The Persecution of Julian Assange is the most serious attack on Press Freedom in more than two centuries
The Refusal by Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle to Support Assange Tells You Everything You Need to Know About Labour’s Deference to the British State
The case of Julian Assange represents the most dangerous and concerted attack on journalism and freedom of the press in over a century. It has nothing to do with the Assange himself, despite attempts to portray his attempted deportation as being a consequence of him seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy and before that the false accusation of rape.
You would have to go back to the case of John Wilkes in 1762 for a similar case. In that case Wilke’s attack on George III’s ministers led to the issue of a General Warrant, which was deemed illegal by Chief Justice Pratt.
In the case of Assange far from defending press freedom the Judiciary have led the attack on it. Lord Chief Justice Burnett who ruled in the High Court against Assange and in favour of accepting US assurances about prison conditions in the USA just happened to be a close friend of former Deputy Foreign Secretary Alan Duncan, who led the hounding Assange, describing him as a ‘miserable little worm’. A description that might better be applied to Burnett and himself.
Burnett if he had any integrity, given his close relations with Duncan. would have recused himself but to expect honesty or integrity from British judges is like expecting Boris Johnson to tell the truth.
Other recent cases involving attacks on press freedom include Mary Whitehouse v Dennis Lemon in 1977. Gay Times had reprinted James Kirkup’s poem The Love that Dares to Speak its Name in which a Roman Centurion had sex with the crucified Christ. Lemon received a 9 month suspended sentence from another judicial dinosaur, Alan King-Hamilton, who told the court that homosexuality had caused the fall of the Roman Empire. The offence was blasphemous libel, which was abolished in 2008.
The ABC trial held the following year, 1978, was authorised by the then Labour Government’s illiberal Home Secretary Merlyn Rees and Attorney General Sam Silkin. ABC was short for the names of the 3 Defendants, Audrey, Berry and Campbell. It involved the unprecedented use of Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act against non-spies for having disclosed the existence of GCHQ, the eavesdropping centre.
The government case was quickly discredited since the information was already in the public domain. Also revealed was the use of police vetting of juries necessitating the replacement of the whole jury. Justice Mars Jones described the prosecution as ‘oppressive’ and threw out the Section 1 charges.
There was the gaoling of 2 journalists for 3 and 6 months for refusing to divulge their sources to the Vassall Tribunal set up after the revelation that Vassall, a civil servant working in the Admiralty, had been a Soviet spy.
In the case of Goodwin v UK in March 1996 the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] ruled that under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, a court could not force a journalist to divulge his sources. The Engineer had intended to publish confidential financial information about Tetra Ltd. Naturally the High Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords took the side of property interests and ordered Goodwin had to divulge his sources of information and when he refused was fined £5,000 for contempt of court. The European courts ruled otherwise.
The most recent case involving press freedom was the gaoling of Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. Murray was sacked by Jack Straw, New Labour Foreign Secretary and Blair toady. Murray’s crime was to have revealed the extensive use of torture (boiling people alive) by the then ruler of the country Islam Karimov.
Murray wrote that the SNP leadership, Sturgeon in particular, the Crown Office and police conspired to convict Alex Salmond on charges of sexual harassment and attempted rape. Salmond was acquitted on all charges. The British establishment got their revenge when senior Scottish judge and Sturgeon loyalist Lady Dorrian issued an order forbidding the publication of the names of the women who given false witness testimony against Salmond.
In March 2021 Dorrian found Murray to be in contempt of court after he published information that in her view could potentially lead to identifying some of the complainants, what was called jigsaw identification and sentenced him to eight months’ imprisonment.
What made this case particularly outrageous was that Dorrian had ruled that in the case of the mainstream press, she would have imposed a non-custodial sentence.
But perhaps the most significant case that of The Sunday Times v. United Kingdom in 1972. This was in pre-Murdoch days when the ST was a campaigning paper. Distillers had produced Thalidomide, a tranquiliser taken by pregnant women, which resulted in hideous deformities in babies. Thalidomide used its financial muscle to force many parents into taking meagre settlements.
The ST printed an article in 1972 with the promise of further articles. The Attorney General obtained an injunction at the High Court preventing publication. Although it was overturned by the Court of Appeal the House of Lords upheld the injunction. It went to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled 11-9 that the injunction interfered with the freedom of the press.
I mention these cases because it gives the context to the case of Julian Assange and what Nils Melzer calls his persecution. Assange has been in prison for 3 years and confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy for 7 years for the ‘crime’ of having revealed via Wikileaks the gross war crimes of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It says everything about the British Judiciary that they have nothing to say about the right to expose war crimes but are happy to gaol and extradite those who blow the Whistleblowers. This is also true of both the British Government and Labour’s pathetic leader Keir Starmer.
The British government together with the Swedish and US governments have been complicit in this persecution and attempted in effect to destroy Assange through a web of disinformation and dirty tricks including the making of false charges of rape.
On 10 May I forwarded a letter from the Julian Assange Defence Campaign to Brighton Kemptown Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle asking him to sign 2 Early Day Motions. 12 Labour, 6 SNP/Alba, 2 Plaid Cymru, 1 Green, 2 Independent and even 1 Tory (David Davies) signed EDM 220 and 16 Labour, 6 SNP, 2 Plaid Cymru, 1 Green and even 1 Democratic Unionist Party MP signed EDM 719.
However what proved palatable to a Democratic Unionist MP was a step too far for the ginger nut who represents Brighton Kemptown.
I did not envisage that my request would prove controversial given that EDM 220 simply related to the refusal of the government and prison authorities to allow an online meeting between MPs and Assange. EDM 719 merely affirmed ‘its commitment to press freedom and public-interest journalism’. Innocuous in the extreme.
So I was staggered when Moyle’s PA, Carla May Kavanagh, on Moyle’s behalf, responded that since MPs ‘cannot interfere with decisions made by the courts, he is unable to comment on an ongoing legal matter.’ This was a non-sequitur. The whole point of MPs is that they can comment. The EDMs made no mention of any legal matters. But I was assured that ‘Lloyd believes it is very important that we protect freedom of the press’.
In other words Moyle believes press freedom is important but refuses to say anything about a case that directly threatens press freedom. This is the dishonesty that I’ve come to expect from Moyle.
I responded demanding an answer from Moyle directly not his PA, pointing out that ‘If Lloyd actually means what he says then he cannot help but speak out against the treatment of Assange.’ I asked whether Moyle’s support for freedom of the press was merely ‘an empty pious phrase designed to placate myself and others’. I gave him 7 days to respond before I went public with his craven response.
MPs have every right to comment on judicial bias, of which there is a surfeit in this case and that ‘Tony Benn, Tam Dalyell, Chris Mullin, Joan Maynard and many other socialist Labour MPs have spoken out against judicial bias and irregularities in the past.’
Moyle’s cowardice is based on the idea of judicial neutrality whereas judges are highly political, reactionary members of the Establishment. Moyle’s response demonstrates that the left in Parliament today has no class base or analysis. It consists of middle class careerists and nonentities like Moyle who, will occasionally make radical gestures.
Stung by my response, Moyle wrote that ‘I have no interest in taking up or commenting further on Assange and I will not be singing (sic!) EDMs on it.’ And just in case I was under any doubt he made clear that he ‘intended to publicly say nothing on this issue.’
I responded by quoting veteran journalist John Pilger that:
This double-barrelled twerp is a hypocrite. At the 2021 Labour Party Conference Moyle had taken a day trip to the left when he addressed the annual rally of the Socialist Campaign Group. He told the audience that ‘this has been a goddamn awful conference with a goddamn awful leadership.’
Clearly he had been drinking too much or imbibing something stronger because he laid into Starmer personally describing him as
‘not a politician for the Labour Party. I’m afraid that is a reality…. No politician worth their salt would wage an internal war on the party when we have one of the worst governments in history’.
Moyle has always been an opportunist and his next statement provoked newspaper headlines and a complaint by the so-called Labour Against Anti-Semitism. Referring to those who had been purged from the Labour Party Moyle said:
“I was struck by members who feel alone in our party at the moment. I want to apologise, from me in particular, because if we have made you feel like you are alone, if we have not reached out our arms enough in these tough times when you are being purged or set up with false allegations, I not only apologise, I will endeavour to do better because we have to support each other. ”
Of course Moyle meant none of it. The Zionist press went crazy and Guido Fawkes, the Tory libel sheet, reported that the Whips Office were considering removing the whip from Moyle. Moyle must have panicked. The Chair of Kemptown Labour Party, Colin Piper told members that Lloyd was unlikely to be allowed to stand at the next election. It was panic stations for someone whose only concern in life is his own career.
Moyle is not alone. Labour history is littered with MPs who prioritised their own career over their socialist principles. The number of Tony Benns, Jeremy Corbyns, Tam Dalyells and Joan Maynards are few and far between.
The hypocrisy of Moyle’s promise to ‘reach out his arms’ to those who are purged is breaktaking given that he scabbed on me and other members of Brighton Labour Party. He had written in secret to the anti-Corbyn General Secretary Iain McNicol urging that my expulsion be sped up, despite the party having voted to support me!
The full correspondence can be seen here.
Nor did Moyle make an exception for me. Amanda Bishop, a White anti-apartheid exile from South Africa had suggested in response to the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations and the suspension of a Black member of the Labour Party, Alexander Braithwaite, that we should march to a Hove synagogue. Now this might not have been the brightest idea but was it anti-Semitic?
It was Zionist groups calling themselves Jewish who were responsible for the racist suspension of Alex. So it was quite understandable. And why is a march to a synagogue anti-Semitic anyway?
Was I anti-Christian when I took part in a march and picket outside a Worthing evangelical church for organising pickets to harass women at Brighton’s abortion clinic? I think not.
Likewise Moyle also condemned a working class young Labour member Daniel Harris for putting the faces of 3 right-wing councillors on a fun video. Apparently this was anti-Semitic! Why? Because according to former MP Ivor Caplin, a war criminal who was Defence Minister at the time of the Iraq War invasion, two of the 3 councillors ‘had significant Jewish connections’In other words all 3, including Caroline‘poison’ Penn were non-Jewish. But in the frenzied ‘anti-Semitism’ affair everything could be anti-Semitic, except genuine anti-Semitism.
This is not the first blog that has featured Moyle. See
No one Better Represents the Opportunism and Lack of Principle of the Campaign Group of MPs than Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle
Lloyd Russell-Moyle – the Double Barrelled Hypocrite who was imposed as Chair of Brighton & Hove Labour Party
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP for Brighton Kemptown Defies the Board of Deputies 10 Pledges & Speaks on the Same Platform as Expelled Labour Member, Tony Greenstein and
No sooner had Lloyd-Russell Moyle MP Apologised for Supporting the Purge of Socialists from the Labour Party than he Recanted!
Unfortunately Labour breeds opportunists and charlatans like Moyle, who say one thing to get selected and spend the rest of their career feathering their own nest.
Moyle also had another consideration when refusing to be associated with Assange. Starmer was personally responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service’s attempt to extradite Assange. Starmer had worked hand in glove with the Americans and Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in order to secure an extradition by false pretences to Sweden on bogus rape charges.
When the Swedes were thinking of dropping the case because of lack of evidence, a CPS barrister wrote back ‘don’t you dare get cold feet’. Clearly their interest in the case had nothing to do with the actual issue of attempted rape.
The last thing Moyle wanted to do was to antagonise Herr Stürmer any further. He had already openly mocked Labour’s robotic leader in his speech to the SCG rally when he said that ‘the problem is that he [Starmer] might be a very nice man…’ then pausing and giving a nod and a wink to his audience who were shouting their hate of the man.
But I will leave this rank opportunist, parliamentary and political lightweight, who has made a career out of throwing red meat to Labour Party members whilst reassuring the party establishment that he was really one of them.
Under Corbyn Moyle was a Corbyn supporter and under Starmer he is a Starmer supporter. No doubt if Boris Johnson were leader of the Labour Party Moyle would have pledged his unswerving allegiance to him too. He is a man for all seasons and none. A fair-weather socialist who first sees which way the wind is blowing before making his mind up on an issue.
Let me turn by way of contrast to a man who has demonstrated his integrity and honesty. I refer to the Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture who has brought out a remarkable book The Trial of Julian Assange which should be compulsory reading for anyone who values democratic rights in a society that is rapidly moving to the authoritarian right with one piece of legislation after another whittling away our right to protest. There is an excellent review of the book by Jonathan Cook.
Among the main points Melzer makes is that:
i. The United States is determined to make an example of Assange for the treasure trove of secrets Wikileaks revealed concerning US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular the ‘Collateral Murder’ video which shows a helicopter machine gunning civilians on a square in Baghdad in July 2007. 12 people were murdered including two Reuters journalists, Namir Nour El Deen and Saeed Chmagh.
ii. The Swedish case of rape, as Melzer, a Professor of International Law at Glasgow University and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law, made clear was bogus from beginning to end. It was the police who suggested rape not the women.
iii. Assange, on a speaking tour to Sweden, slept with two women, S and A. Assange, who is on the autistic spectrum, was certainly insensitive in the way he treated both women and by all accounts was extremely sexist. But he was not a rapist and at no stage did they make such an accusation. In the case of S he ignored her concerns over whether he might be HIV positive and it was only reluctantly that he agreed to have an HIV test. In the case of A Assange had wanted to have unprotected sex and she suspected that he deliberately ripped open a condom. However this remained a suspicion.
iv. Both women went to the Swedish Police with their concerns and they were told that even if they did not want to press charges of rape the police certainly did. There were a number of serious irregularities, such as interviewing the women by phone and not notifying Assange or his lawyer as to what the charges were. Nor were the defence allowed to see the women’s statements.
v. The Chief Prosecutor for Stockholm, Eva Finne cancelled the initial arrest warrant and issued a statement that ‘I do not believe there is any reason to suspect him of rape.’ In the case of S she dropped the investigation altogether and threw the police charges out but the women’s publicly appointed lawyer, Claes Borgström, was a deceitful and ambitious social democrat, who had been embroiled as defence counsel in a case of wrongful convictions whereby a man confessed to 8 murders he didn’t commit, spending 20 years in prison as a result. Borgström was later sacked by the women.
vi. The original interview with S was ‘amended’ without S being consulted. This was used as the basis of the appeal to Marianne Ny, Director of Public Prosecutions, a personal friend of Borgström. This amended statement was the basis of the successful appeal to reinstate the case.
vii. When Assange was interviewed by the Police, it was promptly leaked to the press despite promises to the contrary. Assange stayed on in Sweden for an extra month but the moment he took a flight out of Sweden an Interpol Arrest Warrant was issued thus giving the impression that he was fleeing justice.
viii. It is clear that throughout his stay Assange was being monitored and that the US was interested in getting him. For example all his credit cards were cancelled whilst he was away and it doesn’t take much guessing as to who would or could put pressure on the card issuers.
It isn’t surprising that the authorities seized on rape with such alacrity because nothing was better designed to discredit Assange. Many on the left who should have known better recoiled when they heard what he’d been charged with.
ix. Assange, when he reached London, was immediately subject to extradition proceedings to Sweden. Assange had no problem in surrendering to the Swedes but he also suspected that this was a ruse and that he would be rendered to the United States from Britain.
x. Assange sought assurances from Sweden that this would not happen but the Swedes refused to give such assurances. It was clear that the rape charges were a charade. Contrary to many peoples’ impressions, Sweden was no longer the country of Olaf Palme, the assassinated Premier who had been a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War. Sweden, as we are seeing with its NATO application, has a very close relationship with US Intelligence and was involved in the rendering of 2 men to the United States in order that they could be tortured and questioned.
xi. Assange suspected, correctly as it turned out, that the United US was preparing proceedings against him. A secret Grand Jury was empanelled. It was this that forced Assange to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
A word should be said about the role of the press, in particular the Guardian which had a whole series of exposes as a result of Assange such as The looting of Kenya, Wikileaks: reaction to the Collateral Murder video, ‘All lies’: how the US military covered up gunning down two journalists in Iraq.
But then, when the heat was turned up and Assange fled into the Ecuadorian Embassy, the Guardian turned on Assange like a venomous snake and betrayed him. Various Guardian journalists vented their spleen on Assange like the bizarre tweet from ex-Guardian ‘journalist’ Suzanna Moore, who has now decamped to The Telegraph, about Assange stuffing himself with ‘flattened guinea pigs’ calling him a ‘massive turd’. I guess Moore never did irony well.
But the Lord Haw Haw prize for yellow journalism surely goes to James Ball, who had worked with Assange. Ball wrote in January 2018, a mere 16 months before he was kidnapped from the Embassy, that ‘The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride’. Not content with this prediction, our latter day Nostradamus went on to predict that
Ball should be given the Nick Cohen Journalist of the Year Prize.
But even Ball and his fellow Guardian Presstitutes were outdone by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns who wrote that ‘Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy’. Manafort was Trump’s ex campaign manager, convicted of various felonies in the US.
There was no truth in the story. It was clearly planted by the intelligence services. No attempt was made to check the story. The Ecuadorian Embassy was swarming with CCTV and CIA cameras and listening devices. Every visitor had to sign in. Assange himself was restricted by this time to very few visitors. If Manafort had visited Assange the evidence would have been everywhere yet despite being asked to either put up the proof or take the story down, the Guardian’s Editor Katherine Viner has refused to do so.
Luke Harding is known an MI5/ MI6 asset. He is the Guardian’s Russia correspondent and was a conduit for CIA false intelligence that Trump had been elected because of Russia whereas Trump was elected because the Democrat leadership cheated Bernie Sanders in the primaries in order to get the detested Hilary Clinton selected.
Aaron Mate Destroys Luke Harding’s Fantasies
Harding wrote a book Collusion full of innuendo but when he was interviewed by Aaron Mate on this he came unstuck as he could not verify any of his allegations. In the end he stormed out. If you enjoy watching a Guardian Presstitute destroyed then this is the video.
The Guardian in the form of ex-Editor Alan Rusbridger provided one account, albeit dated, WikiLeaks: The Guardian’s role in the biggest leak in the history of the world in January 2011.
The Guardian today is a discredited ‘liberal’ paper that led on the false ‘anti-Semitism’ attacks on Corbyn.
The fact that Lloyd Russell-Moyle takes his political lead on Assange from what are effectively intelligence plants says everything one needs to know about him.
A lot of the attacks on Assange has been viciously personal and have failed to separate out the person, flawed as he is, from the invaluable role that he performed. A good example of this is the interview with British journalist and former ghostwriter for Assange Andrew O’Hagan. O’Hagan wrote that
“Julian scorns all attempts at social graces. He marches through doors and leave women in his wake. He talks over everybody. And all his life he has depended on being the impish one, the eccentric one, the boy with a bag full of Einstein who enjoyed climbing trees. But as a forty-year old, that’s less charming.” There are so many quotable lines. “His pride could engulf the room in flames.”
I have no way of knowing if this is true. But even were it true, bearing in mind Assange’s autism, so what? Are a lack of social graces a crime meriting 3 years in Belmarsh and false and trumped up accusations of rape? It would seem that British journalists, the James Balls of this world allow their own egos to intrude on what is, by any account a monstrous injustice.
It has always been my view that Assange made the wrong decision when jumping bail and seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy. I suspect it was a decision made on impulse.
Assange was right about the US preparing a secret indictment and the rape charges in Sweden being bogus. However Sweden would not have been able to just drop the charges the moment Assange landed there. They would have followed them through and Assange would undoubtedly have been acquitted given there was no evidence.
If at that point Sweden had tried to extradite Assange to the United States there would have grown up, both in Sweden and world wide a massive campaign against his forcible extradition to face Espionage charges. It is only my own view but we are now where we are and when faced with the behaviour of despicable cowards like the Lloyd Moyles of this world we can only redouble our efforts.