World

Hillary Clinton on Friday defended her 2016 campaign strategy after 2020 Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg criticized his party’s previous nominee for being too hopeful and not understanding the struggles of everyday Americans.

“I really do believe that we always have to appeal to our better selves because the wolf is at the door, my friends,” Clinton said during an appearance at the 10th Annual Women in the World New York Summit. “Negativity, despair, anxiety, resentment, anger, prejudice, that’s part of human nature and the job of the leader is to appeal to us to be more than we can be on our own, to join hands in common effort.”

“I was well aware that we had problems that we had to solve, but it’s been my experience that anger, resent, prejudice are not strategies,” the former first lady, secretary of state and senator from New York added. “They stop people from thinking. They don’t enlist people in the common effort to try to find solutions.”

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., told the Washington Post in a profile published January that President Trump connected with the concerns of ordinary Americans in a way Clinton did not.

“Donald Trump got elected because, in his twisted way, he pointed out the huge troubles in our economy and our democracy,” he said. “At least he didn’t go around saying that America was already great, like Hillary did.”

A senior Clinton adviser blasted Buttigieg’s comments last month via Twitter as “indefensible.”

“[Hillary Clinton] ran on a belief in this country & the most progressive platform in modern political history. Trump ran on pessimism, racism, false promises, & vitriol. Interpret that how you want, but there are 66,000,000 people who disagree. Good luck,” Nick Merrill tweeted.

“It’s pretty simple. Slam HRC…lose my vote,” and another who chimed in: “It is unfortunate when people as smart as @PeteButtigieg engage in this fantasy fiction about 2016. And as a gay American it is disappointing because @HillaryClinton ran a campaign which amongst its many values championed our community,” Merrill also wrote.

FILE PHOTO: Eurogroup President Centeno attends a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Portugal’s Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Mario Centeno attends a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

April 12, 2019

By Jan Strupczewski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Europe must raise the international profile of its euro currency to protect itself from the domination of a “weaponised” U.S. dollar and help stabilize the international monetary system, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Mario Centeno said.

“Washington’s inclination to use the dollar as a tool to complement the effect of economic sanctions and serve a narrow domestic agenda is a source of concern,” Centeno told the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee in Washington on Friday.

“The foundations of the international monetary system are wobbling, as currencies are used to advance national interests that are narrowly defined. For some observers, the system in which the dollar holds a dominant and unrivalled position is on the cusp of reformation,” he said in a speech.

The European Union started thinking about increasing the role of the euro last year after U.S. President Donald Trump decided to abandon the 2015 deal under which international sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program.

The U.S. move, though unilateral, means European companies also cannot trade with Iran, fearing they would be cut off from U.S. markets and the international payments system in retaliation.

Centeno said the world could be heading toward a multi-currency system in which the dollar would vie for dominance with others, notably the euro and the Chinese renminbi.

He said such a multi-polar currency system could improve the functioning of the international monetary system and would be less prone to the economic fluctuations of the dominant dollar by offering options to diversify currency reserves.

The euro is used in around 36 percent of international payments, just behind the dollar with almost 40 percent, but when it comes to foreign exchange trading 44 percent is in dollars but only 16 percent in euros, Centeno said.

The favorite for currency reserves is the dollar with a 62 percent share of global reserves, while the euro has a 20 percent share.

“In Europe there is a growing concern that we are exposed to the risk that the power of the dominant dollar can be used against our best interests. The obvious consequence of ‘America First’ is that others will come second, at best,” Centeno said.

“The feeling is that we can only rely on ourselves and our currency. And this is behind repeated calls to strengthen the international role of the euro,” he said.

Centeno noted however, that to achieve a stronger role, the euro zone needed to tackle many tough issues about the design of the single currency.

He said the 19 countries sharing the euro had to first complete their banking union, by agreeing on a European deposit insurance system and setting up a capital markets union.

Other needs include a budget for the euro zone, under discussion now, and creating a euro zone safe asset – a debt instrument backed by all euro zone countries – with a sufficiently deep and liquid market, an idea that now faces very strong opposition from several key euro zone countries.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Source: OANN

Japanese Finance Minster Taro Aso at the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington
Japanese Finance Minster Taro Aso leaves the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting at the IMF and World Bank’s 2019 Annual Spring Meetings, in Washington, April 12, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

April 12, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Global policymakers worry that weakness in key economies could spread and cause the world economy to slow more than expected, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday.

“The balance of risks remains skewed to the downside,” Aso said in a news conference following a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 industrialized countries.

“We recognize the risk that growth prospects might deteriorate if weakening in key economies feed into each other.”

(Reporting by David Lawder and Leika Kihara; Writing by Jason Lange; Editing by Paul Simao)

Source: OANN

JULIAN Assange’s dating profile from 2006 has been unearthed – where he branded himself a “pig-headed intellectual” and “87 per cent slut”.

The then 36-year-old created the profile on OkCupid in December, shortly after launching infamous WikiLeaks, the site that would land him fame and finally arrest.

 Julian Assange winked and gave a thumbs up from the police van as he arrived at court following the dramatic arrest yesterday morning

Getty Images – Getty

Julian Assange winked and gave a thumbs up from the police van as he arrived at court following the dramatic arrest yesterday morning
 Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a profile on dating site OKCupid, under the pseudo name Harry Harrison

Ok Cupid

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a profile on dating site OKCupid, under the pseudo name Harry Harrison
 Despite not using his real name, the pictures on 'Harry Harrison’s' page appear to confirm that this really is Julian Assange

Ok Cupid

Despite not using his real name, the pictures on ‘Harry Harrison’s’ page appear to confirm that this really is Julian Assange
 The fact that the page hasn’t been accessed since Jan 2007 adds to the likelihood that it’s the real deal

Ok Cupid

The fact that the page hasn’t been accessed since Jan 2007 adds to the likelihood that it’s the real deal

Assange is now facing decades in prison after he was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in a dramatic arrest in London last night.

He’s expected to face charges in the US after prosecutors filed for his extradition over the WikiLeaks scandal.

After seven years in hiding, this dramatic shift has unearthed a multitude of dirt on the hack’s life, the latest being his dating profile.

WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange arrested by police and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy

In it he writes: “WARNING: Want a regular, down to earth guy? Keep moving. I am not the droid you’re looking for. Save us both while you still can.

“Passionate, and often pig headed activist intellectual seeks siren for love affair, children and occasional criminal conspiracy.

“Such a woman should [be] spirited and playful, of high intelligence, though not necessarily formally educated, have spunk, class & inner strength and be able to think strategically about the world and the people she cares about.”

LOOKING FOR LOVE

The unusual relationship request is accompanied by five photographs resembling Assange, the main one being a close-up smiling picture.

It’s captioned: “The author, facing the rising sun after an all puzzle contest.”

Confirming the validity of the profile, OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagan said: “This is real, as best we can tell.

“We have manual and automatic systems in place to prevent fraud. We can tell when a profile is created, from where — and we’re not going to say.

“If the profile is a ruse, then whoever did it went to elaborate lengths. And if someone faked this in 2006, that person has done an amazing job predicting the future.”

This is real, as best we can tell

Sam Yagan OkCupid co-founder

The bizarre revelation was made on blog Frugal Brutal Beauty in 2010.

Assange goes under the name ‘Harry Harrison’, the pen name of an American author of science-fiction books whose protagonist, “Slippery Jim,” is a globetrotting con man.

‘Harry’ was extremely active during his first month on the site, according to Yagan, completing 42 personalty tests. Most members only complete one, if any.

Although his specific answers aren’t available, it is possible to see the results, which included:

  • The Politics Test: Strong Democrat
  • The Death Test: Dead at 83
  • The Intellectual Sexiness Test: 85 intellectual sexiness!
  • The Atheist Test: 75 per cent – The Ardent Atheist
  • The EXTREMELY advanced MATH Test: 84 on the MathDorkOMeter

In addition, Harrison answered the site’s “match questions,” which show that he’s 27 per cent more arrogant, 12.3 per cent kinkier and 10.5 per cent “less capitalistic” than OkCupid’s seven million members.

Yagan admits Assange’s profile attracted “several” responses.

A hairy and dishevelled Assange spent 2,487 days holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid sex assault claims in Sweden claims.

He feared being sent to the States – where he was wanted over an alleged hacking conspiracy with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

During that time his health has deteriorated as a result of a lack of sunlight, a Wikileaks source told the Mirror.

In court yesterday, the 47-year-old was blasted a “narcissist who can’t get beyond his own self interest” as he was found guilty of skipping bail in 2012 – relating to his time at the embassy.


WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:

  • Julian Assange found guilty of skipping bail in UK and could face a year in jail
  • He was arrested after 2,487 days holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – costing taxpayers more than £10m
  • Assange went into hiding in August 2012 to avoid facing extradition to Sweden over sex assault and rape allegations
  • He is also wanted in US for on suspicion of espionage and publication of sensitive government documents
  • Assange fears he could face death penalty if extradited to US over WikiLeaks scandal
  • Ecuadorian President said Assange’s release dependent on not facing extradition to country with death penalty
  • Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said “UK courts will decide” his future
  • It’s been revealed Assange staged ‘dirty protests’ while in Ecuador’s embassy

He now faces a battle against extradition to the US where he was today charged over the Iraq War Logs.

Swedish lawyers want to reopen the sex allegations which first sent Assange into hiding – a move which has cost the British taxpayer more than £10m.

He will now learn his fate at Southwark Crown Court on May 2.

 Assange flashed a peace sign in handcuffs

Getty Images – Getty

Assange flashed a peace sign in handcuffs
 Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden - where he faced accusations of sexual assault
Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden – where he faced accusations of sexual assault
Diane Abbott defends Julian Assange after his arrest from the Ecuadorian Embassy


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A back-and-forth over Twitter about whether Rep. Ilhan Omar had downplayed the significance and horror of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks sparked debate on Capitol Hill this week.

On Friday, she suggested that President George W. Bush would have faced more scrutiny for his comments in the aftermath of the attacks if he were Muslim.

“Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack?” Omar asked in a tweet sharing an article to the Washington Post. “What if he was a Muslim?”

The Post story included a fact check on Omar’s remarks and said they were reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s “bullhorn speech.”

“The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Omar said, quoting Bush’s speech.

A video surfaced over the weekend showing Omar referring to the 9/11 hijackers as “some people who did something.”

That speech was met with instant criticism from Republicans and conservative media.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, condemned Omar for trivializing the deadliest terror attack in American history.

“You described an act of terrorism on American soil that killed thousands of innocent lives as ‘some people did something,’” Crenshaw said of Omar in a tweet. “It’s still unbelievable, as is your response here.”

The right-leaning New York Post published a dramatic front page Thursday with the screaming headline “ Here’s your something.”

Former FBI Investigator and now CNN Legal Analyst James Gagliano called Omar’s tweet a “false equivalence”

“President Bush made this statement days after World Trade Center was reduced to rubble, as he stood atop the smoking pile. I was there,” Gagliano said. “We, in FBI, were working to determine involvement in conspiracy, following evidence.”

Omar and other Democratic freshman lawmakers have said that criticizing her for speaking about her experiences as a Muslim American puts her in danger.

Authorities charged a New York man last week with threatening to assassinate Omar.

“I’m not going to quote the NY Post’s horrifying, hateful cover,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. “She‘s done more for 9/11 families than the GOP who won’t even support healthcare for 1st responders- yet are happy to weaponize her faith.”

U.S. and EU flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

April 12, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission has drawn up a list of U.S. imports worth around 20 billion euros ($22.6 billion) that it could hit with tariffs over a transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute, EU diplomats said.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to impose tariffs on $11 billion worth of European Union products over what Washington sees as unfair subsidies given to European planemaker Airbus.

The EU measures would relate to the EU’s World Trade Organization complaint over subsidies to Boeing.

WTO arbitrators have yet to set final amounts of potential countermeasures in each case.

The Commission said earlier this week that it had begun preparatory work on countermeasures in the Boeing case.

It added then that it was open for discussions with the U.S., provided these were without preconditions and aimed at achieving a fair outcome.

EU diplomats said the Commission was expected to publish a list of products on April 17 and begin a process of public consultation, after which the list could then be adjusted.

The final amount decided by the WTO arbitrator could also be lower. The EU had also initially requested that the WTO authorize countermeasures of $12 billion. The arbitrator’s decision may not come before March 2020.

The U.S. and Europe have been locked in dispute over mutual claims of illegal aid to their respective plane giants. The case has been grinding through the WTO for almost 15 years, yielding partial victories for both sides.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robin Emmott and Mike Harrison)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Amit Shah, president of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party addresses party workers in Ahmedabad
FILE PHOTO: Amit Shah, president of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) addresses party workers in Ahmedabad, India, February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

April 12, 2019

By Devjyot Ghoshal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The head of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party took his invective against illegal Muslim immigrants to a new level this week as the general election kicked off, promising to throw them into the Bay of Bengal.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah referred such illegal immigrants as “termites”, a description he also used last September, when he drew condemnation from rights groups. The U.S. State Department also noted the remark in its annual human rights report.

“Infiltrators are like termites in the soil of Bengal,” Shah said on Thursday at a rally in the eastern state of West Bengal, as voting in India’s 39-day general election started.

“A Bharatiya Janata Party government will pick up infiltrators one by one and throw them into the Bay of Bengal,” he said, referring to illegal immigrants from neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

Shah nevertheless reiterated the BJP’s stance on giving citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

India is already working on deporting an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living in the country after fleeing Buddhist-majority Myanmar. New Delhi considers them a security threat.

The comments from Shah, the right-hand man of Modi, drew criticism from the main opposition Congress party as well as minority groups. On Twitter, some users likened his speech to a suggestion of ethnic cleansing.

“The statement is a direct attack on the identity and integrity of the nation as a secular state,” the Kerala Christian Forum, a group from the southern state, said in a statement. It demanded an apology from Shah.

A BJP spokesman declined to comment on the speech.

Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha said Shah’s remarks were a deliberate attempt to polarize voters along sectarian lines.

“The political business model of the BJP is to raise the communal temperature, keep it at a boil, and to keep India in a permanent religious divide,” Jha said.

(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Krishna N. Das)

Source: OANN

Amid the whispers and soft golf-clapping of Masters Tournament patrons, there’s something else that’s keeping them quiet. Sitting amid strangers, golf fans have to watch the game.

If they get bored, there’s nothing to look at but the green hills and the wry smile of Tiger Woods. No one is allowed to bring a cellphone.

Augusta National Golf Club, annual host of the Masters on the first full week of April, is one of the few places in the world that still maintains a cellphone ban.

Former Masters chairman Billy Payne vowed in 2017 to maintain the rule to protect the aura of the professional golf tournament.

“I just don’t think it is appropriate,” Payne said during a press conference. “The noise is an irritation to, not only the players, the dialing, the conversation, it’s a distraction. And that’s the way we have chosen to deal with it.”

If you try to break the rules, the Masters’ leadership doesn’t mess around. Smuggle your phone onto the property, and you could be banned for life.

Current chairman Fred Ridley said Wednesday that the ban sets the Masters apart. “I think our patrons appreciate our cellphone policy,” he said. “It’s part of the ambiance of the Masters. … I don’t believe anyone should expect the policy to change in the near future, if ever.”

Some speculate that the ban may soon disappear since cellphones are now so ubiquitous, and users are typically smart enough to know how to turn off their volume. But the Masters isn’t the only event to guard its low-tech charm. Even some performers have embraced the cellphone ban.

Artists such as Alicia Keys and The Lumineers, and even comedians like Dave Chappelle, have banned phones at their performances. A few years ago, Adele called out a fan mid-concert for filming her. “You can enjoy it in real life,” she said, “rather than through your camera.”

Whether phones are bothering performers or distracting patrons from the purpose of attending an event in real life, rather than watching from a couch, a cellphone ban can help everyone live in the present. At the Masters, it’s a good reminder to stop and smell the azaleas.

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians are reflected on an electronic board showing stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians are reflected on an electronic board showing stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan December 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

April 12, 2019

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global stock markets rose on Friday after JP Morgan’s results kicked off the U.S. corporate earnings season in style, while signs of stabilization in China’s economy also helped riskier assets on views the growth outlook worldwide is better than thought.

Chinese data showed exports rebounded last month, driving U.S. and euro zone bond yields to three-week highs and helping offset weaker imports and reports of another cut in German growth forecasts.

Investors are looking for signs of a Chinese economic recovery to temper global growth worries, especially after the International Monetary Fund this week downgraded its 2019 world economic outlook for the third time.

China’s trade results, as well as credit data, have helped boost risk appetite and reinforce the stabilization thesis, which should have spill-over effects for the global economy, said Candice Bangsund, a portfolio manager with the global asset allocation team at Fiera Capital in Montreal.

“The whole China situation really appears to be gaining some ground,” Bangsund said. “We saw a very impressive rebound in exports, this of course is helping alleviate fears of a hard landing.”

MSCI’s gauge of equity market performance in 47 countries gained 0.37%, while the EURO STOXX 50 index rose 0.31%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 186.88 points, or 0.71%, to 26,329.93. The S&P 500 gained 12.47 points, or 0.43%, to 2,900.79 and the Nasdaq Composite added 19.07 points, or 0.24%, to 7,966.43

The euro gained despite the German growth concerns. Dealers were gearing up for demand from Japan as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial closed in on its multi-billion-euro acquisition of DZ Bank’s aviation-finance business.

The dollar index fell 0.37%, with the euro up 0.56% to $1.1313. The Japanese yen weakened 0.28% versus the greenback at 111.99 per dollar.7

Euro zone and U.S. government debt yields rose after the rebound in Chinese exports.

Yields on Germany’s 10-year government bond crossed into positive territory, to 0.054%.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell 13/32 in price to push up their yield to 2.5507%.

CRUDE OIL’S BIG 2019 START

Oil provided the big milestones. Brent was at $71.4 a barrel, having broken back through the $70 threshold this week, and U.S. WTI was heading for a sixth straight week of gains for the first time since early 2016.

Involuntary supply cuts in Venezuela, Libya and Iran have supported perceptions of a tightening market, already constrained by production cuts from OPEC and its allies.

Brent crude oil futures rose 64 cents to $71.47 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the U.S. benchmark, added 64 to $64.22.

Commodities have had the best first-quarter start ever, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said, calling the annualized returns they are tracking the strongest in the past 100 years.

Taking advantage of strong prices and subdued valuations for oil producers, Chevron said it will buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp for $33 billion in cash and stock.

Gold steadied en route to its first weekly gain in three weeks as the dollar weakened, although the metal’s advances were capped by stronger equities.

Gold crept higher after falling more than 1 percent on Thursday to break below $1,300 following solid U.S. data. Spot gold traded at $1,292.41 per ounce.

For a graphic on Falling volatility, see – https://tmsnrt.rs/2X40O8U

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

In the end, the man who reportedly smeared feces on the walls of his lodgings, mistreated his kitten, and variously blamed the ills of the world on feminists and bespectacled Jewish writers was pulled from the Ecuadorian embassy looking every inch like a powdered-sugar Saddam Hussein plucked straight from his spider hole. The only camera crew to record this pivotal event belonged to Ruptly, a Berlin-based streaming-online-video service, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of RT, the Russian government’s English-language news channel and the former distributor of Julian Assange’s short-lived chat show.

RT’s tagline is “Question more,” and indeed, one might inquire how it came to pass that the spin-off of a Kremlin propaganda organ and now registered foreign agent in the United States first arrived on the scene. Its camera recorded a team of London’s Metropolitan Police dragging Assange from his Knightsbridge cupboard as he burbled about resistance and toted a worn copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State.

Vidal had the American national-security establishment in mind when he wrote that polemic, although I doubt even he would have contrived to portray the CIA as being in league with a Latin American socialist named for the founder of the Bolshevik Party. Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno announced Thursday that he had taken the singular decision to expel his country’s long-term foreign guest and revoke his asylum owing to Assange’s “discourteous and aggressive behavior.”

According to Interior Minister María Paula Romo, this evidently exceeded redecorating the embassy with excrement—alas, we still don’t know whether it was Assange’s or someone else’s—refusing to bathe, and welcoming all manner of international riffraff to visit him. It also involved interfering in the “internal political matters in Ecuador,” as Romo told reporters in Quito. Assange and his organization, WikiLeaks, Romo said, have maintained ties to two Russian hackers living in Ecuador who worked with one of the country’s former foreign ministers, Ricardo Patiño, to destabilize the Moreno administration.

We don’t yet know whether Romo’s allegation is true (Patiño denied it) or simply a pretext for booting a nuisance from state property. But Assange’s ties to Russian hackers and Russian intelligence organs are now beyond dispute.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 cyberoperatives for Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate for the General Staff (GRU) suggests that Assange was, at best, an unwitting accomplice to the GRU’s campaign to sway the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and allegedly even solicited the stolen Democratic correspondence from Russia’s military intelligence agency, which was masquerading as Guccifer 2.0. Assange repeatedly and viciously trafficked, on Twitter and on Fox News, in the thoroughly debunked claim that the correspondence might have been passed to him by the DNC staffer Seth Rich, who, Assange darkly suggested, was subsequently murdered by the Clintonistas as revenge for the presumed betrayal.

Mike Pompeo, then CIA director and, as an official in Donald Trump’s Cabinet, an indirect beneficiary of Assange’s meddling in American democracy, went so far as to describe WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” For those likening the outfit to legitimate news organizations, I’d submit that this is a shade more severe a description, especially coming from America’s former spymaster, than anything Trump has ever grumbled about The New York Times or The Washington Post.

Russian diplomats had concocted a plot, as recently as late 2017, to exfiltrate Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy, according to The Guardian. “Four separate sources said the Kremlin was willing to offer support for the plan—including the possibility of allowing Assange to travel to Russia and live there. One of them said that an unidentified Russian businessman served as an intermediary in these discussions.” The plan was scuttled only because it was deemed too dangerous.

In 2015, Focus Ecuador reported that Assange had aroused suspicion among Ecuador’s own intelligence service, SENAIN, which spied on him in the embassy in a years-long operation. “In some instances, [Assange] requested that he be able to choose his own Security Service inside the embassy, even proposing the use of operators of Russian nationality,” the Ecuadorian journal noted, adding that SENAIN looked on such a proposal with something less than unmixed delight.

All of which is to say that Ecuador had ample reasons of its own to show Assange the door and was well within its sovereign rights to do so. He first sought refuge in the embassy after he jumped bail more than seven years ago to evade extradition to Sweden on sexual-assault charges brought by two women. Swedish prosecutors suspended their investigation in 2017 because they’d spent five years trying but failing to gain access to their suspect to question him. (That might now change, and so the lawyers for the claimants have just filed to reopen the cases.) But the British charges remained on the books throughout.

The Times of London leader writer Oliver Kamm has noted that quite apart from being a “victim of a suspension of due process,” Assange is “is a fugitive from it.” Yet to hear many febrile commentators tell it, his extradition was simply a matter of one sinister prime minister cackling down the phone to another, with the CIA nodding approvingly in the background, as an international plot unfurled to silence a courageous speaker of truth to power. Worse than that, Assange and his ever-dwindling claque of apologists spent years in the pre-#MeToo era suggesting, without evidence, that the women who accused him of being a sex pest were actually American agents in disguise, and that Britain was simply doing its duty as a hireling of the American empire in staking out his diplomatic digs with a net.

As it happens, a rather lengthy series of U.K. court cases and Assange appeals, leading all the way up to the Supreme Court, determined Assange’s status in Britain.

The New Statesman’s legal correspondent, David Allen Green, expended quite a lot of energy back in 2012 swatting down every unfounded assertion and conspiracy theory for why Assange could not stand before his accusers in Scandinavia without being instantly rendered to Guantanamo Bay. Ironically, as Green noted, going to Stockholm would make it harder for Assange to be sent on to Washington because “any extradition from Sweden … would require the consent of both Sweden and the United Kingdom” instead of just the latter country. Nevertheless, Assange ran and hid and self-pityingly professed himself a “political prisoner.”

Everything about this Bakunin of bullshit and his self-constructed plight has belonged to the theater of the absurd. I suppose it’s only fair that absurdity dominates the discussion now about a newly unsealed U.S. indictment of Assange. According to Britain’s Home Office, the Metropolitan Police arrested Assange for skipping bail, and then, when he arrived at the police station, he was further arrested “in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States.”

The operative word here is provisional, because that request has yet to be wrung through the same domestic legal protocols as Sweden’s. Assange will have all the same rights he was accorded when he tried to beat his first extradition rap in 2010. At Assange’s hearing, the judge dismissed his claims of persecution by calling him “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.” Neither can his supporters.

A “dark moment for press freedom,” tweeted the NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden from his security in press-friendly Moscow. “It’s the criminalization of journalism by the Trump Justice Department and the gravest threat to press freedom, by far, under the Trump presidency,” intoned The Intercept’s founding editor Glenn Greenwald who, like Assange, has had that rare historical distinction of having once corresponded with the GRU for an exclusive.

These people make it seem as if Assange is being sought by the Eastern District of Virginia for publishing American state secrets rather than for allegedly conniving to steal them.

The indictment makes intelligible why a grand jury has charged him. Beginning in January 2010, Chelsea Manning began passing to WikiLeaks (and Assange personally) classified documents obtained from U.S. government servers. These included files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. State Department cables. But Manning ran into difficulties getting more documents, owing to the limitations of her modest security clearance.

At this point, Assange allegedly morphed from being a recipient and publisher of classified documents into an agent of their illicit retrieval. “On or about March 8, 2010, Assange agreed to assist [Chelsea] Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Networks, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications,” according to the indictment.

Assange allegedly attempted to help Manning do this using a username that was not hers in an effort to cover her virtual tracks. In other words, the U.S. accuses him of instructing her to hack the Pentagon, and offering to help. This is not an undertaking any working journalist should attempt without knowing that the immediate consequence will be the loss of his job, his reputation, and his freedom at the hands of the FBI.

I might further direct you to Assange’s own unique brand of journalism, when he could still be said to be practicing it. Releasing U.S. diplomatic communiqués that named foreigners living in conflict zones or authoritarian states and liaising with American officials was always going to require thorough vetting and redaction, lest those foreigners be put in harm’s way. Assange did not care—he wanted their names published, according to Luke Harding and David Leigh in WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. As they recount the story, when Guardian journalists working with WikiLeaks to disseminate its tranche of U.S. secrets tried to explain to Assange why it was morally reprehensible to publish the names of Afghans working with American troops, Assange replied: “Well, they’re informants. So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it.” (Assange denied the account; the names, in the end, were not published.)

James Ball, a former staffer at WikiLeaks—who argues against Assange’s indictment in these pages—has also remarked on Assange’s curious relationship with a notorious Holocaust denier named Israel Shamir:

Shamir has a years-long friendship with Assange, and was privy to the contents of tens of thousands of US diplomatic cables months before WikiLeaks made public the full cache. Such was Shamir’s controversial nature that Assange introduced him to WikiLeaks staffers under a false name. Known for views held by many to be antisemitic, Shamir aroused the suspicion of several WikiLeaks staffers—myself included—when he asked for access to all cable material concerning ‘the Jews,’ a request which was refused.

Shamir soon turned up in Moscow where, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, he was offering to write articles based on these cables for $10,000 a pop. Then he traveled to Minsk, where he reportedly handed over a cache of unredacted cables on Belarus to functionaries for Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorship, whose dissident-torturing secret police is still conveniently known as the KGB.

Fish and guests might begin to stink after three days, but Assange has reeked from long before he stepped foot in his hideaway cubby across from Harrods. He has put innocent people’s lives in danger; he has defamed and tormented a poor family whose son was murdered; he has seemingly colluded with foreign regimes not simply to out American crimes but to help them carry off their own; and he otherwise made that honorable word transparency in as much of a need of delousing as he is.

Yet none of these vices has landed him in the dock. If he is innocent of hacking U.S. government systems—or can offer a valid public-interest defense for the hacking—then let him have his day in court, first in Britain and then in America. But don’t continue to fall for his phony pleas for sympathy, his megalomania, and his promiscuity with the facts. Julian Assange got what he deserved.

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