Chomsky: Assange and Lula the Same Case to Silence Their Voices

The world-renowned linguist and academic said that Assange's arrest is just a new case of “efforts to silence” dissident voices.

U.S. intellectual Noam Chomsky voiced his concerns Friday over the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during an interview with Democracy Now, calling the situation a “scandalous in several respects.”

RELATED: The Assange Arrest is a Warning From History

The world-renowned linguist and academic said that this is just a new case of “efforts to silence” dissident voices. Chomsky compared Assange’s arrest to Lula’s political imprisonment, focusing on the fact that both said and did things that “people in power don’t like”, so therefore they “have to silence it.”

“Last September, Lula da Silva was the leading, the most popular figure in Brazil, who was almost certain to win the forthcoming election, put him in jail, solitary confinement, essentially a death sentence, 25 years in jail, banned from reading press or books, and, crucially, barred from making a public statement—unlike mass murderers on death row,” adding that “he’s the most important political prisoner in the world. Do you hear anything about it?... Assange is a similar case: We’ve got to silence this voice.”

On April 11, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange Ecuador seven-year asylum was abruptly removed and he was arrested by British police. Immeadlty the United States charged him of  "computer hacking conspiracy." Now his defense is fighting an extradition request to face the U.S. justice system, even though Ecuadorean officials have assured this will not happen.

Assange was even called a “miserable hacker” by Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno. But his defense is strongly dismissing it, stating that he is a publisher and journalist, with more than 20 awards in the field. As Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project has explained the “prosecution by the U.S. of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations.”

However, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin told CNN that they are “going to extradite him. It will be really good to get him back on United States soil. So now he's our property and we can get the facts and truth from him."

On this regard, Chomsky said the fact the U.S. can manipulate the policies and actions of other nations is a scandal in itself. “The extraterritorial reach of the United States is shocking...why should the United States have the power to control what others are doing elsewhere in the world? I mean, it’s an outlandish situation,” he said.

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Live Updates: Assange Faces 5 Years in Jail in US for Hacking

Assange is facing extradition to the United States over his role in the leaks revealing war crimes related to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged with "computer hacking conspiracy" in the United States, the country's justice department said Thursday hours after he was arrested by British police in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he had been seeking asylum since 2012.

RELATED: Julian Assange Arrested by British Police After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum

U.S. prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against Assange for trying to access a U.S. government computers containing classified information in 2010, along with former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

Assange faces a maximum prison sentence of five years, the Justice Department said in a statement. The founder of WikiLeaks was arrested on Thursday by British police and evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy, after the South American country abruptly ended seven years of asylum, in a decision that his followers described as illegal.

Live Updates: 

UPDATE 9:50 a.m. 

On April 4, WikiLeaks said that Assange would be expelled from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, England within "hours to days." The allegation was denied by Ecuadorean authority at that time.

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UPDATE 9:49 a.m.

Bolivian President Evo Morales condemning the arrest of Assange, wrote on Twitter, “We strongly condemn the detention of Julian Assange and the violation of freedom of speech. Our solidarity with this brother who is persecuted by the US government for revealing its human rights violations, murders of civilians and diplomatic espionage.”

Condenamos enérgicamente la detención de y la violación a la libertad de expresión. Nuestra solidaridad con este hermano que es perseguido por el gobierno de por revelar sus violaciones a los derechos humanos, asesinatos de civiles y espionaje diplomático.

UPDATE 9:40 a.m.

The arrest of Assange prompted an international outcry. Several legal experts, human rights activists, and several governments decried the arrest of their WikiLeaks co-founder.

| Legal experts, human rights activists and several governments decried the arrest of co-founder of in at the embassy of

UPDATE 9:30 a.m.

A Downing Street spokesperson said, “There has been a dialogue with Ecuadorean government from the onset. The decision to revoke asylum was one for them entirely. They have set that out.”

The spokeswoman also said that the government and prime minister was already aware of the decision of the Ecuadorean government which led to his arrest Thursday, The Guardian reported.

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‘I’m an assassination risk’: Assange to Ecuador court in leaked testimony

Ecuador will be violating its own constitution if it expels Julian Assange from its London embassy while fully aware of a possible “assassination” plot against him, WikiLeaks suggested, releasing the journalist’s court testimony.

Article 79 of the Ecuadorean constitution guarantees that “in no case shall the extradition of an Ecuadorean be granted,” Assange told the Ecuadorean court back on October 29, when he requested the restoration of his communication privileges.

Also on rt.com Assange may be expelled from Ecuadorean embassy within ‘hours to days’, govt source tells WikiLeaks...

A transcript of Assange’s statement was released by WikiLeaks after news of his imminent expulsion from the embassy made the headlines on Thursday. While a great deal of Assange’s testimony defends his right to stay in the embassy after being granted asylum and, subsequently, citizenship, the 47-year-old also accused the government of Lenin Moreno of illegally limiting his communication rights and bowing to pressure from the US, which seeks his extradition for revealing some of Washington’s dirty secrets.

Also on rt.com WikiLeaks supporters mobilize to prevent Ecuador from expelling Assange from UK embassy...

“The fact that a government controls a particular piece of space does not mean it can violate its Constitution, can violate UN-mandated rights, that it can engage in punishment without process,” Assange told the court, revealing that, besides threats of unjust prosecution, he also faces direct threats against his life.

TRANSCRIPT Oct 29, 2018

Julian Aassange: Thank you, Judge Martinez, for conducting this hearing and for the State of Ecuador for spending the effort to uphold the rule of law in this matter.  find this e!perience somewhat difficult and  hope you will forgi"e me not #ust for my terri$le Spanish $ut for the difficulties that  ha"e.  ha"e $een in this em$assy without sunlight for si! years and essentially isolated from most people for se"en months and, including electronic communication, the telephone etc, from my young children. That%s $een a difficult e!perience and it has also interfered with my a$ility to work, to make a li"ing, and with my deeply held principles that  ha"e fought for all my life, which is to uphold the right of freedom of e!pression, the right for people to know, the right of the freedom of the press and the right for e"eryone to participate in their society and the $roader society.  want to go $ack for a moment so people can understand how this process came to $e. &nfortunately, due to my isolation,  ha"e not $een a$le to participate in the de$ates occurring around me and that has resulted in a climate of li$els and fake news that might $e e!pected for someone who has $een in the $usiness of e!posing "ery large and "ery powerful corrupt organisations or organisations that a$use human rights. t is a sadness to me to see information denigrating to my character not only spread $y the "arious organisations that  ha"e e!posed $ut, in this hearing, $y some mem$ers of the Ecuadorian 'o"ernment. Although  want to say that  was "ery proud to $ecome an Ecuadorian citizen.  think Ecuador is an amazing State, with amazing people who ha"e supported me in go"ernment, e"en in the current go"ernment, in the population and the press, and so  find it additionally saddening to( )interruption in Spanish* JA: +k.  find it saddening to see that in this case there%s some attempt to, well, to not engage in the legal process $ut rather to engage in a political process, in an attempt to denigrate my character to makeheadlines, to not treat this process with the serious respect that it deser"es. %"e $een in"ol"ed in freedom of e!pression and pu$lishing in Australia for many, many years  my $ooks are translated into - languages. %"e written a $ook all a$out &S diplomacy. %"e pro$a$ly read.

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UN Torture Expert Urges Ecuador Not to Expel Assange

Assange’s health was in “serious decline” and if expelled, he was likely to be extradited to the U.S., the UN. expert said.

Fears over Julian Assange's expulsion from the Ecuadorean Ambassy in London have been growing over the past few days, following threats by Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno that he will "make a decision in the short term" on the situation of the Wikileaks editor.

RELATED: INA Papers: The Corruption Case Against Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno

The Ecuadorean President argued Tuesday that the Wikileaks founder has “repeatedly violated” the terms of his asylum in the country’s London embassy. The statement was made following the release of the INA Papers, a publication which leaked private conversations of the president and his family, linking him to an off-shore company which allegedly received millions in dollars for illicit business deals. As a result, the president is now facing a corruption probe. 

Wikileaks argues the INA Papers publication is now being twisted against Julian Assange and used as a pretext to expel him from the Embassy. The organization tweeted Thursday that a high-level source within the Ecuadorean government revealed that the expulsion is being prepared "within hours to days."

However, Wikileaks’ website or social media accounts never published press releases or images of President Lenin Moreno's private life. The page issued a single tweet on March 25, 2019, which reported that a "corruption investigation opened against Ecuador's President Moreno after purported leaked contents of his iPhone (Whatsapp, Telegram) and Gmail were published. New York Times reported that Moreno tried to sell Assange to the U.S. for debt relief."

Nils Melzer, U.N. special rapporteur on torture, voiced concern that Assange’s health was in “serious decline” and that, if expelled, he is likely to be arrested by British authorities and extradited to the United States.

“Such a response could expose him to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” he said.

“I therefore urge the Government of Ecuador to abstain from... ceasing or suspending his political asylum until such time as the full protection of his human rights can be guaranteed.”

"Extradition without due process safeguards, including an individual risk assessment and adequate protection measures violates international law, particularly if the destination state practices the death penalty and has not disclosed the criminal charges held against the person concerned. Under such circumstances, the international legal prohibition of ‘refoulement’ is absolute, regardless of considerations of national security, political expediency or any other similar considerations,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Following the outrage over a possible expulsion and pressure by various Human Rights groups as well as the United Nations, Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Jose Valencia, took to twitter stating that "diplomatic asylum is a sovereign matter of a State, which has the right to give it or take it way unilaterally when considered justified."

In addition, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Privacy is also due to visit Assange on April 25 to investigate Ecuador's spying on the activist.

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WikiLeaks supporters mobilize to prevent Ecuador from expelling Assange from UK embassy

Supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are making their voices heard, despite the institutions united to silence them, after reports that the WikiLeaks founder will be expelled from the Ecuadorean embassy in “hours to days.”

A live feed of the front of the Ecuadorean embassy in London shows several tents pitched around the entrance as supporters stand vigil for the besieged journalist, who has become little more than a prisoner in the embassy in which he sought political asylum seven years ago. “NO EXPULSION” is spelled out in LED lights on the sidewalk in front of the embassy, while numerous cameras are positioned across the street.

WikiLeaks tipped the public off to Assange’s pending expulsion – within “hours to days,” according to a high-level Ecuadorean source – on Thursday, confirming that the Ecuadorean government would use the release of the INA Papers, which implicate President Lenin Moreno and his family in extensive corruption, as a pretext for revoking his asylum.

Also on rt.com Assange may be expelled from Ecuadorean embassy within ‘hours to days’, govt source tells WikiLeaks

While WikiLeaks did not publish the documents, Moreno has blamed the outlet – and Assange – for his flagging support at home, complaining to anyone who will listen that the journalist has “violated” his asylum agreement.

@wikileaks BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within "hours to days" using the offshore scandal as a pretext--and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.https://defend.wikileaks.org/2019/04/03/ecuador-twists-embarrassing-ina-papers-into-pretext-to-oust-assange/ 

A second Ecuadorean government source has since confirmed the original report. Assange was granted Ecuadorean citizenship in January 2018 and, while it is assumed that after being arrested by UK authorities –for jumping bail on charges which have since been withdrawn– he would be extradited to the US, where an indictment with his name on it was accidentally exposed last year, the Ecuadorean constitution would seem to stand in the way, as one astute commenter pointed out.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
@KimDotcom  Now is the time to observe the situation of Julian Assange in real-time and to be ready for action. Frequently check for updates by @Wikileaks on the escalating situation and let your friends know too. We must if telling the truth is supposed to be the right thing.
WikiLeaks has posted white papers to each involved government and debunked the linking of Moreno’s domestic misfortunes to any action by Assange, pointing out that Fidel Narvaez – the former Ecuadorean consul to London – has said Moreno is merely seeking “a false pretext” to end the journalist’s asylum and “yield to US pressure.”
 
@wikileaks Fidel Narváez, who was Ecuador’s consul to London until 2018, bluntly warns that “the government seeks a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange.” Narváez wrote that Moreno is using the offshore scandal as a pretext to “yield to US pressure”.

 

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‘Julian’s situation is dire’: Roger Waters issues rallying cry for Assange asylum in Australia

Pink Floyd-founder and political activist Roger Waters has endorsed upcoming political demonstrations in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to take place in March in the latter’s native Australia.

Waters, 75, decried Assange’s almost seven-year imprisonment in the Ecuadorian embassy in London as “dire” while referring to the publisher as “a national treasure…of immense influence and significance on the world stage.”

Pro-Assange rallies are scheduled to be held in Sydney on March 3 and in Melbourne on March 10.

View image on Twitter

@PinkFloyd co-founder @RogerWaters releases statement calling to , calls for demonstrations in Australia on March 3 and March 10 https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/11/rwed-f11.html#disqus_thread 

In the letter to Australia's Socialist Equality Party, Waters labelled Assange a “real hero” while praising the Wikileaks founder for his work exposing misdeeds by western governments adding that he, “scares the sh*t out of them."

There are widespread fears among the activist community that Assange would be extradited to the US for leaking thousands of classified documents relating to US activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, should he step outside the embassy.

Also on rt.com ‘Wish You Were Here’: Roger Waters displays pro-Assange message at Berlin gig (PHOTOS)...

Waters continued that WikiLeaks “helped expose to the world the hidden machinations of the real criminals in our society: the oligarchs, who in their insatiable quest for more and more wealth, would destroy the planet we call home.”

He further asserted that Assange needs protection from “unwarranted and illegal attacks” from Western governments “determined to destroy” him. He also took aim at Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno whom he claimed is “showing himself to be more susceptible to insidious US pressure.”

Also on rt.com ‘Leave the Venezuelan people alone’: Roger Waters calls US actions ‘insanity’...

Waters has been heavily involved in political activism for many years and is a known advocate for Palestinian human rights, as well as a critic of US imperialism and intervention in foreign conflicts, recently referring to the recent affairs in Venezuela as “Trump’s coup.”

 

  • Published in Culture

WikiLeaks Tells Journalists 140 Things Not To Say About Julian Assange

The 5,000-word email included 140 statements that WikiLeaks said were false and defamatory, such as the assertion that Julian Assange had ever been an "agent or officer of any intelligence service".

LONDON: WikiLeaks on Sunday advised journalists not to report 140 different "false and defamatory" statements about its founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June 2012.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the advice to media organisations, but WikiLeaks singled out Britain's Guardian newspaper for publishing what it said was a false report about Assange. The Guardian did not immediately respond late on Sunday to a Reuters request for comment.

The Australian set up WikiLeaks as a channel for publishing confidential information from anonymous sources. He is a hero to some for exposing what supporters cast as government abuse of power and for championing free speech, but to others he is a rebel who has undermined the security of the United States.

WikiLeaks angered Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the Saudi royal family.

"There is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in large and otherwise 'reputable' media outlets," Wikileaks said an email sent to media organisations and marked "Confidential legal communication. Not for publication."

"Consequently journalists and publishers have a clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list to ensure they are not spreading, and have not spread, defamatory falsehoods about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange."

WikiLeaks did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The 5,000-word email included 140 statements that WikiLeaks said were false and defamatory, such as the assertion that Assange had ever been an "agent or officer of any intelligence service".

WikiLeaks also said it was false and defamatory to suggest that Assange, 47, had ever been employed by the Russian government or that he is, or has ever been, close to the Russian state, the Kremlin or Putin.

Other items listed as false and defamatory included more personal claims including that Assange bleaches his hair, that he is a hacker, that he has ever neglected an animal or that he has poor personal hygiene.

Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff.

Later that year, the group released over 90,000 secret documents detailing the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, followed by almost 400,000 internal U.S. military reports detailing operations in Iraq.

More than 250,000 classified cables from U.S. embassies followed, then almost 3 million dating back to 1973.

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‘Spying & threats’: Assange complains of ‘more subtle’ silencing than Khashoggi

Julian Assange has accused his Ecuadorean hosts of spying and feeding information to US authorities, and slammed attempts to block his journalistic work as a more subtle way of silencing than the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Suggesting there were “facts of espionage” inside the embassy, the WikiLeaks co-founder expressed concern during a hearing in Quito on Wednesday that Ecuadorean intelligence is not only spying on him, but sharing the data it has harvested with the FBI. Ecuadorean intelligence clearly spent a sizable amount of money equipping the embassy for surveillance, Assange added.

He accused Ecuadorean authorities of “comments of a threatening nature” relating to his journalistic work and compared attempts to silence him to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was tortured and cut up in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in October, but “more subtle.”  The comparison elicited a harsh reaction from Ecuadorean Prosecutor General Inigo Salvador, who accused Assange of biting the hand that feeds him.

Also on rt.com

‘Biggest attack on freedom of speech in decades’ – WikiLeaks hits back against DNC lawsuit 

Assange told the Ecuadorean court that the living conditions in the embassy were so detrimental to his health that they may put him in the hospital – and suggested that may be the point, because once he leaves the building, he’s fair game for UK and US authorities.

US prosecutors accidentally revealed the existence of a sealed indictment against the whistleblower last month and have since stonewalled reporters’ inquiries into what the indictment might contain.

Ecuador: Assange appeal over new embassy rules heard in court

While Assange was being held incommunicado earlier this year, his suspicions about his hosts’ spying were confirmed in a May report by the Guardian that revealed Ecuador spent about $5 million on surveilling the WikiLeaks founder and his visitors in the London embassy from 2012 until 2017. However, that paper’s recent publication of blatantly “fake news” involving Assange casts its earlier coverage into doubt as well.

Also on rt.com

Assange rejects Ecuador president's 'no death penalty' deal with UK 

Assange was in court appealing a strict set of rules handed down in October governing his conduct, which he has called a violation of human rights. He submitted 15 “facts of evidence” along with letters from individuals and groups barred from visiting him at the embassy. An earlier attempt to sue his hosts over the restrictive measures was ultimately dismissed by a judge last month, while Assange rejected Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno's offer to leave the embassy in exchange for a guarantee he would not be executed.

 

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