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Despite Sweden dropping the case Assange’s treatment remains an outrage

Despite dropping the case Sweden refuses to clear Assange of the rape allegations, purporting to blame him instead for the failure of the case, whilst Britain is still violating his human rights as a refugee by preventing him from travelling to Ecuador.

Alexander Mercouris

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Three weeks ago I wrote an article for The Duran in which I pointed out (1) that Julian Assange has never been charged in Sweden with rape (2) that the extradition proceedings Sweden brought against him in Britain were supposedly brought in order to compel him to come to Sweden to be questioned about the allegations of rape made against him there (3) that this purpose was fulfilled in November 2016 when Assange was questioned by the Swedish prosecutor about the rape allegations in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain and (4) that the continued failure of the Swedish authorities in light of this either to bring charges against Assange or to drop the case against him – leaving him trapped in legal limbo – was an outrage, all the more so since the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council had already said that his treatment violated his human rights.

It is now the last day in April, five months since Assange was questioned about the rape allegations in Britain.  However there is no word from Sweden either of the case against him being dropped or of the rape charges against him being pressed.

Meanwhile the European arrest warrant been not been cancelled, and the extradition request to Britain has not been dropped, even though their purported purpose – to have Assange questioned about the rape allegations – has been fulfilled in Britain.

Meanwhile the British authorities have taken no steps to review their grant of the Swedish extradition request notwithstanding that the purported purpose of that request – to return Assange to Sweden so that he could be questioned about the rape allegations there – has been fulfilled in Britain.

This is despite the fact that the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council has said that the treatment of Julian Assange by the British and Swedish authorities already  violates his human rights.

The result is that Assange remains trapped in limbo in the Ecuadorian embassy despite the fact that there are no charges against him, despite his having complied with the Swedish request that he be questioned about the rape allegations, and despite the fact that the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council says his human rights are being violated.

It should be said clearly that this is completely unacceptable and wrong, and further violates Assange’s human rights, which have already been violated, but does so to an even greater degree.

I also said what the Swedish and British authorities should do, and without further delay

What is now important is that this disastrous episode should be brought to an end.

If the Swedes have grounds to bring charges against Assange, then they should do so, and do so without further delay.  If they do not intend to press charges against Assange, then they should say so publicly and without further delay, clearing him of the false allegations which have been made against him, and which have done so much damage to his reputation.  Basic principles of human conscience and of justice, and fundamental principles of law and due process, demand no less.

The Swedes and the British should in the latter case also provide clear explanations for their actions, explaining why Assange was subjected to legal proceedings when it was possible to question him in Britain, and why they delayed so long in dropping the case against him after it became clear following his questioning that there was actually no case against him when there was already in existence a legal ruling which said that his human rights were being violated.

Three weeks after these words were written the Swedish authorities have announced that the case against Assange has been dropped.  However in every other respect they and the British authorities have failed to the things I said they should do and their statements today compound the violations of Assange’s human rights.

Firstly, the Swedish authorities whilst dropping the case against Assange, are refusing to admit his innocence.  Instead the Swedish prosecutor has said in public comments that she is not pronouncing on his “guilt (!) or not”, whilst her formal statement announcing the dropping of the case says the following

The motive is that there is no reason to believe that the decision to surrender him to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future.

Almost 5 years ago Julian Assange was permitted refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has resided ever since. In doing so, he has escaped all attempts by the Swedish and British authorities to execute the decision to surrender him to Sweden in accordance with the EU rules concerning the European Arrest Warrant. My assessment is that the surrender cannot be executed in the foreseeable future, says Marianne Ny.

According to Swedish legislation, a criminal investigation is to be conducted as quickly as possible. At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation.

– At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted. In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued.

The statement goes on to say that if Assange were to return to Sweden at any time before 2020 – when the Statute of Limitations in respect of the offence he is alleged to have committed expires – then the case against him may be revived.

This statement misrepresents the facts.

The European Arrest Warrant was not issued in order to bring Assange to Sweden to face rape charges.  It was issued in order to bring Assange to Sweden so that he could be questioned there about the rape allegations which have been made against him.  The Swedish prosecutor was then to decide following his answers whether she had grounds to bring charges against him or not.

Far from Assange “escaping all attempts by the Swedish authorities to execute the decision to surrender him to Sweden ….(so that) the surrender cannot be executed in the foreseeable future….”, following Assange questioning by the Swedish prosecutor in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain in November, the purported purpose of the European Arrest Warrant has been fulfilled.

The Swedish prosecutor’s statement nowhere refers to this fact, and is written as if the questioning of Assange in the British embassy in November never took place.

Rather than admit that the purpose of the European Arrest Warrant has been fulfilled, and say whether in light of Assange’s answers there are grounds to bring a case against him or not, the Swedish prosecutor is saying she has dropped the case because “there is no reason to believe that the decision to surrender him to Sweden can be executed”.

This is mendacious and unworthy of a prosecutor.  It misrepresents the purpose of the European Arrest Warrant, and instead of resolving the question in the light of Assange’s answers of whether there is a case against him or not, it tries to blame Assange for the failure of the case.

As for the prosecutor’s reported comment that she is not pronouncing on the question of Assange’s “guilt or not”, in the absence of charges against him he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, and this comment straightforwardly violates it.

As for the British authorities, despite the ending of the Swedish case against him, they continue to say that if Assange leaves the embassy they will arrest him on the minor charge of refusing to surrender to the court on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29th June 2012.  This despite the fact that the extradition proceedings in which that warrant was issued have now closed.

This is a totally unsatisfactory state of affairs.  It means that though no charges have been brought against Assange, and though he has complied with the Swedish prosecutor’s demand that he answer her questions, his name has not been cleared, and the authorities in Sweden continue to insinuate his guilt.

Meanwhile he remains trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy with a British arrest warrant still hanging over him, with the certain prospect that the moment he leaves the embassy he will be the subject of an extradition request from the US.

I suspect that the reason the Swedish prosecutor decided to drop the case is because her failure to bring charges so many months after Assange was questioned had exposed her to a legal challenge.

It was after all only because of a court order that she agreed to question Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in the first place.  Had she continued to prevaricate  for much longer a further order from the court obliging her to make a decision would have been a certainty.

That it was fear of a legal challenge that was her real motive is all but admitted by these words in her statement

According to Swedish legislation, a criminal investigation is to be conducted as quickly as possible. At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation.

Professor Mads Andenas who chaired the UN working group which found that the treatment of Assange violated his human rights says the same thing

The Swedish supreme court laid down strict requirements and warned the prosecutors to speed up or drop the case. The UN working group on arbitrary detention found (4-1) violations of international law.

As does the head of the Swedish Bar Association, Bengt Ivarsson, who has told Svenska Dagbladet

A government official has a responsibility to push an investigation forward. It has not happened in this case. Quite early on it was clear that Assange was not going to allow himself to be questioned in Sweden…

The investigation has had a major impact internationally. And how this has been handled is not an advantage for the Swedish legal system. It has created a negative image of the prosecution service.

Terrible though the handling of this case has been, and deeply unsatisfactory as is the announcement today in almost every respect, something might at least be saved if the British authorities now at last accede to Ecuador’s demand that Assange be allowed to go to Ecuador unhindered.

That is no more than his right as a refugee who has been granted asylum, a fact which the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council has been at pains to point out.

Britain’s previous failure to do this was a gross violation of Assange’s rights as a refugee.  Britain’s continued failure to do so now after the Swedish case against Assange has been dropped would compound it.

Unfortunately the handling of Assange’s case to date, and the statements of the Swedish and British authorities today, give little cause for hope that even this proper and necessary thing will now be done.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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