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Assange Released from Custody, Manning Buried Alive"-some reflections on the day

Ciaron O'Reilly | 17.12.2010 08:07

At about 6pm Thursday December 16th., Julian Assange emerged from Britain's HIgh Court on the Strand, London. He had finally been released on bail after nine days in solitary confinement at Wandsworth Prison. Harsher bail conditions were added by the High Court than were imposed days earlier at the Westminister Magistrates Court.

Assange stated,

"There is an ongoing attempt by the US to extradite me to the US and that extradition is much more likely to occur if I am already in Sweden."

He said his Swedish legal team had now been passed evidence relating to the rape charges against him. "There has never been a single page provided to me in English and, until two weeks ago, not a single page whatsoever provided in any form to my Swedish counsel – even in Swedish. This is a clear, clear abuse of process."

Assange later described the rape allegations against him as "a very successful smear campaign and a very wrong one". Speaking on BBC 2's Newsnight, he said information relating to accusations had been leaked either by "the Swedish prosecution service or some organisations that have obtained selective material".

He said: "My lawyers informed me this afternoon there will be another smear attempt relating to this investigation some time tomorrow."

Speaking outside Ellingham Hall later, Assange said his lawyers in Sweden had got hold of 100 pages of material related to the allegations but he had yet to receive a comprehensive English translation.

He said there could also be an attempt by the US to charge him with spying.

"We have heard today from one of my US lawyers, yet to be confirmed, but a serious matter, that there may be a US indictment for espionage for me, coming from a secret US grand jury investigation," he told Sky TV.

"Obviously it is extremely serious, and one of the concerns that we have had since I have been in the UK is whether the extradition proceeding to Sweden, which is occurring in a very strange and unusual way, is actually an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the United States." (Guardian)

Julian is not a free man - electronically tagged, curfewed, daily police reports, his extradition hearings are slated to begin on the 10th. anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo - January 11th. 2011. Whether Julian is in Gitmo or assasinated by the 11th. anniversary remains to be seen?

As Julian emerged it was obvious he had good legal, celebrity and maternal support. Top of the range London based Australian barrister Geoffrey Robinson and articulate defence lawyer Mark Stephens spoke from the steps of the court to a huge international press pack that had waited since morning.. Celebrities (of varying degress of profile and liquid assets) heiress Jemimah Khan, Australian/ London based John Pilger, film director Ken Loach, Australian/London based humanrights activist Peter Tatchell, Bianca Jagger, Nobel
prize winner Sir John Sulston, Lord Evans, an ex-Labour minister and former chairman of Faber & Faber, and the Marchioness of Worcester had helped stump the £220.000 cash bail ....

"For hours, it was far from certain that Assange's supporters and lawyers would manage to get him out in time. They had struggled to track down five more people the judge had approved as guarantors that Assange will observe his strict bail conditions. Some had to go to City of Westminster magistrates to sign the official paperwork and others who were out of London had to go to nominated police stations." (Guardian)

This had slowed down the proceedings, as the snow took its toll on the press pack, supporters and the curious alike outside the High Court. Julian's mother, Christine, who runs a puppet theatre in Noosa Queenalsand/ Australia, was also at the court.

Since Assange self surrendered 10 days earlier, I had prioritised solidarity organising and activism for him and Bradley Manning
now entering his, of a relatively publicly unknown incarceration at Quantico U.S. Marine Base, Virginia USA (having been transfered in chains from Iraq-Kuwait-Virginia) accused of providing the initial leaks for WikiLeaks
- now featuring in John Pilger's ecently released documentary film "The War You Do Not See"

I had rushed to the first bail hearing on Monday Dec 7th.(D7) positioned myself on the ledge of the court street speaking to a captive world press audience and a handful of Assange sympathisers. I spoke about Assange and Manning, media complicity in the war in Afghanistan, the human costs of the war on Iraq Afghnaistan and the soldiers we have sent to prosecute them, the WikLeaks exposure of secret cables from the Dublin Embassy relating to myself & the Pitstop Ploughshares/ "Shannon 5" and my own expereince with politically driven bail rulings (see article below).

Over the past ten daze, I had initiated, organised and participated in the "Australians for Release of Julian Assange" action at the Australian Embassy on the evening of Monday D13.

I had attended the demonstration organised by the "Stop the War Coalition" on Tuesday D14, being moved by the cops after I had returned to my previous perch, I did sporadic street speaking across the road where approx max 100 sympathisers at any given time were assembled.

That evening, I had watched the John Pilger documentary "The War You Do Not See" broadcast nationally on ITV1.

I then pulled an all nighter spamming out the youtube Dave had rapidly assembled on the previous night's action at the Australian Embassy. I knew the youtube would lose much of its gravitas when if/when Julian was released.

I went to our weekly/Wednesday Catholic Worker vigil on the street outside the Dalston Army Recruitment Showroom
Photo of typical vigil
to be pleasantly surprised that it has been "temporarily" shut for the last couple of weeks for refurbishment (even though there is no evidence of work going on...maybe we have won and it will never open again?). We responded rapidly to this knew development, rejigged and turned our presence into a "Release Julian Assange" vigil placing photos of Julian and Bradley Maning with candles on the sidewalk.
Photos of portraits of the anti-war imprisoned


On Thursday morning after doing an interview with an Iranian television station Press TV - located on a floating barge studio on the Thames...very James Bond I thought! %:) - I walked around to the HIgh Court/Strand, London arriving about 11.30 pm. This was the time slated for the appeal to be heard against Julian Assange being granted bail at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday past. As I had arrived for my earlier interview, the Guardian website was announcing that the appeal was being driven by the British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not the Swedish Prosecution! Was this a new development in U.S. stratefy to extradite Assange to the United States?

I stood outside the court Thursday Dec 16th. with the largest press pack I have seen in my life and a very small pool of support and solidaritiy activists. Whereever Wikileaks an it's supporters has its strengths - and it is strong - it is not on the streets! "Anonymous" (probably "not unanimous" and definitely not WikiLeaks) has been the main activism responding to the incarceration of Assange. Like the Irish Republicanism of the '70's - without the boombs and the bullets - the main players of "Anonymous" understandably do not surface at street protests!

I didn't meet any quality street solidarity organisers in my 8 hours standing there outside the High Court. The enthusiastic young people who were there chanting and singing, some eccentricly costumed and masked - bless'em - struck me as quite eccentric and apolitical. I could be wrong in this assessment and I can hear the words "pot", "kettle", "black" coming from you as I write this!

I gathered the young supporters at one point and spoke strongly against one large placard referencing "Swedish honeytraps" with pictures of bees. I told them this placard is counterproductive and it is an issue that does not concern us today in relation to Assange being released from solitary and being granted bail. Their response to me varied then and during the day. I was reluctant to enter the caged pen the police had set up for them. Having spent two years in custody I am reluctant to enter any cage volunarily! They became the media fodder for the huge press pack needing images for their rolling news cycle and seemed to enthusiaticly embrace that role. Theydid not seem mainstream media sceptical or savvy! At times, I made similar interventions into the cage. Street speaking as I had at the previous bail hearings (D8 initial bail appearnace - had handful of people present in solidarity. D14 second bail appearance after a week's promotion by the "Stop the War Coalition" - approx 150 folks pass through in soldiarity!)

In such an over populated metropolis, bail hearings held in central locations of a defendant who dominates the alternative and mainstream media...these were not big numbers by anybody's standards. I have had better support - quantative and qualittaive - numbers at my own court appearnces over the years and I am a relatively marginaised and censored by the media as an anti-war activst.

These experiences have left me with a lot to reflect on........
- the internet as an organising tool? Does the flurry in cyberspace effect people taking action on the treets?
- Is the repsonse of Anonymoous nonviolent?
- Is the Amerikkkan desire to bury Julian Assange alive with Bradley Manning totally vengeance driven as the "cat is already out of the bag" in terms of the leaks past, present and future whether Assange is taken out of the pictire or not? The Americans are still chasing people from the Vietnam War resistance. The British even drew a line with the "Peace Process" under the violent omestic resistance of loyalism and republicanism. Can you eber imagine the U.S. doing that?
- Does "the left"/anti-war organisations/NGO's merely ambulance chase from one mainstream media prioritised event to the next? What is the organised response to the killig by GS4 of Jimmy Mubenga a couple of months ago? Why so poor on the Welsh raised imprisoned Bradley Manning? Are they waiting for the media to tell them Manninng is significant 7 months into probably lifelong incarceration before they mention him at one of their rallies?
- Does the anti-war movement have a clue about real long term solidarity with anti-war prisoners or resisters before the courts?
- Why the celebration of Assange and not Manning by the anti-war movement/ remnant?
- Do we understand that they "are in jail and before the courts for us and we are on the streets for them!" or are we as atomised as the average passive consumer?
- How does one raise the profile of anti-war prisoner/ military resister Bradley Manning?
I'm goin g to need a while and help to process all this through.

In the meantime this is a piece I posted and circulated on the morning of the last bail hearing. It reflects on my personal experience with politically driven bail decisions, appeals against bail granted etc.

Ciaron O'Reilly on Julian Assange - as a victim of a politically driven bail decision. Solidarity with Bradley Manning, nonviolent resistance to the war and building a culture of solidaritiy to sustai the resistance.

In August 2006, the Pitstop Ploughshares/ "Shannon 5" were unanimously acquitted at Dublin's historic Four Courts of
$2.5 million criminal damage to a U.S. war
plane: damage which was inflicted by the anti-war activists on 3rd
February 2003 when the plane was at Shannon Airport Ireland, en route to
the invasion of Iraq. American fury at this acquittal along with Irish
government sycophancy, is the basis of the cable communications:,_Secr..._Eyes

previously served 13 months in U.S. jails and prisons for his
participation in the New Year's Day ANZUS Plowshares

disabling of a B52 Bomber at Griffiss Air Force Base, upstate
New York.

At the conclusion of his sentence June 15th. 1993 , O'Reilly, like
Assange, was the victim of a politically driven bail decision. He was
rearrested immediately by U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) on release from the custody of Bureau of Prisons (BOP). He was
immediately returned to his cell in Oakdale Federal Prison.

At a Federal court bail hearing, held within the prison complex AND
where O'Reilly was represented over the telephone by an immigration
lawyer in Washington DC, $50,000 bail was placed on him for the minor
charge of overstaying a tourist visa and "being guilty of a crime of
moral turpitude". The second charge was in connection to his original
plowshares action which involved, some may say, an "abusive
non-consensual relationship" with a B52 Bomber that was older than he was!

The moral turpitude charge was later dropped by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). A conviction means you are pretty much banned for life from entering
the United States. This is how they banned Charlie Chaplin

This inflated bail sum was, for example, the same amount placed on Sid
Vicious when accused of killing Nancy Spungen and
was 5-10 times higher than bail sums placed on many of O'Reilly's
fellow prisoners in the Oakdale Prison, who had served more jail time
for drug and gun related offences. O'Reilly was released 6 weeks later
after $50,000 bail was paid.

O'Reilly was later to be rearrested by INS and returned to Oakdale. He
was arrested by an INS agent, during an interview he had voluntarily
returned for, when he refused to answer questions about the Berrigan

At a second bail hearing, held before a new Federal Judge later that
week, a reduced bail of $10,000 was placed on O'Reilly. This bail
decision was then appealed by the INS, extending O'Reilly's period in
custody. The appeal failed and he was released again. Following a
deportation hearing in 1993, O'Reilly was deported from the U.S.
(something he often refers to as "the more traditional punishment of
transportation to Australia!") .

O'Reilly is convinced that Julian Assange is now also the victim of a politically
driven bail decision, albeit in the context of a different war 20 years on.]

O'Reilly has served close to 2 years in prison over a 30+ history of
nonviolent anti-war activism. He is very proactive in trying to generate
solidarity for both military and civilian anti-war prisoners.

O'Reilly believes that if 1% of the people who marched against the war
on Feb 15th 2003 had been willing to go to prison as consequence of
nonviolent resistance AND
the other 99% who marched on that day had taken on proactive solidarity
with the jailed resisters (fed the cat, dealt with the hysterical
parents, wrote letters to the prisoners, spread the word, celebrated -
not undermined as happened - the resistance, we could have stopped the
war AND we would still have a buoyant anti-war movement. This movement would have spread quickly from civil society to within th emiltary as id di during the Vietnam War period (see the documentary Sir, No Sir )

Instead, 10 years into this war, we have no popular support for the war
and little visible opposition to it - we have merely an anti-war
remnant. O'Reilly believes that without a developing broader culture of
solidarity there can be no sustained nonviolent anti-war resistance.

In recent months, O'Reilly has been running a solo campaign
in England and Ireland to generate support for Welsh/American Bradley
presently entering his 204th day of military detention (Iraq, Kuwait and
now Quantico) accused of being the WikiLeaks source on U.S. war crimes
in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Letters and postcards to:

Bradley Manning
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave #41
Oakland CA 94610

*Letters will be opened, "contraband" discarded and then mailed weekly
to Bradley via someone on his approved correspondence list

"The poor tell us who we are,
The prophets tell us who we could be,
So we hide the poor,
And kill the prophets."
Phil Berrigan

Ciaron O'Reilly
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