Greens, Wikileaks condemn Manning verdict

The Australian Greens and the Wikileaks Party issued today separate statements condemning the conviction of Bradley Manning, US Private First Class, on 20 charges getting him a sentence of 136 years in jail.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam at the Parliament House in Canberra. (Photo: Australian Greens)

The US court finds Manning guilty of seven out of eight espionage charges, five theft charges, two computer fraud charges, five military counts of violating a lawful general regulation, and one of wanton publication of intelligence on the internet.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam slammed the verdict saying the ruling sets a dangerous precedent for whistleblowers and a free press not only the US but globally. He said the trial has not been fair with many closed sessions and with key documents withheld from Manning.

Bradley Manning, US Private First Class (Photo:Supplied)

The Obama Administration produced 80 witnesses against 10 on Manning’s defence team although he wanted to call on 48 witnesses.

The Greens Senator said Manning has embarrassed US officials for the insecurity of their information systems, for routine and cavalier violations of the Geneva Conventions revealed in the Afghanistan War Logs and Iraq files, and the hubris and poor taste of diplomats revealed through Cablegate. He said this is not damage but “a public service.”

“We are all in Bradley Manning’s debt. He saw wrongs and did not turn away. With his decision to become a whistleblower, he presented some brutal and haunting truths about wars involving Australia which cannot and will not be locked away.

“His trial and treatment now exposes the lack of transparency and accountability we strive for in democracies and the vulnerability of journalists and publishers who are clearly not free to scrutinise powerful institutions as they should.” Senator Ludlam concluded.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks at the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (Photo: News Ltd)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange also criticised the unfair treatment of the case. Speaking from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Assange said Manning’s conviction represents “a dangerous national security extremism”.

“Bradley Manning isn’t guilty of anything in that he’s actually very heroic for demanding government transparency and accountability and exposing the American people and the rest of the world to the crimes committed by the American government,” Assange said.

Meanwhile, the Wikileaks Party released a public statement: The Conviction of Bradley Manning and the Implications for Wikileaks Party Senate Candidate Julian Assange

This is a Statement by WikiLeaks Party Senate Candidates Kellie Tranter (NSW), Gerry Georgatos (WA ) and Leslie Cannold (VIC)

The conviction of Private Bradley Manning at his Pentagon driven trial is the clearest warning of the fate awaiting WikiLeaks founder and WikiLeaks Party Victorian Senate candidate Julian Assange, if he is extradited to the United States.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr should also admit that his statements about Mr Assange not being of interest to the US are palpably false. Julian Assange would face a Grand Jury indictment alleging espionage, treason, and terrorism and face a life sentence locked up in a US jail.

Twenty-five-year-old Manning’s trial made a mockery of the lawful justice system although even it did not agree with the overzealous prosecutorial claim that Manning had ‘aided the enemy’. The media was kept at a distance and under constant surveillance. In the closing days an armed police team patrolled the media centre and searched reporters using hand-held metal detectors.  One striking feature of the prosecutors’ case was that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were the main game in the prosecution of Private Manning.

In evidence and post-trial submissions, prosecutors alleged that Julian Assange was the chief culprit, instigator and distributor of the classified war logs, cables and film footage from US war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Bradley Manning case proves that Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr is lying when he claims repeatedly that Assange is not in any legal danger from US authorities. When Mr Carr says that Washington does not want to extradite Assange from Europe, this is clearly not the case.

Carr, a former journalist with The Bulletin, is a member of the Media and Entertainment Alliance, which is committed to defending Julian Assange’s legal and human rights.

As a union member and a lifelong ALP member, he should be demanding that Washington ends its protracted war against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and give an assurance that he is able to travel abroad without fear of arrest and extradition.

Senator Carr, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Australian Government cannot allow Assange to be treated in the same cruel fashion as Bradley Manning – solitary confinement, torture and a cowboy court process.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Party candidates will contest Senate seats in Victoria, NSW, and WA at the forthcoming federal election.

Unusual political parties up for 2013 federal poll

“Are you a joke party? Not at all! We’re a formally registered party with the Australian Electoral Commission.”

The Pirate Party Australia (PPA) introduces itself as a party of pirates. To elaborate this, a pirate is an adorable character that steals goods from the rich and distributes them to the poor. Pirates are not bad people— they are heroes. The PPA loves to copy and reproduce digital contents–DVD, CD, MP3, computer software, and the list goes on— and wants to share them with the people they love.

Little pirates join the party to support piracy. (Photo: blacknova.com.au)

Registered with Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) early this year, this is what the party is standing for and it is now selecting candidates to contest Senate seats in four states- New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania. The 2013 federal poll is scheduled on September 14. If PPA wins, it will introduce reform bills on copyrights, patents, privacy, surveillance and all other relevant issues related to Internet use. The party said copying and reproducing contents are not crimes but an act of charity and generosity when they are shared with loved ones.

On a more serious note, Brendan Molloy, a lead candidate for NSW stated, “Australia needs strong representatives that actually stand for principles … pushing back on the encroaching surveillance state of data retention and Internet censorship, while offering positive and much needed reform for copyright, digital liberties and civil liberties.”

WLP Founder Julian Assange (Photo: AP)

The WikiLeaks Party (WLP) is also fired up in the campaign. Although registration is yet to be completed, WLP spokespersons Cassie Findlay and Sam Castro said the party  will immediately introduce a national shield law for journalists if the party wins. They said this law will be the ultimate protection for journalists and their sources from any prosecution or intimidation.

“The WLP’s ultimate aim is the constitutional enshrinement of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. We insist on these primary rights to be written into the constitutions of emerging nations, yet they still haven’t been adopted in our own constitution. This historic anomaly has to be addressed and fixed eventually.”

The spokespersons also said WLP gives unconditional support to journalists currently facing court action and severe penalties for refusing to disclose their sources. Findlay adds, “Politicians in a liberal democracy should be the principal custodians of the right to free speech and the freedom of the press.”

Citing super-rich plaintiffs such as mining billionaire Gina Rinehart using the courts to intimidate journalists for doing their job, Findlay said t is high time for the federal parliament to provide journalists with ironclad legal protection.

Meanwhile, GetUp! drew attention early this week with its list of “unheard” political parties who are aiming to run in this year’s election.

In an email, GetUp! clarifies that while some of the parties’ political agenda resonate with what GetUp has been fighting for, it is not endorsing any party.

Anti-seam coal gas rally down King Street, Newtown NSW. (Photo: Dan Himbrechts/ The Daily Telegraph)

Listed are:

  • Stop Coal Seam Gas – ”This party will work to protect communities and farmland from invasive coal seam gas mining by pressuring government to ban CSG.”
  • Single Parents’ Party – “Parenting is hard. Especially for the 950,000 single parent families living in Australia. Its becoming even harder as the government continues to cut support for single parents and their children. We will advocate to reverse the cuts that are forcing families like ours below the poverty line.”

Lamington cake for the Lamington Party

  • The Lamington Party – “For Australia… where the regional cities are connected to the capitals … our government is a case study for democracy and efficiency… and one where we all have a strong social safety net and equal opportunity to succeed in life.”
  • Voluntary Euthanasia Party – “Over four in five Australians are in favour of new legislation and we wish to allow that sentiment to be clearly demonstrated at the ballot box. The Voluntary Euthanasia Party aims to ensure dignity in the final years of life, by raising the profile of this issue in order to engender the necessary political will for change.”
  • Australian Sovereignty Party – Stand for “no carbon tax”, “no personal income tax”, and “no GST”; “no more wide open borders”, and “no treaties without referendums,” among other policies.
  • The Future Party – “The Future Party is a new movement of people who are dedicated to thinking of long term solutions to advance our society. The Future Party believes quality of life is improved primarily through technological developments, sourced through a scientific approach to knowledge in the context of democracy and peace.”
  • WikiLeaks Party – “The WikiLeaks Party stands for unswerving commitment to the core principles of civic courage nourished by understanding and truthfulness and the free flow of information.”
  • Palmer United Party – Clive Palmer’s party with policies including “Abolish carbon tax;” “ensure refugees are given opportunities;” “creating mineral wealth;” and “develop right across Australia where the wealth is.”

Clive Palmer with Jim Mclnally and Sisie Douglas announcing the United Australia Party in Brisbane, 26 April. (Photo: Mark Calleja/ goldcoast.com.au)

The Rise Up Australia Party has already got its fair share of media attention in February during its launch in Canberra’s National Press Club. It is now rallying more immigrants and voters to become more Australians. Founder Pastor Daniel Nalliah has said immigrants should “adapt” to the Australian way of life: Australia for Australians!

Full party list HERE.

Assange’s bid for Senate gains momentum

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is still holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, but he has announced his absentee bid for Senate to represent the State of Victoria in the coming September 14 federal poll.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks at the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (Photo: News Ltd)

The WikiLeaks Party announced Assange’s decision over the weekend following the party ‘s first national council meeting held in Fitzroy, Melbourne. The campaign is headed by a former Australian Republican Movement head and barrister Greg Barns, who the UK-based Telegraph describes as a “high-profile opponent of the monarchy.”

The party will field high-profile Senate candidates in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. In NSW and WA, the party is already confident that “support for WikiLeaks is strong.” WikiLeaks will announce the candidates after they have been endorsed, Barns said. National Council Member Cassey Findlay added other spokespeople on policy issues will be appointed in the coming weeks. The party will focus on winning Senate seats in all three states.

Supporters of Julian Assange gather at BMW Edge, Federation Square in Melbourne to rally for his safe return home in 2010. (Photo: R Yoon/the Green Journo)

From London, Assange said he is happy with the momentum the party has already achieved. The party also hinted that Assange is encouraged by the progress of the campaign and the support it is getting in Australia.

Topping the Party’s agenda is to promote transparency, truthfulness and the free flow of information on government and politics founded on WikiLeaks principles.

National Council Member Findlay said:

“The WikiLeaks Party is committed to practising in politics what WikiLeaks has done in the field of information, by promoting transparency, truthfulness and the free flow of information”. These, she said, are “fundamental to rational decision making and just outcomes, and they are increasingly missing from the Australian political landscape.”

The party is in the process of completing registration with the Australian Electoral Commission, needing at least 500 members. Assange has urged Australian voters to join the party. “Let us take the fight to Canberra,” he said.

Poster outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (Photo: Will Oliver/AFP/Getty Images)

Party spokeswoman Sam Castro said:

We are getting a strong stream of applications to join the Party in recent weeks and to assist in our Federal Election campaign.  What is pleasing is that support is coming from people who have either previously not been involved in politics, or who have previously supported one of the major political parties in Australia.

The Ecuadorian government granted Assange asylum in June last year while on the run facing sexual charges involving two women in Sweden. He has been on the watch list of the US since WikiLeaks leaked cables on the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010. Speculation has it that the Sweden charges could be a ploy to extradite Assange to the US.

Prior to the granting of asylum, prominent Americans urged Ecuador to accept Assange’s asylum request. Michael Moore, Oliver Stone and Noam Chomsky were among the signatories to a letter sent to Ecuador’s embassy in London, Reuters reported.

Greens Senator Christine Milne welcomes the  WikiLeaks challenge in Victoria, although she said Assange’s prospects of winning are a long shot. The Greens have been staunch supporters of Assange’s repatriation to Australia.

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