Following up on so many discussions about justice and healing is this painful and violent world, in relation with two workshops on consent in hacker culture (THF 2016, Montreal), this article is a deep proposition to care for emotions , nurture ourself and each other and develop emotional intelligence in order to heal from rape culture. Lacking skills about consent is something that touch all of us, but even more those who were educated in a culture where emotions are not welcome, not valued or not understood. Emotional intelligence can be developed, along with communication skills and we all need it, so much. Nora Samaran wrote this text about a year ago, and I keep looking at it, as a way forward, as a healing path.
“The United States’ war on transparency is making it an outlier in the international community. Just this week, a high-level European human rights body “urged” the United States to allow NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to return home and be given a meaningful chance to defend himself.
International human rights law has been clear for decades: anyone engaged in exposing gross abuses through whistleblowing and publishing is entitled to protection. Yet, the Obama administration has waged war on transparency, prosecuting more people for disclosing information to the press than Richard Nixon and all other U.S. presidents combined.
Not a single one of those prosecuted has been allowed to argue that their actions served the public good. Chelsea Manning, the alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, exposed human rights abuses worldwide and opened an unprecedented window into global politics. Her disclosures are to this day cited regularly by the media and courts. Thomas Drake exposed massive NSA waste, while John Kiriakou exposed waterboarding later admitted to be torture in the recent Senate CIA Torture Report. The story of Edward Snowden’s disclosures of widespread NSA surveillance recently won an Oscar.
Whistleblowers cannot argue that their actions had positive effects, known as a “public interest defense.” The United States treats disclosures to the press as acts of spying — no matter what good they lead to. In response, European and international human rights bodies are urging the United States to adopt better protections for whistleblowers.
These protections should apply not only to insiders who blow the whistle, but also to other transparency advocates such as hacktivists. A public interest defense should have been available to Aaron Swartz, the Creative Commons creator and Reddit co-founder who tragically committed suicide following an overzealous government prosecution. His crime? Trying to make academic articles accessible to the public.
The defense could have helped Jeremy Hammond, who in 2013 was convicted for “computer trespass” and sentenced to 10 years for exposing that the private intelligence firm Stratfor spied on human rights activists. The Justice Department tried to cast Hammond as a cybercriminal. But Hammond’s supporters, which include human rights organizations and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, recognized that he was motivated to expose government and corporate surveillance.
In guaranteeing a fair trial for information disclosures, the United States lags behind other jurisdictions, including Canada, Denmark and Germany. Canada’s Security of Information Act offers a public interest defense, as does the Danish Criminal Code on disclosing state secrets. The defenses are not airtight, but they are better than nothing. For hacktivists, at least one German court has defended a digital sit-in as political speech, acknowledging that ‘hacker’ does not equal ‘cybercriminal.’
International norms support the human right to a public interest defense. The UN Human Rights Committee, interpreting the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the world’s farthest-reaching human rights treaty, noted that governments must take “extreme care” to ensure that laws relating to national security are not invoked “to suppress or withhold from the public information of legitimate public interest.”
Additionally, the Johannesburg Principles, adopted since 1995 by international legal experts, stipulate that “No person may be punished on national security grounds for disclosure of information if . . . the public interest in knowing the information outweighs the harm from disclosure.” This principle was reiterated in 2013 in the Tshwane Principles–agreed upon by UN experts, civil society and practitioners around the world. The Tshwane framework outlined in detail specific categories of disclosures, like corruption and human rights abuses, that should be protected.
Finally, the European Court of Human Rights, Europe’s high human rights court, has provided for whistleblower protection on numerous occasions. For instance, in Guja v. Moldova, the court protected as a matter of free speech a whistleblower’s right to disclose wrongdoing committed by a public prosecutor. In reaching its decision, the court weighed the perceived damage suffered by the public authorities against the public interest of the information revealed.
This week’s statements from the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe follow a tradition of long-standing norms which consistently support the right to a public interest defense in information disclosures. None of these norms depend on the defendant being a government whistleblower; they can certainly protect hacktivists as well.
The free flow of information is necessary for a democratic society, and this flow cannot be purely in the hands of government. This is why the rights to expression and a free and open press are among the most widely recognized rights on earth. When those exposing wrongdoing cannot even defend themselves in court, this is ultimately a failure of the rule of law. It means that even judges cannot challenge the basis for government secrecy, undermining the basic tenets of democratic society.”
“Matt DeHart is a 30-year-old former US Air National Guard drone team member and alleged WikiLeaks courier, who worked with the hacktivist group Anonymous. After becoming the subject of a national security investigation — and allegations relating to a teenage pornography case which he vehemently denies — he fled from the United States to Canada with his family to seek political asylum and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In what represents a moral victory for the DeHart family, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board judge found that the teenage pornography case against Matt lacked credibility. However, because the IRB considered that the United States still had a functioning democracy, they denied his claim, and on 1 March, 2015 Matt DeHart was handed over into US federal custody.”
At a recent press conference in Geneva, lawyer Melinda Taylor – sitting together with Baltasar Garzon, head of Assange’s defense team, journalists Sarah Harrison and Kristinn Hrafnsson of Wikileaks – explained how Julian Assange is, in view of the law, effectively detained inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and not a free man willingly imposing himself a detention to avoid questioning on alleged sex offences in Sweden. The threats, very real, are with the US… Sweden and the UK play significant roles in immobilizing Assange… What choice has a man surrounded by a moat with crocodiles, but to stay longer in the castle where he was granted asylum until this right is no longer obstructed and he can fully enjoy it ?
Julian Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador two and a half years ago, not to escape Swedish justice but as protection against political persecution and threats to his life emanating from the US. The US are building an “espionage case” against him and the organization, and public figures there have openly called for Assange’s assassination. Unjust, cruel treatments would be most likely, as we can imagine from Manning’s case and from US practices.
The investigation into him and Wikileaks was confirmed again recently with the revelations that Google has had to hand over to the FBI personal emails and metadata of 3 staffers (see Wikileaks editorial).
Julian Assange, Wikileaks staff and Wikileaks supporters, “the Wikileaks human network”, have indeed long been the targets of an arsenal of strategies essentially devised by the US and its allies to prevent them, and the likes of them now and to come, from publishing troves of truths shedding light on obscure wrongdoings worldwide. Snowden documents have proved this for a fact.
In the same time of the probe into Wikileaks, the alleged sex offences case brought against Assange in Sweden has had him deprived of liberties for over four years, despite still being at a preliminary investigation stage, with Assange not charged with any crime, certainly not rape which he is not even accused of (except by calumniators), nothing, and not trying to escape Swedish justice, contrary to what bad medias have been spinning.
Obviously, Assange’s past 967 dark days stuck inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, and still counting, are the second wave consequence of the multi parties legal struggle evolved into a deadlock, where Sweden plays the lead stalling role and the UK the watchdogs, and where Assange’s right to asylum granted by Ecuador is obstructed.
Indeed, Sweden is still not giving guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the US should he travel to Sweden for the investigation, and the prosecution is still unwilling to opt for alternative modes of questioning, like coming to the Embassy themselves. Severely criticized by human rights organizations and the UN, Sweden has recently, by word of a representative, stated that it sees no issues in indefinite detention without charges, confirming that it has, in the words of Assange, “imported Guantanamo’s most shameful legal practice “(see Wikileaks editorial).
Meanwhile the UK, who in the past, has threatened Ecuador to raid their embassy to grab Assange, still refuses him safe-passage to his host country. The Met Police has spent over 10 million tax payers pounds, admittedly sucking their resources, to have their “crocodiles” in place at all times guarding the building in London, ready to arrest and extradite Assange should he set foot outside. The siege has been described by John Pilger as a farce, no less.
An affront to human rights, their seekers and their defenders, and a disgrace to British legendary sense of humour – to say the least – the BBC produced and now airs, a TV “comedy” show called Asylum, in which “a whistleblower and an internet pirate find themselves trapped together under the threat of extradition in the London embassy of a fictional Latin American country.” Seriously ? It should be noted that a writer of this show has called for Assange assassination by the Met Police on Twitter. PUKE, to say the least.
As Assange spends more time deprived from liberties and sunshine, cut from his family, we worry about his health.
Right now despite the tremendous pressures, Assange is well alive and so is Wikileaks, operational, as proven by their continuing publications and brave actions, notably orchestrating NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s rescue from Hong Kong, in which journalist Sarah Harrison certainly didn’t lack Courage.
We should not be discouraged either and show support by our means as Wikileaks, Assange and his team stand among those at the avant-posts of the freedom of the press, which they firmly and innovatively defend. Their fate, the outcome of their struggles, is determinant for the fate of investigative journalism, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, knowledge of the world we live in, the fate of people.
“Edna was a defenceless elderly lady who died after terrible abuse and neglect in a BUPA care home even though the “BUPA Seven” had notified management. This campaign is dedicated to Edna’s memory and to all those who have suffered or died because a whistle-blower was ignored or too afraid to speak out.”
“Good news! The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system. I want to thank the Department of Justice for having put so much time and energy into advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a grudge against me for the two years of work I put into in bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald, the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I received this very prestigious assignment. Wish me luck!”
and here was his allocution / sentencing statement :
“Good afternoon, Your Honor.
The allocution I give today is going to be a bit different from the sort that usually concludes a sentencing hearing, because this is an unusual case touching upon unusual issues. It is also a very public case, not only in the sense that it has been followed closely by the public, but also in the sense that it has implications for the public, and even in the sense that the public has played a major role, because, of course, the great majority of the funds for my legal defense was donated by the public. And so now I have three duties that I must carry out. I must express my regret, but I must also express my gratitude. And I also have to take this opportunity to ensure that the public understands what has been at stake in this case, and why it has proceeded in the way that it has. Because, of course, the public didn’t simply pay for my defense through its donations, they also paid for my prosecution through its tax dollars. And the public has a right to know what it is paying for. And Your Honor has a need to know what he is ruling on.
“A week before Christmas, a half-dozen guards at the Seagoville Federal Detention Center pulled me from my cell, handcuffed me, and took me to the hole, where I was processed and put in another cell, before being ushered out and placed in the prison’s receiving/departures section to await transport to a different jail, all for reasons that the administration did not quite manage to articulate. The act of suddenly transferring inconvenient inmates is referred to as “diesel therapy.” I noted a few months back that CIA torture-leaker John Kiriakou, who’s also been putting out a column from behind bars, reported being threatened with identical treatment after writing about prison administration misconduct. I, on the other hand, have been the very picture of discretion; it’s not as if I had publicly revealed, for instance, that Thompson, the pudgy white officer at Seagoville known for yelling incoherent threats at black inmates during evening prisoner count, and sometimes even locking them in the showers, is openly affiliated with a Fort Worth gang. So, frankly, I am a little hurt.”
“The most obvious form of prison exploitation in the federal system is UNICOR: Federal Prison Industries, more commonly known as the military sweatshop in nearly every institution. It’s a quasi-public corporation that produces everything from armor plating and camouflage uniforms to office supplies. Because they are not bound by pesky things like minimum wage laws, they are frequently criticized for cutting prices and outbidding other free-world competitors for government contracts. The UNICOR here at FCI Manchester employs hundreds of prisoners sewing all-purpose combat uniforms used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. UNICOR is the highest-paying job on the compound, taking home $50-$200 a month.
In addition, because the BOP does not want to pay for additional officers, prisoners maintain nearly every aspect of the institution ourselves: cooking, food, washing dishes, cutting grass, mopping floors, fixing plumbing and electricity, and so forth. This means that , fortunately, there are other jobs available if you do not want to participate in the imperialist genocidal “war on terrorism.”
Conseils juridiques et pratiques pour les manifs mis à disposition par Paris-Luttes – Que faire lorsque victime ou témoin de violences policières, comment se protéger des effets du gaz, des tirs, quelques précautions prendre dans les communications…