A former diplomat who worked in the Ecuadorian embassy while Julian Assange lived there in asylum debunks 40 of CNN’s smears against the WikiLeaks publisher.
By Fidel Narváez
The Western corporate media has shown extreme bias against the whistleblowing publication WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Nowhere is this more evident than in a recent CNN article on the imprisoned journalist, which completely botches the facts.
On July 15, CNN published an exclusive report that sent shock waves through the press: “Security reports reveal how Assange turned an embassy into a command post for election meddling.” This two-pronged hit piece mixes character assassination with a clumsy attempt to show that he and WikiLeaks supposedly served as agents of chaos for the Kremlin during the 2016 US presidential election.
But the article contains numerous errors, omissions, examples of bias, speculations, and simply false information.
CNN’s attempts to shape the narrative on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are not new. On March 28, the TV program Conclusiones, on CNN Español, claimed — without evidence — that Assange had published the famous INA Papers leak, exposing the corruption of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and his family.
The fact that WikiLeaks never published a single document or image of Moreno or his family did not matter to CNN Español. The intentions of the show were immediately transparent from the loaded questions made by the reporters:
“How long will Julian Assange remain at the Ecuadorian embassy in London?”
“Aren’t you going to kick him out?”
“What has Julian Assange brought to Lenin Moreno’s government but headaches?”
This baseless accusation was subsequently used two weeks later by the Ecuadorian government to justify expelling Assange from its London embassy, in a flagrant violation of international law.
This pattern of smear pieces against WikiLeaks and its publisher begs the question: Why is CNN shaping public opinion against Julian Assange, as he prepares to defend himself from continued political persecution by the US government?
Having worked as a diplomat in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six out of the seven years that Assange lived there as a political refugee, I would like to put forth the following rebuttals to 40 of CNN’s misleading claims.
40 rebuttals to CNN’s lies about Julian Assange
1. “New documents obtained exclusively by CNN reveal that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 US election, during a series of suspicious meetings at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.”
None of CNN’s speculations “reveals” that Julian Assange received materials related to the 2016 US elections at the embassy, much less “potentially” hacked materials.
The use of the word “potentially” shows that CNN is not even sure which materials Assange would have received at the embassy. And there is not even evidence that he received any publication materials at all.
2. “Despite being confined to the embassy while seeking safe passage to Ecuador, Assange met with Russians and world-class hackers at critical moments, frequently for hours at a time.”
An embassy is not a jail — although in the last year, Lenin Moreno’s government did convert his embassy in London into a de facto prison.
Therefore, there is nothing unusual for Assange to have visitors for several hours per day. He met with hundreds of people from around the world: intellectuals, artists, politicians, journalists, dissidents, activists.
Russian nationals, such as the activist group Pussy Riot, an archenemy of the Kremlin, were among Assange’s visitors.
The people whom CNN mistakenly refers to as “hackers” are specialists in computer security and data protection. CNN chooses to refer to them as “pirates,” because it is more in tune with the overall bias of its report.
3. “He also acquired powerful new computing and network hardware to facilitate data transfers just weeks before WikiLeaks received hacked materials from Russian operatives.”
There is nothing unusual about the Wikileaks editor purchasing computer equipment. CNN’s claim that Wikileaks received “hacked materials from Russian operatives” is not proven with any evidence, not even from the report of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller, on which CNN bases its assertions.
To say that Assange acquired new equipment to “facilitate the transfer of data” contradicts the very central premise of the CNN report that the materials had supposedly been delivered personally in one of those “suspicious” visits in June 2016.
4. “These stunning details come from hundreds of surveillance reports compiled for the Ecuadorian government by UC Global, a private Spanish security company, and obtained by CNN.”
The stunning thing is that CNN considers the reports produced by UC Global as a reliable source. I know, personally, that many of its reports do not reflect reality.
UC Global produced misrepresented, exaggerated, hostile reports, loaded with paranoia and sometimes false information. Those of us who know what was going on inside that embassy know that the company’s reports are going in only one direction: sowing suspicion about Assange and his visits, in order to justify the work of the security company.
The company was spying on Assange’s every movement, leaking materials and documents from inside the embassy, either by ineptitude or on purpose.
UC Global even went as far as to forge a document, falsifying the signature of an ambassador, and then presenting it in a labor tribunal, a fact that the ambassador himself denounced before the Foreign Ministry.
This is not the first time that leaked UC Global reports have generated media reports that are far from reality — like several of The Guardian’s articles on Julian Assange. More on that next.
5. “An Ecuadorian intelligence official told CNN that the surveillance reports are authentic.”
I can’t help but wonder if this is the same anonymous “Ecuadorian intelligence official” who caused The Guardian to publish demonstrably false reports on Julian Assange, such as the hoax that “Manafort held secret conversations with Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy,” or “Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK.”
The “authentic” reports used by CNN have been the mockery of embassy officials, given that they had already been leaked, and they border on the ridiculous.
Whether the reports are authentic or not is beside the point. Even if the reports are authentic, it does not follow that their content must be true. If a liar signs a report containing falsehoods, the document will be authentic, but the content will still be false.
6. “After the election, the private security company prepared an assessment of Assange’s allegiances. That report, which included open-source information, concluded there was ‘no doubt that there is evidence’ that Assange had ties to Russian intelligence agencies.”
If the unspeakable UC Global reaches such a resounding conclusion, it should explicitly include the alleged evidence in its “evaluation” report, because an evaluation that affirms that “there is evidence” while failing to include said evidence would be nothing short of pathetic.
Indeed, UC Global’s reports are usually pathetic (doesn’t the phrase “there is no doubt that there is evidence” sound pathetic?). The reports are often written by security guards with limited education, who will use any reference found on the internet as a source for their reports.
With such standards, one can imagine a report that reads: “There is no doubt that there is evidence that Manafort visited Assange,” because the author of the report read it in The Guardian, or another that reads “There is no doubt that there is evidence that Wikileaks published INA Paper,” because he read it in CNN.
How can CNN base its stories on reports that lack all credibility?
7. “Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in June 2012 to apply for political asylum and avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault allegations, which he denies.”
Julian Assange did not seek refuge to avoid being extradited to Sweden. His political asylum has always been to protect him from persecution by the United States, which has had an active grand jury since 2010.
Assange always said he would consent to extradition to Sweden as long as it was accompanied by a guarantee that he would not be onwardly extradited to the United States for his journalistic activities. Ecuador offered that possibility to Sweden from the very beginning.
In May 2017, after Sweden closed the preliminary investigation for the second time, Assange still did not leave the embassy, because the risk of extradition to the US remained imminent — a fact that was proven to be correct when Ecuador handed him over to the British.
8. “From the outset he demanded (and was granted) high-speed internet connectivity, phone service and regular access to professional visitors and personal guests.”
It is false that Julian Assange “demanded” anything. Moreover, it is false that Ecuador provided Assange with a telephone connection — neither a landline nor a cellphone.
Assange did not use embassy phones for his communications. In any case, when CNN says “A guest with privileges,” why does CNN consider internet and telephone privileges? What internet speed does CNN consider a “privilege”?
It is thanks to the internet connection that Assange was able to give hundreds of conferences and interviews, including to CNN. Why is receiving visitors a privilege for a political asylee?
A political refugee in not an inmate, and an embassy is not a prison.
9. “Assange also issued a special list of people who were able to enter the embassy without showing identification or being searched by security. He was even granted the power to delete names from the visitor logs.”
All persons, without exception, had to register their entry and exit in the visitor log, including Julian Assange’s closest collaborators, who were on the list of frequent visits to which, surely, CNN refers. The exception is that they didn’t have to show their ID to the guards every time they entered the embassy, simply because a copy of their ID was always at the front desk.
It is false that Assange could erase visitor’s names from embassy records. Who claims such nonsense? Where is CNN’s evidence to support this outright lie? Is it also a UC Global report? Is it the anonymous intelligence official who invented “Manafort’s visit” and the “Russian escape plan”?
10. “This all leaves open the possibility that additional sensitive meetings took place but are still secret.”
There is no possibility, not even the slightest of possibilities, that Assange would be able to have a secret visit without the ambassador approving it, without the security personnel knowing it, without the visit being registered in the visitors log, without the respective copy of the identification of the visitor stored by the security guards, without being recorded on video — both by the internal security cameras of the embassy, as well as by the external cameras of the British secret services, pointing to the entrance of the embassy.
For seven years, this embassy was perhaps the most surveilled place in the world.
This absurd suggestion of the “open possibility” of unregistered visits is neither casual nor naive. It clearly seeks to sow doubt about fictitious visits created by the press itself, such as The Guardian’s infamous story about Manafort and the embassy.
11. ” Assange installed his own recording devices and used noise machines to stymie the snooping, according to the documents obtained by CNN.”
If the article refers to a video camera for video editing and online streaming, there is nothing strange about that. Julian Assange frequently participated in online interviews and conferences and always had and used his own recording equipment.
The sound distorters were used by and are property of the embassy. We used these distorters in our own meetings, since the embassy was subject to surveillance from outside by the British, who had long-range microphones. In addition, we did not want to be heard by the UC Global company itself that handled the entire camera system inside the embassy.
Assange also made use of these sound distorters, both in his meetings with us and with his visitors. He has the same right to privacy as any other person — even though Lenin Moreno’s government, in particular, has grossly violated it.
12. ” The task of controlling Assange proved difficult. Fistfights broke out between Assange and the guards.”
This is flat out false. Julian Assange never threw a fist at anyone, nor did he receive any from anyone.
In almost 2,500 days of confinement there were few and exceptional isolated incidents that occurred with security guards. On just two occasions there were shoves, never a “fistfight” as CNN claims for sensationalistic effect.
It is false that those incidents were about trying to “control Assange,” as CNN suggests. On both occasions Assange was subject to provocation by guards lacking professionalism.
Security reports will never mention the multiple official complaints made against UC Global, by not just Assange, but also by outside visitors such as Daniel Ellsberg, French presidential candidate Eva Joly, baroness Helena Kennedy, or actor John Cusack, to name a few, who protested against disrespectful treatment by security guards.
Over the first six years, Assange’s stay at the Ecuadorian embassy was characterized by mutual respect between the Ecuadorian diplomatic and administrative staff and its guest. A few isolated incidents with private security guards do not change the respectful nature of that stay.
It was only in the last year, under Lenin Moreno’s government, that things changed radically. Diplomatic personnel were replaced, and a new security company was hired. The attitude toward Assange then became very hostile.
13. “He smeared feces on the walls out of anger.”
This claim is as false as it is despicable. Julian Assange never did any such thing.
Although this has not stopped this lie from being brazenly repeated by the highest Ecuadorian authorities: President Lenin Moreno; the minister of the interior, María Paula Romo; and the secretary of the presidency, Sebastián Roldán.
These politicians are obviously lying to try to justify the crime of having handed over a political refugee to his executioners.
But what is CNN’s excuse — why does it repeat this lie? What evidence is there for such a claim? It is not enough to echo the accusations of President Moreno, who has made lying into an art. How is it possible for journalists to also stoop so low?
14. “Despite the years of strife, Assange was allowed to stay and prepared to wield his power when the moment was right.”
Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum to protect him from the threats to his life and freedom, threats that continue at this very moment. It is obvious that he should be allowed to stay at the embassy, until full protection of his rights can be guaranteed.
The claim that Assange was allowed to stay in political refuge so that he could “prepare” for who knows what “right moment” for who knows what “wielding of power” is ludicrous.
15. “Assange also maintained direct contact with senior officials in Ecuador, including former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, and regularly used those connections to threaten embassy staff… He claimed he could get people fired, even the sitting ambassador.”
It is not true that Julian Assange “regularly” threatened embassy employees with getting them dismissed. Save for an exceptional discussion, no diplomat received a threat of any kind.
Security guards are a separate issue, but even there, the incidents were isolated.
It is incorrect to say that Assange maintained direct contact with senior officials, unless this is a reference to advisers to the Foreign Minister’s office, and still, these contacts were sporadic and exceptional. There is nothing extraordinary about that.
In seven years of asylum, Assange never spoke to or had contact with President Rafael Correa. And the number of times he had direct contact with Minister Patiño can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
16. “Assange was busy back at the embassy. That month, members of the security team worked overtime to handle at least 75 visits to Assange, nearly double the monthly average of visits logged by the security company that year.”
Julian Assange was always busy, always working. A political asylee does not lose any rights to do so.
In the month of June 2016, a period of special interest in the CNN investigation, Assange was indeed busy — just not in the way that CNN suggests.
Rather, Assange was preoccupied with a series of specific events that, curiously, the CNN investigation is either unaware of or deliberately omits:
A. On June 19, 2016, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of his entry to the embassy, the event “First They Came for Assange” was held. This was a series of simultaneous demonstrations held in several cities around the world: Berlin, Paris, New York, Brussels, Madrid, Milan, Athens, Belgrade, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, among others, with audiences present in different scenarios. It also included the participation, face-to-face or via video, of dozens of personalities, including Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Žižek, Yanis Varoufakis, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Moore, Ken Loach, Amy Goodman, PJ Harvey, Bernard Stiegler, Brian Eno, Baltasar Garzón, Sarah Harisson, Srećko Horvat, Angela Richter, Chris Hedges, and Renata Ávila. The central feature of this mega-event was a live online broadcast from the embassy.
B. “Julian Assange: Four Years of Freedom Denied”, a five-day day event, held from June 20 to 24 at the International Center for Higher Communication Studies for Latin America (CIESPAL), in Ecuador’s capital Quito. The program consisted of several days of conferences with the participation of international exhibitors, screenings of documentaries, visual arts exhibitions, and online broadcasts — again, live from the embassy.
C. Brexit Club panel, a live broadcast with analysis and discussion on the Brexit referendum, which started the night of the referendum and continued until dawn, on June 23 and 24, streamed online from inside the embassy, with face-to-face and remote video participation of at least a dozen panelists from different parts of the world.
Furthermore, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Guillaume Long visited the embassy from June 17 to 21, with a very intense agenda of press events and meetings, including a lengthy meeting with the legal team of Assange, with the participation of lawyers from outside the United Kingdom.
It is obvious, therefore, that this many public events, meetings, and interviews, all in the same month, significantly increased the regular number of visits to the embassy, many of which were not visitors of Assange, but of the embassy itself. It is hence understandable that the guards had to work overtime.
CNN’s suggestion that the embassy had a lot going on in June 2016 because Julian Assange was supposedly preparing to receive material to publish is misplaced and misleading.
17. “Assange took at least seven meetings that month with Russians and others with Kremlin ties, according to the visitor logs.”
Is meeting Russian citizens suspicious in itself? Does every Russian citizen have, according to CNN, “Kremlin ties”? Why does CNN not name all of these people who supposedly have Kremlin ties? Wouldn’t that be of public interest?
18. “Two encounters were with a Russian national named Yana Maximova, who could not be reached for comment. Almost nothing is known about Maximova, making it difficult to discern why she visited the embassy at key moments in June 2016.”
CNN admits not knowing anything about Yana Maximova, but, since she is Russian, then she is suspicious of something. If you don’t know anything about her, why suggest she could be linked with the Kremlin?
Wouldn’t it have been helpful to search her name on Google and see that The Guardian describes her as a 28-year-old Russian immigrant who “moved to the US when she was 18” — that is, in 2008, well before Assange was known to the world — and “worked as a volunteer journalist for a community radio station in Portland”? Although, after all, when it comes to Assange, The Guardian is not exactly trustworthy.
19. “Assange also had five meetings that month with senior staffers from RT, the Kremlin-controlled news organization.”
Regardless of the editorial line of a state broadcaster, in this case RT, does that make every journalist working at the state television station a suspected agent? Are BBC employees also suspected of being MI5 agents? Ecuadorian public media outlets have no editorial independence, so are their journalists also intelligence agents?
RT has many British journalists in London, such as Afshin Rattansi, who has visited and interviewed Assange at the embassy on several occasions, including “at key moments of the US presidential election.” Does that make him a suspect of working for the Kremlin and handing over compromising materials?
20. “US intelligence agencies have concluded that RT had ‘actively collaborated with WikiLeaks’ in the past… For several months in 2012, Assange hosted a television show on RT.”
The World Tomorrow program presented by Julian Assange was an independent British production whose international rights were purchased by RT.
To suggest that, because someone has an opinion program on RT, there is necessarily a dependency on the Kremlin is clearly wrong. According to that logic, RT presenters such as former prime minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, legendary American TV host Larry King, journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges, the American broadcaster Max Keiser, former commissioner at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission Bart Chilton, former president of Ecuador Rafael Correa, and even the famous Portuguese soccer coach José Mourinho are all also secretly in cahoots with the Kremlin.
21. “Shortly after WikiLeaks established contact with the Russian online personas, Assange asked his hosts to beef up his internet connection. The embassy granted his request on June 19, providing him with technical support ‘for data transmission’ and helping install new equipment… This was the same day Assange and his lawyers met with then-Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long, according to surveillance reports.”
The installation of higher speed internet was clearly done on the same day of an international mega-event “First They Came for Assange,” which was broadcast online to a dozen cities simultaneously, with thousands of attendees and spectators.
What data transmission operation is CNN talking about? Any new technical upgrades or changes within the embassy must be made by embassy personnel or workers hired by the embassy.
What technical support provisions for Assange is CNN talking about? The faster internet speed responded to a long-standing need by the embassy itself, and not necessarily or exclusively because it had been requested by Assange.
Moreover, upgrading an internet connection cannot occur overnight, because regulations by the Ecuadorian bureaucracy involve requesting a modification of budgets and their approval, something which takes at least several weeks.
22. “It’s unclear whether Assange told the Ecuadorians that WikiLeaks was working behind the scenes to acquire documents related to the US election.”
No journalist is obliged to inform a government in advance what he is working on. The same goes for Julian Assange.
It is absurd to say that by that date, June 19, 2016, Assange was working “behind the scenes” to obtain information that he clearly already possessed, given that Assange had announced it publicly a week before.
23. “As the election approached, security officials at the embassy noted that Assange released some of the hacked emails ‘directly from the embassy,’ according to the surveillance documents.”
Really? Where is the evidence? Only the opinion of a UC Global guard, forced to write daily reports? Did he find out on the Wikileaks website, like millions of people did? How does he know the emails were hacked? Why could it not be leaked emails?
24. “The Mueller report explicitly referenced that ‘Assange had access to the internet from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England.'”
What an extraordinary discovery!
25. “It is unclear whether Mueller ever obtained these surveillance reports as part of his investigation.”
It is very likely that he had, given the fact that, with the Lenin Moreno government, Ecuador completely surrendered its sovereignty, giving the United States everything it has requested, culminating with Assange’s head.
In January 2019, Ecuador allowed more than a dozen diplomats and officials who worked at the embassy in London to be questioned by US prosecutors. If the Americans have requested documents from the embassy, which is very likely, President Moreno will almost certainly have handed them over.
Although if Robert Mueller came to read the UC Global reports, he must surely have found them to be some of the most ridiculous documents he has come across in his career as an investigator.
26. “Mueller concluded that hackers from Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, attacked Democratic targets in spring 2016 and removed hundreds of gigabytes of information. They created online personas — Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks — to transfer some of the files to WikiLeaks and publicly claim responsibility for the hacks, falsely disavowing any Russian ties.”
WikiLeaks states that the sources for the various materials from the Democratic Party are diverse, and were circulated by different actors. The Democratic Party itself recognizes that its servers were attacked for two years before the election. Wikileaks has said that its source is not the Russian state, nor any state agent.
The forensic report that attributes the alleged extraction of information to “Russian state hackers” was written by a private company hired by the Democratic Party itself. The Department of Justice did not make its own independent expert analysis.
On the other hand, WikiLeaks was not the initial medium that published materials from the Democratic Party. Numerous organizations and media in the US published material, allegedly, coming from Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks. This includes the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Politico, Buzzfeed, The Intercept, and The Hill.
The materials published by WikiLeaks were reprinted and/or reported in many media outlets, including the BBC, NBC, ABC, The Guardian, Fox News, and USA Today. However, only WikiLeaks is being persecuted for publishing such information, which is truthful and in the public interest.
27. “Mueller’s team noted that it ‘cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.'”
Precisely this discrepancy in the conclusions of Robert Muller, that “it cannot be ruled out that by visiting intermediaries,” suggests that the prosecutor does not have evidence to support his conclusions.
It is even worse when one considers that all of the dates suggested by Muller, either for electronic transmission or retrieval through a visit, are later than when Assange had already announced that he had information on the Democratic Party.
28. The special counsel named one of those associates, German hacker Andrew Müller-Maguhn, and said he “may have assisted with the transfer of these stolen documents to WikiLeaks… According to the surveillance reports, Müller-Maguhn visited Assange at the London embassy at least 12 times before the 2016 election.”
Andrew Müller-Maguhn, whom CNN refers to as a hacker, is an information protection specialist. His activism focuses on the human right to privacy in the digital age, that is, quite the opposite of the negative connotation of “hacker” attributed to him.
In his professional activity Müller-Maguhn organizes workshops that train system administrators in policies and structures that facilitate data protection. In addition, he works as a freelance journalist in cybersecurity research.
As in the case of computer expert Ola Bini, jailed without reason in Ecuador by Lenin Moreno’s government, Müller-Maguhn is suddenly suspicious because he has two problems: he is too intelligent, therefore dangerous; and he is friends with Assange!
29. “The Mueller report says that on July 6, WikiLeaks reached out to the Russian online personas with a request to send anything ‘hillary related’ as soon as possible, ‘because the (Democratic National Convention) is approaching and she will solidify Bernie supporters behind her after,’ referring to her opponent in the Democratic primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”
Assuming that “request” is true, the intention would be to support the most progressive candidate in the race, Bernie Sanders. But, according to the conspiracy theory, wasn’t Assange supposed to be supporting Trump?
By the way, WikiLeaks had made public calls for information on Donald Trump, and declared that they would accept leaks from any political party.
30. “Days later, on July 18, while the Republican National Convention kicked off in Cleveland, an embassy security guard broke protocol by abandoning his post to receive a package outside the embassy from a man in disguise.”
The security guard did not break the protocol. In the case of a strange package, from a mysterious individual, that was precisely the protocol: receive the package outside the embassy, in the lobby of the building, and make sure that it does not represent a danger.
In the seven years of Julian Assange’s stay, countless strange packages arrived at the embassy. The vast majority were gifts from those who idolize Assange, but also threats from those who demonize him.
31. “Russian hackers, posing as DCLeaks, had reached out again to WikiLeaks and offered more materials, writing that ‘you won’t be disappointed, I promise,’ according to the Mueller report.”
Was it not the case that according to CNN’s own account, previously Russian hackers had already successfully established a communication channel with Wikileaks, they had sent materials online, or through suspicious visits?
Why, suddenly, would they change their pseudonym to start a new relationship and try to interest Assange with new material? Why would they not use the same previous method?
32. “On at least two occasions, RT even published articles detailing the new batches of emails before WikiLeaks officially released them, suggesting that they were coordinating behind the scenes, which they deny.”
This false claim has already been categorically refuted in the past. Announcements on Twitter by Wikileaks are not necessarily made immediately as soon as the information is uploaded to their website.
Put simply, all RT had to do is monitor the Wikileaks website, discover a new publication, and immediately do what any media outlet aims for: being the first to publish it.
33. “Facing this ultimatum, Ecuadorian officials in the capital city of Quito decided on October 15 to cut Assange off from the outside world, shutting down his internet access and telephone service. Even this didn’t stop the deluge of email releases, which WikiLeaks continued pumping out every day until the election.”
How is it possible that Julian Assange kept publishing if he had no communications at the embassy? Well, in the same way that WikiLeaks continued publishing in 2018 when Lenin Moreno’s government, in a flagrant violation of human rights, completely isolated Assange for eight whole months.
Simply put, WikiLeaks can publish from anywhere else, be it from London, Reykjavik, Berlin, or from the United States itself. The geographical location from which information is uploaded to the web is inconsequential.
Therefore, this obsession to discover if Assange published or not information from the embassy is a sterile and irrelevant exercise. The only important thing is to know if that information is true and if it is of public interest.
On the other hand, the fact that Assange was inside the embassy does not mean that the WikiLeaks publications were made by him, personally, from the embassy. The editor-in-chief of a media makes editorial decisions; it is not necessarily the editor who performs the operational and technical task of editing and uploading information on a computer.
Does CNN’s editor-in-chief also act as designer, programmer, and proofreader? And do they personally take care of uploading the news to the web? Almost certainly not.
34. “By 1 a.m., two WikiLeaks personnel arrived at the embassy and started removing computer equipment as well as a large box containing ‘about 100 hard drives,’ according to the documents.”
It is not surprising that Julian Assange takes a precautionary measure, to protect his information, in the face of a serious crisis with the Ecuadorian government at that time.
On the night of October 18, 2016, the internet had been suspended. And, at the risk of an asylum termination, no matter how small, the journalist has the full right to protect his information.
Just as it would be your right for CNN to protect its information, if there is a risk that the government can take it.
In fact, that was exactly what happened with the Moreno government, when the president put a cowardly end to the asylum. The government illegally seized Assange’s belongings.
As if that was not bad enough already, Moreno then handed Assange’s belongings over to his persecutors.
And if UC Global could not inspect the equipment, how do they know it contained “about 100 hard drives”?
35. “Justice Department lawyers secretly prepared a criminal case against Assange for the Chelsea Manning leaks.”
The “secret” investigation and preparation of the case against Assange did not begin in 2016. It began in 2010, before Julian Assange applied for asylum in 2012.
It was not so secret, as it was always evident and was the fundamental reason for the granting of asylum.
The accusations of a grand jury are normally kept secret and only made public when the defendant is arrested.
It was always right for Assange to request that asylum, and for Ecuador to grant it. Lenin Moreno violated every asylum rule when he let British police enter to take force Assange out by force.
36. “Federal prosecutors even turned to a controversial law to target Assange for actively soliciting and publishing classified materials, which is typically protected under the First Amendment.”
It is good that CNN recognizes that the publication of classified materials is protected by the first amendment.
How sad, however, that CNN dedicates such a long report attempting to impute some form of criminality in relation to a publication of material that is not even classified.
Even sadder that CNN insists on demonizing a fellow journalist, who cannot defend himself and who is at risk of a lifelong sentence for the “crime” of publishing information exposing war crimes.
37. “In April of this year, Moreno revoked Assange’s asylum and said Assange had ‘violated the norm of not intervening in internal affairs of other states.'”
Julian Assange has not violated any rules. Firstly, because when journalists publish information in an electoral campaign about a candidate from any country, this does not intervention in the internal affairs of anyone. That is called journalism and that is what journalists do every day.
Secondly, because no international treaty suppresses the right of an asylee to work, nor to freedom of expression. There is no precedent in history in which political asylum is taken away from an asylee for publishing, commenting, or reporting on other countries.
38. “This cleared the way for British police to forcibly remove Assange from the embassy when the first US charges were unsealed.”
It was not just Lenin Moreno’s decision on April 11, 2019 that led to the humiliating entry of a foreign power into our embassy to kidnap a political refugee.
The road for this crime was paved months in advance, in coordination with the British and directly with the Americans, who are the ones who moved the strings.
As reported by ABC, at least six months before the termination of asylum, the Ecuadorian ambassador to Berlin was the one who offered Assange’s head to the Americans.
And according to the magazine Proceso, “British and Ecuadorian officials held secret teleconferences with the headquarters of the State Department in Washington to discuss the future of Assange,” from inside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, for months before the expulsion.
39. “Assange hasn’t been accused of any crimes related to his actions in 2016.”
After a fierce investigation by the US Department of Justice, which lasted some two years, cost roughly $25 million, and included interviews with approximately 500 people, after this investigation in which Assange was always willing to appear if guaranteed protection, he still has not been charged with anything related to WikiLeaks 2016 publications — because, simply, publishing is not a crime.
40. “Meanwhile, he still has allies in Russia. Within hours of Assange’s arrest, senior officials from President Vladimir Putin’s government rushed to Assange’s defense and slammed the US for infringing his rights, declaring that, ‘The hand of “democracy” squeezes the throat of freedom.'”
Does the fact that someone condemns the arrest and possible extradition of Julian Assange mean that they are his allies?
Within a few hours of that arrest, many international human rights and press freedom organizations had condemned it, warning that extradition to the US would be a violation of Assange’s human rights. These included Amnesty International Ireland, Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the American Civil Liberties Union, Reporters Without Borders, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and countless civil organizations and personalities around the world.
Would CNN also refer to any of them as “allies”?
Fidel Narváez is an Ecuadorian human rights activist and former diplomat who served as consul and then first secretary at the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2010 until July 2018, while WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange was a political refugee in the building.