September 2nd, 2020 Newsletter

Journalism is Not a Crime

This week we want to praise and support our brave whistle-blowers, investigative journalists and publishers for their courageous work.

Without them we would not know that almost all factory pig farms in the UK and EU routinely break animal welfare laws by cruelly overcrowding pigs on bare concrete floors without straw or other bedding that would allow them to express their natural rooting behaviour, and by cutting off their tails to prevent them from cannibalising each other due to boredom and stress from overcrowding in barren cages. Whistle-blowers film bins full of antibiotics that factory farms use to keep pigs alive in these miserable and unhealthy conditions.

Last week we posted disturbing images filmed by Viva! of cruelty and neglect  on a pig farm in Leicestershire which led to the farm being dropped by even the Red Tractor label that usually turns a blind eye to systemic cruelty and abuse. Even the supermarkets, that presently comb the EU (and with the US Trade Bill soon will be free to comb the globe) for the cheapest factory farmed meat, terminated a Daventry cattle farmer’s contract when the whistle-blowers, Animal Justice Project, published images of horrendous cruelty and violence to calves.

Investigations by Viva! and Farms not Factories, have to surmount razor wire, arc lights, security guards and dogs and locked barns, behind which the factory pig industry carries on inhumane, unlawful and secretive practices hidden from scrutiny by governments, consumers or animal welfare authorities. In 9 US states anti-whistleblower  ‘Ag-gag’ laws criminalise investigations into abuses in factory farms.

When, thanks to whistle-blowers like Viva! consumers see the horrendous conditions in factory pig farms, so many turn to high welfare meat or become vegan or vegetarian.

Whistle-blowers have to hide their identity to protect themselves from retribution, but the corporate-owned media have all too often revealed a source’s identity to prove accuracy. To protect whistle-blowers Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks a platform that hides whistle-blowers’ identities. Their record for 100% accuracy and for providing information in the public interest meant that in 2010 the Guardian, Le Monde, the New York Times, El Pais and Der Spiegel published their materials.

Besides their most famous exposures of war crimes and human rights abuses, WikiLeaks has  published vital information about environmental pollution and revealed details of TTIP, a trade treaty negotiated in secret between the EU and the US authorities and corporations (abandoned in 2016 due to public outrage), that was threatening to lower food safety and animal welfare standards.

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As you will see in the most recent film, The War on Journalism, Assange is being used as a scapegoat to threaten journalists and whistle-blowers from revealing US crimes and corruption. If he is found guilty, journalists anywhere in the world can expect to be extradited to the US and imprisoned for life, much of it in solitary confinement. While waiting for his trial Assange has been remanded in HMP Belmarsh where he is kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, a practice that has been defined as torture by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many other monitors of human rights abuses worldwide.

Next Monday 7th Sept begins the 3-week hearing at the Old Bailey, London, to decide whether Julian Assange will be extradited to the USA to face 175 years in prison after a show-trial in the Eastern District of Virginia Court which has never returned a not-guilty verdict in a security trial because the juries are chosen from the national security community that dominate that part of the state.

Assange’s so-called ‘crime’ is revealing real war crimes, abduction, torture and corruption by the US forces and state. His persecution has been a relentless 10-year litany of lies, smears, false news and treachery. The same newspapers that profited hugely from materials passed to them by WikiLeaks have abandoned him, even perpetuating the smears to distance themselves from him. Barack Obama said, it would be unjust to prosecute Assange without also charging the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel with the same crimes.

In Sweden in 2010, Assange was available for 5 weeks to be  interviewed, but was told by the chief Stockholm prosecutor that there was ‘no rape and no case’ and that he was free to leave the country. Two months later a new prosecutor, Marianne Ny, re-opened the investigation and issued a European Arrest Warrant (since extinguished for use against someone wanted only for questioning) at which point Assange was granted bail and reported everyday to the local police station while his lawyers pleaded that they should either charge him or release him.  When faced with extradition to Sweden (which has never refused an extradition request by the US), he sought and was granted asylum by Ecuador in their London embassy due to the knowledge that extradition to Sweden in reality meant extradition to the US.

During Assange’s 7-year asylum in the embassy, the British government, it has now been revealed, actively prolonged his detention by preventing the Swedish prosecutor from questioning him at the embassy, and by requesting the Swedish prosecutor in a now-deleted email from the Crown Prosecution Service, not to drop the rape investigation as far back as 2013.

Nils Melsner, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture said, “In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

Whether we are consumers of meat raised in secretive, inhumane conditions, or members of the public demanding access to trade treaties being negotiated in secret, or taxpayers funding an illegal war, it is our fundamental right to know what is being done in our name.

The United Nations, the National Union of Journalists,  Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and scores of  other journalist and human rights groups are demanding that Assange is not extradited to the USA.

So, to protect our brave whistle-blowers, investigative journalists and their publishers, the call to arms is to  support the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign by joining the demonstration outside The Old Bailey, London from 9am on 7 September, the first day of the extradition hearing.

Help shine a light on Julian Assange’s sham case and shame the government and justice system from granting extradition and thereby prevent the criminalisation of journalism and freedom of speech.

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