Free Assange: Protect Whistleblowers and Press Freedom

November 29th, 2022 - by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

ACTION ALERT: Why Must Julian Assange
Suffer for Exposing US War Crimes?

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

(November 28, 2022) Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action supports Julian Assange for exposing war crimes committed by the US Government, and demand that (at very least) he not be extradited to the United States and that he be provided safe haven in another nation.

Rather than being persecuted by the US Government — the judicial process having been subverted by the State’s desire to maintain the secrecy of its war crimes and divert attention to those who expose the truth — Assange should be praised for shining a light on our government’s crimes against humanity.

Assange has been charged with multiple violations under the Espionage Act of 1917, an archaic law that has been misused by our government since its enactment. If convicted, Assange faces up to 175 years in jail in what would be the first prosecution of a publisher under the US Espionage Act.

In a functioning democracy, journalists can reveal war crimes and cases of torture and abuse without being punished. If our government can use espionage laws against journalists and publishers, they are deprived of their most important and traditional defense — of acting in the interest of the public’s right to know.

Speaking for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in 2019, CPJ North America Program Coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck said, “It is a reckless assault on the First Amendment that crosses a line … and threatens to criminalize the most basic practices of reporting.”

In our constitutional democracy, We The People have the need and the right to know what our government is doing in our name. When such information is withheld and kept secret we cannot fully take part in the democratic process, and therefore do not have a functioning democracy.

The erosion of democracy and First Amendment press freedoms hinders the dissemination of truth and allows the responsible parties to skirt responsibility and repercussions for their criminal actions. To date there have been no prosecutions resulting from the evidence published by Wikileaks clearly showing war crimes being committed.

We recognize both freedom of the press and the public’s right to know — recognized in both the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. These cherished freedoms are in danger and need protection.

Julian Assange’s so-called crime was to publish records of war crimes leaked to him from whistleblowers who shone a spotlight on US operations and the realities of the endless ‘war on terror’. The most infamous of these was the ‘collateral murder’ video footage of US helicopter attacks in Baghdad that killed 11 civilians including two Reuters journalists.

Chelsea Manning disclosed the ‘collateral murder’ footage to Wikileaks along with nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents, and was court-martialed in July 2013 for violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses.

Our government has demonstrated that it is more concerned with covering up its war crimes around the world than upholding the Constitution of the United States, in the name of national security.

The crimes exposed with such shocking clarity and lack of repercussions to those involved demonstrate that the disregard for human life extends from the very highest levels of government all the way to the lowest levels of the military chain of command.

As Assange said in a December 20, 2012 statement: “The power of people speaking up and resisting together terrifies corrupt and undemocratic power. So much so that ordinary people here in the West are now the enemy of governments, an enemy to be watched, an enemy to be controlled and to be impoverished.”

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action has a deep understanding and appreciation for this statement in as much as our members, and many of our colleagues in the anti-nuclear movement, have worked for decades to speak out about and resist the undemocratic power represented by our nation’s nuclear arsenal and our government’s continuing threat of use of nuclear weapons, and many have been imprisoned as a result.


Assange Shows Signs of Psychological Torture

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Inhumane Treatment, Nils Meltzer, accompanied by a medical doctor and a psychiatrist, visited Assange in 2019. They examined and interviewed Assange following the internationally recognized ‘Istanbul protocol’.

His report on this inspection stated that he believed Assange showed clear symptoms of having been psychologically tortured. Mr. Assange should, therefore, be viewed as a victim of psychological torture, and his extradition should therefore be illegal under international human rights law.

Melzer also said that, “While the US Government prosecutes Mr. Assange for publishing information about serious human rights violations, including torture and murder, the officials responsible for these crimes continue to enjoy impunity.”

ACTION: Whereas the Charges Against Julian Assange Are False Accusations:

We demand that the US Government drop all charges against Julian Assange that relate to his publishing activities in his work with Wikileaks. The US government’s unrelenting pursuit of Assange for having published disclosed documents that included probable war crimes committed by the US military is nothing short of a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression.

We condemn the reported mistreatment of Julian Assange by the UK Government during his incarceration, and demand that the government of the United Kingdom take immediate action to protect him from further mistreatment and extradition to the United States.

We urge the US Congress to conduct an impartial investigation into the process by which Assange was indicted as well as the US government’s role in coercing other governments (particularly the Ecuadorian and UK governments) into cooperating with the US in extraditing Assange.

We also call on those members of Congress who believe in the inviolability of the United States Constitution to speak out on behalf of Julian Assange and his rights under the First Amendment.

Furthermore, we support all whistleblowers and the journalists who bring their evidence of state-sponsored crimes to the public sphere, thereby keeping democracy alive.

We agree with the statement made by the Walkley Foundation in Australia in June 2022 that, “… by designing and constructing a means to encourage whistleblowers, WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange took a brave, determined, and independent stand for freedom of speech and transparency that has empowered people all over the world. And in the process, they have triggered a robust debate inside and outside the media about official secrecy, the public’s right to know, and the future of journalism.”

Assange’s extradition would send a chilling message to journalists and others gathering evidence to investigate war crimes, ultimately threatening initiatives seeking justice for civilians caught up in wars and violent conflicts.

In summation, we call on all journalists and peace activists who cherish freedom of speech and expression to stand up strongly with Julian Assange and demand his immediate release. We continue to uphold all journalists who speak truth to power and support their sources — including whistleblowers — who risk everything to make this possible.

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Contact: Leonard Eiger, (360) 375-3207, and Elizabeth Murray,