A curious position for the UK to adopt?

There is great relevance in whether or not the US are actively planning to extradite Julian Assange- this is the key aspect to his appeal against extradition to Sweden and a key element in the decision of Ecuador to grant Assange asylum. In this respect, the resolution of the Swedish case against Assange pivots around the existence (or otherwise) of an extradition request from the US. Why does the UK Secretary of State maintain a position of silence on this matter and why is this important?

For over 5 months Julian Assange has been resident at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, caught between a successful asylum plea and the refusal of the UK to grant him safe passage. The EAW issued nearly two years ago in order to have Julian Assange extradited to Sweden has been fought by Assange’s legal team who assert fears that this case is inextricably bound with the work of WikiLeaks. In order to mitigate the potential political consequences of extradition to Sweden, Assange’s defence team have requested assurances that there would be no further extradition to the US should Assange return to Sweden to answer to the allegations that have been made against him.

The US have often claimed that they have ‘no interest’ in Julian Assange and argue that his defence team is employing this rhetoric in order to delay facing the complaints made against him in Sweden. However, despite this denial of interest the US acknowledge the fact that a grand jury has been meeting in respect to WikiLeaks for at least 2 years and many US state officials have linked Assange’s work to terrorism. Julian Assange is not alone in thinking that this indicates a possibility that the US is aiming to extradite him for offences relating to his work with WikiLeaks- the Australian government have recently been preparing for this possibility also. We cannot consider a case against WikiLeaks without acknowledging the role of Julian Assange and it is clear also that we cannot consider a case against Assange without acknowledging the role of WikiLeaks. Understanding this case in its wider context will not leave Assange unaccountable to the complaints made against him; indeed Assange’s team have stated that he wishes to answer to the complaints but to able to do so with some protection against the political agitation surrounding his work.

The UK are in a unique position to confirm whether or not such protection would be necessary. As Mr Assange was resident in the UK at the time the EAW was issued, any state intending to further extradite him from Sweden to another country must first receive the consent from the UK Secretary of State. The 2003 UK Extradition Act obliges the Secretary of State to ensure that individuals are granted notice if an extradition request that involves them has been issued- this obligation is set out under section 58 of the Act. However, there is also scope within this Act for the Secretary of State to waiver this obligation- a provision that is not clearly defined in terms of its implementation. A letter from Mark Harper MP, the UK minister for immigration, to a UK citizen regarding the Assange case states:

For reasons that are not stated within the act, the Secretary of State can consent to or deny the further extradition of an individual and not inform that individual of the fact. There is, then, the potential within UK legislation for Julian Assange to be correct in his fears that there is a wider case against him. Calls for the Secretary of State to issues assurances that there will be no further extradition are a response to this potentiality and therefore such assurances could be a practical way of ensuring the resolution of the Swedish case.

So why does the UK remain silent in offering these assurances? Mark Harper MP continues:

and:

Assange is denied the assurances he claims would enable him to return to Sweden to answer the allegations made against him based on a policy (that does not exist in any written form) which aims to prevent him from ‘evading justice’.

Even those most resolute in their opinion that Julian Assange is a criminal will note the irony.

The case against Assange has continued for two years. Beyond the implications that this has had for the freedom of Assange, the ability for WikiLeaks to function in full capacity, the financial burden on the UK for detaining Assange under house arrest and, subsequently, stationing police outside the Embassy of Ecuador, beyond all this are the rights of the two women who brought initial complaints to the police authorities in Sweden to a swift resolution. The silence of Theresa May in this matter is not serving any logical purpose, indeed her decision in this respect is a key delay in the case.

It is a curious position to take.

You can make enquiries to your local MP as to why the UK is maintaining a silence on the existence of a US extradition request. You can ask how this refusal helps to prevent Assange from ‘evading justice’. You can ask why the Secretary of State will not shift from this position when it is clear that doing so would pave the way for Julian Assange to answer to the complaints made against him.

You can find out who your MP is here or use this tool here to send them an email.

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URGENT VIGIL NEEDED

Call out for support, spread to all your contacts:

Urgent vigil needed at the Ecuador Embassy: 3 Hans Crescent
London SW1X 0LS nearest tube station is Knightsbridge follow signs to Harrods.

Julian Assange will be making a public statement at the Ecuador Embassy window on Sunday 19th August at 2pm. We need to continue to support the vigil before and after his public appearance.

Keep in touch- join and share the WikiLeaks supporter list:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/wikileaksactionnetwork


Posters downloaded from
:
http://somersetbean.blogspot.com.au/
https://network23.org/ukfowl/engage-and-act/demo-kit/

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Home Office ‘respond’ to the case of Julian Assange

A supporter has sent in the response they received after sending in this letter to David Cameron (Prime Minister) regarding the case against Julian Assange.

See here for a PDF of the letter sent from Lucy Dee of the Home Office Direct Communications Unit.

Notable points the letter raises are:

“ Neither the Prime Minister nor the Home Secretary has the power to intervene in Mr Assange’s case in the manner you suggest.”

“There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Assange will not received a fair trial once he is extradited to Sweden….As for the issues you raise in relation to the Swedish authorities and their conduct- I hope you understand that is something the Home Office is unable to comment on.”

“There are legal safeguards for persons who have been extradited from the UK to another Member State of the EU, and whose extradition is then requested by a third country. Under EU legislation on the EAW (which applies to both the United Kingdom and Sweden), a person who has been surrendered from one Member State of the EU (e.g. the United Kingdom to Sweden) pursuant to an EAW, shall not be extradited to a third State without the consent of the Member State which surrendered the person. Consent may only be given in accordance with the international conventions by which that State is bound, including the ECHR, and also its domestic law. In such circumstances, the Home Secretary would determine whether extradition is barred under the 2003 Extradition Act, this would involve careful consideration of a number of factors, including human rights.

I would stress that none of the above should be taken as an indication of the existence of any extradition request for Mr Assange from a third country.”

Ahem.

Whether or not Theresa May (Home Sectretary) has received a request by the US for her consent to have Julian Assange further extradited from Sweden to the US is important and it appears she has not been forthcoming when asked to comment on this.

To find out more about the 2003 Extradtion treaty, in particular the process of further extradition, see here and open up Section 58.

Consider writing to your MP and insisting that questions are answered about the reluctance of the Home Secretary to give assurances that she will not consent to his further extradition. A template letter has been posted at the forum and you can cut and paste from it here:

Dear (your MP’s name)

I am writing with continued concerns about the situation of Julian Assange and the complexities of the political context surrounding his work with the media organisation WikiLeaks.

As you are aware Mr Assange is currently seeking political asylum at the Ecuador Embassy in London. Due to the political reactions towards his work there are some very real concerns that:

- he will not receive a fair treatment if extradited to Sweden
- he will face further extradition to the US from Sweden

I would urge you to look at the following resources to understand why I am so concerned:
http://www.swedenversusassange.com/
http://wlcentral.org/node/1418
http://wlcentral.org/node/2486

I am writing to ask you specifically about the role of the UK Home Secretary Theresa May and her power with regards to the further extradition of Mr Assange to the US. I have recently read (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jul/26/ecuador-julian-assange-extradition-us) that:

“The senior legal adviser to the Ecuadoreans said that the home secretary, Theresa May, would need to waive specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, before Assange could be extradited from Sweden to the US.

Despite repeated requests from Ecuador, the Foreign Office has not said whether or not May intends to exercise her powers to allow for any potential future extradition to the US.”


I understand from this that our Home Secretary would be in a unique position with regards to the authorisation of the further extradition of Mr Assange from Sweden to the US and I wish you to clarify certain points for me in light of this.

Mr Assange and the legal team supporting him have made it very clear throughout his detainment in the UK that, with evidence of a secret US grand Jury in relation to WikiLeaks (http://wikileaks.org/Stratfor-Emails-US-Has-Issued.html), there is a very real threat that Mr Assange will face extradition to the US. Being aware of this and the length of time that Mr Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden due to this fear it would be somewhat prudent for Ms May to directly offer Mr Assange assurances that:

- consent has not been made regarding his further extradition to the US or
- Ms May would not offer consent should such a request be made

It is clear that, despite repeated requests, no such assurances have been made and I would appreciate you explaining to me why such clarity would not be forthcoming. If there are no grounds for Mr Assange to be concerned about his possible extradition to the US why would Ms May not publicly assert this? Would this reassurance not help pave the way for Mr Assange to defend himself in relation to the allegations made about him in Sweden?

It would be somewhat logical to assume that Ms May is unable to issue this reassurance and it would follow that she is unable to do so only because consent has, indeed, been sought by the US in relation to Mr Assange facing further extradition. I note that it is stated within subsection 4 of Section 58 of the 2003 Extradition Act that, should she deem it ‘impracticable,’ Ms May would not be obliged to uphold the right of Mr Assange to be made aware that she had received a request for consent.

I would like you to answer specifically and succinctly my following questions:

1) Will you urge Theresa May, Home Secretary, to publicly state that she would not waive specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003 to ensure that Julian Assange could not be extradited from Sweden to the US?

2) Why would the Home Secretary refuse to issue this assurance sought of her regarding further extradition to the US?

3) Do you agree that the consequences of not issuing this assurance work to fuel fears that consent has indeed been requested of Ms May by the US?

4) If consent has been sought for further extradition what reasons would entitle Ms May, under subsection 4 of Section 58 of the 2003 Extradition Act, to deem it impracticable to serve the required notice upon Mr Assange?

5) Will you, if you have not already done so, sign the EDM 128 for the reform of the Extradition Act?

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/128

I look forward to hearing from you

Yours, (your name)

You can find out the name and contact details of your MP here or use this tool that will guide you through sending an email to your MP.

Share any letters you send and any responses you get. We may not always get an ‘engaged’ response from our political representatives but this in itself is a reason to keep insisting for answers. We need to show we are watching.

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In defense of WikiLeaks. Part I

“If journalism is good it is controversial by its nature… It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abuses, and when powerful abuses are taken on, there is always a back reaction…. So we see that controversy and we believe that is a good thing to engage in.”
- Julian Assange

Those of us who support the work of WikiLeaks know only too well that the importance of the organisation goes far beyond any individual document release and extends further than the dramatically increasing archive of information held on the WikiLeaks site. While our historical record is undoubtedly made much richer by the accumulation of this information, our indebtedness lies not so much in what they release but in why they are doing so. That we can see more clearly the terrain we are navigating, and that those with power know this, are two critical factors in our efforts to work towards a more just society. From this perspective it follows that the agitation against WikiLeaks becomes as important as the work of the organisation itself in revealing the true nature of the powerful structures that bind society and shows us more clearly that which we must rally against.

The reaction towards WikiLeaks provides us with two elements that will be key to our dissent. Firstly, it provides us with momentum within which challenges to the injustices of our society can be made; that the FoWL collective is driving itself to form a community is an important consequence not of the information that WikiLeaks has released but as a consequence of the continuing assault on the functioning of the project and its members. Secondly, importantly, every turn against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks reflects back to us the contradictions, injustice, and disconnect of a system we, in the West, claim to be democratic and free. It is a reading of this agitated reaction from those that govern us which provides us with the opportunity to make a clear analysis of this State we are in.

When exposure of wrong-doing becomes politicised as ‘Terrorism’

While western governments had found it necessary to keep a close eye on the work of WikiLeaks for some time (see for example “UK Ministry of Defence continually monitors WikiLeaks: eight reports into classified UK leaks, 29 Sep 2009″) it was with ‘Collateral murder’ and other urgent and involved releases concerning the US Government that saw WikiLeaks become the focus of continued and prolific political attacks that linked its work directly with acts of terrorism:

“The trope of an attack on the international community provided the backdrop for a series of comments aimed at delegitimizing Wikileaks and locating it in the same corner, in terms of threats to the U.S., as global terrorism”
A Free Irresponsible Press, Benkler

That such an organisation as WikiLeaks, and such an act as that of whistle-blowing, can be couched in terms of terrorism is both illuminating and frightening but hardly surprising. What this suggests is that US and the UK state apparatus is hinged upon the abilities of the State to engage in secrecy and the complicity of the media, whose business it is to document truth, in maintaining that secrecy.

“…the threat represented by WikiLeaks was not any single cable, but the fraying of the relatively loyal and safe relationship between the United States Government and its watchdog.”
A Free Irresponsible Press, Benkler

In reading WikiLeaks as a terrorist organisation, and in calling for the treatment of Julian Assange to reflect this we must acknowledge and understand the role secrecy plays in our society. WikiLeaks is the culmination of efforts to provide a mechanism through which we can understand and hold this style of governance to account.


When our legal process become a political tool

The agitation towards WikiLeaks shows how our judicial system- one with claims to integrity, honesty and objectivity- can be used as a political mechanism for the suppression of dissent. In following the WikiLeaks narrative we can learn much about our political system, its flaws and vulnerabilities. The controversies around the UK Supreme Court decision to uphold the European Arrest Warrant (based around a contentious understanding of the term ‘judicial authority’), the heavily criticised process through which the Swedish Authorities are attempting to extradite Julian Assange (despite not charging him with any crime), the positioning of the UK within European law that has revealed an insufficiency in the ability of the UK to protect its residents from wrongful extradition, the utilisation of the reactionary laws instituted in the wake of 9/11 and the power dynamics inherent in the UK-US relationship raise very important questions that we must not turn away from.

When our Government falls silent

A right to Due Process : No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
- Clause 39 of the Magnta Carta, 1215

That Julian Assange has been resident in the UK for over 560 days, that he has sought political asylum from a foreign embassy, and that our government has not issued a single statement on the subject is absurd. What our government does not say is as interesting, perhaps more so, than what it does. In this we are reminded that political rhetoric is disconnected from the lives and concerns of the majority of us. Yet that little has been made of the UK government’s silence regarding WikiLeaks, despite the fact that Julian Assange has been held under house arrest in the south of England for over one and a half years, is equally remarkable. The British mainstream media (and much of the alternative media in the UK) have offered little attention to this remiss of the Coalition Government despite obvious links to the reporting of current calls for the reform of extradition processes and a referendum concerning the UK relationship within the European Union.

We are therefore reminded that turning to the mainstream media as our sole source of information and looking to our government to lead democratic debate leaves our ability to make up our own minds diminished. If we are happy with this then we must also be content that, as many political positions are excluded from open dialogue within our society, what we have is not a democracy. If we are unhappy with this, then we must engage with our right to political engagement and express our discontent.

When sexual politics are subverted by political expediency

Julian Assange has the right to be presumed innocent unless found formally guilty of any charge brought against him- and we are a long way off from this. Julian Assange has not been charged with any crime and his attempts at answering questions about the alleged misconduct have been refused. It is possible that no charge will ever be brought against him. Despite this the media consistently misunderstand/ misrepresent the situation as one where he has been charged for rape.

The presentation by the media of a simple dichotomy where you are either a feminist or are in support of Julian Assange is a false one. The media cry for the welfare of the two female complainants to be upheld ignores simple questions such as why the Swedish Authority did not question Julian Assange in the 5 weeks he remained in Sweden following the alleged incidents. Had the welfare or the rights of the women who have made the allegations been at the fore of this case, then every effort should have been made to question Julian Assange when he presented himself for these purposes. The consequences of not doing so have led to the prolonging of the case- distressing for all parties involved and, in the context of political agitation against Julian Assange, have afforded the political stakeholders in his extradition time to consolidate their position.

We cannot divorce the current case against Julian Assange from the political work he is engaged with. This must lead us to question whether a politicking of the female gender has been utilized as part of a wider attack on what Julian Assange stands for. Undoubtedly, we should not forget the rights of the women involved in this case; we should be angry and demand justice on the back of centuries of demands for the rights of the collective female. The focus of concern, however, should be turned toward the legal processes that have unreasonably delayed the resolution of this case for nearly two years and the legal bodies that have made numerous mistakes in the handling of important protective legislation. Most importantly, we should be incensed that one of the complainants describes feeling “railroaded” by the Swedish Authorities into making a complaint. The two women involved and their complaints have become distanced and disconnected from the case; in this abstraction the Swedish Authorities risk diluting, abusing and corrupting the very processes that they claim to be upholding.

When an engaged citizenry is perceived as a threat

In ‘The US Army Counterintelligence special report into WikiLeaks’ it is repeatedly implied that the collaboration and openness encouraged by WikiLeaks represents a form of danger:

“Julian Assange and other Wikileaks.org authors continually encourage other persons with an interest in the information to comment on their work or conduct their own research and publish the results on Wikileaks.org.”

Wikileaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?

The antagonism in the dialectic between the work of WikiLeaks and powerful state officials is a necessity. If the world was one where those in power who wronged did so unwittingly and who humbly accept and put right their wrong doing once it is shown to them, then the world would not need WikiLeaks. If WikiLeaks did not present itself amidst provocation and controversy then the information releases (and WikiLeaks staff) could quite easily be ignored, stamped out or eradicated. This is a necessary tension that will inspire the mobilization of an engaged citizenry; a just Government would promote, not fear this.

When whistle-blowing is presented by state authority as terrorism, when our legal processes become nothing more than political maneuvering, when sexual politics are subverted in an effort to suppress, when we as engaged citizens are perceived as a threat and when, amidst this, our Government has nothing to say- then it becomes time to voice our discontent.

It is important we demand that those who govern us position themselves to these important questions; it is imperative that we demand the same of ourselves. For this is the State we live in and it is ours to decide if we are happy with it. Should we find we are not we must remember that there are political structures that we can move both within and outside of in order to dissent.

We are social beings, designed to work together. Join wlfriends.org.

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The eruption of knowledge: WikiLeaks introduce the Syria Files

On July 5th WikiLeaks released their second big document release of 2012- a year that has seen prolific and damaging attacks against the organisation. The Syria Files expose nearly 2.5 million emails from Syrian political figures, ministries and associated companies. The release provides a vast amount of material from which a context can be mapped around the on-going conflict in Syria that has already led to the death of tens of thousands of people.

During the initial press conference the mainstream media displayed a consistent lack of ability to grasp the function that WikiLeaks is playing in revolutionising investigative journalism. In asking repeatedly for WikiLeaks staff to interpret and comment on the stories within the data set the attending press revealed a failure/unwillingness to appreciate the fundamental shift in news production that WikiLeaks is demanding. Rather than using the opportunity to, for example, explore the pioneering technology that has been developed by WikiLeaks to search through this tremendously large document collection, to question the relevance of the information or to enquire into the intention behind the data release, the press asked for nothing but headlines and content. This is perhaps revealing of the differences between traditional methods of news dissemination where media agencies clamour for the trading of information and the method of inquiry promoted by WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks is building a form of journalism which has two specific functions- to provide access to the raw and verifiable information that media stories can be anchored to, and to provide the technology by which large data fields of such material can be stored, accessed and analysed.

From the outset WikiLeaks have denounced processes that claim ownership of information in order to hold not just governments and powerful institutions accountable, but the media also. In exposing large sets of raw material the mainstream media are forced to report on atrocities that may be otherwise deemed too sensitive to handle. It also demands a witnessing of the process between data collection and the resulting news story, reminding us that information can be approached from different angles, wrapped in different contexts. This encourages our vigilance and provides a feedback loop that helps to demand the integrity of news reporting.

The struggle that the mainstream media perhaps have in accepting WikiLeaks into their fold is that this approach calls into question the fundamental relationship between knowledge and power. WikiLeaks demands that journalism gives up its perceived entitlement to the ownership of information and positions the right to knowledge as belonging to us all. Traditional media is financially dependent on our dependency on them for information, this is unavoidably problematic despite the usefulness of mainstream media in terms of ease of access and availability. In reminding us of this tension and offering a viable alternative model, WikiLeaks encourages us to look beyond headline news to think critically and for ourselves.

WikiLeaks set out initially to release information with the intention that the public and journalists would work through it collaboratively and with vigour. What they found, however, and what they exercised in the release of the collateral murder video in 2010, was that information needs to be anchored to a context before people will engage with it:

“….it was our hope that initially…. that if we just put it out there people would summarize it themselves. That, very interestingly, didn’t happen. Quite an extraordinary thing… our initial idea was that “look at all those people editing Wikipedia, look at all the junk that they’re working on. Surely if you them a fresh classified document about the human rights atrocities in Fallujah that the rest of the world has not seen before… surely all those people….and all those bloggers that are busy pontificating on the abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries and other human rights disasters who are complaining that they can only respond to the New York Times because they don’t have sources of their own, surely those people will step forward given fresh source material and do something.” No….very early on we understood from experiences like this that we would have to at least give summaries of the material we were releasing- at least summaries, to get people to pick it up, to get journalists to pick it up, to get them to dig deeper and if we didn’t have a summary to put the thing into context it would just fall into the gutter and never be seen again…..in cases where I have have understood the material is more complex, or other people in our group have understood the material is more complex, especially military material which has lots of acronyms you understand it is not even enough to do a summary you have to do an article or we have to liaise with other journalists to give the material to them on some sort of exclusive basis or semi-exclusive basis to get them to extract it into easily understandable human readable form. Otherwise it goes nowhere.”

Julian Assange, speaking at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, April 18th 2010, accessed via youtube

What distinguishes WikiLeaks from other media endeavors is that it seeks to package the information only to the point where it is then picked up and engaged with. The tantalising prelude to the big leak disclosures and the initial framing of the leaks provide a necessary vehicle in which the information can reach our awareness. The focus, however, remains on the momentum that continues after the initial data release and the democratization of truth that ensues once access to the data becomes open.

This aspect of the role WikiLeaks plays has not been particularly well received. In The US Army Counterintelligence special report into WikiLeaks it is repeatedly suggested that the collaboration and openness encouraged by WikiLeaks is implicitly dangerous:

“Julian Assange and other Wikileaks.org authors continually encourage other persons with an interest in the information to comment on their work or conduct their own research and publish the results on Wikileaks.org.”

Wikileaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups? NGIC-2381-0617-08

Amidst this WikiLeaks are forcing a necessary and long overdue eruption in the lineage of news production, documentation and ownership. This is being met with trepidation and reluctance by an industry of journalists and news outlets that are heavily dependent on the traditional structures of disseminating information. That WikiLeaks and its figureheads will have to bear the force of an industry fighting against this revolution is regrettably inevitable and perhaps one of the clearest indications that they, and those of us supporting them, are on the right track. Through this agitation we, the people, are seeing more clearly the bind between the media and political expediency. We are choosing not to consume knowledge but to position ourselves within it, we are learning to become more than passive recipients of information and deciding instead to engage.

We are bearing witness to the greatest shift in the role of citizenship that our age has known. WikiLeaks are a vital pillar in ensuring this is a shift we will be proud of. Despite (because of) this Wikileaks are facing:

Over 579 days of banking blockade
Over 659 days of a US secret grand jury
Over 576 days of detainment of the editor Julian Assange, despite there being no charge against him

Support WikiLeaks and Julian Assange by:

Making financial donations :

http://shop.wikileaks.org/donate
http://justice4assange.com/Donate.html

Arming yourself with knowledge and correcting inaccurate media reporting:

http://justice4assange.com/
http://wlcentral.org/

Joining:

wlfriends.org

Make your support visible: tweet, post, blog, photograph. If you are near London or have the means to get there, visit Julian Assange as he continues to plea for political asylum at the Ecuador Embassy: Flat 3B 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1X 0LS taking some of the material from our demo kit with you.

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UK GOVERNMENT NEED TO RESPOND TO ASSANGE’S SITUATION

THE ECUADORIAN EMBASSY IS EXPECTED TO MAKE A DECISION ON JULIAN ASSANGE’S APPLICATION FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM ANY TIME.

It is absurd that Julian Assange has felt the need to seek political asylum at a foreign embassy while here in the UK. Our Prime Minister has remained silent on the situation. David Cameron has, rightly, extended an invitation to the inspiring Aung San Suu Kyi this week in honor of her lifetime of fighting for democracy. This stands in contrast with a failure to acknowledge the activism of Assange and the important work he has been engaging in for years.

In the UK? Go to the embassy and support Julian Assange: Flat 3B 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1X 0LS and take FoWL with you by downloading as poster or flyers from here.

Not near London? Email the PM and demand he issues a statement as to his position of Assange and the absurdity of his need to seek asylum at a foreign embassy while here in the UK.

Email/ phone the Ecuadorian Embassy and let them know why it is important to grant Assange asylum: 0207 590 2503 or ecuembpress@gmail.com

And do not forget that the UK government have the power to override the UK Supreme Court decision to uphold the EAW and extradite Julian to Sweden. The UK Gov can make a stand and create a safer environment for Julian here in the UK. Send in your letter and keep telling others.

What WikiLeaks has shown, is that those with most power in contemporary global politics can, and will, get away with injustice unless they are closely watched. Supporters of WikiLeaks understand that the importance of the organisation goes way beyond that of the individual leaked data packages- this is a movement about democratic navigation, inciting citizens to become engaged and act in recognition of their political agency.

If we were to become silent on the case against Assange, if we were to stop watching, injustice would go unnoticed.

WikiLeaks and the movement starting because of it is more than Julian Assange, but he is being used by the powerful West to signify activism and to deter us all from feeling empowered to stand up and engage. If we turn our gaze away, we become removed from the future that WikiLeaks is inspiring us to fight for.

The facts of the case clearly show (see here for example) that the case currently against him cannot be divorced from the political agitation against his work. This is not about defending the rights of two women. If had been Julian Assange would have been questioned when he was available in Sweden for the 5 weeks immediately after the instances are alleged to have happened.

Friends and citizens- keep watching, keep taking note. This is what our freedom looks like.

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What We Do Now

URGENT before reading the rest of this post, you need to know that

Prime Minister David Cameron can override the UK Supreme Court Decision to extradite Julian Assange. It is within the Governments power to assert parliamentary sovereignty in this case. We have 7 days before the beginning of the extradition period and must focus efforts on sending this letter to our Prime Minister.

This is a crucial last stand against the extradition of Julian to Sweden and we have an amended template letter for you to use. Click this link and print (or copy) the two letters.

Send the first, by post, to: David Cameron, Prime Minister 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA.

The second letter is a ‘cc’ to The Queen. While she has no direct role in parliament she is in weekly contact with our Prime Minister and has a ‘duty to warn’ about relevant concerns. We need to have this issue on the agenda when they meet. Send this letter (including the cc copy) to: Her Majesty The Queen, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA

Pledge to make the next seven days count- send your letter as soon as possible. Forward the letter on to everyone you know who cares about the integrity of our legal system and urge them to send the letter immediately. Forward on the letter to local community groups, the local paper, anywhere it might be picked up by someone. Tweet it, put it on your blog or facebook account. Print hard copies of it and leave them at your local CAB or community centres, Universities or work places. If you are attending any demonstrations or public meetings, take hard copies along with you and distribute them (with addressed envelopes if possible). Make it as simple as possible for people to send this letter to our Prime Minister.

Read on for more about what you can do, BUT do not forget the letter- our Government has the power to halt the extradition of Julian Assange.

On the 14th June the UK Supreme Court declared their decision to reject Julian Assange’s appeal and to extradite him to Sweden despite there being no charge against him.

Julian will be extradited between the June 29th and July 8th. When he reaches Sweden he will be detained (no bail) without any means of contact with the outside world apart from via his lawyer. Remember the context: Julian Assange has been held under house arrest for 557 days (despite there being no charge against him) amidst continued political and media attacks on his work within WikiLeaks. Importantly, Julian Assange spent 5 weeks in Sweden following the complaints made against him and offered himself for questioning. He has also offered to speak with officials regarding the case from where he is now situated in the UK. Despite this, the Judicial Authority of Sweden has declined any opportunity to make reasonable contact with Mr Assange. Denying this has led to an unreasonable delay in the resolution of the case- a delay where the agitation against Julian (and sustained misreporting in the media) would make it impossible for any court to remain unbiased.

There is room to read this case as one where the original concerns of the two complainants involved have been hijacked for the purposes of a more elaborate case against Julian Assange. If the rights of the women who have made the allegations had been at the fore, then every effort should have been made to question Julian Assange when he presented himself for these purposes while still in Sweden. The consequences of not doing so, whether intended or not, has allowed room for political stakeholders in the extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden. In this we risk undermining the processes in place to uphold the rights of women to ownership of their own bodies. Disturbingly one of the complainants describes feeling railroaded and did not sign her statement. The possibility that the experiences of the women involved are being hijacked and used as a political tool is serious. It corrupts the processes in place that are designed to protect women and, absurdly, victimizes them. The dichotomy presented in the media (see this article for example) in which one either stands in support for Julian Assange or stands in solidarity with women is a false one. The timeline of events in this case has served in nobodies best interests other than those who have declared openly that they want Julian Assange out of the picture. Remember Sarah Palin’s words:

“Julian Assange should be targeted like the Taliban ”
Former US Vice Presidential Candidate- see other quotes here

It is the UK Supreme Court that has allowed this process to culminate in the extradition of Julian to Sweden. At best this shows the rule of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to be a myth, at worst this is an indication of how vulnerable legal processes are in the UK to the corruption of political manoeuvrings. This could be any of us who dare to stand up against the status quo in our demands for a more just society.

What we will do

1. We will arm ourselves with the facts:

Make sure you acquaint yourself with the facts in order to be in a better position to make up your own mind. There are some wonderfully accessible sites already documenting the case against Julian Assange:

http://justice4assange.com/
wlcentral.org/node/1418
http://www.support-julian-assange.com/

Join in the discussion with others too, this will help you formulate your own ideas and thoughts about why this case is important:

http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/index.php
WikiLeaks chat

2.We will disseminate the facts:

This requires you to be vigilant on two counts:
a) correct inaccuracies, misreporting, slander and ill-formed arguments.

Actively look out for anything reported publicly that you think is wrong or needs to be challenged and make a stand. Write, post, comment, call and flag up the inaccurate reporting to others. Make use of your MP and write to them telling them why this is important to you and asking them to make a stand on your behalf. You can find some ideas, templates and tools here.

Do as much as you can in the public eye- re-publish your letters and responses on the forum for example and keep your dissent public- it helps all of us to position our thoughts and inspires others to make a stand themselves. See this letter of complaint to Nick Clegg regarding the outrageous comments of Bridget Fox while she was representing the Liberal Democrat Party as an example.

Make a note of some of the facts of the Julian Assange case and spread them far and wide. Tweet them, put posters up, text your friends every week with a new fact- there are many ways in which you can uphold the integrity of truth, be as inventive as possible. Take a photo of whatever you are doing where possible and tweet it, send it to us here, via email or at our facebook page (see here for ways to contact us) and share your creativity.

b) see media and political silence as the suppression of truth

It is striking that the UK mainstream media has been relatively silent regarding the case against Julian Assange until the Supreme Court made it’s decision to uphold the European Arrest Warrant. It is also noted that the ‘World Tomorrow‘ episodes, despite the integrity and importance of these interviews, has received very little press attention. Under-reporting and the refusal of the media to follow the importance of this case in terms of its wider implications is as dangerous as the propagation of disinformation. We need to be seen to be watching and taking interest- if there is continued and informed public interest our very presence will go some way to keeping political agitation in check. Write to your local political parties and ask them to offer a statement describing their position on WikiLeaks and the Assange case.

Write in to the letter pages of national and local papers. Encourage other people you know to do the same and make it easier for them by providing the contact details you have used and your own letter which can be used as a template.

Print off the posters and graphics circulating online (or make your own) and put them up around your local area/uni/community centre/citizens advice centre- anywhere they will be seen. Take a photo of your poster and send it in/tweet it in reply to @UKFoWL and inspire others to do the same. You can find graphics here, here and at the outrageously amazing SomersetBean blog. Email Somersetbean or contact him on twitter (@somersetbean) if you want help with your own poster/flyer designs.

Consider hosting a ‘WikiLeaks’ forum or discussion in your local area. This can be as informal as having a themed night out (or in!) with some friends talking about WikiLeaks and the issues around the Assange case, or step it up a bit and organise a community event in a local community centre, uni or pub. Choose a WikiLeaks related theme that you are most interested in (such as impact of the cable releases, the role of the surveilance state, the world tomorrow episodes, extradition law etc) and make some inquiries about local speakers. If you feel a bit daunted in organizing this from scratch do an on-line search for groups that are already meeting in your local area and suggest they take on your chosen theme. If you have a local ‘skeptics in the pub’ group for example make contact with them (you can find a list here). Similarly ‘truthjuice’ groups may be a good place to start- find their groups here or contact them for advice on running your own. Advertise your discussion on twitter, facebook or the forum (which will inspire others to do the same) and, if appropriate, take a video recording (or make minutes if you do not have a video camera) which can be used to document the event and share with others.

Join in with the ‘Global Friends of WikiLeaks’ visibility campaign (described more here) and send in your photos to: globalfriendsofwikileaks@gmail.com. FoWL look better in the collective.

3. We recognise ourselves as activists:

Think about what skills you possess and put them to good use. If you are into your tech for example offer to help out on a WikiLeaks supporter website, develop your own blog, or help others in your area who are timid of the internet to go through the WikiLeaks website. If writing is your thing get in touch with us at UKFoWL (UKFOWL@riseup.net) and become an author here, on your own blog or apply to be a WLcentral reporter. Go along to local demo’s and protest meetings that are related (such as internet freedom, human rights) and take some flyers about WikiLeaks to hand out. In speaking out, standing up and sharing your thoughts with others you become an activist- simple as that.

4. We acknowledge our political agency:

We need to acknowledge that our activities within the political structures of our country is a vital component to our demand of a fair and just society. Democracy cannot be ever fully realized as it stands in constant tension with the structures and frameworks our society sits within and, as such, must be consistently fought for and critiqued. If we can see something is wrong, we have a rational duty to change it. When we are not afforded a clear view of what is going on or where we find our political agency suppressed we need to dissent. Resistance cannot be efficient unless we understand actively where control is being exerted. Avoid feeling too despondent or cynical about the political processes in the UK- if you feel there is something wrong, demand change. This can be in the form of a letter to your MP or in the process of you deciding to stand as a candidate in your local elections. The first place to start though is having your own political opinion. In recognising our place in the wider world and seeing that we are connected to events happening all over the globe, we see ourselves as more than just one individual. We are part of a chapter in history and we should be free to decide the role we play.

5. What we are doing as UKFoWL:

UKFoWL are currently organising two events:

i) we are supporting the ‘Halt the Extraditions’ demo in London on June 23rd. You can find out more here, you can join in preparations for the event here and download demo materials here.

ii) we are organising a rally in support of Julian Assange for July 1st- this will be in conjunction global actions taking place on the same day. We will be issuing more details soon but, for the time being join in the discussions here. Get in touch via email (UKFOWL@risup.net) if you want to be involved further.

If you are not London based, think about organising a local event in support and get in touch so we can advertise your event. Feel free to use any of our demo kit and amend with your own details.

Also get in touch if you have some ideas about related protests, demos or actions that you think FoWL should be present at. Download some of our FoWL flyers and hand them out whenever you can.

Share any ideas about what UKFoWL could be doing (or doing better) and let us know if you want to be more involved. We are stronger together. If you have not done so already become part of the Friends of WikiLeaks collective by joining up at wlfriends.org and check here for ways you can donate money to support Julian Assange as he fights for our freedom.

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Conversations we need to have- ‘World Tomorrow’ episode 8

Episode 8 of the series ‘World Tomorrow’ hosted by Julian Assange raises some important questions about the future of our collective freedoms, highlighting some very grave predictions about where we are heading and suggesting where we might look for a strategic response. In many a sense this episode is an important review of how the internet and modern communication methods have been developed and subverted. It shows with clarity the role that WikiLeaks has in contemporary society and why we need to fight to protect the organisation and its workers. It also demands of us that we accept the responsibility of our own agency.

Looking in detail at mass surveillance as a means of contemporary governance, Jacob Applebaum, Andy Mueller-Maguhn, Jeremie Zimmermann and Julian Assange discuss the trajectory of the cypherpunk movement and its role in the protection of freedom. Surveillance has been an effective means of control in western societies since the 17th century (see, for example, the work of Foucault here at Wikipedia). What marks our contemporary age is the scope, scale and economic efficiency of mass surveillance systems- systems that are unregulated and which allow for the neo-colonialist domination over less powerful countries:

“…. if you’re dealing with evil countries and you bring them surveillance equipment to do evil things, you will benefit because you will learn what they are listening to, what are they afraid of…. and that’s the reality why surveillance systems are not regulated.”
Andy Mueller-Maguhn, World Tomorrow, episode 8

In reminding us of the role of control as a method of governance in neo-liberal consumerist society, the consumer movement is exposed as a false ideology- any framework which could catalyse the agency of its citizens is increasingly owned and regulated by the corporations that make up big-Gov. Freedom becomes marginalized in the public sphere where you must remain an individual; you and your needs alone are what matters (as long as they are needs met easily by consumerism) because this serves the market state. You are not the consumer- you are the sales pitch:

“….in Facebook actually the customer or the user is not the customer, the customer… the user is actually the product and the customer is the advertisement companies.”
Andy Mueller-Maguhn, World Tomorrow, episode 8

The extent and dominance of mass surveillance techniques gives rise to a vision of our future as one where:

“….slowly we will end up into a global totalitarian surveillance society. By totalitarian I mean a total surveillance, and that perhaps there’ll just be the last free living people – and these last free living people are those people who understand how to use this cryptography to defend against this complete, total surveillance.”
Julian Assange, World Tomorrow, episode 8

UK legislation is being passed that will increase the right of those that govern to have access to, and to keep, all communications being passed through the public sphere. Phone calls, emails, text messages will be stored- without the need to have a prior suspicion that something illegal is going on. Coupled with the Justice and Security bill, which calls for the increased access of closed court proceedings, we can perhaps be forgiven for thinking that Julian’s vision is not that far off what we are achieving here in the UK. This is not an open society. This is serious stuff.

Following this analysis, Julian Assange asks:

“We saw that there was an atomic bomb and a peace movement came up in response .. So I wonder if…we need a sort of equivalent response; that this really is a big threat to democracy and to freedom all around the world and it is a threat that needs a response….”
Julian Assange, World Tomorrow, Episode 8

The discussion moves on to explore what “efficient techniques” need to be adopted (see Julian Assange, episode 7 of the World Tomorrow for more on this) in response to this threat. What is suggested is that we require a cohesive partnership between those that have built and developed open technologies and the agency that resides within the citizenship of open societies. For while technological enterprise can be an effective tool in demanding justice, we (the citizens around which our societal frameworks are constructed), need to realise our potential to be active agents of freedom:

“…. it is in fact the agency of everyday people that it’s important to understand here, and technobabble is not the thing that is important. What matters is people actually getting involved in that narrative and changing it while they still have the power to do so, and the human aspect of that is, in fact, the most important part of that… Because there is at least the argument that we do live in a democracy, that we are free, that it is supposed to be that we are governed through consent. And so, if everyone understands what is going on and we find it is not something we consent to, then it is very difficult to keep up that and just pass those as laws and do it without the consent of those that are governed.”
Jacob Applebaum, World Tomorrow, Episode 8

Thus we need a two-headed strategy: one where we fight to retain the role of open technologies as a tool in active resistance, and one where we acknowledge our responsibilities to democratic politics as a mechanism not there for us but there because of us:

“the power of the State and the power of some companies may always exceed the power of the geeks we are, and how we will try to… to build and spread those technologies. We may also need, while we are building them, laws and tools that will be in the hands of citizens, to be able to – if not always in real time – control what is being done with technology, be able to sanction the ones that use them in an unethical way or violate citizens’ privacy.”
Jeremie Zimmermann, World Tomorrow, episode 8

We need to acknowledge that our activities within the political structures of our country is a vital component to our demand of a fair and just society. Democracy cannot be ever fully realized and must be consistently fought for and critiqued. If we can see something is wrong, we have a rational duty to change it. When we are not afforded a clear view of what is going on or where we find our political agency suppressed we need to dissent. And this requires a third pillar of action- we need a mechanism which exposes what is wrong in our society as governance, in it’s function to control, has its anchors deeply embedded in closed and covert communication techniques. Resistance cannot be efficient unless we understand actively where control is being exerted, for example:

“we’ve had the democratic debate; ACTA has been demonised in the public sphere; we’ve won the narrative but, behind the scenes, secret bilateral treaties have been set up which are achieving the same result anyway, it’s just subverted the democratic process…”
Julian Assange, World Tomorrow, episode 8

The movement behind WikiLeaks demands of us a higher calibre of social critique- a deep understanding of the terrain in an effort to make the most rational decision about how to proceed. What the market state has taught us however is something different- it demands that we take a consumerist approach to our political endeavor; how a theory or policy is presented and packaged has become the message of importance, regardless of any lack of substance to the quality of the proposal. Our decisions are rapid and short term, if we decide to make them ourselves at all.

Which is what brings us back to why WikiLeaks is such a vital component of the open society we wish to have. In demanding that we see and understand, WikiLeaks reminds us that:

“…all our decisions, individual decisions, our political decisions, are based upon what we know. Humanity is nothing but what we know and what we have. And what we have can be replaced, and degrades quickly. And what we know is everything, and it is our limit of what we can be. So before we embark on any particular political stratagem, we first have to know where we are because, if we do not know where we are, it is impossible for us to know where we are going.”
Julian Assange, Oslo Freedom Forum, April 2010

If we accept as a starting point that we need a framework and, secondly, that all frameworks corrupt freedom by necessitating some decisions and pathologising others then we must understand that our societal processes are necessarily vulnerable to corruption and injustice. In this we can subvert the panopticon gaze of those most powerful back in on themselves; focusing scrutiny on those that set the parameters of our societal frameworks, the parameters on our citizenship. We should be forever present watching, taking note and making up our own minds.

The structures that bind our society are both liberatory and corrupting; they offer us the scaffolding from which we can build more than individual connections and yet they offer us limitations to our very being. Understanding this as a constant tension- that democracy is neither ever fully achieved nor fully avoided- is an insight that will keep us ever vigilant. We are, each of us, born to navigate the entirety of what happens between birth and death successfully and it is within the very elements of humanness that our freedom lies:

“Authoritarian regimes create forces which oppose them by pushing against a peoples will to truth, love and self-realization.”
Conspiracy as governance- Julian Assange

all quotes from episode 8 have been taken from the fantastic transcriptions over at the WikiLeaks Forum

You can exert your political might by (among other things):
-contacting your MP and demanding that your voice is heard. Find an ‘Open Letter to David Cameron, Prime Minster’, here which you can copy and paste from
-Urging your MP to sign this Early Day Motion
-Going along to demonstrations such as the day of Action Against ACTA (June 9th) taking along resources from our demo kit (here)and here and talking to others about why WikiLeaks is so important
-Joining WLFriends.org
-Joining in discussions over at the WL Forum where you can find details of the numerous and wonderful WikiLeaks supporter-projects
-Donate to WikiLeaks here

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I am not afraid to make up my own mind

We should not respond to the language of suppression with silence. Your voice is what you have in order to be more than one individual lost in thought.

I am not afraid to make up my own mind.

Support for WikiLeaks is undoubtedly there- it is a rational response to a global situation, a situation where our right to citizenship is becoming increasingly hijacked. But we are not yet visible. On the back of the ‘I am…’ campaign UKFoWL are trying to get support documented. If people see people supporting then, well you know line….

Lets get a historical record going. (click on image):




(another set of amazing @somersetbean graphics!)

Print it. Have your photograph taken with it. Post it on line.

Blog site for hosting your support to follow shortly. Julian Assange is shouldering the weight of responsibility for our freedom. We owe him.

We are here, watching.

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Wednesday 30th May 2012

In just a few days time, Julian Assange will be facing the judgment of the UK Supreme Court. The judgement will deem whether or not Julian will be extradited to Sweden.

The absurdity is that, despite being held under house arrest for 537 days, Julian has not been charged with any crime. You should find out more about the controversy surrounding the case here at WL Central.

It’s worth restating. 537 days of house arrest but no charge.

If the verdict goes against Julian he will be extradited to Sweden and held in solitary confinement for an indefinite period of time. If the case goes to court this will be within closed proceedings. There are widely documented inaccuracies and controversies surrounding the biased treatment he is likely to face if extradition goes ahead. You can read more here at Justice4Assange.com.

Whatever the outcome of the verdict, Julian still faces the stark probability of extradition to the US as there has been a sealed indictment against him for over a year now (read more here) and a secret grand jury has been active since 2010 (see more here). This is in reaction to the work of WikiLeaks and their efforts to instigate transformative change that will ensure all of us have the means to hold our governments to account.

Making up your own mind about this is imperative, as what is happening to Julian and, via him, to WikiLeaks is part of wider context which affects us all. Not only should we be uncomfortable with the legal structures of our society being hijacked as a political tool in silencing freedom of speech, we should feel very concerned that human beings in a democracy such as the UK can be treated in this manner.

For this is simply what is happening: a man that has not been charged with any crime has been kept under house arrest for nearly a year and a half. A journalist providing a mechanism for the dissemination of whistle-blower material is being treated as a terrorist.

We should not be OK with this.

See here for details on how to register your concerns with your MP.

Preparation for the verdict on Wednesday has already begun. You can see this post for more details. UK supporters of WikiLeaks who are able to make it to the UK Supreme Court to hear the judgement can arrange to meet up with others by joining the WikiLeaks Forum and posting here.

You should visit the Demo Kit page for resources you can print off and take down with you.

On the day you can meet up from 7:30am outside the UK Supreme Court. The judgement will be expected 9:15am.

You can visit the UK Supreme Court website to find out how to get there.

You should also check the here to find out about getting access to the courtroom for the judgement and the Supreme Courts arrangement for showing the judgement via visual feed.

Sky news will be showing the judgement live here.

After the judgement, regardless of outcome, there will remain a need to keep up momentum with our support. Global demonstrations will be planned in the preceding weeks, so keep an eye out for updates.

Stay informed and make up your own mind. If we can see something is wrong we will make a rational decision to change it.

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