29.5 C
Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Julian Assange – better off smuggling weapons in Baghdad?

Latest News

Truth

Dr Matt Landos, East Ballina There is the real news and then there is the fake news. The radio news announced...

Other News

PM’s vaccine

Martin Bail, Federal On 4 February, 2021 ABC News reported, albeit briefly, that the PM will ‘for the record’ be...

Facebook fails

Adrian Gattenhof, Mullumbimby American spoilt brat Zuckerberg may have done adults around the world a great favour with his screamy...

Truth

Dr Matt Landos, East Ballina There is the real news and then there is the fake news. The radio news announced...

Music fest aims to be COVID-19 recovery event

Byron Bay could host a two-day, beachside music and arts festival in June this year, after an application to hold the event was lodged with Byron Council.

Loveday wins All Shorts second year in a row

Filmmakers travelled from where COVID allowed this weekend to be part of the 30th birthday celebrations for Flickerfest in...

Housing affordability on agenda at Ballina

With the housing crisis worsening in Ballina and across the Northern Rivers, councillors agreed that something had to be done about the problem at their meeting yesterday.

Crikey Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane writes:

Evidence has emerged that disputes foreign minister Bob Carr’s claim Julian Assange has received as much or more consular support in a comparable period than other Australians, and that anything further would amount to interference in another country’s judicial process.

On the day following the UK Supreme Court decision ruling in favour of Assange’s extradition under a European Arrest Warrant, Carr held a press conference at Parliament House in which he said ‘as far as I can tell there’s been no Australian who’s received more consular support in a comparable period than Mr Assange’. Both Carr and the prime minister, asked later that day about Assange during question time, have emphasised their inability to interfere in the judicial processes of other countries.

Until now, such comments have been analysed in the context of the treatment of other well-known cases of Australians held overseas. In October, the prime minister personally called a 14-year-old boy charged with marijuana possession in Bali. Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby received ‘substantial’ financial support for her legal costs and the offer of two QCs pro bono from the Howard government and was supported by the current government in her recent bid for clemency.

But what appears to be the previously unreported case of Australian Bradley John Thompson has been unearthed from the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables by Maitland lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter. Thompson was arrested in Baghdad on 16 May 2006 by a joint US-Iraqi police operation, which ‘found evidence that Mr Thompson had been smuggling weapons into the International Zone in hidden compartments of vehicles and selling those weapons illegally to customers possibly including Jaish al-Mahdi militia members and insurgents operating in Fallujah’.

The cable, from the US Embassy in Baghdad to the State and Justice departments, the FBI, the White House and American diplomats here, states:

‘A search of Mr Thompson’s villa (located inside the International Zone) at the time of his detention found twenty AK-47 automatic rifles, three Russian belt-fed tank-type heavy machine guns, a sizeable quantity of ammunition, Iraqi, Australian, and US military uniforms, computer software used to create false military identification badges, and US$128,000 cash.’

Australian consul Alan Elliott had already visited Thompson and relayed his claim that he had been authorised by the coalition military forces in Iraq to sell weapons, a claim the Americans denied.

At the time, the Howard government was coming under increasing pressure over its abandonment of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay. Howard would eventually negotiate a deal with US vice-president Dick Cheney early in 2007 for a speedy trial and dispatch to Australia of Hicks.

On 24 May, Australian ambassador Howard Brown and Elliott met with senior figures in the coalition military force and US political-military counsellor David C Litt (third in charge at the US Embassy) to discuss Thompson’s case, and then followed it up subsequently via email to the Americans. According to the cable, Brown and Elliott sought – and obtained – significant changes to Thompson’s treatment:

‘Ambassador Brown requested that Mr Thompson not be blindfolded and shackled when being moved to and from visiting rooms. (NOTE: this is standard procedure for new inmates at Camp Cropper, which houses highly violent insurgent actors as well as other special populations meriting private cells, such as female and coalition nationals.) The DCG-DO agreed.

‘According to Ambassador Brown, Mr Thompson has retained a US attorney, LtCol (Ret) Neal A Puckett, USMC, to represent him. The DCG-DO confirmed that LtCol Puckett would be allowed to meet with Mr Thompson either at Camp Cropper or (if preferred) at an Iraqi courthouse inside the International Zone. Requests for continued consular telephone and in-person access to Mr Thompson were also granted.

‘In response to follow-up emails from the Australian Consul on 26 May, Post arranged for Mr Thompson to telephone Mr Elliot’s cell phone and Mr Thompson’s sister in Australia, assured Mr Elliott that he would be permitted to visit Mr Thompson prior to any future appearance in Iraqi court, and provided contact information for Mr Thompson’s American legal counsel to make visiting arrangements.’

In February, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided details of its contacts with Assange’s legal team, which totalled 18 email, fax, phone or face-to-face contacts during 2011, plus contacts with his lawyers at his trial hearings. The department also says it obtained verbal assurances from Swedish authorities that Assange would be afforded due process, and told Greens senator Scott Ludlam recently during Senate Estimates that ‘the US is aware of our expectations in respect of due process’.

The issue of Assange’s detention once he arrives in Sweden, and the conditions of that detention, such as being denied contact with anyone but his lawyers, appear not to have been raised.

The issue of non-intervention in other countries’ legal processes is a straw man repeatedly used by the government; no one has suggested the government should, or has the power to, directly intervene in Swedish sexual assault investigations or US espionage indictments. But the Thompson case clearly demonstrates the government can move quickly – within a matter of days – to request the treatment of an Australian national be ameliorated and his legal rights strengthened.

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I think that Bob Carr has just become the patsy for Gillard and Rudd’s openly stated disinterest in the Assange case. Both of them made highly detrimental comments early in the case, now Carr gets to rattle off some more pabulum. Assange has said that the Australian Govt. has done little for him, apart from the occasional mandatory visit from a junior Consular official which is common in all cases involving an Australian citizen.
    Carr’s been making mistakes, since he eagerly and enthusiastically grasped the job with both hands, looking a right fool. He hasn’t learned that there’s a time to quit in politics, sit back and contemplate the verities.

  2. Australian citizen Bradley John Thompson’s Australian Government consular attention from ambassador Howard Brown and Alan Elliott contrasts starkly with appalling consular behaviour afforded Mamdouh Habib by DFAT Australian High Commission … team Howard Brown & Alastair Adams five years earlier in Islamabad.

    Seems Alan Elliott, worth professional DFAT reputation …

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Monkey see

Daniel Brown, Byron Bay Back in my early youth growing up in Mt Eliza Victoria in the ‘90s I’d secretly look up to and admire...

Australia’s bastardry

Gareth W R Smith, Byron Bay Australia has a long string of racist and anti-humanitarian policies. These range from its treatment of Aboriginal people, complicity...

Mt Warning ban

Chris Gee, Byron Bay Indigenous readers be advised that the following letter contains references to persons deceased. I read with some interest and also, I am...

‘The Great Reset’

Gary Opit, Wooyung I appreciated the letter by Lucas Wright (17 February) on the Great Reset conspiracy fantasy. With our privileged, western, simplistic understanding of...