CALL ON MINISTER PAUL FLETCHER TO RETRACT HIS REPETITION OF LIES ABOUT JULIAN ASSANGE
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Dear Minister Fletcher, it has been with great disappointment that we, the signatories to this open letter and petition recently viewed your appearance on national television on QANDA, ABC Television, and you stated incorrect and defammatory information about Mr. Julian Assange who is currently detained in Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison in London, awaiting a judicial hearing for possible extradition to the United States. We are hoping that this open letter and petition will provide adequate information to you enabling you to re-evaluate your opinions. and that you will publicly correct the statements you made on Mr. Assange.
You may know that the late Hon. Malcolm Fraser, former PM, distinguished and respected statesman, was a supporter of Mr Assange, and he was very knowledgeable of Mr. Assange's situation, and the much wider implications to society resultant from his case. I am certain that if Mr. Fraser was still alive and well, he would still be strongly advocating on this matter, and contacting you.
Mr Fraser is remembered not only as a great prime minister, but for his work in international diplomacy and human rights, as a lawyer, and his respect for the role and work of the UN. He is remembered for his tireless work, contributing to end apartheid in South Africa. He was our minister for Defence during the Vietnam War. His political, diplomatic and human rights work was immense. He was an intellectual, and held values of fairness. He would not have supported Julian Assange had he not been ABSOLUTELY convinced that the case was of the utmost importance, and that Julian Assange has legitimate reason and entitlement to protection and freedom.
On 23rd September, 2019, you, Minister Fletcher, on ABC's Q&A stated extremely damaging and incorrect statements about Julian Assange. These false statements violate principles of open justice and perpetuate the systematic persecution of Julian Assange as outlined in the findings of Prof Nils Melzer, UN Rapporteur on Torture.
Minister Fletcher, some of these incorrect statements were challenged by highly respected journalist Kerry O'Brien, and some were not. We have provided links to references below which support our requests of you, and provide added relevant information.
Firstly, Minister Fletcher, you stated that Julian Assange is not a journalist. This was refuted by Kerry O'Brien (Julian Assange is a multiple award-winning journalist). His legitimacy as a journalist is recognised by many credible sources. He has been a member of MEAA, the union for journalists in Australia for a number of years. They have issued statements of support for Mr. Assange, as has NUJ, the National Union of Journalists in the UK. As Kerry O'Brien stated, he is an award-winning journalist, having been awarded the Walkley Prize. I have attached a list of 21 of the awards Wikileaks has received as well as a separate list of 23 major achievements of Wikileaks in increasing our understanding of and changing the world.
Secondly Minister Fletcher, you stated that Julian Assange dumped vast amounts of unredacted information online. This is untrue. The Guardian Newspaper released unredacted information and breached their contract with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Julian Assange had redacted names from the Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs. When Julian Assange learnt of the Guardians actions in publishing unredacted cables, he contacted the US Department of State and notified them of The Guardians actions,and implored their assistance in providing safety to persons named by The Guardian.
Thirdly Minister Fletcher, you inferred that Julian Assange hid or fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He was granted legitimate political asylum by Ecuador under the presidency of Rafael Correa in 2012. In 2015, a U.N. Working group found that Mr. Assange had been decfacto arbitrarily deprived of his liberty since December, 2010. In 2019, President Lenin Moreno revoked that asylum, but legal scholars have noted that in that revocation, President Moreno "did not address the main challenge that Assange is seen as a political offender, and therefore, a case in which asylum rules apply"(Vecosa). This strongly implies that the revocation of asylum was strongly legally flawed.
Minister Fletcher, you also incorrectly stated that many lives had been lost through the publication of information by Julian Assange. This is completely false. An official US investigation on the impact of the release of the Wikileaks information which was undertaken by Brigadier General Robert Carr, US Army, provided as testimony at the trial of Private Chelsea Manning, showed that no deaths or injuries could be attributed as a result of the leaks. Two Australian Defence Force investigations have also reported that no harm to any individual can established as a result of the leaks. These reports are easily available.
Julian Assange exposed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and yet whilst the war criminals walk free, Julian Assange remains in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison for 23 hours per day with severely restricted assess to lawyers, visitors or even receiving mail. He faces possible extradition to the US and the possibility of being sentenced to 175 years in prison for publishing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Minister Fletcher, you state that Julian Assange broke the law, and he should respect the laws of the countries he visits. Julian Assange was not IN the USA. From outside of the US, he published truthful information from a protected source which was then republished by other journalists and media including The New York Times and Washington Post.
In 1973, when Daniel Ellsberg, American journalist published damning information from The Pentagon Papers which influenced the end of the Vietnam War, he was granted protection under The First Amendment. Processes have now taken place to deny Julian Assange protection under The First Amendment. Daniel Ellsberg, and now his son continue to work to support a free press and rights for journalists. He speaks and writes in support of Julian Assange.
There are many other disturbing issues relating to Julian Assange which are not covered in this letter as it's primarily aimed to encourage you to correct your incorrect statements. However, we are deeply concerned that Mr. Assange experienced 24 hour monitoring and surveillance for a period of years. There have been allegations that U.S. Intelligence has access to these videos, including recordings of meetings with lawyers, and conversations between female visitors in the toilets. There are multiple concerns relating to actions and statements by members of the U.K. judiciary and the Swedish prosecutor.
Choosing not to recognise Julian Assange as a legitimate journalist and publisher supports a strategy to "criminalise journalism" of Julian Assange, and therefore enable him to be charged under the U.S. Espionage Act, not only to silence and punish him, but to serve as a warning to other journalists of the consequences in exposing war crimes, crimes against humanity and corruption, especially of the U.S. at present. The case will serve internationally as a precedent in cases relating to press freedom.
We, people of conscience, sign this petition in the interests of open justice, human rights and a free press, and for you, Minister Fletcher to correct the damaging statements. Regardless of whether or not your intention was to cause harm to Mr. Assange, we view your false comments to be offensive and seriously concerning.
We look forward to a reply from you at the earliest possible time. Mr. Assange's health and rights are of grave concern. An extradition hearing is planned to be held in February, and so we sincerely hope this matter to be resolved well before then.
Joanne Le Mura.
(View of video of discussion below at references)
"Why is Julian Assange's Case Going Largely Unreported", Video, Q&A, ABC Television, 23.9.19
"How Wikileaks Works"
"False Statements About Julian Assange and Wikileaks - Legal Communication.- Defamation List", Defend Wikileaks, 4.3.19
United Nations Human Rights Office for the High Commissioner, "UN Expert Says the "collective persecution" of Julian Assange Must End Now", Peschoux, Christophe, Geneva, 31.5.19
UN Experts Urge UK to Honour Rights Obligations and Let Mr Julian Assange Leave Ecuador Embassy London Freely, UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, 54/2015, Laurence, J., 2015
"Julian Assange Smears Fade As Wikileaks Witnesses Concede He Was Not Reckless, Did Protect Informants", West, Michael, 23.8.29
(Article with video interview and statement Mark Davis, journalist, The Guardian)
"Military Fails to Link Leaks With Any Deaths", Courthouse News, Klasfeld, Adam, Ft Meade, Md, 31.7.13
Daniel Ellsberg Speaks Out on the Arrest of Julian Assange,The Progressive, Bernstein, Denis J., 23.4.19
Collateral Murder, Wikileaks, 2010 article and videos
Why the Assange Press Case May be the Most Important in 300 years, Turkey, Jonathon, 2019
Fraser Urges Protection of Assange, Sydney Morning Herald, Oakes, D., 2011
"Tucker:People are mad at Assange instead of Obama", Fox News, Carlson, T., 2019
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