Tag Archives: Britain

Julian Assange Calls on British and Swedish Governments to Drop Investigations

Speaking from a balcony at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Friday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called on Britain and Sweden to stop pursuing him. Assange is asking the two nations to recognize a recent ruling by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which stated that Assange was being arbitrarily detained and therefore should be released and awarded compensation.

“How sweet it is. This this a victory that cannot be denied,” said Assange according to Reuters. “What right does this government, or the U.S. government, or the Swedish government have to deny my children their father?”

Julian Assange is an Australian computer hacker and the founder of the organization Wikileaks, a radical journalist organization that publishes leaked documents. Wikileaks came to prominence in 2010 after Private Chelsea Manning leaked thousands of documents, including the “Collateral Murder” video of Iraqi journalists being shot and killed by an American Apache helicopter in Iraq. Wikileaks also released hundreds of thousands of documents related to the War in Afghanistan and Iraq known as the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs.

The work of Wikileaks, and Julian Assange’s role as founder and face of the operation, has made him a target for the U.S. and British governments. Assange was also previously accused of rape allegations in Sweden. He believes these charges are trumped up to force extradition and force him to face charges for the leaks. Since the summer of 2012, Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. If he leaves the building he will be arrested and charged.

Reuters reports that British officials say that Assange voluntarily entered the embassy and is not being forced to stay. Assange has said that his rights are being infringed because he is incapable of pursuing asylum in Ecuador.

“Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy,” British foreign minister Philip Hammond told Reuters. “This is frankly a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it.”

It will be difficult for Assange to go free if the U.S. and British governments refuse to acknowledge the ruling. Still, Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, called on the two nations to let Assange go free. “What more do they want to be accused of before they start to rectify their error?” Patino reportedly said to South American broadcaster Telesur regarding Britain and Sweden.

Seong-Phil Hong, the head of the U.N. panel said “the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation.”

Following the panel’s decision, Sweden’s prosecution authority announced that chief prosecutor Marianne Ny is applying to interview Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy regarding the rape allegations.

“In relation to the report which was released last week, I can state that it does not change my earlier assessment in the preliminary investigation,” Ny said.

News agency reports they have obtained ‘Spy Cables’

Al Jazeera, a news broadcasting agency owned by the government of Qatar, has reported they have obtained hundreds of confidential and hidden documents, which the agency are calling the “Spy Cables.”

The report from Al Jazeera announcing the cables says the documents offer “an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicised realm of global espionage.” Al Jazeera also says they will release the documents over the next couple of days alongside the newspaper the Guardian.

The leaked documents, according to the Business Insider, come from many government agencies around the world, including Russia’s FSB, South Africa’s SSA, Britain’s MI6, and others. Documents from any American intelligence agencies though seem to be absent from the Spy Cables.

Even though documents from American intelligence agencies are not included, some of the documents point to the CIA working in correspondence with South Africa’s SSA agency. The documents also allegedly say the CIA had attempted to contact the group HAMAS, even though the U.S. government has labeled the group a terrorist organization.

Other documents say MI6 had attempted to recruit a spy in North Korea with the help of the South African government. MI6 reportedly met with a North Korean man and offered him an “undisclosed amount of money” for the man’s cooperation in a “long term clandestine operation.”

Another document claims Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu had exaggerated Iran’s nuclear production levels in a 2012 declaration made in front of the UN. A secret Mossad document released in the leak, however, says Iran was not at the time “performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.”

Al Jazeera writes they will only publish documents which they believe serve the public interest. They also write, “We believe it is important to achieve greater transparency in the field of intelligence…. Publishing these documents, including operational and tradecraft details, is a necessary contribution to a greater public scrutiny of their activities.”

More leaked documents will be released in the next few days on Al Jazeera and the Guardian.

German man sentenced for joining ISIS

In Germany, a 20-year-old man, who has been identified as Kreshnik Berisha, has been sentenced to nearly four years in jail after he admitted to joining ISIS fighters in Syria.

Berisha, according to Reuters spent six months in Syria last year, training and fighting alongside Islamic State militants.  However, the German court said there was no conclusive evidence to support the claim that he had been directly involved in any combat or fighting.

Originally, the prosecution sought four years and three months of jail time for Berisha.  Although, because he was perceived by the German judges to lack the maturity of an adult, he was sentenced to three years and nine months as a juvenile.

In the German court system, a person between the ages of 18-21 can be tried as a juvenile if they are thought to lack the maturity of an adult.

“As a youth he was not able to resist the influence of his Islamist friends,” said chief judge Thomas Sagebiel, according to Newsweek.  The judges are hoping the juvenile sentence will have the necessary educational effects to rehabilitate Berisha since he displayed radical Islamic attitudes.

Berisha’s attorney told the courts he went to Syria to fight against and overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.  He then admitted to the court that he had received weapons training from ISIS fighters and he had joined the Islamic State.

It is estimated that about 550 German citizens have traveled to the Middle East in order to join ISIS, while thousands of others from other Western nations have made the same trip.

British and French courts have also sentenced their citizens to jail time after they traveled to the Middle East to support ISIS.  French courts sentenced one man, who spent only 10 days in Syria, to seven years in prison.  British courts sentenced two brothers to three-and-a-half years in prison for being trained in Syria.

British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine as a State

On Monday, Members of Britain’s Parliament voted, 274 to 12, to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state. After passing the non-binding motion, lawmakers from Britain’s lower house released a statement saying:

This House believes that the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

According to The Guardian, the vote took place following “intensive lobbying” from supporters on both sides. The case in favor of recognition lobbied that Britain “should follow 135 of the UN’s 193 member states and recognize Palestinian statehood,” while the case against argued that recognizing Palestine as a state would show “prejudice,” and would affect “the outcome of future negotiations between the two parties.”

At the debate, the leader of the group, Labor Friends of Palestine, Grahame Morris, spoke in favor of the ruling. He said that this “small but symbolically important step” of recognition was a “historic opportunity” for Britain.

Morris claimed that making Britain’s recognition of Palestine “dependent on Israel’s agreement,” would give Israel a “veto over Palestinian self-determination.

A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Paul Hirschson, told the New York Times that Britain’s resolution to recognize Palestinian statehood made “conflict resolution much more difficult,” due to the fact that it sent the Palestinians the message that “they can achieve things” outside of negotiations.

The chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Ottaway, said that although he normally “stood by Israel through thick and thin,” he now realized, after looking back over the past 20 years that Israel “has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.”

Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight,” said Ottaway. “But such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”