about the Constitution and related matters at Daniellazare.com.




Sweden Reopens 9-Year Old Rape Investigation Against Julian Assange; Seeks His Arrest and Extradition

The Swedish prosecuting authority announced at a Stockholm press conference Monday that Sweden would seek Assange’s extradition from Britain to face investigation on a nearly decade-old allegation of sexual assault. 

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecution, Eva-Marie Persson, said Monday that Sweden would seek the extradition of Julian Assange to face a nearly ten-year old allegation of rape.

Assange is serving a 50-week sentence at Belmarsh prison in London for skipping bail in the rape case in 2012. Assange had lived inside the Ecuadorian embassy from June 2012 to April 11 this year, when Ecuador lifted his asylum and allowed British police to enter the embassy and arrest him.

On the same day the United States unveiled a sealed indictment accusing Assange of intrusion into a government computer. The U.S. also filed an extradition request for Assange.

Persson told a press conference in Stockholm on Monday that it would be up to British authorities to determine which extradition request—to Sweden or to the U.S.— would take precedence. She also said she wouldn’t speculate on an extradition request from the U.S. to Sweden since one had not yet been made.  

The BBC reported:

“The decision as to which of the two requests take precedence will be made by UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid. He would make his decision primarily on the basis of which alleged offence was considered to be more serious. Rape is likely to be considered more serious than conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. That would mean ordering Assange’s extradition to Sweden.”

Britain may take the opportunity to wash its hands of the politically thorny case of extraditing a publisher to the United States by sending him to Sweden instead, though Persson said Assange could not then be extradited to the U.S. from Sweden without Britain’s consent. 

Persson said her decision to reopen the case on “probable cause” was based on evidence, which she said was sufficient to suspect Assange of rape.

Swedish authorities had twice dropped the investigation. The first time was just weeks after the allegations were made in August 2010.

An arrest warrant was canceled on Aug. 21.  Then Swedish chief prosecutor Eva Finne said that day: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”

Assange left Sweden for Britain with Sweden’s permission in September.  When he arrived in Britain an international arrest warrant was issued for him on Nov. 18, 2010.

Assange turned himself in on Dec. 7 and was released on bail. He fought Sweden’s extradition requests after Sweden refused to give his lawyers an assurance he would not be then extradited to the U.S.  When his final appeal was lost, Assange asked for and received political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy. 

Assange said he would welcome Swedish prosecutors coming to the embassy to question him, and prepared a written statement, but documents uncovered in a FOIA request by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi showed heavy pressure from the British government on Sweden to not come to London.

In 2017, Swedish prosecutors ultimately visited Assange at the embassy and in May of that year ended the investigation, which has now been revived.  At the time the investigation was dropped for a second time, Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote:

“The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?”

The statute of limitations on the rape allegation runs out in August 2020.

Persson said the investigation would end after that if no charges are filed against Assange.  The rape allegation was made by Anna Ardin, a Swedish national, who later admitted in a cryptic tweet that she was not raped.  Last month, however, she tweeted:

“I would be very surprised & sad if Julian is handed over to the US. For me this was never about anything else than his misconduct against me/women and his refusal to take responsibility for this. Too bad my case could never be investigated properly, but it’s already been closed.”

Ardin’s lawyers held a press conference at 7:30 a.m. EDT on Monday. Ardin said through her attorney that she was “relieved” that the investigation will be restarted. 

Greg Barns, Assange’s Australian lawyer, tweeted: “Sweden request to re open questioning after closing their files twice is extraordinary. This is abuse of process.”

Catherine Vogan contributed to this article. 

 

 




One Month in Belmarsh: 29th Vigil for Julian Assange

Join us for a discussion online on the latest news about Julian Assange, who has now spent one month behind bars in London.