Radio: As Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Begins, I Discuss Guantánamo and WikiLeaks with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

4.5.19

WikiLeaks’ logo and the logo for the 2011 release of the Guantánamo files.

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On Thursday, I was delighted to take part in a half-hour interview with Chris Cook for his Gorilla Radio show in Victoria, Canada to talk about the recent eighth anniversary of the release, by WikiLeaks, of the “Guantánamo Files” leaked by Chelsea Manning, on which I worked as a media partner, and which I wrote about here.

Our interview is here, as an MP3 (or here via Chris’s website), and it took up the first half of the show, lasting 30 minutes.

As I explained when I posted a link to the show on Facebook, “Despite the fact that Guantánamo is still open, that 40 men are still held there, and that Donald Trump has no interest in closing it, even though it is a legal, moral and ethical abomination with no redeeming features whatsoever, I rarely get asked to discuss it anymore, so I’d like to thank Chris Cook for having me on his Gorilla Radio show.”

As well as discussing how I came to be involved in the release of the “Guantánamo Files,” and the significance of the files — which, as I described it in my article, “revealed the extent to which the supposed evidence at Guantánamo largely consisted of statements made by unreliable witnesses, who told lies about their fellow prisoners, either because they were tortured or otherwise abused, or bribed with the promise of better living conditions” — we also discussed Julian Assange’s current situation since the Ecuadorian government withdrew the asylum it granted him nearly seven years ago — his 50-week prison sentence for his 2012 bail violation, delivered on Wednesday, and his hearing regarding his proposed US extradition, which began on Thursday. 

Speaking by video link from Belmarsh prison, Assange, as the Guardian explained, “declined a chance to consent to his extradition to the US” as the hearing began. “I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many, many awards and protected many, many people,” he said.

On Friday the UN also weighed in. As the Guardian noted, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) — which “has twice previously called for Assange to be freed, after it judged his confinement to the Ecuadorian embassy by the threat of arrest should he leave amounted to arbitrary detention” — said it was “deeply concerned by the ‘disproportionate sentence’ imposed on Assange for violating the terms of his bail, which it described as a ‘minor violation.’”

In a statement, the Working Group stated that they regretted that the British  government “has not complied with its opinion and has now furthered the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange,” adding, “It is worth recalling that the detention and the subsequent bail of Mr .Assange in the UK were connected to preliminary investigations initiated in 2010 by a prosecutor in Sweden. It is equally worth noting that that prosecutor did not press any charges against Mr. Assange and that in 2017, after interviewing him in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, she discontinued investigations and brought an end to the case.”

“The Working Group added that the were “further concerned that Mr. Assange has been detained since 11 April 2019 in Belmarsh prison, a high-security prison, as if he were convicted for a serious criminal offence. This treatment appears to contravene the principles of necessity and proportionality envisaged by the human rights standards,” and they then reiterated their recommendation to the British government that “the right of Mr Assange to personal liberty should be restored.”

Chris and I also discussed how disgusting and disgraceful it is that a racist like Donald Trump is in charge of Guantánamo, 17 years after it opened, and is determined to keep it open, when what is really needed after all this time is a leader capable of understanding the damage it has caused and is still causing to America’s moral standing on every level.

I hope you have time to listen to the show, and that you will share it if you find it useful.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to and discussing my recent half-hour radio interview with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio in Victoria, Canada, in which we discussed the eighth anniversary of the release of classified military files relating to the Guantanamo prisoners by WikiLeaks.

    We also discussed the situation faced by Julian Assange since he was arrested in the UK after Ecuador withdrew the asylum it granted him nearly seven years ago – a 50-week sentence for breaking his bail conditions, and the start of his US extradition hearing, in which he stated, “I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many, many awards and protected many, many people.”

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia R Scott wrote:

    Thank you, Andy. It’s really important to keep writing and talking about Assange. And informing the people with accurate information. Also, highlighting the amazing things he has done, like the release of this files. What has been done to him it’s not only cruel and unjust, but it’s a horrible witch hunt by the monstrous American government that Obomber started and now Trump will seek to finish. I’m sure he will be extradited.
    And none of the criminals he exposed have been held accountable and never will!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Natalia – and we all need to keep shining a light on Chelsea Manning’s situation too.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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