The @Guardian ‘s Dirty Little Secret – How they helped terminate Julian Assange’s political asylum

Listen to the podcast! (In this podcast I’ve made some errors with dates which I have corrected in telling the story in a written form below. )

The function of the Assange/Manafort Article in November 2018 was to assist US/UK national security objectives in terminating Julian Assange’s political asylum and effect his expulsion from the Ecuadorian Embassy. After two years the picture is coming together.

The lie that Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy was manufactured to give the Department of Justice legitimacy in starting an investigation directly onto Julian Assange. In December 2018 six US Senators (Schumer,Durbin, Feinstein, Menendez, Engel, Nadler) wrote to head of State Department Mike Pompeo to report from his meeting with Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Valencia on the 26th of November. They reference the false Manafort/Assange story ‘reported in the media’. On Jan 7 DoJ issued letters rogatory to interrogate six former diplomats & staff at Ecuador’s London embassy following Guardian’s fabricated story of Assange-Manafort meetings. US interrogations took place in Quito and London on the 18th and 20th of January 2019. Under the continued Mutual Legal cooperation, before terminating the political asylum, Ecuadorian authorities agreed to hand over the property of Julian Assange to the FBI in the UK. The seizure of his belongings reportedly happened in May 2019.

Historic Context

In 2017, Lenin Moreno in Ecuador won the presidential elections against right-wing presidential candidate Lasso but in a surprising move President Moreno disowned Correa’s legacy and started implementing Mr Lasso’s manifesto pledges, the electoral program of his US aligned opponent.  What was that in relation to Julian Assange? watch the video below from April 2017 outside the Ecuadorian Embassy.

At the same time in the US the new Trump Administration was moving fast in promoting  the national security objective of getting Assange and so Paul Manafort visited Lenin Moreno in Spring 2017 and started negotiations on how to broker a deal of handing over the WIkiLeaks publisher in exchange of “debt relief” as reported by NYT.

In the first six months of the Moreno administration there was still strong support for Julian Assange by members of his administration loyal to Correa’s vision for the country and these forces, towards the end of 2017, had granted Assange Ecuadorian citizenship which was announced in January 2018.

Lenin Moreno changed Ecuador’s foreign policy and throughout 2018 preparations were being made to terminate Julian Assange’s political asylum and to prepare for his eviction from the Ecuadorian embassy.  Already, in March 2018, Julian Assange’s communications were cut off as well as all contact with his staff and his lawyers for an entire week at a time when Ecuador resumed trade negotiations with the US. And then when they restored visiting rights in April, the Ecuadorian government replaced UC Global with a different security company from Ecuador, Prom Security.

A progressively tyrannical regime was imposed on him by limiting his freedoms inside the Ecuadorian embassy, number of visitors, frequency, applications for visits had to be submitted in advance, in order to force him to leave either voluntarily, or to provoke an accident to his health. In June 10 Democratic Senators demanded that Mike Pence raises the issue of Julian Assange with President Moreno as a prerequisite for improving trade relations and Vice President Pence confirming that he did so.  In July of that year, Fidel Narvaez,  former first consul and ally of Julian Assange was sacked from the Embassy. He was key in Julian Assange obtaining political asylum in the first place back in 2012.  Despite a July 2018 ruling by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) imposing obligations on Ecuador to protect Julian Assange from US extradition, Lenin Moreno visits the UK to discuss the ‘stone in the shoe’ and reaches an agreement with Britain to evict him from the Embassy. His visit sparks a day of protests outside the Ecuadorian Embassy and the conference he attended.

In August the Moreno administration confirms to his lawyers that the extradition of Julian Assange to the US will no longer be opposed. In September  US congressmen travel to Quito to press for Ecuador to withdraw Assange’s nationality. The conditions of detention for Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian became so restrictive that in September 2019 he stepped down as the Editor of WikiLeaks handing over to Kristinn Hrafnsson. In October the Ecuadorian authorities imposed a draconian protocol onto Julian Assange, who was to be tyrannised inside the Ecuadorian embassy,  creating caveat after caveat, in order to trigger off the termination of the asylum. US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee writes to Pres. Lenín Moreno, describing Julian Assange as a dangerous criminal, stating that “it will be very difficult for the United States to advance our bilateral relationship until Mr. Assange is handed over to the proper authorities”. In November 2018 the Secret charges against Assange were accidentally revealed.

The Guardian publishes false article.

On the 27th of November 2018 The Guardian publishes an article claiming that Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager Paul Manafort visited Assange in the embassy three times including in 2016. It offers no evidence for this claim. It presents this fabrication in the context of the Muller report indirectly calling to the US security establishment to take action. And this is exactly what happened. All the sources Some in Ecuador and some in the UK that are quoted are anonymous. Within hours of publication the Guardian made several corrections.

JADC’s David Mirazchi has identified 5 of them:

  1. The original headline “Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy” now ends with “, sources say”
  2. Manafort’s and Wikileaks denials of having ever been in contact were not in the original, indicating they hadn’t been consulted or taken notice of
  3. “why Manafort wanted to see Assange” is now “why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange”
  4. “the last meeting” is now “the last apparent meeting”
  5. “Why Manafort sought out Assange” is now “Why Manafort would have sought out Assange”

They concealed the third author Fernando Villavicentio from their online edition, who has CIA links . He has previously been found to have fabricated documents provided to The Guardian in 2014. He has been writing extensively about Julian Assange quoting documents from Ecuadorian Intelligence Senain of dubious provenance. The writings are often preposterous. He is also a political activist working in 2017 for the then presidential bid of rightwing candidate Lasso.

Implications

The implications of the fabricated story were so severe that WikiLeaks started a fundraiser to sue the Guardian.

In December 2018,  Diane Feinstein and 5 other Democrat Senators wrote to Mike Pompeo at the State Department requesting that urgent investigation takes place regarding the visits of Paul Manafort, supposedly to the Ecuadorian embassy.

In the same month, UN Expert on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders urges the UK to honour the UNWGAD’s 2015 decision calling for Assange’s release and compensation. It falls on deaf ears.

On the 7th of January 2019, Letters Rogatory were issued by the US Department of Justice and sent to the Ecuadorian DOJ requesting Mutual Legal Co-operation in investigating the alleged Manafort/Assange visit. The Ecuadorian authorities agreed for the US Department of Justice to question Ecuadorian Embassy diplomats both in London and Quito which took place later on that month. During this investigation, US authorities requested electronic records, the visitor log book, identity documents of persons visiting Mr. Assange, audio-visual material, and reports about Mr. Assange and his visitors that are in the possession of Ecuadorian authorities contrary to international norms of refugee protection. They were looking for evidence that Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the embassy as per the false story published by The Guardian.

But the legal co-operation that started by these rogatory letters did not end there. In April that year a few days before Julian Assange was evicted by the Ecuadorian embassy the United States requested and Ecuador agreed that the property of Julian Assange, personal effects, electronics, legal and other documents, would be handed over to an FBI representative in the UK. Ecuador did eventually hand over to the US Julian Assange’s property.

So you can see the course of events, this article providing the umbrella, the stepping stone for the Department of Justice in the US and the Department of Justice of Ecuador, to link up. And this is the functionality of it. And this is why it has remained, I believe, in public these two years, because it has played a very particular function in terminating his asylum, getting hold of his personal effects.

And the final implication of that is amongst these documents were legal, legally privileged documents. The United States can have a very good look at what has been agreed between him and his lawyers with regards to his defence strategy. At the same time, prevent him from having access to records that he could use as reference for his defence, because a lot of the information and the events happened many years ago, and he would have had with him diaries, interviews, recorded notes that he could refer to in order to put forward a credible defence.

What can we do?

guardian.readers@theguardian.com

What we can do is absolutely bombard The Guardian’s Readers Editor with emails of inaccuracy complaints asking him to take down the article. Encourage other supporters. And if the Readers’ Editor refuses to do so ask them to defend their work. If they cannot defend it they must take it down. And it goes further than correcting the record in the Assange case. Considering its functionality highlighted above taking down this fabrication would be a huge victory.

Here is Luke Harding being asked to explain why activists have been picketing The Guardian offices.

In Solidarity with Julian Assange, Let’s do it!

This blog post relies on resources and timeline from the Courage Foundation Timeline and Resources found on this webpage.

Articles Critical of the fabricated story:

Jimmy Dore and Aaron Mate
Alan Macleod (Fair)
Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept)
Glen Greenwald (The Intercept) Again
Paul Farhi (Washington Post)
Serge Halimi (Le Monde Diplomatic)
James Cogan (WSWS)
Tom Coburg (The Canary)
Andrea Brack Peña, Elena Kuch, John Goetz

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5 Responses to The @Guardian ‘s Dirty Little Secret – How they helped terminate Julian Assange’s political asylum

  1. Pingback: The Guardian on #Assange: A sinner repenteth or something else?  | WISE Up Action – A Solidarity Network for Manning and Assange

  2. James says:

    I do not understand how they are able to continue their lies. They are the ones that should be in prison, for knowingly and deliberately publishing false information. Yes, dump the Guardian.

  3. Harley Price says:

    The Guardian is a rag with the integrity and moral calibre of a bubble of shit. They are the establishment every bit as much as the Daily Mail and Telegraph and Murdochs rags. They are a sham and evey member of the staff of the guardian should hang their heads in deepest shame and know that they are a fraud and an imposter and merely grabbing snakes.

  4. Barry Wood says:

    The Guardian betrayal of Julian Assange is shameful!

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