Attack on WikiLeaks countered – day 11 of hearing

Supporters of Julian Assange demanded ‘No Extradition’ outside the Old Bailey yesterday

DURING DAY 11 of the hearing yesterday at the Old Bailey, in which the prosecution is attempting to get WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange extradited to the US, the prosecution attempted to argue that people had come to harm as a result of the documents that WikiLeaks published exposing imperialist war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yesterday afternoon, the court heard witness Dan Ellsberg, who has made a 47-volume report entitled ‘History of Decision Making in Vietnam’. He is an ex-marine and whistleblower.

James Lewis QC of the prosecution was permitted to read out about 11 paragraphs from various locations in one of Gordon D Kromberg’s affidavits. Kromberg was part of the US federal grand jury that recharged Assange.

Kromberg claims that as a result of WikiLeaks publication, some US informant sources had to leave their homeland, go into hiding, or change their names in a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Ethiopia. He further claimed that ‘some individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq had subsequently disappeared.’

Ellsberg said: ‘With all these people who felt they were in danger, of course I am sorry it was inconvenient for them, and that is regrettable. But was any one of them actually physically harmed? Did one of them actually suffer the claimed physical consequences?’

Lewis questioned him: ‘You call it regrettable that people were put at risk. Is it your position that there was absolutely no harm caused by the publication of the names of these individuals?’

Ellsberg replied: ‘Assange’s actions are absolutely antithetical to the notion that he deliberately published these names.

‘Had hundreds been harmed, that would count against the great good done by publication of the information.

‘No evidence is produced that any actual harm came to them. But this has to be put in the context of the policies which Assange was trying to change, invasions that led to 37 million refugees and 1 million deaths.

‘Of course some people could not be located again in a war that killed a million people and displaced 37 million.

‘The government is extremely hypocritical to pretend a concern for them against their general contempt for Middle Eastern lives. They had even refused to help redact the names. This is a pretence at concern.’

Lewis asked: ‘What about the disappeared? Is it not common sense that some had been forced to disappear or flee under another name?’

Ellsberg replied: ‘It does not seem to me that that small percentage of those named who may have been murdered or fled, can necessarily be attributed as a result of WikiLeaks, when they are in among more than 1 million who have been murdered and 37 million who have fled.’

Outside the court Julian Assange’s supporters, who have been there every day since the beginning of the hearing were calling for him to be immediately freed.

Alison Mason told News Line outside the Old Bailey yesterday, ‘The TUC should call action to free Julian.’

Wearing a damaged UK flag with the slogan ‘Truth on Trial,’ Alison said: ‘Today we are shell-shocked by yesterday’s revelations of Julian’s partner Stella Moris that he is woken at 5am, stripped, X-rayed every morning and brought to court on a one and a half hour drive in a coffin-shaped compartment in the prison van.

‘The windows are blacked out so he can’t see out and can’t be photographed from outside.

‘This is all part of their torture programme against Julian.

‘The Americans are embarrassing themselves in court and the British judiciary is shocking the world again with its shocking treatment of an innocent, uncharged journalist.’

Assange’s father John Shipton told News Line: ‘The evidence mounts that this trial is a fraud upon the UK administration of justice by the US.

‘A prosecutor repeats accusations, each of which are refuted by each witness.

‘Nonetheless, the prosecutor repeats over and over again a deluge of lies upon the absurd hope the repetition will make them true.’

Joe Brack, Julian Assange defence committee member, said: ‘Daniel Ellsberg, the journalist who published the Pentagon Papers, gave evidence yesterday.

‘The point he made is that the documents he obtained from a source were of the highest level of classified. The Chelsea Manning logs that she leaked to WikiLeaks were a much lower level and some were not classified at all.

‘As a result of Nixon’s burglarisation of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s records, the case against him was thrown out.

‘The evidence against Assange has been gathered by spying within the Ecuadorian embassy. Although not being used in this trial, nevertheless this evidences to abuse of the legal process.

‘The effect and the public interest of this case is very well understood by the trade union leaders – on freedom of the press and journalism.

‘But these leaders are not organising any action. Motions have been passed but there is no urgency.’