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WikiLeaks released a statement which said Assange was en route to Australia.

"Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of 24 June, after having spent 1901 days there," the statement published to X on Tuesday morning (Australian time) said.

"He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stanstead airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK."

About bloody time! 

One thing that I am wondering however, is the timing. Why now? just before the British elections? Before the first presidential debate? Just when Australian Labor is in its death throes? Call me cynical but I feel that this is a political move.

But I am sure that when he touches down in Australia, he will kiss the tarmac. But so much to ask and so much to understand. And what was the plea deal about? Keep quiet and you can be free?  If that was " the deal ", who could blame him? 

Think on this: " ... once telling the truth has become a crime, we will all be living in tyranny.” 

 

According to Sky News Australia, 

The 52-year-old reportedly will agree to a plea deal with Justice Department prosecutors which will allow him to be freed after he was facing criminal charges including allegedly obtaining, receiving and disclosing of classified information which appeared on the WikiLeaks site in 2010. 

While the plea deal still has to be approved by a federal judge, prosecutors are seeking a 62-month sentence for Assange after pleading guilty, which amounts to the period of time he has already spent in prison in the United Kingdom.

You remember when you agree to something online where you click the " I agree to the terms and conditons" ???? 

I want to know what those terms and conditons were and what is in the fine print. You can bet your bottom dollar they will have a bit of a sting in their tail. 

So let's have a look back on what brought us to this situation in the first place. 

As our scribe Flysa wrote back in 2022: 

Julian Assange was born in Townsville Queensland in 1971 and had an unsettled childhood, moving house and changing schools on many occasions. He studied computer programming, mathematics and physics at the Universities of Central Queensland and Melbourne, without obtaining a degree.

He developed an early interest in computer hacking which is the unauthorized act of accessing computer systems to steal, modify, or destroy data. In 1993 he assisted the Victorian Police in identifying publishers of child pornography, and in 1996 he was released on a good behaviour bond for unauthorised hacking. During that time, he was heavily involved in the emerging website technology which was taking the world by storm.

In 2006, Assange and some associates established WikiLeaks, which is described on its website as follows:

WikiLeaks is a multi-national media organization and associated library. It was founded by its publisher Julian Assange in 2006. WikiLeaks specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption. It has so far published more than 10 million documents and associated analyses.WikiLeaks is a giant library of the world's most persecuted documents. We give asylum to these documents, we analyze them, we promote them and we obtain more. - Julian Assange, Der Spiegel Interview

WikiLeaks has contractual relationships and secure communications paths to more than 100 major media organizations from around the world. This gives WikiLeaks sources negotiating power, impact and technical protections that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve. Although no organization can hope to have a perfect record forever, thus far WikiLeaks has a perfect in document authentication and resistance to all censorship attempts.

Following the founding of WikiLeaks, the servers were soon moved to Sweden which has strong free-press laws, and where most of the hacking and publishing was carried out by volunteers. Assange travelled widely, promoting WikiLeaks for the first three to four years.It appears to be uncertain where his place of residence was, but it certainly was not the US. It was probably the UK.

In 2010, following a visit to Sweden, Assange is alleged to have committed two sexual offences against women of the “Me Too” variety, following which Sweden issued an international warrant for his arrestAssange denies the allegations which are mirrored by those being made in Australia today.

In 2012, following the failure of his appeal against an extradition order to Sweden, Assange breached bail and sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London,where he was subject to diplomatic immunity. He was to remain there until 2019, during which time he continued his association with WikiLeaks, having internet access. He became a citizen of Ecuador in 2017 until its revocation in 2019.

During his sojourn in the Embassy, the CIA installed secret cameras to observe Assange, and the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa used agents located outside the Embassy to observe all comings and goings.

 abafly2

Details of the revelations published by WikiLeaks are beyond the scope of this article, but among others include:

  • Drone strikes in Yemen;
  • Corruption across the Arab world;
  • Arbitrary executions by Kenyan police;
  • Tibetan unrest in China;
  • A nuclear accident at the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility in 2009, possibly the result of a joint cyber-attack by the US and Israel;
  • Emails sent or received by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State; and
  • Thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs and videos of US air-strikes in Baghdad and Afghanistan, provided by intelligence analyst Bradley (aka Chelsea) Manning.

All of the above revelations, and all others,were in the interest of justice and for the good of humanity in this deteriorating world.

abafly3

     

The Manning revelations set the cat among the pigeons, and there were calls for Assange to be charged under the US Espionage Act 1917 and extradited to the US to stand trial. The NSA under the Obama Administration refused to prosecute Assange because the WikiLeaks disclosures were no more than journalism and all subsequent publishers would have to be prosecuted, with which the New York Times concurred. To his credit President Obama said that any prosecution would be unconstitutional and declined to act. Manning was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment but released by Obama after serving 7 years.

You can read the full article here. 

I am personally jubilant that he is free. yet I have a nagging worry: What was the plea deal? Was it that he keep quiet? 

Should the powerful be able to indemnify themselves from legal and reputational fallout? Or do citizens have a right to hold their officials accountable? His case represents more than his right to publish information – it is a question of whether we have a right to the information necessary to expose the crimes and corruption of our leaders. Just look at what is happening with the Covid aftermath. Or Electric Vehicles. 

Why are our goivernments so quick to legislate against our freedom to speak? Calling our words misinformation or disinformation?

The irony is that they have released one of the greatest champions of free speech because they have broken his spirit, his body and his soul. Anything to be free. I wonder?  What was the deal he had to sign? 

Oh, but let us not jump to conclusions. No coercian here. 

I am reminded of these words. 

“Assange is not persecuted for his own crimes, but for the crimes of the powerful,” writes Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and author of The Trial of Julian Assange.

“The persecution of Assange establishes a precedent that will not only allow the powerful to keep their crimes secret but will even make the revelation of such crimes punishable by law. Let us not fool ourselves: once telling the truth has become a crime, we will all be living in tyranny.” 

 

 

 

 

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