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Issue #1605      August 7, 2013

Editorial

Humanity and courage shine

In a recent interview with Tony Eastley on the ABC AM radio program (July 31), WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called for the guilty verdict against the courageous whistleblower Bradley Manning to be reversed. “The only just outcome in this case was an acquittal because of the types of charges levied against Bradley Manning,” Assange told Eastley. “This is the first time that a whistleblower in the United States has been convicted for espionage for communicating with the press. That’s a serious new precedent and that’s part of Obama’s war on whistleblowers, part of Obama’s war on journalism in fact.”

The former intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was convicted by a military court of 20 of 22 charges for sending hundreds of thousands of government and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks. He awaits sentencing. Manning was, however, found not guilty of aiding the enemy, which alone could have meant life in prison without parole. Reporters Without Borders said the verdict was a chilling warning to whistleblowers, “against whom the Obama administration has been waging an unprecedented offensive,” and threatens the future of investigative journalism because intimidated sources might fall quiet. If the charge of aiding the enemy had been proven, the verdict would have had even more serious ramifications for future leak cases and investigative journalism.

Material leaked by Manning and Edward Snowden through WikiLeaks has caused the US considerable embarrassment. There is no evidence that it has threatened its security. Following Snowden’s revelations, the European Parliament launched an inquiry into US surveillance programs, including the mass surveillance program PRISM and the bugging of EU offices in Brussels, Washington and New York. At present Snowden has a temporary Russian visa with Ecuador, Venezuela and several other Latin American countries offering to receive him. The difficulty is finding a safe route out of Russia without risk of being handed over to the US.

The treatment of Manning confirms the dangers and injustice that await Snowden and Assange if they are turned over to US authorities. “I am disgusted by the conduct of the Barack Obama administration. Personally in relation to Bradley, well, he’s someone I have a lot of sympathy for. He’s been in solitary confinement. He was treated in a very adverse manner. The UN Special Rapporteur for torture made a formal finding against the United States,” Assange said. Snowden is the eighth leaker to be charged with espionage under President Obama.

In a statement made on his first anniversary (June 22) in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, Assange asked: “Who is it that promised to preside over The Most Transparent Administration in history, only to crush whistleblower after whistleblower with the boot heel of espionage charges? Who combined in his executive the powers of judge, jury and executioner, and claimed the jurisdiction of the entire earth on which to exercise those powers? Who arrogates the power to spy on the entire earth – every single one of us – and when he is caught red handed, explains to us that ‘we’re going to have to make a choice?’”

We all know the answer to those questions, yet it is the whistle blowers, the defenders of humanity who are labelled as traitors, charged with espionage. Assange points the way forward: “The only way to fix things is this: Change the policies. Stop spying on the world. Eradicate secret law. Cease indefinite detention without trial. Stop assassinating people. Stop invading other countries and sending young Americans off to kill and be killed. Stop the occupations, and discontinue the secret wars. Stop eating the young: Edward Snowden, Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond, Aaron Swartz, Gottfrid Svartholm, Jacob Appelbaum, and Bradley Manning. The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights. That tactic must not be allowed to work.”

These whistleblowers lifted the lid on the real enemies of the people – the Obama administration, the mighty war machine, the intelligence agencies and the internet services giants for their blatant and ongoing breaches of international law and crimes against humanity. But who has been charged with spying? Who else faces charges of spying if deported to the US? The courageous whistleblowers who have done a service to humanity. People’s justice is long overdue. Time to charge those laying the charges.

Next article – Hiroshima Day

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