Multiple outlets and indy journalists are reporting that the Biden DoJ will continue Trump’s prosecution and the extradition of Julian Assange…and of course press freedom everywhere. The following have no copyright:
‘Assange Prosecution, Launched By Trump Justice Department, Will Continue Under Biden; A Justice Department spokesperson indicated officials have no plans to abandon a case widely viewed as a threat to global press freedom’, Kevin Gosztola, Feb. 9, 2021, the dissenter
“The Justice Department under President Joe Biden plans to continue the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that was launched under President Donald Trump.
“We continue to seek his extradition,” Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Reuters, days before February 12, the deadline for the United States government to submit its “grounds for appeal.”
The statement represents a departure from President Barack Obama’s administration, which declined to prosecute Assange. Justice Department officials were reportedly concerned about the threat it would pose to press freedom.
On January 4, British district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. government’s extradition request and concluded Assange’s mental condition was “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.”
She accepted that Assange would likely be imprisoned at a supermax prison in the U.S. under special administrative measures (SAMs) and would find a way to commit suicide.
“I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the ‘single minded determination’ of his autism spectrum disorder.”
However, the Biden Justice Department plans to contest the judge’s conclusion that Assange should not be extradited because he would likely commit suicide.” […]
“In February 2017—Trump’s first month in office, WikiLeaks published “CIA espionage orders” that called attention to how major political parties in France were “targeted for infiltration” in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
About a month later, WikiLeaks brought further scrutiny to the CIA when they published the “Vault 7” material, which they described as the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”
Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA director, responded to the publication on April 13, 2017. He labeled WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and argued Assange had “no First Amendment freedoms” because “he is not a U.S. citizen,” an assertion with no basis in law.
“We’ve had administrations before that have been squeamish about going after these folks under some concept of this right to publish,” Pompeo added.
During Biden’s first foreign policy speech on February 4, he proclaimed, “We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential. A free press is essential to the health of a democracy.”
However, in Trump’s last year in office, he signed a counterintelligence strategy document [PDF] that lumped in “leaktivists” and “public disclosure organizations,” like WikiLeaks, with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and terrorist groups, which U.S. security agencies view as “significant threats.”
That strategy document, which covers 2020-2022, sharply conflicts with Biden’s assertion that the U.S. government believes the free press is not an adversary. Indeed, it shows U.S. security agencies believe they should monitor, neutralize, and even target dissident media organizations that may employ practices pioneered by WikiLeaks.
While the tone of the new administration may sound more polite toward elite journalists, by refusing to abandon this dangerous political case, the Biden Justice Department is effectively signaling his administration is not all that serious about press freedom and what officials have to say are empty platitudes that should not pacify people aware of what is at stake if Assange is brought to the U.S. and put on trial.”
‘Biden Continues Trump’s War On The Press’, Caitlin Johnstone, Feb. 9, 2021, substack.com
“Just one day after a coalition of prominent civil rights groups made headlines with a letter urging the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges, the Biden administration has announced its intention to continue those efforts.” [long snip]
“Biden’s divergence from the Obama administration’s less authoritarian position on the matter should not come as much of a surprise, since he took an absurdly hard line against WikiLeaks after the first publications of the earth-shattering Manning leaks in 2010.
“I would argue it is closer to being a hi-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers,” Biden said of Assange at the time. “But, look, this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world.” […]
None of this means we should stop fighting tooth and claw for Assange’s freedom: the fight is far from over. There is still time for the Biden administration to opt against appealing the UK court decision not to extradite, thereby leaving the entire embarrassing extradition attempt on Trump’s lap.
“The US may submit its Assange appeal filing by Friday to meet its deadline, but one would expect a serious policy decision to be made by the new Attorney General [Merrick Garland] who, once confirmed, can review the incredibly weak case against Assange in full before making a determination,” a statement by the Courage Foundation reads. “Reports are circulating that an interim spokesperson says the Biden admin will continue the Assange case. The incoming DOJ, whose Attorney General is yet to be confirmed, can drop the charges against Assange at any time, including after this Friday’s appeal deadline.”
So we keep pushing. We cannot allow a corrupt and murderous globe-spanning empire to effectively outlaw inconvenient journalism around the world in the way it would by setting the legal precedent it is trying to set with the Assange case. If journalists everywhere know they can be extradited and imprisoned for publishing inconvenient facts about the US-centralized empire, they will largely refrain from doing so. And that is the whole idea.
Through WikiLeaks Julian Assange has revealed a lot of damning information about the most powerful entities on our planet, but by far the most damning revelation he provided was not a WikiLeaks release at all: it was the revelation that “free democracies” like the US and the UK will openly imprison and torture a journalist for telling the truth. This has been seen, and it cannot be unseen. We owe him a great debt for bringing such facts into the light. The least we can do is try to get him out of there now.”
(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)