Radio: I Discuss the Prospects for Guantánamo’s Closure Under Joe Biden with Scott Horton

The Scott Horton Show, and Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantánamo outside the White House on Jan. 11, 2020.

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On Friday, I was delighted to discuss the prospects for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay under Joe Biden with the indefatigable Scott Horton, who always, flatteringly, refers to me as “the heroic Andy Worthington.” Scott and I have spoken on many dozens of occasions since 2007, and you can find our latest interview here as an MP3 or below via YouTube.

“Indefatigable” has to be the most apt description of Horton, who has conducted over 5,500 interviews since 2003, and has also found the time to write two books, 2017’s “Fools Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan,” and the recently published “Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.”

Nearly 20 years into Guantánamo’s existence, we ran briefly through the failures of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump to close the prison — with several minutes spent discussing the Obama years — before bringing the story up to date with Joe Biden, the fourth president to be in charge of the prison.

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A Call to Free Julian Assange on the 10th Anniversary of WikiLeaks’ Release of the Guantánamo Files

A composite image of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in British custody, and the logo for “The Guantánamo Files,” released ten years ago today.

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Ten years ago today, I was working with WikiLeaks as a media partner — working with the Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais, Aftonbladet, La Repubblica and L’Espresso — on the release of “The Guantánamo Files,” classified military documents from Guantánamo that were the last of the major leaks of classified US government documents by Chelsea Manning, following the releases in 2010 of the “Collateral Murder” video, the Afghan and Iraq war logs, and the Cablegate releases.

All the journalists and publishers involved are at liberty to continue their work — and even Chelsea Manning, given a 35-year sentence after a trial in 2013, was freed after President Obama commuted her sentence just before leaving office — and yet Julian Assange remains imprisoned in HMP Belmarsh, a maximum-security prison in south east London, even though, in January, Judge Vanessa Baraitser, the British judge presiding over hearings regarding his proposed extradition to the US, prevented his extradition on the basis that, given the state of his mental health, and the oppressive brutality of US supermax prisons, the US would be unable to prevent him committing suicide if he were to be extradited.

That ought to have been the end of the story, but instead of being freed to be reunited with his partner Stella Moris, and his two young sons, Judge Baraitser refused to grant him bail, and the US refused to drop their extradition request, announcing that they would appeal, and continuing to do so despite Joe Biden being inaugurated as president. This is a black mark against Biden, whose administration should have concluded, as the Obama administration did (when he was Vice President), that it was impossible to prosecute Assange without fatally undermining press freedom. As Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation stated in April 2019, “Despite Barack Obama’s extremely disappointing record on press freedom, his justice department ultimately ended up making the right call when they decided that it was too dangerous to prosecute WikiLeaks without putting news organizations such as the New York Times and the Guardian at risk.”

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Video: I Discuss the Right to Protest, Guantánamo and the Plight of Julian Assange with Team Assange

A screenshot of Andy Worthington being interviewed by Alison Mason of Team Assange on March 20, 2021, discussing the UK government’s attempts to suppress peaceful protest, Guantánamo and the case of Julian Assange.

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I’m pleased to be posting a video of an interview I undertook recently with the London-based activists of Team Assange, who have a primary focus on the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but are also concerned with many other issues of social justice in the UK and around the world.

The interview came about after I met some of those involved with Team Assange in Parliament Square as part of the protests that followed the heavy-handed and astonishingly insensitive behaviour of the police at a peaceful vigil on Clapham Common for Sarah Everard, and that also coincided with the second reading, in the House of Commons, of the government’s horrible Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, with its intention of criminalising non-violent protest, and its assault on the rights of Gypsies and Travellers. For my recent articles on these topics, see The Dangerous Authoritarian Threat Posed by Priti Patel to Our Right to Protest and Dissent and Rise Up! How Protest Movements Define the Limits of Covid Lockdowns, and the Perils of Covid Denial.

My interview, with Alison Mason of Team Assange, starts 15 minutes into the one-hour programme, which also features an interview with Action4Assange activist Misty in Washington, D.C., and lasts for 20 minutes. I’ve posted it below, via YouTube, and I hope you have time to watch it, and will share it if you find it useful.

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Video: I Talk to Kevin Gosztola About Guantánamo on the 19th Anniversary of Its Opening — and Julian Assange

A screenshot of Andy Worthington’s interview with Kevin Gosztola of Shadowproof on Jan. 11, 2021, the 19th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo.

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Yesterday, on the 19th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, I was delighted when Kevin Gosztola of Shadowproof got in touch to request an interview to be livestreamed on his YouTube channel.

We spoke for just over half an hour, covering Guantánamo for the first 24 minutes, in which I had the opportunity to explain in detail where we are, 19 long and shameful years since the prison opened, and four depressing years since Donald Trump promised there would be no releases from Guantánamo, and, with one exception, was true to his word.

For the 40 men still held at Guantánamo, it is impossible for their situation to be worse under Joe Biden than it was under Trump, and Kevin and I discussed what progress there might be under Biden after he takes office in a week’s time — releasing the six men already approved for release, and, with his control of both the Senate and the House, being able to reverse Republican prohibitions on bringing anyone to the US mainland for any reason — whether for urgent medical treatment that is unavailable at Guantánamo, or to face trials, in the federal court system, as opposed to the broken military commissions at Guantánamo.

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As UK Judge Denies Julian Assange Bail, It’s Time for Joe Biden to Drop the US Extradition Request

A supporter of Julian Assange outside the Old Bailey in London on October 1, 2020, the last day of his extradition hearing. The balloons were part of an initiative celebrating the 14th anniversary of the founding of WikiLeaks, on October 4 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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Today, at Westminster Magistrates Court, just two days after ruling that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the US, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to grant him bail, consigning him to ongoing imprisonment in the maximum-security Belmarsh prison in south east London.

On Monday, at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey), Judge Baraitser refused to allow the extradition to proceed, ruling that his life would be at risk in a US supermax prison. Judge Baraitser accepted expert testimony and evidence, given during his extradition hearings in September and October, that Assange has Asperger’s Syndrome and has expressed suicidal ideations, and that the US authorities would be unable to prevent him from committing suicide in a supermax prison, a decision with precedents in the cases of Gary McKinnon and Lauri Love, whose extradition was also prevented by British judges.

Assange must now await a possible appeal against Monday’s ruling, with Judge Baraitser recognizing the US government’s right to do so when she stated today that, “As a matter of fairness, the US must be allowed to challenge my decision.”

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Judge Refuses to Allow WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange’s Extradition to the US, Citing Suicide Risk

Longtime Julian Assange supporter Elsa Collins near the Old Bailey today, January 4, 2021, after District Judge Vanessa Baraitser unexpectedly prevented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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In a totally unexpected ruling in the Old Bailey this morning, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US to proceed, on the basis that, as court-watcher Kevin Gosztola described it in a tweet, she was “satisfied that procedures described by [the] US would not prevent Assange from finding a way to commit suicide in [a] US supermax prison.”

Gosztola added, powerfully, “The United States government’s mass incarceration system just lost them their case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”

In an unjust world in which good news seems to be in ever dwindling supply, this is extraordinarily good news. The US has 14 days to appeal, but it is uncertain if they will do so, as the mental health and suicide risk argument is essentially unassailable, and has been used effectively before — in the cases of Gary McKinnon and Lauri Love, who both have Asperger’s Syndrome. Julian’s Asperger’s has, to my mind, rarely been adequately recognized before, until it was diagnosed by an expert witness in his extradition hearing in September, which now seems to have played a key role in preventing his extradition.

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Radio: I Discuss Hopes for Guantánamo’s Closure Under Joe Biden, and Julian Assange’s Extradition, with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

A composite image of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on the day it opened, January 11, 2002, and WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

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Chris Cook, in Victoria, British Columbia, hosts a great weekly progressive radio show, Gorilla Radio, and I’m delighted to have been talking to him on a regular basis — mostly about Guantánamo — for many years now.

I spoke to Chris recently for an hour, and you can find the show on his website here, and also here as an MP3. A shorter version of the interview was included in the show that was broadcast on December 17, featuring journalist and author John Helmer in the first half (and the MP3 of that show is here).

I began by providing a brief history of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, which will mark the shameful 19th anniversary of its opening in just three weeks’ time, and I stressed how, under Donald Trump, the prison has essentially been sealed shut for the last four years. Bearing that in mind, there is now hope that, at the very least, some of the remaining 40 prisoners will be freed, and there will progress towards the prison’s closure.

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Radio: My One-Hour Interview With Peter B. Collins About Closing Guantánamo, and Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing

Andy Worthington marking 6,900 days of the existence of the prison at Guantánamo Bay and calling on President Elect Joe Biden to close it, on December 1, 2020, and a campaigner calling for an end to the proposed extradition to the US of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, outside the Old Bailey in London on October 1, 2020.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! This week is my latest quarterly fundraising week, and I’m trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

Last week I was honoured to be asked by the veteran talk radio host Peter B. Collins to take part in what is being billed as his ‘Last Interview’ series, as he retires from regular broadcasting after a 47-year career which began with him covering Watergate when he was just 19.

The show is available here, and here as an MP3 — and as this is my quarterly fundraising week, please be aware that I don’t receive any payment for my various TV and radio appearances, so if you can help with a donation, to enable me to keep writing about, campaigning about and talking about Guantánamo (and other human rights issues) across a variety of media, it will be very greatly appreciated!

Peter first interviewed me about Guantánamo — if I recall correctly, gazing back into the mists of time — back in 2009, and we have spoken many times since, as he largely moved from hosting talk radio shows into running his own subscriber-based podcasts.

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Radio: I Discuss The Future of Guantánamo Under Joe Biden with Andy Bungay and Colin Crilly in South London

A screenshot from Mixcloud of Andy Bungay’s show ‘The Chiminea’ on Riverside Radio in Battersea on November 22, 2020, also featuring Colin Crilly.

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On Saturday, I was delighted to take part in a remotely recorded radio show for Riverside Radio, a community station in Battersea, with Andy Bungay, who hosts ‘The Chiminea’, the 11pm to 2am slot on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and his colleague Colin Crilly.

Our interview starts about 27 minutes into the two-hour show, which is available on Mixcloud here, and Andy began by playing ‘This Time We Win’, a recently released eco-anthem by my band The Four Fathers, recorded with and featuring the great Charlie Hart on keyboards.

I then introduced myself, particularly mentioning my Guantánamo work, which I’ve been undertaking for the last 15 years, and my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’ We talked about the successful campaign to secure the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who was held for 14 years without charge or trial, but was eventually released five years ago, on October 30, 2015, as I noted on Facebook, following up with a photo from a Parliamentary reception for Shaker, hosted by Jeremy Corbyn, which took place on November 17, 2015.

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Video: I Discuss the Guantánamo Files Released by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing with Action4Assange and Juan Passarelli

A screenshot of the Action4Assange show on October 17, 2020, featuring guests Andy Worthington and Juan Passarelli.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

On Saturday, I was delighted to take part in a wide-ranging discussion about my role as a witness in the hearings regarding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s proposed extradition to the US, and the classified military files from Guantánamo that were released in 2011, on which I worked as a media partner.

The show — for the campaigning organization Action4Assange — was hosted by Steve Poikonen and Kendra Christian, and my fellow guest was Juan Passarelli, the filmmaker whose recent, 38-minute film about Assange, The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange, I promoted in an article last week.

The show was streamed live, and recorded for YouTube. It starts around 12 and a half minutes in, and runs for nearly two hours, and you can check it out below.

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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