Western Politics

The Price of Truth: Assange and Snowden as Heroes of Civil Disobedience

Two Truth Researchers Bear the Burden for Us All

Introduction by Kennedy Applebaum
Quemado Institute
October 29, 2015

Keep in mind who the guilty are.
It is the US Government that has broken its own laws.

Civil disobedience, a cause made famous by Henry David Thoreau, has inspired many notable figures, including Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi (a.k.a. Mahatma Gandhi), American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., existentialist Martin Buber, author Leo Tolstoy, American President John F. Kennedy, US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and writers Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, and William Butler Yeats.

Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and American top-secret information researcher Edward Snowden are modern warriors at the forefront of the cause. Public recognition of their moral service, now long overdue, is slowly emerging among factions of the establishment, as the following accounts reveal.

European Parliament Demands an End to Persecution of Snowden
Guest Article

Sputnik News
October 29, 2015

Edward Snowden (--gizmodo.com)

Edward Snowden (–gizmodo.com)

The European Parliament adopted a resolution Thursday, calling the EU states to end any persecution of whistleblower Edward Snowden and give him protection. “By 285 votes to 281, MEPs decided to call on EU member states to drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender,” the press service said in a statement. In the same resolution, the EU parliament raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.

Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, released in 2013 a trove of classified documents detailing bulk US intelligence data collection in the United States, Europe and many other targets around the world.

Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia in August 2013, before receiving a three-year residency permit from the country the following year. In the United States, he may face up to 30 years in prison on espionage charges for his revelations of the depth of illegal surveillance activities by the US intelligence community.

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European Parliament: Edward Snowden Should be Granted
Asylum as a ‘Human Rights Defender’
Guest Article by Paul Sawyers

VentureBeat
October 29, 2015

European Parliamen (--debanat.ro)

European Parliamen (–debanat.ro)

NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden should not face criminal charges and should be granted protection as a “human rights defender” against extradition from Europe, according to a vote by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

In a vote of 285 to 281, MEPs — made up of representatives from the 28 constituent European Union states — called on all E.U. countries to “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender.”

Edward Snowden (--Barton Gellman/Washington Post)

Edward Snowden (–Barton Gellman/Washington Post)

Snowden has been living in Moscow since June 2013, with most countries around the world refusing him asylum. But with increasing pressure from within Europe to change the way the E.U. cooperates with the U.S. in terms of sharing data, which recently led to the quashing of the Safe Harbor Pact, attention has clearly been drawn back to Snowden. Indeed, it was Snowden’s actions in 2013 — revealing details on government snooping programs and other confidential information — that kickstarted the global debate on online privacy.

In a press release issued today, the European Parliament stressed its concerns about mass surveillance, saying that “too little has been done to safeguard citizens’ fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance.”

It’s worth noting that today’s vote is not a final resolution. MEPs have the right to put questions to the European Commission and the Council of the European Union and vote to achieve consensus, which is what they have done. Whether member countries take note is an entirely different issue.

However, it is a noteworthy turn of events, one that Snowden himself was keen to point out.

Separately, the MEPs urged the E.U. Commission to “ensure that all data transfers to the U.S. are subject to a ‘effective level of protection,’” a resolution that was voted in favor of by 342 to 274. The resolution expresses concern about the lack of action taken by Europe following recommendations issued by the European Parliament in 2014 on the electronic mass surveillance of E.U. citizens, which were a direct result of Snowden’s revelations.

MEPs ask the Commission to: Take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the US are subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU.

While there may be a growing army of Snowden-supporting politicians in Europe, it’s not likely he’ll be able to return to the U.S. anytime soon without fear of prosecution. Indeed, he’s currently up against at least three charges under the Espionage Act, and the White House recently rejected a We the People petition to pardon him.

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George Galloway, Oxford Union, October 2015 (--youtube.com)

George Galloway at Oxford Union, October 23, 2015

Meanwhile, British politician, broadcaster, writer and former Member of Parliament George Galloway has claimed, during an appearance at the Cambridge Union Society, that Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange should receive the Nobel Prize. “… Julian Assange should receive the Nobel Peace Prize, He has performed a service to the world and to those with enquiring minds,” said Galloway. “I am therefore glad the Cambridge students did what they should have done in the referendum in the last few days and he will be able to speak to you for himself.” The referendum Galloway refers to allows Assange to speak in a debate with the Cambridge Union Society, the largest society at Cambridge University, as described in the following account:

Cambridge Union Members Vote to Invite Julian Assange to Speak
Guest Article by Chris Elliot

Cambridge News
October 23, 2015

Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy, London. (--Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. (–Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Student members of the Cambridge Union Society have voted 3 to 1 to host a debate featuring controversial Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Nearly 1,500 members voted in the referendum on the issue, with 76.9 per cent saying yes, and 23.1 per cent saying no. It means Mr Assange, who was granted political asylum and has been living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2013 following accusations of sexual offences in Sweden, will speak in a debate on November 11.

He will not be there in person however – it will be done by weblink.

The invitation from the Union Society to Mr Assange has prompted controversy among members, with many feeling strongly that he should not be given a platform to speak. The members’ referendum was held yesterday, and the Union tweeted today: “We can officially confirm that with 1,463 votes cast – AYE: 76.9%, NAY: 23.1%. Thus the Union will host Julian Assange on November 11th.”

Earlier, Oliver Mosley, president of the Union, said: “Considering the unique nature of Mr Assange’s position, in that the UK Supreme Court has approved his extradition to Sweden to face charges of lesser degree rape but he has refused to come to trial or indeed be questioned; the decision has been taken to consult the entire membership of the Union around the world on the platforming of him as a speaker during Michaelmas term.”

After the vote, he said: “With record turnout, they have clearly stated that they believe the Union should host Assange. The unique nature of this situation means that this does not set a precedent for future invitations, but this matter has now been decided. “The format of the coming event will be announced closer to the time, and the union will ensure that it can act as a platform for those that wish to criticise or question, as has been the case so many times in the past. ”

Mr Assange launched Wikileaks, which publishes confidential documents and images, to expose government and corporate misconduct. The US authorities want to question him over the release of secret and sensitive military documents, which they say has endangered American lives all over the world. He is also sought by Sweden to answer the lesser degree rape allegation. Mr Assange, who fears being extradited from Sweden to the US, says the encounters were consensual.

Mr Assange was due to appear via video link at the Union in November 2012, although that was cancelled for “technical reasons”. His appearance then was bitterly opposed by women’s groups at the university, who said it was an “insult to survivors of rape”.

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Cambridge Union (--conferencecambridge.com)

Cambridge Union Society (–conferencecambridge.com)

The Cambridge Union Society, commonly referred to as “the Cambridge Union” or “the Union”, is a debating society in Cambridge, England, and the largest society at the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1815, the Union is the oldest continually operating debating society in the world. [–Wikipedia]

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One thought on “The Price of Truth: Assange and Snowden as Heroes of Civil Disobedience

  1. Is there a statute of limitations on the charges against Assange? Will he be free after that?

    Like

    Posted by Connected | November 8, 2015, 9:19 pm

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