Tormenting Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
They’re both heroic figures, Manning for courageous whistleblowing about US high crimes of war, Assange for truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be.
They both deserve high praise, not brutalizing persecution as prisoners of conscience.
In detention for over 1,000 days before sentencing and imprisonment, Manning was horrifically treated – tortured in solitary confinement, kept nude in her cell at night and outside during morning inspections, denied virtually every right free people take for granted.
At the time, academic Mark Kleiman involved in criminal injustice issues said she was “subjected to a (horrific) regimen designed to drive (her) insane,” calling her mistreatment “a total disgrace.”
Imprisoned again for invoking her constitutional right to remain silent, refusing to give grand jury testimony, intended to unjustly frame Julian Assange, her legal team continues going all out to secure her release.
On Friday, they filed a Motion to Reconsider Sanctions, asking Judge Anthony Trenga to release her from confinement, arguing as follows:
“A renewal of Ms. Manning’s motion for release, on the basis that she cannot be coerced, and that her incarceration is therefore only punitive.”
“A sanction that serves only to punish her would convert what is intended as a civil coercive sanction into a criminal punishment, in violation of her 5th Amendment rights to due process.”
“The government has now successfully obtained not one, but two indictments, without the benefit of or need for Chelsea’s testimony.”
“Furthermore, as the government’s sixty-day window to add further charges prior to the submission of their extradition request is nearly over, the legitimacy of its purported need for Chelsea’s evidence is increasingly doubtful.”
“The court may impose civil fines in order to coerce compliance with a court order – but not to punish disobedience with a court order.”
“Coercive fines, however, are usually only applied to corporations, which cannot be jailed.”
“Furthermore, such fines may not be imposed without the court confirming that the fines will not be excessive or punitive.”
“This requires the judge to carefully examine the witness’s financial capacity, which was not done in this case.”
“In the unusual event that fines are imposed on individuals, it is where the underlying contempt involves a refusal to comply with a court order about the management of large sums of money.”
“There are no such facts in Chelsea’s case, and her lawyers believe that imposing any fine may be presumed to be definitionally punitive, rather than coercive.”
“Although both fines and confinement are within the traditional contempt powers of the court, past cases suggest that these may be used one at a time, or one after the other, but a court should not impose both at once.”
Civil contempt cases permit confinement for a maximum of 18 months. Manning is being punished unjustly for her activism. Invoking her constitutional right to remain silent isn’t civil contempt or any other crime.
Trump regime hardliners want her subjected maximum harshness, using dirty tricks to get their way, to be repeated as many times as they wish pertaining to Assange or anyone or anything else, likely wanting her behind bars indefinitely.
Assange’s father earlier said his son endured “crushing isolation” inside Ecuador’s London embassy, especially during his last 18 months of involuntary confinement, tormented by psychological torture.
On May 9, UN rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer visited him at London’s high-security Belmarsh prison. Two medical experts in the effects of torture and other forms of abuse accompanied him.
According to Melzer, they met with Assange “in confidence and…conduct(ed) a thorough medical assessment,” adding:
“It was obvious that Mr Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years” — compounded by imprisonment in isolation at Belmarsh.
Besides poor physical health needing treatment not adequately gotten, Assange showed “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.”
It’s “perceptible that he had a sense of being under threat from everyone. He understood what my function was but it’s more that he was extremely agitated and busy with his own thoughts. It was difficult to have a very structured conversation with him.”
Transferred to Belmarsh’s health ward, he was too weak, ill, and unable to communicate to appear by video link for a scheduled court hearing, according to his lawyers.
Melzer said he fears his fundamental rights will be denied if extradited to the US. He’ll be put through a “politicized show trial” — already judged guilty by accusation, a similar unjust process Manning endured earlier and again before and since re-imprisonment.
During “the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination” — what can take a horrendous physical and emotional toll on most everyone, Melzer explained.
He criticized UK authorities for how they handled his case, “surprised, for example, to see that on the date he was arrested he was immediately brought to court after (nearly seven) years in the embassy and then convicted.”
“Under the normal rule of law, you would expect someone to be arrested and then given a couple of weeks to prepare his defense at least.”
“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of (so-called) democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”
Assange’s next hearing is scheduled for June 12. In cahoots with the Trump regime, Britain is slowly killing him. He may not survive the ordeal to be extradited to the US.
He could perish long before his legal team exhausts its appeals in Britain, at the European Court of Human Rights or European Court of Justice, the highest EU court, if things go this far.
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