Quantcast
Connect with us

U.S. denies Julian Assange’s claims of WikiLeaks witch-hunt

Published

on

WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday denied Julian Assange’s “wild assertions” that it has launched a witch-hunt for the WikiLeaks founder, who was holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition.

The Australian-born hacktivist rallied supporters Sunday from the balcony of the embassy, accusing the United States of pursuing him after his website angered Washington by publishing a trove of sensitive diplomatic cables.

ADVERTISEMENT

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the United States had nothing to do with efforts by Britain to extradite Assange, who is wanted for questioning by Sweden on allegations of rape and molestation.

“He is making all kinds of wild assertions about us when in fact his issue with the government of the United Kingdom has to do with whether he’s going to face justice in Sweden for something that has nothing to do with WikiLeaks, it has to do with charges of sexual misconduct,” Nuland told reporters.

“He is clearly trying to deflect attention away from the real issue, which is whether he’s going to face justice in Sweden,” she told reporters.

“That case has nothing to do with us. It’s a matter between the UK, Sweden and now Ecuador has inserted itself,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nuland, in an exchange with reporters, later clarified that Assange was not charged in Sweden but was wanted for questioning. Two female WikiLeaks volunteers in Sweden have accused Assange of the sexual misconduct.

Assange says that the accusations are politically motivated and that he would eventually be extradited to the United States. He says the sex was consensual.

“I ask President (Barack) Obama to do the right thing — the United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks,” the 41-year-old Australian told some 200 supporters and hordes of journalists from the embassy balcony.

ADVERTISEMENT

Assange has spent two months inside the embassy, which occupies a small part of a red-brick mansion block in an upscale section of London. British authorities could arrest him if he steps outside.

Nuland, in line with previous US statements, declined comment on the scope of US prosecution over WikiLeaks. A military court is trying Bradley Manning, a young soldier suspected of leaking the documents to the activist website.

Assange called for the United States to release Manning, saying he was being treated harshly in detention.

ADVERTISEMENT

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Ernesto Mendez, in March said that Manning had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading” conditions including prolonged detention. A previous State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, resigned last year after criticizing Manning’s treatment.

WikiLeaks angered the United States by releasing tens of thousands of classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as often unflattering reports of US diplomats’ views on world leaders.

Ecuador’s left-leaning president, Rafael Correa, has offered asylum to Assange, citing the possibility of US prosecution. Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the South American nation hoped to resolve the case through dialogue.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Heading to the International Court of Justice in The Hague would be the path to take after that,” Patino told Ecuadoran TV network Gama.

Foreign ministers of the Union of South American Nations, meeting in Ecuador’s biggest city Guayaquil, expressed “solidarity” Sunday with the decision to grant asylum.

The nations also declared support for Quito over the “threat of violation of its diplomatic mission,” a reference to Britain highlighting an obscure 1987 law under which its police could enter the embassy and extract Assange.

ADVERTISEMENT

Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said Britain was “obliged” to carry out the extradition to Sweden after Assange exhausted all appeal options.

“It is our intention to carry out that obligation,” the spokesman said.

“We will continue talking to the Ecuadoran government and others to try to find a diplomatic solution,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The spokesman did not refer directly to the speech by Assange, who credited public support with preventing a raid on the embassy and said he heard police “swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape” on Saturday.

A handful of protesters have camped outside of Britain’s consulate in New York, holding banners such as “Telling the truth is not reason.”

“We plan on staying until Julian Assange gets out of the embassy,” said 23-year-old activist Adam Peck.

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Mnuchin begs Chris Wallace: Take the president ‘very literally’ except on being ‘the chosen one’

Published

on

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that Americans should take President Donald Trump's hyperbolic comments "very literally" -- but he allowed for some exceptions.

During an interview on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that Trump had recently "ordered" companies not to do business with China.

"When the president says something, how seriously, how literally should we take it?" Wallace asked.

"I think most of the time, you should take it very literally," Mnuchin insisted. "I think sometimes he says things that are meant to be a joke."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

Published

on

Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

Published

on

They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
HELP US UNCOVER CORRUPTION!
close-link
close-image