Wikileaks.org is back up! Not a *huge* victory for freedom and common sense – but a victory nevertheless

15/12/2010

On 3 December, we reported that you could no longer reach the Wikileaks site by using the wikileaks.org URL. Well, that is no longer the case: aim your browser at “http://wikileaks.org” and you get rerouted to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ – one of the many, many mirrors that sprouted after the USA’s clumsy efforts to limit free speech. Not a major victory by any means. But a victory nevertheless.

In other (Wikileaks/Assange-related) news: Julian Assange is still in prison even though he was granted bail yesterday. The Swedish prosecutors have appealed against the bail ruling, claiming that he would pose a major flight risk. I’m not sure how the Swedes think he’ll flee: Assange’s face must be one of the best known in border security circles, plus they have his passport… but as things stand, he must remain in HMP Wandsworth for at leat another couple of days while this judicial circus runs its course.

This case is highlighting the problems with the new European arrest warrant system. Usually, it is only possible to extradite someone if the crime he’s accused of is also a crime in the country he’s “hiding” in. As far as I can tell, Assange’s alleged crimes are not illegal in Britain (what the Swedes call “rape” and “sexual molestation” are very different to the UK’s definitions – I believe one of the charges relates to Assange refusing to use a condom; the complainant admits that the sex was consensual, so how in hell can this be called a crime? He didn’t force her to have unprotected sex).

Anyway, a blog like this one is not really a good place to discuss the intricacies of Swedish law. But what I will say is this: Sweden has got very accommodating rendition agreements with the USA. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it won’t be long before he ends up in America. And if you look at what politicians are saying about Assange it’s pretty clear he won’t receive a free trial and he’ll end up on a slab.

But do these people really believe that Assange is Wikileaks? The leaks will continue, regardless of his fate. All that will happen is that Assange’s colleagues will improve their security and anonymity. Killing (or imprisoning) Assange will not kill Wikileaks. And all politicians need to beware: if they treat Assange like a piece of shit, the leaks will become more and more damaging to the so-called “liberal” European “democracies” who are currently baying for his blood. So watch out, fools: the day of reckoning is nearly upon us… and you.

UPDATE: I just noticed this, a page that lists the very many sites that are mirroring Wikileaks in an attempt to stop the authorities ever again closing them down. Well, when I say “stop”, I actually mean “make it very difficult”. The USA has already demonstrated the length of its reach. But when Wikileaks is mirrored in a huge number of countries, some of whom dislike America intensely, the job of censorship becomes much more difficult.

There’s also info on the page about how you too can mirror Wikileaks on your web server. I say go for it! I think it’s about time that the USA learned what “democracy” actually means: rule by the people for the people; not rule by a bunch of rich geezers on behalf of their billionaire buddies. Or is my dictionary out of date?

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What they didn’t want you to know: read the secret torture evidence here

12/02/2010

I got this from the Guardian:the previously covered-up excerpt from an official document that reveals how much the UK government knew about Binyam Mohamed’s illtreatment at the hands of the CIA.

It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the interviews were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS [security services] made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.

This, in addition to the revelations in a US court that Mohamed suffered physical and psychological torture including mutilation of the genitals, is a damning indictment of the way the CIA and its allies conduct their so-called “coercive interrogations”. And the UK is just as bad: an MI5 officer known only as “Witness B” knew exactly how Mohamed was being treated when he visited a Pakistani prison to question the man. The Pakistani torturers asked Mohamed questions on behalf of Witness B during interrogations – so while we can’t say that Witness B personally tortured him, it’s certainly true that Mohamed was tortured for the MI5 officer.

Unfortunately, the high court judges who ordered the release of this secret evidence don’t come out of this smelling like roses either. Lord Neuberger, master of the rolls and one of the three judges involved, had originally meant to include in his ruling a scathing criticism of MI5: his draft ruling said that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a “culture of suppression” that undermined government assurances about its conduct.” But Jonathan Sumption QC, the government’s head lawyer on the case, privately wrote to the judge asking him to tone down his criticisms (you can read Sumption’s letter here); and shockingly, Neuberger complied!

n his letter, Sumption warned the judges that the criticism of MI5 would be seen by the public as statements by the court that the agency:

• Did not respect human rights.

• Had not renounced participation in “coercive interrogation” techniques.

• Deliberately misled MPs and peers on the intelligence and security committee, who are supposed to scrutinise its work.

• Had a “culture of suppression” in its dealings with Miliband and the court.

That’s as maybe. But so what? Those statements are true, aren’t they? It seems apparent from this case that MI5 don’t respect human rights, they do approve of “coercive interrogation, they did deliberately mislead parliament and the courts… and they’ll do the same again if they’re sure they can get away with it.

But Neuberger and his “learned colleagues” bottled it and gave into Sumption’s request. After all, they’re probably all great mates outside of court and hunt foxes together on the weekends. Probably.

Luckily, some news organisations heard about the last-minute revisions to the judgement and protested to the court. They complained that Neuberger had granted Sumption’s request without giving the other parties a chance to have their say. The judges conceded that it was a little irregular, and so Sumption’s letter was made public: that’s why the Guardian have put it up for everyone to read here (with annotations by Guardian journo Ian Cobain).

It’s a real pity that the high court judges act like trained attack dogs one minute and then like toothless poodles the next. Then again, we should remember these judges are government-appointed and government-paid, and that they are all members of the same back-scratching, trouser leg-rolling gentlemen’s clubs. So we ought to be grateful that the high court occasionally does the right thing.

Thanks, judges! I really appreciate it (you old sods)! :p

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UK tortures terror suspects – it’s official!

27/01/2010

Wednesday 27 January 2010

United Nations human rights investigators have published a report that concludes the UK government has been “complicit in mistreatment and possible torture” of British citizens during the so-called “war on terror”, says the Guardian today.

This latest development follows a string of allegations about the United Kingdom’s own version of the infamous US practice of “extraordinary rendition”. Two months ago, the New York based Human Rights Watch reported that Pakistani intelligence officers admitted torturing British suspects on behalf of their UK counterparts. And there have been a number of allegations about MI5 (UK counter intelligence), MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) and Greater Manchester Police officers involvement in torture at secret prisons abroad.

No doubt some people will argue that in the climate of terror that has existed since 2001, sometimes robust measures have to be taken to safeguard public safety. I would remind those people that the victims of this torture were terror suspects, not actual terrorists. Time and time again, men who have been investigated and subsequently cleared of any involvement in terrorism have claimed they were tortured. At times it has seemed that any British Muslim visiting relatives in Pakistan is fair game for arrest, secret imprisonment and torture. And many of them have been examined by doctors who have found injuries that could only have been caused by the infliction of repeated, brutal violence.

There is, for instance, the case of Binyam Mohamed. He was arrested in Pakistan and kept in a secret prison where he was tortured. During this time he was questioned by a MI5 officer who was aware of the torture. Then he was given to the CIA, who flew him secretly to Morocco, Afghanistan and finally Guantanamo Bay. He was kept there for 4 years before finally being released without charge.

Once he was back at home, Mohamed took the UK government to the High Court for its involvement in his secret imprisonment, extraordinary rendition and torture. It is useful to note that the British government did not deny his claims – David Miliband, then foreign secretary, just tried to cover it up. Miliband actually tried to censor the high court judges’ ruling, claiming it would hurt UK-USA relations if the truth about Mohamed’s treatment was made public. He actually got the CIA to write a letter to the judges saying the CIA would no longer share intelligence with the UK if Mohamed’s rendition and torture was revealed. Luckily the judges would have none of it and they published their ruling in full, criticising the government’s conduct in the matter.

Binyam Mohamed is just one example. UK agencies have repeatedly colluded with other countries to secretly imprison and torture British citizens. And who knows how many citizens of other countries have been tortured on behalf of the UK? It is a terrifying fact that absolutely anyone could fall victim to these barbaric practices.

Binyam Mohamed, tortured in Pakistan on orders of MI5

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