Julian Assange and COP26
31 October 2021
Julian Assange faces a 175 year prison sentence in the United States for publishing documents, including those which exposed wilful, or otherwise reckless, sabotage of climate action during prior climate change summits.
Targeted surveillance of negotiators, cabinet ministers, heads of state and even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was also exposed by cables revealed by Assange, and are among the documents the US is charging him for receiving and publishing.
Assange’s environmental publications have created the political impetus for the US government to go after Assange, but he is also formally charged over his role in publishing the cables that contain these very revelations - and which account for 50 years of the sentence.
A full-frontal assault on the freedom of the press and the public’s right to know
The WikiLeaks publisher is being prosecuted for, among other things, informing the public about the ways in which powerful nations have undermined meaningful action in the face of a climate crisis.
The US indictment represents a full-frontal assault on the public’s right to impart and receive information; thereby undermining the very basis of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the First Amendment to the US constitution.
In September of this year, it was revealed that the CIA drew up plans to kidnap or assassinate Assange after he published documents revealing how the spy agency targets iPhones, Androids and other devices, from a covert CIA hacker base in the US consulate in Frankfurt.
The multi-award-winning journalist remains incarcerated in Belmarsh prison in the UK, in pre-trial detention, separated from his wife and two young children.
On 4 January 2021, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the US government’s extradition request on the grounds that extradition would be “oppressive” and would result in his death.
Nobody should face a single day in prison, let alone a life sentence, for their journalistic work which, in this case, has helped to inform environmental activists and civil society organisations the world over.
The prosecution against Julian Assange is an attack on the publics right to know - the truth about the environment, and our future, and what powerful countries want to keep hidden from the public.
Although Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are perhaps best known for the release of the Afghanistan Diaries, Iraq War logs, and Guantanamo Bay detainee files the materials published by the award-winning investigative news outlet go far beyond this.
As the latest climate change summit, COP 26, due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, fast approaches, it is worth remembering some of the key environment-related documents published by Assange.
Such revelations as government spying and surveillance of diplomats and negotiators. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, drafted a detailed “human intelligence” directive calling on all manner of biographical and even biometric data (e.g. fingerprints, DNA) belonging to UN workers to be obtained.
Spying and surveillance is done in order to gain a competitive edge between countries. During environmental summits, human and electronic intelligence gathering methods are used in order to determine what the bargaining positions of even ‘friendly’ governments are. An NSA intercepted conversation between German and Japanese diplomats, for example, revealed that the US was pressuring the Germans to drop their demand for a 25-45% reduction in carbon emissions, and that the lobbying would likely be successful.
Spying is also being used to help bribe, blackmail or coerce governments into acting as desired. Meanwhile, even as climate negotiations proceed from year to year, separate treaty negotiations such as TPP, TTIP and TiSA, all have provisions that would preference the rights of corporations over the ability of governments to protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy.
Diplomatic cables published by Assange also exposed that an environmental “marine reserve” pushed by the UK government in the Chagos Islands was actually designed to prevent the people of those Islands from ever returning (the British government forcibly removed the Chagos Islanders from their homes against their will in the 1960s and 70s). The UK was admonished by the International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly, its greenwashing of a major colonial crime was exposed thanks to the cable.
Worrying developments, such as the melting of the polar ice caps, are shown in other cables, as offering positive economic opportunities to US, Russian and European government ministers who see “new shipping routes” and the possibility of previously infeasible resource. A former Danish foreign minister described the new mood optimistically as a scramble to “carve up” the Arctic.
Serious corruption and “neocolonial exploitation” of mining resources by multinational corporations was also laid bare by documents focusing on the Central African Republics mining resources. As was a suppressed report into the devastating toxic dumping of waste in the Ivory Coast by commodities trader Trafigura.
All this and more has been brought to light by documents revealed by Julian Assange and then provided to the public at large.
Topics covered by WikiLeaks releases
COP 15 agreement draft text first published by Julian Assange
Government manipulation of countries into accepting their climate strategy
Spying and surveillance to gain advantages commonplace in prior climate discussions
Geopolitics interfering with a science-based and cooperative approach to tackling climate change
US uses its economic position to lobby/coerce countries to accept genetically modified foods
Melting Arctic due to Global Warming seen as opportunity for oil drilling
Middle-range powers also sought to water down climate accords
‘Environmental protection’ used to disguise ulterior motives: The ‘marine reserve’ in Diego Garcia
Pollution is seen as a tradeable commodity
China opposed 60 per cent carbon emission reduction target during Copenhagen 2010 talks
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), aka Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)
Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)
Iraq’s city of Basra heavily contaminated by war, oil and radioactive weaponry
Dirty war for uranium and mineral rights in the Central African Republic (CAR)
Suppressed Minton report on Trafigura toxic dumping along the Ivory Coast
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