Part 3: Magnitsky vs. Assange

Before I started writing about Russia after the fall of the U.S.S.R., like many Americans, I knew very little about its history.  I did a ton of reading on Russian oligarchs, I watched way too many Putin documentaries, and I probably spent too much time trying to put together the pieces from the Hermitage Capital/Sergei Magnitsky scandal. With that said, one of the things that stood out during my research was the U.S. government’s reaction to Russian Sergei Magnitsky versus its reaction to Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden.  You see, all four of these individuals have something in common: They either blew the whistle on government criminality and/or they leaked it.  Two of these people are Americans and yet only one of the four was “honored” by the United States with not one but two congressional bills that passed in 2012 and 2016, respectively.  I’m talking about the Russian.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian accountant hired by the former Moscow-based firm Hermitage Capital to investigate a suspected theft.  He ended up blowing the whistle on members of the Russian Interior Ministry (among others) who he believed had committed a massive tax fraud scheme.  Russian authorities subsequently arrested and imprisoned him where he died almost a year later from medical negligence.  The “Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act,” first pushed by Hermitage Capital’s owner, Bill Browder, after Magnitsky’s death in 2009, and then introduced on October 11, 2010 by co-sponsors John McCain and Ben Cardin, placed economic and visa sanctions on those the U.S. deemed responsible for the whistleblower’s death.  McCain stated on his website,

Sergei Magnitsky was an ordinary man, but through his extraordinary courage and love for his country, he exposed the cruelest and most corrupt aspects of the Russian government today. Sergei Magnitsky did not spend his life as a human rights advocate, but his life was taken because of his unbreakable commitment to human dignity and his enduring hope that Russia deserves to be governed by the rule of law, not the whim of thieves.

Okay, first of all, I don’t know about this whole “unbreakable commitment to human dignity” stuff.  He was an accountant who called out the Russians on a tax scheme which to this day no one really knows who was behind the theft—Bill Browder says it was the Russians and the Russians say it was Browder.  But that’s not the point of this story.  And when did our government start caring about whistleblowing Russians dying in Russian prisons?  The second bill, which was an extension of the earlier Act, was signed by President Obama in 2016.  It authorizes the U.S. President to impose sanctions on anyone who, among other things, is—

Responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country seeking to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials, or to obtain, exercise, or promote human rights and freedoms.

The bill was applauded by organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and analysts like J.R. Mailey at the Enough Project who stated,

Journalists and civil society activists around the world are on the front lines of the fight against corruption, oppression, and human rights violations. This puts many courageous reporters and activists directly in harm’s way, as many who seek to expose corruption or government abuses are subject to harassment, intimidation and violence. Such abuse continues, in part, because the officials responsible for attacks on civil society and the press believe they will suffer no consequences. The passage of the Global Magnitsky Act will help change the equation.

Do you see where I’m going with this all of this?  Yup.  The glaring, disgusting hypocrisy on the part of the U.S. government.  Ask Chelsea Manning how humane the U.S. government was to her after her arrest for leaking the video “Collateral Murder” which featured U.S. soldiers killing two Reuter journalists in Baghdad.  She was kept in solitary confinement for twenty-three hours a day for almost a full year, half of the time naked—and that was before she was found guilty.  According to Juan Mendez, the UN Torture Chief at the time, Manning’s treatment was “cruel and inhuman,” while the monitoring of her communications was a “violation of human rights procedures.”  Mendez’s assessment came two years after the first Magnitsky bill was introduced to Congress. 

Or maybe we should ask Julian Assange how it feels to have the U.N. declare that his detainment violates “Articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and yet Sweden doesn’t seem to want to honor their decision. And folks, this isn’t just a Swedish issue.  This stems from systematic, U.S. government intimidation and the fact that both Sweden or the UK could hand him over to the United States as soon as he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy.  Although, unbelievably, Sweden won’t say one way or another if they will and the cravens in Washington won’t disclose the crimes that Assange has allegedly committed.

And how about Edward Snowden? I know, I know, he was never tortured or even detained by the U.S. but he is essentially trapped in Russia for exposing U.S. surveillance programs and if you believe that Snowden would be treated with the same human rights that the U.S. demands of other countries, I have some amazing land to sell you right next to door to Guantanamo Bay.  The bottom line is that the U.S. government is basically a rabid kindergartner who doesn’t just take their ball home when confronted with their own bad behavior, they take their ball home and then sit in the backyard for hours plotting exactly how they’re going destroy you.

If we only take into account Julian Assange’s ordeal with Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S. during the same time period that McCain and Cardin started pushing the first Magnitsky Act in 2010 through the second Magnitsky Act, gross levels of hypocrisy become even more apparent.  However, none of this is terribly surprising considering the U.S. government’s general behavior nor the other events that were happening at the same time.  For instance, the first Magnitsky Act was introduced in 2010 and then passed in December, 2012.  Literally, the very next month Rosatom announced they would be acquiring 100% of Uranium One, or, in other words, Russia was about to obtain 20% of all U.S. uranium reserves.  Boy, President Obama and Hillary Clinton really taught Russia a lesson with that Magnitsky Act, didn’t they?  I know, the whole thing seems…ludicrous, doesn’t it? Probably because there was more going on there than meets the eye. But that’s for another day. 

Let’s talk about Julian Assange.

(The following is taken from wikileaks.org and the justice4Assange.com timeline at https://justice4assange.com/Timeline.html)

It was April 5, 2010, when Wikileaks published Army Pfc. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning’s leaked 2007 “Collateral Murder” video.  The video, which gave the world a horrifying glimpse into the war in Iraq, depicted a U.S. Apache helicopter opening fire on a group of Iraqis in a Baghdad neighborhood.  Two Reuters journalists were killed in the attack and multiple children were shot. To this day no one has paid for those crimes.  The audio, which was equally as outrageous, damning, and abhorrent as the video, displayed a level of callousness that many of us found shocking.  After realizing that children had been shot during the attack one U.S. soldier casually replied,

“Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

Yet the video proves there was no battle happening at that time which makes the whole thing even more disturbing. Was this soldier lying to himself or was he trained to generate “evidence” in an effort to cover up crimes as they’re happening?  Either way, it’s troublesome.  As to whether or not the U.S. government came clean about the events before Manning leaked the video, here’s what U.S. Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl told the world,

“There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.” 

There is no question.

Months later Wikileaks released another publication entitled, “Afghan War Diaries” and the press release called it “the most significant archive about the reality of war to have ever been released during the course of a war.”  Indeed it was but I’m certain the significance was lost on the U.S. government.  In fact, the government had opened an investigation into Wikileaks earlier in the year and the published Diaries surely only fanned the flames of outrage.  However, the U.S. government may have exacted their revenge on August 20, 2010, when two women (SW and AA), both of whom had shared brief sexual encounters with Assange, went to the Swedish police with one accusation of rape and a request that he take an STD test.  Literally, the very next day the prosecutor determined that there was “no suspicion of any crime whatsoever,” and the rape investigation was dropped.  And then there’s SW’s text messages from both before and after her interlude with Assange.  You be the judge:

Of course none of this prevented another prosecutor, Marianne Ny, from “resurrecting the investigation” after the two women hired Swedish politician, Claes Borgstrom, to represent them.  At the time, Borgstrom was running for Justice Minister and his chances were riding on the Social Democrats winning the general elections.  Interestingly, the second woman Assange was with (AA) is a politician and works for the Social Demcrats.  Borgstrom unabashedly used Assange’s alleged crimes to boost his campaign in the media and he did so in such a ridiculous fashion that SW, the one who didn’t work for the Social Democrats, dropped him as her attorney.

What happened next was not only ludicrous, it was pure retaliation.  On September 15, 2010, the prosecutor agreed in writing that Assange could leave Sweden and he did so almost two weeks later on September 27, 2010.  On his way out, his laptops were seized at the Stockholm airport and “are suspected to have been passed on to the United States.”  But nice try, Sweden.  Wikileaks still released the Iraq War Logs on October 22, 2010.  However, in a move that I can only assume was the U.S. government’s payback for the war logs (as well as general payback for all of Wikileaks’ publications), Sweden issued a Red Notice a month later a (“request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition)” which was apparently then posted on Interpol’s front page. 

Well played, Sweden. 

But…Wikileaks still published Cablegate eight days later. 

Needless to say, with some of the world’s most powerful countries realizing that Wikileaks was not going to stop publishing the truth anytime soon it appears the U.K. decided to get in on the action and on December 6, 2010, they acknowledged the Swedish arrest warrant a.k.a. European Arrest Warrant (EAW).  Rather than dodge the warrant, Assange turned himself in.  He was imprisoned for nine days until he was granted bail and released on December 16, 2010.  It is important to know that at no point up until now did the Swedish prosecutor take steps to procure a statement from Assange stemming from the August, 2010 incident with the two women although he requested to do so. 

Julian Assange then challenged the EAW in July, 2011.  He lost the case and appealed.  In 2012, he took the case to the UK Supreme Court where the Court determined that the EAW was valid. A year later that same Court invalidated the argument they used to uphold the EAW in another case because that’s how ridiculous all of this is.  And here’s where the Ecuadorian embassy comes into the story.  Five days after the Supreme Court ruled the Swedish arrest warrant for Assange was legit, Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy and applied for political asylum.  On August 16, 2012, Ecuador granted him asylum because of “the political prosecution being mounted in the United States in relation to WikiLeaks and the risk of life imprisonment and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment like Manning.”  See? Even Ecuador knows the U.S. government is filled with a bunch of evil kindergartners.

Between 2013 – 2016, Sweden continued to hamstring Julian Assange.  Both the Stockholm District Court and Appeals Court failed to dismiss his arrest warrant, after six years the Swedish prosecutor still hadn’t taken Assange’s statement, and both the UK and Sweden ignored two UN rulings that he’s being arbitrarily detained and should be released (!).  Assange’s plight isn’t just insane, it’s horrifying.  Besides being caged up in a small room for years, besides the assassination threats, besides not being able to travel and see loved ones, besides his health issues, think about how many times Western media has called Assange a rapist, a pedophile, or insinuated that he’s hiding from criminal charges (you can’t hide from something that doesn’t exist).  Think about how many times those defamatory statements are retweeted.  The good news?  Well, the UN did rule in his favor twice and on November 14-15, 2016, Assange was finally able to give his statement to Swedish officials—of course, that was only after the Supreme Court ordered them to do so.

But don’t get too excited.  After giving his statement, Swedish officials needed it to be  translated and…four months later, on March 15, 2017, they got it translated—eight days after Wikileaks released Vault 7.

Four months to get his statement translated?  What a joke, indeed. 

Within weeks of the translated document and the Vault 7 publication, articles like this one from counterjihadreport.com website, “American Authorities Working on Charges To Arrest Julian Assange” began to appear.  Let’s not forget CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s statements that Wikileaks is an non-state intelligence agency and that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Assange. I may be mistaken but the way I see it is that the U.S. and Sweden found themselves in a pickle after the Supreme Court instructed the Swedish prosecutor to take Assange’s statement—they could no longer get away with ignoring him but the United States hadn’t come up with any legitimate charges against him yet, either.  The Vault 7 release in early March didn’t help matters.

So what do you do?  Well, for one you could drag out a week long translation process to four months while the CIA figures out how the hell they’re going to spin the story that Assange not only leaked documents but that he helped procure them.  You see, the Obama administration never touched the Wikileaks issue because it could have forced them to go after mainstream news outlets…

…so, when Pompeo, and then Jeff Sessions, came out and said they were going after Assange initial reactions included other journalists’ fears that they, too, could find themselves on the chopping block for reporting classified information. My guess is that the government’s tactic to accuse Assange of helping to procure classified information was made in order to pacify MSM journalists’ concerns because they are leaked information, they don’t actively help someone else get it.

But here’s the deal:  If the government wants to continue down this “aiding and abetting” road they’re going to have to pony up or doctor up some evidence, right?  Right.  Furthermore, this whole, “Assange helped procure classified information” didn’t get much traction in the press.  So what did the U.S. government do?  They double-downed on their story that Julian Assange is not a journalist. Throw in the idea that Wikileaks is a non-state intelligence porn agency and you’ve got yourself another argument that will allow you to stay in the MSM’s good graces.  According to the government, they’re not coming after you, the journalist, they’re going after that other guy, the intelligence porn guy.  See how that works?

Side note:  I think if you go back and watch James Comey during the March, 2017 House Intelligence hearing on Russia versus this last Senate Judicial Committee on Russian interference you’ll see the difference.  In the House hearing, Trey Gowdy hinted hard that journalists break the law whenever they publish classified information. Comey didn’t agree.  Or disagree.  Fast forward two months later and Comey couldn’t reassure the MSM enough.

Sasse:  “When American journalists court and solicit that information, have they violated any law by asking people in the I.C. to potentially leak—to leak information that is potentially classified.”

Comey:  “That conduct is not treated by the U.S. government as criminal conduct…the Department of Justice’s view has been news gathering and legitimate news reporting is not covered, is not going to be investigated or prosecuted as a criminal act.”

Comey then added that, “Our focus is and should be on the leakers, not those that are obtaining it as part of legitimate news gathering.”  You see what he’s doing there?  First of all, he’s making it seem like the U.S. government openly embraces journalists disclosing classified information because “all of us care deeply about the First Amendment and the ability of a free press…” blah blah blah.  In fact, Comey actually stated that “American journalists almost always call us before they publish classified information.”  Huh.  Well, Wikileaks said they called before publishing Vault 7 but look at where we still are. Second, if you take into account that Comey called Wikileaks “intelligence porn” during the hearing coupled with what he said above, he wipes away and reservations that the MSM might have had about the government prosecuting Assange.  Again, the government is planting that whole, “We’re on your side” idea with them and they’re eating it up.  

The point in all of this is that Barack Obama signed not one but two bills in the name of a Russian whistleblower while others like Snowden, Assange, Manning have been demonized by the U.S. government.  Eleven months after the U.N. declared that Assange was being arbitrarily detained Obama signed the expanded Magnitsky Act on December 25, 2016, which of course then begs the question of why hasn’t the United States passed sanctions against those in Sweden like the prosecutor and those directly responsible for Assange’s arrest warrant?  According to the U.S.’s own legislation they should be supporting Assange for calling out government corruption and then having his human rights violated because of it.  But ironically, his human rights continue to be violated because the U.S. is one of the foreign governments that are perpetuating these very violations by continuing to dangle alleged federal charges over his head.  See how insanely frustrating all of this is?

If there’s anything you should take from all of this and share it’s this:

  • Julian Assange has never been charged with rape.
  • Julian Assange did not flee Sweden, he waited until the Swedish prosecutors gave him permission to leave.
  • Julian Assange is not hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to escape rape charges—there are no charges against him.
  • If Julian Assange steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy, he risks being extradited to the United States who refuses to disclose anything about their investigation or possible charges against him.
  • The U.N. has ruled twice that Julian Assange is being illegally detained.

For more detailed information please go to justice4assange.com.

Full Russian Series HERE.

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